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“Can I have your phone?”, “Can I watch telly?”, “Can I just very quickly borrow the iPad for seven hours?”. It’s questions like these, and numerous variations thereof, which can really grind you down. They’re sometimes the first words your child speaks in the morning, sometimes the last ones at night, and with them invariably comes a ripple effect that ends with you feeling powerless while they stare brainlessly at cartoons.

You see it all the time – in restaurants, cafes, at bus stops, in parks. In fact, throw a bouncy ball into any doctors waiting room and you’ll hit a least four broken parents, all self-consciously shame-faced as their little ones hunch over absorbed in their phones. What are they watching? Probably some insane Youtube nonsense. That’s not the point, the point is they’re becoming greedy screen-monsters and you need to show them who’s boss.

So, thank goodness for Mumtrepreneur Amanda Bucknall, who has galloped into view on a trusty stead, brandishing what might just be the answer to everyone’s woes: Time Tokens – A colourful set of vouchers that trick your children into believing that they’re the ones ultimately managing their viewing, not you.

It’s a fairly straightforward transaction – between you, you sign a “promise contract” agreeing precisely how much they can watch each day, then they use the tokens to buy screen-time, using the accompanying timer to ensure they catch up with the optimum amount of Peppa Pig, or Paw Patrol, or the one with the underwater cats.

Obviously, in some households, this is where the whole thing collapses. Toddlers aren’t especially known for their commitment to the truth, and won’t always honour their most solemn promises. But you know what? In a world where UP can be DOWN, and DOWN can be UP, it might be just the ticket.

Kirstie Allsop’s a fan.

The post Could Time Tokens be the answer to too much screen-time? appeared first on D.A.D.

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As sure as eggs is eggs, and day turns to night, once entrenched in parenthood, you’ll spend mornings, weekends, and the occasional after-hours marathon in the company of Peppa Pig. It’s unavoidable. You might say you won’t, you might say your children will never be subjected to screens of any kind, and you may even believe that for a little while too – but once sleep deprivation has gripped you by the eyelids, and the tractor beam has got you in its orbit, resistance is futile. The flying pigs (in Miss Rabbit’s helicopter) will become as alluring as the smell of bacon to an unconvincing vegetarian.

You may even start to ape their perpetual oinking, subconsciously adding little snorts to punctuate your sentences (you never know!), you’ll growl “Dine-Saw GRRR” for no apparent reason, you’ll say “Have a LOVELY DAY!” as you leave shops, and you’ll even find a special place in your heart for the hapless patriarch, DADDY PIG – the real hero in this porcine odyssey.

See, for decades, probably stretching back into centuries, fictional fathers have been stoical, cruel, iron fisted old tyrants, or narrow-minded philistines, or overly-moralistic dullards. But in Daddy Pig, we have a big-hearted family man/pig, brimming with unwavering optimism, but fallible to the point of pantomime. We have a doofus.

Where Peppa is curious, Mummy Pig loving, and George sweet, Daddy Pig is just a gigantic lummox. A father intent on painting the world in enormous brush strokes to mask over his own ineptitude. A father incapable of getting through life without tripping himself up, exposing the cracks. If he tries to put a picture on the wall, he ends up accidentally demolishing the house, if he goes on holiday, he drives the car into a lake. If he purports to speak a foreign language, he’ll just do REALLY LOUD ENGLISH.

Some dads find this insulting, as if he’s somehow undermining the role of the father, making us all look like idiots and buffoons. But actually, Daddy Pig serves the opposite purpose – he’s making us look amazing. His haplessness and ineptitude shines a light on our capability. He’s the piggy embodiment of the waiter who stacks it carrying your food, or the soldier who leaps from the trenches and gets tangled up in his own side’s barbed wire. Or the only person in the world to ever have their eye taken out by a tennis ball.

In short, he’s setting the fatherhood bar unbelievably low, and your child will be drinking it all in like a giant sponge – using him as their yardstick for modern masculinity, and reflecting these expectations back at you. So, when you manage to hang a picture up, or drive somewhere without making a hash of it, the apple of your eye will look on you as a genius, a true hero. The best daddy in the whole world. All thanks to this royal Porkiness.

We love Daddy Pig.

Everyone loves Daddy Pig!

Josh Burt is a freelance writer, who lives in South London with his wife Hannah, and his two children Gabriel and Vivienne. Over the last 20 years, he’s written for everyone from FHM to Grazia to The Times and The Telegraph, he’s had two so-so books published, and was once the online voice of Big Brother.

