Tag Archives: vegetables

Food, Glorious Food

Mini and her dinner

Mini and her dinner

I was wondering what to write about in this week’s post but then I looked over at Mini, systematically demolishing her Marmite on toast (yes, we are a Marmite family) and thought, yep, food is something that takes up a fair bit of our time and concentration.

Fortunately Mini is still at the stage were she’ll eat pretty much anything that’s put in front of her; and in front of her is considered to be anything within arm’s reach.

This includes her brother’s dinner, especially his cheesy mashed potato.

She also eats vast quantities. Vast by any standards. Tea the other night consisted of 4 rounds of toast and an entire tin of baked beans, minus the two spoonfuls of beans her brother had before he decided he was full.

Then she had desert.

Then she had about 20 minutes of milk.

True, her belly was bigger than her head and was full enough I was worried she was going to pop. The Other Half was also under strict instructions not to make her laugh.

Just in case.

The thing is, she eats like this every day, yet can still fit into trousers designed for a child half her age. (I know they vary widely in sizing, but still!)

I also want her metabolism.

You can inherit things like that, right? I mean, I know you can inherit insanity from your kids, so why not something useful?

I watch her sitting there, having finished 2 slices of toast (the crusts), now attacking a couple of rich tea biscuits (don’t criticise me too much, I’m trying to keep her fairly clean before we go out later), which she’s put together like a sandwich so she can eat them at the same time. Next she’ll probably have some fruit, or some cheese.

And this is just breakfast.

I shouldn’t complain since it makes it easy when we eat out. We can order pretty much anything off the menu and she’ll systematically plough her way through it, even if she does eat the baked beans with her hands.

Motormouth is a whole other creature, in so many ways.

We know he eats cheese. And mashed potato. And sausages.

As for anything else?

It seems to be worked out on some algorithm known only to toddlers.

One day he won’t eat anything but grapes, the next they’re yuk.

He’s even refusing mince now he’s sussed that I cook it with more vegetables than mince. The next step was to make the sauce and blend it. Then he stopped eating pasta. Unless someone else cooks it.

I’m trying not to take offence at that.

Weirdly, he will eat vegetable soup, knowing it’s full of vegetables, with plenty of bread and butter, but there’s only so many loaves we can go through in one meal.

I know toddler’s taste buds are still developing and are different to ours. I know that this is only a phase but please let it be over soon.

In the meantime, the bin men will carry on assuming, based on our recycling, that we eat nothing but beans, cheese and bread in this house.

D is for Determined


D is for determined.

D is for determined.

Before I had children I used to think I was fairly determined, when it suited me at least.

Sometimes, I could stick with a work problem beyond all reason. I was the same at home (except when it came to the housework unfortunately).

Then I had Motormouth and I had to relearn what determination really meant, especially when it came to feeding time.

Those of you know me (or have read some of my past posts) know that though I breastfed Motormouth until just before his second birthday the first couple of months were hell. Why hell? It took us that long to suss out the technique together, and, to be honest, throughout the time I was feeding him there weren’t many times when it wasn’t uncomfortable at the very least. (Motormouth tended to channel his inner piranha when he was feeding.)

Still, we stuck with it.

I had problems with Mini as well (she had an habit of rolling her tongue up so it was in the way) and it took a breastfeeding consultant at the local hospital to help us through it.

She is much gentler than Motormouth, at least with the extraction part. I’m not sure I remember him practising his pincer grip whilst feeding, or trying to pull my eye lashes out. Even if I give her something to play with as a distraction she usually ends up trying to poke it in my ear or up my nose. (And no, falling asleep with Mini on the boob is not a safe option – not for me at least.)

So yes, determination helped with getting us through that.

Then I found out that is all just practise for what comes later.

Why do we need to be determined as mothers?

Because children are determined themselves. Or maybe that should read stubborn.

From the barely walking toddler’s quest to wedge themselves under the dining room table to the vocal child who really, really wants that chocolate bar just before bedtime.

This is of course via nappy changing (are all babies quadruple jointed?), teeth cleaning (further proof that that jaw muscles are amongst the strongest in the body) and getting them dressed.

Ah, dressing them.

This can be an ordeal all of its own and, in our household at least, is the most common occasion for reaching the final three in the Count of Doom. (Fortunately the chance of losing a bedtime story motivates Motormouth to come out from under the bed or uncurl from his foetal ball just before you say three. Most of the time.)

What is it about getting dressed? It’s not as if we don’t give them a choice about what to wear, but every day it’s like doing the hokey cokey with tiny limbo dancers.

