Friday, December 19, 2008

Sunday, December 07, 2008

On the move

Well, it's a week on, and Auntie Becky's tough love solution seems to be working for the nights. We've had a few nights in a row now where Zachary has just quietly laid down for sleep after his bedtime story without having to be fed or rocked to sleep - yay! He also seems to settle pretty quickly at night as well if he wakes up - although it's still hard to just leave him there if he seems really upset. Just need to get something similar working for his daytime naps now. Hopefully it's all part and parcel of him being more active in the day and tiring himself out more - certainly his appetite has increased dramatically over the last week or so, and we've had success with 'raw' melon, pear and banana (all soft enough for him to gum), plenty of corn based crisp snacks, and a welcome return to a few meals I used to prepare for him but which got a lukewarm response last time we tried them. He seems to be eating everything we put int front of him now!

And Zachary is now mastering the art of pulling himself up to standing on anything and everything in sight! The sofa, footstool, blanket box and fireguard are all fair game, as well as (we have now discovered) ...his cot (both in and out of sleeping bag - we're looking forward to nights of a crying baby standing rocking in his cot) and the bath. He can also get himself out of the Bumbo now and spent the time it took me to fill his bath this evening standing by the toilet banging on the lid. Great.

One positive though - because he likes standing, he's keeping relatively still in a good position for nappy attachment!

Monday, December 01, 2008

There's far too much going on!

We've had an exciting (well...that's one word for it!) week or so. Firstly, L came down with a stomach bug and basically hasn't eaten for a week. He seems to be all repaired now though, which is good - annoyingly though, he phoned the doctor last Wednesday for an appointment, and they had none free until today! What if it had been more of an emergency???

Also, we've had no central heating or hot water since last Thursday-ish. The water was playing up before then, but we didn't really notice because the only time we really use the hot tap intensively is in the evening when the heating is on anyway and there was some water heating going on. If there was no central heating on, hot water was non-existent. It appears the fan has packed up and some other bits need replacing to fix the hot water situation - parts needed to be ordered and so the work can't be done until tomorrow. So it's been a weird few days back to a world without central heating - electric heaters a go-go, and poor old Zachary has had to endure a couple of showers with me as there's no hot water for his bath. He is very slippery!

Z now also has his first tooth! It's very exciting and the tooth is poking well above his gum now and can be seen as well as felt (there was a bit of demurral last weekend when Annie suggested there was a tooth on the way because nothing could be felt!). This has however led to a couple of nights of screaming!!!

Nighttime sleeping also seemed to have gone downhill generally and Z was ending up in our bed quite a few nights because we could not put him down in his cot peacefully (lots of excuses - tummy bug, teething, another cold...) - unfortunately he no longer seems to sleep as well as he once did in our bed, and there were still frequent wakings, as well as on one occasion, Z being wide awake at 3 in the morning wanting to play with us, prod our faces etc etc. But, thanks to a visit from Auntie Becky (she of the tough love solution - and no children of her own yet!) at the weekend, we have hardened our resolve and instituted a new regime. Z went to bed on Saturday and immediately started crying. Usually, we would pick him up and rock him to sleep on a shoulder until he settles and then try to put him down in the cot - usually resulting in one of us spending a good half hour trying this until getting him down successfully.

This time, we left him for five minutes, and then went back to check. Still crying. Left it another five minutes, then ten minute intervals. He finally went to sleep an hour later and it was horrendous going up and not picking him up to comfort him...but...somehow it worked. He woke about an hour later - we dealt with it the same way and he was asleep again much quicker. Next waking was at half midnight, then not again until 7am. And then he went back to sleep for another hour after that!

It was the best night we've had for ages, not least because Zachary was in his cot all night, and I didn't spend two hours in the cold in his room with him asleep on my shoulder. Unbelievable. And he didn't seem to hate us on Sunday. Tried it again Sunday night, and again met with success.

It's really hard to do, because both of us just want to comfort him when he's crying, but seems to be working at the moment. L said he also got a sense one time he went up that Z was crying just to be picked up. We're giving it a week to see whether he gets used to the new arrangement and settles more quickly by the end of then.

I've also finally finished my first project on the new sewing machine - curtains for Z's room, and I'm really pleased with them. Haven't taken a picture yet, but will do shortly.

Mum's visiting tomorrow, Z has his first swimming lesson here (cold permitting) and hopefully the heating's being fixed, so it's looking pretty busy for this week too.

Finally, L has a time capsule thingy which reminds him of photos taken a year ago - this one came up for today...it all seems so long ago!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

How much mess can one chocolate button make?

A surprisingly large amount I found today! It was kind of my fault really - I took Z to the Westfield Centre in Derby this afternoon (on the bus - aaargh) for some retail therapy and stopped for refreshment in a chocolate shop. The kind lady serving asked if Z could have a white chocolate button..I immediately thought 'no, think of the sugar!' but then decided that he may as well have a try of it.

Unfortunately I forgot what he tends to do with finger food at the moment, which is bang it on the table for a while to see if it makes an interesting sound, then mash it about a bit between his hands, before finally venturing to touch it to his lips, and occasionally something goes in.

So, imagine that with a large chocolate button and a little boy with very hot hands. Slippery, melty chocolate which got smeared all over the table, his trousers, his top, and consequently my clothes. It kept slipping from his grasp so more chocolate smeared whilst he grappled with his clothes trying to rescue the chocolate. Baby wipes were useless!!

The great wash

I remember a time not so long ago when Zachary's wash would be a very carefully executed routine - face, then ears and neck, hands, elbows and armpits and finally bottom. Then a hair wash (mainly because it helped us get rid of the cradle cap), and back onto the change mat for dressing.

Sadly, now that he can both roll and crawl, morning washes are much more the case of either me or L chasing a naked baby round the nursery, wafting a damp piece of cotton wool in his general bottom direction, hoping against hope that some contact is actually made. Thank goodness for evening baths!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dead Set

I've never been particularly good with horror films. I don't think of myself as particularly squeamish (I can watch CSI/Silent Witness etc with the best of them) but I've never really been into out and out horror. Many of my school friends grew up on a diet of Nightmare on Elm Street and Childs Play, but it really wasn't for me. It tends to unsettle me quite a bit. I think my imagination probably worked overtime a lot (Seven and Silence of the Lambs were nowhere near as bad as I thought they'd be), and certainly I get a morbid fascination with hearing about films like that but in general I can really only cope with horror if I can distance myself from it a bit - like if it's funny. And I mean both intentional funny like Shaun of the Dead, or so bad it's hilarious, like one fantastic film we watched called Frankenstein and Dracula (yes, it is that bad!).

So, Leigh recorded Charlie Brooker's Dead Set when it was on TV and finally two nights ago we ran out of other things to watch. Again, it wasn't as bad as I'd built it up to be (although we've only watched 1 episode so far) but I did have my coping mechanisms in place...L had stolen the laptop, so out came the cross stitch to hide behind! The lights had to be on and inane discussion ensued to take my mind off it...realising that of course zombies won't be able to work a wheelchair. Wondering what happens when zombies have zombified everyone and they run out of food - do they all die off? Not much of a plan for world domination. It then occurred to me that not everyone who got eaten was turned into a zombie - is it just random? Does the zombie parasite chose? Does it depend on how much they get eaten? So if not everyone gets turned, that leaves food for zombies?

L is no better than me really - his main concern was the speed at which the zombies move. Fast zombies - infinitely more scary than the slow doddery kind. A friend pointed this article out. That's my kind of distraction technique!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

'Lots' of fun

(with apologies for the poor punnage)

Since moving to Long Eaton we've been determined to try and go to a few auctions to see if we can pick up any bargains for the house - in particular looking for big mirrors, a bureau (you don't seem to be able to buy them new anymore) and any random crockery or glassware for the kitchen. And of course anything else which takes our fancy!

We finally got organised and found a local auction room which runs Victorian, Edwardian and General sales every fortnight and went along this week. There was a chance to view the items on Tuesday before the sale on Wednesday. With over 1100 lots, there was a huge amount to look through.

It was quite bizarre really and a strange mixture of items - pictures, furniture, crockery, glassware and much more...some period stuff and some modern (a huge TV and some nasty sofas for instance!). There was plenty we were interested in but knew it had to be pared down a bit and as the auctions are regular, there's a lot of stuff which will come round again. So unfortunately, the Gilbert gramophone and shield with swords and blunderbusses had to be dropped!!!

