Waiting

So this is what it’s like hanging around waiting for a baby to arrive.

Yes, I’m still here. I’m not even due for another week but our son was already 10 days old by now. We had honestly thought he would arrive late and nowhere near moving day so I never did any waiting around for labour to start. Which means I feel like I’m overdue.

So last week I was twiddling my thumbs a bit. I have been prepared for the baby to arrive for a while and the things I tend to think of to keep me occupied are often too physical and tiring. I obviously have a small boy to keep me occupied the majority of the time which helps, but there are those moments when he’s pushing Thomas around the train track for the umpteenth time and my mind wanders onto ‘where is this baby?!’ Perhaps the baby has realised that if it stays inside, it can ‘eat’ gelato. Well, the gelato cake is all gone now!

There are two sides to everything, of course. Whilst baby is inside, I am getting a good amount of sleep and spending time one to one with my little man, even if sometimes that means watching TV having cuddles because Mummy doesn’t have the energy to do anything else (having cuddles is a huge thing actually because he has only become affectionate in the last few months!). I have time at the moment to do things like baking and catching up on TV. But baby being outside will mean, after a couple of weeks, more mobility for me and no more waddling.

When baby is outside, though, sleep will become a distant memory. And how is our son going to react to sharing Mummy and Daddy with a tiny person who requires a lot of attention? Beans on toast will probably become a regular evening meal and shop bought cakes may well become the norm for a while. Plus I’ll wish I had all the hours I have now to do things I want to do or need to do. But we’ll have our baby!

All of this means I am quite up and down emotionally at the moment. I know, that’s also called ‘pregnancy’! But after a weekend of being a bit poorly, today my energy returned and whilst our son was at pre school I was (comparatively) very productive – I did some washing, vacuumed the house and put dinner in the slow cooker. I didn’t rush around doing these so I don’t imagine it will encourage the baby to make an appearance, but it has been really nice to feel a bit more like me. Productive me. Albeit still waddling.

I’d still love for the baby to come sooner rather than later. Our son was only tiny when he was born but caused a lot of damage, so I’m very aware that every day the baby stays in, it is getting bigger. I need to learn to be patient, trust God more and keep myself occupied. And enjoy all the things I can still do before baby comes.

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Married to a ‘proper’ person

I am married to a 30-year-old. How did that happen?! Hubby was 21 when I married him and I often think of us as still being about 24. So how he’s got to be 30 I don’t really know. Our son ‘bought’ him a Star Wars Lego set containing Storm Troopers which kept them both entertained for a while, so he’s still young at heart.

When we’ve been to friends’ weddings in the last few years I’ve often thought, wow, the bride/groom (whichever one I don’t know very well) seems old and like a ‘proper’ person. By old, I mean the same age as us or maybe a couple of years older. I just don’t see myself as that old! And yet, next year I too will be 30.

Anyway, birthdays mean cake. And at the moment, birthdays mean two cakes.

So for his actual 30th birthday, instead of making the traditional cricket cake I made a chocolate Victoria sponge decorated with chocolate fingers and Aero mint bubbles.

Chocolate birthday cake
Chocolate birthday cake

I’ve seen this sort of cake around a lot recently and thought I’d give it a whirl. It was a nice easy one for our son to help me decorate, too! You need about three packs of chocolate fingers and if you have a pre-schooler helping you, your supply may diminish quite quickly as you decorate, leaving a few gaps. It’s also a hard cake to cut due to the bubbles.

A few days after his birthday, we had all of hubby’s immediate family round to celebrate the big 3-0. We decided to have takeaway pizza (from an Italian restaurant) and takeaway gelato (from Unico) to save me racing round the kitchen at 8 months pregnant cooking for 20 people. I’m so glad we did!

This meant I only had to worry about making the birthday cake and providing food for tea time. So I made the usual cricket birthday cake (plain Victoria sponge with green buttercream icing and cricket figures), only I made it larger than I would usually so that everyone could have a slice. It’s a very easy cake to make. The only issue is usually placing the cricket figures in the right place.

