20-10-2014

Arlo at just turned four

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After a really pleasant summer, where Arlo was …really pleasant and just seemed to be enjoying life’s simplicities, we are back to non-stop moaning that leaves me questioning whether he does, actually, enjoy his life in general.

I wish I were exaggerating, but sadly, I am not. When I say non-stop, he’s constantly searching for something to moan about. When he doesn’t have anything to moan about, he moans about not having anything to moan about. I pick him up from preschool, I watch his demeanour change and the moans start as soon as he sees me. I thought four year olds were meant to be maxing out on the fun, but it seems the whinge button is jammed on ours. It’s so very hard to deal with day in day out on an hourly basis. Ignoring him riles him up, so I am constantly engaged in a conversation/battle with him, and that is exhausting too. A lot of the time, I feel like there is a really thin line between sanity and something else. And on top of that, I feel a sadness that he can’t just enjoy himself without at least an hour of moaning first, no matter the situation. He has always been a challenging one, our Arlo.

The negative out of the way, it’s not all bad. Arlo is such a smart talker, he makes me laugh on a daily basis. He is a proper fun person to chat with (when he’s in a good mood), and in the last half a year I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said to Sam that I’m really enjoying spending time with Arlo, more than ever before. When he’s not relentlessly moaning, he is just brilliant and I feel I could gush about him forever.

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His levels of pedantry, or just flat out needing to stick to the facts, have reached an all time high. The most recent example of this was his confusion at his birthday party, whenever someone said happy birthday to him. “People keep thinking it’s my birthday today. But they are wrong. It’s not my birthday”.

Arlo has always been a great talker, and I enjoy the insights into his mind now that he is fully able to explain them. According to Arlo, Neighbours is a real place where we can travel on a plane and demand the characters to explain important plot holes (he’s really adamant that he MUST do this, he needs answers), but when asked if he’d like to do the Swashbuckle assault cause, my question was met with very furrowed brows and the explanation that “the clouds are flat (2D), [therefore] it’s not a real place that we can visit”.

Arlo’s little obsessions continue. We’ve just moved on from dinosaurs to architecture. He is hugely interested in cities, interesting landmarks, and, mainly, tall buildings. Arlo LOVES the Shard, I actually have a whole separate post about that that I need to write soon.

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Although he gets frustrated that Rory always messes up his games, he continues to adore his little brother and is always genuinely delighted when Rory chooses to come and give Arlo a cuddle.

Arlo is still very routine-obsessed and everything continues to centre around food times, as I wrote about half a year ago. It’s another factor that, to me, seems to have a negative effect on his overall enjoyment of a day, and something I really wish he hadn’t decided to become so focussed on. If we are elsewhere during his usual snack time, he will fixate on that and refuse to drop it and go play until he has had his appointed snack. He recently spent the entire duration of a child’s birthday party refusing to do anything, because it was snack time. After the food was served, THEN he was ready to play, but of course by that point it was time to leave, so then I had another battle to deal with. It’s this sort of stuff that can be exhausting and disheartening to deal with on a daily basis.

Arlo turning four means it’s been over two years since he happily ate anything resembling a balanced meal. His diet is distinctly beige – bread, potatoes, pasta (all plain, no sauces), cheese, peanut butter and chocolate. He won’t touch fruit or veg. I’ve tried sneaking hidden veg into his meals, but he always gags straight away. Preschool have also been trying very hard with him, but after a year, they have now reached a point where they think it’s not a good idea to push him. Which is sort of the conclusion we have drawn too. We eat family meals, we make sure he knows he can help himself to anything on the table, we encourage and incentivise him to eat fruit and veg, but we don’t force it upon him.

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On the evening before his birthday, he suddenly burst into tears at the impending change in age. He thought he was going to grow massively overnight, and would be leaving preschool to start school straight away. He really is a bit of a worrier by nature, and I felt awful that he’d been storing up these anxieties ,without me picking up on it, until it reached boiling point. He was adamant that he didn’t want a birthday or any presents or cake, but the next morning, after some reassurance (“But am I REALLY four now, mama? I don’t look any bigger”), he was back to being excited again. This birthday wobble was a reminder that sometimes we need to tread carefully when the urge is to ramp up the excitement – Arlo certainly prefers a no-big-deal approach.

