Wean in 15

Sam Broc

the shock of the broc

Urgh. Weaning. It’s enough to put you off any more children, n’est-ce pas? And I’m saying this as the mother of an easy-weaner.

My first wasn’t. I soon gave up boiling and pureeing. I found it all so disheartening to spend that time, money and effort on sourcing the nicest, most organic ingredients, follow the Annabel Karmel recipes to the letter, decant the specially prepared mush into little pots for it to be met with a look of utter disgust and pushed away.   Whatever Ella was doing was A-Ok according to my first-born. So he and she developed a very cordial dining agreement.

Mush

even a funky grey and orange tablecloth/chair combo doesn’t make the mush look more enticing

This time around, however, I’ve got a hungry chap who will eat anything. The only two things he has ever refused was daddy’s lamb tagine (to be fair, I think harissa is an acquired taste) and eggs (which is irritating as with a bit of toast, they constitute a highly nutritious (and damn easy) meal).

Sam toast

everyone loves a bit of toast

So, (and I didn’t expect this to be the case) alongside the house renovations, potty training, general keeping baby and child amused and the rest of the house shit that falls into my remit, I am really quite enjoying having another go at Annabel’s finest offerings.

It’s hugely rewarding when your littlest bird opens his mouth for spoonful after spoonful of whatever was your latest project to go through the blender. I’d love to say it’s encouraged his older brother to be a bit more open to trying new things. But it hasn’t.

Here are some of my (and Sam’s) favourites:

  • Poached salmon with carrots and peas – really tasty and easy. Basically boil potato, carrots and peas and add some cooked salmon. I’m still amazed I have a child who will eat unbreaded fish!
  • Leek and potato puree – this was a great one a couple of months ago, but I fear it may not be as filling as some of the more proteiny meals. The texture is perfect though – thick and smooth. Boil leeks and potato in stock, drain and blitz.
  • Vegetable and cheese pasta sauce. This was actually gobbled by them both – must make again soon. Make any old cheese sauce and add whatever veg is lying around. I blitz, then add to past and blitz again for Sam.
  • Beef stew with sweet potato topping – a great little number from BBC good food. I have been known to adapt slightly and toss everything in the slow cooker.
  • Spaghetti bolognaise – my own version which tends to include as much veg as I can cram in.

Other favourites include yoghurt, toast and chocolate brownies.

I’d love any other inspiration for baby and/or toddler. Comment below if you can help out…

freezer pots

there is very little room in the freezer for chips and ice cream!

Mothering Funday

Was anyone else feeling the Mother’s Day pressure this year? Has it got worse? Or is it simply because I’ve upped my game on social media and as a result am seeing more insta-happiness wherever I click. Maybe it’s because I have two children now so the chances of one of them not spoiling it are higher.

me and Max

with my eldest – he really wanted daddy to take him swimming

I don’t know. But in an act of rebellion (I know, go me) I had a minor teenage strop and decided that the day was nothing more than commercialised hype and I wasn’t playing this year. A silly thing to do? Yes indeed. I mean, who doesn’t want an excuse to declare the day as a feet-putter-upper and insist on being exempted from any household chores for a day?

It just seemed that everyone around me (ok, on Instagram) was deep into ‘what are you doing/getting for Mother’s Day?’ like it was some globe-stopping event. Some people I spoke to were looking forward to having time off the kids. Which is a great concept – and one I certainly need at times. Though it stuck me as a bit sad to purposefully seek out time away from the very reason you are a Mother on your day.

me and Sam

with the baby – bless him.  He whinged, sneezed and dribbled his way through day 4 of a horrid cold

Piano Man was taking requests – I think he would have agreed to just about any gift (s) or programme for the day as long as it kept me happy (i.e. quiet). I asked for a card – I always like to receive a card. The wobbly pretend child’s handwriting makes me giggle. And with it I got some lovely flowers. But I choose not to make any special Mother’s Day arrangements.

Maybe I’m just an old grumpus but I generally find (especially when a two year old and a baby) are involved that the best laid plans have a habit of really going awry. Going out for lunch is a lovely idea, but it impinges on naptime that bit too much to be completely relaxing. Plus, the world and his wife have hit every local restaurant on the same day. Likewise, a family day out may have sounded fun. But the baby is full of a cold and utterly miserable and the toddler is recently potty trained. It just wouldn’t have the relax-appeal.

So, in a quest not to build up my hopes, I decided to have a ‘normal’ day. We were (almost) first in the (really bloody chilly) pool at 7.45. And, yes, I was the only mum there. We did coffee, park and swings en famille, and after cleaning the pre-lunch wee accident, I made myself half a goat’s cheese and beetroot sandwich (why half? Wasn’t sure it would be nice). Later, I slipped in a (Mother’s Day?) request to go to the pub. That was nice, at least until the baby projectile vomited his supper and we decided to head home.

