Monday, August 6, 2012

Jammy badgers

.....that's what my 2 1/2 year old was calling these yummy Jammy Dodgers we created this afternoon...

They are simple shortcake biscuits with the centre cut out, then sandwiched together with delicious raspberry jam once cooked and cooled.

You will need:

125g of unsalted butter, softened
60g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
125g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
60g semolina
Jam ( raspberry or strawberry.....or be adventurous!)

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy, either by hand if you're feeling energetic or have help, or in a food processer.  Then sift in both flours and combine until it comes together in a ball.  Lightly dust the work surface with flour and roll out to .5cm thick.  Try not to overwork the dough, although if you have an enthusiastic assistant, this is a tad difficult.

Using whatever shape cutter you like, cut out shapes.  You can use the same shape for each or vary them if you like, as long as you have even numbers of each. Put half of the shapes on your baking tray, then cut a piece out of the centre of your other half. Sprinkle these ones with caster sugar and place on the tray.

Chill for 15 minutes or so to firm up the dough.  Preheat the oven to 180C.

Once the biscuits have been chilled, bake them for 12 - 15 minutes or until they are a pale golden colour.  Remove from the oven and let them cool completely.

Spread the jam on the solid biscuits, leaving a 1cm border around the edge.  Again, could be difficult with an assistant. Then sandwich the biscuits with the centre cut out on top, sugar side up.  Viola!  Yummy scrummy jammy badgers.

Apparently the biscuits keep for a week.  We've eaten all ours so can't verify that.

Hot and cold

I'm a huge fan of natural hot springs and visited quite a few while travelling.  At one place, the aptly named BaƱos in Equador, the hot springs are the focal point of the town social life.  So as well as tourists who've come to relax, you find the locals of all ages hanging out.  Staring is perfectly acceptable, perhaps even obligatory, so it's a great place for people watching.  One of the pools is hot rather than warm. Think a hot bath.  It sits right next to a pool that's so cold (you're in the Andes), if you stay there for more than a couple of minutes, you start to lose all feeling in your body.  That's where I first discovered the amazing rush you get from going from hot to cold, and back.  First you get all lobster like in the warm pool.  Next, you get into the cold pool, with a bit of an involuntary whoop.  You get accustomed to the temperature, then before you go unconscious, get yourself back to the warm pool and wow......the natural high is incredible.   The same principle as a roll around in the snow after a sauna, I suppose.  

To replicate this at home, if you have a separate bath and shower fill the bath with either very hot or cold water, then jump between the two.   My shower is in the bath so I just alternate the shower between the two temperature extremes.  It works well enough that I have a huge grin on my face from the natural endorphins.  You can finish on either a hot or a cold round, whichever you prefer. 

Does it sound a bit crazy to you?  Even so, you should try it.  Next time you're feeling a bit flat, or stressed, or low, give it a go.  You've got to be brave enough to stay in the cold for as long as you can bear.  I find concentrating the cold shower on the back of your neck really gets you yelping.  Then the bliss when you turn on the warm water and feel the heat moving through your body again.  It never fails to make me laugh.

Some other ideas for creating natural endorphins if you're too wussy for this :)

Do it!

When we had the "big snow" a couple of years ago, we did this using the hot bath and the snow in our back garden.   Giddiest moment I can remember in recent times. My husband started a snowball fight.  He lost after I threatened his snowballs with snowballs.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Double trouble

So I knew having two kids was going to be harder than having one.   But now that I'm a couple of months into it, I can't quite remember what I thought that meant.  I suppose I thought it would be hard being busy, and finding time for yourself, and that I'd possibly be exhausted from having to fall in with a newborn's sleep pattern.

But the newborn is no problem.   He is, in fact, a bit of a dream.  He sleeps.  By day, in a wrap, against my heart.  By night, beside me, now in a bedside cot.  He can sleep 2 or 3 hour stretches in the day, 7 hours or more at night.  Not every night, but enough to mean that I'm not drained because of him.  He smiles.  He goos and gaas.  When he cries, he's easily soothed. It's the toddler that's the drain.