You put her left leg in.

She takes her left leg out and shakes it all about (usually somewhere up by her ears).

You put her left leg in…

And so it goes on until you find the best position to pin her down. For that occasion.

You promise yourself next time it will be different. And it is.

You put her left leg in…

You have to be determined. You have to believe that you will prevail.

You are, after all, the adult.

You are however-many times her size.

You are so much stronger than she is.

You are so much smarter than she is.

She takes her left leg out…

You will win.

You are more determined (or should that read stubborn again?).

And then there’s food.

Or more precisely vegetables.

You know the stage when they don’t want to eat them. In fact they would be quite happy living on baked beans and cheesy toast (in which case we don’t feel too bad about it because baked beans count as vegetables don’t they?) or cheerios and chocolate chip brioche.

You can tell we’ve been there can’t you? Motormouth is becoming quite adept at picking the vegetables out of his mince and, once a lover of home-made soup, now stops eating it as soon as the bread has run out.

He’s become quite resistant to blackmail and will forego yoghurt if it means having to put something green into his mouth. We even tried to the dice game, you know the one where he rolls the dice to see how many spoonfuls of vegetables he’s going to eat at that meal? He fell for that precisely once when we wouldn’t let him roll the dice until he got a one rather than the five or six it kept landing on.

There is that temptation to give up and let them win. You rationalise it as “picking your battles” and giving them “some control over their lives to encourage responsibility and enhance their decision making skills” and to “prevent tantrums caused by frustration”.

That’s why we have pyjama days and cake for breakfast isn’t it?

It’s not just that, just for once, we want a little peace and quiet, to achieve a basic goal without the hassle of fighting the Battle of Before Breakfast yet again.

Or is that just me?


A – Z of Christmas… Part 2

Motormouth loves his Christmas tree.

Motormouth loves his Christmas tree.

N is for Noise – from dawn chorus to eventual collapse. Without a break.

O is for oohs and aahs – when you decide to do the family thing and take them to the local road that does the lights for charity and before you start fending off questions about why your lights aren’t in the shape of a robot or giant pig. Or why your lights aren’t on the roof of the house at all.

P is for Please – please be quiet, please sit down, please be patient… you get the idea. It is not unusual for this word to have less power than normal. This effect is passed on to any word that is paired with it.

Q is for Quiet – during the Queen’s speech or the Christmas Special. You might as well record them and watch them later. It helps to stay off Facebook so you don’t see everyone raving about the cliffhanger. Or should be the cliffhung?

R is for Relatives – it’s nice to see them arrive and sometimes it’s nice to see them… well, it will have been a long day by then. For everyone.

S is for Sweets – and the calories that don’t count as you swipe one of them, just to keep you going as you rush from one task to another. After all, what would happen if you fainted from low blood sugar or plain old hunger? It’s your duty.

T is for Toys – and the sudden realisation that you need to find room for all the new ones. Somewhere. And maybe release some of the old ones back into the wild. If you can do that without getting caught.

U is for Untidiness – a wide broom helps to keep major routes open, and it’s probably best to subscribe to the “snowplough principle” and just shove everything to the sides, at least for the duration of the holiday period.

V is for Vodka or other tipple of choice – appropriate use is not only helpful it is a vital tool in maintaining your sanity. And quite possibly, relationship.

W is for Wrapping Paper – the reams you will use and be used by and the fun of trying to stuff it all into a recycling bag, and get it to stay there despite the best efforts of physics and small children.

X is for Xmas Pudding – and the need to explain to small children why it is all right, just this once, to set light to something inside the house. It is tradition after all.

Y is for Yelling – that background noise of sibling arguments that sets the tone for any family Christmas.

Z is for Zees – the half hour you hope to catch between finishing the wrapping and the Dawn Chorus.


Baby’s Guide to Christmas


What's next to eat?

What’s next to eat?

Welcome to the latest Baby Guide and today, we’ll be talking about Christmas.

This is one of those events that comes once a year and at the beginning it’s huge for you, but you won’t really be interested much. As you get older, it will become a bigger and bigger event for you until you get old. Then you’ll console yourself with the fact that it’s all about the children anyway.

