Thursday, 8 December 2016

Dear Ethan - 9 Months Old

Dear Ethan,

How am I writing you your 9 month letter? This one feels like a particular milestone as it means I am coming to the end of my Maternity Leave. I’m back to work on the 3rd January and I’m dreading it. I’m just not ready to leave you in someone else’s care while I go to work but I know it’s for the best. If I didn’t go to work money would be seriously tight and we couldn’t give you the things you deserve. Me going to work mean you can have holidays, treats and lovely toys.

I had a read over your last letter to remind myself how much has changed and boy, has a lot happened since then!

The biggest achievement has been that you have mastered crawling (on the 26th October to be exact!) and since then we both need eyes in the back of our head as you are so fast. You had been bum shuffling for a while but one day you saw something that you wanted and just like that you were off. Since then you have gotten faster and faster and you have also learnt the art of pulling yourself up to standing. You always were a strong baby but now it’s just crazy. The other day you were in the kitchen with me and pulled yourself up on the chair then reached across to the table and let your feet swing – you really do live up to your nickname of monkey!

We also moved house at the end of November so your sudden ability to get about made things a tad awkward. We couldn’t leave you alone for a second without you getting in to some sort of mischief. At the moment you are ignoring the Christmas tree in favour of pulling yourself up on the TV unit and fiddling with the Xbox, Sky box and Daddy’s surround sound system. I have visions of the TV falling on top of you; everywhere seems to be a hazard these days. We moved from a small rented 2-bed end terrace in Otley to a much larger 3-bed mid terrace in Pool. Instead of your cot being in the spare room next to the guest bed you know have your own room that I can’t wait to decorate. Daddy and I clash on what we like but we never agree when it comes to design related things. The stair gates have been fitted too as you are crawling here, there and everywhere!

You now have 4 teeth and I think I saw a flash of white the other day so number 5 might be on its way. It felt like you had been teething for ages then a few days before you turned 7 months I was fishing food out of your mouth and I felt something sharp. That first tooth didn’t give you any bother but the second tooth came through a couple of days later and it did cause a few sleepless nights. Teeth 3 and 4 came through together last week. You had been dribbling loads for a few weeks and after a couple of bad nights where you were crying in your sleep I knew those pesky teeth were coming. The only downside was you cut those two teeth during a short stay in hospital…

Last Monday (the weekend after moving), just before Daddy took Granny, Granda, Uncle Michael and Uncle Christopher to the airport I happened to notice that you sounded a bit wheezy on it. Initially I thought it was due to the lingering cough you had had for the past few weeks but by the time Daddy got back you had gotten worse and we could see you sucking in with each breath. A quick phone call to 111 resulted in a trip to Harrogate A&E where you were admitted with Bronchiolitis. I was wheeled up to the Children’s Ward with you in my arms holding an oxygen mask over your face and it was horrible. It was surreal too as we were wheeled past Pannal Ward where I had given birth to you. Thankfully you were discharged the following day but boy did that give us a fright!

Weaning has been going slowly but you have dropped a lot of milk feeds so I’m guessing you are taking in food. We are mainly doing Baby Led Weaning so it’s hard to judge what you do eat (although judging by your nappies you are definitely eating something). Initially things seemed to be going very slowly, we had good days and bad days but now you eat most things. You still create a massive mess and food gets everywhere but you look like you are having so much fun that I don’t mind the clean-up afterwards. Your favourite foods are Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes and carrots. You get so excited when I lift a piece of fruit out of the fruit bowl and go mad for apples in particular. Your arms start flapping and I can’t get it cut up quick enough! Initially you hated to be spoon fed but now you don’t mind it so much especially if I’m giving you yoghurt. We discovered doing a mix of spoon feeding and BLW works best for us although you do prefer to feed yourself most of the time.

