Parental Leave

Often our weekends are taken up with children’s sports, their parties, their friends, their sleepovers; as well as their homework, assignments, projects, speeches, escapades and dramas.  But last weekend we took a break from parenting and spent time socialising and catching up with our own friends.

Shoulders of lamb

Shoulders of lamb

For my mental health I needed parental leave.  Archie has been on uni holidays which has meant a lot of loitering around the house.  I asked him when he was going back to uni and he said, ‘I don’t know’.

‘What do you mean you don’t know?’

‘I haven’t checked’.

‘Well it’s probably already started’.

‘Probably’, he said as he shrugged without concern and headed back up the stairs.

Ver bad night shot!

Ver bad night shot!

Then Arabella popped out of her room and said she’s unable to do her maths work because her ‘computer is too old’.  I think I’m still paying it off!  I told her there must be some way it can be upgraded so the uni assignments can be downloaded onto her very old two-year old laptop.  And then she started up about her birthday party.  (I didn’t know she was having one).

‘You don’t have to have a birthday party every year, you know’, I advised.

‘Yes I do.  And I’ve chosen the cake I want.  I’ll email you a picture’.

Steamed greens

Steamed greens

And a mean boy at Alfie’s school stole his lunch.  Ripped it out of his hands.  It was a sausage roll and sauce.  I ordered it for him from the canteen because it was a cold and wet day so I thought it would warm him up.  And because he loves sausage rolls I also knew he would eat it.  And he needs to eat because at the moment he’s so thin I can count all his ribs.  The mean boy snatched his lunch order bag then twirled it over his head then threw it on the ground and stomped on it.  Bye, bye sausage roll!  So I had to send an email to his teacher saying children should not snatch food from skinny boys because their parents already go to bed worrying their child has expended more energy than they have consumed.

Little pots of berries

Little pots of berries

So we took the weekend off.

On Friday night we went to a friend’s home to celebrate his recent promotion.  It was a catered cocktail party that would have been held in their garden except the weather forced a re-think and we stayed inside and out of the rain.  We had a great time catching up with a lot of people we hadn’t seen in a long time.  There was a great variety of food but I particularly liked the ham being placed on the table and sliced in front of us and put into very fresh miniature rolls with a choice of condiments.  A glazed ham is always so eye-catching and festive.

Glazed ham

Glazed ham

After stumbling through the front door at 2am we woke to more rain.  We did hope it would ease up as we were off to a party that night to celebrate a friend’s 50th.  And they were hoping to have it outside!  Alas, the rain persisted and so furniture was rearranged to make room for the one hundred guests.  Let me tell you about their three sons.

The birthday cake.  It's the birthday boy swimming through the water.

The birthday cake. It’s the birthday boy swimming through the water.

They are the same age as Archie and Arabella.  The boys were smartly dressed in ironed white shirts with black bow ties and black pants with long black aprons.  All three of them had done the cooking for the party!



They made their own hummus, threaded baby bocconcini, cherry tomatoes and mint onto skewers, made a ‘palate cleanser’ of cubed watermelon with a little goat’s cheese and a dash of fresh mint, roasted eye fillets of beef and made a chimichurri sauce.

Cubed watermelon with goat's cheese and mint

Cubed watermelon with goat’s cheese and mint

They operated the kitchen, worked behind the bar, served all the food and said speeches about their father without using any notes.  So accomplished.  As much as I was impressed, when I thought about Archie not knowing how to load the dishwasher and Arabella storing fresh spinach in the freezer, it was hard not to cry out, ‘Where did I go wrong?’

Carving eye fillets of beef

Carving eye fillets of beef

Another 2am stumble through the door and you guessed it, we woke to more rain.  And it was Father’s Day.  I slow-roasted two shoulders of lamb for seven hours and served it with a homemade aioli, a carrot, suede and potato mash and a mixture of steamed greens with this season’s asparagus to help convince us that despite the weather, it is actually Spring.

Eye fillets served in baskets with chimmichurri sauce

Eye fillets served in baskets with chimmichurri sauce

The very capable boys

The very capable boys

After I put the lamb in the oven for it’s seven-hour journey to ‘meltingly tender’, I realised I now couldn’t put a dessert in the oven.  ‘I need a double-oven, Carl’, I cried out inappropriately (seeing Father’s Day is not a day that’s all about me).  And then I had to think about what I could cook that could only go into the oven once the main course was served.  I chose individual berry crumbles with a topping made with coconut flour, pecans and oats.  They were served straight from the oven with a dollop of ice cream.

These did look better once they came out of the oven!

These did look better once they came out of the oven!

And now it’s Monday and Archie’s loitering with seemingly no intention of going back to uni, Arabella is at uni but not doing maths and instead sending me pictures of prospective birthday cakes and I’m thinking of my little guy and mentally adding up his calorie intake minus energy expended.  It’s time to plan another weekend of parental leave.


  1. Sounds like a great weekend! I feel terrible for Alfie though… You need to fatten him up to take down that mean bully.
    We did something similar this weekend, on Friday I made sure all the kids had plans and I had a dinner party for my friends.
    Had a great time and the food was pretty dang good 🙂

  2. Sounds like a perfect weekend with some wonderful food. I hope the school dealt with the bully. GG

  3. This is great… It is good that your kids are at the stage where you can take parental leave! I’m sure you have done a fantastic job with your kids… maybe they will be late bloomers 🙂 Liz x

  4. Dear Charlie,

    Looks like it’s a full time job doing parenting at your household. Those eye fillet on baguette with chimichurri sauce is such a great idea for party food!

  5. I love that party food but I have to say, I couldn’t figure out that cake without instructions and then it was tough. I would have been really angry about the bullying and as much as I hate saying teachers need more to worry about – they’re the ones in charge when it happens.

