Monthly Archives: May 2014

Ten days in May

I have started typing this sentence with absolutely no idea what’s going to follow it. I take my hat off to these bloggers who can churn out multiple paragraphs on almost a daily basis, but I’m not one of them. However, if there’s one thing a blog needs to avoid withering on a URL vine,  unloved, unread, unnoticed in a dark cul de sac of t’internet, then it’s blog posts. So forgive me if I just run through my photo gallery of the last  10 days or so since my last post, and we’ll take it from there!

image

Grace gets stuck into the grass and studiously pretends to ignore the poor excuse for a daisy chain that daddy has placed on her head.

So at the start of the period under review we had that strange thing. Sun. Warmth. A desire to remove clothing. The top layer anyway. Straight on with the shorts, and straight out to find some green space to entertain Grace on. We don’t really have a garden to speak of at home, but being surrounded by fields, and green spaces, I’m sure Grace is not going to get too short changed on being able to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.

 

As someone who has a colourful (very) and painful (very) history of getting sunburnt at the slightest glimmer in the sky, I am a bit paranoid about Grace,  so the poor thing has to endure the heat slathered in sun cream, shaded in her sun hat, arms covered in long sleeves and largely hidden from the sun at all times. However, I am now also paranoid about vitamin D deficiency…

 

image

I could have saved £25 by buying a chewy toy instead…

image

Looking lovely, in her new wardrobe. And she knows it already!

The weekend saw another shopping trip to Milton Keynes shopping centre (our second home), after discovering Grace had a significant absence of summer clothing. Cue a white hot credit card, a new wardbrobe of dresses, tshirts and skirts and Grace’s very first shoes. And an inevitable return of the cold, wet weather that we call summer.

Did I say shoes? Given that Grace is not even walking yet (though she is on a one woman mission to get one foot in front of the other and to scoot off and create mischief near and far at the moment), I can’t help thinking it’s a bit early for shoes.  Given the price of something that will have been outgrown in two months time, I can’t help thinking it’s way too early for shoes.  But on this subject, as with most others, my thinking was overruled.

image

Grace, the little monkey on my back

The start of the week presented an opportunity to get my hands on a child back-pack carrier. Up until his point, Grace has had to suffer being strapped to my front facing outwards with arms and legs stuck out, like a big baby faced starfish stuck to my belly. No sooner as I got the new carrier home, than I had…simply had…to give it a go. Being second hand it had no instructions, but I got it…and Grace…connected up to a reasonable confidence level that they would not become disconnected, and off we went. Well, not really off. It was tipping it down outside, so off we went about the house. Anyone who has been in my house and hit their head on a low ceiling or protruding beam will be aware that this is not a risk free journey. And now Grace can also attest to this. That aside, Grace loves being up on my back, lording it over everyone else and watching me slave over the cooking or washing up.

The next but next but next but next but one,  all girl mega group.  The Bunny Girls probably not an appropriate name,  so may The Hip Hoppers?

The next but next but next but next but one, all girl mega group. The Bunny Girls probably not an appropriate name, so maybe The Hip Hoppers?

Tuesday saw the return of Grace to Ragdolly Anna’s and a reunion with several of our antenatal NCT Group friends and their bonny babies. The music and singing is a sight to behold.  And as long as you only use that sense, you’ll be fine!  Grace has still to learn that instruments are for playing, not licking, sucking or chewing, but she does like a good tune, and often when all else fails to soothe her crying a quick “Wind the Bobbin Up” or “Row, row, row the boat” or “This Old Man”, will bring order of tearful chaos.

 

image

Votes cast, we head for home with the storm clouds of democracy hanging ominously overhead…

Thursday was Election Day. For various reasons I intend to steer well clear of politics in this blog, but be assured I will definitely raise Grace with a sense of the importance of taking part in the democratic process, a curiosity to understand the issues being debated on all sides, and when the time comes to vote, making her own, informed choice as to the placement of her X.  Such an education will inevitably cover the use of dodgy statistics, hyperbole, lies, false extrapolations and all the other tricks of the trade that all sides use, at all times.  Grace will know that there are always two or more arguments to be made over any issue, and it’s only by challenging, asking questions and seeking information will she know which is the right choice for her. Of course, such an approach will stand her in good stead to hopefully deal with much of life at large, and not just the dubious world of politics!

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty in …. colours other than Pink

Scan1

Clearly a girl…

From the 20 week scan we knew we were expecting a girl. The second 20 week scan. The nurse had packed her away her ultrasound equipment after the first when when I said “so what is it then?”. Cue a tut and some unpacking of said equipment. Apparently I was supposed to ask before they did the scan! My view is that with so much uncertainty about becoming first time parents, why not at least embrace the one bit of certainty that 21st century technology does at least allow you, and find out what’s what.

