The Tale Of The Go Slow Summer

Tens of times this summer when I thought of something, I half wrote it in my head and swore I would write it here when the kids were asleep. My baby did her baby thing and took everything from me. It was all I could do to wipe the concealer from under my eyes and not fall asleep on the sofa after they were all down. I have scanned insta-stories as I brushed my teeth, read blogpost after blogpost about day trips and staycations and foreign jaunts and yet I could not bring myself to put finger to keyboard to do the same.

This is the write off summer. Our bucket list is untroubled. The boat trips to islands (Dalkey, Ireland’s Eye) not taken. The scenic sights (the Sugarloaf, the Mayo greenway) unconquered. We have been to familiar parks (Phoenix Park mostly, and the small local one). I have split myself in three; one wants the playground, one carries a football everywhere and wants me to ‘take shots’ on him, and one wants me to stop everything and whip a boob out to feed her. Therein lies the rub; she wins, and takes precedence over all things. There’s nothing like a baby to slow things down.

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We did make it to the beach in Wexford, which is the most important achievement in anyone’s summer.

I don’t think my sons will look back and think they were robbed of anything. I think they’ll remember that between supermarket trips and boring walks to the post office that they were not being ferried too many places. This year there’s been probably a little too much screen time and a lot too many treats. There’s been too much shouting, I know that: I apologised to my neighbour two doors up a couple of weeks ago, though she swears she loves to hear the kids outside playing. The neighbour on the other side told Teddy he has a lovely singing voice. That means she knows exactly what my fishwife (fishmother?) voice sounds like too as I beg them to cease and desist with the trampoline based violence.

cartoon network
Wholesome

From my perspective, I probably would have got more ticked off a To-Do list if I had just been home with a baby. I began to paint the back garden in the evenings. It got interrupted on bad nights when I was too tired to contemplate painting breeze blocks. Those same freshly painted sections now have dirty marks on them borne of hours of Dominic kicking a ball against them. I tell myself he wouldn’t have been able to perfect his chips, rebonas or volleys if we had been off #makingmemories on various day trips. The drawers I swore I’d clear out during baby naps are getting there at a snails pace. Though the work is slow, my boys are sparking joy while we go. (And I’m not getting rid of as much as I hoped)

walk walk fashion baby
walk walk fashion baby

I’m not naturally inclined towards spending every waking hour with small people who use me like a walking talking search engine. All I want is 10 minutes silence and someone else to fold the laundry. But I was there this year and I appreciate this time because I know it probably won’t happen again. They don’t know it, but they’ve been lucky to have a parent around the last three summers, twice due to redundancy and once due to maternity.

It’s bittersweet, this impending return to school and getting back into routine. One boy can’t wait to get back to his mates. The other one is approaching his new start with admirable confidence. I’m looking forward to long walks with my best girl, who snoozes while I rack up the kilometres and down the coffee. It’s a far cry from asking what we’re doing next and if we can have jellies when we get there? Her day to quiz me and beg for ‘device’ will come. I just hope I can carve out even half the time the boys have gotten to be there with her.

Baby Led Weaning: The Third Time Around And A Muffin Recipe

Baby led weaning

Here I go again on my own…goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known….

We’re on our third go round now with baby led weaning. In the seven years since I first began, it’s gone from a weird choice, unheard of by public health nurses and greeted wide eyed by fellow parents of babies to a very acceptable option for starting your baby on solids. Far more prolific bloggers than I have emerged in the field and had cookbooks published. Which is handy for me – even with a 6 month old I can regularly be heard saying “oh I’m just out of the baby mode for so long y’know…” as I wrack my brains to think what I’m supposed to do with her next.

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All three ready to go.

Anyway, she turned 6 months old while we were on our summer holidays in France. Before we went I tried her with a couple of foods that would be common allergens (namely egg, strawberry and tomato). We didn’t want to find ourselves looking for directions to the doctor and trying to remember our gauche from our droite in a panic. We have no real family history of allergy but a good friend has a baby who reacted badly to egg recently so there’s no harm in approaching these things with a degree of caution.

We spent a couple of weeks just getting her used to picking up foods, and trying a variety of flavours. There was no particular consideration given to cooking suitable meals, as – say it with me:

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She chewed away on torn up croissants, nommed wedges of juicy sweet peaches frozen in a silicon feeder, waved around preloaded spoons of natural yogurt and sucked the life from some pasta with tomato sauce.

baby led weaning

For the third time, I knew this approach was for me. I guess I’m doing myself a disservice by saying it’s the lazy mum’s approach. For a start, nobody could call me lazy now it’s school holiday time and I’ve three kids with me around the clock. Also she’s trying a good variety of food, and she’s still breastfeeding lots. Right up until the point she started solids I was able to look at her chubby thighs and wrist rolls and think “I made all of that”. A lovely friend declared to me “your one body is running 2 full bodies, I think it’s pretty miraculous. Have a sit down” (So I did.)

Anyway, we’re back now and without the pressure of the school runs, we’re getting quite into the swing of things. She’s about 6.5months and I’m still keeping it basic but she enjoys sitting up with us at the table and does her patented arm flap at the sight of food.

The simplest things I’ve given her are slices of avocado, steamed carrots, steamed broccoli, sweet potato wedges, scrambled egg and mashed banana or avocado on toast.