Ahh… sleep… I think I remember that… Honestly Ethan you are a pretty awful sleeper. You didn’t used to be too bad but we have went through a few sleep regressions which were hard going! We are still trying to teach you the art of self-settling but it’s tough. You scream and get yourself worked up into such a state once we lay you down for a nap. I know I can easily boob you to sleep but you start nursery in a few weeks and I want to crack this before then. I would rather you get distressed at sleep time with me and Daddy compared to being in a room full of strangers. Most nights you go down around 6:30/7pm then waken half an hour later for a top of feed. A good night has you wakening twice more before 7am, a bad night is anything worse than that. You have slept through the night once (the night the clocks changed) but you haven’t done it since. One day you will crack it but for now we just embrace it.

Your hair is finally starting to grow too. You’re still pretty bald but the hair is growing although it’s very blonde and fine. Most babies around your age all have a good mop going on but you’re just our little bald boy. You can definitely rock the grandad look with your cardigans and Christmas jumpers!

Our weeks are still quite busy but our favourite class has to be Baby Sensory on a Monday. I’ll be so sad when it finishes, out of all the groups we have tried it really is the best.

You really are the happiest and smiliest baby we know. You flash you gorgeous gummy smile to anyone and everyone and are so affectionate. You love nothing more that cuddles with me but Daddy is all about the rough play. You still love making dinosaur noises with him and using him as a human climbing frame in bed on a morning. I definitely think you will be a daddy’s boy in the future.

I really can’t believe how much you have changed in these past 3 months and I’m excited to see what the next 3 months will bring with your first Christmas, starting nursery and before we know it, your first birthday.

You bring such joy to our lives Ethan, we really can’t imagine what life would be like without you.

All our love

Mama (and Daddy)

The past 3 months in pictures...

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Me and Mine - November 2016

I'm a few days late in publishing this post (even though I was organised with the photos) but I've a really good reason as at the end of November we bought and moved into our first house! Things have been so chaotic that I just haven't had a chance to sit down and write. There are still boxes to unpack, a not so new oven to test for baking and curtains to buy but for now I want a bit of time with my blog.

We had been house hunting on and off for months but nothing really took our fancy. We were checking Rightmove daily but we live in quite and expensive area so houses were selling fairly quickly. We then spotted this house and if I'm honest we did dismiss it at first. It's a mid terrace with on street parking and the photos really didn't do it justice. We decided to go visit it one Saturday morning and immediately we were both hooked.

The sellers had lived in this house for 38 years so it was quite an emotional process for them to even consider putting the house on the market but when we visited it we knew it was the house for us. It's three bedrooms and so much bigger than our tiny 2-bed end terrace that we were renting. There is a good sized garden to the back which is something we were both desperate for with a young child. 

Some people have odd requirements when moving house but for me it was about the smaller details. I wanted was to be able to wash the dishes at the sink and watch Ethan play safely in the garden. I wanted a kitchen that could fit a table so our future children (and the little man of course!) could sit round baking or crafting or building Lego while I cooked dinner. I wanted a house that would grow with us, one that we wouldn't have to move out of in a few years but not somewhere so big that we would feel lost in it. 

And this wee house ticks all of those boxes.

Yes, it needs a bit of work doing on it including replacing the bathroom and kitchen at some point but, it's ours. No longer are we paying someone else's mortgage, through our own hard work we saved for our deposit and now have our first foot on the property ladder.

We were lucky that there was no chain but as always, we had issues with the solicitors and the Friday before we exchanged we were being told that things might take a bit longer and we may not exchange for at least another week. Small issue though was our tenancy was due to run out and even though our Landlord was lovely and said we could extend if need be we got straight on the phone to them on Monday morning stating we would be homeless with an 8 month old baby and they needed to get their act together. The sellers and the estate agent got on to them too and the pestering worked. 24 hours later we exchanged and 48 hours after that we completed - phew!

Thankfully the move went smoothly thanks to my family - we couldn't have done it without them. Two of my brothers and my parents came over for the weekend to help us move (and babysit Ethan) - you can guess who had which job haha! The boys also helped with some redecorating and if I'm honest I don't think we would have achieved even half of what we did that weekend without their help. We seriously owe them one!

