Sunday, October 30, 2011


As a PS to my last post (and with apologies it's taken me so long to do this), I soon realised why the doctor was running 35 minutes late when we got into the appointment. It's because he's one of those lovely doctors who take their time with you and you feel as though they're really taking an interest and are asking all the questions they need to and listening to your concerns. So I find it hard to be annoyed about the 35 minutes late because we had such a satisfying appointment. Bah!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Leo, the spirit of water

I have long since grown accustomed to Leo's fascination with running water at home - for instance he has a penchant for flushing the toilet, whether or not anyone is presently seated! But I had a bit of an overload at the doctor's surgery this week.

The appointment was for Zachary - the doctor was running 35 minutes late (which of course you never know before you get there) so I had 35 minutes of joy trying to keep the boys entertained and out of the water dispenser. Zachary used the toilet twice - each time while Leo was either a) desperately trying to get behind Zachary to flush it, or b) running the tap as fast as he could before I got there and turned it off, sticking his hands under it and then turning to me and telling me he was wet as though he had absolutely no idea where the water had come from!!!

I also had to drag him away from the water dispenser several times - the button was far too easily accessible - but then he changed tack. Leo then tried to get the paper cups from the top of the water dispenser, which sadly he couldn't reach while standing on the floor (okay, can you guess where this is going??!). He marches over to the table of magazines, where the surgery have also kindly provided small children chairs, picks up a chair and marches back across to the water dispenser at the far side of the waiting area to use it to help him get to the cups. Far too inventive for my liking! I honestly didn't think he'd manage it the first time he tried.. silly me.

The difficulty was that I was trying to read a story to Zachary at the same time - needless to say I got plenty of exercise running across the waiting area catching Leo before any more water was spilt!

Finally, Zachary had to provide a urine sample. So there we are, back in the toilet, me trying to help Zachary aim into the tiny specimen bottle, meanwhile Leo has spotted I'm distracted and has free rein at the sink. One. Wet. Boy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The most cobbled together rabbit costumes ever!

I've been taking Leo to a music group on Tuesday mornings since Zachary started nursery. They had a half-term Halloween fancy dress session this week which I was dubious about taking the boys to for 3 reasons - 1, the cost. One session for Leo is £4, so I was expecting £8 for the 2. 2, it's usually absolutely rammed with children so I was anticipating even more at half term and 3, I don't really do Halloween and was reluctant to buy costumes for the boys which they'd only wear once and didn't want them to be the only ones without.

I ummed and aaahed about it but finally decided we'd go and just use the rabbit ears the boys had at Easter. Then on the day I upped the ante and took my eye pencil to draw on noses and whiskers, put them in white t-shirts and made some bobtails with pairs of socks and flannels!!! It's a rough and ready costume, but the boys loved it!!!

(btw my worries were totally unfounded - it was only £1 extra for Zachary, there were actually fewer children there than normal and there were one or two children without costumes)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Two lovely things I've tried recently

The first thing I tried was a recipe from Rachel Allen for a rustic (it had almost won me over already in it use of this word - rustic to me means 'doesn't need prettying or presentation skills!') cheese and bacon loaf. I found it when I was trawling her book looking for the lovely coconut macaroon recipe that Leigh's made a couple of times.

Here it is fresh from the oven

And cut open.

I wasn’t sure this would actually rise, but it did! Leigh suggested it’s probably a bit more like a savoury version of a loaf cake than proper bread (possibly because it doesn’t toast well!), but it’s still delicious and was good on the second and third day after baking.

320g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
100g Cheddar cheese, grated
100g bacon lardoons, cooked until just crisp in a little sunflower oil and cooled
200ml milk
2 eggs
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
60ml olive oil

2lb loaf tin

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4/170C ish fan. Lightly oil and line the loaf tin with parchment paper.
2. Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the grated cheese and the cooled bacon lardoons and mix well.
3. Pour the milk into a large measuring jug, add the eggs, mustard and olive oil and whisk to combine.
4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and slowly pour in the liquid, stirring all the time until it is fully incorporated, to form a fairly liquid dough.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 50 minutes. Remove from the tin and allow to cook for a further 10 mins on the oven shelf to crisp up the bottom.
6. When cooked, it will sound hollow when tapped on the base. Allow to cool on a wire rack before eating.

The other baking was a recipe for 'Breakfast Bars' from Nigella. Leigh has recently been on a trip to Essen for a few days and wanted a snack to take that would last longer than cake. He took some flapjack as well but had seen this recipe which I tried out. I didn’t have a tin the size of the one suggested in the recipe so I used one with slightly bigger surface area. The bars came out okay but a little on the dry side – possibly due to shape of tin? But even when just mixing the condensed milk in, there just didn’t seem to be quite enough for the amount of dry ingredients I had. It’s convenient because the recipe calls for 1 tin, but as I usually keep a squeezy bottle of condensed milk in the fridge over the winter for porridgey breakfast mornings, I could just add a squeeze or 2 more next time I make these and see if it makes any difference.

1 x 397g can condensed milk
250g rolled oats (not instant)
75g shredded coconut
100g dried cranberries
125g mixed seeds (eg pumpkin, sesame, sunflower etc)
125g natural unsalted peanuts (I thought I’d be able to get a pack of roasted, unsalted nuts fairly easily in the supermarket, but could not get any for love nor money! Settled for red skin covered unsalted, which taste fin)

1. Preheat oven to 130C/110C fan/gas ½, and oil a 23 x 33 x 4cm baking tin or use a throwaway foil one
2. Warm the condensed milk in a large pan
3. Meanwhile, mix together all the other ingredients and then add to the warmed condensed milk, using a rubber or wooden spatula to fold in and distribute
4. Spread the mixture into the tin and press down with the spatula, or better still, your hands (wearing disposable vinyl gloves to stop you sticking), to even the surface
5. Bake for 1 hour, then remove from the oven and, after about 15 minutes, cut into 4 across and 4 down to make 16 chunky bars. Let them cool completely.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

3-year olds

Having a 3-year old is at times incredibly infuriating but also completely amazing. Today I was overseeing Zachary and Leo painting. Zachary was painting a tiger - head done, I helped with the outline of a body which he filled with stripes, and then he added 4 legs. I tried to prompt him as to what might be missing from the tiger (how quickly can you guess what happens next??) using, what I now realise was a slightly inadequate (incomplete?) description; 'it's attached to its bottom.' Zachary added a willy. THEN a tail.

Just call him Houdini

Leo has learned a fab new trick - how to remove his nappy. He has been putting this to particularly good use in the early morning just after he's done a poo. Great. I have now learned (the hard way) that when Leo starts calling us at around half 6, it's best that someone attends him immediately to change a dirty nappy!

So, to try and prevent this happening a third time (I know, I don't learn quickly enough!), we safety-pinned his pyjama top to the bottoms - just at the back as I was concerned that he'd play with the pins if they were in front. Come 6.30 the next morning, Leo's calling again. I go in to find him sitting in bed, in the process of undoing his nappy. Pyjama bottoms are off - although still attached to his pyjama top!

Yesterday we put him in a vest that has poppers under his bottom and pyjama trousers. Come this morning, Leo calling, but hurrah, no items of clothing had been removed.

Vest on again this evening. Leigh went to check on the boys at about 9ish and came down to report that Leo was lying in bed naked apart from his nappy. When we tried to dress him again (whilst still asleep), we discovered that the poppers on the bottom of the vest were still done up! It would appear he had performed some kind of very effective shimmy and managed to get the vest off by sliding the whole thing down his body! Feeling slightly nervous about the morning...