Saturday 28 January 2017

Kindergarten: A New Journey

I found myself close to tears, over the ironing.

While ironing and household chores are wont to reduce us to tears, it wasn't really the ironing's fault in this case.

It was what I was ironing.

My precious baby's new school uniform, for him to wear the following day.

His first day of Kindergarten.

In that tiny pair of shorts, I could see the journey ahead.

The years of uniforms that he will wear (and I will iron) as he progresses through to Graduation.

I could see all of that in that one item, in that one task.
Shoes... He's never worn them for a whole day in his life!

There was joy and grieving.

for the end of his babyhood
for the end of my era as a mother-of-babies, a hen and her chicks
for the end of the exclusive universe I've built around my babies - now they explore a bigger world

watching my baby become a boy
knowing he is ready for this next chapter
watching his excitement (and nerves)

It's not even only about him, my younger one, but also about my precious girl, who also seems to grow apace...  She starts Year 4.  Year 4.  So very grown up.  Taller than me soon (hooray!  and also... not difficult)
They'll never look this good again!
I began my teaching career with Year 4.  I had no idea that they were each someone's babies, still. They seemed so mature, so independent.

And the parents seemed to wear the mantle of parenthood easily, to come as a family package with their children, know what they were about...

I didn't realise they were still learning too, still figuring out this parenting gig.

And when I taught Kindergarten (who I loved, by the way, and they loved me), I really didn't grasp how each of those little people that walked through my door, were still just tiny babies.

I passed a mum sobbing yesterday, as I walked my baby boy to his classroom, and his beautiful teacher.
And I understood.
And, truth be told, I cried too.  For her, and for me.
Trains.  His very favourite thing in the whole world. 
Because I had to take my baby, deliver him to his (beautiful, gentle, wonderful) teacher.

And leave him there.

Walk away without him.

I was glad to have my girl with me for that day, but I think Monday when I must leave them both, I will shed more tears.

No longer are my precious kids orbiting in the universe I have created for them.

No longer are they relying just on me, Mama (and Papa too of course).

They are both now venturing out on their Grand Adventure, which is peopled and influenced by so many others.

Which means they will have an existence, an experience, which I will largely not know about.  I won't know the details of every conversation that they have, with their teachers, and their friends.  I won't hear all the things that make them giggle, cry, and be able to guide their interactions with others.  I can't cuddle them when they are hurt at school.

So I'm hoping that the foundations we have laid will endure and keep them safe, keep them knowing they are loved, whatever they encounter.


I collected him yesterday, all smiles as he walked out in lines, holding hands with his friend.
He still looked tiny.
They all did.
With their enormous backpacks, and hats, and uniforms 2 sizes too big.

He had a great day.  Thankful, so thankful.
And he wants to go back.  Doubly thankful.

But there's still a tear or two to shed.

Because I think he grew a year in that one day.

He needs me just a little less.

Grief and Joy.

Because that is what we long for them.

To raise them so they are healthy without us one day.

It's a funny gig, this parenting job.  To render yourself redundant.

Off on a Very Grand Adventure
And I will always be here waiting for them to come home

The joy in this? They will always need our love.

Tuesday 3 January 2017

I Heart Cinnamon: Cinnamon Syrup Recipe

If you know me at all, you know I love Cinnamon.

And all things Cinnamon inspired - Chai, Glühwein (similar to Mulled Wine), Teacakes, Pfeffernüsse, Gingerbread, and on it goes.

At the supermarket yesterday I saw bulk cinnamon.  I've never seen that before at our regular store.

Its siren song called so of course I bought it.

I've been making some home cooked goodies for Christmas Hampers for friends, and felt inspired to make up a Cinnamon Syrup.  I was sure I'd seen a recipe somewhere, although when I went to find it, it seemed I'd imagined it.  Not that surprising really.

Edit:  I found the recipe after all - Everyday Cooking for Thermomix Families - Star Anise & Cinnamon Syrup.  But it still didn't have enough cinnamon for what I was dreaming of...

So here is my attempt to create a Cinnamon Syrup.

I kept it simple so it's gluten free, and can be used in drinks or as a topping on food.  There were other recipes that incorporated flour to thicken it, perhaps I'll experiment with that next time.

I used the Simple Syrup recipe from ThermoFun - if you haven't heard of Simple Syrup before, it's the name for a syrup made of sugar and water.  It's often used as a base for flavoured syrups or for cocktails.  It's a handy recipe to know, and if you're into cocktails, to keep on hand in the fridge!

After perusing a few recipes, the one that took my fancy was the one here, that incorporated the most cinnamon - the more the better in my opinion!  By the way, that site had some inspiring recipes for a variety of cinnamon inspired cocktails.

This recipe also said to leave the cinnamon sticks in the syrup to steep overnight.  I was short on time, so added them in during the cooking phase, but left a couple of quills in each jar to enhance the flavour and make it look all pretty.
I also added a splash of (home made) vanilla essence, and used half and half coconut sugar (for some reason I had heaps in the cupboard), and brown sugar.

The coconut sugar has a roasted bitterness to it, reminiscent of coffee, that would take the edge off the sweetness, and I felt like the brown sugar enhances the cosy cinnamon goodness.

Initially while it was cooking I was worried because I could smell the roasted flavours more than any other, but at the end of the cooking time, sweet cinnamon fragrances had developed.

100g coconut sugar
100g Brown Sugar
5g Vanilla Essence
240g Water
6 Cinnamon Quills

Place all ingredients in the bowl
Dissolve 10 mins / 110 C / Speed 1

If you don't have a Thermomix, you can still make the syrup:  place all ingredients in a saucepan, and gently bring to the boil until the sugar is dissolved.  Allow to simmer for a few minutes until the flavours infuse.

We added some to a berry iced tea for a little sweetness.  And then of course we took turns licking the bowl to taste it.  The consensus was that it's delicious.

The verdict from a 12 year old we love who has a very discerning palate:

 "Tastes like a bakery!"  

I'll take that!

I'm sure you could embellish this by adding other flavours such as orange zest, or other spices like cloves, but I wanted to keep it simple this first time.

I can't wait to add it to other things to share the cinnamon love.  I'm thinking Yoghurt, ice cream, tea, coffee...  What would you add it to?

Here it is all tucked into its hamper, nice and snug :)