Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chicken and Mushroom Orzo Pasta Recipe




Serves 1 parent and 1 baby

Ingredients

75g Orzo (or other pasta if your baby prefers the larger pieces)
1 chicken breast
4 or five medium sized mushrooms
1 tbsp creme fraiche
1 tsp basil pesto
Garlic pepper to taste

Method
Cut the chicken into pieces (of a size preferred by your child) and cook in a frying pan
Once cooked, remove the chicken and add the mushrooms, fry gently until cooked
In a separate pan cook the orzo (or other pasta), when cooked drain and return to the pan
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
The temperature my be about right for your baby right now, but you can heat a little for yourself if required



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Financial Crackdown



April is set to be our first month on a very limited income. As you may remember, I was weighing up the pros and cons of going back to work a while back. Well, a letter from my work telling me that I didn't have a job (they have since apologised, apparently it was a mistake) helped me make the final decision. So, we are officially on welfare!

I have a small amount of savings which I will use to top up the income support and child benefit payments that we'll get, but the idea is to try and live on the money we have coming in (around £140 a week) as much as we can, and use the savings only when we absolutely have to.

Theoretically I'm sure that surviving on this amount of money each week is possible. Practically however, having earned a good salary for the last 20 years or so, it could take a bit of getting used to! So, I'm going to be trying very hard in this first month, keeping a close watch on everything I spend. I think the money should be able to cover our basic living costs like food and household expenses, but for keeping the car on the road, and for BB's swimming lessons, gym classes and the like, we will be eating into the savings account.

It wont be a true test as the store cupboards are well stocked, and I am planning on filling up the petrol tank before the month starts as I know we have a trip to London to see DD at the end of the month that our petrol budget wont cover, but it will be a start. Hopefully it will give me some indication of how long our savings can last, and by keeping a close eye on it, hopefully I can get better at it...

I'll keep you posted!

Photos of us

I know - I was going to try and keep this blog a bit anonymous, but I am getting bolder. Also, most of my readers either know us anyway, or are in a similar situation and so not ones to judge. So here are some pics of my handsome boy and some lovely ladies, taken at the weekend at my lovely friend Rachel's birthday party.

I'm the one in the middle, the other one is Freda. Son appears to have his eyes on the Champagne already!

Who can open their mouth the widest Soph?
Hiding! These grown ups are weird - what's so funny about these antlers anyway?

With the Birthday Girl

Eating a lid - and saving the food between my fingers for later!
Sophie, BB, Me and Rach
Yes, I know I'm cute!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Confession (shhh!) - my child was planned!

This isn't a gripe or a moan, just an observation, a curiosity that I have been thinking about recently. But why is it so much more weird to say that your child was planned than to say they were a mistake?

A couple of weeks ago I was walking along with BB in the pushchair when I bumped into an old friend from school, walking with his [slightly older] child in a push chair. We chatted for a while and he proceeded to tell me how his child was a mistake, so I followed his lead by telling him mine wasn't. He was quite shocked that someone would actually want to have a child enough to become a choice mum. He said he had never heard of such a thing, but said that he supposed he shouldn't be surprised these days, and went on about how we soon won't need men at all...

To clarify, it was someone local - this area is not known for being at the forefront of contemporary thought, but still... and I have had similar reactions before. Plus I have had several people ask me if my pregnancy was a mistake, and no doubt even more have thought it. Is it not odd that saying your child was an accident is more socially acceptable than saying that you really wanted them? Or is it just me?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Every day a new trick

Tonight I found myself sitting in the bathroom while BB was having his bath and wishing I'd been better at this blogging thing. I should have blogged about all the little things he does, his development, so that he has a record of it when he's older. He has learnt so much in the last few weeks, it seems like every day he has a new trick.

How lovely it would have been if I were a perfect mum, making little notes each night of what he can do. Sadly, I am not the perfect mum, so I'm going to try and play catch up on the last few weeks

Today his new trick is clapping his hands. This morning at breakfast he just started clapping - then he would stop, look at both of his palms in amazement, and then do it again. He has repeated his new trick for both his Grandma and his Great Grandma. He is so very pleased with himself.

He has completely mastered crawling now too. Going wherever he wants, whenever he wants. At the moment I am still a little faster than him, but I get the feeling my days are numbered!

Swimming was a little more interesting the week before last too. One of the the things they have to do is sit on the side of the pool and then jump into mummy's arms. He was always great at this - but poolside is a whole unexplored area so now he can crawl away! He definitely has the advantage when I am in the pool and he has a head start.

He is also pulling himself up in things. He is regularly pulling himself up on the couch, high chair and cot, but (as far as I know!) only to his knees, not onto his feet yet. He is however practicing having the soles of his feet on the floor by performing some rather perfect "downward facing dog" poses. I will try and get a photo of this.

He has four teeth, the top two having made it through his gums last week.

He has also started saying something which sounds like mum-mum-mum. Sadly he is not referring to me - it is his distress signal! Come and get me, save me, pick me up. Nonetheless, I have to admit I love to hear him say it.

Here he is, crawling in a tunnel that's just a little bit too small for mummies! Heaven!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The sleep story continued

So, I have been asked by people I didn't even know were readers how the sleeping is going. So I thought I'd write you a little update.