In all, yesterday was a lovely day; time with my eldest, time with my youngest and time with my husband (over a Cook meal – see I did get out of some duties). Proof they can exist, even with young children. I don’t have any insta-worthy photos, though. It wasn’t that kind of day. And yes, I’m glad I didn’t try to arrange a knock-out Mother’s Day. I might have been disappointed. Sometimes, when you set your sights a little bit lower than you might want to you realise that even the ordinary days can be special. And the special days – hmm, they can be ordinary too.

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day…

yummy mummy

… to all the mums, mummys, mams, moms etc out there.

I hope you have a lovely day whether you choose to celebrate or not.

I hope also that you get exactly what you wish for, whether that be flowers and chocolates, a new car or a bottle of pinot grigio and a packet of Marlborough lights. I am most hoping for good moods all round and the toddler to finally make the connection between bowel movements and the loo (apologies for the Mothering Sunday scatology).

Whether or not you dig the Mother’s Day (commercial) hype, I feel there’s a nice excuse there to stick your feet up and have someone else make the dinner.

Lovely.

Stokke Tripp Trapp

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In a quest to get the toddler to sit nicely and eat his dinner, I went shopping. I know, I know, but humour me.

£150 and three days later and my (sorry, Max’s) Stokke Tripp Trapp arrived. I decided that the brief period in which both children were asleep was the ideal time to put it together.

Stokke in box

Even the box was funky

Genius! In 15 minutes, everything was screwed into place and I was chomping at the bit for Max to wake up so that I could sit him in it to decide where to position the seat and footrest. It was magically easy to assemble and looks great. I opted for lava orange. It completely clashes with everything in my kitchen, but the plan is to design the kitchen in the new house around the Stokke!

Stokke pieces

Not too fiddly

Max loves it, it means he’s at exactly the right height at the table and can rest his feet comfortably. I’ve just bought one for Sam too, which means no more high chair legs to trip over in the kitchen.  I am confident they will both use them for a good few years to come.

Has it encouraged my eldest to sit at the table and gobble down his meals? Don’t be absurd!

The (annual) Easter Story

I bloody love nap time.

I make it my mission on the days that Max isn’t at nursery to get the kids down at the same time so that I can have this time to myself. Often this is when I get my writing done (aka pissing about on the computer).

Yesterday, though, I decided I should really spend some time on house renovation stuff. So, there I was, busy as a worker bee researching stair runner taping – I didn’t even know it was a thing. But now I know about it, I need to have it.

Just as I was getting really stuck in, my phone buzzed. Ah, Piano Man. Lovely. Not put off by his 7 unanswered calls earlier on (I missed them all and was eventually pulled away from winding the bobbin up by the plumber who turned up at playgroup for the money I was supposed to have dropped round to the new house) husband was back and with some all-important Easter holiday questions.

I had the shock of my life when someone mentioned Easter this week. Especially when it was in relation to my Monday morning saviour (playgroup with age-appropriate toys for each of the kids and decent coffee for me) being closed for three weeks, THREE WEEKS after next week. Apparently Easter will be upon us very soon. And with it the age-old pondering of how to celebrate it.

All that bank holiday-ness sends me a bit shivery. I mean, you kind of have to fill it, don’t you? It’s just wrong just to let the longest weekend of the year go to waste. But, equally, I hate the pressure of planning a high-quality break.

Now, why did the powers that be put it in April – or worse, March, on some years. Sorry, Christ, insensitive, maybe you didn’t choose when to die and rise again. But if He had, surely the summer would have been a better bet. April is notoriously mean for lulling you, back in frosty February, into believing that it will be warm and sunny. Perfect, you think, for a nice spring break. You have visions of talking countryside rambles or seafront strolls wearing your cropped trousers* and Boden spring jacket. Then the realisation dawns as you’re packing for your annual First Bank Holiday weekend away that it’s still bloody freezing.

We went walking in snow drifts one Easter. I actually wore ski trousers in April, and not in Morzine. We squelched home at 3 every afternoon for hot crumpets. Lovely, yes. But spring-like? Not so much.

Piano Man and I aren’t really travellers. I know lots of people who really haven’t let their children stand in the way of their amazing holidays and excursions. And I take my hat off to them. They even manage to have a wonderful time. I find holidaying with my offspring stressful. Whoever first said ‘same shit, different view’ had clearly endured similar trips to the ones I have known.

coffee in South of France

Holidays looked more like this pre-children

So, yesterday afternoon’s conversation had a starting point of ‘which family members are we going to see over Easter?’ We then moved on, in favour of a more adventurous idea that resembled an actual holiday.

