The Second Time Around

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Since my last post I have announced our exciting news that we are pregnant! Hubby and I have always wanted a sibling for Jack and are so happy to be expecting an addition to our mad family (maybe this one will be sane). I am currently 15 weeks pregnant and though feeling incredibly chuffed that we have been able to get pregnant a second time, I have become increasingly aware of differences between by first pregnancy and this one.

Exhaustion

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My gorgeous future big brother.

I was not prepared for how absolutely, desperately shattered I would feel. I had the ‘first trimester tiredness’ with Jack but it seems so much more intense second time round. We actually guessed I was pregnant before any tests could pick it up as I was practically narcoleptic. I found myself being woken up by Jack sticking his finger up my nose after drifting off to Paw Patrol, and going to bed at 7.30pm. I could sleep for 12 hours straight and still feel like I had pulled an all-nighter the following morning. Thankfully, this has now passed and I’m feeling my normal self now.

 

My Kangaroo Pouch

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Chontel Duncan 5 days after giving birth – WTF?!

I had a pretty smooth pregnancy with Jack but was horrified to find after having him that my stomach had totally collapsed into what looked like cottage cheese! I call it my Jack sack, it’s a wrinkly pouch in the shape of a ‘W’. I think it’s stands for ‘was’ (this ‘was’ where your stomach used to be). Nevertheless, it improved slightly and I have learnt to live with it (tuck it in my pants). I can’t pretend that I wasn’t really jealous during a drink fuelled mummy tummy comparison that my friends who have two plus children have fantastic looking tums! To be honest I don’t exercise much or do sit ups which would help but it would not glue it back together. Right now my bloated tummy looks better than ever as its smoothed out all of the mess, however I am terrified what will remain after my current package is delivered! Fair play to the amazing women out there who are either lucky with their stomach, or work their asses off to keep it (have you seen pictures of Chontel Duncan after giving birth)?!

‘You’re eating for two now’!

eatingfortwo I actually want to scream at people who say this to me now. As deluded as I was, I truly believed this with my first pregnancy. It took me 3 years to gather up the will power to lose the 3 stone I put on and I am trying really hard to not put on much second time around as I know how hard it is to lose it! Doctors and Midwives inform us that eating healthy is vital and your body doesn’t need extra calories at this stage in your pregnancy…blah blah blah. What they don’t tell you is that you physically can’t consider going anywhere near many foods, usually the healthy stuff! I only seem to want carbs, which I had been avoiding like Katie Hopkins since losing my weight. Following my recent food shop; I was shocked to discover pizza, Mars ice creams and lots of cheese in my shopping bags; with one token bag of green beans. I still don’t know how all the junk got there but I can’t waste it now they’ve been paid for.

Baby Stress

o-VINTAGE-WOMAN-MOODY-facebook I always thought that I would be so much more relaxed with pregnancy the second time around. I had this shit down. I wasn’t going to do stupid things like try and use a doppler at 14 weeks and cry hysterically because we thought the baby’s heartbeat was too slow (it was mine), or google every twinge and work myself up that I was miscarrying. However, I wasn’t prepared for how different this pregnancy would be. The main surprise I had was that from early on I have had light periodic spotting/ bleeding. This of course is concerning and I immediately jump to the worse conclusion, but after many scans and checking of the baby, all is fine. I have even had some private scans to try and find the root cause as the NHS weren’t shedding much light on the situation. However, no one can find what the issue is. I have come to the conclusion that my traumatised, weaker women’s parts are just knackered and not holding shit in as much as they did before. Just goes to show though that you simply have to roll with it and let your body do its thing.

I would love to hear any differences others found with second plus pregnancies.

xxx

  

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Leave My Boobs Alone

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OK…so jumping on the bandwagon regarding the Jamie Oliver Boob Gate. Naked Chef Oliver, has suffered quite the backlash from mothers after criticising the low statistics for breastfeeding in the UK. He made some rather ill thought out comments that included ‘breastfeeding is easy’ and patronisingly suggested that women need more education on the benefits of breastfeeding. This backlash was then further capitalised on by Charlotte Gill of the Independent who wrote an article in support of Oliver titled; ‘…we can’t silence debate for the sake of oversensitive mums.’ This from a woman who you will be shocked to learn has no experience of breastfeeding…brilliant.

