‘The first cut is the deepest’

This week has been very eventful to say the least. Just when you think you’ve got your shit together and are starting to feel semi super mum-ish, your toddlers teething smacks you round the face like an unexpected slap. It’s sharp, painful and the burning sensation seems to linger on..and on..and on.

For the last couple of weeks, Virràe Yuvraj has become increasingly clingy, difficult, and just not his usual smiley self. Everything has become a chore for him, from eating and nappy changes, to bath time and even playing, thus, it has become utter hell for me. Throw yourself off a bridge kinda hell…..

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On Monday this week, he became so difficult that when I looked hard enough I’m very sure I saw little devil horns poking out his head. He was off his food, his toys, he was even off baby TV! Like me, I think he was simply losing his mind in frustration, except he wasn’t doing anything without letting the world know first.

Throughout the course of the day, his temperature was like a roller coaster, one minute he was bunged up, and the next his nose was like a leaky tap. He was moaning to be picked up for a cuddle and then within the same 30 seconds he was squealing to be put back down. No matter what I did or didn’t do, I was without a doubt losing with a capital L.

When it came to bed time, I was relieved to have a break from mummy duty, yet filled with dread that this little Damien was going make me suffer even more. After a dose of Neurobaby, a lather of baby vicks across his chest, and a lashing of calgel across those gums, he thankful went down quickly. Too quickly….

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I can only liken that night to feeling horribly hungover, except this time I did not have the pleasure of drinking too much wine and enjoying myself getting to this awful state. VYP was crying in his sleep pretty much the whole night. Whilst he didn’t actually wake up for even 10 seconds, he was searching for my comfort whilst those rebellious baby teeth partied in his gums ALL NIGHT LONG…*queue Lionel Richie music*

As morning broke the black cloud of the night before, VYP woke from his slumber at 6.30am instead of the usual time of 8.00am. Oh how I was longing for that hour and a half, but his unhappy gurgles told me I was never going to get it. After a nappy change that was more like a wrestling match, we trotted downstairs, me looking like a panda bear and Virràe warming up to let me know exactly how rotten he was feeling. (Me with my black panda bear eyes below!)

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Breakfast soon turned into a war, he knocked the spoon out my hand and the porridge went flying. Every toy I gave him as a distraction was thrown across the room and he tried in desperation to scramble out the booster seat. Why after 12 hours of not eating was he not starving? As I tried another spoon of porridge, I couldn’t help but curse teething under my breath. Painful gums I understand, but why with it must our babies get teething colds, teething nappy rash, teething poo’s, loss of appetite. As if teething wasn’t bad enough on its own!!??

After a few more spoonfuls, he’d had enough and so had I, so very willingly, I gave up. As I was wiping his face, and again failing miserably, I decided to have a quick feel of his gums. As he clamped down on my finger, there it was, the sharp scratch of a tooth! I couldn’t believe it, after 16 long months my boy had finally cut his first tooth. I actually wanted to cry and felt a really overwhelming sense of pride, yes, over a bloody tooth! Suddenly the last couple of weeks seemed worth it, all of it.

As the week went on, my happy chappy  was still no where to be found. He’d been replaced by a little boy who’s characteristics I simply didn’t recognise. He was off his food at every meal, and was just about eating a biscuit here or there. His cough was getting worse and he’d even managed to give me his cold. By Thursday afternoon I was feeling absolutely dreadful, Virràe’s top tooth was bulging out his gum, and he was just not coping with the pain. My prayers were answered and bed time arrived. He drank a measly 2oz of milk and thrashed about in my arms clearly very uncomfortable. I found his muslin cloth which he latched onto for comfort and drifted off to sleep.

After an uninterrupted nights sleep for Virràe, he awoke at 5.30am this morning. I however had hardly slept, one nostril was blocked, the other was running, my head was pounding and my body was aching. On top of that he decides to wake up in the ungodly 5th hour!! I put him in bed with me, hoping he would lay there for just long enough for me to muster the strength to open my eyes, but the pungent stench from his nappy informed me that the teething symptoms were still lurking and laying in was not an option.