Cricket birthday cake
Cricket birthday cake

One of my sisters-in-law helped me this year however in all the excitement of blowing out candles and being given his main birthday present (tank paintballing!), I have no idea if they were in the right place. Oh well, until next year…

GBBO – Episode 8

I watched episode 8 with my mum last week but have been so busy with a small boy’s birthday that I am only just writing up my thoughts now.

My mum is supporting Tamal, and I think I am too. It’s interesting that none of the bakers have been consistently brilliant, and of the remaining bakers only Flora hasn’t won a technical or achieved star baker. I wonder what that means for who will win?

Cream horns. Not something I plan to bake soon (I’m seeing a theme…). I loved that Mary said she wanted them filled all the way to the bottom, just like she wanted the vol-au-vents well filled. But it did seem a bit like the first round was more about flavours than baking.

I’m also sure that in previous series of GBBO, bakers haven’t been so sure about puff pastry and yet this year they can all produce it with their eyes closed! GBBO has clearly taught the nation more about baking.

Ok, seriously, making an eclair tower?! At least there was some room for error as they were given a two-hour lunch break in which they would see whether or not their creations would stay standing. I appreciate that they were a little mean in doing this but as they said, the real ones are expected to stay standing for a few hours.

And moving onto my baking experiences in the last week. I made a simple traybake which baked in a disposable tray and attempted to decorate it by icing digger for our son’s third birthday last week. Decoration is definitely not my strong point. Admittedly I could have tried harder by printing off a picture to use as a template!

Digger cake - from a safe distance
Digger cake – from a safe distance

He saw the cake in the morning, blew out the candles and then I cut it in half and sent half to pre-school for him to share with his friends. This was such a simple way of providing cake for pre-school! I couldn’t be bothered with icing lots of little cupcakes and this way we had some cake for home, too.

We had a family gathering on Saturday to celebrate his birthday again and for this I made his ‘proper’ birthday cake, a Thomas cake, which was surprisingly easy if a little time consuming although that might be due to my present state.

Thomas cake
Thomas cake

I’d seen a few photos online of this idea and made up how I would do it. I made two 4-egg Victoria sponge cakes. One became the base and was sliced horizontally and filled with jam to sandwich it back together. The other was sliced vertically, one half put to one side, and the other half sliced horizontally and filled with jam to be sandwiched together. I also spread jam on half of the cake so that I could stick the top part on. Then it was a case of smothering the cake in buttercream icing as I find it far easier to put it on a cake than fondant icing.

I was pretty chuffed with the outcome given I’m not very good at decorating cakes. I carefully cut a chocolate digestive biscuit to make the tunnel and used tiny pieces of fudge I found reduced in Sainsbury’s as rocks or boulders. Thomas and Harold were on lollipop sticks so that they didn’t get too much icing on them and my mum suggested putting cocktail sticks around them so that they didn’t fall off when we moved it! Simple but effective.

 

An old picnic table

Well, I don’t actually know how old it is, but on Saturday hubby took two car loads of stuff to the tip and came back from his second trip with a child’s picnic table in the boot! Our son was delighted with it but it needed a bit of love and attention before it was useable, and so that it can withstand the winter.

New table
Freebie picnic table

I’ve got to the point where I sometimes feel like I’m a bit useless. But I’m growing a baby – that’s useful! It’s just that I am getting tired, I do feel sick, and I need to take care of my back. And all of that means I spend time just watching hubby get on with stuff and end up feeling like a spare part, particularly when he’s attacking the overgrown garden.

So on Saturday, as the weather here was much better than anticipated, I decided to make the picnic table my project. I took precautions – I was outdoors, I wore a mask, I wore a glove. And I sanded it down and gave it two coats of love as the warm sunshine dried the paint quickly.

20150912_164254
After two coats of love

It looks much better as long as you don’t look too carefully…

Of course it did mean some bending over so after the first coat I had a little nap to let my back recover a bit. We have three wooden chairs which hubby found at the tip last year. They were given two coats of love last year but they now look terrible in comparison with our son’s picnic table, probably because it’s freshly painted and the others should be treated better! If we get some more good weather I might attempt painting those, too. It was just so good to have completed a project quickly which will be used by our son. The baby room is taking longer to work through!

