Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Endings and beginnings



My girl has reached another milestone. A rather large one, in fact. Last week she celebrated her last day at daycare, where she has spent an important part of the first three-and-a-half years of her life while M and I were at work. In September she turns four and will be moving on to primary school. This is a happy fact: N is more than ready to delve deeper into the world of letters and numbers; school has been all she's talked about for months. 

The day of goodbye started out fine. N is a matter-of-fact, no nonsense type of child who tends to take things in her stride. According to plan I arrived at three o'clock to see her sitting at the head of the circle with her beautifully decorated party hat firmly in place. What followed was a procession of songs, friendly words, hugs & kisses, treats I had baked, and present giving. The preschool teachers - to whom I am forever grateful for their loving care - gave her a kaleidoscope as a keepsake, as well as a giant ring binder full of all her artwork (more artwork!) as well as sweet little notes wishing her well and photos taken over the years. Although N's face showed signs of mixed emotions, she chatted away excitedly about being big now, big enough to start school where they teach you reading, counting and all that big kind of stuff.

During the ride home she was unusually quiet. She sat on the backseat with her party hat still firmly in place, the kaleidoscope around her neck, hugging her binder full of memories. "Are you okay?" I asked her, glancing in the rear-view mirror. "I don't know," she answered after a quiet minute (which I thought was a rather wise answer).  At home we settled down on the sofa to look through her artwork together. At her request I read the goodbye letter the teachers had written, in which they said how much they would miss her and how much they'd enjoyed having her around all those years. They also reminisced about her favourite games (doctors and nurses, mothers and fathers) and her lovely artwork. As I read to her, big tears streamed down her face, followed by heartbreaking sobs as she covered her face with her hands. "I don't want to be big anymore," she wailed, "I just want to go back to all my friends and teachers - the ones I love so much, the ones who love me!" In the most comprehendible way possible, I told her life was about letting go and moving on. About endings and beginnings. And of course I told her that we could drop by and visit any time we felt like it. When her brother came home he comforted her as only a big brother can and told her that growing older is a difficult business, that it's much nicer to stay small, what with all those lovely people to look after you - not to mention all those wonderful toys to be had and all that important playing to be done. Funnily enough his talk made her feel better in no time.

In the morning I had made little spiced fairy cakes for the festivities. A fitting choice, I think,  since my daughter is one spicy little girl. I did worry whether the other kids would like them - children can be fussy after all - but as it turns out only one out of the nine there had her reservations because of the raisins (she thought they were bugs). The teachers, however, loved them unanimously.



Little Spiced Fairy Cakes
adapted from Love, Bake, Nourish by Amber Rose

125g spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice (Dutch: koek/speculaaskruiden)
125g butter, softened
2 large eggs
100g raw cane sugar
30g raisins, roughly chopped
2-3 tablespoons of milk 
half tub of Philadelphia or another cream cheese
2 tablespoons icing sugar
decorations (optional)
yields 22 fairy cakes or 12 normal sized muffins

  • preheat the oven 180 degrees Celsius
  • combine the dry ingredients except the sugar together in a large bowl
  • in another large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and add a tablespoon of the flour mix, whisking to incorporate
  • add the eggs one at a time, whisking well to incorporate in between; if it looks as though the mixture is curdling, add another tablespoon of the flour mixture and continue whisking
  • add the rest of the dry ingredients and the raisins; gently fold everything together until thoroughly combined, adding the milk towards the end to give a creamy batter consistency
  • spoon the mixture into the cases; bake fairy cakes 12-15 minutes and muffins 20-25; if you're not sure whether they are cooked, stick a thin skewer into one of the cakes - if it comes out clean, the cakes are ready
  • for the icing: whisk together the cream cheese and icing sugar, checking to see whether you think it's sweet enough
  • be sure to do the decorating when the cakes have completely cooled down





 

32 comments:

  1. What an endearing story about your little girl... Poor little thing, changing schools is such a huge step at her age...

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    1. It's a big step but so interesting to watch how children cope with everything.

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  2. What a lovely story, change of any type is hard on us all, our children remind us that it is important to talk about it and embrace it to make it easier to deal with. I hope she settles into her new routine with ease :)

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    1. First part of your comment: absolutely! I find I learn a lot from my children in many respects. And embracing changes - however difficult - is indeed key.