Whining. Moaning. Complaining.  She was happy enough with the baby in the beginning, before she realised he was a person that was going to command attention from Mammy.  Lately,. her whinging has become insufferable.  I've had a day of it today and it's worn me to shreds.  Emotionally, I'm a shell. I'm relying on this one measly glass of red wine to help me piece together my shattered self.  It's times like this I wish I wasn't one of those "breastfeeders", so I could hit the bottle.  Hard.  I'll have to settle for smashing something instead. 

The US had it all wrong.   Forget waterboarding.  Just stick suspects in a room with whining toddlers and all will be relieved in record-beating time.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Protest at Facebook HQ

A group of mums and babes, including myself and C, protested today at Facebook HQ in Dublin against the deletion of photos of nursing mothers and, in some cases, suspension of their Facebook accounts.   Facebook terms of service state that photos of nursing are allowed, yet these pictures of breastfeeding were flagged as breaching Facebook's statement of "rights and responsibilities" as they contain "nudity, pornography or graphically sexual content".

I'll be honest - originally when I heard about the protest, I was disinterested.   I haven't shared any photos of myself breastfeeding on Facebook and haven't wanted to.  While I believe in the right to breastfeed wherever and whenever necessary, I didn't feel strongly about the Facebook issue.

But....isn't it normal for people to post photos of themselves feeding baby their bottle?  Mums and Dads, Grannies and Grandads all proudly taking turns for the camera while baby enjoys their grub?  Why then is it not ok to share pictures of a breastfed baby doing the same? 

Despite passionately believing in breastfeeding as a completely normal activity and never having a problem feeding C in public when she was small, I am embarrassed to do it now.  I would if a pressing need arose, but haven't for a long time.   I would rather go into a stinky toilet and feed her there than have others look at me disapprovingly.   The thought of C getting any sense that what we are doing is in someway wrong is painful to me. 

Isn't that sad?  That we live in a society where idiots on the internet refer to feeding older children as "kiddie porn"?   That my awareness of that, despite my generally assertive personality, leads me to go to where people take a dump to feed my toddler?

So that's why I took part today.   Breastfeeding is normal and natural.  It is a part of family life.   Societal attitudes need to change so that mothers feeding their babies the natural way in public are as relaxed as those feeding their babies with bottles.  Facebook's removal of breastfeeding photos that in no way contravene their terms of service just feeds into a widely held perception of breastfeeding as something that is in some way wrong, dirty or sexual, that should be done behind closed doors or under cover of some ridiculous custom-made apron.   It's not "pornographic or sexual", Facebook - it's just a baby chowing down.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Coping with a newborn - all about expectations

I was reminded today of this article which talks about, among other things, why it's normal newborn behaviour to sleep more during the day than at night.  

A new mother in crisis (her post was titled "I don't think I can cope"), posted on one of the pregnancy and baby websites, saying that her 2 week old baby doesn't sleep at all at night.   She is exhausted.  She is up all night on her own, feeding bottles, until the baby goes to sleep around 7am.  Her newborn then goes to sleep and sleeps for most of the day, according to the description.   Her question is "am I asking too much of her, or what?"

Well, yes.  When I first read the post I was really sympathetic and congratulated myself on having a baby who did her long sleeps at night from the beginning.   Then I read back on the post - the baby sleeps till 2am and is awake on and off till 7am - pretty much the same as C was in the early weeks.  I thought it was fantastic that C would sleep from 10 to 2 and then again from 7 to 11 - two four hour blocks of sleep in a night!!

It's all about expectation, isn't it?   It's much easier if you just accept matters and go to sleep in the day when your baby does, but many of us have been conditioned by an Irish society that values being a good sleeper above all other qualities in a newborn to think that there's something awry.

Funnily enough, just after I wrote this, the Analytical Armadillo did a new post which puts it all way better than I ever could :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why are we even talking about this stuff?

It seems like there's been a perfect storm of anti-breastfeeding feeling swirling about over the past week or so.  First was Niamh from The Mama's Hip appearing on Four Live on RTE on January 9th, where a photo from her blog of her tandem feeding her 3 1/2 year old and her baby provoked a fairly predictable response from viewers.  What was obvious was that Maura Derrane agreed with the "offended" woman who sent in a comment referring to Niamh as "disgusting".  What was really offensive and disgusting was Maura reading out said comment live on air.  But hey, when your guest is a perverted long term breastfeeder, it's obviously ok to insult them.

