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Holidays, Meltdowns, Growing up, Mocktails and Mantras

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!

Happy Kids

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.

Making Cranberry Juice Ice Cubes

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!

Crevette Making Mocktails

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.

Beanie Cutting Sausages

I helped Crevette put together Melon and Serrano ham sticks.

Mel & Crevette

Beanie was then in charge of the baby tomatoes, basil and Mozzarella pearls.

Baby Tomatoes, Mozzarella Pearls and Basil

She then moved on to the Parma ham wrapped around wheat-free breadsticks.

Parma Ham Wrapped Around Breadsticks

That was a hit with Wriggly!

Wriggly enjoying a Breadstick with Parma Ham

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.

Crevette putting together Goat's Cheese and Beetroot Sticks

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!

Goat's Cheese & Cooked Beetroot

Grapes and Emmental also worked really well together and were a hit with the little ones.

Muscat de Rivesaltes for the Adults, Mocktails for the Children

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.

Happy Kids Having Lunch

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.  

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

And then the fun began...



  1. Carole
    08/09/2015 / 5:03 am

    Loved all the food ideas! I will try them in the spring.

    • Mel
      09/09/2015 / 11:31 pm

      Brilliant! Let me know what you think.

  2. thenthefunbegan
    08/09/2015 / 2:33 pm

    I love the sound of your finger food spread Mel – especially the ham and melon – one of my favourites – and the tomatoes with mozarella and basil – yummy! I like the sound of the sweet wine too – I definitely have a sweet tooth like you! I agree that it is difficult sometimes to be the middle man between the kids and the older generation. I went to our local garden centre for lunch with my kids and my mother in law recently and EJ had a meltdown as he wanted sandwiches and we were there for a hot meal – it was so stressful as my mother in law was so disapproving. I think we all get old and forget what it is like to be a child with all these confusing choices and people telling us we can’t have our heart’s desire on a daily basis but its all a part of growing up as you say. Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout hon Xx

    • Mel
      08/09/2015 / 11:30 pm

      It can be tough to be the middle man, can’t it? I really hope I remember what my kids were like when I grow old. xxx

  3. ebabeelikes
    08/09/2015 / 8:10 pm

    Your holidays sounds fab even if it was a bit chaotic but as you say, that’s what you get with kids. Kids will be kids! It’s so lovely that your kids have been able to meet their great-grandmother – that is so rare these days. One day they will look back at these moments and really treasure them. Welcome back! x

    • Mel
      09/09/2015 / 11:32 pm

      Thanks sweetie. I still feel on ‘holiday mode’ although we’ve been back two weeks. It is good to spend time with family despite the differences in expectations. x

  4. 08/09/2015 / 8:37 pm

    Oh Mel I really needed to read those first few paragraphs about letting kids be kids today! I feel like I’m constantly nagging sometimes to tame them. Thank you for giving me a reminder to let loose. The food looks even better as you had such lovely helpers 🙂 Hope you’re well xx

    • Mel
      09/09/2015 / 11:36 pm

      I often need a reminder, too, especially on those days when screaming (from them, mostly) becomes the norm. Food does taste even better when you put it together with little munchkins, doesn’t it?

  5. Kate Holmes
    09/09/2015 / 10:07 am

    I love hearing about families getting together. Making of memories. Commenting for myself and on behalf of BritMums and thanking you for taking part.

    • Mel
      09/09/2015 / 11:28 pm

      Writing this post has really made me think about those little moments that are tougher than others, and how they can be turned into magic moments. I feel really grateful I had the chance to spend some quality time with my mum, my nan and my four little ones.

  6. 09/09/2015 / 10:39 pm

    That meal sounds delicious – will have to give goats cheese and beetroot on sticks a try as it sounds delicious. I am sure there were definitely challenges about having four generations together but also many wonderful moments and what lovely memories for your children to have made. “C’est une phase” is certainly a good phrase to remember during those challenging moments with little ones – as you say, they are just being little children and these phases will not last forever.

    • Mel
      09/09/2015 / 11:26 pm

      … and you know what? When they are all nice and quiet, I bet I miss those moments! It’s so important to enjoy all the moments with our little ones. They grow up way too fast!

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