Category Archives: Food

Easter crafts and an egg hunt

This weekend we are staying at Granny and Grandpa’s again.  We arrived on Friday evening, and before we were even out of bed yesterday morning the children were talking about the Easter crafts they would like to do.  Rabbit and daddy started the day by reusing a Christmas decoration to make an Easter garland.  It is a silver chain with stars on, and they drew, decorated and cut out lots of Easter eggs to stick on the chain, alternating with the stars.  Owl, Monkey, Tiddler and I also decorated one egg each, but daddy did quite a few and Rabbit did the most.  While they were doing this, Monkey made a bunny basket (an idea which we have used before, from our Usborne book of Easter things to do.)  He did it fairly independently, with just a little help from daddy, and I was so impressed that I went to the village shop and bought some sweeties to put in it!

In the afternoon, we went to the church for some more craft activities and an egg hunt.  The children decided to start with the egg hunt, and got plenty of fresh air running round the church yard looking for printed eggs with a letter on.  They had to write down the letter and unscramble them to find something we eat at Easter.  The big boys did theirs independently, and daddy helped Tiddler while I helped Rabbit.  I was very proud of her efforts writing all the letters herself, and then writing the answer (hot cross bun). We then went inside the church, and the children had a wonderful time making daffodil windmills, Easter baskets, scratch art eggs, Easter bonnets and decorated foam eggs with magnets on the back.

Later in the afternoon, I made chocolate nests with Rabbit and Tiddler (much better than the ones we made on Wednesday, mainly because we had enough chocolate this time.) After that I tried dyeing hard boiled eggs with all the children.  I got them to stick stickers on (shiny ones so they wouldn’t soak off in the water – well that was the idea) and draw on them with wax crayons, before placing them in a bowl of water mixed with lots of food colouring.  It wasn’t particularly successful because most of the stickers came off, though some stayed on better than others.  So if we try it again, I will get a wider range of stickers to see which ones work best.  Also, despite using about a third of a bottle of food colouring, the dye wasn’t really strong enough.  I think we will just have to revert to our usual method of drawing on them with felt pen, and maybe try again with the dyeing next year.

Anyway, overall it was a succesful happy crafty day, and we are all having lots of fun.  Hope you are too.  Happy Easter!

Easter nests and lemonade

On Wednesday we made our first batch of chocolate Easter nests.  I did it with Rabbit and Tiddler and they had fun, though the results weren’t brilliant.  I knew they wouldn’t be because we didn’t really have enough chocolate, and we added rather too many cornflakes to stretch it out to make 12, so they were a bit crumbly but they tasted fine.  We have since made better ones which I will blog later. (I am planning to stay in bed until I have caught up.  The kids may have other ideas, but I’m hoping the combination of CBeebies and Easter Eggs will keep them busy for a while.)

While I was making the Easter nests with the little ones, and Monkey was at Beavers, Owl and Supergirl made lemonade, following a recipe which we haven’t tried before.  Instead of squeezing the lemons, you cut them up and blend them with water, then add sugar.  It was quite a bit easier than squeezing them, and the children all liked it.  We are going to make it again soon by the traditional method to compare the results.

When Monkey came back from Beavers and daddy came back from work, and everyone had had supper, we all enjoyed Owl’s lemonade with our rather crumbly Easter nests, and the leftover mini eggs (from the nest making) and foil-wrapped eggs (from the Home Ed group rice activity.)  Tiddler was very keen for me to take a picture of the eggs for the blog as well as the nests and lemonade, so here they are!

nests lemonade eggs

Some thoughts about weaning

I responded to a question about weaning this evening in a facebook group, and my rather long response looked a little like the blog post I’ve been meaning to write on the subject for ages, so I thought I should use it as a starting point.  The question was whether diarrhoea and nappy rash could have been caused by recent weaning, just before six months, on to three small meals a day (of rice, veg and fruit) and drinks of water.  The (only slightly) early weaning was on the advice of a paediatrician, as the baby had lost weight, so it is entirely understandable but it is very likely to have caused the problems that the baby is now having.