For those catching up, I was co-sleeping with BB, but since he started moving and became too big to sleep in his hammock or bouncer, I needed a new solution for the time between his bedtime and mine. He had a cot - but flatly refused to go to sleep in it. You can see the full story here, and the beginnings of my solution here.

So, I'm sure the sleep trainers would all be horrified, but here's what I did.



The first night I just fed him to sleep and popped him his cot. He did stir, but not for long. He slept right up against the side of the cot, and I did too. He still held my finger to sleep. It was sooo cute. I suspended the night weaning for the first couple of nights, just to get him used to the cot first. By the third night the night weaning was back on. He did really well, and I did leave him to put his self back to sleep, rather than breastfeed him, which he did successfully several times.

There was one time when he just wouldn't settle and I bought him back into my bed - we both went to sleep immediately and for a while there I did wonder if the cot was all a huge mistake.

I missed him. I like co-sleeping...

The physical arrangement wasn't much fun for me though. Getting in and out of bed was a nightmare, and lifting a sleepy baby over the side of the cot (even with the rail lowered) was a difficult manoeuvre, and I have a lower back issue that made the necessary twist and lift and lower a bit of a silly thing to do too. So after 3 nights I turned the cot against the wall.

I didn't do the controlled crying at all. At first I stayed with him, but then I discovered he actually dropped off quicker if I left the room. My own method sort of evolved which is more like controlled cuddling. Basically I cuddle him, then put him down, and stroke his back - he likes that, it makes him smile. Then I say night night and leave. If he cried I'd go straight back and pick him up and cuddle him some more (probably for less than a minute, I wasn't timing - but I was trying to show him that I really meant he should lay down and sleep!) and then put him back down again, stroke his back and leave. He did grizzle a bit sometimes but didn't sound distressed. I'd leave him for 5 mins and then go and check on him. He was usually asleep within 2 minutes of that. Now when he first goes down at night he lays there and chatters to himself for a bit, and then peacefully passes into sleep. I can't believe it was that easy.

Well, easy for  him that is! For me it was hard work. I would find myself awake at the time he would usually wake even if he didn't. And when he did wake I would be getting up to him. I often found it hard to go back to sleep, having grown used to having the sleepy hormones produced in my body when he suckles. It's possibly the tiredest I've been since he was born. I too am getting better at putting myslef back to sleep now though!

He still wakes in the night sometimes (he has gone through for a full 11 hours on several occasions though!) When he wakes, I cuddle him and put him down again. Mostly that works.

Although I thought I'd bring him back to my bed once I went to bed, and have done a few times, that's not what has ended up happening. Firstly, if he was asleep, I was not going to wake him. Then in the mornings it's handy if he is in his cot - that way I can get up and get on and leave him safely sleeping until he is ready to wake naturally himself. I thought it would be confusing for him that sometimes I'll bring him to my bed, and sometimes I wont. I couldn't find a way of differentiating between when it was OK and when it wasn't. So, he is in his cot all night. We have enjoyed a couple of lazy mornings together in my bed though.

Daytime naps haven't really taken off in the same way yet. I am following the same process though and he is getting a little better I think, but it does take a while for him to fall asleep. Hopefully he'll get there!

I do miss him! I feel like I see so much less of him now that he sleeps elsewhere. In a way that has been good though as it has made me make more of the time we do have together. Plus, with him having time in bed without me, I am free to try and get as many of the jobs done while he is sleeping as I possibly can, so I think we actually play together more as a result.

The next step will be to move his cot back to his own room. It's darker in there so I think he could sleep better during the day in there. I don't want to rush it and mess everything up though. And I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet - I imagine I might be up and down to his room all night to check on him! Maybe it's me that needs the next round of sleep training!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Wholemeal Banana Bread




Ingredients

3-4 bananas (depending on size)
1/3 cup butter
1 large egg
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups wholemeal plain flour

Method
In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas using a potato masher
Melt the butter in the microwave and add to the bananas - mixing in with a wooden spoon
In a separate bowl, beat the egg, then add the sugar, baking powder and vanilla and mix well
Add this mixture to the banana and butter mixture and mix with the wooden spoon
Lastly add the flour and fold in until well mixed
Put the mixture into a greased 2lb loaf tin and bake at 175°C for about 50 mins (slightly longer if not using a fan oven)
Turn out and leave to cool on a cooling rack

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Quick and easy lentils, chickpeas and beans


In my opinion, home cooked chick peas, lentils and beans taste heaps better than those from a tin - they are also loads cheaper. You can have all the taste of homecooked, all the convenience of a tin, and minimise the cost if you buy a bag of the dried product, cook the whole packet in one go, and then freeze in portions (about 1 cup full works well for us). You can prepare these at any time - such as after baby's bed time.

First, soak for 24 hours, changing the water halfway through, and then rinse.

Cooking times are usually on the packet - but just in case...

Chick peas and yellow split peas - 90mins
Kidney beans, pinto beans, black eyed beans (and almost any other bean except soya ) - 40 mins
Soya beans generally require 2-3 hours (see pack)