The post Why we should all thank Daddy Pig appeared first on D.A.D.

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Valentine’s Day – the most romantic day of the year. REALLY? You sure about that? You sure it’s not a spoon-fed atrocity that’s about as far away from genuine love and romance as Land’s End is from John o‘Groats? A pointless day of reckoning designed to hold a cruel mirror up to your flailing relationship, or to drown you in a cloying candy-coated sea of sloppy kisses and bad poetry. Whichever way you look at it, you can’t deny that, for the most part, men phone it in – we hit autopilot, we brandish empty gestures garishly wrapped, overpriced flowers and massive heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, twosomes cram into restaurants like sardines, all doughy grins and dead eyes. The whole thing’s a big, disingenuous disaster, romance-by-numbers, it’s like if a gummy bear had really bad diarrhoea, and we all pretended it was lovely.

So, with that in mind, and to save us all sleepwalking through this ridiculous annual charade, we thought we’d ask some mums what they REALLY want for Valentine’s Day this year. What would, honestly, be the most thoughtful, romantic gesture you could make. And, guess what – not one of them asked for a million blazing candles, or a gigantic teddy bear. Or flowers. Or chocolates. Or even a shag. In fact, in the spirit of absolute transparency on this, most of them don’t really want you to be there either.

“I’d love a night in a posh hotel. Alone.”

 “I’d honestly be happy with a Greggs.”

 “If you could stop blaming your revolting beer farts on the kids, that would be a nice present.”

 “Take both kids out for the day. Leave me with my book. I just want a good, solid, 12 hours alone in bed. I’m actually salivating as I write this.”

 “Cancel Sky.”

 “Do whatever you’re planning, but on a different day… literally any other day.”

 “Just utter those three little words: laser hair removal.”

 “Don’t do something thoughtful then constantly remind me about it, it takes away some of the magic.”

 “Stop droning on about yourself.”

 “Get me a cleaner. And a tummy tuck.”

 “Be more like Louis Theroux, in every way. Basically be Louis Theroux… I’m in love with Louis Theroux.”

 “Learn to wipe your bum properly.”

 “Be nice to my parents.”

 “Send me off for an afternoon massage, followed by drinks and dinner with my fellow mum friends while you stay at home to look after the kids.”

 “Stop making decisions on my behalf.”

 “Go down South, but don’t expect me to reciprocate directly afterwards FOR ONCE.”

 “Get me a housekeeper – and, if it means I don’t have to, also get a concubine.”

 “Either shave the beard or cut your hair. You look like Charles Manson.”

 “Give me some peace and quiet. Take care of the children. And don’t expect a shag.”

 “Ask me about my day. Then listen while I tell you.”

 “Compliment me on my way-too-hairy vagina.”

 “Buy some clothes that actually fit you.”

 “Do nothing. Valentine’s Day is bullshit.”

 “Let me sleep for a million years.”

 “Boob job – for both of us.”

 “Sign the divorce papers.”

The post What women really want for Valentine’s Day appeared first on D.A.D.

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Half term is fast approaching, which means your world is about to dance to the rhythm of hungry stomachs and restless feet, but don’t be overwhelmed – don’t show any signs of fear or weakness. Just follow the D.A.D Ten Step Guide, and the whole thing will be a breeze…

1. Be optimistic about it

Marking a big looming X on the calendar and approaching half term like it’s a visit from the bailiffs isn’t going to do anyone any good – so, instead, make the choice to look forward to it. Think of it as a little holiday at home with all of your favourite people, mucking in, having a really REALLY great time. Let your rictus grin show everyone how happy you are.

2. Treat it like a marathon

Don’t launch into half term immediately set on CLOWN mode – it’s an impossible guise to maintain, and ultimately, you’ll burn out within a day or so, and spend the rest of the week shaking, and sobbing incoherently. Instead, channel the spirit of the famous Olympian Mo Farah, and pace yourself.

3. Call in reinforcements

Find out who your friends (and family) really are. Whose words are gospel, and who’s just paying lip service, following the script. “Just call if you need anything”, “Let me know if I can help at all” It’s time to cash in on these promises, to get people over to muck in. Perhaps greet them at the door holding a mop and bucket?

4. Splash around a bit

You’ve been around kids, you know there’s no actual OFF button on these things, so the key is to find activities that exhaust them – such as swimming. It exercises all of the important muscle groups, but, more importantly, it completely wipes them out for hours afterwards.