I had never seen a poo like it, it was so sticky, like a swamp in his nappy. I’d heard teething poo’s were bad, but wow, nothing prepared me for this! To make matters worse, for the first time since he was a new born, his nappy had leaked. Great…as if this week hadn’t been traumatic enough.

Off came his vest and pjamas, which of course he wasn’t at all pleased about. 10 wipes later and I’d finally managed to clean his bum, during which I was feeling extremely grateful for my blocked nose! After what seemed like an hour, he was finally in a clean nappy and clothes. Then came the task of breakfast…

I tried my old faithful friend Weetabix, thinking it would be easy on his throat. How wrong was I? I tried toast, it went flying. I tried a biscuit, it was crushed in frustration. I even tried his absolute favourite, an orange. He had one lick before flinging it sideways. Before I sobbed my eyes out and made my bags even worse, I put baby TV on in the hope that it would distract him for long enough for me to make a coffee. It did.

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Despite having nothing in his tummy, he managed to do another dreadful teething poo. I bathed him, got him ready and put him down for a nap. (Thank God he fell asleep) I was back down at 8.30am but felt like I’d been up for hours. I couldn’t help but think that on any normal day we’d just about be finishing breakfast. For us, teething has changed absolutely everything. Routine has gone out the window and taken everything else with it, including 99.9% of my sanity. People keep telling me that now the first tooth has cut, the next few will come through in the coming weeks. I can only hope that like the song says, ‘the first cut is the deepest’…

 

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Family Meal Ideas

Life for me got lots easier when I began cooking meals that Nik, Virràe and I could all eat. I’ll be honest, I’m not the perfect all organic, all salt free, all free range mummy! I do however cook quick, easy and fresh meals that introduce Virràe Yuvraj to lots of different flavours, and saves me time so that I can spend more of it having fun and being with my boy. (Or getting on with the never ending housework!)

Some meals are fab for when you’ve got guests coming for lunch / dinner but are still toddler / baby friendly, and others are great for when there’s not much left in the cupboards but you still want to make something fresh.IMG_20160115_141213

I always have plenty of potato, pasta, lentils, rice, tinned tomatos, stock cubes and cheese in my kitchen cupboards, so come rain or shine I’ll always be able to rustle something up using these staple ingredients!

Here’s my top family meal ideas for everyone to enjoy. Some of these recipes I’ve shared, and others I will be posting over the coming weeks, however if there’s any on here you’re dying to try please comment and I will post sooner!

  1. Chicken Korma and Corriander Rice – I made this recently when one of my girlfriends came round for lunch. The korma sauce is mild and creamy, so perfect for your little ones too. The sauce also took a grand total of 15 minutes to make, which meant that I didn’t need to waste time in the kitchen and could spend more time catching up with my girlfriend. The corriander rice has always been a winner for me, and you have the option of adding chilli’s to this to accompany the mild korma with a nice spicy kick!
  2. Short Cut Macaroni with a Home Made Tomato Sauce – I made this tonight for a simple Monday night dinner.  For the sauce I used a garlic and herb tinned tomato pack and simply added onions, some freshly grated garlic, and a dollop of ricotta pesto. If like me you enjoy spicy food, just separate the sauce into 2 pans and add a fresh green chilli or 2 into the adult version. The short cut macaroni is small enough for little ones to chew and swallow so you won’t need to waste even a minute chopping pasta up!20160125_165312
  3. Cauliflower and Potato Bake– just boil the cauliflower and potato till its cooked, whip up a batch of white sauce, pour over the veg, sprinkle on some cheese and breadcrumbs and bake for 20 minutes. I’ve managed to perfect my white sauce over the last few attempts and can’t wait to share the recipe with you guys!IMG-20160120-WA0002
  4. JP with Cheese and Beans– Virràe Yuvraj and I had this for lunch today, the fluffiness of an oven baked jacket potato is unbeatable! For some added flavour you could always melt in some cream cheese. An easy way to get carbs and protein in one meal.20160125_122104
  5. Daal and Rice – this is my go to meal if I’ve had a busy day but still want a home cooked dish, the Daal literally takes minutes to make, is full of flavour and one of Virràe’s faves! I’ve shared this one on my blog so make sure you check it out!
  6. Eggy Bread– Virràe doesn’t like egg and this is the only way I can get him to eat it. I usually team it other finger food like steamed veg, crisps and fruit so he gets enough to eat. Prepare for a lot of mess, but it’s very fun to watch them explore! An easy lunch time meal for everyone.2016-01-21_14.23.32
  7. Baked Salmon with Easy Peasy Creamy Mash – I try to give Virràe fish at least once a week. Sometimes I make my own marinade of blended vine tomatos, ginger and garlic, (chilli’s, salt and lemon juice for Nik and I), otherwise I spread the fillet with a nice layer of cream cheese and herbs. Either way I just wrap it in foil and bake for 18 mins in a pre heated oven. This usually cooks the fish to that beautiful flakey consistency. I team it with some fresh mash potato mixed with lots of butter, a pinch of salt and a sprinkling of cheese. One of our absolute favourites!IMG_20160122_173440
  8. A Hipp Organic Jar – Virràe loves them and he gets one on a Friday night as his weekend take away! Jars / pouches are also fab for when you’re on the go, or running to get home just in time for dinner and have nothing prepared. Hungry babes are no fun so I always keep a couple of jars in my cupboard.