I’ve ended up making this more of a vent about some of the specific challenges we face at the moment, rather than it being a pure celebration of Arlo at four years old. The good things about Arlo at four years old far outweigh the challenging things, but it is the challenging factors that tend to occupy my brainspace.

He is so smart, his mind is so sharp, and I am so proud of him for the individual, funny, and engaged person that he is.

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He didn’t want to do a birthday photoshoot this year, so I didn’t push him. 

19-10-2014

Colourful ski style for children

Having never yet been anywhere near a pair of skis before, I can’t attest to actual clothing practicality on the slopes, but these are my colourful ski style for children picks from some of the most reliable names in the childrenswear game.

Hypothetically shop for children’s clothes? Yep, that’s a job for me.

colourful ski style for children

1. The Boden snowboard jacket was Arlo’s winter coat last year, and in fact, this year too, as the same coat still fits with plenty of grow room. There’s nothing that I don’t like about this coat – warm, waterproof, easy to wash, the hood doesn’t obstruct view when it’s up, and it’s longer at the back, which means no soggy bottoms.

2. I can never resist a bobble hat. Also comes in black. from Polarn O. Pyret.

3. These gloves are classic Molo (one pair in grown up size please).

4. With a love for bright colours and patterns, I’ve learnt that neutrals can also prove very useful, in a ‘less is more’ kind of way. The simple grey of these Polarn O. Pyret ski trousers acts as a great base for a rainbow of mismatched accessories.

5. These Polarn O. Pyret thermals are made from merino wool, which helps to regulate body temperature, keeping you warm when it’s cold, and cool when it’s hot. The teal colour is bright and modern – a far cry from the greying thermals I remember from my childhood.

6. Socks in cheerful colours – another item I’d quite like on my own wishlist. From Boden.

7. Colourful footwear, especially for boys, can be hard to find, let alone colourful specialist footwear. But never fear, Sorel are on the case with their warm and waterproof Yoot Pac children’s snow boots. 

Skiing or not, most of these items are a wardrobe necessity for British winter time. And you can never have too many bobble hats.

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I’ve written this blog post as my entry to the Mark Warner quarterly blog challenge

 

12-10-2014

Things to do for toddlers and preschoolers at Butlins Bognor Regis

 

 

 

things to do for toddlers and preschoolers at butlins bognor regis

 

I know it probably sounds odd to regard a trip to Butlins as a peaceful break, but the kids were just so happy there, I’m on the verge of sticking the word ‘relaxing’ into this post. There was absolutely no boredom whatsoever, Rory was too busy to demand to be held all the time or hound me for milk all the time, and Arlo forgot to whinge (apart from the car journey there… HELL).

I don’t know whether this is a common parent thing, but I am SO eager to see my children happy. I LOVE seeing their little grinning faces, and I will literally consider going ANYWHERE that I think will bring them joy. Butlins falls under this category. It’s not a place I would have imagined myself going to on a family holiday, but now that I have a preschooler, and my life pretty much revolves around keeping him happy enough that he’s not causing me added stress, I could quite clearly see the appeal. Long gone are my ideas of a holiday being a chance for ME to unwind, I just want to have fun with my children whilst they are still young enough to want to have fun with me, and to see them happy. Happy children = happy parents is SO true for our family right now.

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In terms of making my children happy, Butlins did a perfect job. Arlo really thought Butlins was MAGICAL. A place where you LIVE, and it also has a fairground and some amazing play areas? AND live entertainment?! AND a cool swimming pool. AND you can ride your bike everywhere? And have pancakes for breakfast every day??

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Let’s just say that the journey on the way back was a LOT more peaceful, as I’d told him that we wouldn’t be going back to Butlins again if he moaned in the car. (This bribe is actually proving super useful for most aspects of life with an almost-four year old at the moment.)