I have been through variations of this theme with most of my children and could write a book on the subject, so it’s quite hard to know where to start.  The story of their weaning is inevitably entangled with their breastfeeding stories, and I’m not ready to write those yet.  It’s been over eight years but when I think about writing about my first breastfeeding experience, I just can’t do it and I realise I still haven’t got over it.  I’ll write it one day.  Anyway, Owl was being bottle-fed by the time he was weaned, so it’s a separate story for him in some ways.  I followed some bad advice from a health visitor and a nurse who both told me to wean at four months so I did.  I did the whole baby rice and puree thing, obviously, as he was too young to feed himself.  It didn’t occur to me that he was therefore too young to need solid food.  At best it was utterly pointless and I don’t like to think about the harm it might have done.

Monkey was breastfed exclusively for six months and I continued to feed him until he was two.  When I weaned him, I started with baby rice and purees but was more relaxed about it.  As he was able to sit up in a high chair, within a short time I was giving him some food to play with as well as offering some on a spoon.  I noticed that when I gave him pieces of carrot he ate them and was less interested in the carrot puree that I offered at the same time.  So I gradually went over more to baby-led weaning, though not entirely.  I sometimes gave him “baby food”, home-made or shop-bought, if what we were eating was not suitable, or if we were out and about, but most of the time he had lots of food to play with and just ate what he wanted.

Rabbit was also breastfed exclusively for six months and I carried on feeding her until around 23 months, though she fed very little after 21 months.   I did baby-led weaning as she was very independent and not interested in mashed up food.  I don’t remember if I made any purees for her or not, though she had shop-bought baby food from time to time when we were out.  By this stage, I had worked out that it was necessary to taste them and rule out any that were horrible (at least 90% of them.)  Why did this not occur to me the first time round?  Most of the nice ones were fruit purees and she didn’t mind those!

Tiddler was exclusively breastfed for six months and is still feeding now at 2.5 years.  I really did not want to wean him early, as there are so many health risks associated with it and no proven benefits, but it was hard to have the courage of my convictions when he failed to gain weight between four and five months. He was otherwise thriving and developing normally, but had been ill at some point in the month.  He may have lost a bit of weight then gained it back but I wasn’t sure. My (lovely) Health Visitor suggested weaning early but didn’t put any pressure on. (She knows I’m a breastfeeding counsellor with strong opinions!) I did give it some consideration, but my gut feeling was that it wasn’t a good idea. I spoke to the Infant Feeding Advisor for two of our local hospitals and she said that the foods it is safe to give before six months (fruit, veg, rice) are all significantly lower in calories than breast milk so it would not be likely to improve weight gain. I found this helpful as I hadn’t considered it before. She also said, as I already knew, that breastfed babies often plateau or even lose weight at this stage and it was nothing to worry about as long as there were no other concerns.  I’m very grateful for her input as it gave me the confidence to continue feeding Tiddler in the way I believed was best for him.  When I weaned him at six months, I did baby-led weaning most of the time with a bit of spoon-feeding here and there, because he quite liked it, though it was mainly things like soup and yoghurt and he only had baby food occasionally.  It was mainly if he’d slept through a meal and I wanted to give him something quickly.  But of course he didn’t really need it and another breastfeed would have been better.  If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t bother with baby food at all.  Looking back it seems to me to have been completely unneccessary.  It only took four babies to teach me that.  I guess I’m a slow learner.

To go back to the original question, I felt that the diarrhoea and nappy rash were quite likely to have been caused by early and fairly rapid weaning, and that going back to exclusive breastfeeding for a little while would be very likely to solve the problem.  I also suggested that baby-led weaning might be beneficial as the baby would be less likely to have diarrhoea if she was able to choose what and when to eat. I then went into breastfeeding promotional literature mode a little I think, and wrote the following: “Babies have an amazing ability to know what they need and also have great appetite control, so they are likely to eat only what they can digest. At first, they will mostly play with the food and then eat very small quantities, which means that their digestive systems get used to it gradually. Breastmilk should be the main source of nutrition until 12 months, with other foods being mainly for fun and getting used to new tastes.”