On the day, we were reasonably successful, although in the smaller items section found ourselves up against the clearly shop buyers - a couple of men bidding for all the Derby Crown pieces, one woman bidding against us for all the silver plated tea sets, and too many people bidding for the TG Green Cornish spice pots. Lovely, but too expensive in the end. Bidding was great - a bit of an adrenalin rush. I can see that going regularly might get a bit dangerous. It's all very well setting yourselves limits, but when the bidding's only going up by £2 at a time, it doesn't seem like much more until you realise you've just spent £20 over what you wanted to!! So what did we end up with?



Lovely blanket box. There were several up for sale, this one being the first which came up after we arrived and I bidded (bade?) successfully for it! £20. Nice.



Silver plated tea and coffee pots, sugar bowl, creamer and two other random silver plated items. Cost us £45 - a bit expensive really but we were determined to out bid the woman who beat us to the set we really wanted!!



£15 for masses of Moschendorf blue and white crockery. Leigh was umming and ahhing about whether to bid for it and was charmed into it by the auctioneer's patter of - oh look at that. You get lots of it - and we were the only bidders at £15. Not too bad.

Didn't manage to get a bureau (despite some great ones there) or mirrors. Shame. Means we'll just have to drag ourselves back there!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bread attempt 5

Best yet! Hurrah - actually looks and tastes like a decent loaf so we'll wait and see how it is tomorrow. Right amount of dough in right tin, right amount of yeast, not too hot when rising and didn't leave it too long in the fan oven (although it does look quite dark in the picture and could probably do with still less time). Let's hope the next loaf goes as well....



Also, we're off to an auction tomorrow - Victorian, Edwardian and General sale in Derby. Never been to one before despite having watched far too much Bargain Hunt, Cash in the Attic etc etc and am quite excited about it. We went to the rooms today for a viewing of the lots and to try and decide what (if anything) we're going to bid for. We were hoping to pick up a mirror or nice armchair, but there weren't many that we liked - still, plenty of glassware and ceramics to keep us occupied tomorrow!

Impossible Pie

Saw this recipe in a church magazine over the weekend and thought I'd give it a go -

Impossible Pie
Ingredients :
4 eggs
¼ cup margarine
1 cup sugar
½ cup flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
2 cups milk
1 cup coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract

Blend everything together. Pour into 10“ dish and bake for 1 hour at Gas 4/180C/350F. The pie will sort itself out into three layers - sponge at the bottom, custard in the middle and coconut on top.

I was unbelieving...here it is pre-oven - all liquidy and no substance



and here it is all done.



And yes it did work! Sugary, coconutty addictive layer on top, very eggy tasting set custard (like in an egg custard rather than what you would pour over apple crumble - not sure if it came out right or I overcooked it?) and weirdy sponge layer at the bottom. Impossible.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Scattergories

Played a game of Scattergories with my sister and brother-in-law this afternoon. Aside from the obvious willy and penis jokes (L's suggestion for a crime starting with 'P' - penis waving) I got a bit confused trying to think of footwear beginning with P as well.

I was thinking of those shoes, you know, the ones with really pointy toes - wrote down 'pinklewickers.' Looked at it, thought it didn't look right and tried 'picklewinkers.' No, still not right. Fortunately my brain kicked into gear just before the end of the round and I crossed the word out - winklepickers doesn't start with a P.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Bread - attempt 4

I've now had a go at the Hovis recipe on the back of the yeast packet and this turned out to be my best bread so far! Again it didn't appear to rise sufficiently before baking, but it was the lightest so far and was still soft (ish) today when I baked at the beginning of the week - usually my bread is like a rock on the second day.

I followed the recipe closely, even measuring out the yeast - I usually just dump a whole packet in, figuring that packets come in the right sizes. And what have I learnt...there's more than 1 1/2 tspns of yeast in a packet. Why?? Surely most people would be following a standard 2 lb loaf recipe, in which case why have more yeast than that in a packet and what do I do with the rest??? I think too much yeast could have been a cause of some of the problems I've been having with earlier loaves.

This recipe also uses only one rising (Delia had a rise and a prove) and came out fine, so again why would you go to the bother of having a second rising? Does it make for better bread in the end?

And finally it turned out that I was using 2 x 2lb tins when L had quite convinced me that they were only 1 lb tins. So in fact I've only effectively been using half the dough I should have been in each tin. That may solve the 'doesn't appear to rise above the top of the tin' problem. I was sure they were 2 lb tins...I must never let L convince me of anything again!

No pictures I'm afraid - too much eaten by the time I got my act together! Next time...

Ingredients :
500g / 1lb 2oz strong white flour
25g / 1oz butter
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
300ml / 10 floz warm water
2tsp sugar (optional - to give added flavour and a thicker crust)

Mix together the flour, (sugar) and salt, rub in the butter then stir in the yeast.
Stir in the water and mix into a dough by hand.
Knead for 5 minutes in an electric mixer or turn out onto a floured surface and knead well for 10 minutes by hand
Shape the dough and place in a greased 2lb tin or on a baking tray. Cover with a clean damp tea towel and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (1 1/2 to 2 hours).
Uncover and bake in an oven preheated to 230C / 450F / Gas 8 for 30-35 minutes. The baked loaf should sound hollow when tapped underneath.
Turn out onto a wire rack to cool

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I've lipped mmy chaps

Trying to explain to L a problem I'm having with the cold weather. Hmmm...not my only problem methinks.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bread - v. 1.3



My third go at bread last night was better than the other two although I'm still not completely happy with it. I followed Delia more closely this time, even giving it a second kneading, but still not great.§ I probably should have left the dough to prove for longer...or I used too much yeast (see notes in the recipe below). Am planning to give a different recipe a go next time - the one on the Hovis packet of yeast itself. There's no proving stage i1n that recipe - may have more luck??

(Delia - slightly adapted using a kitchenaid)

Ingredients (makes 2 1lb loaves or 1 2lb loaf) :
1lb 8oz strong white flour (700g)
1 tbspn salt or less according to taste
1 teaspoon easy-blend yeast (I have been using a whole packet)
1 teaspoon golden caster sugar
about 15 floz hand-hot water (425ml)

Using the dough hook, mix all the dry ingredients together using the mixer. Then use setting 2 and slowly pour in the water to form a dough. I found that this amount of water tends to make the dough a bit too wet, so for this bread I stopped when the mixer formed a dough ball which cleaned the sides of the bowl.

Knead on setting 2 for 3 minutes.

Place into bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (about an hour).

Take the dough out, knock back and then knead again for 2 minutes.

Split into 2, form into loaf shapes and place into the tins. Cook at Gas 8 / 350F / 230C for 30-40 minutes for the smaller loaves or 35-45 minutes for the larger until the bases sound hollow when tapped.

Turn out on wire rack to cool

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thank you Asda!

Z lost a shoe in Asda last week - I called in today and some helpful, kind soul had handed it in to customer services - thank you!!!

I also went a bit mad on Hallowe'en...

Today's baking

Well...not quite as much as I hoped, but today have managed to make a fruit compote thingy for Zachary (cooking apple, pear and dried apricots and then whizzing together in the food processor), and a cheesy spinach sauce for pasta (called Popeye pasta obviously. It took me far too long to get the connection...!). Was planning to make some lemon biscuits, but the chocolate mousse went hideously wrong so panned that idea, made the mousse and a mug cake (more below). And finally am now halfway through my third batch of bread, for which I am holding out no hope whatsoever!!!

The choc mousse was Nigella's instant mousse from her Express book - the idea being to replace the whipped egg whites with melted marshmallows and it then needs virtually no chilling at all - certainly not as long as would normally - and the prep is quicker too. I had been obssessing about making this for ages, and we've had a packet of small white marshmallows in the cupboard for a long time specially for this recipe. However from my attempt today I have learned that although the melting pan needs heat, it needs a v low heat - everything separated and I ended up with cups of mousse with lovely pockets and puddles of solid butter in them!! Also, the mousse is pretty rich - I was experimenting with having it in tea-cups, but that would be far too much. Espresso cups much more manageable I think. Need to give it another go :

Ingredients :
150g mini marshmallows
50g soft butter
250g good dark chocolate chopped into small pieces
60ml hot water from a kettle recently boiled
1 284ml tub double cream (although Morrisons only seemed to have 300ml tubs..)
1 tspn vanilla extract

Put the marshmallows, butter, chocolate and water in a heavy-based saucepan. Put the saucepan on the hob, over heat, though keep it fairly gentle, to melt the contents, stirring every now and then. Remove from the heat.

