The perfect gap?

Everyone will tell you that the age gap they have between their kids is brilliant. Unless they got pregnant immediately after giving birth and have less than a year between kids and oh god can you imagine?

Friends with a small age gap – say, fewer than 18 months – like the fact that, although the early days were tough, they got all the baby stuff out of the way ASAP. Friends with bigger age gaps, perhaps four years, like that their eldest was at school leaving more time for the new baby.

We have two years and eight months between G Major and G Minor. It would have been a little less but I changed jobs and hung on for the enhanced maternity pay. “Stay away from me!” I would shout at Big G. “I can’t get pregnant till August at the earliest!”

2.8 was good for us. G Major was potty trained, could have a stab at dressing herself, had been in a bed for ages, obeyed the Gro-Clock, could climb in and out of the car herself and so on. But there’s no such thing as a perfect gap.

Except, sometimes, there is.

Right now, for a few golden weeks, G Major and G Minor are playing together beautifully. The baby adores her big sister and watches every move she makes with fierce concentration. Better than telly for keeping her engaged. And G Major, who loves imaginative play, now has a willing (read: helpless) participant. G Minor is sitting well but is still stationary, so she chews the props and chuckles while her sister bosses her about, covers her in hats and narrates her lines for her.

The other afternoon they did this for 45 minutes. 45 MINUTES! A parent can get a lot of stuff done in three quarters of an hour. I stuffed and folded the nappies, put away a load of washing, emptied the dishwasher, prepped dinner, set the table and swept the floor. And still had time for a quick look at twitter. What a glorious day.

It won’t last, of course. As soon as G Minor is mobile, her sister will find key characters missing as one sidles off to attempt the stairs again. Recasting her as Sven rather than Olaf may work temporarily but I anticipate great exasperation from the director.

But not quite yet.

There’s never *THE* perfect gap, but sometimes there is *A* perfect gap, just for a little bit. And right now I’m going to sit here, with a cup of tea and a magazine, enjoying ours.


Things my kids happily ate this month

I’m pretty lucky in that my kids eat well. Nothing I did or didn’t do; kids eat how and when they want, it’s the luck of the draw.

G Major eats one or two veg of every colour and that’s enough for me; I don’t care if she doesn’t love aubergine or asparagus. Obviously, that means I can’t performance parent in the veg aisle at Waitrose but at least she’s getting her vitamins. G Minor doesn’t know the difference yet so I give her all the fruit and veg that are looking a little sad and use them up that way.

That said, I’m still after guaranteed winners that tick all the nutritional boxes, are easy for little hands to manage and, most importantly, don’t take up too much of my time to make. If you want, the kids can help, or you can just bash these out in 10 mins with minimal cleanup.

So here are some things my kids ate happily in January. I’m not always one for exact amounts, sorry, but you’ll get a feel for it as you make them. It’s all a bit yellow and brown, too, I now realise. Never mind.

Chicken patties
These look and taste a lot like chicken nuggets. Dip them into ketchup for that authentic experience.

Steam or sauté some courgette, carrots and mushrooms, then whizz them up with some chicken breast and an egg.

Form into little patties and shallow fry.


Corn muffins

More hidden veg. G Minor likes these split and spread with a little cream cheese; G Major likes them as they are, just warmed through.

img_4107Purée a can of sweet corn and add a handful each of grated carrot, courgette and cheese. You could throw in some chopped peppers or peas if you wanted.

Add a beaten egg and enough self raising flour to bring everything together – you want a nice “plopping” consistency.

Bake in muffin tins at 180C for about 20 minutes.

Cheese scones

Good for using up the dregs of the cheddar and perfect with soup. You do need a proper recipe for this one.

225g SR flour
55g butter
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
80ml milk
Couple of handfuls of cheese – I used a mix of cheddar and parmesan.

Grate the butter into the flour then rub in. Add the salt and baking powder then the milk. Mix in the cheese.

Pat out gently into a rectangle, cut into 12 squares. Put onto a hot baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes.

2-ingredient banana pancakes
Naturally sweet, these take seconds to make and about the same time to eat.

Mash a large banana, add a beaten egg and mix til you get a loose consistency.

Drop into a hot pan and flip when ready.  Keep them small, like drop scones/scotch pancakes.




Green smoothie wanker 

On the 5 days of my 5:2 diet, I am attempting to cram in as much goodness as possible with the fewest carbs.

This has led me, inevitably, to the green breakfast smoothie.

Bloody smoothies. I hate the preparation, I hate washing up the blender, I hate the inevitable little bit of smoothie ick that doesn’t come off the glass in the dishwasher.

But Tesco, bless them, now sells frozen avocado and frozen kale alongside their frozen spinach, so I really have no excuse.

I also freeze carrot juice and coconut water in icecube trays so I have portions all ready to throw in the blender.

I horrify myself.

Green Breakfast Smoothie

2 lumps frozen kale, defrosted
2 lumps frozen spinach, defrosted
Couple of chunks of frozen avocado
Wodge of cucumber
Splash of lemon juice
Ginger (from a squeezy tube, if you’re as lazy as me)
Teaspoon of whey powder for protein
Teaspoon of coconut oil for fat
Enough carrot juice or coconut water to loosen the mix

Throw it all in the blender, mix. Drink smugly.


Superfun breastfeeding action


Ah, breastfeeding. So lovely. Much bonding. Etcetera.

G Minor is currently 8 months old and has invented some new breastfeeding moves. Super fun for when we’re out and about, or when we had guests over Christmas and New Year. Here’s how your babies can do the same.

The Hook
Take a small, incredibly strong finger and insert it into mummy’s nose. Haul downwards with all your strength. Try and break the septum.

Variation: Apply pincer grip to your mother’s bottom lip. Haul as before.

The Romantic Dinner
Who doesn’t love a bit of eye contact while they eat? Direct, intimate eye contact, achieved by pulling mummy’s face down at incredibly awkward angle so you can stare directly into her eyes. In quite a menacing way.

This move is excellent as it means mummy can’t look at her phone or kindle, just examine your eyebrows up close while her neck seizes up.

The Hungry Hungry Hippo
On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off.

Take the entire feed in single sips, like it’s a fine whiskey. Don’t allow any pauses long enough for your mother to get up and fetch a whiskey.

The Door Bell
This is less a feed than a detailed examination of a nipple with the occasional face plant into the breast. Be sure to poke it good and hard. Take a very occasional drink so that the feeding session doesn’t end prematurely.

This one is great as it involves sitting bolt upright straddling one of mummy’s legs, meaning her boob is out for the world, and specifically your grandfather, to see.

Her teeth are coming in now. Ace.


An Ode to Pesto

Oh, pesto, how I love thee
Let me count the ways:
Your greenish goop will help me, safe,
Through all these toddler days.

Pasta’s just the entry point.
First one’s free, sweet child.
There’s nothing I can’t make you eat
With pesto, green and mild.

Cauliflower? No, no, no!
Lamb chops? Spinach? Never!
One squirt of green and, BAM, it’s gone.
Oh, pesto, you’re so clever.

Your lovely little pine nuts
Can enhance most any dinner.
The veg gets et, the plate is clean
And mummy is the winner.

Without your basil brilliance
My child might never eat
You’re crack for grumpy three year olds
I should sell you on the street.