Monthly Archives: April 2014

End of Term Report

Has it really been 14 days since I last wrote something here? People used to say “I’m amazed you have time to write your blog”.  I now realise I don’t.  And probably didn’t even when I was churning out two entries a week. But once you have an audience of more than just your mum, you start feeling a pressure to publish. So in an effort to get something out there, and in the absence of anything apart from teething related grizzling and all round sadness and unhappiness to report, I thought I’d sneak a look at Grace’s end of term report card…

Grace’s early promise in clearly (according to daddy) saying words like hello and daddy from month one has yet to be independently verified and has not yet developed into a fluent grasp of the language. Indeed Grace appears to have an anti-grasp, and when you say one thing to her, she nods in complete comprehension and does the complete opposite. Her vocabulary is limited but should expand rapidly, as daddy gives her an A to Z of different words every day.  It should be pointed out however, that words such as p for polyplopolis probably don’t exist despite how funny Grace finds them, and using floccinaucinihilipilification in any context is likely to see her shunned by her future peers.


Playing the piano in the usual way was just not rock and roll enough…

Grace’s enthusiastic efforts on the piano keyboard have been a joy to behold* , though the sound may be improved by hitting the keys a little less like a bongo. The singing accompaniments to such all time greats as This OId Man and If You’re Happy and You Know it are admittedly of a somewhat lower quality, but maybe we can try and shut daddy up in future. In terms of Grace’s musical education, there have been early signs that the likes of Led Zeppelin and Green Day are gaining traction, and with the ban on Radios 1 and 2 in place, we can only hope the auditory and hair dressing horrors such as those inflicted by the latest boy band we stumbled across, The Vamps, can be well and truly avoided.

*not quite a joy


Pre-historic daddy, when man had not even stepped onto the moon. But babies were still cute…

This area needs a little work admittedly, though when your entire life to date spans less than a football season, it is probably understandable.  Though in terms of football seasons, Grace has already been around long enough to know that supporting Spurs, whilst it may be her destiny, will not be an easy life for her.  However, Grace will have the advantage of daddy’s great age and wisdom, and being able to tap into his ready recall of ancient history when the time comes to research memorable and significant historical events. Such as Ricky Villas’ goal against Man City in 1981 to win the FA Cup for Spurs.

Despite daddy reciting times tables to Grace in middle of the dark morning of her early weeks of life to get her to sleep, there is no sign yet that such knowledge has been retained.  And if it has been retained, it is to be hoped that someone else QA’s the 11 times’.  As the product of two accountants however, I would expect Grace to shun such rote learning and simply fire up Excel to do the hard work of number wrangling for her.  Grace can certainly count in units of milk however, and woe betide you if said units are not delivered to both expected quantity and the associated deadline.

When you’re still at a point in life when you can be put down in one place, and still be in that exact same spot five minutes later, it is perhaps unsurprising that there is still much about geography to learn.  Grace’s current knowledge of geography basically extends to twelve places in the world: Castlethorpe, Milton Keynes, Little Bennington, Kenilworth, Enfield, Kensington, Beaconsfield, Longleat, Hornchurch, Northampton, Olney and Wellingborough. Grace does however have a particularly in  depth knowledge of the geography of Milton Keynes shopping centre, having been there on her third day of life and then again on an exceptionally regular basis ever since.  It is after all, something to do. She has yet to identify the locations of Hollister, New Look or TopShop but I am guessing it is only a matter of time before these are well and truly committed to memory.  Along with daddy’s credit card details.


There is little trace* left following Grace’s demolition of her avocado, chickpea pattie and salad concoction.
* lots of trace

Home Economics
Grace is always keen to get stuck into the cooking….from the eating end of the equation, admittedly.  But once the food is lovingly presented in front of her, it requires a special appreciation of the palette to be able to combine natural yoghurt, toast, strawberry and cucumber for example, into one yummy* mouthful. Work is definitely going to be required on the etiquette of at the table eating – throwing food, plates, cutlery is out, and pooing loudly and ostentatiously every time you are halfway through a family meal-time is frowned upon around most civilised dining tables in Buckinghamshire.  Even some in Northamptonshire I believe.

*unlikely to be yummy


There has been a marked increase in physical exertion from the early days of having to check on Grace’s breathing to determine whether or not she actually was, given how much time she spent still and with her eyes closed. Now, the only thing holding Grace back from springing up and haring around the block is her inability to co-ordinate her legs, arms and head at the same time – all can be managed, just not together.  Crawling is just so passe apparently, that Grace appears to have eschewed this stage of development completely, preferring to be forever held up on two legs so that she can stand up and survey her estate with a slightly disapproving tone of look.  Still, at the end of the day exhaustion kicks in, weary limbs can be rested and the sleep of the just comes quickly. As soon as daddy closes his eyes basically.  What Grace does after this point, only mummy can tell…

Overall – A+
Grace has been a pure joy to work with over the last seven months. She may have started off a little on the quiet side, but she has now certainly found her voice…not to mention the volume of a whole load of others. She knows her own mind, certainly, but that’s better than having to make do with the things coming out of mine.  Most of all she’s taught me that creating a new life, nurturing it, sharing your life, your knowledge, your love…is one of the best things there is to be able to do, and I’m so glad that I’ve been given this opportunity to do so.

