You, Me and Teddy

Parenting adventures and activities in and around Neuchâtel, Switzerland.


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Eureka!

I did it! I managed to create a decent substitute to Heinz baked beans!

baked beans and spud side
After promising baked beans and spuds for dinner panic stations hit when I realised I was totally out of supplies.

Now E is a pretty stubborn creature and, while she is a good eater, trying to get her to agree to a dinner which isn’t pasta based (her current absolute “favourite food in the whole wide world”) can be tricky sometimes. I was over the moon when she said she’d happily have baked potatoes without any argument.

There was no time to get to the shops. M was napping and besides the potatoes were already in the oven. Hmmm… I would have to improvise.

Looking in my cupboard I discovered I had: tinned tomatoes. Check. And, yes, tinned cannellini beans. Hoorah!

So here is my recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic or 1/2 a teaspoon of dried garlic
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 50ml water
  • 800g drained and rinsed tinned cannellini beans (you could also cook dried beans)
  • 2 small tablespoons of low salt & sugar ketchup

Instructions

  • Heat the oil and fry the crushed garlic on a low to medium heat.
  • Add the tomatoes and sage.
  • Heat through and add the water.
  • Blitz the lot with a hand held blender (my absolute favourite kitchen gadget) and bring to a simmer.
  • Add beans and the ketchup (to give some of that authentic “Heinz” taste) and heat through.

beans in pan

It wasn’t the real deal but it was similar enough not to cause a fuss. You could probably get closer in taste by adding more ketchup but I think it was much tastier as it was, not to mention more nutritious!

It was so quick and simple to make and I will certainly be doing this in future rather than buying the beans ready prepared.

kiddie beans

Hope you are all well and having better weather than we are here.

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Terrible Threes… Anyone?

As we approach the third birthday the tantrums are increasing. I am not sure if its the age or simply the fact she seems to have decided she no longer needs to sleep.

She has completely dropped the afternoon nap over the past few months. Fair enough. She’s about the right age but we are keeping “quiet time” during which she has to play quietly in her room for an hour or so after lunch. This, however, has also become a new battle ground… How destructive can one little girl be? No, actually I don’t want to know what more damage she can do to her newly decorated room.

Never having been a great sleeper we were overjoyed when E started, finally, sleeping every night through just before her first birthday. It seems that just before her third birthday she has decided that bedtime is for “babies” and she is now a “little girl”. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the falling asleep later and waking earlier is going to sort itself out once she gets used to the season change. I did, however, go and buy some homeopathic sleep aids yesterday and plenty of lavender oil to try and help her to fall asleep in the evenings. Every little helps.

Its not just the sleep though, but it does make her mood swings more violent and tantrums definitely become more frequent when she is tired, its the rather new advances in logic she has taken and the recent improvement in her memory that she is starting to test out.

Some of her recent musings that she has shared have included :

  • Daddy is going to be taking her to her swim classes on Saturdays now with the big children while Mummy will keep taking M to the baby ones so they must now be at the same time.
  • The sky is sad when it storms and then gets even sadder because it doesn’t like storms.
  • Mummy’s top is the same as hers because it has a label on it, despite the label being different, and the top a different cut and colour.

While some things seem a bit abstract other things are quite grounded. If, for example, M has decided to throw his food over me and I am upset she will remind me that it “doesn’t matter” and my clothes can be washed. Or if someone is not feeling well they need medicine or a plaster to get better. You can see that she is obviously thinking about things more and developing her own theories about the world.

She is unsurprisingly very stubborn (like both her parents) and likes to make sure she does things her way. If, for example, you want her to go and have her bath she will refuse to go immediately. However, if you say that she needs to go have her bath in one minute and set a timer she will go without a squeak. It is frustrating though if you are in a restaurant and have ordered her an apple juice and she refuses to drink it because she wants fizzy water like Mummy. Sometimes things get a bit lateral too like last night when I asked if she wanted her milk warm or cold and she refused to answer. Knowing if I did it wrong she wouldn’t touch it I pressed her until she finally replied, “blue”.

