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Monthly Archives: September 2012

27th September: Lamb Kofte & Couscous

    SURVEILLANCE REPORT: Subject: Scruffy female, approx 45 years of age.

5.32am: Subject can be seen slumped on sofa with a small toddler, female. Toddler is sitting on subject’s chest. Subject appears unconscious.

7.09am: Front door opens. Subject collects in milk, clearly unaware that she is wearing novelty antlers.

8.32am: Subject departs homestead on bike. She is carrying an approximately 3 year old boy on her crossbar. A 4/5 year old boy rides haphazardly in front of her. She hollers instructions to him. They are ignored.

8.45am: Subject and offspring arrive at local school. Subject appears harassed and sweaty. Other parents gaze uneasily at her. The older boy runs off into the school woods. Subject hollers at him to return. She is ignored.

9am: Subject re-appears through school gates. She is wearing her bike helmet but commences walk home.

9.02am: Subject returns to collect bike.

9.10am: Subject arrives at homestead. After returning bicycle to shed she approaches front door. Subject appears to ‘bleep’ front door with what looks like a car key. She repeats this action twice before realisation dawns. Subject shakes head and enters property in the traditional manner.

10am: Subject appears in front room with steaming beverage. Settles self on sofa. The television is tuned to CBeebies. 10 minutes elapses before subject realises and eventually turns over.

Surveillance Terminated: Subject is clearly suffering either from a neurological complaint, or extreme fatigue. Recommend trip to GP followed by week-long holiday on secluded island

Sorry to bang on about being tired. It’s just that we are so very very deeply tired. These little blighters have taken to spending the night prowling around. Appearing like spectres by our bed. And waking up hours before the larks would even consider hitting their snooze button.

The eighties might have given us strikes, recession and global economic unrest (plus ca change…) but at least you were allowed to give your children sedatives. When I went to see my Health Visitor, almost weeping with fatigue, she told me to go away and keep a sleep diary. Give me drugs woman, or zip it ….

My children like novelty. A lump of grilled meat might get the trademark sneer. Now. Spear that meat with a wooden skewer, and shabang! Their little faces light up and they skip to the table.

Lamb Kofte for tea then. Mix 500g lamb mince with a finely diced onion, a handful of chopped parsley, half a tsp of ground coriander. Soak the all-important wooden skewers in water for a bit. Squish the lamb mixture into sausage shapes and jab with a skewer. Grill until cooked through.

A homemade tomato sauce: A diced onion, a crushed garlic clove softened in olive oil. Add two tins of tomatoes, a shake of cayenne powder (optional) and a tsp sugar. Simmer till you have a lovely thick rich sauce. Serve with couscous, some soured cream (or natural yoghurt would do), and maybe a splodge of mint sauce if you’re feeling frivolous! I also griddle some aubergines for the grown -up version…possibly a step too far for my babies.

I’m off to get some shut eye. If little madam will let me.

Footnote: I have stupidly arranged to do a 40km bike ride with some fellow mums to raise money for the Fusspot’s Pre-School. To find out more, and to sponsor us if you can, please click here. Much appreciated, thank you 🙂 x

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21st September: Spicy Soup and Courgette Cake

A GLOSSARY FOR PARANOID MOTHERS

Ooh you little monkey!: Ooh you little brat!

He’s really developed his physical side hasn’t he?!: Get him away from my child please

He’s very confident: Can you get him to shut up please

Ooh you can tell she has two older brothers: She’s feral

He’s such a funny little fella: What’s with the freaky kid??

He’s a little thinker: He’s autistic

What a crackerjack!: What a little shit!

He likes things just so doesn’t he?: He’s autistic

He’ll have to come for his tea one night: But sadly I’m busy every night until I die

He’s got a good appetite hasn’t he?: Jesus, don’t you feed that kid?

He’s full of beans: I suggest you get him assessed for ADHD

They’re a lively bunch aren’t they?: Do you have any Migraleve?

There’s an unwritten code that you don’t criticise or discipline other people’s children. The ones that do are muttered about darkly when they’re out of earshot. “Can you believe she just said that?! Has she seen her child??”.

Once, in a playgroup, a dad came and started barking orders at our little darlings. We were all taken aback. He hadn’t been properly briefed. The kids looked alarmed. He had no jurisdiction here. Mothers ruled. Their own children.