As part of our role as Butlins Ambassadors, we review two Butlins resorts over the coming year. I plan to wait until after our second trip to write the full, nitty gritty, trip advisor style low-down. I know this will probably be most useful for families considering a Butlins holiday, and I feel I will have better cemented my opinion after two visits.

An in-depth review is not only important for readers, but also for the Butlins team, who are working in close contact with their blogger ambassadors this year (Us bloggers spent a day at Butlins HQ this month, and there are more meetings in the pipeline for 2015), and are looking to us to let them know our opinions on where their strengths lie, areas in which Butlins excel at providing family breaks, and most importantly, areas that could be improved upon and ideas for how to achieve this.

For now, I am going to tell you what we got up to during our three-day break, including what there is to do on-site at Butlins Bognor Regis AND off site in the nearby area for families with young children. This blog post will focus on things to do for toddlers and preschoolers at Butlins Bognor Regis. Stay tuned for a follow up post and video on our accommodation (we stayed in the gold apartments).

Friday

Although check-in at Butlins isn’t until 3pm on Friday (you are allowed to use the facilities on-site from 12pm), with Sam booking the whole day of work, we were keen to make a day of it, so we set off bright and early, stopping at Arundel Wetlands Centre for lunch and a potter.

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This visit was clearly Sam’s idea – I think I’ve written before about the Colin’s Bird Guide that HAS to accompany us on any holiday or trip, and the Wetland Centre was top of his wishlist for our time whilst staying at Butlins Bognor Regis.

The paths are buggy-friendly, and Arlo very much liked leading the way around the Wetlands – if you have children that like to explore, they should be happy here for an hour or so. On wet weather days, the cafe has huge floor to ceiling windows looking out over the Wetlands. We finished up our trip with a boat ride around the Wetlands, before getting back in the car to head over to Butlins for check-in. (The drive took us past Arundel Castle, which looked like another great place to explore. In fact, Arundel on the whole was looking very pretty and leafy and if we’d had more time, we would have loved to explore it further – one for next time).

arundel wetlands centre

We spent Friday afternoon wandering around Butlins, acquainting the boys with their surroundings and the things on offer for them to do. We had our evening meal at The Diner – a 50s styled restaurant offering the usual burgers, hot dogs and milkshakes that you’d expect from a diner menu, with a jukebox and singing waiters/waitresses for added entertainment.

I can’t be bothered to have the added stress of a strict routine during holiday-mode, so the boys stayed up later than usual this evening playing in the arcade.

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Saturday

Saturday, I was to be on my own with the children for most of the day. When in the planning stages, we knew it was going to be tricky to fit in our Butlins trip this side of the year in between Sam’s work trips and my weekend family photoshoots. As it turned out, our only free weekend wasn’t even totally free, as Sam needed to head back to Selhurst for a very important Crystal Palace match. Ahem.

It did mean, however, that Sam got to test out the ease of travelling to Butlins via train from London (Verdict: Very simple. Direct train from Victoria, 10 minute walk from Bognor train station to the Butlins site, and just £17 for a last-minute day return.) Plus, faced with the task of entertaining the children on my own, I figured it was a much better option to be at Butlins, where entertainment is on tap, than at home, silently seething at yet another solo weekend day.

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As it turns out, Saturday was my favourite day of our trip (sorry Sam!). I’m not sure what it was exactly, but I think bit was a combination of being in a different place with loads to explore, and the effort of ‘finding things to keep us entertained’ was completely removed from my responsibility, and because I wasn’t doing my usual at-home juggling routine of working from my phone whilst attempting to parent, and generally making a hash of both roles until the bubble of stress rises to bursting point. We treated the day as an adventure, I dedicated all my attention to the boys, and we had a really lovely time.

After we waved goodbye to Sam, we headed down to Bognor Regis beach to enjoy a beautifully warm and sunny September morning. The beach is just a two-minute walk through the car park at the back of the Butlins complex. The boys enjoyed an hour playing with the pebbles on a wonderfully quiet and peaceful seafront (an out of season thing or maybe just a Bognor thing?)

We spontaneously hopped on a little train taking people up and down the promenade to Bognor Regis town (£1 return), which both boys loved. (Buggies won’t fit on the carriages but they let me fold ours down and put it in the hold at the back of the driver’s cab).

