Thursday, 31 January 2013

We'll always have Paris

My first holiday with the Boy was to Paris. Not Paris in the springtime, but Paris in the winter.

The winter was still far less cold than here, mind.

We walked through the Jardin des Tuileres, I had a crepe and mulled wine along the way. The mulled wine lady was quite nice about my rusty French. The lady selling the crepes was quite fierce about my pronounciation - which was absolutely fair in my book.

We finished our crepes and went to gawp at the Arc d'Triomph, and its unique traffic management system, where a man pretended to find a ring in the ground in front of us and tried to give it to us. 'Bonne chance', he said. Nae luck for him though; I shook my head and kept feeding the Boy a jar of salmon baby food.

(Interestingly, you can't get baby food with fish in it here - although the French stuff smelled very fishy, enough so that it made me feel a bit queasy at times).

We had problems finding a baby change; we ended up having to do a nappy change as quickly as possible on a bench, outside a stall selling Christmas trees. It seemed quiet when we started, but as soon as the Boy's nappy was off, suddenly the whole of Paris seemed to descend. Put us down as ignorant tourists - there must be a better way that we didn't work out.

And then we walked back along the Grandes Boulevardes, stopping off at the Grand Food Halles and a lovely wine bar on the way, before retiring to our apartment to eat the day's haul, via a baker, where we bough quiche Provencal and a baguette.

On our second day there, the Sunday, barely anything was open. We walked down to the Seine and looked up and down the bank. My husband had the most abortive attempt ever at speaking French, to the chap in the ticket office for the Bateaubus. He skipped 'bonjour' and muttered something about 'billets', and the ticket assistant gave him a basilisk stare until he reverted to English and ceased his assault on the French language.

Then, soaking up the Sunday atmosphere, we walked past Notre Damme and got on the boat, sailed up the Seine, and disembarked at the Eiffel Tower.

I must admit, things where you stand in queues are not my thing. I derived far more amusement from the reaction of other people in the queue to the Boy eating a pain-au-chocolate; "Tres bien!", "Ah, mom-mom-mom", than I did from getting herded around for hours (to be honest, I always find stuff like the local supermarkets and pubs more interesting than big, set piece monuments). But hey, the view was nice.

Then it was the Jardin du Luxembourg - beautiful and busy on a cold, clear day, and then a croque monsieur at a cafe near the Sorbonne. The Boy stayed asleep and let us eat in peace. I could remember all my politeness words by this point and even managed a tiny bit of banter with the waiter.

And then back to the flat, for a Lebanese takeaway and some more wine.

Tres bien, you might say.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The fun stuff

It's been ages since I've blogged. I've been busy - nothing momentous, but enough that I haven't had a chance to sit down and write.

Part of the reason I haven't is that this started out being a post-IF blog, and a lot of the things I've been up to are just general post baby things.

But, it is really good, getting to do things I spent several years feeling that I never would.

Food. This is the best one. The Boy is now big enough to manage finger food. Which means he can, with a little adaptation, eat whatever we're eating, at the same time. This is infinitely better than the days when I was making separate purees of everything, then trying to feed him the puree and eat at the same time - he'd get bored and start screaming.

Our philosophy is to let him try everything, unless it's salty. As an additional benefit, this means we are consuming much less salt.

Spaghetti is much more enjoyable when eaten with your fingers, with no concept of mess. Roasted vegetables and halloumi are great.  Tonight's big discovery was falafels - he got two, freshy fried. He dropped a small handful of one by mistake, and then howled until he got offered the second. He gobbled it down.

He particularly enjoys focaccia - he doesn't appear to be able to chew it properly, he just gums it enthusiastically for improbable lengths of time. Which is great if we're eating out for lunch as it keeps him quiet, yet involved with the meal.

Gratifyingly, he likes stuff that Western culture doesn't expect babies to eat - which is great because we both hate bland food. He loves garlic (particularly picked garlic), and olives. Goats' cheese and marmalade crostini was a big hit. He's not so keen on the mild curries I make, but will eat some. Although he swiped an illicit prawn in chilli batter off my plate and ate that enthusiastically. Texture seems to matter more than flavour.

Having said that, we had a meal which was fish fingers and chips. It was meant to be for the Boy's benefit, but my husband and I are now enthusiastically talking about a repeat.

Sometimes, the Boy's food preferences are slightly frustrating. He's always offered vegetables, but often chucks them away. Tonight's cucumber and tomato were abandoned very quickly. I have no way of combatting this apart from to keep encouraging him to try them - but he seems hard-wired to want crunchy carbohydrates instead. I had read that babies love smoked salmon but he has no interest in it (the cat, on the other hand...).

He also has a marked preference for certain things, and quickly rejects foodstuff that isn't what he wants to eat right now. A hot cross bun was swiftly mashed and discarded, but he was delighted to when it was replaced with crackerbread. He loves crackerbread, and we often use it as a vehicle for getting him to eat mushed up stews.

He also - and I am slightly ashamed to admit this - absolutely loves prawn crackers. We went out for a Chinese and gave him one to keep quiet. He sucked it into mush and wanted more. He rarely gets these because they're not exactly healthy, but I figure the odd one won't do him any harm.

The tendency to shred and chuck food is also a challenge. It's more that I don't want him to grow up thinking this is ok, but I haven't figured out how to get him not to do it, apart from saying "no" and giving him something else - although, similarly, I don't want him to just start mashing everything in the hope of getting prawn crackers.

The downside is that he is now so into eating his own food that he's less and less keen on being spoon fed purees, and I think he actually eats more when he deigns to let one of us feed him. The one great exception to this is jelly - which he always finds space for.

So, yeah, it's been fun. The tiny baby days were much harder work; still not as bad as IF, although some days and nights went on forever. But things have started to open up a little bit more, and the five year struggle seems both faraway and more than worthwhile.