5. Work from home

Yes, a gruelling day in the office might feel like a Caribbean holiday compared to half an hour with sugar-rushing children, but these are the times in life that really count, when memories are made. So make the necessary adjustments, and pitch in for some real “family time”. Then lie about a conference call, and disappear off to refresh Facebook for an hour.

6. Insist on a date night

When life is fraught with children, it can be hard to find time for each other, to reconnect, to remember why the hell you made these things in the first place. So call in a sitter and head out for a couple of glasses of plonk and a cuddle. It’s a great way to revitalise your love. And also the only way you will get a real conversation all week.

7. Turn them into little chefs

Don’t let the stress of lunchtime eat YOU up, turn the whole thing into an event instead. Assemble ingredients, pop funny hats on your offspring, then watch as they fashion plates of food that would have Greg Wallace slowly backing out of the room.

8. Have a fancy dress day

You’ve seen the joyful faces of children on those World Book Days, in their outfits fashioned after their favourite bedtime reads – Mr Tortoise and The Embarrassed Mum, The Crying Cowboy’s Faulty Scooter. Point being, kids love fancy dress, so have a rummage through the dressing up box, and make a day of it. You included.

9. Go to the pictures

A great way to alleviate the guilt that comes with allowing your kids to watch iPads or CBeebies, is to get them out of the house… and in to the cinema! It sounds silly, but it’s not. It’s an event, a day out, a chance to bond, gorge on popcorn, and, in your case, SLEEP.

10. Know that it isn’t forever

Half term can be exhausting, kids can be demanding. But they can also be great fun, insanely lovely, and it’s true – they do grow up too fast. So, grab half term with both hands, and spend it TOGETHER as a family. You might even miss it when it’s over. Though, granted, that’s a gigantic MIGHT.

Josh Burt is a freelance writer, who lives in South London with his wife Hannah, and his two children Gabriel and Vivienne. Over the last 20 years, he’s written for everyone from FHM to Grazia to The Times and The Telegraph, he’s had two so-so books published, and was once the online voice of Big Brother.

The post D.A.D’s 10 Step Guide to surviving Half Term appeared first on D.A.D.

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Half term is fast approaching, which means your world is about to dance to the rhythm of hungry stomachs and restless feet, but don’t be overwhelmed – don’t show any signs of fear or weakness. Just follow the D.A.D Ten Step Guide, and the whole thing will be a breeze…

1. Be optimistic about it

Marking a big looming X on the calendar and approaching half term like it’s a visit from the bailiffs isn’t going to do anyone any good – so, instead, make the choice to look forward to it. Think of it as a little holiday at home with all of your favourite people, mucking in, having a really REALLY great time. Let your rictus grin show everyone how happy you are.

2. Treat it like a marathon

Don’t launch into half term immediately set on CLOWN mode – it’s an impossible guise to maintain, and ultimately, you’ll burn out within a day or so, and spend the rest of the week shaking, and sobbing incoherently. Instead, channel the spirit of the famous Olympian Mo Farah, and pace yourself.

3. Call in reinforcements

Find out who your friends (and family) really are. Whose words are gospel, and who’s just paying lip service, following the script. “Just call if you need anything”, “Let me know if I can help at all” It’s time to cash in on these promises, to get people over to muck in. Perhaps greet them at the door holding a mop and bucket?

4. Splash around a bit

You’ve been around kids, you know there’s no actual OFF button on these things, so the key is to find activities that exhaust them – such as swimming. It exercises all of the important muscle groups, but, more importantly, it completely wipes them out for hours afterwards.

5. Work from home

Yes, a gruelling day in the office might feel like a Caribbean holiday compared to half an hour with sugar-rushing children, but these are the times in life that really count, when memories are made. So make the necessary adjustments, and pitch in for some real “family time”. Then lie about a conference call, and disappear off to refresh Facebook for an hour.

6. Insist on a date night

When life is fraught with children, it can be hard to find time for each other, to reconnect, to remember why the hell you made these things in the first place. So call in a sitter and head out for a couple of glasses of plonk and a cuddle. It’s a great way to revitalise your love. And also the only way you will get a real conversation all week.

7. Turn them into little chefs

Don’t let the stress of lunchtime eat YOU up, turn the whole thing into an event instead. Assemble ingredients, pop funny hats on your offspring, then watch as they fashion plates of food that would have Greg Wallace slowly backing out of the room.