Providing your child with healthy and nutritious meals shouldn’t mean you slaving away in the kitchen for hours. I hope this gives you some ‘foodspiration’, and that you enjoy making these quick and easy meals, leaving you more time with your lovely families.

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Blonde Mummy. X

Letter One.

Dear Dad,

In the last 7 weeks your grandson has changed so much, I wish you were here to witness this incredible journey from baby to toddler that he is embarking upon. I wanted to write and let you know about some of his latest antics and a few of the things that we’ve been up to.

In the immediate few days after you passed away, I caught Virràe staring at corners of the kitchen and living room as if somebody was there. He would smile as his eyes slowly moved across the room, it was as if he were following someone, but of course, no one was there. In the last couple of weeks he has begun looking up to the ceiling laughing and smiling, he reaches his arms above his head as if he is trying to pull something down. I look up and there’s no shadow, or light, and no sign of anything that would have caught his attention. Each time it happens, I hope with every bone in my body that you are there watching over my son.

I still take him to his Hartbeeps class every Tuesday and you won’t believe how confident he has become. When we first started, he would never leave my side, and now he crawls around the room like he owns the place. He will even go and sit next to the teacher and put his hand on her lap!

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Dad, don’t worry, I didn’t forget to get him dressed, he was in his pjamas for Children in Need!

Two weeks ago, I turned my back for less than a minute and he had raced over to the other side of the room and casually took a dummy from one of the little girls. Having never used one before, he looked at it with such fascination before putting it in his own mouth to copy her. This poor little girl just looked at him completely bemused! I took it out and gave it back, but he snatched it from her again without an ounce of hesitation, looking at me with such annoyance for taking it! As you can imagine, this went on for quite a while till I managed to distract him with something else. He knows what he wants, and nothing will stop him from getting it. Something tells me I’m in for an interesting few years…

At the end of the class each child is given a light to hold, and of course, being as particular as you and his daddy, Virràe Yuvraj already has a favourite light – the heart. If he isn’t given this shape, I see him looking round the room to see who has, and as soon as he spots it, off he goes on a quest to get the heart light. He doesn’t cry or moan, he just tries to take it, because in his mind it’s his favourite one, therefore it belongs to him. Whilst I’ll always teach him never to snatch, I absolutely adore the fact that he’s beginning to have ‘favourites’, and to see how intrigued he is by something new. These sorts of antics are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle for me to put together and reveal his personality. It’s such an exciting time and everyday seems to brings something new.

Christmas was tough as we really missed you, but we tried to made it fun and special for Virràe Yuvraj. I dressed him up as an elf and Nik and I took him to see Santa.

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All of the other children posed nicely and had a lovely photo with Santa. Not Virràe Yuvraj , oh no, that would just be too easy! Your grandson hated Santa, screamed in his face and tried to wriggle out of my hands during the photograph. I tried to remain dignified but the results weren’t great, the below picture is honestly the best of a bad bunch!

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On the plus side, we did also feed a reindeer which was much more successful!

