Cooking for kids #2 – Herb crumbed roast pork loin with apple sauce

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Ohhhh just look at that moisture content…

I’ll be honest, when I make this particular dish it’s mostly for me. The bonus is that the little people will sometimes take as much pleasure in it as I do – if the apple sauce meets their high standards of course. But here it is for you.

Ingredients

  • 1kg (2lb) boneless pork loin
  • Bread crumbs (mix of panko and normal is very nice)
  • Paprika
  • Herbs mix (oregano, basil, coriander)
  • Flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 large apples (throw in a pear if you have one)

Method

Preheat oven to 175deg C. Pat the pork dry and give it a bit of a season with salt and pepper. Mix some flour and paprika together on a plate or dish or whatever. Whisk the egg in a bowl. Mix the herbs with the breadcrumbs in another dish. Roll the pork in flour, dip it in egg and then crumb it. Drizzle it with a little bit of olive oil, chuck it into a baking pan uncovered and into the oven it goes. Give it a check at 60mins and if it’s a bit of a fat piece you might need to give it another 10.

In the meantime peel and slice your apples and throw them into a small saucepan with a little bit of water. Put it on low heat and cover. Throw in some cloves if you like, and a little brown sugar if the apples are quite tart. Pear and bit of lime juice is a winner too. I would tell you what apples are best but that would suggest I care enough to know. Just whatever is cheap from the supermarket.

Once the apples are broken down into a nice sauce (you might want to mash them a bit to help) then just set them aside and reheat when the pork is done.

I like to serve this particular dish with whatever I have available. Maybe some potato (roast or mashed), beans are good. Broccoli even (for the kids, not me). Roast some carrots maybe. A salad isn’t really the ideal partner but well if that’s all you’ve got then sure.

On this particular occasion it was roast potatoes and yams, corn on the cob, broccoli and tomatoes.

First impressions

Hurricane and Chaos in unison: APPLE SAUCE!!!!!!!!

Final impressions

They ate all the apple sauce and smashed the corn. Managed a few pieces of pork, and had a good graze of the rest too. You might even call it a win-win. They ate enough, and I ate heaps. There was even a little bit of apple sauce saved for BB when she got home.

Plus leftovers!

 

 

 

 

The poisoning that wasn’t

I should have known it was going to be a bad day. After all, it started with Hurricane launching himself onto the bed and kneeing me flush in the balls. Nothing says good morning like a wave of nausea rising from your groin.

It was a Wednesday. The holiday period is over so BB has settled into her routine for the new semester now. It looks like it’s going to be worse than the first, given the number of assessments she has locked in her calendar – but the bonus of no exams is a gleaming light at the end the tunnel. I was still recovering from the blow when she slipped out the door for the day, leaving Hurricane and Chaos free reign to lay waste to our lounge.

We had no big plans. The problem with the recent freezing weather is that getting the kids to leave the house has become a challenge akin to convincing a cat to go swimming. If I try and take them outside in below zero weather again, it could be a week before I can next drag them out. But this wasn’t one of those days, so I was going to wait till after lunch to take them out to the playground for a run around.

I was making some banana bread (the extent of my baking skills) when Hurricane emerged from his room to inform me Chaos had done “something disgusting”. She often wears underwear at home as we move forward with toilet training, so my immediate thought was she had taken them off and sullied their nest, much like the time she dropped a log on our lounge floor and as BB swooped in to carry her to the bathroom started yelling out ‘Mama there’s another poo hanging out of my bottom’. She was right, there was.

But then Hurricane told me it was pink. Pink? That didn’t sound likely. But he was right. She had vomited up that morning’s porridge with raspberries. It is never a good sign when your child who never spews has spewed. Then I saw an empty cold and flu medicine pouch on the ground. It would have held two pills. Chaos has become somewhat of a scavenger in recent weeks, rummaging through drawers and bags looking for snacks. I asked her if she had found this single pouch. She said yes. I asked her what was in it. She said chocolate. What she often means by that is M&Ms. Not the answer I was hoping for.

