Andrea Mara

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Something Festive This Way Comes

Until recently, apart from lighter traffic on the way to work, the October mid-term break meant nothing to me at all. But since the kids started school, and once I realised that taking the mid-term week off work was the thing to do, this time of year has taken on a whole new meaning. It’s like a mini-Christmas (sorry for mentioning the C word, but as of midnight tonight, I’m there) but without the pressure. It’s like Easter, but with a bit more theme to it – pumpkins and autumn leaves and Barmbrack and homemade soup trump bunnies. Plus there’s the added bonus of the weather – it’s the one time of year when a chill in the air is a novelty and not unwelcome. By Easter, we’re just disappointed.

For a long time, my judgement of October was coloured by the imposition of Halloween – I’m not a fan of the whole dress up and go door to door thing, nor the stay home and answer the door thing (I know, very Bah Humbug) – but now I see that Halloween is just one element of this mid-Autumn breather.

We had one of those near perfect weeks, when the children who tend to cry a lot didn’t cry a lot, and the ones who often sulk didn’t sulk, and everything seemed to click into place; surrounded by tinsel skeletons and plastic pumpkins and styrofoam gravestones.

Office Mum: kids

I’m a sub-par homemaker generally, but for one week at mid-term, I aspire towards domestic deity – at least in my own head. And most of what we did turned out pretty OK, and we mostly didn’t fight, and we mostly enjoyed it.

We cooked comfort food – something I don’t do often or well – making old favourites like Sausage Lasagne (which withstood a full cup of tea being added by the toddler during cooking) and new discoveries like this gorgeous homemade Sweet and Sour Pork from a recipe on Life on Hushabye Farm. The kids joined in, enthusiastically doing the most tedious jobs; de-seeding peppers and peeling mushrooms and washing dishes. Each time we cooked, we had about ten minutes of genuine enjoyment (all of us), followed by ten minutes of deep breaths (me) and squabbling (all of us), then an “Oh look, it’s your TV time!” announcement, after which I’d finish the cooking myself. So enough time to make good memories, but not so much to spoil good food.

We made Blueberry Pancakes from this Bumbles of Rice recipe – a gorgeous feel-good project with the toddler, until he walloped me for cracking the egg instead of letting him do it and stormed off. It didn’t matter, he came back with “we be fwends again?” just on time to eat the pancakes, and all the kids declared that we will have them for everyone’s birthday forevermore.

We made homemade granola, and homemade soup like this one from Dairy Free Kids, and Egg and Bacon “buns” that were the highlight of bank holiday Monday, using this recipe on The Busy Mama’s blog.

The homemaking embrace did not extend to crafting, but we did do colouring. The kids requested Halloween-themed drawings from me, and then coloured them in. It doesn’t sound terribly exciting but they loved it – I think it was being able to ask for whatever they wanted. The front porch has been papered with their colouring, and they’re sure that Trick or Treaters will be petrified when they see the rainbow skeletons and pink ghosts and Catrisha the Cat.

The kids also painted some pottery witches that I bought in the Art and Hobby shop – as crafting goes, this was a total cheat. But it kept them happy for two weeks in the lead up and an hour for the actual painting. The toddler gave his witch a bath, then was truly delighted with himself when he painted his nails green.

We had playdates and coffees and playground trips, and one cabin-fever inspired lunch – it was either get out to Itsa Bagel or lock myself in the bathroom – the former was more appealing and the coffee was better.

Every night at bedtime, instinctively the words “thanks for a great day” come out of my mouth when kissing the kids goodnight, and every night they say “this is the best mid-term ever”, so we must be getting something right this week, and for that I am grateful.

Next week, the cloak of domesticity will be cast off again, and we’ll go back to school and work and spaghetti Bolognese. But I’ve got 75 photos and a blog-post to remind me of our pretty great mid-term-break.  Not perfect, but good enough, and to that end, somehow perfect.


If like me, you don’t love every part of Halloween, you might like to read this article I wrote for eumom: apologies in advance for my grinch-like status: 7 reasons why I’m the Halloween Grinch

Office Mum Halloween
Happy Halloween!




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