We arrived back on site in time to catch a mid morning show on the Skyline Pavilion stage – Mike the Knight – and Arlo did his rounds of the indoor fairground rides and soft play whilst Rory took a nap in the buggy.

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As Arlo frequently tells me that he doesn’t like “noisy things, and things that are real”, I wasn’t expecting him to get on with the live shows at Butlins. Arlo is usually very predictable in this respect, so it came as a massive but lovely surprise that he quickly became fond of the shows, adopting a self-initiated routine of checking back into the Skyline Pavilion after breakfast or an afternoon activity to catch a show, genuinely interested to see what was happening on stage. He was particularly taken with the Skyline Gang - Butlins own colourful cast of characters

We didn’t bother with any of the shows on the smaller stages that you had to pre-book and pay extra for, as I had initially assumed Arlo wouldn’t enjoy it and so it wouldn’t be worth doing. But I think that’s something we will potentially try on our next Butlins visit after seeing how interested Arlo became in watching the live shows whilst we were in Bognor.

We had a large window of time for an activity after lunch (Rather than attempt a sit-down restaurant meal by myself with two small children, we took a takeaway Burger King back to our apartment), so I decided to go all out on this solo-parenting experience and take two water hating non-swimmers to ‘Splash Waterworld’, the swimming pool complex at Butlins Bognor Regis.

The original plan had been to do swimming on Sunday, with Sam, as I didn’t think I would be allowed to take both children by myself (I’m used to our local pool ratio of one adult to one non-swimmer). But the guys at Splash Waterworld told me it wasn’t a problem, and I thought it would be a bit of a shame if we waited for our last opportunity to go (Sunday, as the pool is closed Monday mornings), only for Arlo to decide he REALLY LIKED swimming, but didn’t have time to go again.

So off we went, for what can only be described as an intense hour of Rory screaming hysterically as he clung to me (he really hates water), whilst Arlo refused to swim, but demanded that we all went on the really tall white slide, despite the landing being quite deep for a three-year old non-swimmer, and despite the fact that he would have to go down by himself whist I went down holding a hysterical Rory next to him. (Two older boys in the queue all did a rubbish job at persuading Arlo that it might not be the best idea. “It goes REALLY fast. You will go underwater and get water ALL over your face. I’m EIGHT and it’s really fast for me. That lifeguard will probably tell you you are too small” (The lifeguard said there wasn’t an age limit. Thanks lifeguard).

The boy hasn’t been near a swimming pool for about a year and had definitely forgotten every thing he’d learnt at swimming lessons when he was two. Needless to say, he wasn’t particularly thrilled with his experience, and refused to go back on the slide the next day despite the promise of Dada being there to hold him above the water. I TOLD YOU SO, ARLO.

Dinner at The Deck was also interesting with two children by myself. There’s always that conundrum at self-service places, do I leave them at the table, potentially out of sight, to go and get our food, or do I bring them all up with me, and struggling to carry multiple plates, drinks and a baby back to the table all at once? That being said, the provision of highchairs and children’s cutlery sets already at the tables is a thoughtful touch from Butlins that made that aspect of our meal that bit easier than it otherwise would have been.

(Reading this back, I’m not sure I’m doing a great job of retelling the lovely day that I remember in my head, but it really was a lovely time – these are just the general stresses of parenting that happen no matter what. Our day was still a lot more fun than a usual weekday at home.)

After dinner, Arlo wanted to wander over to the Skyline Pavilion to catch the 7.30pm show. The Saturday evening entertainment was a bit more grown up, a wrestling ring had been created in front of the main stage for a WWE night. I wasn’t sure how well this would go down with the kids, but Rory did a very amusing job of shaking his fists like an eager crowd participant, and after the first match, Arlo turned to me and said “This. Is. AWESOME”. So there we stayed until Sam returned, and then we headed back to our apartment to wrestle our own children into bed and watch X Factor – Sam loving the ease in which he could step out for a late night Burger King.