As it is with all mums; breastfeeding is an issue very close to my heart. It easy to let emotions take over and my initial thought was ’No tits, no opinion’! However as a father of four and with one on the way Mr Oliver is entitled to his opinions regarding how his children are raised. One can only assume that his wife was lucky and able to successfully breastfeed all of their children, which if that is the case is marvelous. However, one family household does not set the bar for the entire country. One woman’s experience with breastfeeding is no where near the same as the next. Batting around terms such as; ‘breastfeeding’, ‘easy’ and ‘oversensitive’ is entirely naive and uneducated. Reading a bunch of statistics does not make you an expert.

Breastfeeding has many positives to mother and baby, we all know this. How can we not? It is rammed down your throat with 1000s 0f leaflets and books as soon as you register your pregnancy. I have never met one mother who didn’t know the benefits to breastfeeding. The issue lies with the fact that no where in any of these leaflets or any conversations with my Midwife did I get told that breastfeeding could also be incredibly difficult and/ or not possible. This is why the statistics show a sharp decline in women still breastfeeding weeks after having their baby.

I had a very difficult back to back labour with my son, which lasted two days and ended up with me having a spinal block, being rushed to theatre and losing a lot of blood. Exhausted, I was still determined to get some skin to skin and expected my son to latch straight on and start doing his thing (that’s what happened in all the pictures I had seen). Unimpressed by my nipples and totally done in, Jack snubbed me. I was told he was just tired and to keep at it. So I did…for two days. I stayed in hospital because we weren’t able to be discharged until he had successfully fed. For two days I had strange women come up and physically milk me struggling to get one drop scraped into a plastic cup. Jack was growing increasingly unresponsive and hadn’t eaten in 48 hours since he was born so I ended up demanding some formula which I eventually got him to eat. At that point he started perking up so we decided to stick with it. I was pretty disheartened after such a difficult assisted labour to then not be able to breastfeed. I felt like a total failure. Not once did anyone explain to me that sometimes it just doesn’t happen, sometimes women don’t produce enough milk or sometimes babies are tongue tied and cant latch on. It was only after meeting other mums I found my experience wasn’t unique. Some mums were able to breastfeed but had to switch to formula weeks after due to their baby losing too much weight and not getting enough milk.

The fact is breastfeeding is wonderful if it works for you and your baby. However, many women struggle and need a lot more support and understanding in hospitals rather than just being bullied to blindly keep at it. Many hospitals are short-staffed and are lacking the support they once were able to provide new mums. Many developing countries where breastfeeding rates are higher have different cultures which surround new mothers with many female generations but this isn’t the case for a large majority of mums in the UK. It can be a very lonely time having a newborn and after a few days of visitors when normal life continues for everyone else, struggling with breastfeeding can be isolating.

The saddest part of the eternal breastfeeding debate for me personally, is the breast vs formula mums who turn it into a competition. The ‘Breast is best’ message divides mothers into sides and makes them feel defensive of the path they chose. There seems to be three main categories; the successful breast feeders, the martyr breast feeders and the formula feeders. I have read  a lot of mums bashing other mums in forums because of the choices they made. Some women who had great difficulty and pain breastfeeding but continued with it use it as weapon against other women who ended up using formula. The reality is, the choice a mum makes with regards to feeding is often not a ‘choice’ some women can and some women can’t. Instead of using our own experiences and insecurities to make another mum feel bad lets club together the information we have to give a more realistic ‘full picture’ to new mums. Yes we should promote breastfeeding and all of the benefits but it is also so important to prepare women that it may not always be easy. More individual. consistent support needs to be given in hospitals and aftercare to mums who are struggling instead of just smacking them around the head with ‘breast is best’ on repeat. If we are blessed with having another little terror, despite not being able to breastfeed my son I would 100% give it a go again. I will not, however, let it define me as a mother.

This is such a hot topic at the moment and every mum’s story I have heard is different so please leave comments below with your experiences.

X

  

Thank You Jack

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Thank you to my darling boy,
my heart with joy you’ve filled
I’m so pleased you came into our lives,
even though it killed.