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On the 30th of December 2015, Virràe Yuvraj hit a milestone. We were visiting Amy and Seva at their house, and after taking a shining to one of their nieces, Virràe just wanted to be near her all the time! At one stage, she moved away from him to see how he would react, and low and behold, he got up and took his first 3 steps to follow her. We were all amazed and felt so proud of his achievement. Can you believe that this once tiny baby has now taken his first proper steps? I can only pray that you were watching from above, but in case you missed it, we managed to capture this incredible action shot.

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Virràe’s chitter chatter is non stop, he’s got so may new sounds and can even say a couple of words. His latest word is ‘uh-oh’! He says it after everything and its truly adorable. Since Thursday I have been singing him a new song about bubbles, by Saturday he was attempting to say the word. Of course every time I want show someone his progress, he goes totally mute and just smiles as though I’ve gone mad! His new favourite place is the kitchen, in particular swinging from door handle to door handle like a little monkey, or playing peekaboo with his reflection in the oven door. He would still rather destroy his toys than play with them, remember how you would call him demolishon derby!? Well, nothing has changed there! He loves his rocking horse and still adores his teddy bears. He will use his walker to go up and down the hall for ages, you should see the pride in his face Dad, its an absolute pictute. Like you, he loves to chill out and siesta on his Thomas the Tank Engine bean bag in front of baby TV. He is so much like you in so many ways.

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We played with home made play dough for the first time last week, all was going seemingly well until as I suspected, it ended up in his mouth! Needless to say we will probably wait a good while before trying again. Speaking of his mouth, at 15 months Virràe still has no teeth! I can finally see two in his top gum, but they are showing no sign of making an appearance any time soon. His latest favourite foods are oranges, satsumas, cauliflower cheese and fish with mash potato.

His hair has grown so much, I can even tie it in a pony like Nik. I wish you could see the pair of them with their matching hairstyles.

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Since he’s mastered climbing the stairs which you saw, he’s now learnt to climb down. He very cautiously turns around and gently makes his way back one cautious foot step at a time. I love how carefully he does this, as if he knows the dangers involved. He’s also really enjoying reading at the moment, he’ll cosy up in my lap whilst I read him a book and he listens as though he understands every word.

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He’s also started copying me when I’m on the phone, he tilts his head to one side, puts his hand to his ear and starts babbling. It melts my heart, and I know it would yours too.

I think that’s about it for now Dad. Just know that I think of you everyday, and I wish I could share Virràe’s moments with you instead of the memories. I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens next in Virràe Yuvraj’s world, and I promise to keep you updated.

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All my love,

Kajal. X

 

 

Tradition and the modern mum

Being a modern Brit-Asian mum, culture and tradition is always a very interesting area of life for me. I respect culture and traditions, I respect other people’s belief’s, but I don’t respect the fact that these beliefs are still being forced onto others. Since becoming a mother, I look a lot closer at traditions bestowed upon us as a modern generation, questions in my mind about the impact they will have on my child and his thinking. If I forego my own principles to take on traditions that I feel strongly against, what kind of role model does that make me for my son? Whilst I was brought up to respect others and my religion, my parents also gave me the encouragement to form my own opinions, challenge things I didn’t understand, and make decisions that made me happy. My happiness and comfort was everything to them, and nothing, especially not tradition or what other people thought would come before that. As a result, I don’t believe in doing anything that compromises happiness. Whilst it’s easier said than done, as a mother, I remind myself that sacrificing this emotion will also have an affect on my son and this is what keeps me smiling, even during the darkest days.

In the last year I have had the privilege of getting to know some amazing women, all of whom are mothers that have really suffered at the hands of culture and tradition. They have shared with me their experiences and how over the years some of them have become shadows of their former selves, yet remain stuck in a life that is mostly miserable. Some of these courageous women have broken free of the reigns that tradition, and those controlling the reigns, has had on them, in the process losing people that they love. However, they have gained themselves back and tell me that it has been worth it to feel happiness instead of living in the confinements of judgement. In the 21st century it is unthinkable that tradition and culture can still hold so much expectation of a single person, yet sadly it does. For these women that I have come to know, their position as a daughter in law within a traditional family has been so demanding that it has compromised the relationships they have with their partners and even worse, their children. Behind the cloud of culture sits an elder generation of men and women who want the generations below them to live in the exact same way as they were made to. They were trapped by dogma, and now it seems the younger generation should keep quiet and become trapped too. During a very open discussion, these women all had one question, why should they live by another generations thinking and beliefs?