What followed was a series of whatsapped photos of my computer screen with different prices for Centre Parcs accommodation depending on whether we manage to rope any grandparents in and whether I could persuade Piano Man that we needed a sauna and coffee machine for the weekend. I was gee’d by the do-able cost of CP at Easter and the promise of some grandparent time for the boys. Until I was informed that I was looking at next year’s prices. There’s basically nothing left for this year (unsurprisingly) and what is left is eye-wateringly expensive. Which is too big a risk to take on this first family-of-four holiday.

Not to be deterred, I upped my game. Maybe we should just do it and go abroad. I started clicking on various kid-friendly overseas ideas. Totally seeing the boys splashing in aquamarine pools while I sunbathed in my Audrey Hepburn-style shades. Then I remembered, we’re still talking about April. Just a few weeks away and I was wearing my scarf today. Even in Greece, it’s just not going to be that hot.

Max by pool

Not too tough taking just the one baby away

Naptime ended. And so, pretty much, did our Easter holidays discussions. Just leaving the final choice to make – his parents’ or mine!

 

*don’t own cropped trousers – true

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Bedrooms for the boys – part 2

I talked about Sam’s bedroom in this post, now it’s Max’s room’s turn.

I feel bad for Max with the straw he has drawn bedroom-wise. Totally a first world problem. There are children who live in mud huts with no bedrooms and those who have one bed between four. But in true middle-class parenting style, I’m irked by the fact that he’s got our ‘storage wardrobes’ in his room.

Like many Londoners (and lots who live elsewhere), space is tight and we have many of our worldly goods, including my wedding dress (which I think stopped fitting me 13 minutes after I got married) and my handbag collection in a massive built in wardrobe in (what was) the spare room. Two children later and the ‘spare room’ is now a home to a cute rocket duvet cover and an assortment of toy vehicles.

Following advice from a friend who said to change Max’s bedroom no less than three months before his brother was to be born, we moved him about 2 weeks before my planned C section day. He was absolutely fine with it. There was too much excitement over the tractor rug to even contemplate losing his old room (the only bedroom he’d known, sob).

Tractor rug

I haven’t done a great deal in here as we’ve known we were going to move since before we switched the bedrooms around. I bought some new curtains as the old ones were useless at keeping light out, these blue ones are from Dunelm and do a great blackout job (crucial).

The tractor rug and the storage boxes were from Next and (I think) give the room a bit of colour consistency. It was a revelation to be that you didn’t need to buy actual Kallax storage boxes to go in the Kallax – who knew?

Max books

As I mentioned in my post about Sam’s room, the Mamas and Papas furniture matches in case the boys ever fancy sharing a room. I’m hoping (as my kids are on the wee side) that the toddler beds will last them for quite some time (12 years if they take after me in the height stakes).

In a bold move, we decided that last weekend was both potty training weekend and take-the-sides-off-the-cot weekend. It’s gone well (if you don’t count requesting his cot back at 2.30 on night one).

Max bed

I love the little (Ikea) table and chair, mainly because I love the idea of Max sitting doing puzzles on it. In reality it is never used and really should be relocated to the playroom. But we don’t have a playroom and we have no space downstairs where the crayons are so here it is.

Max table

So, there you have it. Another corner of my house. And one which ‘ll look back on with fondness as I remember playing on the tractor rug (and spending hours tracking down all the bloody little wooden people from the bus who have to ability to scatter unbelievably far).

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Jean Genie

It may have something to do with being born to ex-hippy Beatle-maniac parents, but since the age of about 10 I have lived in jeans. Every now and then I vow to wear a skirt or (gasp) even a dress but I can’t bring myself to. Or, mostly, I just forget. My excitement about going on maternity leave for the first time was more about the fact that I could wear jeans every day for a year and less about the new life I was about to bring into the world.

Now that I am on maternity leave indefinitely, it seems unlikely that I am going to kick my denim habit any time soon.

Which is just as well as I have been stocking up. Knee-high to a (diminutive) grasshopper, I find it incredibly difficult and frustrating finding clothes that fit. I have a loyalty card for the local alterations shop. But I don’t always want to fork out another £10 to essentially cut off and throw away some of the clothing I have just bought.

In a quest to find the perfect skinny, I bought a pair of Next petite 360 super skinny jeans. Wow! Is all I can say. I am still buzzing a month (and two additional pairs) later. Unusually (even for a petite range) they are not too long, the high waist doesn’t dig and (if I may say so) they make my bum look fab. I feel pulled up and in in all the right places.

Jeans and tea

Apparently they are constructed to give you 360-degree movement. I don’t know what that means, but can only assume that other jeans from the same retailer may hinder your ability to spin around. These certainly do not.

Seems, though, that the dresses and skirts are set to gather dust for a little while longer.

Jeans pose