So, do you want some more detail? Yes? Here goes…

Food - There will be food around. Large amounts of food, and a lot of it might look quite odd to you. You won’t be allowed to eat all of it, but if you can, go for the crunchy things or the sweet things. Or anything you can really. The grown ups around you will be eating a lot more than they would usually do so you should have some good opportunities to “liberate” some samples from their plates. Try to avoid the “fairy cabbages” and “ghost trees”. They’re just Brussels sprouts and cauliflower with fancy names and you’re not fooled that easily are you? Feel free to make your feelings known in an appropriate way if they don’t include you in the bounty and offer you your normal boring food instead.

Decorations – Things that dangle and spin – heaven. And shiny things as well! Decorations are all about glitter and sparkle and your adults will be making the most of this. Many of these dangly things will be out of reach, they hang them from the ceiling for some strange reason, but there is one playground you can’t not explore. This is the time of year that they bring a whole tree inside and plant it! Odd, I know, but since they then hang lots of toys from the branches who are we to complain? The toys come in all shapes and sizes – shiny balls, sparkly spiky things, sometimes even cuddly toys. Take the opportunity to play with them while you can since you may find the tree mysteriously grows over night and the dangly toys get higher and higher until they are at the ceiling as well. But shiny dangly things! Can it get any better?

Presents – Yes it can. Adults have a habit of putting wonderful boxes wrapped in bright, crinkly paper under the tree just for you. These boxes are amazing. You can climb in and out of them, push them around the room, sit in them, pop up and play peekaboo, even go to sleep in them if you want. For those who are feeling less energetic, there is the paper. Crinkling it and rolling it can be fun. So can tearing it up into tiny pieces and dropping them in random patterns on the floor (all the better if you can get them in accessible places). Don’t forget to push the contents of the boxes out of the way to give yourself enough space to play properly.

Family – You are used to a few adults being around you, in fact you never seem to get any alone time. You will find there are more of them about over the holiday period. They will be noisy, have big feet and want to cuddle you a lot. Play along if you want, but don’t forget you have the option of rejecting these advances, especially the kisses from people who have an awful lot of hair growing out of funny places on their faces. Adopt the usual tactics for this, but remember the projectile reintroduction of your last meal to the outside world should be your last option. Oh, almost forgot, the adults are unlikely to be wearing their normal clothes, they could have something on that they really, really want to keep clean (there are opportunities here as always) or they will have sprouted giant animals on their chests. These animals may or may not have noses that can be pulled. If they have, pull away.

Dress – Ah, your apparel. As you have no control over what they put on you, you may find yourself in a variety of interesting costumes. Despite your initial misgivings, you can still have fun whilst dressed as a Christmas pudding. I’m not so sure about the reindeer though, you might just get fed on carrots. If you dislike your costume then adopt the standard procedure, remove the offending items and keep doing so until your adults give in and dress you in something more in keeping with your status.

Santa – There is a big scary man in a red suit. You may not be able to see much of his face thanks to him wearing most of his hair on it. This could be why you might find him scary. Remember, you do not have to have close contact with him unless you wish to, standard protocols in this case are similar to those relating to unwanted attention from family, except you may want to escalate to the nuclear option sooner. There is one thing to bear in mind; the man in the red suit may have more boxes for you. Only you can decide if it’s worth it.

Siblings – Older siblings may appear to have gone insane. They will be quivering with excitement that will only increase as the Big Day grows near. They will wake up uncomfortably early, for your adults at least, and want to play noisily, unwrapping boxes with wild abandon. You have some good opportunities here. For some unfathomable reason they will be interested in the contents of the boxes not the boxes themselves. I know, weird! But still, it leaves the way open for you to have more boxes. And more boxes are good. The rest of the time they will be tearing around like a Tasmanian devil, getting themselves covered in chocolate and other foodstuffs and ignoring the pleas of the adults to do things more quietly or calmly. No, I don’t know the meaning of those words either. Perhaps you only understand them when you finally get to be an adult? If your siblings are younger than you, they’ll care even less about the whole season than you will.

Toys – These are usually what’s inside the box. Some of them may be mildly interesting with flashing lights and funny noises, but boxes! Boxes!

Pets – This is a good time to feel sorry for the four legged members of the family since they are probably the only ones getting more of a raw deal than you are. They may get some treats but they are far more likely to get trodden on, sat on, shut in an empty room or made to wear even more ridiculous costumes than you. If you are feeling particularly benevolent then you might consider letting them hide in one of your boxes with you.

So, there you have it, your guide to Christmas. It’s hard to believe that all the build up, all the excitement is for just one day, but hey, at least you get some boxes out of it.

A – Z of Christmas… Part 1

Yes, that is a seahorse hanging on our tree.

Yes, that is a seahorse hanging on our tree.