I did break out my trusty baking tins though, to try out savoury muffins. I used to make delicious spinach and feta ones when the boys were little but neither will eat feta now so I made these instead. You can sub out the veggies, and replace the sweet potato with more cheddar – I just didn’t want them too salty yet so kept the cheese content low.  I also always use frozen spinach for baking, just defrost it in the microwave first and squeeze out the excess water.

Spinach muffin

Spinach & Cheese Muffins

  • 2 medium eggs
  • 150ml milk
  • 75g butter, melted
  • 50g grated cheddar cheese
  • 50g grated sweet potato
  • 75g spinach
  • 1/4 red pepper, diced
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 75g wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 TSP Marigold boullion (I use the low salt one)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Whisk the eggs in and stir in the milk and melted butter. Mix in the grated cheese, sweet potato,  spinach, tomatoes and diced pepper.
  3. Finally, sieve in the flour and bullion. and mix just enough until all the ingredients have combined.
  4. Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin cases and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. A skewer will come out clean when they’re done.

These freeze really well and are great for bigger kid lunchboxes too.

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You can catch a lot of what I cook on Instagram, especially on my Stories. (There’s Follow buttons on the bottom of the page on mobile and on the right on desktop)
And now that baby is actually going to bed a regular time, there should be lots more to come right here on the blog. Stay tuned while I regain my BLW mojo!

Baking with Kids: Healthy Brownies and Muffins

Carrot and Courgette Muffins zucchini baking

Distract distract distract shout sums up my parenting method with my middle child right now. He gets very jealous of his big brother and his seemingly endless stream of playdates.  I try my best to make our time together fun in some way to make up for the fact he has to hang out with his mum and a baby. We visit cafes and the park and the nearby museum and surprisingly, bringing just two children places feels *almost* easy now. But when we’re at home, we enjoy baking together.

This is the same boy that saw a tiny brown mouse sitting on the path in the park recently, and squatted down for a good chat with it. I am not kidding, it made his week, once I had reassured him that mousey’s mum and dad were nearby and that he wasn’t scared on his own. You see, the bar for entertaining him can be set quite low, although, the window in which the day goes from ‘best day ever’ to ‘worstest day ever’ is also very narrow. He likes to keep me on my toes.

Let’s not kids ourselves now; when it comes to baking the mess and the bowl licking are his highlights, and eating the end product is mine. Everything in between runs the gamut from delightful bonding time to me grinding my teeth in stress at flour on the floor and maple syrup on the counter.

Of course you’re always going to find shiny videos of pristine parents and even cleaner kitchens with everyone wearing aprons if you look for videos of baking with kids on line. This is not that. We love Insta Stories and find it a fun way to share our baking escapades. Teddy particularly likes the camera and watching himself back – unsurprisingly. I like it for the rough and readiness  (see the dark chocolate on my face, some teary interruptions from Ivy and Ted wanting to lick things all the time) and for the feedback from viewers. I’ve shared the videos of us making these recipes below.

We made Black Bean Brownies with Raspberries, which I have made numerous times before and Carrot and Courgette Muffins, which were a new recipe to us. Baby Ivy is going to be starting solids in the next month so I’m keeping an eye out for things to try. These muffins will be great, I’ll just sub out the honey and use maple syrup instead. Continue reading

Netflix For Life: 11 Recommendations For Your Family

Netflix stream team

Is Netflix your bae? Ask any recently post-partum parent and you’ll get a knowing nod. Even more so if they have other older kids to take care of too. There’s a groove worn in one side of my sofa from the hours spent feeding my baby, and the text is wearing off a certain red button on my tv remote. I settle down with coffee, the baby and a muslin cloth and press it. The younger boy comes in from a morning in montessori and presses it. The older boy finishes his homework and presses it. The other half loads up the app while he makes the school lunches and I do the same folding laundry if someone small is asleep.

And when the last childs’ question has been answered for the night*, and the cat has settled on the back of the sofa without the fear of being hit by a Nerf bullet, we go in again.

(I mean, this isn’t each of us, everyday. We do do other things than watch tv like.)

So, safe to say we’re experts. Without further ado here are the Netflix shows lighting up our lives right now and in the near future.

Master of None.

I wrote about this last year and it’s back for Season 2 right now. We have watched the first 3 episodes and it is sublime. I cannot say enough good things about Aziz Ansari and his supporting cast, especially his real life mum and dad, who play his mum and dad in the show. And it makes me really really want to up sticks and live in Modena.

Continue reading

7 Things I Had Forgotten About Having A Small Baby

Baby Ivy

I treated this baby’s imminent arrival with a small amount of been there done that jadedness. There was barely anything I didn’t know because hadn’t I done it twice before? And it’s true; I’m not nervous and there’s been no shocks nearly four months in – but I had definitely suppressed the memory of these seven things that go along with having a new baby in the house.

 1. The Early Starts

We got lulled into a false sense of security for a couple of years pre-baby. The boys were big enough to get up and watch tv for a while on weekends before one us parents dragged ourselves out of bed at a civilised hour (which is about 830am fyi). Now, 3.5 months into new babyhood we’ve suddenly hit the early starts. She’s fallen into some sort of routine and it involves waking at 530am. And chatting loudly at that time. To coincide with this change I have purchased a cup holder for the buggy. It says ‘No Hot Liquids’ on the box. Listen up health and safety people; if you don’t let me put coffee in there, the only cold liquid going in will be a G&T. Continue reading