Thank you for always making mummy laugh,
saying funny things like a pig jumped in your bath.
When I’m feeling tired or stressed you brighten up my mood,
even though that often involves something rather rude.

Thank you little trouper for always marching on,
stomping through life to your own beat, banging on your drum.
You are so very persistent in everything you do,
never giving up no matter how much mummy nags at you.

Thank you mini man for keeping things in perspective,
reminding me what’s important in life, at that you’re really effective.
You teach me to lighten up and not fret about every little thing,
even when 100 task reminders on my phone ring.

Thank you for being a good boy the majority of the time,
although sometimes you can be a shit and turn mummy to wine.
What ever kind of day we have; happy, fun or bad,
you have changed my life for ever and for that I’m really glad.

I love you. xx

   

I Am Not Bloody Mumsy

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I promised myself when I started this blog (or free therapy sessions) that I would never write posts for the sake of it. The last few weeks have been manic with my hubby’s Birthday, Jack starting football lessons and general life so it has been a while since my last post. Bizarrely the thing that inspired me to sit down with a G&T on the sofa with my laptop this evening was a haircut! Long story short I have been thinking of having a bit of a shorter cut (apparently the ‘in’ term is a ‘lob’) but was umming and ahhing as I was panicked it would make me look ‘mumsy’! I then started to realise that this is a deep seated fear I have been carrying around since having my son. What the hell is ‘mumsy’ anyway and why I am so terrified of it? Google’s definition doesn’t inspire much confidence: ‘giving an impression of dull domesticity; dowdy or unfashionable‘. Bloody marvellous!

There seems to be a consensus amongst my fellow mum friends that this is a dirty word and not something you would want to be called. It conjures up negative images of frumpy twin set knitted cardigans with ill fitting jeans. However, looking online I have a also seen being a ’mumsy’ mum described as someone who can whip up a prize winning fancy dress costume at a moments notice and spends everyday baking bread and making macaroons. So basically a ‘super mum’ who has all her shit together (is there such a thing)? It seems many mums nowadays are rebelling against this myth of a ‘perfect mum’ and we are embracing our faults and fuck ups as well as our triumphs. That can only be a good thing right?

I am proud to be a mum but resent it being a label of who I am. Especially if it has negative connotations that suggests being a mum makes you boring and characterless. If anything since having my son I am more confident with my body and what I wear. I have more of a ’fuck it’ mentality, something I wish I had when I was younger.  Now four years old, Jack is the funniest little human being I know and brings out the child in both me and my hubby. I run around giggling hysterically when we play hide and seek, frantically trying to find a good hiding place as he counts ’1,2,5,8,15, 11, 20 COMING TO GET YOU MUMMY’! We love playing sword fights and running around the house having epic battles and pretending to dramatically chop each others limbs off. So yes I am a mum/ stunt woman; yes I wear t-shirt, jeans and trainers sometimes but I also occasionally rock a pair of heels, a splash of lippy and I am certainly not ‘Mumsy’.

At the end of my mini revelation I did end up cutting my hair and will not ask if it looks ‘mumsy’ ever again!

Please share your thoughts on the taboo word ‘mumsy’. Do you class it as positive or negative?

x

Lets Not Forget Ourselves

Why is it that us mums feel, or are made to feel that taking a bit of time for ourselves is selfish or unmotherly? As soon as we announce to the world that we are (in the words of Bridget Jones) ‘Mit Bebe’ , there seems to form an expectation both from ourselves and often others, that our entire purpose in life must now be dedicated to rearing the fruits of our loins! The life and hobbies we enjoyed pre-bump should be discarded and we are to transform into ‘Mums’. My hubby, however was patted on the back and invited out to get pissed for a ‘wetting of the baby’s head’. Now my hubby is actually awesome and does not not hold these views I am discussing but you cannot deny this is the recognised perception.