Butlins WWE

 

Sunday

Arlo and Rory had a run around the soft play and the indoor fairground rides again as soon as they opened at 9am, before Sam took Arlo for the aforementioned failed second swimming attempt when Splash Waterworld opened at 10am. Not wanting to subject Rory to the torment of swimming quite so soon again, he and I checked out the soft play and activity area for babies and young toddlers in the Skyline Pavilion, Billy’s Buddies, which was much more Rory’s kind of scene.

Although I probably wouldn’t opt for somewhere like Butlins if I just had Rory (the entertainment, ride heights, etc, is much better suited to Arlo’s age group and older – if you aren’t sure what age to take a trip, I’d say it’s definitely best to wait until your child is at least two, with three to six being the optimum age for the type of activities we did on our break), 16 month old Rory wasn’t left out by any means. He was in his element being able to roam free at Butlins – this is the first time in his life that Rory has had so much walking freedom, the whole complex is very toddler friendly and a lot of it is pedestrianised so it was very easy to let him have a run around.

Apuldram quayside crown and anchor

Eager for another off-site adventure, we opted for lunch at the Crown and Anchor by the quayside in Apuldram. Then it was back to Butlins in time for the last hour of fairground rides, another dinner at The Deck (Although we opted for a self-catered apartment, our dinners and breakfasts at The Deck were included as part of the premium dining package, which I will talk about more in my next post about accommodation), and a Skyline Gang show about cavemen and volcanoes on the main pavilion stage – which was a big hit with Arlo (It featured volcanoes, of course it was!)

By now, we were getting in a nice little routine of watching the shows from a table on the raised platform of the skyline pavilion cafe with a glass of wine from Bar Rosso. I have heard that, at times, it can be impossible to find a table unless you camp out at one all day, but I think our visit must have been at a non-busy time (low season in mid September after schools have gone back) because we never had any issue with queues or lack of seating, either in the skyline pavilion, any of the rides, or in The Deck or The Diner. In fact, the only real queue we saw during our stay was for the boat slide ride in Splash Waterworld.

little tikes town butlins

Monday morning was spent doing a last round of all the things Arlo loved most – the indoor soft play, the adventure playground outside The Beachcomber Inn, the fairground rides. We stumbled upon the Little Tikes Town, which my two absolutely loved. It wasn’t there over the weekend, but had been set up in advance of the midweek ‘Just for Tots‘ break.

We waved goodbye to Butlins (after a brief last-minute protest from Arlo as he realised the finality of leaving this place of wonders), and headed to West Wittering for lunch at the beachside cafe and a play on the sand before heading back to London.

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For an overall idea of the activities and entertainment suitable for toddlers and preschoolers, watch our holiday vlog below:

Contrary to my assumption, the children didn’t get horribly over-stimulated by the vast amount of entertainment at Butlins. There was something to engage them at every step, and they absolutely loved it, in a very easy-going way. In contrast, the couple of weeks following our Butlins break has seen the usual tantrums and whinges return. So I can only conclude that it’s a result of boredom and frustration with our home routine – something that Butlins helped us temporarily alleviate.

As I’m writing this post, I’m looking back on our Butlins break with great fondness – it was a special time where we were all open to having fun. I put down my phone. Arlo had no time to whinge. Rory got an abundance of new experiences, and Sam enjoyed spending some quality family time away from the distractions of work. And really, at this point in life, with two children under four, that’s all we wish for.

west wittering beach

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We are Butlins blogger ambassadors and our break was complimentary for review purposes. 

 

08-10-2014

Are we taking the family kitchen for granted? Promoting healthy eating with Ben’s Beginners

*collaborative post

Our kitchen is as tiny as kitchens get. We can’t all fit in it at once. It is very narrow and tricky to navigate with a whingeing toddler clinging to your legs. I find it stressful and hazardous cooking in our kitchen with the children underfoot.

Then there’s also the fact that cooking proper meals and doing the stay at home parent thing is a proper full time job, whereas I have decided to dedicate my time to doing a half-arsed job of both roles. If I use my afternoons to cook and prepare family meals, there is no way I would be able to hold down my freelance work.