After working out what the active ingredients were in the pills (not good for little kids) and chatting to BB, I called a cab to take us to the medical centre. Chaos, at this point, was fine. She was fine until she wasn’t. Unfortunately for me this happened right as the cab stopped and I went to pay the driver. I had armed myself with a bowl in case she needed to vomit again, but I had switched hands with it to pull my wallet out. With immaculate timing, Chaos then proceeded to projectile all over me. The only instinct I had was to protect the cab. The last thing I wanted was to pay a $150 cleaning bill for the privilege of being vomited on. Small victories.

So we exited the cab with Hurricane chanting ‘yucky yucky yucky’ and Chaos telling me she felt much better now. I shook as much spew as I could off me and onto the road, took my sweatshirt off and walked into the doctor’s reception smelling a lot like fermented rotten apples. BB arrived shortly after, in time to learn the good news that if Chaos had swallowed the pills then having vomited twice already she would probably be fine, we just had to keep an eye on her.

And she was fine. She returned to her chatty self and was eating and drinking without incident. We thought it was over. Oh how wrong we were.

Fast forward 48 hours and we are at a birthday party for Ben (one of the Canadians) when Hurricane suddenly goes quiet and tells BB his tummy hurts. Then he goes white. She exits the room and within five minutes of getting home he is vomiting into a bucket. Meanwhile, I’m still at the party with Chaos who is smashing back the cake and ice cream with gusto. Then I feel my stomach turn. We leave.

Chaos didn’t swallow the meds, she picked up a bug. Then she mutated it into a devil beast and passed it on.

Poor Hurricane spent nearly 7 hours vomiting on the couch, while I shut myself in the bathroom for the evening. The good thing was Hurricane’s body adopted the single exit strategy. Mine went for the double, obviously to speed things up. I realised early on that it’s much smarter to sit on the throne and risk vomiting into a towel in your hands, than the other way around. So I only went for the face in throne when I was confident I had an all clear from the colon. Strategic.

It’s quite weird the things you think about when your body is trying to save you by destroying your will to live. I started to think about tax evasion. I have no idea why. I don’t even know much about tax evasion. Then I remembered the time my flatmates at university spent our entire week’s food budget on toilet paper because it was on special. And I was thinking how genius that was, given how much I was currently using and how expensive the bog roll is here.

Anyway, both Hurricane and I managed to empty our bodies around 11pm and fall asleep out of pure exhaustion. I was woken at 4am by some very unladylike noises coming from BB in the bathroom. It was her turn.

It is Sunday now. We think, maybe, hopefully, it’s over.

And that, dear friends, is parenting in a nutshell.

 

 

 

 

I know you’ve been thinking I wonder what he’s thinking

I was out last night, watching some NFL playoffs at the fine establishment known as Buffalo Wild Wings. I ate a lot, of course.

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Apparently this 2100 calorie dessert was meant for 4 people. Not that it has anything to do with this post

I was in the company of a large group of Australians. Inevitably the question arose – the what do you think about your Prime Minister being pregnant question. And I realised how remiss I have been in not sharing my thoughts on what I think about a woman of child bearing age preparing to have a baby AND go back to work. I apologise for not tackling this topic earlier, especially given the undeniable quality of the coverage this announcement has received. I mean did she accidentally announce the gender or not? A better journalist would have nailed her to the wall for that slip. Amateur.

So what do I really think? I think I wouldn’t wish having a baby at the same time as working in a senior Beehive role on anyone. Nine years ago when I was in there, my office mate banged out two little critters (well his wife did) during the Government’s first term and his life sucked.  Being a man, he didn’t have to deal with any of the real stuff. Like recovering from the equivalent of passing a kidney stone the size of a golf ball. Or dealing with nipples that won’t stop leaking. Or being woken every hour to shove that leaky nipple in a mouth to be gnawed on.  Or having a weak pelvic floor. Yet he still looked like he was suffering from all that. Sympathy pains, no doubt. And I’ve only covered off the physical demands, not the emotional ones.