Yes…having my son Jack was the best thing that happened to me and has changed my life and heart for the better; BUT being a ‘Mum’ hasn’t switched off my personality. I am still the same person I was before Jack or as I like to inappropriately nickname this period in my life ‘BJ’ (giggling to myself). I still want to pursue my interests and have some semblance of a social life with the friends that I hold so dear. It often isn’t easy, but worth fighting for! Getting babysitters is bloody hard, especially if like us you don’t have nearby Grandparents or you are a single warrior mummy, but you need to fight for ‘Me’ time. Reach out to other mummy’s and initiate shared babysitting groups, travel to Grandparents to discard your kids, bribe your hubby with kinky time so you can go out for girly shenanigans…what ever it takes. Whether it be the desire to start a new hobby like dancing, a workout at the gym, a date night with the hubmeister, a wine fueled shambles with your girlies or just a poo in peace for 15 minutes; fight for your ‘me’ time! Ultimately a happy Mummy leads to happy kiddies.

Please share what ‘me’ time you try and steal when you can. Mine is snatching a yoga session for 30 minutes in between school run and work, using my blog to rant or spending some quality time with my awesome girlies and drinking more than a mother probably should!

Observations of a Soft Play Survivor

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Any parent who owns little ‘energizer bunnies’ (or Gremlins on acid) will have experienced the joys of soft play. Whether it be a desperate attempt to let my four year old burn off some energy on a rainy day, a birthday party or simply the longing to have 5 minutes alone with a hot cup of coffee…I have developed a love/ hate relationship with these ball pit filled places of laughter, screaming and snot. Now my son has reached the age of four, I consider myself a bit of a ‘Michael Palin’ of the soft play world. I have traveled far and wide, overcoming obstacles such as feet ripping cargo nets and skin burning static slides and have concluded that there are a number of recurring characters that frequent such perilous environments…

  • The Hardcore Action Junkees – There are always those boys who are so immersed running around like wild banshee’s that by the red and dripping with sweat (my Jack adds a special edge to this look by matching his flushed skin to his ginger hair). Some extremes of this breed fancy themselves as Channing Tatum in Magic Mike and will feel no shame in stripping to their pants. This usually is followed by a mum yelling ‘Where the hell are your trousers’?!
  • The Relay Race Mum – The brave mums who attempt a soft play visit with two or more children. There are no coffee breaks for these heroes who have the tireless task of managing a hungry/ tired baby, running around after a toddler with a death wish and/ or being dragged through the assault course of squishy mats and impossibly small spaces by an older, hyper child.
  • The Vice Versa Dad – Just like the 80s film, these guys seem to regress to childhood at the site of a ball pit. My husband often throws his shoes off before our son Jack and excitedly hurries off to bury himself in the ball pit or get stuck in the spiral tunnel slide for the fifth time despite the large warning sign stating the obvious: ‘Children Only’!
  • The Mean Girls – Bless them it’s a horrible stage us women all go through in our life…bitchiness. It starts at a very young age and some unfortunates never grow out of it. Some groups of girls like to move in a gang and seem to claim acertain area as their patch. These girls will go to endless lengths to ensure no boys, annoying younger ones or simply unfortunate innocents cross their territory. Phrases such as ‘Your are not allowed to play with us’ or ‘We are not talking to you’ are often aimed at some poor girl who has inevitably been cast out due to not obeying the ‘Queen Bee’. On one rare occasion I have even witnessed what can only be described as a turf war against two rival cliques.

Needless to say I could not have survived parenthood so far without the necessary soft play trips, but after an hour I am usually found rocking in a corner covering my ears. Please share any war stories with me, I love a good laugh/ rant.

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Lets Stop Mummy Judging

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I want to address the culture of parental judgment I feel is growing among parents, particularly (I am sad to say) mums. We are all essentially making it up as we go along on this crazy ride that is parenthood and doing what is best for us and our kids, there is no right and wrong. Judging another mums parenting choices is pointless, destructive and I can only determine that individuals use judgment to make themselves feel more secure in the choices they themselves have made.

There are of course the all time favorite subjects such as breastfeeding vs bottle feeding or working vs staying at home, but I have decided to share a few of the alternative scenarios in which either my friends or myself have suffered sarcy comments or judgmental looks.