Happy Easter All


Happy Easter All…. apart from the Easter Bunny, who has been captured by Gracie and is about to undergo the soggy ear treatment…


Things We’ve Learned 1

Six months in, it feels the time is right to look back and consider what we’ve learned, such that others may learn from me. Though top of the list of lessons would undoubtably be, look elsewhere for your baby guru needs. I’ve stuck a 1 at the end of this post title as there has been so much learning going on….and I feel so much learning still to do….that this will be a theme that I return to.

Lesson One: A Baby Changes Your Life Completely. Self evident you may think. And of course, you’d think right. Of course I knew it would change our lives. Everyone told me it would for a start. And from looking at others in a similar situation, I could see lives had indeed been altered. But still….  A baby really does change your life completely. You can nod, say yes it will, laugh about not being able to sleep for the next few years, about staycationing forever at the expense of far flung, exotic travel plans. You hear all this, and no doubt you accept it all at one level. But it doesn’t hit home how fundamentally your life, and more fundamentally you yourself, are changed by this alien life form, until it is held in your arms for the first time, just you and they and time to contemplate the immenseness of it all. At that point you finally know and understand.



The NCT crew…Grace only seems to have eyes for the only boy amongst them. That better stop.

Lesson Two: There Is No Manual. Again, a statement of the bleedin obvious you say. Yes but… I found it hard to understand that I was being given this tiny, fragile, priceless thing to take home with little more than a hold it this way up, the nappy goes on that end, and feed it every 2 to 3 hours. And even then, the latter advice was only imparted after we admitted to the nurse we hadn’t fed Grace in about 6 hours on the first day because she was asleep and we didn’t think we should wake her. Thank heavens we had made the NCT intense, 2 day weekend boot camp a fortnight earlier, so that I was at least aware of how to get a nappy and vest on.  Albeit Grace wriggled a little more than the stuffed bear I had previously only been trusted with.

Lesson Three: Google is your Friend? The main consequence of there being no manual, is that there are lots of views, opinions and thoughts on things. When I say lots, I mean an infinite number. When I say things, I mean everything. And that is just counting the relations, nurses and friends that are on hand with ready access to this information. Nowadays though it won’t be long before you reach for your trusty smartphone and seek Google’s view as an independent, impartial and all knowing Oracle. And then….  An innocuous query about the small rash on Grace’s chest suddenly becomes a planning exercise on which A&E department is closest Northampton or Milton Keynes, for surely this is a medical emergency. A concern about a poo-less day becomes a day spent reading stories of how babies are supposed to have from between 0 and n where n can be any 2 digit number, of poos in any given 24 hour period, and it’s all perfectly normal. Or absolutely time to go to the hospital without delay. If there are two interpretations of some symptom or behaviour, and one will cause untold worry, then that will be the one that occupies the first ten pages of Google’s search results….




Grace in her going out clothes. Change into something more comfortable once the photos have been taken.


Lesson Four:  Save Money and Avoid Fancy Clothes. When you’re changing outfits for the fourth
time in an hour, you will understand that pretty outfits are all very well, but getting said clothes quickly on and off is where the real value of an outfit becomes clear. As does being able to bin them and not feel bad, when several washes and soaks in Vanish later, the tell-tell yellow stain of poo remains forever imprinted into the material. Multi packs of cheap, basic vests and body suits aplenty are what are needed… with the odd bit of cute clothing for when you take baby out and want to show her off, obviously.






Grace in Cot Day 3

A three day old Grace showing how it’s done

Lesson Five: Don’t talk about Sleep. It’s very easy to become a sleep bore ( see blogposts, 3,4,6,7,8…etc), when whole days will revolve around whether or not you’ve had sufficient shut-eye to function as a human being. Certainly avoid the subject with fellow new parents. It will either become a competition as to who has had the least sleep and still be able to operate a baby, or else one of you will hear tales of babies put down at 7 who sleep instantly, only waking for their breakfast 12 hours later, and you will thereafter resent these people and their freak of a baby forever.  Besides, on the rare occasion I have spoken of 11 hours uninterrupted sleep (rare because a) I follow this rule and b) because it is so rare to be able to report it), less than 24 hours later we are back to sitting on the nursery floor in the middle of the night trying to soothe a distressed baby for a couple of hours.

Lesson Six: Never think you’re in control.  When you think you’ve cracked it, when you think you understand the crying demands, when you think you have a set routine, when you think you don’t know what the fuss is…that’s exactly and precisely the moment when you find everything’s changed. Everything you thought you knew is wrong. Everything you had assumed, you had done so on false premises. Sometimes it feels like a game of snakes and ladders, where the ladders climb up one row, and all the snakes send you to back to the start.  That said….