8. Have a fancy dress day

You’ve seen the joyful faces of children on those World Book Days, in their outfits fashioned after their favourite bedtime reads – Mr Tortoise and The Embarrassed Mum, The Crying Cowboy’s Faulty Scooter. Point being, kids love fancy dress, so have a rummage through the dressing up box, and make a day of it. You included.

9. Go to the pictures

A great way to alleviate the guilt that comes with allowing your kids to watch iPads or CBeebies, is to get them out of the house… and in to the cinema! It sounds silly, but it’s not. It’s an event, a day out, a chance to bond, gorge on popcorn, and, in your case, SLEEP.

10. Know that it isn’t forever

Half term can be exhausting, kids can be demanding. But they can also be great fun, insanely lovely, and it’s true – they do grow up too fast. So, grab half term with both hands, and spend it TOGETHER as a family. You might even miss it when it’s over. Though, granted, that’s a gigantic MIGHT.

Josh Burt is a freelance writer, who lives in South London with his wife Hannah, and his two children Gabriel and Vivienne. Over the last 20 years, he’s written for everyone from FHM to Grazia to The Times and The Telegraph, he’s had two so-so books published, and was once the online voice of Big Brother.

The post D.A.D’s 10 Step Guide to surviving Half Term appeared first on D.A.D.

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On 17th March, fitness permitting, Owen Farrell will be going toe-to-toe with the mighty Irish, a powerful team made all the more powerful by his dad Andy, with his shrewd defensive mind – the master puppeteer in charge of coordinating their grunt work. His chief instruction being to stop his lad, to nullify the threat of his firstborn. Anyone who has seen the new Star Wars movies may sense a stirring in the Force, echoes of Kylo Ren facing off against his father Han Solo, but who will be unflinchingly plunging a lightsabre into their loved-one’s heart with 80 minutes on the clock? It’s in the balance.

Whatever the outcome, the ongoing wrestle between Farrell Snr and Farrell Jnr is an intriguing one. The hero of English Rugby League versus the saviour of English Rugby Union. Two sports so close in kind, but long-separated by the class system – one posh (but getting less posh by the minute), the other one definitely not. Andy, the Man of Steel in 1996 and 2004, but a relatively disappointing Union player, and Owen, top choice for England and The British Lions, the current European Player of the Year. His legacy may ultimately eclipse his fathers’, but we should probably build a bronze statue of both of them, just to be safe.

Of course, they’re not the first father/son sporting combo to grace the world stage. Here are some sons who selfishly managed to sandbag their fathers’ legacies, by being even better at sport than them:

Graham Chadwick

Stuart Broad, son of Chris

Chris Broad was a combative, sulky, angry batsman who took the fight to Australia in 1986, roaring like an English Braveheart. Botham gets all the plaudits for his series-defying work in 1981, but Broad Senior smashed three centuries in consecutive Ashes Tests to clinch the tiny little urn, IN AUSTRALIA, just five years later. An astonishing feat, which has somehow become a mere footnote in his family’s potted sporting history, because his boy Stuart has won over 100 caps (to Chris’ 25), and has officially eclipsed Lord Ian Botham as the country’s second highest wicket taker of all time. Reportedly, Chris is “immensely proud, obviously” about that.


Sergio Busquets, son of Carles

A grafter between the sticks, Carles Busquets worked his way through the Barcelona system, from the youth ranks, through the C and the B team, before finding himself in the starting line-up for the Cup Winners Cup Final against Man United in 1991. His team lost that day, sunk by a brace of goals from their old team mate with the big perm, Mark Hughes. Thankfully, Carle’s son Sergio has since avenged his shame by trouncing United TWICE is big European finals. First in 2009, and latterly in 2011. “If you watch the whole game, you won’t see Busquets,” Vicente del Bosque once said of Spanish international, Sergio, “but watch Busquets, and you will see the whole game.” No one has any idea what that means, but apparently it’s a huge compliment.

Warren Allot

Mako and Billy Vunipola, sons of Fe’ao

Tonga’s loss, and to some degree Wales’, has become England’s massive gain. Fe’ao Vunipola, a handy Polynesian hooker who played for Tonga 34 times, relocated from the South Pacific to the East Atlantic when he took his lads to live in rainy Pontypool at the end of the 1990s. There, they perfected their trade – alongside their cousin, and now bona fide Welshman, Taulupe Faletau – and are now essential cogs in Eddie Jones’ England machine. With plenty still left in the tank they have already amassed many more international caps than their dad.