Like me, he was an advisor to a junior Minister. There is no equating our workloads with that of our own boss, let alone the Prime Minister. The PMs job requires you to live on between 4 to 5 hours sleep a night. For three years. And that’s if all is going well. Screw that for a joke. Throw in a baby? An enema a day would be more enjoyable. Without lube.

I have nothing but sympathy for our Prime Minister. The poor woman is being held up as some sort of revolutionary symbol for all millennials with the double X chromosome. She is being told in no uncertain terms that she can’t fail. All of womanhood is counting on her to show it’s possible to run a country like a pro and mother a newborn, without sleeping. She can’t even do a Churchill and keep a glass of whisky in her hand in case she nods off – you know, breastfeeding and all.  Really, even if the economy has tanked and the Government is falling apart, if Jacinda is simply able to speak in coherent sentences within three months of giving birth then she’s winning. Or she’s got a wet nurse for a night nanny. She should probably find one of those.

As for Mr Gayford? All I can say is that for the first three months the Dad is really just the support crew and a pretty helpless one at that. So taking over after six weeks, well yeah, good luck fella. I have no advice to offer, because while I’m prepared to take on my two for a year I’m definitely not crazy enough to take on a newborn. Plus I don’t know him, so why would I pretend anything I have to say would be helpful. Actually that is my one piece of advice. Don’t take any advice.

So there you have it. I’m very sorry again for keeping you all in such suspense as to my thoughts on this matter. Good day.

I asked BB what I should write about and she said…

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Spot the train

Can I relate to a stay-at-home mother yet? I was kind of hoping for something easier to write about. Like, top 10 tantrum triggers, or biggest dadding fails. Instead she asks me something thoughtful. Though I’ll have to come back to those other two, now that I’ve thought of them.

So can I relate? Yes and no. Let’s start with the yes part.

I remember BB being quite sad about heading back to work when Hurricane turned 1 and again with Chaos. She referred to them as her little sidekicks and as a massive sufferer of FOMO she didn’t want to miss any of the little developments they were going to make. The funniest thing about being the at-home parent is seeing your little progeny mimic you. And because I’ve got them at a very formative period in their lives they are picking up heaps of my language and behaviours. Hurricane got me a corker the other day when he told me I “needed to chill out” after Chaos emptied the contents of their clothes drawers all over the floor for the second time that day. Really that was my fault for tidying them up the first time. Rookie.

During my time on duty Chaos has started to speak properly and hold conversations, gained way more confidence in her physical capabilities than she has the right to, and developed a gorgeously cheeky sense of humour. Hurricane meanwhile has turned into a sprinter, learned how to tackle me around the legs and now has amazing recall. If I’ve forgotten something, I can often ask him as he generally remembers everything.

And I get to do pretty fun stuff with them here (like go to the mini train show). All these things are priceless, so even though I am not a particularly emotional fella, I understand why mums can be so torn up about going back to work.

But on the other side of the coin, I also remember coming home from work on many an occasion and walking into the kitchen to find BB preparing dinner, with a whining child attached to her leg, looking utterly harassed and most definitely in need of some relief. It is one thing to see it, it’s another thing to live it.

Children are annoying little creatures. Any parent who says otherwise is lying to you. Actually anyone is annoying if you spend too much time with them. BB and I travelled for a year together back in 2012 and we knew we had to build in away days to escape each other. It doesn’t matter how much you love someone, if you spend every waking minute with them the little things become intolerable and you end up abandoning them while they are trying to get lunch at a bakery in Split (Croatia), leaving them without a map or any form of communication in 40 degree heat. BB can be ruthless…

The at-home parent doesn’t get many away days from the kids. It’s more like away hours. But to be honest, even an hour off will often make the difference between a good day and bad day, because it helps with the tolerance and energy levels. And the truth is that you typically set the tone, so if you’re in a good mood and keen to do stuff, then often the kids will be too. But even on the good days they can still physically wipe you out, and you’ll be left wanting to do nothing but sit on the couch with a bucket of ice cream and pretend that if you close your eyes for just a minute the bombsite of a house will be magically cleaned ready for another day of carnage. Rinse and repeat.

