I can’t quite get my head around the fact that it was a year ago that Luciole made her entrance into the world. Everyone tells you how much faster time goes with your second child, and it’s all true! The last year has had its hard moments, as can be expected when you have only two arms and are pulled in opposite directions by urgent cries of need but it’s mostly been wonderful.
I know I’m completely biased but Luciole is the cutest most squishy little girl there ever was, with a sunny personality and a ready smile for everyone. She is very blonde, which took us a bit by surprise but I’m delighted that she seems to have my eyes for good, all lovely and blue. She’s also a skinny baby, which gave us a bit of worry when she dropped to the 9th centile on the weight chart but she’s a healthy happy girl. She likes to play shy but I can tell she’s going to be at least as cheeky as her sister. She loves water and tomatoes, and seems to be musical even now. She also, rather to my horror, already recognises the Peppa Pig tune when it comes on the tv and bobs up and down in excitement when she does.
I didn’t learn to make tomato sauce until about four months ago. This is seriously embarrassing but also good, because I learnt a new thing and it is AWESOME!
When I did baby-led weaning the first time around two years ago (blimey, doesn’t time fly), we ate boring pasta for ever and ever. I did nice enough things with Philadelphia cheese but the tomato sauce I put together could never compare to shop-bought, the individual ingredients were nice enough, bacon, onions, courgettes, mushrooms and a tin of tomato all thrown together in a frying pan for 15 minutes or so but the result was really quite bland.
So imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon the easiest tomato sauce recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall’s Every Day cookbook. I hesitate to even mention where I’ve found it because it is so easy it shouldn’t really belong to anyone.
Before I tell you how to make it, let me put my Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) hat on. Luciole is going to be six months old in 10 days time on 23rd December so down the rabbit hole we go again. She’s already had her first taste of cucumber and it was a great success, she attacked it with gusto, with the added bonus of being nice and cold on her poor teething gums. She’s not quite steady enough on her bottom to sit unaided so we’re going to take it easy but I’m feeling confident about the whole thing.
The key with BLW cooking is to remove the salt from the cooking process altogether, which is really not that complicated to remember. Other than that, between 6 months and 1 year old, babies shouldn’t eat honey (risk of botulism), or shark and marlin such like (risk of bad stuff happening) but who eats shark anyway, right?
As soon as Luciole is 6 months, she will be able to eat the same as us; I just need to make sure that things are cut in a way that she can easily grab a hold of. Fusilli pasta is perfect for this, and so she will be tasting pasta in tomato sauce very soon indeed.
Back to the tomato sauce, as I said, it’s dead easy, and I don’t know why or how I have not known how to do it before.
Vegetable or olive oil
1 garlic clove
a tin of chopped tomatoes or two
a frying pan
The cooking process in all its glory:
1. Warm the oil in the pan on a medium heat.
2. Chop the garlic clove into small bits and toss in the pan for a couple of minutes. It should start to sizzle and smell garlicky but not go brown, as it spoils the taste. This is as technical as it’s going to get.
3. Empty the tin of chopped tomatoes in the pan.
4. Cook on a medium heat for 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken on its own. Then squash the tomato chunks with a fork to blend them in. It is done, yay!
5. If you want to be clever and hide some vegetables (like cooked courgettes) in the sauce because your toddler is going through a difficult vegetable phase, now is the time to squash them in.
6. Other than pasta, this sauce is ideal to go on pizza.
Abi Hortin is a friend of a friend of a friend who recently started a photography business at White Tulip. I was lucky enough to take part in a free baby photo shoot she hosted a few weeks ago to get some practice. The results are seriously awesome and I can wholeheartedly recommend her. Below are a few of the shots, and let me tell you, my two girls are seriously photogenic.
My bed never looks as cozy as this.
My beautiful girls
Isn’t she precious? This is my favourite picture.
You can’t take the French out of her, no matter what!