Next came reports on Wednesday that breastfed babies are a pain in the ass compared to formula fed babies.  They cry more, smile and laugh less and are generally more troublesome.  This of course provokes me to say "But my baby was the smiliest, laughiest, least troublesome...." but seeing as I dismiss anecdotal evidence as irrelevant, that cuts no ice even with me.  What was interesting about how the report was framed in the media was that at least reference was made to breastfeeding being the norm, therefore breastfed baby behaviour was the norm.  

Funniest comment I saw on the web in relation to this article:  "the research clearly indicates bottle feeding comes out better in certain areas yet the researchers themselves and all the commenters slam it. Very irrational. To me, all this says, is that the gap between breastfeeding and modern formula is probably very close."  Ha ha!  Yep, you're right.  Having a baby that you consider to be "easier" at three months is a hugely important benefit - why, forget breastmilk and its protective effect against a whole host of illnesses, not to mention SIDS - this formula stuff makes 'em smile more?  Sure, that's just as good!

Then came this article on the Telegraph blog.   Don't read it if your blood pressure goes up when you encounter mindless anti-breastfeeding rubbish.  It's highly inflammatory which I think is the point.  'Course, the writer has links to the baby food can read more about it on the Analytical Armadillo, if you really want to give the heart a good workout.

So we've all been up in arms defending breastfeeding here, there and everywhere over the past week.  D'ya know what?  I can't be arsed dealing with ignorance and misinformation anymore (be interesting to see how long this lasts.  My blood was boiling after some tool commenting on The Mama's Hip called home birth "the most selfish thing" anyone could do.  Really?  Oh yeah, you're right - I mean snorting coke while pregnant doesn't even come close!).  Some of these people seem so entrenched in their views and determined to view any attempt to educate as akin to holding guns to people's heads to make them breastfeed.    And I think others just know it's a topic that gets people all het up and use it for a bit of amusement and entertainment.   

But what really hit me this week was the sheer absurdity of all of it.   This level of hysteria over the normal way of feeding a baby?  I imagine telling some of the women I met in Latin America about all of this - they'd think we were nuts.  And they'd be right. 


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The choice is yours....

I was out with a new Mammy friend yesterday and the talk turned as it often does to sleeping and from there to breastfeeding when I "outed" myself as STILL feeding.  I've thought about why I feel the need to do this and have come to the conclusion that it's because I know that there are loads of closet toddler-feeders out there (ok, not loads but there are others beside me, even though it might feel very lonely most of the time) and if we don't go public then it'll always be seen by some as one step away from child-abuse.  (Persecution complex? Moi?)

Anyway, she told me she thought it was great that I was still feeding and said she lasted 4 days.  Why did she give up?  She had a section, her milk hadn't come in, she had sore nipples and she wanted to sleep.  She said this without getting anyway defensive, apologising for herself or trotting out the old "it didn't work out for me" line.   She made her choice, she was happy with it, she was happy for me that I was still feeding and that was the end of it.   She felt no need to justify herself to me for not breastfeeding or to make me feel like an alien because I was still doing it and I didn't scold her for her lack of commitment or bang on about the benefits that her child was missing out on.  In short, no-one felt accused of child abuse.  Refreshing.

I read somewhere that during the child-rearing years, we align ourselves with others who share our parenting philosophies.  I can see this happening in my own life, but does it have to mean binning the friends I have already or blackballing new ones that I have lots in common with apart from our parenting styles?  Difference of opinion on how to raise children can definitely be a cause of friction in friendships but doesn't have to threaten them.  Acceptance of these differences is key.  Caring for a child involves a million and one choices - some of them big, some of them trivial - but they are just that - choices.  If mine are different to yours, then it doesn't invalidate the ones you've made and there is no tacit criticism intended.   Don't feel the need to defend, justify or explain yourself.  I won't.  Right, I'm off to work on that myself.....