  6. It sounds like you really needed that break. Being a parent is hard work. I hope you are able to put some meat on Alfie’s ribs. It’s quite worrying.

  7. Charlie I think it’s time for you to leave home! Take Alfie and the girls with you of course. And probably Carl too. I hope the bully gets his come around soon – that’s just plain mean.

  8. Alfie should have popped than mean bully in the nose! Brandon was thin like that as well. He ate a lot if food and remained thin. Certainly didn’t get that golden metabolism from me! Although your friends children do seem rather well rounded, there’s no way they provide the interesting and funny stories your children do for all of us!

  9. parental leave sounds good – though we don’t have too much drama of your ilk – nor too much impressive behaviour like those nice boys at the 50th – and we have had lots of sunshine over the weekend which was glorious but the rain has arrived tonight – it was too good to last (though I got a couple of loads of washing on the line) – and I think you are quite entitled to need another oven when you are baking for your loved ones – that isn’t just about you!

  10. Parental leave? I don’t think that’s possible. But it’s good to dream.

  11. Well at least the little guy doesn’t give you any trouble! 😛 But seriously, I think parental leave is a must. Absence makes the heart grow fonder doesn’t it?

  12. Hi Charlie, love your writing style, I find that I don’t really want your post to end, they are so cleverly written. The parties sound like fun. My son did not learn to load a dishwasher until he got married and he caught on just fine.

  13. I’ll just take a couple pieces of that beef please, with maybe a side of the hummus from the party. Looks like a weekend filled with yummy food.

  14. Yes! Time to put yourself right smack in the middle of some uninterrupted time with big people or at least with folks over the age of your oldest son! Gimme the name and location of that meanie. ..I have a knuckle sandwich for him!!

  15. Wow, what fun. And so impressive that those boys did all of that. My son can make scrambled eggs!

  16. If it helps, my kids could never pull off a party like that, either. I think we’re in the same parental boat!!! Bill and I will join you on the next parental leave! xo

  17. Aw! You’re such a good mum to worry!

  18. Sounds like you had a fantastic weekend and I do agree taking some “parental leave” is such a good idea!

  19. Parental leave every weekend sounds good to me, finally caught up with all the posts – have a fantastic, awesome week 🙂

  20. Children…no matter how old, they are a worry.

  21. the frozen spinach incident still has me in tears!

  22. I think more frequent parental leave is indicated! However, I am quite sure those impressive sons also have their own quirks and create challenges for their own families 🙂 How horrible about Alfie’s lunch though – I hope the school steps in!

  23. Some of the comments above made me laugh… it is a busy time at your place, Charlie, Glad you managed some grown up time!

  24. The kind of family you described, with the kids cooking, bartending and entertaining, is impossible to live up to… very cool indeed, but most people’s families resembles yours (and mine)… or at least I hope ;o)

  25. Wow I hope Ollie can cook like those boys one day. I fear he will have as much energy as Alfie but he does eat like a horse. I agree – a ham is definitely a party winner.

  26. I think you might need a WEEK of parental leave, not just a weekEND. Sounds like a fun time away from the family!

  27. I reckon you and Carl should come visit here for a weekend. No kids here so you are safe, well except for the cats but they won’t bother you. We can enjoy lots of bubbly to relax your frazzled nerves.
    Have a wonderful week ahead Charlie.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  28. I’m sure you enjoyed your weekend…it sounds nice. I think a week of parental leave would be good for you although you would probably spend the time worrying is someone would steal Alfie’s lunch. I hope that problem has been taken care of by the school administration.

  29. I love the watermelon bites that the boys prepared at that party. Sounds like the weekend was nice and hopefully everything with your brood will sort itself out shortly.

  30. Charlie – you didn’t go wrong in any way – I don’t know Archie, Arabella and Alfie personally, but they all sound so full of character! As for that spread – yum – I could use a parental leave at that table myself 😉

  31. Sounds like you needed a parental leave weekend! We just had one of those and it was fabulous. That said, I’m exhausted and would like another leave to just rest. The meals that were prepared for you, and that you prepared both look delicious!

  32. I could do with some parental leave myself Charlie! It’s our anniversary next week, but littlej has so much going on that we’ll be lucky to grab a takeaway 🙂 The girls did make breakfast in bed for Fathers Day, but they took so long that we missed church and it ended up as lunch instead! xox

  33. I hear you… weekday and weekend it doesn’t matter these days. So much going on every single day. It’s a good idea to have a weekend off to yourself and I like that idea! Your worries vary from college student to elementary school problem. I am always amazed how well you handle EVERYTHING and yet you’re very active socially. You never stop inspiring me!

  34. Loitering AND growing facial hair. Your world really has turned upside down! You need parental leave as often as you can swing it! You were certainly well fed at this gathering. It looks delicious to me and I’m sure you had a wonderful time and I’d plan on having many more. You have a lot of child-related stress in your life. You need frequent breaks. 🙂

  35. I never realised that parenting was really THAT much of a full time job but I do now! WOW… that is crazy!
    You do need that leave… with some extra spa day vouchers chucked in!

    Choc Chip Uru

  36. Brilliant idea! I need a parental leave. an extended one!!!! It looks like you had a glorious day. I think all school bullies should have their pinky fingers chopped off with rusty scissors. Really! Take Care, BAM

  37. It sounds like you needed that parental leave, as all parents do! I am most concerned about the bully at Alfie’s school. Such kids should be suspended at the very least.

  38. Thank gawd you’ve got parental leave that sure sounds like one big old busy life, glad you managed to get away despite all the rain….. the food looks amazing.

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