A is for Aaarggh – and all those little essentials you’ve forgotten to get to tide you over the Christmas period – like tape. And nappies.

B is for Boxes – which are everywhere, but at least they’ll keep the kids occupied. Longer than than the toys, in fact.

C is for Construction – and those hours you will spend wishing you had a smaller screwdriver, and smaller fingers (and a smaller nozzle on your vacuum cleaner) as you attempt to assemble, catch, retrieve and reassemble. Why do children’s toys have so many small parts again?

D is for Dawn Chorus – not the tuneful twitterings of our feathered friends, but the raucous “can we get up yet” of the annual native Nocturnal Toddler.

E is for Excitement – all month (theirs not yours). Your excitement is confined to the idea of a glass of your favourite tipple at the end of Christmas Day.

F is for Food – the frantic balancing act of nutrition versus empty calories that becomes so much more challenging with your toddler on Christmas Day. And no, calling Brussels sprouts fairy cabbages does not make them any more edible.

G is for Grandparents – who suddenly forget how small your living room really is when they buy them three huge toys in even bigger boxes, all of which HAVE to be available to play with at the same time.

H is for Help – that heartfelt cry that never quite gets heard, or if it is, has something lost in translation like “Thank you so much for making sure I have all the washing up in one place.”

I is for Imagination – that children have so much of most of the time, but so little of when you try to persuade them that the home made version of the toy of the year is just as good, and it really isn’t your fault they didn’t have any left in the shops.

J is for Jelly – and ice cream and cake and chocolate and crisps and “why can’t I have all that before dinner mummy, everyone else is?”

K is for Santa Klaus (I know, so shoot me for cheating!) – that mysterious figure that can either fascinate or terrify a child, and you can never quite predict which one it will be when you tell others how they will react. Tears are guaranteed though.

L is for Lights – the ones you have so carefully arranged before they end up wrapped around the cat or draped carefully over granddad who made the mistake of falling asleep in his chair. You might also want to check him for Christmas decorations.

M is for Mother – and your time honoured role, navigating through the chaos of the festive season, and the realisation that no matter how evenly you spread the parenting, a mother’s experience is unique.

Baby’s Guide to … Halloween


Hello spooky kitty...
Hello spooky kitty…

Welcome to the latest Baby Guide. This time we are talking about Halloween.

Halloween is a time of year that you will become familiar with, and as you get older, your feelings with regards to it are likely to change. But for now, this is your first guide to a single night that has a huge build up, and is rivalled only by Christmas (more on that another time). So, what are the things you might notice?

Colours    You will notice that there is a predominance of orange, green, purple and black. This phenomenon affects everything from food to decorations to people’s clothes. This is quite nice if you like those colours, not so nice if you don’t and of no interest if you don’t really care. Don’t worry, it won’t last too far past the night and the colours won’t hurt you.

Food    This is also affected by the colour frenzy but there are more appetising things that only appear at this time of year, specifically funny-shaped sweets, cakes and biscuits. Lots of them. Grown ups have a delightful habit of handing this out free to small children (and not so small children if they are lucky). Aside from Easter, this festival is the best opportunity to gather enough treats to send you into a sugar-coma.

Oh, and don’t forget the pumpkin. Some grown ups use the bits left behind when they make the funny pumpkin lanterns, usually to make soup. Feel free to show your true feelings if they decide you make you sample any of it. Pumpkin- shaped food is good. Pumpkin food doesn’t always match up to that image.

Costumes    This is an old tradition that goes back to Celtic times when they believed that evil spirits came out to roam the earth at Halloween and it was safer to pretend to be one of them. This is why so many of the costumes are frightening. Your costume will no doubt be unbearably cute. Cute enough to be terrifying. As you get older the costumes will get better and less scary, especially the ones you are wearing. Unless you are dressed as a clown. Clowns are always scary.

Creepy Crawlies and Other Animals    A number of creepy crawlies, especially bats, rats and spiders are associated with Halloween. This means that there will be hundreds of the things hanging from ceilings, doors, lights and any other handy hooks or protuberances. Most of them will be made of rubber, plastic or some other similar man-made substance. They’re probably not the ones that move by themselves. 

Don’t eat any of them. It will leave you with less room for the sweets.

Trick or Treating    This a delightful tradition where complete strangers will give you sweets if you knock on their door, preferably in costume. (You and them.) This is the one time where it is not only OK to take sweets from strangers but it’s positively encouraged. Some people will insist on giving you healthy stuff like fruit. It’s always good practice to be grateful, whatever you get, since that will increase your likelihood of being able to carry on to other houses in the hope that you will get more sweets. Play the long game.

