Sunday, 12 October 2014

The child in me

This past week I have felt the effect of too many late nights like a blow to the head with a blunt object. Now I must admit it doesn't take a lot to bring me off balance - just a couple of evenings to bed around midnight will do the trick. The result is always the same: nervousness, emotional imbalance, and something akin to melancholy. A general feeling that something is 'off' and that even the smallest chores are mountains to climb. I also don't fare well in crowds; too much input, too much stimuli, resulting in sensory overload.  I have suffered from this my whole life, but find it is increasing as I grow older. The good news, however, is that I have grown to accept this part of myself: I have a sensitive nervous system and sensitive nervous systems need to retreat and rest. 

And so, after a series of social and school-related obligations in the evening hours, it was time to step up and do something radical. For two nights in a row, I went to bed at the same time as the children. Yep, at 7.30 p.m. And boy did it do wonders.  I had expected to feel groggy the next morning, but this wasn't even remotely the case. For the first time in ages I felt well-rested. No mind buzzing or pulse racing. Just tranquil. And ready to deal quite happily with the stuff life is made of. I felt so relaxed that I even joined the kids in the afternoon for a spot of children's television, particularly enjoying Rudi het racevarken (Rudy, the Racing Pig) a series about an adorable pink piglet living with a multi-cultural German family. Grown up television couldn't possibly equal that feel-good factor.

In keeping with my new child-like lifestyle, I also tossed aside adult literature and read a beautiful book by Sonya Hartnett called The Silver Donkey. It is set during WWI and about two young French sisters who find a blind English soldier in a nearby wood. Perfect sparse prose shaped into a deeply moving story. This leads me to think there must be a plethora of gems out there aimed at children and young adults I am not yet aware of. Time to dive into the school library a little deeper, I guess.

But more has been happening around here. Son S has suddenly started caring about his appearance. For one thing, his hair needs to be styled with gel so that he will go to school looking cool. "Your hair looks very nice," I said when I'd finished sculpting it Friday morning. "But does it also look cool," he answered impatiently, "because cool is the MOST important thing."

Oh. I see.

And there were more new things to get used to this week. Daughter N dropped a bombshell on us by announcing that she had got married. To a boy in her class. I of course immediately suggested he come over and play so I could get to know my new son-in-law a little better (he's a darling, it turns out). When son S heard about this whole marriage business, he frowned and said to his sister, "But I thought you were going to marry me." N wasn't in the least bit fazed and matter-of-factly answered, "Well, sure. I can still marry you too, if you like; no need to make a fuss."

No need to make a fuss indeed.

Anyway. There were also snack boxes to fill this week and I did so using Dutch Apple Flaps, along with the usual fruit.


Dutch Apple Flaps

3 apples,  rinsed, cored, and cubed
A handful of raisins (optional)
1 tablespoon of raw cane sugar (really no more is needed)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4-6 squares of  ready-made puff pastry
  • preheat the oven 220 degrees Celsius (or according to instructions on pastry packet)
  • lay the squares of puff pastry on an oven tray lined with baking paper
  • in a bowl, stir together the cubed apples, cinnamon, and sugar
  • now place a small amount of the filling onto the middle of the squares and fold the pastry into triangles, using your fingers to keep the filling in. Press the edges gently with a fork to seal. This is very important - if the Flap isn't sealed properly, the filling will spill out. You probably won't need all of the mixture, but that shouldn't be a problem; there's bound to be someone there willing to polish those spiced apples off in no time
  • you could brush the flaps with a beaten egg to give them a nicer colour - I didn't this time, but then I was feeling lazy
  • bake for 20 minutes until puffed up and coloured



  1. I shall look forward to hearing about your experience with coconut flour as I'm following a gluten free diet right now. I love the sound of The Silver Donkey. I also love many children's books!
    I'm sure your Dutch Apple Flaps went down well. Apples are so wonderfully versatile and accompany us all through the winter months.
    Have a happy Sunday!