Whip the cream with the vanilla extract until thick, and then fold into the cooling chocolate mixture until you have a smooth cohesive mixture.

Pour or scrape into serving vessels.

Final baking effort was a mug cake! A friend has been evangelising about them on his blog and I had a go tonight with the basic recipe. Not bad tasting - would be ace with vanilla ice cream or custard. But more than that I was just astounded that it worked! The mug was so full I felt sure I was headed for disaster, but no, it all turned out well!

Cake in mug (having quickly deflated after leaving the microwave)



and turned out (with helpful finger for size comparison...)



- put 4 tbspn plain flour, 4 tbspn sugar and 2 tbspn cocoa in a mug and mix thoroughly

- add 1 egg and mix thoroughly

- add 3 tbspn milk and 3 tbspn oil - mix again until well combined

- can add choc chips or a splash of vanilla

- microwave for 3 minutes at 1000 watts or 4 minutes at 700 watts (our microwave is 800 watts so I cooked for 3 mins 40 secs and it seemed to come out right). The cake will rise above the top of the mug - don't panic!

- allow to cool and turn out on a plate if you like

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bread is my jam

Kneading is the bit I really hate about breadmaking and has put me off for a while. So when L's new Kitchenaid arrived resplendent with dough hook I thought - Hurrah, now I can make perfect bread.

Unfortunately my first two attempts have not been highly successful. First attempt, the oven was too hot in the baking...still haven't got the hang of a fan oven! Second attempt, the oven was too warm when the dough was rising and I think I killed off all the yeast. It didn't rise at all during the proving phase.

So I;m not putting any pictures up until I get a loaf I'm happy with - although they do make great toast!

(BTW L had a 'jam block' a few years ago - consistency wise it seemed to turn out either like tar or water. Eventually he achieved success. I'm hoping the same for my bread)

Bad day, good day

Wednesday was a bad day. I was tired and headachey from Z's recent nighttime shenanigans (he's had a cold complete with phlegmy cough) and my mind really wasn't on the job. Zachary was due a blood test at Derby City General Hospital - I left the door on the latch on the way out, fortunately L was still in. The blood test itself went really well - Z was more upset at having to relinquish the Duplo he was playing with than by the nurse squeezing blood from his foot! We then went over to L's brother's house to drop off my car which is going to be sold. Goodbye to my vehicular independence. Dropped the car off, L picked me and Z up, asked me several times if there was anything left in the car to which I said no. Half way back home I remembers I'd left a buggy in the boot of the car. Bah! Got home and discovered I'd left the patio doors wide open after putting the bin out in the morning.

Got a bit stressed at dinnertime trying to make dinner and rice pudding. Why rice pudding? I'm not sure. I think I heard someone mention it the previous week and I have been obssessing about it since then! But got everything made, although I'm not sure the pudding is quite right...



It looks okay and the flavour was great, but I'm not too sure that it should really be a thick layer of glued together rice with the milky liquid no thicker than when it went into the oven underneath. I think my basin wasn't the right size.

So with all this annoyance going on I went out for a haircut after Z was in bed. Now I'm not sure if it was the haircut (which looked great), the caffeine in the coffee at the shop, or just being on my own and having an hour's break from the house, but it really refreshed me and I returned home a changed woman. Well, almost!

Thursday much better - actually managed to get more baking done with Zachary and went out to a new playgroup in the morning. Fantastic.

Mission Impossible

In the absence of a proper blog for now, here's a text I received from my sister this morning which made me laugh out loud

"Have introduced inlaws to hole in the wall, harry hill and the train game - mission accomplished!"

Monday, October 20, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

What's the most interesting thing you've found in your pocket?

I wore my mid-weight coat today, the first time since Spring. Delved into one of the pockets only to find that what I thought was wadded up tissue was in fact 3 breast pads. Nice. No idea why I had three in there.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Can you tell what it is yet?

I have finally, finally managed to get back into some cross stitching and pick up a picture I started before Zachary was born. Here it is as yesterday - any ideas?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Today's little attack of the clumsies

I used the self-serve checkout at ASDA today, which always gets me unreasonably excited! I had the tank with me (our affectionate name for Zachary's big pushchair, which, I discovered today, won't fit through our patio doors) and was planning to just pack my shopping away in the under section to save on bags. Got to the third item merrily skipping bagging, but had to wait for assistance and was advised that it would carry on doing this every three items and it would be easier for me to stack everything on the carrier bag shelf and then pack into the pushchair once I've paid for it all.

Thinking this was a bit of a waste of time (although noone behind me in the queue fortunately - for several reasons) I piled everything onto the shelf, was choosing my method of payment when heard a quiet thud behind me. Looked round to see broken bottle of balsamic vinegar and a little sea of black liquid slowly seeping towards my trousers. Whooooops! Fortunately was not charged for that and the staff very kindly got me a replacement.

On the John Lewis front, I've now had confirmed to me (not from John Lewis themselves though) that although they can't heat up my pot of food, they should be able to offer me a bowl of hot water that i can warm the pot with - so I need to make sure I take food that can be eaten cold or at least hasn't been frozen and doesn't need to be heated to piping hot. Would have been nice if the staff there had suggested this themselves though...

Finally, also managed to get a replacement pair of trainery-type shoes today. Spent an unfruitful time in the Westfield Centre in Derby yesterday looking at shoes and tutting at the prices (£45??) before leaving without any. I sent L a text message from the Westfield Centre in disgust at the time saying "Am I behind the times? ...[general complain about prices]" I think if I'm using phrases like "behind the times" that pretty much speaks for itself.

Resigned myself to the fact that in the shoe shops I like I'm not going to get anything cheaper and bought some today - a lovely purple! I'm very much a Clarks and Jones girl - a product of my childhood. There are some things you can't skimp on and shoes and bread (unless it's for bacon sandwiches in which case only a plastic loaf will do as my husband has taught me) are two of those things. My mum was always very careful to make sure my sister and I had good shoes and we never complained at going into Clarks and using the electric foot-measuring device! The only slightly disappointing thing was that my foot was such a wide fitting that I only ever had a choice of about 2 styles of shoe. Ever. And they were both dull.

Had another nasty price shock today in Clarks looking at baby shoes - now I have heard mums complaining about prices before so I was non-plussed by the £20 price tag I saw on some, but I was quite surprised to see a little pair of boots (Clarks claiming that the ankle supports help children in their first few months of walking) for £34!! Almost as much as my shoes...mind you they were Goretex so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

House History

We've been receiving a bit of post for previous occupants of this house - the Wands (people we bought from) obviously, but also for a Mr Wilcockson and this morning a Mrs Morley-Ramage. Nice. I'd be interested to try and find out who's owned/lived in this house since it was built - I really enjoyed Julie Myerson's book "Home" which explored the history of her house.

It would take a bit of work if I really wanted to do this and it might be a good project for when Zachary's a bit older and he can help me (ha ha!). I thought I'd have a quick troll through the Land Registry website and the 1901 census to see if I could find any immediate information there. Nothing from HMLR (which to be honest I was expecting) and nothing found on the census either. I seem to vaguely recall from the conveyancing that this house was built around 1910 so there may be nothing to find on that census anyway. I then tried to look up the 1911 census and discovered it's still being digitised. I have signed up for updates.

All the other websites I came across connected to this type of thing were offering services rather than information. If I do anything I'd rather have a go myself. That reminds me, must chase the solicitors for confirmation of the HMLR change confirming us as owners...

The second move

As part of their advice to reduce the risk of cot death, the NHS suggest having your baby sleep in the same room as you for the first 6 months. This is only advice and I've spoken to lots of mums who moved their baby out earlier and had no problems. We decided to stick with the 6 months though and actually it's not been too bad - it's certainly been much more convenient for breast feeding in the night.