Ben’s Beginners have commissioned a short video imagining a world where families no longer need a kitchen in their homes. Although the concept of an estate agent showing buyers round a house with no kitchen does seem a tad dramatic – no kitchen at all? Really? – rather worryingly, I can almost see the slippery slope to getting to the point where a kitchen is not classed as an essential part of the house.

Modern parenting more often than not sees both parents working, whether outside of the house or from home, fitted in around the job of raising a young family. The dedicated homemaker role is becoming a rare thing. Plus, you can do a lot with a microwave and convenience meals these days.

The ad made me think, how easily could we, as a family, live in a house with no kitchen? Could we, one day in the future, see kitchens downsized to the bare minimum to make way for more living space?

Within my roles at home, I haven’t prioritised cooking. But luckily, Sam steps up to the plate here and cooks excellent meals for us every evening. My preferred appliances may be the microwave and the toaster, but the children see Sam doing a proper job of the cooking every single day, and they aren’t short of nutritious meals as they get the leftovers for lunch. Plus, we aim to always eat family meals together at the weekends. I don’t worry that our children will grow up without learning how to cook, but that is all down to Sam – were he also inclined to my lazy attitude to cooking, then yes, there would be a real chance that the boys would never see cooking at home as a normal thing to do.

Sam’s new job will see him travelling for one week (and sometimes longer) every month. Eek. It’s just not acceptable for me and the boys to eat the whole gamut of ‘things on toast’ that frequently, so during those weeks, I have vowed to take a step back from the work-life juggle, and put my main focus on cooking family meals made with fresh ingredients.

My secret weapons for this task are as follows:

1. The Oh She Glows cookbook by Angela Liddon (I have been a reader since the start in 2008 after a google search on mineral make up landed me on Angela’s blog). I am not vegan, but I figure this is a great way to gain inspiration for eating fresh, natural foods.

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2. Arming myself with easy-to-achieve recipes in advance will mean I’m less likely to give up on the idea of cooking a proper meal before I’ve even started – cooking might come naturally to some, but I’ve been out of practise for so long that I need a game plan to get me started. I can’t rival Sam’s curry masterpieces loved by our family, but this Ben’s Beginners Chicken Tikka Boom meal looks very feasable for me to make (see the bottom of this post for the recipe). Using ready-made rice is a likeable compromise that makes this meal seem a much easier task in the limited time I have.

ben's beginners chiken tikka boom

My idea of a big family kitchen where we can cook and prepare meals together, and eat together round a big table every evening hasn’t quite happened yet. It is still an important part of my dream for a future house, and I am hoping we will get there one day. Our current set-up does make it impossible for us to all hang out in the kitchen, we are really lacking in preparation space for the kids to join in with making food, and space on our dining table is at a premium. But that doesn’t mean that we should put our values of healthy eating on hold until a later date when we have a ‘proper’ family kitchen, or when I’m less busy with work. It’s something that I need to refocus on, because it’s too easy for short term habits towards food to become lifelong attitudes.

Check out the Ben’s Beginners YouTube channel for tons of videos designed to spark childrens’ enthusiasm for tasty, healthy food.

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Chicken Tikka Tikka Boom with Pilau rice

Serves: 4

Prep time: 20 mins

Cook time: 30 mins

YOU WILL NEED…

For the Chicken Tikka

  • 6 skinless and boneless chicken thighs, chopped into 3cm pieces

  • 1 tsp. paprika

  • 1 tsp. ground cumin

  • ½ tsp. ground coriander

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

  • 120ml Greek Yogurt

For the sauce

  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

  • 1 x onion, sliced

  • 1 tsp. garam masala

  • 1 tsp. tomato paste

  • 1 x 400g tinned plum tomatoes

  • 125ml single cream

  • Handful of fresh coriander

Other ingredients for serving

  • 2 x Uncle Ben’s Express Pilau rice

  • Poppadoms/Indian breads (optional)

HERE’S HOW TO MAKE IT

Tikka the chicken

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.

  2. In a large bowl mix together the spices, lemon juice, garlic, yogurt and a pinch of pepper to season until well combined.

