Grumblings of a Granny

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This is not actually my mother, but I thought it would annoy her to include a photo of a ‘Granny’ as an old lady! Pic credit: Alex Harvey/unsplash.com

Preface

My Mum, the J’s Granny has expressed an interest in writing a guest blog post for me. I have decided to let her write what she wants, even though most of it is a passive-aggressive dig at me and my mothering skills. We have come to a happy-ish conclusion that she will continue to interfere/nag me and say things like, “We didn’t do that in my day” and I will tell her to sod off when it gets too much. It seems to be working for now. So here is her first-ever blog post, titled Grumblings of a Granny by Granny Pip (have no idea why she is Pip, this is not her name, her name is Jane…).

Grumblings of a Granny

What a wonderful gift a grandchild is. I thought that as a trained Nursery Nurse (now well retired) I would be well equipped to cope as a new Granny. How wrong could I be. So much seems to have changed in the intervening years, for example:

  • Sleeping: No longer do you put your baby to bed in a cot with warm blankets and covers. Everyone seems to use these grow bags with no covers at all. I grew tomatoes in a grow bag!

  • The pram: I was looking forward to proudly pushing my grandchild around the village in a Silver Cross, a good solid upright pram that is built to last. Oh no, G had her mind set on a three-wheeled, all-terrain contraption that seems to do everything in every position for every age. However, I find kerbs are a nightmare and it leaves lots of mud in the back of my car when folded up (that in itself is quite an achievement). To be fair, you would have never got a Silver Cross in a car.

  • Bottles: Well that can’t have changed much, I thought. Dream on. We made up the bottles in the morning for the day ahead and kept them in the fridge, which is definitely not recommended now. G has an expensive machine that makes up a bottle when required, heats the water to the exact temperature, mixes the milk powder and produces the perfect bottle ready to use. Pity it doesn’t wash the bottles up as well and make the tea! Now that would be handy.

  • Snacks: These are another eye opener. In my day (she hates me saying that) a snack was a Farleys rusk and not much else. Now you can get all types of puffs, biscuits, wafers, etc, in all flavours and shapes. I have found one I rather like, a carrot-flavoured stick thing that looks like a Wotsit. I had to try them first and unfortunately made my way through half the packet before J got a look in. And why is it, when the J has lunch at my house it happens to be spaghetti bolognese, which she duly flicks across the room in all directions, landing on my white table cloth. Thankfully, a spot of Vanish got her out of that one.

I have so many stories and so little space. But I will say I am loving having a grandchild and all that it entails, and I promise to listen and learn (again) how to bring up a child.

Recipe: Mama’s mini meatballs

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Ready to serve

I thought I’d do something slightly different this week and post a recipe. These mini meatballs are really quick and simple to make, and they taste delicious. There is no added salt, so they are suitable for children from six months old and the subtle flavours are perfect for young tastebuds. In fact, you might need to watch out for hungry husbands, as I caught Grump stealing a few for himself this evening.

I tend to offer these meatballs as finger food, but they could also be made into a meal by adding chopped up spaghetti and a tomato and basil sauce.

Ingredients

To make about 25 mini meatballs you will need:

  • 250g beef mince
  • ½ a white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp plain flour
  • Mixed herbs, pinch
  • Black pepper, to taste

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 220ºC/fan 200ºC/ gas mark 7. Get a baking tray ready with some silver foil and spritz lightly with oil.

To make the meatballs, crack the egg into a large bowl and beat with a fork. Add the raw mince, chopped onion (make this as small as you can), mixed herbs and black pepper, and mix everything together with your hands. Sprinkle on the flour and mix further. Then, separate chunks of the mixture and roll into balls using the palms of your hands. Place each ball on to your baking tray with a decent gap between each one (see photo below).

Cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Make sure you give the baking tray a shake halfway through to prevent the balls from sticking to the silver foil.

Once cooked, leave the meatballs to cool and serve. Easy, peasey.

You can store any leftovers in the fridge for a day or two, or pop them in the freezer to eat at a later date.

