Dear Dada…

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Dear Dada, I can’t believe you’re gone, it’s not fair, we didn’t even get that long.

Dear Dada, I miss hearing you call me Radhai, but I’m so glad you got to see me learn Jai Jai.

Dear Dada, life will never be the same, I wish I could wake up and it would all just be a game.

Dear Dada, mummy talks about you all the time. She says that you were always immaculately dressed, and quite simply the very best.

Dear Dada, I wish you were here to watch me play, I know you loved to be with me night and day.

Dear Dada, mummy and daddy miss you so much, mummy keeps saying I wish I could have just one more touch.

Dear Dada, I know you’ll be with me for the rest of my days, for you were in my heart from the very start.

Dear Dada, I know you’ll look on as I have my first day at school, telling me that I am super cool.

Dear Dada, I hope I grow up to be just like you, without a care and perfect hair.

Dear Dada, you were gone so fast, and now suddenly you are part of my past.

Dear Dada, I wish you were still here, to love and cuddle and hold me dear.

Dear Dada, God needed you up above so you could be free, but please take care and watch over me.

Your loving Grandson

Virràe Yuvraj

xXx

 

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A Thai inspired vegetable noodle

I try to make a variety of food for Virràe Yuvraj during the week, with all different tastes and textures. Although he eats everything, he gets bored very quickly and can be extremely difficult to feed. His energy knows no bounds, so sitting still in a highchair to do one thing for 10 minutes is his idea of hell. (I’ll be posting on difficult eaters soon!)

As my husband will tell you, I absolutely love noodles! Every Sunday is noodle sunday in our house, it’s ritual, so I thought I’d introduce Virràe Yuvraj to my favourite dish by creating a toddler friendly version.

This recipe is enough to make 2 generous portions, or 3 if you are also having a side dish.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 a packet of Sharwoods soft ribbon noodles (you can use a noodle of your choice)
  • 1/2 an onion finely diced
  • 1/2 a red pepper finely diced
  • 1/2 a green pepper finely diced
  • 2 mushrooms finely diced
  • 1 carrot finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 a tea spoon of grated ginger
  • 1 large vine tomato, grated
  • A sprinkle of soy sauce
  • 2 table spoons of olive oil

Method

Heat the olive oil in a non stick pan for a few seconds and add the garlic, onions, peppers, carrots and mushroom.

After 5 minutes add the ginger and cook on a medium heat for a further 10 – 15 minutes, or until vegetables are nice and soft. Be sure to stir regularly to ensure that none of the veg burns. As the veg is so finely chopped, it does tend to cook quite quickly.

Once the veg is cooked, add the grated tomato and cook for 2 minutes. Then chop the noodles into bite size pieces and add to the mix. Lower the heat and stir gently for 2 minutes. Then add the soy sauce and cook for a further minute.

As the soy sauce is quite strong in flavour and quite salty, this recipe does not need a generous helping. Although there are no additional spices added, I found the soy sauce enhanced the natural flavours of the vegetables already there.

I served this dish with a side of creamy mash potato so that Virràe Yuvraj had something soft to accompany the very textured main meal. If your little one is a bit older, you perhaps don’t need to have a side dish, or could use something more textured such as rice.

 

The Generation Game.

The love a grandparent can have for a  grandchild is an amazing thing to experience, and now I am privileged enough to witness this emotion through my own son and his grandparents. Thinking back to my childhood, happy memories are all I have of my grandparents, and I was lucky enough to know all four into my adult life. There was never any telling off, or getting into trouble, quite frankly, I could do no wrong! Wonderful for me, but probably not so great for my parents, who no doubt struggled to discipline me without getting into to trouble themselves. I do remember enjoying it when this happened, so mum and dad, if you’re reading this then I’m sorry, but it was all because of the love of a grandparent.

It’s a truly heart warming feeling to see how much a grandparent can want to do the simplest of tasks for your child, and how much joy it brings them. Whenever my mum is over, she loves to go and get Virràe when he has woken from a nap.  She is usually watching the monitor as if it were the latest bollywood film, and as soon as he starts to stir she’s up those stairs faster than lightening. Its a wonder she never trips over the numerous pile of things that live on my staircase waiting to be taken up! I watch on the monitor as she enters the room, I can even hear her smile as he Virràe recognises her face and gurgles away in delight. (Probably pleased he isn’t greeted by my ugly mug for once!) Not even a mountain would prevent her from getting to him, and this can only be the love of a grandparent.

