Motion direction acceleration*

green means go, red means stop

There’s been a sudden move to forward motion this week. Our little baby, now 10.5 months – one week he’s rocking forward and back not so sure on his chubby hands and knees, the next he’s rocking and rolling and slipping and sliding all over the room not always forward but always getting where he wants to go.

Every day since I went back to work in March this year the hour directly before and after work have been a massive flurry of parental motion. Get kids in car drive to crèche drive home from crèche get on bike cycle to work aaaaand 9 hours later, reverse!

But not this week. This week, Theo crawled forward. And this week, Theo went on a bicycle for the first time.  It was Dominic that spurred us into action and made us change our routine back from four wheels to two.  He had started to ask more and more frequently when could he go on Daddy’s bike again after weeks of daily car trips.

Neither of us parents are particularly outdoorsy types but we are so inclined if it’s the easier way to do something. I can’t drive to work unless I want to pay for city centre parking, and Dublin Bus would add at least a precious hour in each day where I’m not with my boys. So bikes it is!  We had Dominic on the green Ibert seat above from about 10 months of age, swapping it from bike to bike depending who was dropping off and picking up.  Then flash forward, as my Theo-bump expanded I couldn’t fit behind anymore so I switched him to a regular rear seat (kindly donated by our friend) on my bike, and we left the Ibert on Mark’s bike.  They used it right up to the point I went back to work so it easily fits a 3 year old (up to 38lbs in fact).  I know there’s all sorts of cool carts and trailers and things for multiple kids but we actually haven’t investigated those at all this far.  Mostly for budgetary reasons.

I have dreams for my future big boys (when crippling crèche fees are a distant memory), dreams of idyllic family holidays, hopping on a ferry and all of us cycling – or being cycled – around the Netherlands or France.  But for now, we’ll whizz around the suburban streets of Dublin, knowing we’re minimising our commute and spending actual enjoyable time with our kids without the stress of sitting in  traffic.

Also, I’m relishing cycling down the road singing silly songs  with my son (or regular songs with the word poopoo inserted anywhere for reasons of hilarity)  because there’s a very short window until I am the most mortifying person he has ever encountered.

Get on yer bike.


*The title of this post is taken from the very very excellent They Might Be Giants “Speed & Velocity”  from one of their amazing albums for kids “Here Comes Science”.  I cannot implore you enough to listen to these albums with any small children you encounter.  Hickory Dickory Dock they ain’t.  My personal favourite is “The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas” and yes, my 3 year old can sing along.

Equal opportunities carb savages – potato cakes & noodle soup

We love an aul’ spud.  For years I would deny them: my new found culinary freedom when I went to college meant I could alternate pasta and rice and never see a spud that wasn’t chipped & deep fried, or encased in a packet marked ‘Hunky Dory’. When I was little,  I would try to hide pieces of potato under my cutlery long after everyone had left the table, having been instructed to stay there til I’d finished everything (an 80’s phenomenon due to the starving babies in Africa, and the more recent memories of an fairly impoverished upbringing).  Luckily my darling father would take pity on me as he went about his daily washing up chore (we had a dishwasher, why on earth was there so much washing up done in our house?) and let me escape to watch Home & Away.  They were nearly always boiled, sometimes leftover & fried on a saturday morning.  There was the occasional baked potato, and the traditional roast, and quite regularly home made chips.   It was only boiled I rejected whole heartedly but the proliferation of them into every single dinner meant I couldn’t exclude them from my diet fast enough when given the opportunity.

mash you can hold
mash you can hold

Then I had a kid, and mash became part of our lives again.  It’s buttery/creamy/whatever you’re having yourself deliciousness is so tasty, that it’s a pretty good fall back meal when you haven’t a clue what else to make.  Last weekend, with no shopping done and a few roosters in the cupboard, little potato cakes were on the menu.   It’s mash you can hold!  Incidentally ‘a few roosters’ is actually an item on our shopping list – my mothers influence is strong there.  We had no eggs and each recipe near the top of my google search seemed to contain one, so I just went with a roundabout experiment that really worked!  Binding, schminding…  This makes about 12-15.

Oven baked potato cakes:

  • Chop a few roosters (okay, 3) quite small & cook.  I do ours in a microwave steamer, and the small pieces were done in 5 minutes plus a couple of minutes sitting.
  • Mash well with a decent dash of milk and more butter than you think you should use.
  • Grate in cheddar, add a couple of chopped spring onions and season well with black pepper
  • Spread out little cakes on a baking sheet.  Either make little patties with your hand, or use a scone cutter (they don’t keep their shape and spread a little though)
  • Bake in the oven at a high temp (I used 200c) for 7 or 8 mins each side.

The beauty of these is it’s not an exact recipe.  Throw in what you have – caramelised leeks would be gorgeous I’d say, or different cheeses.  If you’re cooking something else in the oven at the same time then just use whatever temperature you need it set to for that.

And the equal opportunities part?  Well, since we had spuds on saturday, we had risotto on sunday (and monday), and then our very favourite – noodley doodleys tonight.  In a noodle soup form for parents and Dominic (who used his pilfered Wagamama chopsticks – we took a bunch) and ‘deconstructed’ for Theo.  The constituent parts proved very popular with him too.  He has the art of the pincer grip down pat now.  I even left the plate in front of him while he ate and it lasted a good 8 minutes there I’d say!

We’re definitely enduring a throwback-to-the-eighties Ireland in some regards what with our rampant recession. But I thank the gods of air travel and globalisation for broadening the range of grains and carbs available in Ireland.  I know there was plenty of rice and pasta and maybe even noodles around then (just not really in our house) but cous cous and quinoa…far from it I was reared!


Ahsotto. Toddler for ‘Risotto’.

I’ve written about risotto before. It’s a staple food in this house, but with my short attention span I like to mix it up as much as possible. Mark usually is in charge of risotto but I tackled this one – Hugh Fearnley Whittingstalls Tomato Risotto. Everything for the basic recipe was already in the house, but we bought some rocket for our packed lunches and its peppery punch was fantastic with the sweet tomatoes. I also threw in four ice cubes of red wine in with the rice before the stock stage. Yes, I freeze wine. Yes, I have leftover wine! (Sometimes). Sure the kids will sleep well tonight!


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Barbecue, baby style

Now, if you’re looking for saussies you’ve come to the wrong place.  Though I can assure you the 2-44 year olds (except me) had plenty of traditional Irish barbecue (lots of meat and clouds) the babies were another story.   I sat Theo on my knee while I ate my delicious halloumi & courgette skewers, grilled asparagus, & beetroot salad  – seriously, how do any of you people need meat when things like that are available? I fully expected to hand him sticks of various things and to watch him chuck them to the ground.  He’s a shouty distracible baby so with his brother and 6 cousins around I figured he wouldn’t go for much.

The best little eater I know
The best little eater I know

But soon he was transfixed.  We all were truth be told.  Theo’s little cousin Tessa (8.5 months) was quietly and determinedly working her way through several pieces of courgette, her little fist firmly wrapped about it.  Then she chomped down on some delicious asparagus.  But that wasn’t enough, so next with the aid of her dad to steady the load, she munched her way around a large ear of corn.   The thing that struck me most of all…the neatness!  See that blue plate?  It’s not even glued or suckered to the table, she just didn’t bother with The Swiping or The Throwing so beloved of my sons.  *sigh* Jealous!  Tessa is the third of three children, and the first one of them to do baby led weaning.  She could not be a better ad for it!

Theo, wide eyed and inspired tried everything he saw over the next day.  We’re gonna have to hang out with Tessa a bit more!