On the Monday evening Mr T drove my family to the airport and I noticed Ethan sounded a bit wheezy on it. I put it down to the cough he had lingering from a cold from a few weeks ago, but when Mr T got back he thought he sounded worse. We phoned 111 and fast forward a few hours and we ended up in A&E at Harrogate hospital where they admitted Ethan to the Children’s Ward with Bronchiolitis. It was a very surreal experience especially as we left A&E and I was wheeled up to the ward with Ethan in my arms holding an oxygen mask over his face. We went past Pannal Ward where I had given birth, past the SCBU and on into the Children’s ward. After a rough night we were discharged the following day armed with an inhaler and a 24 hour pass should his symptoms get any worse but thankfully they didn’t.

Now, for most people that would be enough to deal with but then the following day my mobile rings at lunchtime and Mr T is calling to say he’s on his way home from work feeling ill. This man has had 3 sick days in 10 years so I knew it was serious and he was only home an hour when he started with vomiting. Turns out he had got food poisoning from something he had eaten at the hospital and I was so glad we didn’t eat the same thing otherwise I dread to think what we would have done.

So yeah… that’s a bit of a ramble for this month’s Me and Mine post but as you can see it’s been a pretty big month; actually scrap that, it’s been a pretty big week!

These photos are fairly awful as we both look a mess, it’s only Ethan that looks decent but we were knackered after moving, both filthy and we wanted to snap a photo before we forgot. It’s almost dark too but this photo means so much to us. Years of saving has finally paid off and we are now homeowners!

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Lemon Drizzle Cake (and moving house!)

Life at the moment is just too hectic. Combine moving house with a mobile baby means I have little free time to bake never mind blog!

We currently rent a very small two bedroom house but have purchased a three bedroom with so much more space - I cannot wait to start decorating. The only issue is that as we rent we have had to buy all our white goods in advance and find somewhere to store them. Initially we were going to buy online and have them delivered to the new house the day after we moved in but then Mr T is not one to let a bargain slip buy so two eBay and a Curry's purchase later and we have 2 undercounter fridges, a washing machine and a dishwasher stored in our kitchen. The chest freezer is getting delivered next week and I have no idea where it is going! Along with all of this we also have the carpet and underlay sat in our lounge for not one room but three bedrooms, the playroom and the staircase!! Then there is the wooden flooring to go down in the kitchen that is currently sat on top of the sideboard and the vinyl for the bathroom arrived this week too. Personally I would have waited to order new carpets and flooring but Mr T likes to get everything done yesterday while I would happily take my time over it.

So we have all this crammed into our little house with a baby that has just started crawling and pulling himself up to standing on every single thing (while trying to give me heart failure in the process) and we are trying to pack to so there are boxes everywhere! Thankfully we had already booked to go away this weekend with friends, it will be nice to escape it all before chaos descends next week!

Mr T is getting a tad stressed but oddly I'm being quite calm. I decided to escape the madness this evening and while Ethan is asleep I decided to write a blog post and share a delicious Lemon Drizzle traybake recipe with you all.

I actually made this at the back end of the summer holidays but with the weather so grey and dreary it's nice to look back at a sunshine bake to remind me of the warmer days.

I took this recipe from Mary Berry's Baking Bible (such a good book!) and tweaked it slightly to add the icing glaze. As the saying goes "if it ain't broke why fix it" and I find most of Mary Berry's recipes work great and rarely need changing.

Lemon Drizzle Traybake

225g Stork
225g caster sugar
275g SR flour
2tsp baking powder
4 eggs
4 tbsp milk
grated zest of 2 lemons

  • Preheat the oven to 140C (fan)
  • Grease and line a 30 x 23cm cake tin
  • Using the all in one method pop all the ingredients in the bowl and mix until well combined
  • Pour into the tin and bake for 35-40mins until a skewer inserted comes out clean
  • Place on a wire rack to cool
For the Icing/Glaze

100g icing sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 3 lemons
175g granulated sugar
  • Mix the icing sugar with some lemon juice until you have a thick and pipeable consistency
  • Transfer to a piping bag for later
  • While the cake is still warm mix the remaining lemon juice with the sugar and pour over the cake
  • Once cool drizzle over the lemon icing and scatter with the lemon zest