When Virràe was born, I’m quite sure my dad was afraid. For once in his life he didn’t know what to do. He was a little awkward holding him and the moment even the smallest cry emerged from Virràe’s mouth, I could see my dad looking around for someone to rescue him. As Virràe has grown older, my dad has become more confident with him, and way more protective! If I tell Virràe off, I get told off. If I take my phone away, my dad will get his out. If Virràe is having a brat attack at dinner time and refusing to eat, my dad will be nagging in my ear telling me to let him out of his highchair. If Virràe yawns at 5pm, my dad will tell me I’m mean for not putting him to bed because he’s clearly tired. I try to explain to my dad that it’s too early, but he just rolls his eyes and huffs as if I’m the devil in disguise. If Virràe is furniture walking and looking a bit wobbly, my dad will run to hold his back. I tell my dad that he’s very controlled and not to worry, but he usually tuts and starts getting all Victor Meldrew on me (again!) I’m quite sure if my dad had his way, his grandson would be covered in bubble wrap and never leave the house! Only the love of a grandparent.

We visit my in-laws a few times  week, and when it’s time to go home, I battle to get Virràe ready. I say battle because for anyone looking on, it must look like a wrestling match. Virràe locked between my legs, thrashing his little body around while I try desperately to get his nappy changed and pyjamas on. I consider this a massive work out and now understand why many mums don’t need to go to the gym. Anyway, when Virràe was younger and still in his first car seat, I’d put him in (crying of course), and my father in law always hated to hear him cry. I used to say, sounding child like myself, “but daddddd, there’s nothing wrong with him, don’t worry!” And he would say “Beta, I just hate to hear him cry.” The minute he heard the belt lock into place, my father in law would take the car seat and swing it back and forth. Virràe’s cries gradually turned into whimpers before eventually stopping, and I could see relief shine from my father in laws face like a rainbow after the rain. The love of a grandparent can tolerate not even a single tear, even if the that single tear is fake! My father in law would take the seat and proudly take it to the car for me, that was his job and he never tired of it, even if it did put his back out! Only the love of only a grandparent.

Every one of us has a real smile, the one that radiates from us when our endorphin levels are sky high and we couldn’t conceal our happiness even if we tried. A few short days after my son was born, his great grandfather passed away. It was such a bittersweet time for my mother in law, on one hand losing her father, and on the other her first grandchild being born. She didn’t get to see Virràe much in those first couple of weeks, but after the funeral had finished, she came to stay with me for a few days. When she arrived after what can only have been a truly emotional time, and saw her grandson, her face lit up, the bags under her eyes faded and her real smile beamed across her face. I’d just fed Virràe, so she sat on the sofa and I lay him on her chest, I remember so vividly that he was curdled up like a little ball, his tiny bum in the air and his head gently resting on her shoulder. I dimmed the lights and crept away letting them have their time. In that moment, no one could have brought more comfort than her grandson. She put her sadness and grief in a box, and for her grandson, put the lid on it. Only the love of a grandparent.

Regardless of the type of relationship you have with your parents, and regardless of the type of parents they are to you, the love and affection they have for our children as grandparents is simply magical. Nurturing this relationship is like taking care of a plant, make sure it has plenty of sunlight, water it regularly and then sit back and watch it bloom.

“Nobody puts baby in the corner!”

Yesterday was Diwali, the festival of lights. All around the word millions of people celebrated this ancient festival which recognises the triumph of light over dark and good over evil. It marks the homecoming of the God Lord Ram who had been in exile for 14 long years and had finally defeated the demon king Ravana. Today is New Year in the Indian lunar calendar, surely a time to reflect on all the wonderful things we have achieved, and to look ahead to a bright future full of light. However, things are not always so black and white in life. No pun intended! This auspicious festival got me thinking about how during each year we face challenging situations and people (not all serious ones), and like Lord Ram, how we defeat the demons in our lives. Then throw being a mother as a spanner into the works, and boy oh boy do things change…

Prior to having my little boy, I dealt with difficult situations and people very diplomatically, unless of course you have been subject to one of my WhatsApp emoji rants. If you have, then you are probably laughing your head off at the idea that I could describe myself as diplomatic after I have been p****d off! However, in person I would always keep quiet, never say anything and just let things slide. I was never one for conflict, and whilst I’m not a fan of fighting, I am a massive fan of standing up for what is right. After Virràe Yuvraj was born, so was a raging bull inside me, and let me tell you, she can charge!

I’ll tell you about the time I was waiting for my ferry to the Isle of Wight. Virràe needed a nappy change and there was a lovely looking restaurant only a short distance away, so I took my sister with me and off we went to change him. We walked into the restaurant, which I’d like to point out was totally empty, apart from the manager there wasn’t a single member of staff or customer in sight.  I kindly asked if there was any baby changing facilities that we could use, and he said no but that I could use the toilet floor. ‘USE THE TOILET FLOOR!!!!’ rang like an alarm in my head, my blood had started boiling and the raging bull was awakening inside of me.