Daley Blind, son of Danny

Danny was a versatile defender, with a keen eye for a pass, a popular player for Holland and Ajax. Basically, in Dutch terms, that makes you a national treasure. Unfortunately, he has since besmirched his good name with a dire run as the Holland coach before being given the unceremonious heave-ho. Daley (possibly named after the great British decathlete?), meanwhile, has carved a niche as an impressively versatile defensive player, with more international caps than his dear dad, and even a Dutch Footballer of the Year tiara from 2014 still sparkling in the family trophy cabinet. Yes, his career is slightly flailing at Man United under the conservative watch of Archbishop Mourinho, but he’s still only 27, he’ll come good again.


Ben Youngs, son of Nick

It was a crushing blow for England when Ben Youngs left the field clutching his thigh and shrieking to the heavens, now banished to the sofa for the rest of the 2018 Six Nations – presumably to sit between the broad shoulders and thick necks of his fellow England internationals Nick Youngs (his dad) and Tom Youngs (his brother). Nick, like Ben, played scrum half for Leicester and England, but to far less aplomb – featuring just six times for his country, compared to Ben’s 70-odd. The pair, however, boast a rare double, having both beaten the All Blacks – Nick in 1983 when England won 15-9, and Ben (and his brother Tom) in 2012 when they went one better with a thumping 38-21.

Josh Burt is a freelance writer, who lives in South London with his wife Hannah, and his two children Gabriel and Vivienne. Over the last 20 years, he’s written for everyone from FHM to Grazia to The Times and The Telegraph, he’s had two so-so books published, and was once the online voice of Big Brother.

The post Famous sporting sons who eclipsed their famous sporting dads appeared first on D.A.D.

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Parents of young kids will inevitably find themselves dealing with bizarre, awkward and sometimes hysterical situations on a daily basis. Social media has become the go-to platform for sharing these moments. Here are some of our most memorable dad tweets of 2017…

The post Funny, clever, true – our favourite dad tweets of 2017 appeared first on D.A.D.

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We all have to deal with grief in some shape or form and for kids this can be tough. How do we look after our kids and their grief? Our resident health and well-being expert, Lou Hamilton speaks of her experience.

When I was eight my best friend fell at the hands of bullies, and died. He wasn’t just my best friend, he was my soul mate. How as a kid do you even begin to absorb the shock of such a loss? All I remember is my dad telling me to save a little corner of my heart just for my friend. I did that. It didn’t quell my pain, loss and tears but it gave me a harbor for my grief. My friend had physically left us but in that protected place in my heart our shared innocent love stayed alive. And when I look at the photo his mum recently sent me of the two of us together I can still feel him and his bright spirit. Simple words from my dad all those years ago helped me make my way through the trauma. He gave me a tool. It was a gift for life.

Mind

The trauma of losing a loved one is terrible for everyone but grief is different for kids. For an adult, it might feel like a never-ending storm but kids don’t tend to feel grief all the time; for them it’s more like sporadic rain downpours. In between times they get very busy or they find ways to be quiet. During the recent festive period and other occasions, those emotional downpours may feel more intense. What helps is the process of honoring the person who has passed.

During the Mexican Day of the Dead children and adults alike make a great show of love and respect for their lost loved ones. The rituals and celebrations are to keep the memory of those gone, alive in spirit. A kid needs a way to express the tumble of emotion, so that they can work through the process, so that the pain doesn’t become brittle scar tissue in their minds. They need explanation and information, and they need to funnel their feelings into something tangible. They may not want to sit down and talk, but doing something creative with them like decorating the Christmas tree together gives them a focus, an expression and an opportunity to talk if they want to. A gift for their grief, to put under the tree could be a beautifully bound journal. In it you can encourage them to write down their feelings; maybe even letters to the person they’ve lost. This journal is their sanctuary.

Body

The body takes a battering when the traumatic loss of a loved one strikes. A child may be wracked with tears, or withdraw into their body like a shield against the world. They may not even seem to be processing the waves of pain coursing through their nerves, cells and senses. To you it may appear they’re handling it just fine. Don’t be fooled. Sometimes kids want to protect you from your grief, not burden you with theirs so they stay schtum. But underneath the river runs wild. If they don’t want to talk, you can help them by giving their bodies what they need: food that calms their mind and strengthens their immune system and healing.

One of the worst culprits for crashing the body and a child’s already fragile mental state, is sugar.

To handle the months ahead they need to be physically strong. One of the worst culprits for crashing the body and a child’s already fragile mental state, is sugar. But at Christmas it’s nearly impossible to avoid. At least you can counterbalance the toxic rush with gentler tonics: Brazil nuts, oily fish (or algae omega-3 supplements for vegans), oats, bananas, lentils, turkey (for non-vegans), spinach, anything with calcium, dark chocolate and water, are all good mood-foods. http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/healthy-eating/a25845/11-mood-boosting-foods/. There are also soothing, warm herbal drinks that can help your grieving child. Nettle, chamomile, cinnamon and perhaps to make it a little more palatable for young taste buds you can add some honey. (For further recipes for making grief tea https://theherbalacademy.com/herbal-grief-tea/ What greater a gift for grief than soothing the body with calming foods and warming drinks.

Spirit

Love, in a small gesture, a hug, a little bit of praise or encouragement is a powerful gift for helping to steady the shaky ground on which a grieving child finds themselves. All sense of stability is shattered when they experience death. Everything they knew to be safe and secure is cracked apart. But the open expression of love is a holding place, in which something resembling meaning can start to find life again. When wildfires decimate forests, homes, animals, you could easily believe that the ravaged earth will never recover from its blackened scars. But with the right conditions, little by little, a leaf sprouts, animals return and life reasserts its energy. And the same with grief; we can’t deny death, but we can infuse those who are affected by it, with understanding and with the acknowledgment of the powerful force of their feelings. For the religious they have prayer, for the rest of us we must find our own channels for creating solace. This can be through sitting with a child in a simple meditation or quiet time. When their pain is unbearable, it can be through a warm embrace or the act of slow, deep breathing together. When the time is right it can be through honoring and celebrating the person that has passed. For a child at Christmas or special holidays that might mean creating a memory gift box of special things that have a particular significance and connection with that person. When a child creates a gift like this they are learning the art of self-care and self-love; and upon that they can begin to heal and grow.

The charity Young Minds UK offers further information in supporting children and young people through bereavement and other mental health issues.

Lou Hamilton is an artist, writer, filmmaker, wellbeing coach & author of Brave New Girl- how to be Fearless.

brave-new-you.com

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Want to impress with your culinary genius over Christmas and get the kids helping in the kitchen? We’ve been given four great recipes by organic baby food brand Piccolo for kids to make, eat and enjoy over the festive period.

1. White chocolate dipped ginger biscuits

Perfect for the holiday season
These delicious ginger biscuits are great on their own with a cuppa, or dipped in white chocolate, and are a great recipe to make with kids or wrap up as a present. For a less sweet biscuit, I have also tried it with half the sugar, they don’t stay as crisp as long, but still just as delicious!

Tip: Make double the dough and freeze half for another time, or just make double quantity as they disappear pretty quickly.

Ingredients
• 340g/12oz plain flour
• 100g white chocolate
• 60g icing sugar
• water
• red & green food colouring
• 3 level tsps ground ginger
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp nutmeg
• 100g/4oz butter
• 130g light brown sugar
• 4 tbsp golden syrup
• 1 large egg, beaten

Method
1. In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg and set aside.

2. Either in a mixer or by hand, cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Mix in the egg and combine. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined, and you have a dough. Cover bowl with cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.

3. Preheat oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4 during the last 10 minutes of chilling.

4. For a smooth top to the biscuits, roll out the dough to around ½ inch thick and cut circles out with a cookie cutter, for a more rustic ‘ginger nut’ top, scoop out a dessert spoon of mixture from the bowl and shape into a ball, transfer to the baking sheet and, spacing around 2 inches apart, flatten tops slightly.

5. Bake for around 8 – 10 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

6. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the white chocolate in the microwave, in 10 second intervals until melted. Dip half of each cookie in melted white chocolate mixture then run bottom of cookie slightly along edge of bowl to remove excess, then return to Silpat or parchment paper to set at room temperature.

7. If doing the holly decoration, make a thick icing, using a little bit of hot water to mix into the icing sugar. Add a little from a teaspoon each time to make sure mixture isn’t too runny. Split the icing into two bowls and add a couple of drops of the red and green food colouring melt candy melts according to directions on package (I worked in small batches because it sets quickly, maybe 9 chips at a time, plus you won’t need much). Pour into a piping bags fitted with a #4 tip and pipe decorations. Allow to set a room temperature.

2. Christmas dinner for all stages and ages

Winner winner turkey dinner!
Our traditional Christmas meal is full of delicious flavours and textures that are brilliant for all the family. You do not need to cook them up anything separate, just watch to add the salt after taking out your baby’s portion.

This is our take on the Christmas classic, with a few little Mediterranean twists.

For Toddlers (any child over one) or finger food from 6 months

Simply cut up pieces of the roast potato and chicken, and give them the roasted batons of the parsnip and carrot.

To make a roast chicken puree:
Take the set aside pieces of boiled potato, parsnip and carrot and puree with a few pieces of chicken or turkey (the brown thigh meat is more nutrient dense than the breast meat) and a little water or juice from the meat pan.

Ingredients
• 2kg free range turkey or chicken
• 50g softened butter
• grated zest of 1/2 lemon
• 2 tsp chopped thyme
• 2 sage leaves, chopped
• 1 garlic clove, crushed
• 1 onion, halved
•  800g potatoes (maris piper are great for roasting)
• 100ml olive oil or 100g duck or goose fat
• 600g parsnips, peeled and chopped into thick batons
• 600g carrots, peeled and chopped into thick batons
• 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup (for the roast parsnip and not suitable for anyone under 1 year old)
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• cracked black pepper
• 200g green vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, green beans or petit pois

Method
1. Remove the bird from the fridge 1 hr before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature. Remove any giblets from the turkey and save for stock (if you are making your own)

2. Prep the vegetables (this can also be done the night before and left in a bowl with cold water in the fridge). Peel the potatoes, carrots and parsnips, and quarter the potatoes, and chop the carrots and parsnips into thick batons.

3. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Drop the potatoes into a large pan and pour in enough water to barely cover them. Add a pinch of salt, then wait for the water to boil. As soon as the water reaches a full rolling boil, lower the heat, and simmer for around 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes and give them a good shake in the pan to fluff the edges. If you want to puree the potato for your baby, take out a couple of potato pieces at this stage and set aside.

4. At the same time par boil the parsnips and carrots by placing them in cold water, bringing them to the boil and simmering for five minutes. Drain and place in a roasting dish – taking out a couple for your baby’s dish.

5. Now onto the chicken. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Mix the butter, lemon zest, herbs and garlic together and season with a little pepper. Spread the mix over the skin of the bird. Stuff the neck end of the bird with the onion.

6. Weigh the turkey or chicken and calculate the cooking time – it will need 40 mins for every 1kg.

7. Transfer the bird to a roasting tin, breast side down, cover loosely with foil and place in the middle of the oven. Cook for 20 mins, then reduce the temperature to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 for the rest of the cooking time. 30 minutes before the cooking time is up, take the bird out of the oven, remove the foil and turn the bird over to allow the skin on the breasts to brown. Drain the juice from the pan and reserve. Scatter the carrots and parsnips around the bird and drizzle over a little olive oil and honey or maple syrup and some cracked black pepper. Put back in the oven for the last 30 minutes.

8. At the same time as putting the turkey or chicken back in the oven for its second cook, put an empty roasting tin in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove and carefully add the olive oil or duck fat to the hot tin. Add the par boiled potatoes and give them a good shake to coat them in the fat. Put in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes, or until they go golden (have two timers, one for the meat, the other for the potatoes!).

9. To check if the turkey is cooked, pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer. If the juices run clear, it’s cooked. If they are pink, return it to the oven for another 15 mins, then test again. If using a meat thermometer, it should read 80C for the thighs, and the breast should be 75C.

10. Once the bird is cooked, place on a serving platter (use the tin to make a gravy) and decant the roast vegetables into another dish and keep warm. Cover the bird with foil and place a tea towel on top and leave to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.

11. While the bird is resting, steam any green vegetables such as green beans or peas, or roast some Brussel sprouts.

3. Sweet potato & cinnamon stars

Finger food for the whole family to enjoy
These super quick sweet potato stars make great snack food, but also a great base for a canape. Simply top with cream cheese and chopped chives for little ones and adults alike!

Tip: Try mixing up the flavours, grate carrot or add spices such as paprika for a little kick.

Makes about 15 stars

Ingredients
• 200g sweet potato, peeled and grated
• 60g Cheddar cheese, grated
• 2 eggs, whisked together
• 120g fine oats
• 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Method
1. Pre heat oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4.

