Friday, 28 February 2014

Monthly Munch: February

Sunset at Kedleston Park

Toby
We went out and forgot his jacket, so he had to wear Graham's fleece!

- likes kissing and holding his new baby brother, and gives Theo his comfort blanket when he cries.

- is getting tired of everyone asking, "Is this your baby brother, then?"

- can read quite a few words now.  I have found myself saying, "Don't read too long, now," as I put him to bed.
Megabloks creation

- quotes of the moment: "What do you do if you don't like duck?  If you don't like duck, you're rather stuck!" from that classic of British comedy, Fawlty Towers.


"Come on, old buddy!  You can do it!  Suck up that water, take in that sunlight!" which is Papa Bear talking to his giant pumpkin in The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin, but is adaptable to a surprising number of situations.  The car has been exhorted to "suck up that diesel", and Theo to "suck up that milk".


And from the same source: "Get me my pitchfork!"

Theo

- is no longer a bump, but a happy and healthy baby!

- has been showered with clothes and cuddles from many adoring fans.

- appears to be training for some kind of hiccup championships.


Thankful for:
- the safe and timely arrival of Theo.

- so many friends, family and neighbours who have provided food, sent presents and looked after Toby.  Your generosity is amazing!

- longer days and spring flowers.

Recipe of the month: Coconut Cookies

These are quite a plain cookie - effectively coconut shortbread - so I'd recommend butter rather than margarine for flavour.  If you wanted to get fancy you could top just half with the coconut, and sandwich them in pairs with raspberry jam.

2 oz / 1/4 cup light brown sugar
4 oz / 1 stick lightly salted butter, cubed
6 oz / 1 1/2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
1 oz / 1/4 cup desiccated (flaked) coconut plus extra for topping
1-2 tbsp milk

Place sugar, butter, flour and coconut into a food processor and whiz to combine.  Add milk one tbsp at a time and pulse until it starts coming together.  Tip out onto a work surface and knead to form a firm dough.  Roll out to 3mm / 1/4 inch thick and cut out with a 6 cm / 2 1/2 inch round cutter.


Place on baking tray and top each cookie with a generous pinch of coconut.  Bake at 180C / 350F for 8 minutes until coconut is toasted and cookies are just golden, being careful not to overcook.  Cool on wire rack.  Makes 24.


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

St Chad

All my life
the wind has spoken to me.

The confusion of noise,
the clash of branches,
the crash of thunder
have said to my soul: Beware!
Are you ready?

Behold, the Lord comes.
He is coming with judgement,
He is coming with majesty,
He is coming in power.
Are you ready?

And all my life
I have not been ready.
I have fallen to my knees
and pleaded for mercy
and heard only the blowing of the wind.

But today
the angels have sung to me.

The purity of tone,
the beauty of melody,
the complexity of harmony
have said to my soul: Peace!
You are ready.

Behold, the Lord comes.
He is coming with love,
He is coming with joy,
He is coming with reward.
You are ready.

And today
I am ready.
I have fallen to my knees
and accepted Jesus' mercy
and heard only the song of the angels.




Recently we visited Lichfield Cathedral, which is associated with St Chad.  Chad, or Ceadda, became bishop of Lichfield in the 7th century, when it was part of the ancient kingdom of Mercia, and played a major part in converting the Mercians from paganism to Christianity.

Most of what we know of Chad comes from the writings of Bede, who tells two stories about him.  The first is that, whenever there was a strong gust of wind, he would drop whatever he was doing and pray to God.  If the wind continued, or a storm blew up, his prayers for mercy became more and more earnest; and this he attributed to the reminder of Judgement Day that the wind provided.

The second concerns his death; that seven days before he died, a sweet singing was heard by Chad and a man named Owini.  Moving across the sky, the singing filled the building where Chad was, before returning by the route it had come.  The song, he said, was from angelic spirits, come to call him to his heavenly reward.