Post pre-school snacks

Our son started pre-school this week! It’s hard to believe that my teeny 5lb 11oz baby boy turns three in a couple of weeks and is now a (still quite teeny) energetic pre-schooler.

My teeny pre-schooler is a hungry pre-schooler. He must burn it off simply by having his eyes open but he would eat snacks all day, plus his main meals, given the chance. So I knew that sending him off for three hours with just one snack break would result in a hungry boy at 12.15pm. The question was, what to feed him?

Haha, I thought, let’s try going almost sugar free again now that I’ve successfully made banana bread in the ‘new’ oven! He started his first day with a hearty bowl of porridge and for after pre-school I made these apple and raisin flapjacks.

Apple & raisin flapjack
Apple & raisin flapjack

I used up some sultanas and chopped up some dates, and used two cooking apples from our old garden. They’re ok, not that sweet obviously but the main thing is that our son ate one quite happily soon after leaving pre-school. The recipe only makes about 8 slices but I froze half of them so there was ‘fresh’ flapjack for after pre-school today.

What did he think of pre-school? Even before we left home on Monday he was so desperate to go that when I tried to take the obligatory ‘first day of pre-school’ photo outside our front door he just burst into tears! He had a great time. He couldn’t wait to go back again which has been difficult for him to understand as he’s only there Monday and Thursday mornings, so Tuesday and Wednesday now seem to him the longest of days. It seems he’d rather spend three hours with strangers than with me. But on Monday afternoon he was so exhausted that he fell asleep on the stairs!

How Mummy will spend the pre-school hours
How Mummy will spend the pre-school hours

How did I cope? Just fine. I knew he’d be fine and I’d be fine. There was a brief heart-wrench as I gave him a cuddle goodbye on his first morning, but that was it. He is such a sociable little boy that he was ready to get away from Mummy and make some new friends. And Mummy has started nesting and sorting out baby things and taking the opportunity to get some rest before the baby arrives. Admittedly I’m nesting quite early but last time I didn’t get to nest until after our son was born!

Accents

Our son has a southern accent. Yes, we live in the south but because he spends all of his time with his mummy from the Midlands it meant he used to talk properly i.e. he said ‘bath’ with a short ‘a’.

Sadly in the last few months his accent has changed. He says ‘barth’. We’re clearly spending too much time with his cousins. And watching Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures on BBC iPlayer.

It’s actually quite strange to hear my son speaking in a different way to me, and sounding posh to me when he says things like ‘barth’. My dad’s from the south and my mum’s from the Midlands. My dad used to laugh about the way we said ‘bus’. My mum sometimes says ‘bath’ and sometimes ‘darnce’. I think it’s for different words. And I’ve heard a mum from the north say ‘plarster’ instead of ‘plaster’. This saddens me. I hope to hold onto my accent but even going to uni changed my accent. My dad said I became more posh. But I still use a short ‘a’!

Occasionally our son remembers his mummy and the way he was taught to speak, usually saying ‘dance’ and ‘castle’ with short ‘a’. And then Daddy repeats ‘darnce’ or ‘carstle’ until he says it that way. I’m fighting a losing battle!

Children’s dressing up costumes

At our church toddler group there is a dressing up box. In said dressing up box there are various fairy outfits, wings, and a few hats, but no boy outfits. This recently came to my attention when someone put our son in a fairy outfit at the group!

So I was tasked with finding some costumes which boys might like to wear. Girls may well like to wear them too! Buying costumes can be expensive, plus they are only for children up to age 4 so we thought it might be possible to make a few things.

I was quite excited to have a project to get my teeth into. A while ago I was intending to turn spare pillowcases into items such as a pair of pyjama shorts, but we then decided to sell the flat and it was easier to keep my sewing stuff locked away, plus being pregnant I was too tired initially to do anything creative, and now I’m too big to measure for clothes I might want to wear next summer!

I made a list of costumes that would be easy to make, checked my supplies, bought extra fabric, and scoured the internet for easy tutorials.