  • Appearance – You cannot win here, we are all doomed. Mums are criticised for looking unsightly if we dare to venture out in public in scruffs and no makeup after an often traumatic day or an all nighter with a screaming baby born of satan. Sometimes, there is nor the time or energy to be arsed! However, comments are also made about mums who look groomed, fashionable or dare I say it attractive; as it is deemed that we must be abononing our children by caring about our appearance. Celebraties like Kim Kardasian get slated in the media and online for dressing too sexy as a mum! Don’t get me wrong we all have our different styles but if this woman enjoyed wapping her boobs out in revealing outfits before having a child and was applauded for it why should that change because she is now a mother?! Women do not become asexual mothering robots as soon as baby pops out.
  • Dramatic Scenes – Why do our little angels always have their worse breakdowns in public? One of my son Jack’s all time classics from his Greatest Hits of ‘Losing My Shit’ was in a packed softplay when he didn’t want to leave and he had a 40 minute screaming/ head banging session. I was of course by myself and during such a traumatic event was thrilled to see another mum look over tut and roll her eyes at her friend…thanks love. Lets face it as much as we love our own little monsters other peoples kids can be incredibly irratating but the reality is we don’t know the full picture and we have all been there so how about a bit of support?
  • Fussy Eaters – Myself and my hubby eat just about anything and everything, we love food! I was guilty of assuming fussy eaters were a result of fussy or lazy parents. When it came to weaning Jack I was taught a serious life lesson in humility. It was a long drawn out battle getting Jack to eat food, let alone a variety of it. I would spend hours in the kitchen blending organic food, tried baby led weaning; everything and the only thing we could get him to eat was HIPP organic packet stuff. At 2 years old he wouldn’t eat mashed potato, pasta or even a sandwich; only toast. After coming up with a game plan and sticking with it through endless amounts of tea time tantrums we finally have a little boy who eats a huge variety of foods and will try anything that is put in front of him. Now when ever I hear bitchy comments about the mum who is feeding packet food to their child and not ‘pureed brocoili that has been steamed using mineral water from the himalayn mountains’ I will cringe. What ever works for you and your little one is the right thing to do!
I actually have about ten more examples that I noted down but you get the picture. It’s hard enough bringing another human being into the world so lets embrace the different choices we wonderfully diverse mothers make and stick together!I would love to hear some of your war stories, please share. xx

My Four Christmas Lessons

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I’m writing this a bit late as we are now well and truly in the New Year. We have been so busy having our gorgeous friends and family over Christmas and New Year that we have now been enjoying a bit of ‘us’ time before we all have to resentfully return to work and school. I have just sent my hubby off to the shops with our little fog horn so I could have a much needed relaxing bath but instead have opted to use this rare opportunity to have a recap of our festive season as I am not really one for New Year’s resolutions.

1. Children at Christmas. Having a child at Christmas really is the best. Our son Jack is four and was truly so excited this year which has made us feel like kids again too! I can only liken it to the hysterical state I would be in at the prospect of meeting Daniel Craig (I would lose my shit)! Over the festive season, we were also thrilled to discover his newly found love of dancing through listening to Christmas songs (that’s Jack not Daniel Craig, although I am sure he is a very talented dancer). He has perfected dance moves that seem to channel Run DMC style break dancing and booty shaking Beyonce (something I am very proud of)! Hubby and I were so giddy after leaving the obligatory mince pie etc. for Santa and were up way before Jack on Christmas morning to see if he’d been (something I came to regret when I was shattered later on in the day and had to cook Christmas dinner). I will never forget the pure joy and elation on Jack’s face after he burst into the living room and shouted into the distance; ‘Thank you Santa’!

2. School Christmas Carnage Show. I can only liken the trauma that was the Christmas Nativity (that’s what it is people stop being politically correct) to something like a scene you would expect to find in some apocalyptic film. Specifically the scenes where people had lost all sense of themselves and spiralled into a mad panic looting shops and smashing windows. Jack was so excited to be a soldier despite the fact I realised this was a role given to the group of kids who were not as theatrically capable lets say (I know this as I was given the role of a ‘Down and Out’ in our Bugsy Malone production at primary school and it still hurts). The hubby and I were looking forward to seeing Jack singing his songs and doing his little march that he had been practicing at home, however we obviously missed the memo that instructed; come an hour earlier than told if you have any hope glimpsing your child let alone get a seat. It really was carnage and when we finally glimpsed a view of his little ginger head bopping up and down whilst marching some lady barged me out of the way to take a photo of her kid sitting down picking his nose! So no Grandparents we didn’t get a photo, sorry.

