06 October 2011

Anything your baby can do... my baby will eventually do (better)

Menu du jour
Rustic Lamb Stew 

Ingredients: Leg of lamb, barley, celeriac, cavolo nero cabbage, kale, and leek slowly cooked in a red and white wine jus with garlic, shallots and chili. 

Thought: This stew was amazing! The recent heatwave  in England did bring sunshine, but also a nasty cold leaving me feeling less than stellar. The above stew was enjoyed last night by both me and my ailing throat and is credited for my cold being on the mend today. 

Cyrille had previously marinated and sous-vide cooked the leg of lamb for several days. The flavour and tenderness of the meat permeated the stew and the red and white wine enhanced its spices even more. We chopped any veggies we had on hand (any root vegetable would be a hit with this dish). The barley was a great touch to the overall rustic character of the stew. Cyrille garnished the soup with finely grated Comté cheese.
BBQ'd Bramley Apples 

Stew was served with toasted rye sourdough bread and wonderful French butter (Le Gall, Beurre de Baratte- au lait cru). I've had some good French butter in my lifetime... this one wins the blue ribbon to date. 

** An apple a day... Apples are coming into the prime of their season right now. Before you store away the BBQ for the colder months ahead- try this! Cyrille took some apples from the garden and placed them whole on the barbecue over cooling coals and left to slowly cook overnight. 

How beautiful do they look? Ready to be used to feed our daughter, add to dishes or just scoop into a bowl with a dollop of crème fraiche on top!


I have recently started taking our eight month old daughter, Ouisie, to various activity groups to include "Baby Yoga", "Monkey Music" and "Sing and Sign". I waited until she was older as I could not rationalise the point of spending money on an activity when she could barely see, was demanding my boobs round the clock, and was alternating between cat naps and dirty naps every hour. I have avoided baby groups all together- not because I am unsocial- just not my cup of tea- a bit too staged. 

On the whole the classes have been great as it gets us out and about and Ouisie has the opportunity to interact with other babies. Wherever we go, I can't help but observe other mothers and their (self proclaimed) gifted and talented babies. Don't get me wrong, all our children deserve their pedestal and parents' praise. But I am not sure if we should gauge our babies' future success by what age they cut their first tooth or clap their hands. If this is the case, in a few years our daughter might need to repeat kindergarten to catch up. 

At the beginning of each yoga class- you introduce yourself and your baby and tell something about their progress over the past week. At our first class, Ouisie was seven months and two weeks and perfectly content spending her days on her back. She had been teething for the past three months, but still had no hard earned enamel to show for her days of pain and buckets of drool. Around us, babies months younger were sitting up, rolling over, loving tummy time... and showing off their pearly whites. 

After listening to the other mothers praise their future Olympians and Rhodes Scholars, it was our turn for introductions. I propped Ouisie upright and stated our names, daughter's age and her current tricks; namely, squealing at a high pitch frequency. And then, I found myself stating the fact that she arrived three weeks early-- as if this was the reason why she was not yet sitting, hated tummy time and had only rolled over once due to gravitational default. I had used the old "premature" excuse for our daughter's (under) achievements! I blushed inside, feeling ashamed that I had just thrown my own offspring under the special needs bus. 

The next week, Monkey Music. Before class, some of the mothers had gathered to meet for coffee. We arrived a few minutes early and I could not help but overhear the conversation in passing. The mother of a ten month old was telling the group how her daughter had started walking. Another mother mentioned how her five month old was sitting up on her own. The mother of the ten month old was quick to recall how at just four months her prodigy was sitting up and by six months was pulling up on her own. I watched the face of the mother with the five month old show defeat. I gave Ouisie an extra cuddle as we watched the ten month old topple over her feet on the way to the classroom. 

We grabbed a mat and said our hellos. I observed that most of the babies were actively engaged in the class and playing their instruments. And there was my child who cried at the sound of the rainmaker and preferred gazing out at a beautiful Oak Tree in the garden. A lover of nature? A daydreamer like her father? Perhaps she just did not find the lady with the stuffed monkey amusing? I admit, it was a lot of effort getting to the morning class for thirty-minutes of watching a lady shaking instruments and singing unfamiliar songs about a monkey and five little ducks. After week one, Ouisie and I decided to scratch this activity from the list.

Sing and Sign has been the best to date because it is a teaching class rather than just an activity. Ouisie is able to interact with the other babies and I practice the signs with her throughout the week. We are speaking both French and English to her at home, so I hope the sign language helps her in learning the two vocabularies. I have a hunch that the sign for "no" and "more" will backfire in the months ahead. 

What I have found in our initial month of classes is that more than anything, these classes benefit the moms by getting us out of the house and around other adults. It is also good for the babies as they are able to drool and coo with each other. But I have noticed that Ouisie is just as content, if not more, on our walks in the forest listening to the sounds of nature and looking at the trees blowing in the wind. Above all, whether it be an organised activity or signing songs and making funny faces together at home, our time spent together is invaluable. Each day she makes a new discovery about her surroundings and the wondrous mechanics of her body. 

After our first baby yoga class, Ouisie sat on her own for the first time. Do I credit the yoga? Not at all. Just think it was her chosen day to perch unaided on her round tush. When will she decide to scoot, pull up, walk? When she is ready. And that is soon enough for me.




  1. Anonymous7.10.11

    You and Megan have MUCH in common. Maybe it is because your Mother and I have a lot in common but I have heard exactly the same words come out of her mouth. You both have remarkable and beautiful baby girls...I love your blogs! I am left craving French butter and Bramley Apples. I think you have book material here....
    Love, S

  2. Yummy on the stew, sounds heavenly!

    Oh I am right there with you in the whole world of Mom's trying to one up each other in those classes-I had a similar experience at Little Gym one time. Leighton didn't walk until she was 17 months-she was as content as she could be to just scoot everywhere on her booty. L was three weeks early too~ I think so many people get caught up in that whole drama and forget that they are BABIES-let them be :)

    You will love doing the sign language-it has been so helpful for us. "More" and "All done" were some of favorites and she still uses them to this day at 20 months. My favorite is when she does the sign for more but says "Ma" (trying to attempt to say Mas in Spanish. I need to find an article for you I read recently about the amazing way children learn multiple languages at young ages. Our nanny only speaks Spanish to her and it is a gift to be able to give them access to another language.

    At the end of the day-our kiddos just want to be with us, classes or no classes :) Yay for Ouisie sitting up!


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