I kept very calm and said that I was not prepared to change my young baby on the floor of a sodding toilet when the entire restaurant was empty and there was a perfectly comfortable sofa in front of us. I pointed out again that there was no one else in the entire venue and stood there relentlessly until he reluctantly agreed to let me use his precious restaurant. He showed me to the teeniest tiniest pokiest space tucked away in the corner, God forbid someone should see me changing an innocent babies nappy! I made sure to rant nice and loudly much to my sisters dismay, and after finishing, I packed my stuff up and went to the bar, baby on hip and mortified sister trailing behind me. I was pleased to see a customer at the bar because I was about to unleash the dragon.

I told him he should be utterly disgusted at his attitude, and that had there even been one customer in the restaurant area I would have understood but it was EMPTY!!!! He started arguing back with me and well, I bloody lost it didn’t I.  Somewhere within my angry rant I asked him what he would have done if my baby had been hungry and I had needed to breastfeed, would he have asked me to go and sit on the toilet floor away from all his invisible customers, and now this poor man at the bar witnessing the raging bull at her best. I don’t even know what he said back but he definitely wasn’t sorry so I definitely wasn’t backing down. If my sister hadn’t of dragged me out, I would have taken my top off, sat on his posh sofa and breastfed staring right him. Instead I demanded his name, grabbed a business card and told him to look out for my bad review, because “nobody puts baby in the corner!!”

There’s no denying that becoming a mother has changed me, the biggest change being that I no longer keep quiet when I think someone’s behaviour is morally wrong. I don’t have time for demons in my life so I no longer let things slide no matter who it is. To be the best mummy I can be for a Virràe Yuvraj, I have to make sure that good triumphs evil and ensure my heart and mind are always filled with light.

M is for making memories, not mess.

As I look around my house, I can see that my little man has completely taken over. I can’t go more that three footsteps without treading on a plastic car, tripping over a spiderman ball, or spotting a stain from yesterday’s dinner on the cream carpet. Oops, let’s pray that inspector morse (Daddy) doesn’t notice. If he did, we would just have to tell him that M is for making memories and not mess.

Each corner is filled with toys, which, before your tut in your head and mutter “I bet he doesn’t even play with them”, he really does. If you come to my house at approximately 2pm you will see for yourself, as it will resemble nothing short of a very complex assault course. To be perfectly honest, I encourage this by putting his toy boxes in the middle of the room and letting him go wild. So when I feel my heart going at the chaos of his things everywhere, I remind myself that M is for making memories and not mess.

My sofas are adorned with teddies, and I know people look around, judging this choice, and wondering why on earth they aren’t all in one big box. I can’t blame them really, as sometimes I wonder the same bloody thing. However, I then see Virràe climb the sofa and squeal with delight pulling them all down. The poor little buggers. The teddies have enticed him up, to work hard, and keep going till he reaches his end goal. Quite frankly these are wonderful life skills so the teddies are staying! Besides which, the teddies don’t create more mess, only memories.

Now that my little man is on the move, his favourite place to be is the kitchen. His timing is impeccable, and he crawls in like a baby elephant just when I’m in the middle of cooking. He comes over to my streak free oven, hauls himself up on the handle of the door and laughs with delight at his reflection. (Definitely his fathers boy ). As his reflection becomes more hilarious to him, he becomes more and more animated, slamming his chubby little hands against my Mr. Muscle clean oven windows. Im usually crying on the inside at this point. Then to make matters worse, immediately after he has finished graffiting, he gets bored, sits back down and crawls away. Thanks for that then! I look down at my oven, paw prints everywhere, and at the same time reach for my kitchen cleaner telling myself one day he will stop, and that M is for making memories and not mess.

During meal times we usually get nice and messy. I must admit that whilst I started off wanting to wipe his face after every spoonful, I gave myself a virtual slap in the face and told myself to get a grip. We all learn to eat properly eventually, why not let him have a bit of fun now. When he’s going on his first date, I’m hardly going to encourage him to get his plate and pour the contents of it down his clothes, and then on the floor for good measure am I?! Well of course not, and that’s exactly why we do it now, because soon enough I won’t get away with saying that we are creating memories and not mess with this one!

Time is travelling at such speed that it scares me. I’m desperate for life to slow down. Virràe Yuvraj is growing up so fast that soon enough he will be a stroppy teenager locked away in his bedroom and plugged into some gadget or another. There will be no teddies, no spiderman ball to trip on and no paw prints on my oven. So for now, please excuse the mess because me and my boy are busy making memories.