We knew the house move would happen about the time Z was celebrating his half-year and with all the other upheaval going on decided to delay moving him to his own room for a few weeks until we were more settled.

So that happened this week. It's been an interesting few nights and on the whole Z seems to have settled well in the new cot. In my mind, the fact we'd put him to bed at 7 normally and so he's been having the first few hours of the night alone anyway has helped, although I really have no idea! So far we've had a really disturbed night (waking every half hour between about half one and four), followed by an okay night, a really good night (slept from one til about six with no waking) and then we hit Saturday. What on earth happened on Saturday, we're still analysing - but again there's no real way we can know the answer!

Z ate late in the early morning on Friday so didn't really want a proper breakfast, and I don't think I boobed him afterwards as I normally would because he gorged himself on the earlier feed. Lunch was late (see post below) and then he didn't eat much dinner either. His naps were a bit out of kilter too and we tried to change the positioning of his bedtime feed so that he didn't feed to sleep. All in all this led to a good 45 minutes of howling and wailing when we tried to put him to bed. Checked for physical injury but could see none and he was warm, nappy dry. Gave him some calpol in case his cold was causing some unseen pain and I fed him to sleep. And again when he woke shortly afterwards. He slept with us that night, but still woke more often than usual for feeds. I think he must have just been desperately hungry.

So Sunday we reset everything to the way it used to be, made sure we had meals and naps at proper times and had a much better night. And no repeat of Saturday last night either. Thank goodness.

It is quite strange with him sleeping in another room though - I can't just lean over to check he's still breathing and am trying to resist the urge to go into his room frequently to check up!

We are starting to think also about how we get Z to sleep in the evenings. We reached a point in Ipswich where we could lie him down in his cot awake, read him a story and he would drop off to sleep himself. However now it seems that he'll only drop off if fed or rocked to sleep, which clearly needs to be got out of eventually as I'm planning to stop breast-feeding when he reaches a year. I'm not planning to consciously do anything about it just yet - until he's had several good nights in the cot at least - but last night it happened. Z fed, didn't fall asleep, I put him in his cot awake but tired, turned off the light and after a few minutes he dropped off. We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Ever so slightly disappointing

Headed off into Nottingham today for some shopping - I wanted to try out the bus route and wanted to go back to John Lewis to look for a winter coat for Z. Bus journey was fine, if long, and Z had a great time playing with the sticker on the window and marvelling at all the other passengers. That said, I don't think I'll be using the bus again until Z is happy to sit in a seat on his own as he would not sit still for much of the journey!

We'd also decided to be brave and try and feed Z out and about with a 'proper' lunch (as opposed to just milk). This is something we've not really tried yet and have timed other expeditions to either be home by his lunch time (12) or going into town afterwards. Usually, it's a bit of a hassle managing the time so we've not really done the 'pop into town for lunch' thing for a while.

I tried feeding Z in Norwich Debenhams weeks ago and was pleased to find they have a kind of baby station in their restaurants with a microwave, kitchen towel and sink, which makes things lovely and easy. We thought we'd tried John Lewis today but were really quite disappointed. Yes they have lovely highchairs, but they refused to heat up my homemade baby food ("health and safety or something") and said they could only heat up food they sell, pointing to a range of jars behind them. There was no station where we could sort out the food ourselves. So we didn't eat there and hurried home instead.

Disappointed because while I know jars are convenient etc etc, we have made a conscious decision to try and make Z's food ourselves in an effort to hopefully make things easier when he starts eating the same meals as us, and to be honest, think our meals are possibly more tasty? Having taken our own food to the store (lovely beef stew), we didn't really want to then buy something else and don't know whether he'd eat it or not.

So we won't be going there again for food just yet and it's putting us off trying other places for lunch. I feel a letter coming on (oh dear, I'm so turning into my mother!).

Despite this, it's a really good thing that John Lewis isn't in Long Eaton - I would be in there every day...bought a sewing machine today...whooops!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Can you overdose on Petit Filous?

Hmmm I'm starting to wonder. Zachary's feeding is going really well except that I keep defrosting a whole pot of fruit intending to use half for breakfast and half for lunch and then microwaving the whole damn lot at breakfast. So he's ending up with 2 yoghurts a day. Is that bad? I'm consoling myself with the thought that at least he'll be getting his calcium.

I was going great guns with Annabel although we've had a few days of rejects. Chicken, sweet potato and apple - lovely. Courgette and pea souper - lovely. Braised beef and sweet potato - lovely. Salmon, carrot and tomato - reject. Broccoli, sweet potato and green beans - reject. Leigh's pasta and tomato sauce - first night lovely, then rejected. But back on track with a chicken and rice thingy yesterday. We're trying him out on baked potato with a bit of tuna and sweetcorn tonight (yummy) and are trying to gradually get to a position where we can make Zachary a meal from what we're having for dinner, which will save on a lot of preparation and freezing of tiny containers.

I think finger food's still a way off though as no teeth in sight yet, although Zachary does seem to be chewing more and is starting to make 'ro-ro' type sounds when he talks which move his mouth in a chewy action. Tried bread the other day - Zachary touched it to his lips, pulled a face, tried to bang it on the table and then scrunched it into crumbs. Maybe another day.

(Oooo brief break there while I rescued Zachary from investigating my pile of papers and then clearing up the large pile of vomit he immediately produced!)

He's also now discovered the joy of rolling. We'd been waiting ages for him to start rolling and to be honest I'd just about given up and decided perhaps that wasn't something he was going to do. But after a few unexpected rolls (which produced a very startled expression on his face!) Zachary is now taking full advantage of his new movement capabilities, which combined with shuffling backwards and spinning on his tummy mean that he's now about as mobile as he could be without actually crawling! This is making for some very interesting (challenging!) nappy changes and dressing him in the morning. I'm having to learn to fix the nappy upside down, or else L helps me so we have one person distracting (or holding down!) at the top end while the other tries to clean and apply new nappy. It would be easier if he wasn't so bendy and didn't take such delight in everything!!!

Finally, Z is spending a lot of time on his hands and knees rocking forwards and back. No actual forward movement yet, but soon. Very soon.

On a non-baby related note it's been the first sunny, windy day for a few days so I put my washing out. Watched from the window as 2 tea-towels and a pair of L's pants went for a little flight round the garden. Nice.

There's something about Zachary

Poor little Zachary picked up a cold from my brother-in-law at the weekend (which I suspect I have now also caught - sore throat this morning) and has had a runny nose and cough for the last couple of days. Sadly the little snotty boy doesn't like me wiping his nose and consequently it goes everywhere when he's trying to get his head out of my reach, or decides to wipe on my trouser leg instead. This morning he achieved a "There's Something About Mary" moment... You know what I mean.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The return of the interwebs

Hurrah!

We finally have home broadband connected - it's only been a week and a half but it feels like an eternity. I didn't realise I was so reliant on it but when you can't just drop an email to someone or use the Vision box to keep up to date with Out of the Blue...it can all get too much!

The people in the house prior to us had cable for everything and we were surprised to see that both the phone line and the TV aerial to the roof had been severed! But all connected now and I'm just working my way through a few websites I need to catch up on (and yes, Lolcats is one!) before facing the inevitable torrent of Freecycle emails - having not yet been able to disconnect myself from the mailing list.

Well, it's been chaotic and tiring and busy but I think we're just about there now - all stuff moved in and unpacked, 2 hectic trips to IKEA have provided us with much more storage space, and there have been visitors galore. Today was the first 'proper' quiet day with L back at work...except that the new fridge we ordered arrived and couldn't get through the door. Fortunately L's dad was able to pop over and one door removal later the f/f is now safely esconsed in the kitchen.

New doctor and dentist have been discovered, along with church for me and Wiggles & Giggles for Zachary. Off to find a swimming pool tomorrow. Hopefully.

Finally, Z has moved to stage 2 for his weaning which kind of means the introduction of meat and dairy. He's on 3 meals a day now but I'm still having to make sure he gets enough breast milk as well. I am loving Annabel Karmel - made chicken with sweet potato and apple, and courgette and pea souper today. Both so tasty Z nearly lost most of his lunch and dinner to the parent feeding him. Whoooops!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Eating breakfast with a teaspoon

The house still looks like a bomb site but it feels a lot more packed up and sorted out. I think all the big stuff's been done now (apart from one or two loft boxes left) and there's just the niggling last minute jobs to sort out today before the movers arrive at 7am (!) tomorrow - disconnect washing machine, dismantle bed and cot, pack last lot of clothes and lamps, defrost freezer, clean kitchen cupboards, pack the cars, go to the tip, pack toiletries, vacuum and make sure we've taken everything with us! Zachary...where are you???