If your child gets shoved/spat at/hair pulled in a playdate situation, then the permitted means of dealing with it is to go over and cuddle them whilst saying to the other one (in sweet voice): “Ooh no darling, we don’t push our friends”. Protocol now dictates that the mother of the ‘crackerjack’ must come steaming over and bollock her own child.
Job done, we’re all still friends, the system works. But woe betide if the perpetrator doesn’t get that rollicking… It’s a bloody minefield out there, I tell you 🙂

The weather has taken a turn for the dire. Heating on and fridge filled with root vegetables ready to be mulched into hearty broths. I love autumn. It’s my favourite time of the year. Cosied up eating pies and stews. The telly gets good again too.

It’s raining buckets outside, so me and the Fusspot decide to do some cooking together. In an attempt to get him to knowingly eat veggies, I decide to start a series of vegetable cakes.

First up is Nigel Slater’s Courgette Cake, adapted to leave out the nuts: Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a medium cake tin. Cream 200g each of butter and sugar. Gradually add 2 beaten eggs. Grate 200g courgettes and a small apple. Squeeze them with your hands to remove any excess moisture, then add to the mixture. Mix together 200g sifted plain flour, pinch salt, 1/2 tsp baking powder and pinch cinnamon. Then gently fold into the mixture. Transfer to the prepared tin and bake for about an hour, or until golden and firm to the touch.

The Fusspot is happy as Larry (who is this Larry?!) as we make this. He even licks the raw courgette mixture off the beater. I almost collapse.

We also make a Spicy Butternut Squash Soup. This recipe came from my friend Sarah, and it just SINGS autumn. Roast a peeled&chopped Squash (or pumpkin) in some olive oil at 200*C for about 45mins until soft and starting to caramelise a bit. Brown a sliced onion in some oil. Add about a tablespoon of curry paste and cook for a couple of minutes to release spices. I use a mild Indian curry paste, but Thai curry paste is lovely too. Mix in the roasted squash and cover with chicken/veg stock. Bubble away for about 10mins then add a tin of coconut milk, season and blitz with a hand blender. If it’s a bit thick, then add a bit more stock.

Absolutely gorgeous. I’m off to take some Migraleve and hibernate. They’re a lively bunch this lot 😉

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10th September: Boo Hoo Banana Bread

Be careful what you wish for…

Yes. The Big One has started school.

I’ve described my irrational emotions about this before.
But. Six weeks of intense ‘summer’ ‘holidays’ and I’d been feeling a lot less sad about the prospect of him being out of the house for six hours a day.

My stressed out mother routine hit new highs as I tried desperately to amuse all three children, referee their spats, provide a conveyor-belt of wholesome snacks and hearty meals. The house took a battering, and with nothing much by way of respite, I found myself living like someone off one of those episodes of Kim and Aggie. Had they magically appeared to sneer at my smeggy flea-hole, I would probably have just licked their faces like some grateful Labrador.

But time fair galloped by, and I found myself labelling his little polo shirts and his little trousers and his little sweatshirts and his surprisingly large shoes…Spiderman lunchbox selected (he’s never seen anything spiderman related, yet he’s adamant that he LOVES it)!!

Still, I held it together just fine.

He put in his ‘first day’ food requests. (bacon&eggs for breakfast / salami sarnies for lunch / lasagne for tea)

I packed his little bags and made his little packed lunch.

We all walk up to school together. Older kids shout hello as they cycle past. People shout “Is he starting today?” out of their car windows. I glance down at his little brown hand in mine and the floodgates open…

How did he get so big so fast? How was he going to get on? And, what on earth was I going to do without him??

We arrive at the school gates. The Big One runs joyously towards his friends without a backward glance. I spot a friend in a similar state to me and we clutch eachother sobbing. Other parents look on sympathetically, if not a little gratefully that it’s me and not them making a prize tit of themselves.

He comes back for a perfunctory hug and skips into his new classroom, happy as larry. I walk home red-eyed and snivelling, gutted that I didn’t hide myself in the stationery cupboard so I could spy on him all day and make sure he was happy.

The house is eerily quiet. Fusspot has also started back at Pre-School…and don’t even get me STARTED on that. I wander from room to room. The Baby baffled by the calm and quiet, clings on to my legs, desperate for company. Hometime cannot come quickly enough for either of us.

The following week, as we get used to our new routine, I begin to realise that I can actually start to function within the parameters of ‘normal’ once again. Me and the Fusspot have time to do wholesome activities together while The Baby naps. One day he decides his big brother will be starving after school, so we decide to make a cake for hometime.