I hope what I wrote was helpful, but it’s hard to know.  It’s hard to avoid being part of the “breastfeeding mafia” (and its baby-led weaning subdivision.)  On the one hand, I have seen it from both sides and can say from experience I firmly believe that exclusive breastfeeding to six months, baby-led weaning and extended breastfeeding are far better than the alternatives, including the watered-down version of breastfeeding that is often promoted by health professionals.  On the other hand I know how it feels to give up breastfeeding and feel terrible about it, and also to wean early and then regret it.  I am always afraid of adding to anyone’s distress and it sometimes stops me from saying what I think.  Tonight, for some reason, I felt I should say something.  I subsequently found out that the mum who asked the question had spoken to a breastfeeding counsellor who was very rude and really upset her.  That is so sad to hear, although I’m afraid I’ve heard it before so I’m not surprised.  I think for me it is a reminder that whatever my soapbox subjects are (breastfeeding, baby-led weaning, home education, Christianity, to name but a few…) the thing to remember is that people have feelings and they can be hurt, or they can be blessed and encouraged (which I know is Christian jargon but I’m tired and I can’t think of a better way of putting it.)  It’s good to be passionate about what you believe but it’s also important to be nice to people!

I seem to have gone off-topic at the end here somewhat, so in case you’ve come here specifically looking for information about weaning, I’ll link to my favourite site for breastfeeding advice, which might be more useful.

Rabbit’s pumpkin soup

This is a guest post by Rabbit.

I made pumpkin soup with mummy and I ate it and it was really yummy.  This is how we made it.  We fried some chopped onions in the pan, and then we added some cloves of garlic.  I peeled the skin off the garlic.  Then I added chopped pumpkin and butternut squash and some water.  I also put in some mixed dried herbs, some cumin, salt and pepper, and some vegetable stock powder.  We cooked it for about half an hour, then mummy blended it.  We ate it for supper on Hallowe’en.

Feed yourself Friday

I don’t know where I got this idea from so apologies if it’s yours.  I read it this morning somewhere online, on a blog or page or website about home education.  That’s as far as I can narrow it down.  Anyway…

The idea is simple.  Get your children to feed themselves on Friday lunchtime, to give them some responsibility and to give yourself some time to do something else you need to do, or have a break.  I often read lots of great ideas about home education, and file them away, wondering if I’ll ever get round to doing them.  But this was one I just had to do straight away.  I’ve been trying for a long time, with varying degrees of success, to get the children to take on more responsibility for jobs around the house, but very often the emphasis is on them “helping” me to do something I could have done more quickly myself.  This was more ambitious, and I really liked the idea that the motivation for learning would be there for all of them: feed yourselves, or you will be rather hungry for the rest of the afternoon.

I explained the plan to the children, and they were quite keen, especially Owl who loved the idea.  He quickly took the lead and the others followed, raiding the fridge for anything they could find.  I tried to keep out of it as much as I could, though I did make a few suggestions.  I also helped Rabbit to wash some lettuce, and showed Owl which knives to use for cutting up cucumber and tomatoes.  I was quite impressed by what they chose (bread, cheese, ham, salad, butter, cream cheese, marmite, juice, milk, water) and by how quickly they got it all ready.

I used the time to do some washing up that I’d been trying to find time to do all morning, then joined them to eat my lunch (the only thing I added to the table was brown bread as they had chosen white.)  After I had finished, I cleared my area of the table and wiped it, got my laptop and a cup of coffee, and sat down to add the photos to my Legoland blogpost.  When the children finished, I reminded them that they needed to clear and wipe the rest of the table and sweep the floor.  They weren’t quite as excited about this part of the plan, but they did do it.  Fortunately.  Because when they finished eating, the table looked like this.

And that was after several spills had been wiped up.  It doesn’t generally look like that when I’m in charge!  However, I will definitely do this again, because despite the mess it was brilliant.  They made sensible food choices, ate the amount they needed, had a lot of fun and felt proud of their achievement.  And I got to sit down, eat my lunch and drink a whole cup of coffee (almost) uninterrupted!

How to make Yummy Delight

This is a guest post by Monkey.

How to make Yummy Delight

You will need:

8 trifle sponges

1 packet of strawberry jelly (or any kind will do)

4 or 5 bananas

2 tsp honey

1 large pot of custard

What to do:

  1. Put the trifle sponges in a bowl
  2. Make the jelly and pour it on the trifle sponges
  3. Put it in the fridge and wait until the jelly sets
  4. Mash all the bananas except one and mix in the honey
  5. Spread the banana mixture on top of the jelly
  6. Spoon the custard on top
  7. Decorate with banana slices (using the last banana)