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Black Box

Since I got back from Lowestoft at just gone 4 I have spoken to our solicitors (finally exchanged contracts - hurrah!), tried to pack another box and failed when I remembered I'm supposed to be doing dinner tonight, got as far as partially defrosting the sausages when Z decided he was incredibly hungry (not surprising since he last ate at 1), fed Z half a papaya and boobed him, and now I'm being shown exciting things on my husband's blog... namely this



(I knoo it snoo cos I driv there)

and this







Thank goodness L's on the ball - sausages now in ... but I still need to go into the loft tonight...clearing 6 years worth of hoarded goodies. Freecycle is my saviour.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Oh dearie, dear

Now that I've finally set myself up on Flickr, I'm obsessing a bit about photos I can upload. I've already got my Postcrossing cards sorted and am beginning the slightly mind-numbingness of scanning in the stamps too...(don't ask why)

I'm thinking of adding my baking endeavours to the next set and including the recipes in the description of the photo. Pulled out some photos of the birthday cake I made L this year and the 'really impressive' icing...ho hum. I had visions of creating a wonderful cake covered with hundreds of lovely purples rosettes. Two things conspired against me - using butter straight from the fridge meant that none of the rosettes actually stuck to the top of the cake and I was forced to do lines of piping instead, and the icing bag leaks fat from the butter. Makes your hands lovely and slippery!



But with that in mind I was pleased to find this website - Cake Wrecks - I'm sure mine wasn't quite as awful as some of these!

And this is another site I keep returning to - It's Lovely I'll Take It. Damn you Foster for pointing it out!!

Yesterday's moral dilemma

Is it wrong to eat an entire batch of Millionaire's shortbread in 2 days??

I thought probably yes so have slowed down my consumption of it! After neither of my last two attempts at cakey stuff (a variation of this recipe with real banana [not great - they come out too much like mini sponge cakes!] and banana and peanut butter muffins) turned out to be particularly sweet L asked for something a bit more indulgent.

So I had a go at a Mary Berry millionaire's shortbread recipe - it is soooo good! I suspect this has something to do with the 2 tins of condensed milk in the caramel (I was very restrained and most of the tins made it into the mix, although I did end up scraping them out with a spoon when realistically there was no need for the last little bits to go in the bowl....). The caramel came out quite soft (I may not have let it boil enough before simmering) so we've kept the tub in the fridge and this has worked marvellously.

L was quite amused by the scare-mongering directions given at the start of the recipe - "Do make sure you stir the caramel mixture continuously. If you leave it for even a second it will catch on the bottom of the pan and burn (see photograph on pages 154-5)" - note to self, not an easy part of the recipe when Z is in a grumpy, needing to be held kind of mood...

Sadly the photo was of the finished article, not a burnt pan! I had a go at marbling the chocolate topping - not entirely successfully! It's just a weird melange of the 3 chocolates. Still can't really go wrong with that!



For the shortbread :
9 oz (250g) plain flour
3 oz (75g) caster sugar
6 oz (175g) butter, softened

For the caramel :
4 oz (100g) butter or margarine
4 oz (100g) light muscavado sugar
2 x 14 oz (397g) tins of condensed milk

For the topping :
7 oz (200g) plain or milk chocolate, melted

Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Lightly grease a 13" x 9" (33 x 23 cm) swiss roll tin.

Shortbread - mix the flour and caster sugar in a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Knead the mixture together until it forms a dough, then press into the base of the prepared tin. Prick the shortbread lightly with a fork (I forgot this bit and L was highly amused when I leapt from my seat out of the room screaming "I forgot to prick it!"). Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until firm to the touch and very lightly browned. Cool in the tin.

Caramel - measure the butter, sugar and condensed milk into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, stirring continuously for about 5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened slightly. Pour over the shortbread and leave to cool.

Chocolate - pour over the cold caramel and leave to set.

Cut into squares.

Those of a nervous disposition look away now

This post is about poo.

I don't know if it the fate of all new mums, or just peculiar to me but I have become obsessed by poo. Zachary's, not mine! Colour, consistency, smell, frequency and quantity have all become little mini obsessions since birth. I suspect it could be because quite often a baby's poo/wee can reveal if they're not very well - so if they don't wee enough they're dehydrated...green poo can mean they're unwell...constipation is not good etc etc.

A baby's poo changes quite rapidly after birth when they're getting rid of all the nasty stuff that's built up in there during the pregnancy (black tar-like stuff) to when feeding settles in and you know what you should be expecting to appear (bright yellow - nice!). We knew when to expect lake of poo (early every morning) but now that we're weaning Zachary, it's all changing again along with the return of my preoccupation with all things poo! Let's just say we're fairly sure that his system appears to be digesting the solid food effectively.

Today's ineptitude

Had a busy day today - needed to be out of the house by about quarter to twelve to meet friends from work for lunch, then called in to see my Mum in Stokesby for a cuppa before heading home. Had a complete mare getting out of Norwich which was entirely my own fault!

First turned the wrong way out of the carpark so headed into town instead of back the way I had come in. Then took the wrong lane coming out onto Prince of Wales Road and again managed to get myself headed back towards town instead of the station and the A47. Decided to try and get out via the law courts rather than just go all the way round the next roundabout and back on myself...this would be fine if I hadn't ignored the 'no through road' sign thinking that it looked as though I would be able to get through (why did I think that??!!). And guess what. It was a no through road so came back on myself again. I should know better.

But it was a great day - capped off by the fact that as I was driving back into Ipswich this evening I noticed my flies were undone. I didn't use the toilet at the restaurant at lunch. Or at my Mum's. Whooops!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A 4th Ending?

So there I am beggaring about in Facebook looking at all the groups/shows etc my friends have recently become 'fans' of. I wonder if there's a group for Clue fans - yes there is! And in the group I find tell of a fabled 4th ending. Intrigued I follow the link - and there it is! Sadly no video version (apparently they never finished filming it) but here is the rundown...

(snaffled from www.cluedofan.com)(and here is a another link for the movie)

"Clue : The Movie - The Fourth Ending
The ending appears in the Movie Storybook and in Clue : The Novel.

Here's the run down of the ending as provided by Michael Akers (HUGE thanks to him!):

Wadsworth reveals that the murder is none other than... Professor Plum. He starts off telling in the same way as the "everybody didit" ending that Professor Plum knew that Mr. Boddy was still alive, etc. But how could he kill the cook? Well! Professor Plum was in league with Mrs. Peacock and they both killed everybody together.

Or did they? The gun is missing, as Professor Plum who has proclaimed his innocence figures out. Whoever has the gun is the murderer.

The murderer is revealed to be... Wadsworth, the butler. He did it all. He goes into a confession about how he always tried to be perfect. He tried to be the perfect husband, but his wife killed herself. He tried to be the perfect butler, but was driven to killing his boss... So, in doing so, he resolved to commit the perfect murder... but that can't be, because there are six witnesses to his confession.

Wrong, he points out. The champagne was poisoned, and all of the suspects will die in a matter of hours unless they get to a hospital. He then runs to the various rooms ripping out the phone cords. He then tells how he is going to lock them in to die... but the doorbell rings. It's the elderly evangelist again.

The evangelist lunges for Wadsworth's gun, and wrestles him to the ground as the other police come in. The police ask whodunit, and wadsworth begins to retell the whole story (as he did at the beginning of the murder revelations).

The cops are watching mesmerized as he tells the story. But when he gets to the part where he opens the door to find colonel mustard, he steps outside, closes, and locks the door. The cops and guests are locked in, but eventually bust out of the conservatory to escape.

Meanwhile, wadsworth has jumped into the car and speeds away... but not totally, because he then hear the "grrrrr" of the german shepard in the backseat.

Fade out. The End."

Nice.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Kerching!

What government announcement (effective Wednesday) will save us nearly £2,000 in one fell swoop??

Answer here.