Life has been crazy over here chez la Frog. Pregnancy did its usual thing of taking over my brain space so that there was no room left for anything other than ‘and the next day… And the one after… And the one after that…’. Not that anything terribly wrong happened, just the usual horrors of acid reflux, low iron and the June heat but I just couldn’t focus long on anything, couldn’t settle to think, all my energies were spent cooking up that baby and doing life with a nearly 2 year-old.
And now of course there are two! So my brain is just as struggly as before when it comes to multi-tasking and thinking.
Little Girl is now a big girl, she turned 2 a month and a half ago and is lovely and exasperating in equal measures (thanks for spreading all that lovely flour on the floor darling; love you xx).
Luciole is 10 weeks, and what a lovely baby she is. Much easier than her sister at the same age, in that she doesn’t cry at night. I know, I’m embarrassed to admit it because I know it’s so rare but it’s true. She wakes up to eat but doesn’t cry. We’re co-sleeping so I feel/hear her all the same but it turns night feeds into a dream. I am so much better rested than I was with her sister, despite having had as rough a birth this time as the first time, that I now realise how unwell I really was in the first couple of months with Little Girl. Anyway… It’s all in the past now and I am enjoying this new stage of life. The trickiest thing really is not having four arms. Even with Luciole in the sling, I am not quite tall enough to be able to easily multi-task. I can’t bend down properly, let alone cook, do the washing-up or whatever else you’re supposed to be free to do if you carry your baby in a sling. I can’t do it! So I sit down a lot, and hold the baby, and play with Little Girl. These early days are so precious and fleeting that it seems a shame to spend them cleaning – although I do do some of that too, and cook, and change an awful lot of nappies, just not as often as I probably should – if you come visit, the house is just more likely to look like a bomb site than a stately home, that’s all!.
So far, people who have asked me what I plan to do with regards to feeding baby number 2 have, subconsciously or not, given me the impression that it’s going to be the most difficult thing in the world, because I am so far planning to breastfeed both Little Girl – who will be 23 months when Little Bean is born – and the new baby. I think it’s the concerned tone of voice (and accompanying look of mild horror) that’s done it. I completely understand why people might be surprised that I’m going to do this. I don’t know anyone who has done it and I have certainly never seen anyone do it, but I have read enough online about tandem feeding to know that it is in fact feasible and not that uncommon.
Little Girl turned 18 months a couple of weeks ago and is still having quite a lot of milk so I am working on the assumption that she’ll still be going for it in six months’ time. She is one greedy little person at the best of times, but I can tell it’s a really special thing for her. Her schedule goes like this:
A big feed first thing in the morning to set her up for the day
A little bit to help her nap in the afternoon; this is mostly for comfort and to help her relax
A small sip before bed, which she doesn’t seem too fussed about but happens to coincide with bedtime songs
And finally: whenever she asks for ‘tétée’, which tends to be accompanied by big grins, little happy hops and a greedy hand down the front of my top; how could I say no to all that cuteness?
By the way, that word ‘tétée’ is not a weird French hybrid for tits, thank you very much, but the actual word for breastfeeding. I’ve learnt to avoid trying to explain this to people, as it’s always a cue for people to laugh and look embarrassed ‘she said tits!’. No, no I didn’t.
The above list may appear heavy going but in reality, it is not the case because Little Girl isn’t remotely living off milk these days. She’s having proper big dinners with us, snacks and is also liberally helping herself to our plates so she is not attached to my breast like a newborn is. We are talking mere minutes, on a bad day maybe 15 minutes maximum. It is not taxing in any way, time-wise or physically. In any case, when milk hormones kick in and what have you and the constitution of the milk evolves with the pregnancy, Little Girl might take a dislike to it and go off breastfeeding altogether. It is quite a common occurrence. We’ll see how it goes when we get there!
I have only two main concerns at this stage about tandem feeding. One is purely logistical: how to hold the newborn on one side whilst the other one takes her sip, that kind of thing. My biggest worry will be getting the new baby to latch well at the beginning, as babies sadly do not come with an inner breastfeeding manual sketched onto their brains. The first six weeks with Little Girl were pretty brutal and painful and I would prefer not to go through that again! Then again, the worst thing that might happen could be this: