Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Rice Krispie treats

So there I was again on a Thursday afternoon doing some baking for the nursery cake sale, so sleep-starved that I actually felt really awake, in the same way that you get incredibly hot and fling off all your clothes just before you die from hypothermia.

Shall I tell you what happened the night before? It's a really funny story. Okay it's not - but those of you with children will feel better that you are not the only one having a shit time and those of you with no kids will feel extra smart and terrific about your life choices. 

So both Kitty AND Sam are ill with the same cold - Sam is alright but Kitty's has gone a bit nasty with a fruity cough and the occasional low-grade fever. Kitty has been falling asleep on the sofa at about 2.30pm these days and so she doesn't go to bed until 8.30pm. Not ideal but never mind. So we dinged about until 8pm then she went to bed. She seemed happy despite her cough. 

I trotted downstairs to catch up on Bake-Off and at 9.15pm Kitty sat up in bed and started wailing. Then coughing. I went upstairs to see her and she puked down herself and down me (exlcusively, I noticed, phlegm and grossness she has been swallowing for the last fortnight) and started crying. And crying. And CRYING. 

I carried her downstairs to a little bathroom and ran a hot shower with some Olbas Oil in it and sat with her in the steam. She was still weeping and weeping, wailing that she wanted to go back to bed. Coughing and gagging. After ten minutes I took her back upstairs going "shh shh shh!' terrified she would wake up Sam. I changed her out of her pukey stuff and put her back in her cot. But she kept on crying. She seemed to be nodding off but then something was stopping her. Snotty nose? Headache from the bang on her head she took that morning falling off her scooter?

She eventually fell asleep whimpering to herself. I wrote the rest of the evening off and went to bed myself. Then at 11pm she woke up really crying. Not coughing just crying. It's fucking earache I thought. Must be. She's never had earache before. Oh god - have to go to the doctor, get antibiotics - how am I going to get her to take them??

Giles then arrived back from some dinner or other. We settled her in our bed, tried to get some Calpol down her - (for-GET it) - and then just waited grimly for about 45 minutes until she eventually slipped into unconsciousness at about 1am, spreadeagled across my side of the bed. 

So off I went to sleep in Sam's room. I passed out at about 1.30am and was then woken up by Sam at 0400 suffling and snotting around. I lay there listening to him for an hour, waiting for him to put himself back to sleep, then got up, wiped his nose and popped a dummy in (why? why do I think that is going to help?) it didn't. He got worse, wailed harder. I took him into bed with me. WORSE. 

Fuck this, I thought. Fucking fuck this. I don't hate my children, I don't hate being a mother, (though some people think I do), but I hate THIS. The discombobulation, the anxiety, the not knowing what to do, the slight terror of how you are going to deal with tomorrow on no sleep.

Some parents, like Giles, love it when his kids need him in the night. He gets to cuddle them in bed, which is a rare treat as they sleep in their own rooms - and he gets to make the ultimate sacrifice for them: sleep. My husband has often sacrificed sleep for far less noble causes - so why not his children? 

I do not feel this way. I've got a bit of a thing about sleep. My feeling is only powerfully that I cannot stand seeing them suffer. I wish they were old enough that they could tell me where it hurts and so that I could dose them properly with decongestants - rather than fannying about with Vicks and vaporisers and humidifiers and Nurofen - so that no-one has to have an awful time.

It's the inconsolable crying I can't take. Puke and shit and having to sleep in the same bed as my kids and being kicked - and even having to get up in the night I don't mind. But the wailing on and on, not responding to any sort of patting or stroking or comfort. That breaks me. 

Anyway at about 0530 completely out of ideas, I put Sam back in his bed, tucked him in, gave him his muzzy thing, turned on his tinkly music box and left the room to sit on the stairs. He was asleep in eight seconds. He was literally just waiting for me to fuck off out of his room. 

I simply couldn't face going back into the nursery and there was no room for me in my bed so I climbed into Kitty's cotbed, pulled the toddler-sized duvet over me and shivered there for an hour and a half until it was time to get up and feed Sam. 

Kitty slept through, luxuriously, under my Super King-sized Hungarian Goosedown duvet and woke up fine, even went off merrily to nursery, no hint of earache or a headache or anything. Sam, needless to say, grinned like a massive goon when I got him up, like always. 

During the day, even though I had a couple of chances at naps, I just couldn't do it, couldn't nod off. It happens a lot when you've been kept awake. You sort of forget how to fall asleep. I worry, you see. I worry I'm never going to sleep again. I worry that the next night will be the same as last night. It is very hard when you are tired and confused not to despair. 

So I thought I would cheer myself up by making Rice Krispie treats for Kitty's nursery Friday bake sale. I had been looking forward to doing these for a while. They would be easy, I told myself, they would look terrific with sparkles all over them and mini smarties and tiny marshmallow and all sorts. 

In the end I did them in a classically slapdash way. I decided that actual quantities of chocolate, golden syrup and butter for the chocolate sauce thing didn't matter. But I think they might because my sauce went all grainy and gross  (which is not, I don't think, the same as "splitting" but looks equally unappealing). 

I lost heart slightly at this stage and ditched my plans for glitter and mini smarties. I just dumped a lot of raisins in and mini marshmallows, stirred it round while feeling a bit despondent that I literally cannot make something that primary-school aged children make. I cannot even cook something that requires almost NO cooking. I despaired. Again. 

I tipped the whole lot out into a loaf tin and shoved it in the fridge. Then I took it out two hours later and cut it up into bits and it was FUCKING AMAZING!!!!!!!

So this is how I did it:

For the sauce

1 bar Menier milk cooking chocolate 
300g Cadbury's milk chocolate
a slab of butter - about 50g
2 tablespoons of golden syrup

3 handfuls Rice Krispies
1 handful raisins
1 handful mini marshmallows

and any extra things you might like

1 Put a heatproof bowl over a pan of cold water then put it on your smallest burner set at the lowest heat. The bottom of the bowl must not touch the water. 

2 Break up the chocolate and put it in the bowl, followed by the butter and the syrup. Then leave it
there to melt, give it a stir as it looks mostly melted in to help things along, but otherwise leave it alone. Do not freak out if it goes a bit grainy. 

3 Into the melted chocolate pour the Rice Krispies and raisins. Allow the chocolate to cool to lukewarm (though it should not be especially hot anyway) before adding the mini marshmallows as you don't want the marshmallows to melt. 

4 Line a loaf tin with a double layer of cling film so you can get the stuff out later and then pour in your chocolate mixture, press down all over the top with a spatula and stick in the fridge for 2 hours. 

You can decorate these before they go into the fridge with glitter or mini Smarties, or anything you like really. Diazepam, 5mg?


  1. some of the best recipe rifle quotes ever, esp. re hypothermia and Giles' sacrificing sleep. if melted chocolate splits my mum told me that adding a bit more butter can help emulsify...

  2. In the old, small children and baby days my stomach used to be an actual knot of anxiety about sleep - my days used to be consumed with thinking about sleep - how to get them to sleep, how to keep them asleep, how long they would sleep for. The ABSOLUTE worst was when they would wake in the night and I would be desperately trying to get them back to sleep thinking if they fall asleep now I will get 2 hours more sleep before I have to get up for work.

    Now of course, I have 2 teens and a 7 year old, and my life is still dominated around how much sleep they have - only it's trying to get them actually out of bed.

    Motherhood - neverbloodyending.

  3. Bless your heart, you are a wonderful mother. I cannot believe that you have to bake for a WEEKLY bake sale! That is cruel and unusual punishment.

  4. Your posts keep getting better and better.

    And SO TIMELY. My (22month) son woke up screaming from what I presume to be a nightmare (not sick, not teething) for the first time ever last night. Spent 3.45-4.08 trying to comfort him, then gave up and lied down on the tiny daybed in his room with him for 90 minutes, tried unsuccessfully to put him bed in his cot (screaming etc.), and brought him back on the daybed with me until 6.55 :( And I couldn't fall asleep on the day bed because though he was in a sleeping bag i only had a filmsy blanket and i was freezing and he kept pushing me off. I spent ALL DAY feeling sorry for myself.

    I understand the bit about the anxiety.. not knowing what to do. My husband and I were having these middle of the night discussions as to whether we should bring my son to bed. Will he then try this every night???? I mean it's one thing when he was sick... how often do kids have nightmares??? And he's starting nursery in a couple months... will things get worse??

    Thanks for writing... and you are a great mother, your kids are lucky to have you.

    Veronica x

  5. Sorry... just realised i left an entire message moaning on and on when you've had to deal with two sick kids :( Hope Kitty and Sam are all better v. soon.


  6. I can really relate to this Esther! I have felt those emotions when my two boys got a cold at the same time. Thankfully I went to sleep in a full size kids bed while the youngest was asleep in mine but I understand exactly what you are going through. I hope they are both now well and you are feeling like yourself again. X

  7. Oh hell - and I thought juggling a teething, snotty, jet-lagged 11 month old in the midst of a wonder week together with a grotty pregnancy was bad. I don't think I'm ready for the reality of two under two both being up all night. Please tell me that fistfuls of Rice Krispie treats makes it all better. And I presume a couple of mars bars can fill in for cooking chocolate if necessary. Hope the little monkeys feel better soon.

  8. 'I worry I'm never going to sleep again. I worry that the next night will be the same as last night'.

    ...this just about sums up my feelings over the last 11months. Even my bones feel tired.

    I hope Kitty and Sam are much better now, I couldn't imagine having two to deal with when they're unwell.x

  9. Oh, I so, so understand this. And I have been there. The worry, the anxiety over sleep, the bone-tired feeling. Let me say that my two (Charlotte and my own Sam) are now 7 and 4.5 and those terrible sleepless nights/days seem like a distant memory. So it will get better.

  10. My heart aches for you reading this. As a mother of two small people I can absolutely relate. If it's any consolation a notification popping up in my inbox that you have updated your blog always cheers me up, no matter how sleep deprived I may be. Hope all are feeling better soon.

  11. Oh I love this - I remember it all so well even though my two little babes are now grown up and hairy, well one is and my daughter tall and beautiful - but those awful nights of two sick children remain stuck in my memory bank - I hope everyone feels a lot better soon.

  12. This was me last night - just one Sam sized baby though. Squirting calpol down his throat at 5am as he screamed and gargled on it. And now a whole day streeeeeeeeetches ahead with me being basket-case tired in it....

  13. Anything that requires melting chocolate and re-refridgerating it is DELISH! Ever since I had a baby 2 months ago I have lost the will to bake but I have SO many friggin visitors to my house to see said baby and drink tea. So now all I make is bark. Melt a block of green and blacks milk chocolate and one of dark over water then add nuts, coconut whatever - pour it on to baking paper and whack it In the freezer for 15 mins. Break into shards and lap up the praise. Oh and white chocolate, lime zest and macadamia nuts is another fan favourite. Hope you catch some Zs soon.

  14. Two thoughts:

    If Sam filled with snot, he has to breath thru his mouth, so pacifier wd not help and maybe, Kitty had a little nightmare.

    Judith de Silverlake

  15. The cold and coulghless season is so short. Mine are all coughing and spluttering away again. I can't function without sleep and am amazed at people that can just carry on happily. I would need to eat a tray of these to get me through the tiredness plus I think they are lower in fat than sponge type cakes which is good.

  16. I know EXACTLY what you mean by the worrying about sleep. I always expect the worst - that they'll never sleep another full night and I'll be traipsing up and down the stairs 4 times a night. My anxiety extends to good nights, too! My girls could be fast asleep, but if I pop my eyes open, I can't get back to sleep. Because THEY MIGHT WAKE UP. I think the only cure is a few more years...

  17. My two girls had croup when they were babies which was a nightmare. They are now 6 (nearly 7) and 4, it has become much easier. Please don't doubt yourself you are a great mum. Your blog is great, keep writing.

  18. Poor you! I hope they've both recovered and you've had some sleep since!

    Re: the grainy chocolate - I once tried to make brownies with Cadbury's and the chocolate, when melted, was so grainy and vile looking I threw it away and used something else. I've been slightly wary of Dairy Milk since.

    LOVE your blog. Kate x

  19. I made this. There's no bake sale. So now I'm working my way through a half a kilo chocolate/marshmallow/smartie brick. It's bloody good though