Hurrah!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

spEak You’re bRanes

Finding myself wafting towards this site more and more, it highlights some of the more moronic entries on the BBC's Have Your Say website...a couple of great posts since my last visit - not sure what's funnier, the complaints or the blogger's comments.

Here

and

here

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Messing about in boats

And after all the excitement on Sunday, we had a busy Bank Holiday too. Dad bought us vouchers for a trip on the River Stour (with the River Stour Trust) for Christmas and they would run out at the end of September! So in a desperate effort to get on a trip in time before we move we booked up for Monday (although I think neither of us really felt like it Monday morning!).

It was actually a great little trip - on the Stour from Sudbury to Great Henny, lunch at the Henny Swan and then back again. We learnt lots of interesting bits and pieces about the river and its deemed importance during the First World War (hence pill boxes every half mile along the route) as the dividing line between Suffolk and Essex. One of the aims of the Trust is to make the river navigable again to the sea, which includes building and restoring locks along the way. A very expensive process, but they have two sections of the river open and another lock in the process of being built which will extend the Stratford St Mary end of the river.

This lock was completed about 4 years ago at a cost of around £350,000 (I think!)



Passed a fete and duck race on the way home - yes, hundreds of plastic duckies set free in the river and raced to the finish line. We only saw the aftermath...



And I finally managed to get a reasonable picture of the swan and cygnets we passed twice



It was a really good day, although I'm not sure how Zachary felt about his first time on the water!

What's in a name?

This weekend saw Zachary's christening - I was really pleased that we've managed to fit it in before the move and could have it at the church where we married six years ago. It's the church I attend so I know a lot of the congregation and it was great to share the service with them as well as with our family and friends. The christening was almost 6 years to the day from our wedding, but unfortunately Peggy isn't preaching this weekend.

Jamie (L's brother and one of the godparents) stayed with us on Saturday night and brought some gifts with him - one was Z's first car! Very appropriate from a car sales manager...



The service was lovely - part of the normal morning worship at church and the minister, Peggy, really made us feel part of the whole service rather than the christening just being tagged in. Her theme was 'Who do you think you are?' and she was looking a bit at family history and how we are all children of God. I felt quite emotional as we stood before the congregation and thought about the significance of what we were doing. Z was resplendent in the Hutchins family christening gown



and I was really pleased he could wear it - I love little family traditions like that! There was a slight hitch in proceedings when it came to the part where we are offered a candle - Sam tried to light it from the large candle which is always burning during services and managed to put both of them out! There were no matches nearby and panic nearly ensued, fortunately Jamie was on hand with his lighter to save the day. I knew we had chosen well for the godparents!!



The buffet arrived on time (thank goodness) and the cake was excellent (both sorts!). Z again had a really busy day but coped like a trooper and I think secretly loved being passed around and all the attention. A wonderful day.

The Booth Bash

We've had an exciting couple of weekends - first came Emma and Paul's wedding on the 16th. A great do - the weather held, which was good because the reception was in a marquee in Emma's parents' garden! On the old tennis court grass! With photos taken in the rose garden!

Yes, it was very posh but we Caples did ourselves proud! The service was great - the bride and groom got us all singing along to "When I'm 64" at the end - and the least said about my fulfillment of the witness duties the better...suffice to say I was never where I was supposed to be! The reception was lovely - food delicious and the speeches moving without being overly sentimental. The best man described how the bride and groom originally got together - a good set up for another joke further along the speech and quite true, although perhaps not something the bride might previously have mentioned to her parents! It was a great chance to catch up with uni friends we haven't seen for a long time, and Z loved all the cuddles he got! He even got walked around the garden by a very determined little bridesmaid during the meal who managed to get him off to sleep. Hooray. In fact Z coped very well with the whole day - even an unexpected shower of red wine while he was trying to get off for a nap... The band in the evening were great too and we finished off the day with bacon and sausage butties - yum.

The happy couple...



And the gorgeous wedding cake... (someone was very handy with the sugarcraft flowers)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bugger

Okay, the Cobra was one of the cops in disguise, but not the one I thought...

PS

The "cop" on "vacation from Chicago" is the Cobra in disguise!!!! Can noone see it???

J B F

After a couple of days suffering withdrawal, a new copy of s5 Murder, She Wrote has arrived! I'm making up for lost time as I type.

When I was pregnant, there was a lot of talk about relaxation and how important it is for expectant mums - especially for the first child, as there's likely to never be the same chance again to really focus on yourself. One story we were told was of a woman who's relaxation consisted of making sure she sat down and watched Neighbours every day. Apparently when the baby was born, any time it was agitated, it could be calmed by the TV theme - supposedly because it recognised the music from the pregnancy!

Clearly then I'm only watching MSW now because Zachary likes the theme music from when I was pregnant...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Murder, She ... What!!!

I have been slowly (or not so slowly on fed up days!) working my way through Murder, She Wrote from series 1. I have been aided and abetted in this (and actually positively encouraged) by my loving husband who has been thoughtfully buying me each new series as needed.

Finished series 4 yesterday and I opened series 5 this afternoon (still sealed in cellophane) to start ... only to find that none of the 6 discs were in their boxes!! Hello!

So I am planning to send a strongly worded email to Amazon about this but have concerns as to whether they'll believe me...after all there's no proof now that the original seal has been removed! My only hope is if there was a dodgy batch.

Fortunately my need was sated by a series 5 episode which had been tacked on to the end of the last series 4 disc - presumably as a taster. My goodness - you could hardly tell the difference between the establishing shots on the ski slope and the studio 'outside' shots for the close ups. No, really. And we were especially impressed with the plastic quality of the snow fall (when it wasn't just tacked on at the final edit) and the fantastic acting of the first man to die. Ah Jessica. We love you so.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Christening cake

Zachary's christening is next Sunday and we'd almost got to the point of ordering a cake for him when L's mum kindly pointed out that she still had the top section of our wedding cake in her deep freeze. Specifically saved for this occasion. Whoops.

So, cake has been got out of the freezer but we were slightly dubious as to how it would taste 6 years on and have ordered a sponge anyway - the intention being to sample the fruit cake in the privacy of our own home before foisting it on our unsuspecting public.

Tested the cake today - yummy!! I love fruit cake. Wondering how long you could keep a fruit cake if you really tried - I found this. Wow. Sod the family silver and that cupboard I've always had my eye on - I want to be left a fruit cake in someone's Will. Better yet - is this our chance to start off a family tradition???

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Go Elephants!

I visited Norwich today with my mum and sister to see the elephants. Go Elephants! is a huge public art exhibition spread across the city centre, displaying 53 large elephants decorated by artists and community groups in the region. There are also 15 or so smaller elephants in the Castle Mall shopping centre which have been decorated by primary schools in the county and 19 or so tiny elephants hidden around the city.

It's great! We saw about 20 today and it took us on a fair trek around and there were lots of others wandering around with the map in their hands. It put me in mind of the cows exhibited in New York years ago when L and I visited.

There were some problems with vandalism initially but since then it seems that people have respected the exhibition and none of the ones we saw today had been graffitied.

The exhibition runs until the end of August, when the elephants will all be auctioned off - 75% of the proceeds being split between the Born Free Foundation and CLIC Sargent.

Here's one of my favourites...

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Baby Rice...my new best friend!



Hot on the heels of yesterday, we gave the baby rice a go today. Mixed with some of my milk it was much thinner than the apple we tried and would smell and taste a bit familiar because of the milk. And it was a great success. Zachary finished the whole portion and was even "helping" us pop the spoon in his mouth...baby rice ended up all over the place but he was eating it and even seemed to enjoy the experience. Hurrah.

So...baby rice again tomorrow to check it wasn't a fluke and then perhaps some apple thinned down with milk next week. Pureed up some carrot this afternoon as well so we have a good stock in the freezer now. Yum yum.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Weaning...Stage 1

The Food

So, having decided to start weaning Zachary this weekend and that we're going to try and give him real food as far as possible, I had a fit of earthmotherdom this morning and thought I'd get some purees underway ready for eating.

I had Annabel Karmel to the ready (although everything I made was just fruit and water!) and a baby food grinder we'd bought as every other pureeing/blending piece of equipment we had went to Derby in the great June clearout.