  2. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Loving your daughters marriage and she'll marry her brother too!!! far too sweet xxx

  3. Ik ben blijkbaar niet de enige die compleet off-balance gaat, als er teveel gebeurt rond me en ik niet genoeg slaap krijg... Enne, ik wil je niet verontrusten, maar het wordt met ouder worden er écht niet beter op... Waar ik vroeger stress nodig had om te functionneren, kan het me nu volledig lam leggen...

    Hoe grappig - je dochtertje wat trouwde in de klas ;-). Zo lief van broertje dat hij ontgoocheld was !
    Heb "the silver donkey" intussen nog niet in de plaatselijke boekhandel gevonden, ik zal eens online moeten zoeken (lang leve het internet ;-))
    Nog een fijne zondag !

  4. glad you felt restored after some sleep, sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves we are so busy looking after everyone else. x

  5. Glad you feel better. I struggle too when I don't get enough sleep but can't go to bed early for fear of waking at 4am, my least favourite time which I see far too often. Lovely apple turnovers!

  6. I'm the same with late nights- they do me no good at all. I am also the same with crowds- they make my ears buzz and my head swim. Food too, as we've said before, so I get where you are coming from entirely.

    I love the things your little ones have said and done this week- it's such a gorgeous time. Then they turn into teenagers who replace speech with grunting and don't emerge till mid morning from sleep and go out looking like scarecrows. until girls come on the scene... All joyful stuff :o) xx

  7. Your children are delightful, they really made me smile :) Glad the early night did the trick x

  8. those early nights and children's books sound like the ideal way to wind down and re-balance. take care x

  9. I read the Silver Donkey with my eldest we loved it too. There is nothing better than a good nights sleep it is a great tonic. More lovely food to expand my waist line............

  10. What a good idea to adopt the childrens' routine and get a great night's sleep. Glad to hear you felt energised as a result X

  11. It is amazing what less sleep than you really need can do isn't it, I am glad that you are caught up and feeling better in yourself again. xx

  12. I love an early night, particularly now that the nights are closing in. Sometimes I snuggle up under the duvet, pillows propped up and knit. It is almost as relaxing as sleep. The bedroom is a peaceful place. I am glad you have recharged your batteries! Cx

  13. At nine and six, my children still talk about getting married to each other. I thought they'd be past it by now, but no. I think it's funny, they'll figure it out soon enough. I'm glad you were able catch up on your sleep, I'm the same way and I completely understand what you were feeling.

  14. Yep, my two (at 5 and 7) want to marry each other and I think it's pretty adorable. Your kids sound fab. It's really interesting what you said about getting enough sleep, and how it makes you feel. I don't think I could fall asleep if I went to bed at 7.30, but I do think I should probably go to bed earlier. I'm really glad to hear you're feeling better. x

  15. Catching up on your sleep will work wonders for all us. You're right about children's books - there are some great ones that adults can also enjoy. Love those apple flaps - we call them apple turnovers.

  16. I'm glad the early nights have helped Isabelle - and the book sounds like it's been terrific too! The snacks look delicious, perfect for lunch boxes!

  17. Hey Isabelle,
    I've been going up to bed earlier, but not to sleep. Alfie has lights out at ten, and so I have to stay up until then. I could quite easily go to sleep at the same time as Olly to be honest. But then I am an early riser. I love today's recipe. Your children are very lucky to have all these treats in their lunch boxes.
    Leanne xx

  18. It's amazing how much better everything feels after a good sleep. We often go to bed not long after the children when the ABO is on earlies. I always sleep better on those's harder (for me!) when he's away or on lates as I can't settle well. Yes more lovely things to add to my bake list!

  19. Ah sleep, the cure-all. Sometimes it is hard to switch off - I start yawning at about 8 p.m. but try to stay awake till 10. I really must delve into childrens books - something simple to drift off to.

  20. By the age of six my eldest had married two of his friends and one of his sisters. I'm sure he'd have agreed that that was no big deal ;)

    Your lovely apple pastries look exactly like something my mother used to make, which I think she called Apple Puffs ... they were delicious.


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