3. Alcohol Transformed Me Into Nigella. I like to think I am a fairly competent cook (don’t we all haha). However, due to doing the rounds of our four sets of parents the last few Christmases has meant we have been waited on. This year it was our turn to host and have my Mum, Brother, Nephew respective partners and a dog. I always feel a sense of pressure delivering a good quality Christmas dinner and do have a tendency to go slightly Hyacinth Bouquet. One year despite getting the frozen turkey out the night before, much to our horror in the morning it was still rock solid. Needless to say, after several desperate attempts to thaw the bastard out, when my Mother arrived it was in the microwave and the end product was very chewy and dry although no one dared to admit it. This year thanks to M&S and lots of champagne in the morning I was extremely relaxed and smashed out a top grade effort (no shame in admitting it). So get ready Nigella I am coming for you (in a more pissed, less sexy manner).

4. My Husband Is A Dirty Cheat. Not in the way you may assume thank goodness but I have still made a shocking discovery this Christmas and New Year…We love a good board game when we have people over (I realise this sounds a bit Jerry and Margot off the Good Life) it’s always a drink-fuelled giggle. I have discovered some very conniving traits in my hubby when faced with losing. One example involves this man managing to coerce everybody playing Monopoly that despite it being against the rules; we should all be able to strike deals to avoid becoming bankrupt. This then meant that he managed to negotiate, bribe and worm himself from what is the equivalent to a homeless hobo to a property tycoon in the matter of an hour. There are many more examples I could go into but lets just say he could give Raymond Reddington (The Blacklist) a run for his money!

Happy New Year everyone, make it a good one!

Turkey Meatballs

In between shoving my face full of junk and crap I try to be healthy in an effort to balance things out. These meatballs are fab as they are a healthier alternative to beef mince but still really scrummy. They are also ideal for kiddies, my own fussy 4 year old doesn’t taste the difference.  Depending on the size of your meatballs (pathetic immature giggle), you should get around 18 out of this recipe so you may want to freeze some of them.

Meatballs
1 pack (500g) of turkey mince
1/2 red onion
3 stalks celery
2 slices of bread (Breadcrumbs)
Few sprigs of fresh Thyme
Small handful of Parsley
3 cloves Garlic
Salt
Pepper
1 large egg
3 tbsp rapeseed oil (or what ever you have)

Sauce
1 small onion
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 carton of passata
1 tin tomatoes
1 chicken stock cube
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp lazy chilli (or chopped fresh)
1 grated carrot
1 tbsp. dried oregano

1. Use a blender to make breadcrumbs and set aside. Then pop the onion and celery into the blender (or chop super fine). Pop the breadcrumbs, onion and celery into a mixing bowl. Add the thyme, chopped parsley and crushed garlic.
2. Break up the turkey mince into the bowl, season and add the egg.
3. Mix together by hand until all the ingredients are combined.
4. Tear off small tbsp sized chunks of the mixture and roll into balls by hand. Place on a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Cover with cling film and let them sit in the fridge for around 30 mins to firm up. At this point you may want to pop some of the meatballs aside to freeze.
5. In a saucepan heat up the rapeseed oil and add the onions. Simmer until they start to soften. Add the lazy chilli and paprika and cook for a minute more. Add the grated carrot, passata, tinned tomatoes, oregano and crumble in the stock cube. Leave to simmer on a low heat for about 15 minutes giving it the odd stir.
6. When you are ready to cook your meatballs head the rapeseed oil in a pan until sizzling. Carefully arrange the meatballs around the pan. They will immediately start to brown. If you are having spaghetti pop this on in a separate pan now.
7. Cook the meatballs for around 15 minutes turning them so the brown on all sides. Make sure they are fully cooked through and white in the middle.
8. Serve the meatballs and the sauce on some spaghetti or quinoa if you are feeling super healthy!

Let me know how you get on. xx