  3. Add the chicken and coat with the spicy yogurt.

  4. Put all the chicken pieces onto an oven tray lined with foil and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked through.

  5. If the chicken is getting too brown cover with foil.

Give it some sauce

While the chicken is in the oven…

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan.

  2. Add the onion and cook on a low heat for 5 to 10 minutes until it’s lovely and soft and brown.

  3. Add the garam masala and tomato paste and cook for a few minutes more. Then add the tinned tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.

  4. Add the cooked chicken and single cream. Then season with pepper and sprinkle over the coriander leaves.

10. Heat the rice (following the packet instructions) and serve with the curry. Boom.

29-09-2014

Will I ever get rid of the buggy board?

buggy board

One thing is becoming increasingly apparent in the last few years (especially since having a second child with whom I can compare all my former parenting experiences) – I have a lazy preschooler.

Arlo has never really been one to run wild, or throw tantrums because he wanted to get out of his buggy. Arlo is a champion dawdler. And really not very fond of walking at all.

He’s been this way since his very first steps – always preferring to be carried, or to be pushed in a buggy. Never straying far from my side when he did walk.

Whereas Rory is constantly begging to be free of the confines of the pushchair, Arlo doesn’t miss a beat in clambering in as soon as Rory has vacated the seat.

On our recent trip to London (which I blogged about, and quite a few people thought we did it buggy-free, which would have been CRAZY), Rory walked for about a mile in total, whilst Arlo happily languished in the reclined position of the pushchair as I wheeled him around in a manner reminiscent of a sedan chair / servant set up.

too old for bugyy board

Living in London, we do a fair bit of walking and journeys on public transport. It IS a big ask for an almost-four year old to be on foot for the full duration of a busy London outing. But, then again, London is really not the place to take a double buggy.

Our buggy board has been the ideal ‘best of both worlds’ solution, but after 16 months of this set up, I worry that we are still very far from waving goodbye to the buggy board and progressing to full time walking.

I was asked to write this post about our transportation situation, and my ideal pushchair scenario for navigating London solo with two young children would be for Arlo to be on foot, and to have a foldable, lightweight stroller that can be collapsed and slung over my shoulder whilst I carry Rory when going on tube escalators/stairs, etc. I’ve seen the Babyzen YoyYo in action on the tube, and I’ve found it a really intriguing concept that certainly looks like it makes London life with a baby that bit easier.

But because of my reluctant walker, I am finding it hard to imagine an end to the buggy board days.

I start each journey with the buggy board up, encouraging Arlo to walk as far as he can, all the while re-enforcing the message that big boys and girls don’t use buggies or buggy boards, and reminding him of his friends that have just been to London all day without using a buggy at all. But he never lasts long without pulling the board down himself and climbing on.

I guess there is no real rush to graduate from the buggy board. He’ll do it when he’s ready, etc. But I have written before that there are certain aspects of a buggy board set-up that I don’t like, and I have to say that frequent use of a buggy board with an older child has taken it’s toll on the frame of our pushchair – which is now slightly wonky after over a year of extra strain on the handle when turning left or right.

I’m not brave enough to dismantle the board, even though I know it would be simpler in some ways to remove the option completely. I know I’d end up carrying him and pushing Rory in the buggy. Which is far too much work to think about.

I know he won’t walk. On the occasions that I have left him with no option, he lies down on the floor and refuses to move. Which is very helpful.

My own patience levels also play a part in our reliance on the buggy board. “OH, I’VE GOT PINS AND NEEDLES. I CAN’T WALK. I FEEL DIZZY. I’VE GOT TIRED LEGS. I’M GOING TO FALL DOWN”. I don’t care if it sounds bad to say this, but Arlo moaning is such a constant part of every day that it really does bring me down. If I can cut down the moaning in this one area, it makes the rest that little bit more bearable.

I do wonder if we will EVER mange to get rid of our buggy board, but for now, life is easier with it.

Have you had experience with a reluctant walker? Do you have any tips for encouraging less buggy board use and more walking? When did you first brave the move from buggy to no buggy or buggy board with your preschooler?