However, trying any kind of cooking or activity which involves me not handling Zachary for any length of time is risky at the very least...and so it was today. I managed to get 2 apples and a pear peeled and chopped. The apple cooking away merrily in the pan. Just as it was ready to begin pureeing, Z began to make a fuss. So there's me trying to ignore his increasingly desperate pleas for attention while grinding boiling hot apple sauce. Nice. To make matters worse, there's a little twisty knob on the top of the grinder which needs to be tight to remove the grinding implement for cleaning and fruit extraction, but loose for the actual grinding...guess which setting I had it on while I was trying to grind apple. Hmmm.

So, Z is griping, I'm frantically trying to get as much hot apple through the grinder as I can, the setting on the turny thing is wrong so every now and then the grinder pops out and hot apple shoots out of the base and over my hand. Oh yes, and over the side of the fridge. And down the side of the cupboard (where unfortunately it will have to stay until we move and take out the fridge...). And all over the worktop.

Otherwise the grinder works pretty well. Needless to say I didn't get to the sweet potato or squash I was going to try! Mind you the squash has a best before date on it of January. I think I need a stiff drink before I open it up. I'm kind of expecting it to be full of very dry or very mouldy vegetable, just sitting inside the husk of a shell. Tasty.

But despite this I still managed to produce 3 little tubs of pureed pear and 2 of apple. Each tub should do about 2 servings. Felt pretty good about this - after I'm calmed down!

The Feeding

Bouyed by the success of the fruit preparation, L suggested we actually try Z on some today and so we did.

The fruit went in okay, but then Z produced a look somewhere between disgust and utter confusion which just sent us into hysterics. Poor boy, he was actually starting to back off from the spoon after a couple of goes! Most of the apple came out again - apart from the fruit which he'd obviously retained in his mouth after the first spoonful which made him cough and had to spit the rest out.

Not great, but not awful either. We didn't make him cry and he seemed pretty happy once he'd stopped gagging... Our thoughts - the apple puree was probably a bit thick and we need to mix it with some milk to make it much more liquidy. Bearing in mind Z has only ever eaten (?) liquid to this point, going from that to fairly thick puree was probably not going to be wholly successful.

Going to try baby rice mixed with my milk tomorrow - take it back to basics and try the thinnest blandest thing we can to hopefully help Z get more used to the idea of having something new in his mouth which he needs to swallow. And by using my milk it will have something which smells and tastes familiar.

Other baby stuff

Z is truly loving playing on his tummy - he's getting his chest off the floor with straight arms now rather than just using the power of his tummy. I think I may have also seen him trying to push his way onto his knees... But in the meantime he also has a great little sideline in moving backwards. Nothing speedy or that you can see with the naked eye really, but if you look away and then back again in about 10 minutes, he will have moved!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Baking time

Had a mad splurge on baking again this morning. Repeated pomegranate granita (which was highly successful on L's birthday, but I must remember to break up the ice crystals before it becomes a solid block of juice...) and also made some lovely flapjack from Rachel Allen's new book. Could possibly have done with a little more cooking as the very middle is still very gooey and breaks apart a little too easily, but it's so moreish! Thank goodness I'm taking most of it to work this afternoon and only leaving a few squares here...except that would be great if I hadn't just asked L to bring me back some more oats and golden syrup so I can make another batch.

Bad girl.

Why won't Zachary go to sleep in his cot?

Answers on a postcard. Please.

I think I may have mentioned this in a Blog before (yes I have - just found it) but a few weeks ago we were having real problems getting Z to sleep in his cot. He would go to sleep at bedtime there with no (or few!) problems. He'd then wake for his next feed, which I'd give him lying down in our bed and then the fun starts. If I leave him in the bed where he's fed then there are no problems, he'll sleep through to next feed. But the minute I pick him up to put him in the cot he starts jiffling, rubbing his eyes and eventually wailing.

Sometimes this was easily cured with a burp but more often than not it could take a good half hour or so to get him back to bed - having first settled him on my shoulder and then transferring him with extreme caution and care. Several times he would end up in our bed for the night because he would settle much more easily. However, no matter how many times I put him in the middle of the bed he always seems to gravitate towards me during the night. And while it's lovely and enchanting the first few times, being pushed back to 2 inches at the side of the bed and having a baby yammed up against my armpit most of the night is not really conducive to a good night's sleep!!! Me that is. Z sleeps soundly on!

We tried putting him on his side - worked for a night, a dummy - worked for a night (and now he just pudoings it out of his mouth with over zealous sucking!), and finally L hit on the idea that it might be a comfort thing and we tried leaving our arms round him as much as we could when laying him down until he had settled properly and this - hurrah - was highly successful.

Had then several nights where Z would wake to feed, but I could get him back in his cot immediately and without any waking and even progressed as far as two nights last week when he only woke once during the night to feed (rather than 2 or 3). Hurray! This coincided with the hottest days and nights so far - Z slept in just his nappy but seemed really happy.

But things have reverted. I don't know if it's just his development, or he's too used to our bed, or it's a sign that we need to start weaning him a bit early, or whether the late night on Saturday upset his routine more than we thought, or even that now the nights are cooler we've not got his happy sleeping temperature quite right, but we've had 2 nights now when the cot has been refused again. And he's waking 2 or 3 times again for feeds. It might not even be the cot, but something else that we haven't identified yet. It's even been difficult to get him to go to sleep initially at bedtime in it.

Last night after the 1am feed, it took 6 or 7 goes to get him back into the cot, and only then because he'd woken himself up properly and was content to lie there thumping his legs and crinkling his noisy toy while he settled back to sleep. I tried the arms round him thing (although I think my patience with that is short when I'm tired, and I'm always aware of my fringe dangling in his face which I can't think would be comfortable - itchy!), tried putting him on one of my pillows (smell of me / softer thing to lie on), tried changing his nappy, tried putting him on his side. None successful. As I say, it was only really when Z'd got himself all awake that he was more manageable, but I don't think that's the long term answer!

I suspect that it will just be something we have to work through again and simply persevere with the cot and transferring him until it comes good once more. My other strategy if this doesn't work is to try feeding him in my arms rather than lying on the bed in the hope that half of the job of transferring him is already done and moving him should then be less disrupting.

But who knows. This is all guess work here!

On the up side, these nighttime shenanigans don't seem to be affecting his temperament during the day thankfully, and he's now almost sitting up properly on his own (although he is still drifting forwards and sideways quite a lot!) and is really enjoying playing on his tummy - legs kicking and little squeals of delight and everything. My beautiful boy.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ham 'n' Eggs

We had a visit today from one of my old school friends and her family. She had a baby in September and little Alexander is getting on so well. He looks way different from when we saw him in January (pre-Zachary) and is a really speedy crawler! He's also saying a few words now and wants to be up and walking around ALL the time. Lovely, but probably extremely exhausting for the parent holding his hands! Gave us a good view though as to what we might have to look forward to in a few months...

It gave me a chance to pretend I'm a real housewife and I actually prepared lunch rather than leaving it for L to arrange. Spent the morning doing a bit of cooking and tidying up and even Z was helpful by falling asleep for an hour (after two nappy changes and a feed!). I made Rachel Allen's ham and egg pie which actually came out quite well. I was a little dubious when the custardy mixture didn't appear to be filling the pie dish at all but it came out okay. Didn't take a piccie but here is the recipe (quite eggy - I think I've now had my week's allowance!):

200g shortcrust pastry made with 125g flour, 75g butter, pinch of salt and 1/2-1 beaten egg (mix flour, salt and butter using the rubbing in method, use egg to bind and then chill in clingfilm for 1/2 hour before use)

15g butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
6 eggs
75ml double cream
150g cooked ham or cooked bacon rashers
1 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180c (350f, gas 4). Roll out the pastry and line a 25cm (10") ovenproof plate. Trim the pastry so that it is a bit bigger than the plate, and then fold up the edges slightly so that you have a slight lip all the way around. This will prevent the cream from running off the plate when you put it in the oven. Place the pastry on its plate in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

Filling - melt the butter in a small saucepan add the onions and cook over a gentle heat until soft. Whisk 2 of the eggs in a bowl, add the cream, the cooked onions, chopped ham and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour this in the pastry case. Carefully break the remaining eggs onto the tart, trying to keep the yolks intact.