Occasionally you will encounter a refusal to take part, polite or otherwise. Traditionally this would trigger a trick from you. This is optional and probably not to be encouraged unless it is a very good trick and you are unlikely to get caught. Remember that actions such as throwing store cupboard staples at a house is not likely to lead to a change in behaviour from the householder. It’s better to make them into a cake. Preferably pumpkin-shaped. The eggs and flower that is, not the neighbours. And play the long, long game.

Things that go bump in the night    Since the whole idea of Halloween goes back to the idea that demons roamed the earth on a certain night, there will be an obsession with ghosts and ghoulies, witches and monsters. Some of these will go bump in the night, some, particularly the clumsy ones, might go bump in the day. Having the eye holes in the right place and switching the light on in the dark will help reduce the number of bumps.


For the first few years Halloween is likely to be a spectator sport for you. Be patient. Your time for running around in scary costumes (as opposed to the normal superhero, pirate or prince/princess costumes you favour during the rest of the year) will come and you too will be able to forage in gangs with the rest of the little ghosties and ghoulies.

Medieval Merriment

Come on then, I'll take you all on!

Come on then, I’ll take you all on!

This week we took Motormouth and Mini to the Medieval Festival at the local castle.

Motormouth insisted on dressing up for the occasion in his helmet and, after due consideration, elected to take his axe rather than his sword.

As per standard toddler protocols the axe got handed over to us to carry for him. This was after he found shoving it down the front of his jogging bottoms wasn’t the most practical way to store it. This was about three minutes after we parked.

We did the rounds of the stalls and Motormouth was desperate for one of the toy shields (to go with the helmet and axe of course). He was very interested in trying the food, until he found out they were cooking vegetables. Not even the excitement of cooking over an open fire could make vegetables seem edible to him.

He spotted the pig “hiding” in the hog roast. I left it to the Other Half to explain why it had a pole running through it. (Hey, it’s only fair – I’ve had to explain where babies come from three times this week.)

The Knight Hospitaler scared him a little, with his descriptions of battlefield surgery, so it looks like we have a bit of time before his little boy bloodthirsty phase kicks in. The Other Half and I found it interesting – I never knew that even when they were acting as surgeons, they couldn’t remove anything from inside the wound because they weren’t allowed. Something to do with the soul being inside the body and poking around would damage it.

The bird of prey display did make Motormouth laugh, after initially being apprehensive. I think it had something to do with the fact the bird thought the pigeons were tastier than a bit of dead meat on the end of the lure and wouldn’t come back. He told me very seriously that the bird nearly scratched his head and pooped on him when it flew particularly low over us.

Unfortunately there wasn’t a huge amount to interest a three year old, so once we established he needed to be really, really good to get a shield, he turned his attention to one of his favourite parts of the castle gardens.

The cannon.

Well, actually he wanted to go up into the castle itself but we wouldn’t let him since he didn’t have safe shoes on. In the end he was content with the promise that next time he could go up.

And his second choice.

The cannon.

It dates from the 1840s and points over the river towards the bridge and is a magnet for climbers of the toddler variety.

Motormouth decided it was one you could ride as well.

It was pretty unreliable, judging by the number of times the “old girl” broke down and had to be repaired with coal and water. Dutifully hauled by me, after all, that’s what parents are for isn’t it? Fetching and carrying. Apart from carrying and fetching of course.

We did get into a little bit of a heated discussion. Motormouth would slap his hand on the cannon to fire it and scream boom. (He has got a very loud voice for a very small boy.)

I thought it would be much nicer if it made a different noise. Like woof. Or neigh. Or baa. Or even squelch.

At least the people around us found the sight of a small boy in a red coat shouting at the top of his voice amusing. (Perhaps our general lack of amusement at his volume has something to do with the fact he hasn’t yet discovered his indoor voice and we haven’t discovered his mute button. And we get it all the time.)

Maybe they were just amused at the silly mummy who doesn’t know what noise a big gun is supposed to make. And the little blonde boy who kept giving her a stern telling off.

And Mini?

She had fun people watching again though she seemed slightly bemused by the kerfuffle when a knight was slain in front of her. She looked even more confused when he got up again and walked off.

And eating grapes.

Lots of grapes.

And rolling them on the ground in front of people.

And it didn’t rain all day, despite the weather forecast.

I still think it would be better if a cannon went quack instead of boom.