In the very early days I think I probably thought I’d quite like a boy…someone to pass on my…self proclaimed admittedly…cricketing skills to. To share my appreciation of beer with. To hand down the Walker surname for another generation. The latter was actually my dad’s request. But to be honest, I was still too much in shock at the thought of having to be responsible for another human life to worry about which species it was going to be; as long as it was healthy and could be guaranteed to support Spurs. I also lost count of the number of times I got told off for referring to an “it” . Both before and after the birth! Now I have my gorgeous daughter however, I can’t begin to imagine having anything other than a girl. And the upside is, I can still teach her cricket, still educate her in beer, and her mother can nurture Grace’s independence to retain her surname, even if she does get married. After all, she has….

Photo 04-03-2014 07 34 40 pm

Whilst pink may not be allowed, some does sneak in…

Anyway….back to finding out we were having a daughter. I immediately gave the wider family the news…together with explicit instruction that I was banning the colour pink, and so to adjust their knitting plans accordingly. Then it was all systems go…the nursery was decked out in a light mint green, the pram was ordered in Royal Blue, clothes were brought in any style, any colour…except pink.

What does colour matter you may say? It shouldn’t at all..but how many chemistry or electronics sets are packaged in pink?  Or construction kits?  Or cars? Or books of numbers or about science? If all you’ve known is that things for you come wrapped up in pink, then as you get older you could easily be excused for thinking that things in less appetising colours are maybe not for you.

 

IMAG1621_1

That’s my girl…

I realise that there will probably come a time in Grace’s early life when pink will seem to be the only thing she wants to be kitted out in, head to toe, morning to night.  But that can be her choice. For now, I want Grace to grow up not associating pink with being a girl. Indeed I don’t want her to associate anything with being a girl …. or a boy. It shouldn’t be the toy manufacturers who determine what our children get to enjoy by packaging their wares in a gender stereotyped manner.  I realise that this may be a Canute like view, and that many will say it’s a lost cause, but I want Grace to be able to do what she wants to do, and not to feel she shouldn’t because it’s a boy thing.  Or it’s not girlie enough.

 

IMAG1624_1

He’s called Grace and he’s 8 months old next week….

The extent that society overtly links colours to the sexes can be no surprise to anyone, but without exception everyone who has spoken to me when I’m out with Gracie in the pram has said something along the lines of “he’s very cute” or asked “how old is he?” That’s not to criticise them, it’s just an observation that we make immediate assumptions based on things as simple as the colour of a fabric and I don’t want Grace to fall into the same trap of making judgments about things that she may or may not like, simply on the colour of the box they are presented in.

 

 

 with BlogPad Pro

Seriously Out of Tune

It’s true what they say…the days can sometimes seem to drag when you have a dependent baby to care for, entertain, nurture; but by heck, the weeks and months fair fly past! And so it is now, we find ourselves a mere one week off Grace’s eighth month of existence. 36 weeks. 252 days. And as most of you will be able to testify to, 1000+ photographs.

image

It’s not like Grace is in public view 24/7….hmmmm…

Some people ask….not necessarily of me, but definitely of the wider social media scene; I wonder how Grace will feel when she’s older, with all her baby photos on public display? A fair question. This blog is as much for Grace than anything else, and as she gets older and I take her through her earlier life, I hope she’ll be happy for me to continue to report her progress and hopefully start contribute her own thoughts. But if she isn’t happy in any way, the pictures will come down and that wil be that.

image

It’s not as if Grace will have any worries about this being shown on the advent of her 18th birthday…

However, this is partly to judge perceptions of privacy on our own views of when we were young and we all pretty much kept ourselves to ourselves…or at least to a small band of close friends and relations.  Certainly, we would be unable to even comprehend sharing our activities, opinions, thoughts and views with an audience of several hundred people or more each day. Cameras with expensive film cartridges of 24 photos meant that photos of you doing stupid things were rare. At worst, the picture your mate took of you drunk with a traffic cone on your head….or worse, would be seen by a couple of your other close mates. A week or two later. Not that very evening. Not by you parents. Fiancé. Employer. Future employer.

 

Social media now means that an awful lot of the current generation are growing up in the full, unrelenting and unforgiving glare of the world at large. The genie is out of the bottle on that one I fear, and there’s no going back, whatever we may think or wish. Just as not being in debt was once a good thing and now not having a credit rating is viewed with suspicion, the time is surely close when not having a public profile will be regarded by people as something to be wary of. The challenge for today’s generation then must be to own and to manage their presence in this new virtual reality and our job as parents needs to be to understand this new world our children are growing up in, to protect as appropriate…to educate our children to be able to protect themselves and their identity…and to teach them that how they are seen, and how they act on social media is something that matters.

image

Grace is deaf…linguistically or purposefully …to her name, so that the only way to attract her attention is to sing….