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Before cooking
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Leave them to cool before serving
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The J loves these mini meatballs

 

 

Unicorn day

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Last week, something rare and exciting happened to me. This sort of day is so unusual that, for some people, it might not ever exist and so will henceforth be known as Unicorn day.

Seeing as we had been house bound for much of the Christmas period due to illness, I thought it would be nice to take the J out for the day. I made plans to visit my friend who lives in Lancing. It is about an hour and 15 minutes drive from us, so I had to work out when I would be driving to fit around the J’s naps. There were lots of variables that meant the day could go very wrong: the J not going to sleep; her screaming for the entire car journey; her doing a poo in the car seat (they always leak out); her refusing to eat lunch/sit in her high chair/throw food at people, etc; so I was a little bit nervous, but had my fingers crossed that it would all be OK.

Instead, I had the perfect day; one of those days where everything went just right. I felt like I was winning at life and at being a mum. I don’t want to boast too much (please don’t hate me), but it all just flowed so easily. We set off after breakfast to tie in with the J’s morning nap and she slept for a good hour in the car. She didn’t scream when my friend wanted to cuddle her (she’s a bit hit and miss with who she likes at the moment – typical female) and she played happily on the floor while I enjoyed a cup of tea and catch up.

We went out for lunch and the food took longer to come than anticipated, but the J sat in her highchair nicely and only threw the odd bit of food on the floor. She was smiling at all the waitresses and generally being a pleasant human being. Then, on the way home she had another snooze in the car. She was a pleasure all day.

When Grump got home from work, the J greeted him with a huge smile and we were all in high spirits. I feel like this is the version of motherhood we are all sold. Happy mummies and happy babies all the time. We all know this is far from reality, but it was nice to just have one day where I felt I had done everything right; the first one in almost 11 months. Most days for me are a mix of moments of happiness and laughter interspersed with crying, poo and clearing up food that she’s thrown across the room.

So if you are having a bad day, a bad week or even a bad month. One day, hopefully, you will get a Unicorn day and it will make all the crap that came before worthwhile.

A letter to my daughter

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With the New Year just beginning, I started to think about my hopes, fears and wishes for my daughter and our family. I looked back at the amazing whirlwind of a year that was 2016 and realised that we are going to do it all again this year. Rather than write down a list of New Year’s resolutions that I probably won’t keep, I decided to write a letter to my daughter instead. Life with a baby/toddler/child changes so quickly, so I wanted to get down how I am feeling right now: mother to an almost 11-month-old, just starting out down a new career path and still adjusting to this new life with a wonderful little person it in.

To my darling daughter,

Here it is your very first letter. Hello little one, it’s your mum. I am writing this letter to let you know how much I deeply and truly love you and have done from the minute we met. We were both pretty dazed and confused at that moment, but I held you close and knew we would be ok.

Having you has changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. Being a mother has tested me to my limits – emotionally and physically – but it has also bought me more joy than I thought was possible. I’ve gone through almost every emotion: guilt, fear, sadness, laughter, happiness and contentment.

You amaze, frustrate and challenge me every day. You are wilful, stubborn and fascinated by everything, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. At times, you cause me great stress, but then you flash that beautiful smile and my heart melts.

Being your mum has made me a better person. I’m gentler, kinder and more empathetic, especially to mothers with babies/children in coffee shops and restaurants. Before you, I had little patience for their crying babies and unruly children. Now that I have joined the ‘club’ I get it. Motherhood is hard. And it’s worse when you decide to kick off in public. No mother deserves those cold, judgement stares from others. We deserve a medal and a large glass of wine!

You’ve made me realise that there is more to life than how I look, what I’m wearing and what other people think of me. Who cares if there’s sick in my hair or if I’m not wearing the latest fashion (I was never going to rock a crop top, let’s face it). I’m more comfortable in my own skin now and I’m pretty blooming impressed with what my body can do. Growing a baby and then giving birth is no mean feat.

The bond we have is unbreakable. I would do anything to protect you. You have bought out a ferocious, protective instinct in me; a strength I didn’t know I possessed.

You’ve made the love for my husband (your daddy) and family so much deeper, just by seeing how much they love you makes me love them more. You’ve bought together our families and made us all smile. Thank you for being so gorgeous, so cute and cuddly and funny. You make me laugh each and every day.