Hindu tradition states that when a girl falls pregnant, she cannot travel to, or step foot in her parents home until after she is 7 months pregnant. Ask anyone why and you’ll usually hear, “I don’t know that’s just the way it is.” Surely if this type of tradition was more substantial than a mere superstition, there would be hard scientific evidence to support it?  Many moons ago when our ancestors lived in India and a girl got married, she usually moved far from her parents. Travelling was not safe as the roads were in bad condition and the transport methods weren’t exactly comfortable. (We’re talking horse and cart Vs. freak weather and major pot holes here!) THIS is why it was advised that pregnant women should not travel, however, there must have been pregnant women that did travel to their parents and tragically miscarried after. Rather than accepting that the above points, or natural causes could have been the issue, it was ‘logically’ blamed on the girls parents ‘nazar’ (bad luck) towards their daughter, and thus this (ridiculous!!) tradition was born. Hard to imagine that people haven’t moved with the times and that there are still families forcing this rule upon their daughter in laws, using the classic punch line that they too had to go through the same thing. I have no doubt it’s made every woman who has had to experience this nothing but miserable, so why is it still happening?

One of the ladies opened up and told us about the time her brother got engaged, just a small intimate affair at her parents home, a time for family to be together and enjoy this happy occasion. Being 5 months pregnant she was happy, glowing and excited to be at the forefront of her brothers celebrations. Her bubble was soon burst when her mother in law told her she would under no circumstances be going. As a grown adult, carrying her own baby, she was being told as if she were a child herself that she was not to go, and without a meaningful reason as to why. What is it about Indian culture that allows the ‘boys side’ to have power and control, in fact, why should anyone but YOU get to decide how to live YOUR life? How can a woman have her life being dictated by her husbands family and this being regarding as acceptable and ‘the norm.’ Her husband said he would take her to the engagement but would lie to his parents about where they were going to keep them happy. She refused to lie about something she felt so strongly against. She simply asked her husband, what was more harmful to the baby, happily spending time with her family, or being put under stress and pressure not to go. As parents, we teach our children right from wrong, we urge them to think logically about how to work things out, even as young babies, learning to put shapes in the correct holes or putting a jigsaw together. So why with these traditions does all logic go out the window?

Similarly, they say a girl must not wash her hair for the first 7 months because it harms the baby. Now this one makes my blood boil at the sheer stupidity of people still believing this is fact. Whilst centuries ago there was logical reasoning behind it, it no longer applies. Years ago in India when there were no showers, and women had to bathe in filthy rivers bending over their bumps to wash their hair, it caused discomfort, there was risk of infection and consequently it was just safer for pregnant women not to wash their hair. However, we now live in a time where we have the facility to bath and shower in the comfort of our own homes. We no longer have to bend over bumps to wash our hair, and there is absolutely no risk whatsoever to the baby.  This is simply another rule being disguised as tradition, when if you look at it logically, it’s just another superstition forced upon Indian women every single day.

With culture and tradition comes a great deal of expectation, especially for women. For modern mums with a practical and logical mind set, that can be very difficult to deal with, especially when it comes to our children. Another one of the ladies said she was forced to give up eating meat, and has been forbidden from giving her child meat, all because her husbands family are vegetarian. Of course she still eats meat and so does her child, but she has to pretend otherwise so as not to displease her in laws. There was no room for discussion, let alone compromise. By keeping their life choice so under wraps and appearing to just go with whatever his family have asked, how will they ever openly live a life that suits them? Whatever happened to compromise, why is it that the girl must change everything, including her eating habits and those of HER child? Could they not just accept that she eats meat, that its HER choice to feed HER child meat, that it doesn’t make her a monster, but that she doesn’t eat it under their roof. Does her upbringing, lifestyle choices and wishes for her own child count for nothing? Must she just bow down and accept whatever her husbands family request?