Annnnnnyway….no one comes here for my rambling views and serious pontifications, so back to the task at hand. This week I departed my comfort zone to enter into the world of Rag Dolly Anna. A cult of music, song and play where the parents sing, clap, and make a din with assorted instruments in the hope that the little ones will be kept quiet for an hour. Although, of course, when I say quiet, I clearly mean over 100 decibels of anti-quiet.  Grace already recognises a number of songs, and enjoys being sung to, but she isn’t quite at the stage of joining in. For now she’s happy to eat the bells, or suck on the maracas and be shaken in time to the music by daddy every now and again, so he at least can be seen to be adding to the overall “melody” in the room.

 

Singing is clearly a skill I do not possess, and in twelve years I’m not sure I’ve heard Nicole sing once, so I’m not holding out much hope for Grace as a singer…except as maybe one of those no-hoper sorts that the X factor likes us to laugh at. It did get me wondering what traits I have succeeded in passing down however.  I got as far as an exuberant fondness for all types of food, and a desire to get our hands on electronic gadgets. Admittedly it has to be noted that Grace has actually combined these two traits into one.  To be honest, not sure I have many more things to hand down….or at least many things worth Grace having!  I am sure however that what we do have to give Grace in spades….love, care, patience, love, support, love… will enable her to pick up whatever whe wants to pick up in her own good time, and eventually be able to pass on herself one day.

image

For now, Grace is just happy with a bristly daddy kiss. Worrying about the genetic deficiencies she has inherited from him can wait awhile….

On The Move

All major developmental milestones of Gracie go something like this:

EasterSundaywithMum2

Grace eschewing the crawling stage and going straight to advanced tottering

Me (running into whichever room my wife is busying herself in): Wow…quick, come and see…Grace just did x for the first time!  Is that ahead of schedule??

Wife (sighing – her usual response to my utterances) : She’s been doing that for days / weeks / since birth.

Last week, I put Grace down on the changing mat on the floor and wandered back to another room to pick up something I’d left behind, secure in the knowledge that wherever I lay my Grace, that’s her home for as long as it takes me to get back to her.  I was literally out of sight for a minute, but upon coming back into the room, she’d turned from her back to her front, and was now tugging at some interesting, probably baby unsafe thing, that was now handily in reach. Cue a scenario similar to the one at the outset of this post.

In this case however, I was aware that Grace was behind schedule a little – other babies I know of a similar age have already been crawling, sliding, rolling for a while…in some cases for weeks.  But by now, despite my inner competitive nature I realise comparing baby to baby, or baby to developmental charts means nothing, as long as progress is being made.

ZOE_0014_1_1

Grace decides playing catch up with 10 week older cousin Edward is too much like hard work.

Oi you!!! Get out the way!!

Oi you!!! Get out the way!! Grace is forced to practice advanced development skills.

Grace has focussed most of her effort on balancing on her two legs since the day she realised she actually had legs.  This means she loves being held and tottering around the place. but doesn’t care at all for lying on her tummy and crawling.  She has completely ignored the Stage 1, 2 and 3 of packet and jar purees and mush, preferring instead morsels of curry, avocado, and all things whole fruit. Grace has decided that trying to make word like noises is a complete waste of time until she is able to speak properly, so for now just smiles, blows bubbles and giggles like a loon.

 

 

Untitled 2

Grace decides development is not for her, and regresses back to babyhood

All will come in good time when Grace is good and ready, so I have stopped reading about what she should and shouldn’t be doing by now, and am enjoying the sight of her doing everything for the first time at first hand.  Or maybe the fifth time, and at second hand if you listen to my wife.

Besides which, development has it’s own downsides.  I am now having to adjust to a life where I need to have five sets of eyes, and think ten move forwards in being able to anticipate what a mischevious, inquisitive…..mobile…baby will try to do next!

 

 

5 Things Evolution Should Address in Babies
After millions of years of mankind, you would have thought babies would have evolved certain attributes that would make their rearing a whole lot easier, thereby encouraging more people to have more of them.  In case evolution is reading, I propose the following five minor enhancements for starters:

1) An innate understanding of the word No.

2) Until their lives are stressful enough to need to chew nails, or grown up enough to paint nails, the growth rate of babies finger and toenails should be reduced to needing attention no more than once a year.

3) The ability to point to whatever it is that is the current source of their distress.

4) Instead of crying/wailing/screaming, babies should adopt noises along the lines of those issued by birds.

5) The removal of the inner spirit level/mercury switch that currently means a babe sleeping in arms becomes a babe awake and crying in the cot in less time than it takes to say “time for bed”.

I don’t feel any of the above changes require major DNA mutation, and am a little surprised that at least one of them hasn’t taken hold in the general population by now. It’s too late for me, but if Grace should ever choose to have some bundles of joy herself, it would be good if we made an evolutionary start now.