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.




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


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


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


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 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 rice ended up all over the place but he was eating it and even seemed to enjoy the experience. Hurrah. 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.