St Chad died on the second of March, which is now his feast day.  The Church of England's prayer on this day is:

Almighty God,
from the first fruits of the English nation who turned to Christ,
you called your servant Chad
to be an evangelist and bishop of his own people:
give us grace so to follow his peaceable nature,
humble spirit and prayerful life,
that we may truly commend to others
the faith which we ourselves profess;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
from Common Worship: Daily Prayer

Friday, 14 February 2014

Theo Alexander

The due date was fast approaching, and, having had Toby five weeks early, this pregnancy was feeling like it had dragged on far too long.  On Sunday morning, two days before D-Day, we went to church, wearily confirming to eager enquiries that yes, we were still here, no baby in tow yet.  And then, at 3:30 am on the morning of Monday 10th February, my waters broke and things began to get moving.  Fast.

Yes, I know I had to apologise to you ladies who have gone through long-drawn-out labours last time, and I'm afraid I have to do it again.  The change in the midwife's attitude when we got to the hospital was almost comical; she breezed in and put the monitors on and said, "I'll just leave those for a few minutes, then".  Back she came for a proper examination, had a quick feel, and: "OK, we'll get you to the delivery room RIGHT NOW," followed by a mad dash down the corridor in a wheelchair!  Our new little boy was born at 5:16 am.




You're never too young to pull a silly face!
 They tend to assume you know what you're doing with a second baby, so after a very welcome breakfast of toast and jam, we were mostly left to recover in our own time.  Little boy discovered how to have some breakfast of his own and then decided he was worn out by all that hard work.  Mum and Dad felt pretty much the same way, but couldn't quite stop looking at him.



After all the usual new baby checks and paperwork, we were able to pack up and take the baby home to introduce him to his big brother!  Toby had been looked after by our wonderful neighbours, and by all accounts had a great time.  He was pretty excited by the new arrival, if a little cautious in case it suddenly started making loud and unpleasant noises.


Dealing with sleepless nights and dirty nappies was almost starting to pale into insignificance compared with choosing a name for the baby.  Days went by and Toby was starting to get into the game with suggestions like "Lightbulb" or "Porters Lane".  Just as we were starting to despair, Graham came running up the stairs saying, "I think I've got it!"  We settled on Theo Alexander White.  Welcome to the family, Theo!

First hairwash.

Now, what was my name again?

Bedtime story for two sleepy boys.

Daisy dog is another new addition to the family.

My handsome boys!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Monthly Munch: January

Several blogs I follow do some kind of regular round-up, which seems like a) a good way to find a reason to post, and b) a good way to keep family updated (and remember what's happened ourselves!).  Two good things can't be too bad, huh?  So here's the first installment of Martha's Monthly Munch.

Toby


- went from two mornings to five mornings at pre-school without even seeming to notice, and barely remembers to say goodbye before he's off to the toys.

- had his first real sick days (poor baby) with some kind of cold / ear infection.  He wasn't himself for three days, and then woke up on the fourth as if he'd never been ill (and he'd only had one spoonful of the antibiotics - magic medicine!)

- enjoys "squelch squirch" mud, and pulling crazy faces for the camera.



- asks how baby brother is doing, and when he is "popping out".

- flew a kite for the first time - and let go, necessitating a rescue mission from a neighbour's garden.  Lesson learned to tie it to something other than Toby!


- loves creating glittery sparkly pictures.


- chooses his own clothes every morning.

Bump


- is still a bump!  He is officially to term now (due date 11 February)

- has been scanned a couple of times in January to confirm he's head down and not growing too fast - both tests he passed with ease.

Thankful for:
- a date night drinking smoothies on a sofa at the Book Cafe, thanks to my lovely friend Jane who offered to babysit.

- time to get the house organised before the baby turns up!

Best new recipe:

Spinach and courgette frittata (adapted from The Recipe Scrapbook )
Easy, tasty and quick.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 courgette (zucchini), sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
150-200g baby spinach
4 eggs
splash of milk
1/2 tsp dried oregano
50g mature cheddar, grated

Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the onion and courgette until golden.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the spinach and cook until wilted and some of the moisture has evaporated.

Beat together the eggs and milk.  Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the oregano and half the cheese.  Pour over the vegetables and cook over a fairly gentle heat until mostly set.  Sprinkle over the rest of the cheese and finish under a hot grill (broiler) to set the top.