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  3. Aww I remember my four going through the same thing. With my eldest I remember her being really brave having to change school as we had moved and it never fazed her until we got to the corner of the school and she informed me her tummy was spinning.

    I'm glad you blogged this so you can show her when she's a little older x

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    1. Yes, I was thinking the same the other day: how nice for her to be able to go back and read about these types of childhood events.

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  4. What a beautiful post Isabelle, another milestone reached. Treasure every moment, they grow so fast, before you know it they are all grown up (and in my case I'm the littlest in the family now!)

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    1. Yes, it's going so fast already - quite scary sometimes!

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  5. It sounds like your little girl will cope with the big wide world very well indeed!

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    1. I think so too. She's a sturdy little girl and knows how to express herself well.

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  6. I'm sure she will do great. She sounds like a very wise little girl. Changes are hard but it sounds like you've prepared her really well.

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    1. Yes, don't you just love those wise remarks children can make? Sometimes they say very insightful things indeed.

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  7. Aww bless your little girl, what a sweetie! Milestones are funny, eagerly anticipated but when the time is here, a big lump forms in your tummy and all you want to do is turn the clock back. Cx

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    1. Yes, that's exactly the phase she's in right now!

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  8. How cute! Good luck at school, funny to see them so ready to move on in some ways, then not so sure when it starts to happen. Hope all goes well.

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    1. She said to me the other day: "I think starting school after summer is exciting... but I also think it's scary. I want to go.. but I also don't want to go." So interesting how she's signalled those contradicting emotions!

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  9. It sounds as if your little girl is growing up, not without regret at what has been and how much fun she had with her pre-school teachers and friends. How lovely to have a big brother to cheer her up and tell things as they are! The little spiced fairy cakes sounded perfect!
    In reply to your kind comment on my last posting. I'm sure you will love your week of skiing in the mountains around Christmastime this year! I love the mountains, especially the Pre-alps which are green, but I have to admit that I prefer them in the summer and autumn!

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    1. I would love to see the mountains in spring or summer - I've only ever seen them with snow on top!

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  10. A lovely story...such a beautiful age, kids change when they go to school. The cupcakes look really yummy! I have not visited for a while due to life, but so very glad I did xx

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    1. So good to hear from you, Tanya. Things have been very busy over here too so I totally understand! xxx

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  11. A big step for her but I am sure she will soon forget and enjoy big school - how lovely for her to receive a book of memories that I am sure she will treasure.

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    1. Yes, the effort those wonderful preschool teachers put into everything is truly amazing.

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  12. I was almost in tears reading that - it reminded me of my son who always hated moving on to the next stage in life. I think he's still a bit like that even now. Your daughter will love school and it sounds like she is really ready for it. Your spice fairy cakes sound delicious.

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    1. Moving on is often disconcerting, isn't it. My son finds it difficult too (he's a very sensitive chap) and actually often tells me he really loves being a child and really has no desire to grow up; he just loves things the way they are. Thank you for joining my site by the way, and a very warm welcome you.

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  13. Your daughter expressed with honesty and clarity what we all feel when faced with a big change, regardless of age! A lovely post X

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    1. Thank you, Penny - and in case I forgot last time: welcome!

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  14. ah what a sweet post, your daughter sounds very wise for her age xxx

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  15. Hey Isabelle,
    bless your little girl. It can get rather overwhelming sometimes, but what an insightful and articulate person she already is! She will totally thrive at school.
    leanne xx

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    1. Thanks, Leanne! I find it quite amazing how articulate and insightful a child can be at (almost) four. Us adults can really learn a thing or two from those small folks xxx

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  16. BigR is off to school in a few short weeks...she's excited but is unhappy about having to go on her birthday!! We haven't faced the leaving nursery bit yet...but she knows she'll be able to go back for the play scheme in the school holidays so maybe not as big a wrench for her! Those buns look good and will solve anything! I'm with the girl who doesn't like raisins...I call them flies!!! :)

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    1. Good luck starting the whole school thing. We've been there already with the eldest and know it all works out fine in the end! As a very small child I lived in Saudie Arabia for a while, where I thought the spots in the bread were raisins, when in fact they were beetles that had crawled into the dough.Yikes!

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Thanks so much for taking the time to visit. I love reading your comments so please feel free to leave one (or more, if the mood so takes you) in English and/or in Dutch.