One of the women was a trained councilor and health visitor and explained that the term for being forced against your will in this way was called ’emotional abuse’. This was the first I’d heard of such behaviour being categorised, and it seemed I wasn’t the only one. Immediately I thought of women who are a huge part of my life, and it dawned upon me that they fitted into this group. It saddens me deeply to know that the female gender are still being pigeonholed and made to conform to a way of life that has simply been passed down from generation to generation without much thought as to why. Since when did culture become more important than a persons happiness? She explained that she sees many marriages amongst the Indian community fall apart, and that there is a higher rate of PND amongst Indian mothers, all because they are under pressure to conform and continue pleasing others, and that sadly the support from their husbands is minimal. This in mind, it is interesting to know that to have your feelings ignored causes the same chemical reaction in the brain as being physically hurt.

Hearing these ladies talk, you would never know that they were once strong and carefree, because there was barely a hint of these traits left in them. This made me think of my son, fast forward 20 years and he will be grown man living his own life. I would love for him to be married, and this would make me a mother in law.  To his future wife, wherever you may be, I promise that I will never expect anything more from you than to love my son. I promise to love you like my own. I promise I will protect you from anyone that dares to treat you badly. I promise to encourage you to be free. I promise to support your marriage in any way that keeps it happy, and of course I promise NEVER to put traditions before your happiness.

Emotional abuse may not leave bruises, but it does leave scars. We only have one life, lets help each other live and not just exist.

Blonde Mummy. X

 

Let’s not make a meal out of it!

Meal times. Even typing these two words sends shivers down my spine. My darling toddler loves food, but loathes to eat. (Didn’t think this could even be a ‘thing’ right?) If it’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that anything can be a ‘thing’ in the world of parenting. However, if I’m giving him baby biscuits, crisps or any other form of baby junk, then he’d eat as though I had starved him for days. He has ants in his pants, the attention span of a baby fly, and his brain is ten steps ahead of his body. Therefore when we sit down to eat, his mouth hasn’t physically taken one bite, yet his mind has seen the food, eaten it and is now ready to play again.

Let me explain how the food tantrums and bad habits began. Since August 2015, VYP has had recurring tonsillitis EVERY single month. In short, this means temperatures of 43, stints in hospital (never fun), administering disgusting medicine down his swollen throat, no sleep for either of us, and desperate measures taken to get the tiniest bit of food in his tummy. This cycle lasts 2 weeks before he finally starts to feel better in week 3 and then BAM! like an unexpected slap in the face, it strikes again in week 4. So as you can imagine, during this time I am basically prepared to do ANYTHING if it means he eats. And now this bloody stupid tonsillitis has meant that nearly every meal time is traumatic, whether tonsils are swollen or not! The tonsillitis has got him into bad habits, and now VYP has got me into them too. So, here’s a little insight into the treat that is meal times…

I start by singing like a lunatic, wheels on the bus being one of his favourites, (I look and sound like I’ve downed an entire bottle of wine in five minutes), but VYP loves it and it works for a few bites, then he gets bored. Quickly. I swiftly grab the emergency toy stash and this distracts him for a few more bites. He stores the food in his cheeks whilst he plays, and as he begins to chew and swallow, I know boredom is looming round the corner. I try another spoonful, but he locks his mouth shut until every teeny, tiny grain of food has dissolved. I know he could easily get another bite in, but this is his way of reminding me who’s boss, and it certainly isn’t me.

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I try singing again…but he scrunches up his face up, holds his hands in the air and squeals in protest. But he loved it five minutes ago? I  just scream loudly to the little people inside my head. I get a new toy, he looks at me and throws it on the floor. I try really hard not to react. He looks at me again, willing me to go nuts so that he can cry, hope that I’ll get fed up and give up! And before you get all judgey, yes I’ve tried just letting him go hungry – it doesn’t work. Like I said, with the attention span of a baby fly and the memory of Dori from Finding Nemo, he just forgets by the next meal and it all starts again. So trust me when I say that I may as well grit my teeth, (so may sanity doesn’t escape), suffer the pain and just get him fed.