2. Grate the sweet potato in a bowl (the smaller the grate the neater the stars) and top with a little boiled water to just cover the sweet potato. Cover with cling film and cook in the microwave for 3 minutes on high.

3. Drain the sweet potato and then place on a clean cloth / a few layers of kitchen paper and squeeze out the liquid (The carrots need to be quite dry).

4. Place the sweet potato back in the bowl and mix with the remaining ingredients. The mixture is quite wet.

5. Prepare a baking tray with baking paper or use a silicon baking sheet.

6. Form star shapes of the mixture onto the sheet using a cookie cutter. Use a heaped teaspoon and stuff into the cookie cutter. Use the back of the teaspoon to push down the mixture into the corners and to lift off the cookie cutter.

Bake for around 12 minutes, until brown and crispy on the sides.

Parsnip, leek & carrot

A Great Veg Only Recipe
The sweet, smooth flavours of parsnip and carrot make great first tastes for babies. Whilst the slightly nutty taste of parsnip and celeriac compliment that carrot and leek perfectly.

Tip: This makes a delicious soup. Simple use a whole leek, 4 parsnips, 2 carrots and a whole celeriac. Remove baby’s portion once finished and add seasoning, a dash of milk or a sprinkling of parmesan.

Ingredients
• Dash of olive oil
• ¼ leek, trimmed, washed and chopped
• ½ garlic clove, peeled and crushed
• 2 medium parsnip, peeled and chopped
• ½ carrot, peeled and chopped
• ¼ medium celeriac, peeled and chopped
• 200ml of boiling water
• 1 sage leaf, chopped
• pinch of fresh thyme or dried

Method
1. Add the sage and thyme and water and stir together. Place the lid on the pan and cook for around 10 minutes stirring occasionally. If the vegetables dry out, add a little extra water.

2. Heat the olive oil in a deep, heavy bottomed pan and add the leek. Stir for a few minutes until the leek starts to soften, then add the garlic and cook for another minute.

3. Add the parsnip, carrot and celeriac and stir. Cook over a medium heat for 6-8 minutes.

4. Take off the heat when you can easily pierce the vegetables with a knife and they are cooked through.

Blend.

The post Kids’ Christmas cooking – done! appeared first on D.A.D.

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Even with a glitter drought, and a stock room emptied of red and green card the Christmas nativity season is in full swing – lights, camera, action! Down come the dusty boxes full of tea towels for the shepherds and the white leotards for their disobedient sheep, the angels’ wings are getting repaired and has anyone seen the baby?

Next up, it’s casting where us teachers ask ourselves which budding thespians are confident enough to take on a speaking part? Who is coordinated enough to work in tandem within the confines of the camel costume? Who is best suited to an inanimate role, maybe a tree or a well-behaved bush?

With a hastily produced script distributed to all sundry we plough into the unknown, accompanied by some raucous carols that make the walls shake. Why is it that the loudest, most enthusiastic singers can never hold a tune and make up their own words as they go along? It will all be fine on the day say the ashen faced teachers, chewing their nails and raising their eyebrows.

In reality, one of the joys of teaching is the sheer unpredictability of the job. No day or hour is the same and, as you can imagine, no nativity ever goes exactly as planned! Here are some of my favourite glitches over the years:

1- One of the three kings was in the wrong over-sized costume and got tangled up in the garment whilst mounting the stairs, ending up a foot tall with a hunched back.

2- The innkeeper fell asleep mid performance and started snoring.

3- Mary picked up baby Jesus by the hair and threw him into the hay. Social services hadn’t been invented back then.

4- Father Christmas (he tends to make an appearance at these events) farted during a quiet interlude in the performance.

5- The back of the camel made a bid for glory and overtook its sedate front end.

6- An errant choir member completely un-tuned my guitar between songs unbeknown to me, making me sound like an avant- garde jazz artiste.

7- The backdrop fell down making it impossible to follow that star.

8- Santa’s sleigh over turned at high speed due to frisky reindeers.

9- Everybody forgot their lines and five year olds can’t lip read teachers.

But all’s well that ends well. We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year – now where’s that sherry?

Andy Williams qualified as a teacher at Reading university in the late eighties and has been ploughing his trade in the East end of London ever since. His sideline business is writing. He had his first poem published as a youngster back in Wales and has recently completed his debut novel.

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The post Andy Williams shares his favourite school nativity moments appeared first on D.A.D.

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