I think with all of it you just have to stay light-hearted. It will pass. She won’t be this testing the whole time and she definitely won’t still be having screaming tantrums on the floor when she is 20. Well I hope not…

In the meantime I will pick my battles and she can have blue milk if she wants.

blue milk


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Carrousels and the Place du Port

The funfair came to town last week!

The rides come and set up a few times a year in the Place du Port right in the centre of town. This time it was for the two weeks of school holidays. What is great about this year is that E is now big enough to do everything. She is a very tall and sturdy 2 year old and she filled the height, weight and fearlessness criteria for all the ride owners.

The only way to find out the opening times is through word of mouth, reading the local press or by going to have a look in person. I must start getting the local paper again! I stopped as I really didn’t have time to read it when M arrived but now I think I might be able to manage the e-version.

We were really lucky with the weather during their stay and while it was a little chilly the sun was out.

drops

Despite enjoying the more extreme rides like the drop (where they “bribed” all the kids who went on with a sweetie) or dodgems, I think E still prefers the simple Merry-go-rounds and car runs which she insisted taking Teddy on.

driving collage

I expect they will be back in August for the National Fête and I know they will definitely be back for the Fête de Vendanges in September when they arrive in force with the more extreme rides.

The Place du Port is also the site of the Knie Circus which will be coming to town this summer at the end of June with their Elephants! We like to go and see them take their baths in the lake but maybe this year E’s attention span will be just long enough so we can go and see a show.

While we might have to wait for some more adrenaline thrills there is always a go-cart track and a carrousel at Jeunes-Rives, just next door, throughout the summer. This is where E went on her first Carrousel alone at the age of 16 months – yes, she has always been very independent and thrill seeking.

I will have to keep an eye open for any more surprise funfair visits. I can’t wait till M can start enjoying the rides too this summer (and for more excuses to eat candy floss).

extreme trampolines


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Walking, Running and Painting

I think I have a case of Springtime writers’ block. As the days get longer and brighter I just want to make the most of the sunshine and be out and about lest it disappears again (as here everyone is convinced it will).

This weekend I was dog sitting so we have been exploring the forests of Neuchâtel while walking him a few times a day. I found a Pro Natura walk which starts by the top of the Pertuis du Sault (you walk up the steps and carry on straight).

pronatura

It was less trod than many of the paths but you could follow a vague sort of route through the trees. Along the way there were little signs with facts about animals such as the legless lizards you can sometimes spot. There were also a few little constructions by the forest authority such as a drinking spot by a fountain for the birds and local deer and a rockery for smaller wildlife to shelter in.

SENTIER DU TEMPS

I also actually did the reverse Sentier du Temps (that I was telling you about) on Friday. I wouldn’t recommend the uphill version for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s hard work!
  2. It’s much harder to follow the route uphill as you can’t see the markers very well.

It was a good workout and it’s got to have helped my running legs. Speaking of running I started my official training this weekend with a 5km run in the forest.

We followed one of the Parcours Mesurés up at Champ-Monsieur marked out for those looking to “test their fitness” so it required very little thinking which was great for a first attempt. There is an 8km one up there too which we thought we’d test next week but try to pave ourselves better.

Ok, it wasn’t very speedy today (5km in 30 mins) but I think in 6 weeks we should be much better. It’s getting very exciting.

IMG_0079

I also spotted a Parcours Mesurés up in the forest of Peseux. It seems to start by the football club so I’m going to have a look and see if it is worth a go.

In other news we have been building a house. Well, a cardboard Wendy House for the kids. The only problem is that the paint I chose (following consultation with the paint shop) is not really suitable for the kids to go near. I attempted to let E help me but she still has paint stuck to her forehead so I’m trying to find moments when I’m alone to do it.

painting houses

Our house is starting to look pretty good and the kids love it but E has maybe become too house proud as I caught her trying to scrub her cardboard floor clean with a damp towel earlier. She found it hard to understand that cardboard, like paper, doesn’t like water.

I will of course post the finished results once we get there but renovations are hard work and E is a fussy client.

Hope you enjoyed your weekends.


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Springtime and butterflies

“The sun has got his hat on. Hip hip hip hooray!” It’s going to be a Grand Bleu this weekend which basically means the blue skies are here to stay for a bit.

We had to stay in for a maintenance man yesterday but following on from our outing to Papiliorama E and I decided to design and make our own butterflies.