The bad days, well the worst part of those is the mental exhaustion. By the time you get to dinner you don’t care about what they’re eating, so long as something is stuffed in their mouths to drown out the whining. I won’t bother mentioning the lack of sleep.

So I can relate to all of that and everything that goes with it. It’s hard. Way harder than paid work, if only because of the social interaction you miss out on by not being in a workplace.

I’m not sure if a lot of what is hard for me is because I’m doing this away from home base. How much difference would it make if I was able to take Saturdays out to play sport with my mates, or head up to see my sister on a Sunday afternoon? I suspect quite a bit. I think more time off would make for more energy, which makes for the more likelihood of good weeks.

But there is also plenty I can’t relate to. Being a dad is very different to being a mum, because men and women are simply different. Some will argue that’s because of ingrained social structures that led to defined gender roles, and there is an element of that, but there is also truth in that those gender roles are based on natural differences in our dispositions that go back to Adam and Eve. I like those differences because they complement each other so well. For example, BB is far better at reading our kids’ emotions, so when she’s here they typically look first to her for emotional support. They look to me for physical support. I can’t imagine that’s unusual.

It’s true that people generally have different expectations about how mums and dads look after children. Because mums delivered their child into the world, and (most) are naturally gifted nurturers, they are deemed to have the most responsibility for their child’s welfare. As a result, mums are judged more, typically by other women. I can’t relate to those social pressures because they aren’t really applied to me. Random busy-bodies aside, I have no idea if people I know are judging how I parent, or how I look. I don’t care either. Whereas I know a lot of mums feel like they’re always being judged and it makes them question themselves all the time. There’s an entire section in book stores built on society’s judgement of mums. If there were only dads in the world, there would be one book: “How to keep your baby alive”, and most of us still wouldn’t read it.

So yes, I can very much relate to the day-to-day side of being an at-home mum, but the emotional side is a different beast. Always will be.

 

 

Signs of intelligence

Apparently once a child starts to lie to you it is a sign of intelligence. They now comprehend that there are consequences to their actions, and if they want to avoid those consequences then it’s best not to admit to what they have just done.

Hurricane has now reached this junction. And he’s very bad at it.

It is one thing to be smart enough to lie, but it’s another thing to be smart enough to know when you can get away with it. In that regard, Hurricane is at least smart enough to be President of the United States. Not a high bar unfortunately.

The first time he lied to me I was making dinner. He was sitting with Chaos in the living room in my direct line of sight. She had her bunny, he tried to take it off her. When she refused to let go he leaned back and kicked her in the head. The force left her face down on the ground as the tears started.

Up to this point, whenever I asked Hurricane why Chaos was crying he would explain very honestly what he had done and why. But this time his response was: “She fell on her face”.

Partially true of course. She did fall over after been clocked in the head with his heel. So I followed up with a leading question. Did she trip?

Yes she tripped.

Did she trip before or after you kicked her in the head?

Ummmmm

I saw you kick her in the head Hurricane.

Silence.

I could see the wheels spinning in his head. He knew he was in trouble, so he stood up and walked himself to time out to mitigate the fall out. Well played little man.

I thought that catching him dead cold first up might have made him rethink the wisdom of trying to lie to me. I was wrong. He’s adopted a strategy akin to a computer virus and has started testing my defences searching for weaknesses.

He now only lies to me when he knows I couldn’t have seen what happened, or he guesses I was otherwise distracted enough to not notice. There are several problems with his strategy of course.