For me, apart from VYP being so up and down with his health, other factors come into it. My husband is currently having to be away from home and has been for almost 3 months. This is really tough as I have no one to share the difficulties with. I also have to continue running the house and being the best mum that I can, so if that means shaving time off during meals is one thing I can control, well I’m going to bloody do it. I am also spending a lot of time at my in laws, so unfortunately since VYP has started to feel better, I haven’t had the time to put into banishing these bad habits. At the moment, life is such that time is always of the essence, therefore, meal times remain hell on earth.

Anyway, where was I. Ah yes, so with his mouth locked shut, eyes squeezed tight and toys all over the floor, I have another trick up my sleeve, fruit yoghurt. Now these two words put a big smile on my face because they allow me to deceive VYP, and finally I’m the boss, if only for a few minutes. I dip his food in the yoghurt, and although I have to fight to touch it to his lips, once he has a little lick and realises it’s sweet, he opens his mouth wide enough to land an aeroplane. I think perhaps I should have named him Damien instead. The yoghurt trick usually takes me to the end of the meal, however, if it doesn’t, yes I do reach for the TV remote. Judging me for being TV mum aren’t you? Well just so you know, its been over half an hour, I’m quite tired, pretty fed up, and I’d just like to sit down for 5 minutes before I start cleaning the kitchen, packing the car and making sure we’re both ready to go. Sometimes I even put the TV on from the beginning…shock horror.

Of course I would love my child to eat like a dream with minimal fuss, but ideals don’t always transition, especially when most days consist of getting things done as quickly as possible so I can make it out the house, then rushing back home for bed time. So, that in mind, here’s my round up of how I deal with a fussy toddler at meal times, mashed with things that really don’t help the situation:

  1. Arrange play dates between meal times – this way you can actually sit and enjoy a cuppa with your mummy friends.
  2. Distraction works – be it toys, food dipped in yoghurt, and even TV if you have to. Obviously great not to be in the TV habit but if you are, there is probably a good reason so don’t beat yourself up.
  3. Don’t lose your cool – these little munchkins will learn very quickly how to get a reaction from you.
  4. If you have no where else to be after lunch, then do take their food away from them after this meal if they start fussing. Just put them down to play and let them get hungry. Unfortunately I am not home on enough consecutive days to put this into practice.
  5. Don’t be afraid to take your child away from the distraction of other people – they think they are helping by talking loudly to your baby and being silly, but take it from me, this only adds to the difficulty.
  6.  Don’t feed your toddler too many snacks between meal times, it only makes it harder at the next meal because they aren’t as hungry. When people see VYP, they seem to just want to feed him finger food, even when I say that he has JUST eaten lunch, perhaps I should ask them to feed him every meal for a week and then I think they might refrain.
  7. Do try a variety of finger food at lunch time instead of a meal, I know VYP is quite independent and will happily munch on toast, chapati’s, and fruit over being fed. Whenever I have the leisure of time, I always do this because it means I can sit and eat too, and you always have the evening meal to feed them so you can see how much they’ve had.
  8. If they fuss at breakfast, cut out the morning milk feed and try bringing them straight down to eat – I have recently started doing this, and whilst there is still fuss, there’s certainly less of it.
  9. Try having meals together where possible, let your child see you eat and enjoy food and this will encourage them to do the same.
  10. Do whatever works for you and your lifestyle and don’t feel bad for it, even if it does go against every rule in the book. No one else is looking after your child everyday, you are.

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Every baby is so different in every single way, some babies are dream sleepers (mine is! mine is! mine is!), some babies are dream eaters, and some babies are both (very jealous of mummies with the latter). Every mother’s circumstances are different, and meal times have a lot to do with lifestyle. When life changes for me and I have the time to spend with VYP getting rid of our bad habits, I absolutely will, but until then I just follow this mantra. One day your fussy toddler will eat by themselves. One day you will be able to explain why they can’t eat and watch TV, and they will actually understand instead of crying. One day they will even ask you for food (I think I will cry tears of joy). With babies and toddlers, everything is a phase, it will pass. Until then, do whatever you have to do to manage, and just don’t make a meal out of it.

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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

 

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.