I want everything for you: love, happiness, success. I want you to be kind, patient and caring. To look out for others and care for your friends and family (and don’t put me in a nursing home when I am old and decrepit). I want you and I to share the same close bond that I share with my mother and that she shared with her mother. I want to be your protector, your confidant and your rock.

This past year has been a real rollercoaster and I can’t wait to find out what 2017 will bring. You have a whole world of possibilities ahead of you and I hope every second of your life is bloody brilliant. For every moment that I am there by your side I will do my best to make you happy.

Lots of love from your number one fan, your mum. xxx

Christmas Coldmageddon

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As an adult, Christmas seems to have lost a bit of its special magic for me. Yes, in recent years this may be because I’ve been hungover on Christmas Day, but mostly the excitement of receiving presents has been overtaken by the stress of buying for others and just general life/work etc, getting in the way.

This year, I was a bit more excited, as when you have kids that festive magic is supposed to come rushing back. This was the J’s first Christmas and I was looking forward to it, even though she’s only 10 months old and wouldn’t understand what it was all about. We didn’t go crazy with presents as we knew our families would spoil her rotten. I had picked out a beautiful dressing gown with her name embroidered on it as her main present. Then we had a stocking from Father Christmas with some silly little presents.

So I was all ready for the big day and got my last few presents wrapped on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Normally I’m much more organised, but this year I somehow got lumped with buying all the presents for both mine and Grump’s family (he normally does his own family, but leaves it until Xmas eve in a mad panic). Apparently the job of ‘mother’ now extends to present buyer as I supposedly have more free time to do this, even though Grump broke up from school on the 13th of December.

Every Christmas Eve for the past 15-odd years we have gone out for a curry and drinks with our friends (hence the earlier comment about being hungover on Xmas day). We went out last year when I was pregnant (minus the booze for me), but this year we thought we would dial it down a notch and get a takeaway. We invited a couple of friends over and enjoyed a nice balti and a few glasses of Prosecco. The J had gone to bed at her usual time of 7pm and all was calm. Until she woke up. It must have been about 10:30pm, when we were just thinking about going to bed. This was the beginning of the night of coldmageddon.

That night was a battle of wills; she just wouldn’t go to sleep and we lost the will to live as each hour ticked past. We tried every single trick in our arsenal of parenting knowledge – from bringing her in our bed (too exciting) to taking her for a drive in the car (she fell asleep, but woke when we transferred her to the cot) – and nothing worked. She was so bunged up with a cold and kept choking on phlegm; bless her, she was obviously feeling really grotty. Nothing we could do would get her go to sleep. The only light relief was when I took her downstairs to watch TV and gave Grump a break (we’d decided to do shifts by this point). We sat snuggled on the sofa and watched We’re Going on a Bear Hunt together. The clock struck midnight and I wished my poorly little girl Happy Christmas.

I think around 3am she finally fell asleep in her cot and we got a couple of hours’ kip; then she was up at 5.30am. It is certainly hard to summon any enthusiasm for Christmas festivities when you are that exhausted. Needless to say, there is something quite lovely about watching your child open presents. It turns out giving can be better than receiving. We ended up having a lovely Christmas – thank god both sets of parents live just down the road and we didn’t have a long drive anywhere. I don’t think we would have made it.

If you told me before I got pregnant that the first Christmas with my new baby would be spent awake half the night with a snotty, crying baby attached to me and then sucking bogeys out of her nose with a strange plastic contraption the next morning, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Coldmageddon lasted three nights and could have ruined our Christmas. Instead, we made the best of a bad situation and tried to find joy in the special little things that the festive season brings. We also ate A LOT of food and drank coffee/tea by the bucket load. It wasn’t how I imagined our first Christmas, but at least I’m prepared for future Christmases with an excited older child who doesn’t want to go to sleep.

P.S. Father Christmas is in my bad books. He totally disregarded two of the main points of my Christmas list regarding sleep and illness. I thought we had a deal Santa?

Photo credit: Ben White/unsplash.com