Lesson Seven: You Would Never Have It Any Other Way. Lesson learned in the first hour, and reiterated every day you see the first smile of the day.


A Few of Our Favourite Things

I failed.  Well, I planned to fail truth be told. By failing to plan, as every management course I’ve ever been on, has foretold. I should know by now that the only way I’m going to have something to relate to you, is to plan to do something new and interesting.  I had planned to look into it, but even that plan never came to fruition. Maybe I’m setting my bar too high, and actually what I should be doing is going with the flow and to hell with having some worth blogging.  Having been on the wide awake shift between 3am and 5am, I have decided this is exactly what I am going to do.  Apart from the not blogging bit….for if I pause now on the basis I have nothing of import to say, then there’s probably a fair chance that the pause will become a break will become a sabbatical will become yet another thing that I got into, and then proceeded to never to see through to the middle, let alone the end.

So today I will fill the blog space with a review of some of our favourite things. I have had to omit some prime contenders such as Led Zeppelin, Spurs and Real Ale, since despite ongoing efforts to make them some of Grace’s favourite things, I think it is too early for her to commit yet. Apart from the beer that is.  Before social services get the wrong idea, I mean the beer is not part of the aforementioned ongoing efforts.   Yet.


Step away from the pram… especially if you’re going to ask “How old is HE?”

The Pram: OK, it’s huge (barely even fits in one of our cars) and is a top of the range model costing more than some Eastern European 4×4 family cars, but you get what you pay for.  I get a pram I can steer one handed, fold one handed, open one handed, turn 360 degrees one handed and will last Grace as long as I can still strap her into it, and push it. One handed.  I literally….literally mind….pushed every pram for sale in the UK before settling on this one. Better still, 8 times in 10, Grace is so comfy in it, that she is asleep within 5 minutes of setting off.  This can even work when setting off involves moving backwards and forwards in the dining room at four in the morning. Yes it’s blue.  That’s was a conscious choice because we like blue, not as every passerby seems to assume, because we have a little boy inside…



Cheese and spinach muffin goes the way of all things close to Grace. Into the mouth.

Food: This is truly one of our favourite things. Too much so in my case….the fitness regime really needs to restart yesterday. Mrs W (or Mrs J as she confusingly is), has been pushing the Baby Led Weaning thing hard, and seeing Grace enjoying everything thats put in front of her for her delectation, it’s hard to disagree with the apparent benefits of the approach.  You name it, Grace has nibbled, licked, squashed, regurgitated, sucked, dropped and thrown it.  From the bland porridge fingers to the spicy onion bhajee and sag aloo.  From avocado to conference. From no legged food, to two legged to four legged. From…ok, ok you get it…we love food.



When is it MY turn…that’s what I want to know!

The iPad. Barely a day goes by when I’m not struggling to remove sticky, slimy, paw prints from the iPad, as a result of Grace’s piano playing, ebook reading or animal identification. Questions remain in some quarters whether Grace actually likes this, or whether Daddy is simply drawing his daughter into his gadget addiction.  Grace has definitely shown an interest in how it tastes, and what it sounds like being dropped on the floor….”NOOOooo!!!” is a rough approximation for the latter. Before we all go around with these sort of systems implanted behind our eyeballs, tablets are likely to be the way forward, so best get them started young I say!





Grace failing to understand the concept of non contact thermometers


A nappy disposal system. In case you ever wondered.

Baby Gadgets – a lot of baby gadgets are simply normal items with the word baby added to the font to justify much additional mark-up.  However, these two items I would absolutley recommend to any parent to be. A thermometer that does not require insertion into the baby’s mouth, ear, or…wherever. It can simply read the baby’s temp like a bar code. The other item is…well have a guess. If I had met my older self 20 years ago talking about the merits of nappy sanitation devices, I’d probably have been booking myself to that life ending place in Switzerland there and then.  However, for anyone facing taking nappy bag after nappy bag out one at a time, from the bedroom, down the stairs, or else leaving them to accumulate in the corner, it’s the future. It really is.

Toys – Of course. But how to decide which are favourites?  Generally it will depend on the first letter of the day, the direction of the wind, and a random number between 1 and 1^500 . Or at least that’s what it seems like when trying to work our what will keep our little girl happy and amused. But the items below seem to be currying the greatest favour at the moment, and therefore are rapidly placed in front of Grace the second she seems bored with her existing activity.


Grace’s ball skills need honing a little before being up to getting signed for Spurs. Only a little mind.


Mr Woofer patiently awaits a further mauling


Jungly Tails – introduction to reading, or just good for sucking on?









There are clearly many more favourite things we have, and no doubt I’ll revist this subject later with tales of high-chairs, bath-time, new toys and noise making gizmo’s driving Daddy to distraction as well as probable loss of interest in the current favourties, but there’ll always be the one, mostest, bestest, favourite thing, and that will never change…


Our Favouritest Favourite