Now, I have serious issues with bananas. I find them utterly revolting. The smell, the sliminess. I have tried very hard to not pass this on to my kids. I have resisted the overwhelming urge to vomit as they regurgitate them, or squeeze them through their teeth for a larf. I know I overreact if they drop a piece on the floor *GIP* or put a piece in their juice for me to fish out *BARF*…

There are a couple of blackening horrors lurking in our sorry fruit bowl. I bite the bullet and look up a recipe for banana bread. Cream 4oz butter with 8oz sugar. Gradually add in 2 beaten eggs and four mashed….revoltingly, stinklily, over ripe bananas…along with 1tsp vanilla essence. Fold in 10oz of plain flour, 1tsp bicarbonate soda and 1/2 tsp salt. The recipe calls for 3fl oz of buttermilk. If you don’t have this then use normal milk mixed with a tsp of vinegar. Stir this in to the batter.

Butter and line a cake or loaf tin. Pour in the foul smelling mixture and sprinkle some sugar on top for a bit of crunch. Bake at 180*C for about 45mins or until a skewer comes out clean.

The Fusspot is chuffed. With my undivided attention, with the fruits of his labours…and with the fact that I’m seemingly happy for him to eat the whole thing on his own.

He proudly presents his bro a piece as we arrive at school. We stroll home, brothers reunited scoffing cake together. Bonus as the thing was so massive that it does them in their lunch boxes for the rest of the week.

The Big One seems to be loving school. And my little hell-raising trio are all so very excited to reunited after a day apart. Starting School: A big moment for him….but an even bigger one for me.

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3rd September: 7 year bitch

One word for you. Barbecue.

Gah.

I have barbecue-related issues.

We’re just home from a lovely bonus week in France. The delayed trip that we chickened out of earlier in the year. Car loaded up with literally everything we own. Kids’ Disney CD on repeat (God Help Me. Someone. Please.)

We chug down to the ferry port. The rain is thrumming down, bank holiday stylee. It does not bode well. We call in at His grandma’s house. She has one of those independent-living flats with the red pulleys. Her fellow tenants do not NOT like children. The net curtains twitching as my kids stretch their little legs by running around?? with smiles on their faces??. Heaven forbid Old Timers!! His sister is also visiting. She tells them not to worry about the old lady next door. She’s just a grumpy old wicked witch. The Big One’s Eyes like saucers as he tries to catch a glimpse of her through her stained blinds…

We continue on our journey. The overnight ferry is amazingly uneventful. We arrive into St Malo and hit the beach for a breezy Sunday morning stroll. We ask some passing Italian tourists to take a photo of us all by the town hall where we’d married seven years earlier almost to the day. Sweet.

Back in the car again. We head southwards and momentarily enjoy a magic moment driving thought the French Countryside with all three asleep. Needless to say it didn’t last long…

We spend the week seeing old friends, making new ones, swimming, going to the beach…the usual stuff. On what would have been my lovely Grandad’s 90th birthday, we pop some champers and feast on oysters and prawns = very very happy me!

Which brings me onto barbecues.

What’s my beef with the BBQ I hear you ask…

Men. That’s what.

What could be more frustrating than a bloke. Beer in hand. Stood over a fire. Prodding stuff. Turning stuff unnecessarily. Barking out requests for more beer. For the plate of meat. For the tongs. For another plate to put cooked stuff on. Ignoring the children as he stares. And prods. And turns.

Meanwhile. As if by magic. The table is set. A variety of salads are prepared and dressed. Potatoes are cooked. Bread is sliced. Drinks are poured. Children are cared for.

And all the while he stares and prods and turns. You eat. Then he basks in the thanks and praise as you wash up. Grrrr.

I’m being harsh. Most unlike me.

My lovely man excelled himself on holiday. He arranged it all (well, it is his job!), and drove the whole way there and back. He did the shopping and displayed his usual boundless puppy dog energy with the kids. And did all the barbecuing….

On our anniversary he makes me a rather amazing meal. The whole thing, not just the grilled meat bit. Fillet steak with bratkartoffeln, green beans and bearnaise sauce. Delicious. He even does all the washing up. Seven years? (plus the 11 before that!) The man deserves a medal. 10/10.

A footnote. Because I wouldn’t want to you think we’ve lost our chaotic charm.

We arrive home late evening, a bit bedraggled (with the beginnings of a migraine from the Baby’s antics). We both stand at the front door like lemons. “I thought you had the key”. “No, I thought you did”. Long story short. We end up jemmying open a window and feeding our four-year old through a la Artful Dodger. The whole street knew we were back. Those nutters from Neighbours From Hell have nothing on us….

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