It was a fairly simple procedure cutting some wings out of coloured paper and some antennae from out of the leftover cardboard from our sheep pen. All we then required was some old toilet roll tubes, googly eyes, a pen, some paint and glue.

painting

Appropriately enough we designed our wings to be butterfly prints. I showed E how to do this and then left her to it. I love watching her playing with the paint. Once you let go and stop interfering she really experiments and often with beautiful results. We did both sides of the paper as we noticed at that the butterflies we had seen often had very complicated designs (if not very different) on both sides of their wings. In between waiting for the wings to dry we painted the bodies and the antennae.

Once everything was dry we stuck it all together with some glue and E drew some rather worried looking faces on them.

butterflies

Then we took out butterflies out for their first flight. It was pretty windy in the garden with the nice weather system blowing in so we took refuge by a tree and the hedge.

Playing with Butterflies3

I do apologise for the state of our garden but we still haven’t managed to really do anything with it since we moved and M was born. It was a busy year last year and you have to prioritise. I look forward to getting stuck in this spring though.

It was still a bit chilly with the cold wind so we didn’t stay out too long and instead ended up decorating the house with our little butterfly friends.

E is very proud of all her creations and I’m not sure where I’m going to start storing all of them soon but it’s always nice to have a follow up activity after an outing. Oh and the big news is that she can now say “butterfly” rather than “bufferlie”.

Enjoy your Fridays! Its the weekend 🙂

Butterfly hedge


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(Fresh) Air

We made it out despite the sickness and actually discovered something really fun in the process.

Blatantly when a doctor says go get rechecked in two days’ time they know there is going to be something up. I can only assume it is because they are so hesitant to give out antibiotics nowadays that that is why they did not give them to E on Sunday. She only had a mild ear infection (2/5 according to the doc) but M (who fell ill a few days earlier) was up at the top of the scale. He is now looking really chirpy after the right medication while E has been looking paler and really down. Today I got confirmation that my poorly little girl was now a 5/5.

After some antibiotics and more ibuprofen I asked E what she would like to do? Her response was to go “see Daddy for lunch pleEease”. How could I refuse? We packed up the troop and headed off to Manor for lunch.

While we were having our lunch I noticed that today was the day for one of their children’s activity afternoons. Most Wednesday’s from 2pm until 4pm the Centre Manor Marin organises something for all parents who are stuck for an activity for their kids (in Neuchâtel there is no school on Wednesday Afternoons). Today the event was entitled “Viens créer ton mini jardin” (Come create your mini garden). I thought that sounds like fun so we drove around Marin a couple of times so that M had a little nap and would be bearable and then headed back in time for the session that was just starting.

The lovely ladies (animatrice) running the event explained how we were going to paint plant pots and then get to plant a selection of spring flowers in them. The children were shown how to hold their plant pot upside down on one hand while painting it with the other (well, that didn’t really work) and how to use one paintbrush per colour and that they would have to take turns for each colour. I was suprised at how well the later worked. Each child went mad with their one colour until they got bored and then waited patiently to swap with someone else. There was a range of ages from another 2 1/2 year old to a couple of 12 year old girls but they all interacted well together the older ones helping the younger ones.

painting

This is probably very Swiss and trusting but a lot the mothers left their children to play under the guidance of the animatrice going to get on with their shopping and checking in from time to time but myself and the mother of the other 2 year old stuck around to help (not that the kids wanted it).

While we were waiting for the paint to dry the animatrice set up games of charades or grandmother’s footsteps for the children to play. E was a bit to young for these still and asked me to get her a snack so we had our tea slightly early and she sat with her bread roll and piece of chocolate and watched the older children acting out being an elephant or a dog.

flowers

By the time she had finished her tea her pot was dry so we took it over to the queue for getting our flowers. E got to choose what coloured flowers she would like to fill her’s with and the result was very impressive. A very proud little girl left the shopping centre happily clutching onto her creation.

leaving

It was actually a place I could see myself meeting other mothers and making some new friends as towards the end it became a bit of a gathering. I can’t believe it was totally free either. We will definitely be back another afternoon and I can’t wait for M to be able to join in too.