Bake for 25-35 minutes in the preheated oven (just under 30 mins worked for me) until the custard is set in the centre and the eggs on top are just cooked (hmmm... mine came out well cooked!). Serve warm or allow to cool.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Quick! He's making a dash (all right - a slow squirm) for it!

Z has learnt a new trick - how to evade his rocky chair...



Give him a good twenty minutes and he'll be out, on his tummy, licking the leg of the chair...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mosaic meme

Saw this on a friend's blog and thought I'd have a go...



1. What is your first name? (Kathryn)
2. What is your favourite food? (roast chicken)
3. What high school did you attend? (Caister High School)
4. What is your favourite colour? (blue)
5. Who is your celebrity crush? (John Cusack)
6. What is your favourite drink? (banana milkshake)
7. What is your dream vacation? (Australia)
8. What is your favourite dessert? (apple crumble [and custard!])
9. What do you want to be when you grow up? (a musician playing film scores - orchestral musician?)
10. What do you love most in life? (music)
11. One word to describe you (sensible)
12. Your Flickr name (hurrah - newly created (previously I've secretly been stealing L's - beaglebrown)

Some of the photos do not seem connected at all - should I have been running the search in Tags only rather than Full Text search?

1. Kathryn's Gee's Bend quilts, 2. Getting into British cuisine, 3. JELLICOE BRIDGE, 4. End Of The Day, 5. Being a John Malkovich Nesting Doll, 6. You're one second from being mashed...., 7. Cute Tiger Moth Caterpillar, 8. White and Blue, 9. up close, 10. My Inspiration , My Life ... My City ... my ... Vancouver, 11. ♦ Nostalgia..., 12. zzzzzz

Friday, July 25, 2008

Oh yes...

...and he's covering everything in drool too.

Week off

Well...L's had a week off work - he'd been saving holiday for when we move, but as that didn't seem likely for a while thought he'd make use of some for his birthday week!

Been pretty busy so far - visited his family in Derby over the weekend and also managed to catch up with uni friends which were great. We also talked long and hard about the house. One viewer we had is looking to buy the house as an investment property and made what we initially thought to be a frankly ridiculously low offer on the house.

However, since the house we want to buy has also gone down in price and given that if we leave ours on the market much longer it's going to have to go down again we decided to accept the offer - but try to get it upped a little. So the buyer came round for a second look on Tuesday and we did manage to get his offer raised slightly which we've now accepted!!

Brilliant.

Had a great day Wednesday with L for his birthday - I even cooked. I know. Stand back in amazement. Sadly the meal went almost too well and we've agreed to start sharing the cooking more. Damn. Going to have to increase my repertoire now! Here's L's summary of the day.

Thursday we travelled over to see my sister and brother-in-law (BIL), stopping off at my mum's for lunch first. Amazingly z went to sleep first time in his travel cot (after a ropey night in Derby), and we think it was beacause the room was nice and dark compared to L's mum and dad's room. We're going to experiment with a blackout curtain (aka blanket) over our window to see if it helps...

Z off to bed easily left the way clear for a BBQ and a few games so we had a great (if late and tiring) evening.

On the house front, agreeing the sale meant I've had to officially notify workt that I'm not going back and that we're moving...I want them to do our conveyancing and it'd be a dead giveaway when the particulars of sale arrive...

And finally (after some wranglings and shenanigans involving us being not quite brave enough to hold out for the price we wanted) we've agreed a price on the house we want to buy! Hurrah! So it's all going ahead. The best news is that because our chap's buy-to-let and the people we're buying from are moving in with family, the chain's tiny. All systems go.

So we're home. L's off to a stag do tomorrow and I'm off to my mum's. Z? Well he's still busy putting everything he can get his hands on into his mouth - yesterday hewrithed his way out his rocky chair (he has now perfected the 'there's no way I'm staying in this/going in that body shuffle), managed to tip forward onto his front and then spet a happy few minutes licking the leg of the chair. Nice.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Baby Topgear?

Zachary - 0 to screaming abdabs in less time than it takes to put on his dungarees.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dear Diary




Mummy says I am coming on leaps and bounds now. Something to do with the fact that I've 'found my feet.' Duh. I knew where they were all along, it's just that now I choose to hold them. Mummy seems to like it when I play with them...

..except when she's changing my nappy for some reason. I can't understand it - if I play with my feet then my bottom's in the air which makes things easier doesn't it? Of course can now get my hands down to all those areas which are usually covered by my nappy. I like to play a fun game with Mummy by seeing how many times I can get my hand down there while her back's turned and then quickly try to get my hand in my mouth before she spots what I've been doing.

At baby group today I saw my friends Holly, Samuel and Emily. Holly's only a little bit older than me and she has TWO teeth already! She's says she plays games with her teeth on her Mummy when she's being fed - I can't wait until I can do that. What fun!

Mummy said I was going to help her make a card for Nannie and Grumps by doing prints of my hands and feet. That's all very well, but if Mummy thinks I'm going to let her mess with my hands - their proper and rightful place is in my mouth. Creating dribble. Silly Mummy.

Still she managed to get a sock off and paint my foot with this cold stuff before I realised what was happening. So I thought then would be a good time to show off my skills to the other Mummies there. First I put my hand all over my painted foot. Then while Mummy was fumbling about for a wipe and trying to stop me touching it again, I put my feet together (I still had a sock on the other foot). Then I got a bit bored waiting for Mummy to get me wiped up and tried to stand on Mummy's leg at the same time as putting my hand in my mouth.

I heard Mummy mutter something about why she only had 2 hands, but I wasn't listening - I was too busy charming the pants off the other Mummies with my smile and new raspberry noise. Eventually I think we managed to get a print of my foot. Silly Mummy though, instead of giving up while the going was good, she decided to do the other foot. So I just repeated my skillz.

By this time I was totally exhausted so I moaned at Mummy for a bit until she put me on her lovely comfy shoulder and rocked me to sleep. Happy days.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Friendships pt 2

Hurrah! I was brave and asked another mum out for coffee - had a lovely time in town on Tuesday with her chatting about life, the universe and babies. She's in Scotland for 3 weeks now visiting family but said she'd get in touch on her return. So hopefully I wasn't too much of a weirdo!!

This season's must have item...




...muslin square!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Weekending

It's been a mix of a weekend - highs and lows. L's done a great summary of how Zachary's getting on here, and this summarises the lows of the weekend neatly (along with lots of really great stuff Z's been doing). As he says, we've had a bit of a nightmare with Z over the past week and had real problems getting him to sleep in his cot. Last night was absolutely awful until we finally managed to get him to sleep (with another feed) and his cries were real screams. I tried to give him some skin to skin time but that just seemed to make things worse. So we bought a dummy today and it seems to have worked.

It's really strange - I know plenty of mums who've probably had no qualms at all about using a dummy but I really felt we'd be able to managed without one especially as Z had started to suck his hand to self-comfort. It felt like we'd given in when we bought them today but he had trouble dropping off again tonight and the extra comfort seems to have worked. We had thought it might be his tummy (eczema) causing the problem, but you could quite often get him settled on a shoulder (tummy therefore rubbing against you) but he'd complain as soon as he was put in the cot. And in fact I think we've talked through every possible reason for this sudden dislike/discomfort in his cot and it seems as though it may just be him growing and changing in his needs. So we'll see how we get on.

Otherwise Z's been a real joy recently and the daytimes are lovely with him - full of smiles and so alert and wanting to interact. He's also got a new noise now which he's been trying out today - an almost raspberry! It's producing more bubbles and saliva than rasp at the moment but he sounds lovely trying it out.

The other question that's been bugging us is whether it would be mean for us to teach him the wrong pronunciation of words...yes I know it would! But it might be funny for a while...see I knew there was a reason we shouldn't be parents!

Apart from the nights, the weekend's been great and my sister and brother-in-law stayed last night and played board games by the bucket load with us. Ralph won the most games of all of us - bah! My Ticket to Ride performances was abysmal (because I was left piddling about in Europe - sorry Western Europe as my playmates were quick to point out!) to say the least, but we did have fun being mad scientists for It's Alive. Like Beetle but building a Frankenstein's monster. Despite L's claim that he would out-mad-scientist us all, Ralph won both of those games.

So now it's off to the Geek to record some game playing!