  1. I’m smarter than he is
  2. Chaos still tells me the truth
  3. He doesn’t know how to sell a lie (his tone and body language give him up)

None of this stops him from trying. His best efforts to date have been when he has convinced Chaos to do something with him – for example dump our takeaway containers in the toilet. He will promptly blame her, and she will happily admit to it. But of course she will also just as happily sell him out when I ask her if he was the ringleader.

This raises a counter question. While lying at an early age might be a sign of intelligence, is continually getting caught in a lie a sign of persistence, or stupidity?

 

Toilet training Chaos (aka find the poo)

The title of this post is somewhat misleading. I’m not really toilet training Chaos at all. She’s training herself. I don’t have a choice about it.

Chaos is a very different little human to her big brother. She has a lot more confidence in her physical capabilities than he did at the same age. A lot of that is no doubt a second child thing, as she has grown up watching him run around and now wants to emulate everything he does. Everything. Jumping, climbing, running, eating. If he can do it, so can she. Even when she can’t.

Hurricane is an expert toileter. Hopefully soon he’ll start wiping his own bum and put an end to his commentary of my efforts, which typically involves him telling me to keep trying because I’ve missed some. But anyway, Chaos obviously believes her time has come too. Unfortunately she decided this without telling me.

I was putting clothes away in our bedroom when it happened. This is a very rare event in of itself, and I’m not actually sure I’ve done it again since. As I stood there shoving my thinning underwear into my drawer I hear Chaos’ little voice say ‘Daddy, poo poos!’, followed by the pitter patter of her little feet heading in my direction.

She runs into the bedroom starkers. Well not quite starkers. She’s got Hurricane’s red Bobux shoes on. A former flatmate of mine liked to pull that trick too. We’d all be ready to head out and he’d say ‘hang on I just need my shoes’, at which point he would duck into his room and then emerge wearing only his finest leather plods. Very few visitors escaped unscarred.

I was slightly confused as to how Chaos had picked up this trick, but of greater concern to me was whether she needed to do poos or had already done them. That question was answered when she spun around and took off again, with the ominous smear up her crack giving the game away.

I found the nappy in the hallway. It was empty, but with a whiff of recent action.

So this is what my life had become. One day you’re running a press conference on the outcome of a major business merger and then next thing you’re playing find the poo.

I asked Chaos where the poo poos were. She gave it some considered thought and then pointed at the toilet. There were obviously no poos in the toilet. For starters the foot stool wasn’t there so unless she picked them up and threw them in it was never a goer.

I asked Hurricane if he saw where Chaos had been playing. He was still angry at me for not letting him watch Octonauts so just ignored the question.

I knew what I had to do. I had to sniff it out.

Logic said it was either in the lounge or their bedroom. I cleared the lounge first. All good. Next, a careful examination of their beds. No poo.

I got down to floor level. Hands and knees. I picked up a scent. But then I realised Chaos was standing next to me so the environment was already compromised. I shut her in the cupboard.

At that moment I knew where I would find it. Chaos is a creature of habit. She has two favourite spots in our apartment. Both of them are windowsills.

And there it was. A tidy little mound sitting on her bedroom windowsill. To this day I don’t know whether she took the nappy off first and put on a public show, or just emptied the nappy on the sill and then ran off to find me. BB likes to think it was the latter, but I remain unconvinced.

A week later the same little voice and pitter patter of feet. Looking up at me with her big brown eyes she lifts up her hand and says in her sweetest tone: ‘ere you go Daddy’.

No need to go find it.

Progress.

 

 

 

There’s a very good reason men don’t stay at home with children

It’s because we’re biologically exposed.

Over the past two months I have copped more cherry shots than in all of the previous 33 years of my life on this planet. I get that mums sacrifice their nipples when their newborn is learning to feed. But damn, it’s just getting nibbled on a little bit, occasionally. Then they toughen up and all is good. You could beat them with a tenderiser and the nipple would just shrug as if to say ‘I’m not in the mood to be tickled’.

