We came back from France less than two weeks ago yet it feels like our holidays were a lifetime ago. I miss my family, the food, the heat, the sun… When the lovely people at Ocean Spray asked me whether I wanted to write about the ‘moments of colour’ we experienced this summer, I did not hesitate for a second. You know those moments, right? An unplanned laughing fit, a cuddle that comes out of nowhere, a baking session that sees you (and the kitchen) covered in flour, Ocean Spray cranberry juice ice cubes adding a bit of colour to the kids’ day by turning a boring glass of orange juice into an exciting mocktail that tastes delicious. Ah the little things in life…
When you have small children, you are used to the noise, excitement, sudden outbursts of rage, bumps, tantrums, pees on the floor, messy eating (and so on and so forth). My mum and my nan, with whom we spent out holidays, are both on their own for long stretches of time every day, so they have their little routine and I cannot begin to imagine what it must have been like for them when we arrived. It must have resembled a whirlwind of noise, movement and mess, I guess. Within 5 minutes of our arrival, the flat was crammed with stuff. Jumpy had stripped to her underwear, Beanie was requesting kids’ TV, Crevette had locked himself in the toilet and Wriggly had broken a tooth…
My mum welcomed the noise, the fun, and she even encouraged it. My nan on the other hand struggled a lot more to warm up to it. She is 81 and although she also had four children of her own, she brought them up in a different era, one in which children only spoke when spoken to. Then, children sat at the dinner table with their hands flat on the table. They ate everything they were given, whether they liked it or not. They did not moan when their parents took them to a museum when all they wanted was play on the beach.
Was it really such a good idea to gather four generations in a small flat for three weeks? You know what? I think it was. I am glad the children have had the opportunity to bond with my Mamie (nan). I had a very special bond with my Mémère Hélène (great-grandmother) and the thought they shared special moments with Mamie makes me feel all warm inside. It was not the perfect holiday as you might picture it, but we are a pretty imperfect bunch ourselves.
I used to get the children to be on their best behaviour in public, to tame them for the benefit of my family and the general public, but I stopped that a couple of years ago. Children are children. If they are not allowed to have fun, be a little bit crazy, run around and melt down when they are little, when will they do that? Can you imagine me, at 35 years of age, having a full-on tantrum, screaming lying on the pavement, because I wanted the milk chocolate ice cream, not the dark chocolate one my mum got me? No. Exactly!
My nan might not agree, but whatever we see as a ‘difficult’ phase in the upbringing of our children is just that: a phase. It has been my mantra this summer, “C’est une phase.” It does not mean I give up and I turn a blind eye on misbehaviour, non, non, non. All it means to me is that tantrums, urinating on the floor rather than the toilet, not being able to choose between vanilla and strawberry ice cream…. all those are part of growing up.
Granted, I would rather my toddler used the toilet rather than the dining room floor, but until now, she was in nappies and had no need to control the flow of urine. She did not have to think about it. It happened when it happened. When she is reminded often, she does use the toilet. When she is having fun and playing, she forgets. She relaxes, and she has a pee on the floor. Makes sense!
How about all those ice cream related tantrums? Choosing is hard! It does not seem so to us, because we know what strawberry ice cream tastes like, or vanilla, or chocolate. I know that my favourite flavours are coffee and mint chocolate. I am not overwhelmed by all the options before me. Jumpy is. She has not tasted many flavours. She has in fact tasted very few because we make our own ice cream at home, using frozen fruit and yoghurt. They taste very different from the ones she could try on holidays. The colours were appealing to her, the variety of choices were too. She was also frustrated when what she wanted was ‘not allowed’ because of her allergies.
Towards the end of our holidays, the children and I wanted to do something special to thank my mum and my Nan for putting up with us for almost three weeks. We are all very much into our food, so we decided to put together a nice meal for everyone. We went for drinks and finger food, with all our creations on the table and everyone helping themselves to whatever they fancied.
We started with the drinks. Maman (my mum), Mamie (nan) and I would have Muscat de Rivesaltes, a sweet white wine produced locally. The children wanted something special, so we allowed them to make their own mocktails. Ocean Spray cranberry juice would be the star of the show! Since she was very young, Beanie has been having lots of urine infections, so we always have a bottle of cranberry juice at home. We decided to make ice cubes out of the juice, to give add colour and texture to their drinks.
After we put the juice in the freezer, we did something I used to love as a child in the 80s. Sugar haters, look away! The children dipped the rim of their glasses in sirop de fraise (like squash, but thicker) and then sugar, to make a pretty (sweet!) rim.
Their glasses then went in the fridge to set. Their mocktails were simply orange juice, cranberry juice, a dash of sirop de fraise and a few cranberry juice ice cubes. It really took me back to the 80s and my own childhood!
The children absolutely loved getting involved. Those special ‘moments of colour’ really made our holidays.
Beanie started by cutting some sausages and eating half of them in the process.
I helped Crevette put together Melon and Serrano ham sticks.
Beanie was then in charge of the baby tomatoes, basil and Mozzarella pearls.
She then moved on to the Parma ham wrapped around wheat-free breadsticks.
That was a hit with Wriggly!
Crevette, who kept repeating he did not like beetroot or Goat’s Cheese, started eating them together and loved them so much he asked for more the following day.
I used to hate beetroot. I always thought it tasted like watery compost (not that I have tried eating that!), but since my last pregnancy, I have been eating beetroot more and more and really enjoying it, even in ice cream!
Grapes and Emmental also worked really well together and were a hit with the little ones.
We also had cream cheese spread on ham and sprinkled with chives, rolled like a pancake and cut into small portions.
We bought King Prawns marinated in lemon juice, olives and tapenade.
We had all sorts of vegetable sticks (cucumber, carrot, celery, peppers), served with a chive and lemon dip.
We all had a great meal. We laughed, we talked, we probably argued about something silly, too. Thinking about it puts a smile on my face.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. When I was contacted by Ocean Spray and asked whether I would like to share our moments of colour, I did not hesitate for a second. I cannot stand raisins, so in every recipe that contains them, I replace the dried grapes with Craisins (check out my Cranberry Mincemeat!). We also have Craisins in our favourite cereal bar recipe, and Beanie drinks Ocean Spray Cranberry juice (her favourite one is the version with Raspberry juice in) at least three times a week.