Delicious Daal

As my little man has been so poorly over the last 2 months, and winter is fast approaching, I’m conscious of making him food that is wholesome, warming and nutritious. As he has still got a dry cough left from his last bout of tonsillitis, today I made him a gorgeous Daal (Lentil soup), so it would be easy on his throat, and added some rice for his carb intake. Here is the recipe which you can tweak to suit you, and is enough for 2 generous portions with some left over to freeze for a rainy day.

Ingredients

  • 4 fistfuls of red split lentils
  • 1 clove of garlic finely grated
  • a generous pinch of fresh ginger finely grated / a quarter cube of frozen ginger
  • 1 vine tomato chopped in half and grated from the inside
  • a level teaspoon of jaggery
  • a teaspoon of ghee
  • a teaspoon of coriander and cumin powder
  • a quarter teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • a teeny tiny pinch of salt for babies over 1

Method

Add the lentils to a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. The water level should be a little higher than the lentils, and you can always add more hot water later on if required. Once the water has reached boiling point, lower the heat and simmer until the lentils are very soft and mushy like a thick soup. It is important to keep an eye on the lentils, as they cook very quickly and in case you need to add more water.

Once the lentils have reached the right consistency, add all the other ingredients, mix well and allow to cook gently for another 5 minutes.

The ghee adds a beautiful nutty aroma to the daal, and brings a richness that ordinary butter would not be able to. The tomato adds a subtle tanginess, and compliments the jaggery wonderfully, giving the dish just a hint of sweetness.

The daal tastes great over rice, or simply on its own as a soup. Perhaps best go with rice if your little one is as messy as my mucky puppy at meal times!

To the lady who called me a miserable child.

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To the lady who called me a miserable child, please remember that I am only a baby.

To the lady who called me a misersble child, please remember that I am not old enough to know how to channel my emotions yet.

To the lady who called me a miserable child, please remember that I cannot talk yet.

To the lady who called me a miserable child, maybe I’m not feeling very well, and crying is the only way I can tell my mummy that something is wrong.

To the lady who called me a miserable child, maybe I’ve been up all night teething.

To the lady who called me a miserable child, maybe I haven’t enjoyed being passed round one hundred people at this party.

To the lady who called me a miserable child, maybe my body aches from being handled so much.

To the lady who called me a miserable child, maybe I am just tired as I haven’t been able to nap.

To the lady who called me a miserable child, maybe I just want my mummy today.

To the lady who called me a miserable child, but you don’t even know me very well.

To the lady who called me a miserable child, I think someone heard what you said.

Butternut squash and pea curry with rice

I was in the kitchen this morning having my cup of tea and wondering what to make Virràe Yuvraj for his dinner. I looked in the fridge and saw a lonely looking butternut squash and decided to experiment and make a curry. So here is my recipe for butternut squash and pea curry.

Ingredients 

  • Half a teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • Half a teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • A table spoon of sunflower oil
  • 2 handfuls of butternut squash finely chopped into tiny cubes
  • Half a small onion finely chopped into tiny cubes
  • A handful of frozen peas
  • 1 large vine tomato blended
  • 1 clove of garlic finely grated
  • A generous pinch of grated ginger or a quarter of a frozen cube
  • A teaspoon of cumin and corriander powder
  • A quarter teaspoon of tumeric powder
  • A teeny tiny pinch of salt if your baby is over 1

Method 

Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat and add the cumin and mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds start to pop, lower the heat and add the garlic, ginger and onions, and let the onions soften for 5 to 6 minutes.

Once softened, add the butternut squash, all the spices and let everything cook until the squash is soft (approximately 10  to 12 minutes).

Once cooked, add the peas and blended tomato, and increase the heat for a couple of minutes until peas have cooked fully.

This dish is a perfect winter warmer for your little one, and is lovely served with some rice and a dollop of yoghurt to make it nice and creamy.

To spice it up for yourself, just add more ginger, garlic and spices and a couple of green chillies.

Enjoy!

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Battle of the B’s.