Balls do not toughen up. Yes if you’re a die hard cyclist your scrotum can turn into a leather pouch that offers some added protection, but that requires years of commitment and most of us aren’t masochistic.

Since arriving in NY, my fellas have been headbutted, kneed, kicked and punched with such frightening regularity I’ve started searching the kids room to see if they’re hiding a roster. It seems likely they’ve decided another sibling is not on their agenda and the best way to ensure that is to take out the baby makers. My swimmers are now so concussed they would have a greater chance of humming Beethoven’s 5th than finding the uterus.

And the little people are clever about how they inflict each strike on me too. Chaos has mastered the element of surprise. She will sneak up on me from behind, crawling. Then as I spot her and start to crouch she suddenly jumps up and ‘misjudges’ the amount of clearance she’s got. As I let out a whimper and double over, she pats me on the cheek and gently says ‘sowy daddy’. My bruised nut you’re sowy. I know you know what you’re doing.

Hurricane is a fan of the lazy limb. It appears to be entirely unintentional, and yet his strike zone is so precise. He’ll be in our bed in the morning and flop over from BB’s side to mine, his trailing foot or knee connecting flush. Or he’ll be in the kitchen and happen to windmill his arms as I turn around. No apology is forthcoming from him. He just feigns surprise and asks for some grapes.

BB’s sympathetic response?

Close your legs.

Pretty soon there won’t be much left to protect anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awkward conversations

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The library parking lot

Hurricane is at the age where he simply says what he observes.  As someone who doesn’t really have much of a filter, I tend to find his public commentary very funny. Though when the subject overhears it can get a bit awkward. BB is much more easily embarrassed than I am. Her empathy levels mean she tends to feel enough for the both of us, so I don’t tell her about all the conversations I get to have with Hurricane. She already worries too much about what comes out of my mouth.

As you would imagine, living in the Bronx is not really comparable to the majority white urban liberal mecca of Wellington city. Riverdale itself has a strong Jewish presence and there are some very affluent leafy streets a stones throw from us, but we also spend a lot of time in Kingsbridge where we catch the subway from and do our shopping. This is a Hispanic/black neighbourhood, and I would hazard a guess where most of the wealthy crowd find their nannies.

The first time I took the little ones to the library, the children’s area was packed. The library, I’ve learned, is where a number of nannies congregate for a couple of hours a day. Hurricane does not really know what a nanny is. He doesn’t have any friends that have one. So for him, all he saw was a bunch of white kids with dark-skinned mums. And so unfolded my first and hopefully last public discussion involving skin and hair colour.

Daddy, why does his mum have a black face?

What an opener. I took a little too long to respond, which meant he got to fire off the next observation.

He has nice hair. She has fuzzy hair.

Oh man. The first comment was easily survivable. A curious mind trying to understand how a mum with dark skin gave birth to a boy who appears to have never seen the sun. But that second one, that’s making a judgement on what nice hair looks like. Chris Rock made an entire documentary on this very subject after his daughter asked him why she didn’t have ‘good hair’ (the title of his film).

Obviously Hurricane didn’t mean anything by it. He’s just noticing differences, as kids his age do. In his old world nearly everyone had straight or wavy hair. ‘Fuzzy’ is different.

Now I would like to say I handled this situation with aplomb and sat him down and explained that families don’t have to be all one colour and there is no such thing as good or bad hair (just bad haircuts).

But all I could come up with was: “I like fuzzy hair.”

Now I’m exposed, and Hurricane takes the opportunity to get in a rib tickler.

Why?

Why do I like fuzzy hair? Don’t ask me that. I don’t know. I don’t care about hair at all. I go to the barber and just tell him to cut half of it off. Or if BB asks me if her hair looks ok I say yes. That’s about the extent of the verbal exchanges I have about hair.  How am I supposed to answer that?