My first project was to make a tool belt. I found some easy-to-follow instructions here. I already had some brown binding so I just needed the main fabric. It’s really easy to make. I made one for our son as a test, then one for the toddler group.

Tool belt
Tool belt

I might make a couple more in different sizes. In hindsight, brown fabric would have made it more obvious that it is a tool belt, but this way it can be used as anything. Plus I liked the green and white stripes used in the instructions. Hubby thought it was an apron, which made me think I could make an apron using the same design but adding a larger piece of fabric for a top section. Our son loves it and when I got him dressed the following day, wanted to wear it even though he didn’t put anything in it.

Superheroes
My model superheroes

My second project was a cape and mask. All boys, I’m told, love being superheroes. Our son has got into Spiderman, Superman and Batman, but only because he recognises the characters on t-shirts and in shops. We haven’t sat him down to watch the Dark Knight yet.

So again, I found an easy tutorial to follow. And I did a test for our son before making any more. I used our son’s initial (‘L’) for his cape as suggested in the tutorial. Cute. It worked fine but he finds the velcro a bit itchy around his neck. It also uses two pieces of fabric, which is great because it is sturdy and will last longer but in order to make more capes cheap, I made a couple using one piece of fabric (instructions below).

Superhero cape
Our son’s superhero cape

I am yet to make the masks. They’re next. I have found a Robin Hood outfit to try and I’m going to try to make a simple pirate waistcoat. I have no idea how to make a waistcoat so I’m building up to it!

I made my own version of an easy cape using just one piece of fabric. Very easy. So easy! The instructions below seem long but it’s really simple to make and once you know what you’re doing, you’re off. Here’s how (apologies, I can’t remember all the technical terms, although I can understand them in a pattern!):

Simple children’s superhero cape

You will need:
Fabric (about 25″ x 25″)
Fabric in co-ordinating colour (about 30″ x 3″)
Felt in appropriate colours for logo
Sewing machine, thread, scissors, etc

Measure the child who will be wearing it (or guess how big they are – doesn’t matter if it’s a bit long) from the nape of their neck down to mid-calf. My final capes are about 22″ long. Add a couple of inches for hemming. That’s your length sorted. Width across the bottom is about 19″, plus an inch or so for hemming.

Cut your fabric in a rectangle, then cut the two long sides slightly diagonally so that the top is narrower than the bottom. This gives you a general cape shape.

Using a co-ordinating fabric, cut a 30″ x 3″ strip. This will be the strap.

'Jesus' superhero cape
‘Jesus’ superhero cape

Iron hems along the two sides and the bottom. You can measure this but I did it by eye. I did what I call a ‘double hem’ – fold and iron, then fold that and iron again. Along the top, iron a simple hem (fold and iron once) and then fold a 2″ section over and iron that. This is where the strap will go.

Iron the strap. Iron both long sides of the strap so they fold into the middle, then fold together and iron. This should give you a nice clean edge. Whilst you’ve got the iron out, give the whole cape a quick once over.

Now to the sewing. Sew the hems of the cape along the sides and the bottom. Then sew the simple hem along the top. Next, sew the 2″ section for the strap to go in. Fold along the ironed fold and make sure you sew at the bottom of the chunk so that there is plenty of room to get the strap in.

Sew your strap together by sewing a simple hem on the two small edges, then sew along the long edge of the strap. Push it through the cape.

Finally, the logo. I did mine by eye and guessed sizes. In hindsight, it would be a good idea to measure it so that it is a decent size and a good shape. You could print off a template or draw one first. I used felt and you can do whatever design you want or whatever letters. Curves are hard to sew…

'S' superhero cape
‘S’ superhero cape

One tip would be to think beforehand what colours you want to use for your logo. I used the same colours as the cape and strap and then made sure I sewed them at the same time that I had those colours in my machine. For example, with the ‘S’ cape opposite, I sewed all the red for the cape, then sewed the red ‘S’ onto the blue felt, switched all the thread over and then sewed logo onto the cape and sewed up the strap. Saves a lot of hassle switching threads back and forth.