Everyone has heard the famous saying, “breast is best!”, and in many ways whilst that may be true, it may not necessarily be ‘best’ for every mother. So before I write any more, I’d like to  swear under mummy oath that I Kajal Pankhania, mummy of Virràe Yuvraj Pankhania believe that neither one method of feeding is better than the other, and whatever makes for a happy mummy, makes for a happy baby. (I am mentally saluting)

I knew I had always wanted to breastfeed and just hoped and prayed that my body would allow me to, and luckily for me it still does.  No I did not just accidentally write that sentence in present tense.  Yes I am still breastfeeding my 13 month old son. Yes I do plan to stop, and no I won’t have him hanging off my breast aged 3.  However, that is my choice. There are many mothers out there who want to breastfeed their children for longer and  again under mummy oath, that is absolutely fine, but for me , when my little dude can walk and talk, and more importantly, when he has lots of teeth, I’ll be weaning him off. (Right now he has zero!) Now do you see what I just did, I justified my reasons for still breastfeeding. It’s become automatic for me to defend this choice I made, because even in an era where breastfeeding is so strongly promoted, the pressure I’ve had to bottle feed is immense.

Ironically, I hear a lot of mothers tell me how much pressure they had to breastfeed, even though they knew from the offset they were happier bottle feeding. The pressure came from medical staff, health visitors, family and friends. I mean if the mum doesn’t want to breastfeed isn’t that her choice? If she’s already told you this, why can’t you just accept it? If she ‘just wanted to try it’ wouldn’t she have already?

Maybe I was niaeve, but I found the mummy world to be really competitive and this really took me by surprise. One of the first questions all new mums seem to ask each other is, “so are you breast or bottle?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to smile sweetly and say “actually I’m not a breast or a bottle, I’m a human you dimwit!” Obviously that was only how I responded in my head.

Virràe Yuvraj has never been a massive baby, and because he isn’t covered in rolls of fat, people have often asked the patronising question that all breastfeeding mothers hate, “are you sure you’re getting enough milk?”  At this point I respond in my head by getting my breasts out and squirting my milk around the room. Well they say actions are louder than words right? In reality, I just smile behind gritted teeth and say yes.

People have labelled me as ‘sick’ for breastfeeding my one year old baby, as if he’s a 10 year old kid and I’m still whipping them out. Others have said, you won’t ever truly have a night off until you move to bottle feeding. I chose to be a mum, and whilst parenting is not always easy, I don’t want to wake up without my baby in the next room. Believe it or not, I’m happy not to drink, okay have one glass of wine only, okay okay two, and then go to bed at a decent time and still sober. Whenever Virràe Yuvraj was going through a growth spurt and at the breast a lot more than usual, nearly everyone would say to me, oh just give him a bottle, it’s so much quicker. Good lord, is he feeding from my breast or yours?

Babies don’t come with a ‘how to’ guide, there is no ‘FAQ’ sheet and every choice you make until they can speak is quite simply based on guess work. As you get to know your baby, your guess work becomes more meaningful, rather than a desperate google search. Now come on ladies, we’ve all been the Google mum. What I am trying to say is that being a mum is hard enough without being judged on whether you breast or bottle feed. At the end of the day we all get the same result, our babies are fed and content. How the method of feeding impacts our individual lifestyles is for each of us to deal with, so come on mummies, a little less judging and a lot more loving.

Happy feeding!


My top twelve essentials not to leave the house without! (because ten wasn’t enough!)

Of course there is the standard, nappies, wipes and nappy cream, but I have put together an additional list of items that I simply cannot leave home without:

  1. A thermometer – I learnt the hard way to keep this in my baby bag at all times.
  2. Calpol – you never know when fever will strike.
  3. Teething granules – personally I prefer the brand Teetha, and if you are out and about and your child is refusing to take medicine (which mine does all the time) at least you have a plan B.
  4. A spare outfit and vest – because the messiness of a child knows no bounds!
  5. A babygrow – so that when you are racing to get home for bed time, you can get your little one into their pyjamas beforehand. Makes for a much easier transition from car seat to cot.
  6. A spare bib – the amount of dribble one child can produce is phenomenal.
  7. Snacks / water beaker – Imagine being stuck in standstill traffic with a hungry baby who’s cries can deafen. If you don’t want this to become a reality then carry snacks!
  8. A food pouch / jar – Even if like me you prefer to cook fresh meals, you never know when you may feel ill, have nothing left of your batch cooking In the freezer or simply just need a break. I carry one with me when I’m out for the day just in case I get stuck somewhere and can’t get home in time for dinner.
  9. A spoon – as well as helping with point 8, a spoon multi functions as a handy distraction!
  10. Nappy sacks – these little gems not only aromatically dispose of your child’s smelly nappy, but they double up as something to put wet / dirty clothing in too – amazing!
  11. Money – I now keep my purse in my baby bag and have done away with my handbag (never thought I’d hear myself say that!) This way I’m never faffing about trying to remember where I last put my purse.
  12. Sophie the giraffe – no explanation needed!

Before I go to bed at night, I always replenish my baby bag and make sure it contains all of the above. This way you have the peace of mind that you can grab your baby bag and go at anytime!