I don’t. Because right at that moment Chaos walks past and fills the air with her stench. I’ve never been so happy to have to exit a conversation in order to change a monster dump.

At this point the ‘mum’ in question fires off something in Spanish to her fellow nannies and they all laugh.

Two weeks later that nanny and I are sitting next to each other on the reading couch. She finishes her book, turns to me and says: “So why DO you like fuzzy hair?”

Dammit.

 

 

 

 

Adventure days

Roughly once a week we pack some supplies and explore a new part of New York. We call these Adventure Days. They are exhausting, but great fun.

For parents curious about the logistics, we simply pack snacks, grab the stroller and frontpack and jump on the subway/bus/ferry. Our feet do the rest. Both Hurricane and Chaos get pretty tired and tend to fall asleep at some point. They can get a bit grouchy late in the day but to be honest they’re little troopers overall. They love getting out and about.

So here is a quick take on our adventures to date in 30 words or less (and some pics in random mosaic style).

Central Park

Delivers on expectations. It’s a beautiful space. We go there a lot. Overpriced food and drink though, so pays to bring your own picnic.

Museum of Natural History

Epic museum. Kids were enthralled. Impossible to see in one hit, but thankfully you can pay whatever you like to enter so we will be going back many times.

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Roar

Times Square/Midtown

Tourist central. Senses get overloaded with noise, lights, smells, people. Buzzy place, but not the easiest with kids. Seems most people just go there to take selfies.

Governor’s Island 

Loved it, as did the kids. Stinking hot when we went so we sweated a storm cycling the island. Worth it though. Best hotdog to date as well.

Downtown

Wall St is quite aesthetically pleasing. Ground Zero is really sobering. Happens to be next to the flashest underground shopping mall ever that kind of looks like, well, you decide.

High line walk/Chelsea markets

Very cool concept. Packed on a weekend though, so better to go off peak. Same with the markets. We plan on heading back to eat our way through it properly.

Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Bridge

I could go every Saturday. Epic food market. Best I’ve seen anywhere. Just don’t waste your life on the donut pasta. Terrible. The bridge walk was packed out, but still really cool.

Little Italy – Festival of San Gennaro

Heard about it late so ended up going on the last weekend. It was packed to the max so a hot sweaty nightmare with a stroller. Good gelato and spicy calamari though.

Making a home

Hurricane earned his nickname simply because we always know where he’s been. He’s not sneaky. He doesn’t cover his tracks. Pretty standard male behaviour.

Back in NZ he liked to make ‘nests’. Essentially, it involved gathering all the cushions he could find into a pile and then climbing inside. It could preoccupy him for ages. It was great.

Since arriving in NY, into an apartment that is half the size of our family pad, the nest has escalated into what he calls ‘making a home’. Unfortunately for me, his home doesn’t have any real structure to it.

Somehow Hurricane has got the idea in his head that a home is where everything is thrown on the floor. I have no idea how he got that impression. None. There is no way it is a behavior he observed in his parents’ bedroom.

The problem I face is the speed with which he operates. I will be getting Chaos dressed and then walk out into the living area and find that everything in his reach is now on the floor. Shoes, toiletries, food, toys, the dirty washing, the clean washing. He does not discriminate.

I can be changing a nappy, hear a crash, and find Hurricane on a chair emptying his duplo onto the wooden floors. By the time I’ve retrieved a naked Chaos from her favourite spot on the windowsill, her brother has already collected her nappy. Where is it? I ask. In my home, he says. Yes, but where? In my home, he responds, clearly annoyed at being asked the same question twice when he’s given a perfectly adequate answer already. He’s right, of course. It is resting serenely on my pillow, which is now his mother’s pillow.

There is a new rule in place today, he can only make a home in his room and he has to help me tidy it up afterward. All this means in practice is that he takes everything from the lounge into his room and then sleeps under the pile he’s put on his bed.

I’m not sure who is winning this one. It doesn’t feel like it’s me.