Category Archives: Daddy Daycare

The mundanity of a long distance blogger

So I’ve been a bit quiet for the last month, but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening and so have nothing to update you with. Nor does it mean so much is happening I just haven’t had the time to furnish you with the latest humorous pictures of Grace. What it does mean is that I was just waiting for something of interest to happen, that would be worth everybody dropping what they were doing to come over to my blog to be amazed and awed at tales of derring-do and living on the edge of daddy daycare. When I first started I thought that this would happen like every day I took charge of my little bundle of joy. Now, four months in, I have come to the conclusion that actually, as with all other aspects of my life, child care consists of significantly and materially large chunks of mundanity.

Swings are so last week now...

Swings are so last week now…

This is not necessarily a bad thing. There is only so much of the opposite to mundanity I can take at my age, without needing to sit in a darkened room, and then go to bed early with a nice cup of tea. And actually I’m quite a mundane person truth be told, who likes to do things that maybe others would consider mundane, but to me they are things I could happily spend all day doing with Grace. Walking to the park to play on the swings.  Packing a picnic and wandering down to the steam to eat it. Strolling through town with Grace in my backpack, and seeing everyone smile as they see Grace enjoying the ride.  None of that really makes for an interesting read though. I don’t want Grace to think there was some suspicious, unaccounted hole in the first few months of her life however, so I thought I’d better get on and relate a few things anyway. If you want to just look at the cute Grace pictures instead (assuming you haven’t had your absolute fill of these by now), please be my guest.

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Grace contemplates the profound nature of her formal entry into the house of God…and which arm of Rabbit she’s going to chew on next

First we had Grace’s Christening. But that’s something of interest, I hear you say. And you’d be correct of course. However, I took very few photos as I had a lot of other duties to do, and nowadays if you haven’t got photos the thing never happened! I seem to remember saying I would avoid politics in these posts. Well, the same goes for religion.  I’m probably more Richard Dawkins than Richard Coles say, but I do appreciate the tradition and history and am sympathetic to many of the values of christianity. And besides, I was told we were having a Christening. Despite a small initial administrative glitch in proceedings…we turned up en masse and the church weren’t aware that a Christening was taking place…the service was lovely and it was great having close friends and family share in a special day for Grace.

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With mobility on the increase, The Cage has been Grace’s home during periods of necessity……

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Grace’s first recorded unaided stand. The blurring due to the need to photo it and also to ensure the health and safety of the activity.

One interesting happening over the last month has been Grace’s continued mobility development. At every moment she gets the urge to drag herself up to her feet (holding our fingers), then walking…and even running…up and down and around whichever room she is in. This is back breaking work believe me. Even if your back wasn’t already broken like mine is. Day by day she’s getting more confident and letting go of more fingers. Positioned correctly, she will occasionally actually balance with no fingers at all. Being a statistical, nerdy sort, I have already ascertained that a seven second unaided stand is Grace’s current PB. Being a competitive, statistical, nerdy sort, I try and beat this every day. #pushyparentwarning Then we had Grace’s 8 month Health Visitor check up. Two days after her nine month birthday. Another administrative glitch;  this time form the NHS. They did send us an appointment in the correct window, but it arrived two days before said appointment. This may be fine if you have nothing better to do with your days than wait for unexpected doctors appointments to fill them with, but with both of us working that’s not the case. Anyway, Grace has moved up from the bottom of the growth centiles to somewhere about average, so all good there. Her head however, is apparently disproportionately large! This is probably nothing to worry about said the health visitor, as we immediately started worrying and googling, and then worrying even more. This is the fifth time in Grace’s short life that we have been told something probably isn’t anything to worry about, and the four preceding times, it wasn’t. I can’t help feeling that health visitors seem to err too far on the safe side on such pronouncements, and as a consequence put parents through a lot more worry than they need to be put through. I’m this case, clearly Grace requires extra headspace for the extra brainpower she’s inherited.

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Grace’s clearly immense balloon-sized head getting filled with words about cats and hats and mats

Finally, I celebrated my four month anniversary of cutting my work days and becoming daddy daycare for Only Two Days a Week. With three months to go until the arrangement was due to end, I started thinking about life post September, and shipping Grace off to nursery for the majority of the week. It didn’t take long for Nicole and I to decide actually, that’s not what we want for Grace at this time, so I have put in a submission to extend my three day a week working to next April. The downside is that now with more time in charge of Grace, I’ll need to seek more things of interest to extend the life of this blog by a similar amount!

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On to the next adventure…

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!

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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…

 

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

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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.

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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.

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

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…

English
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.

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

Music
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

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

History
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.

Maths
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.

Geography
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.

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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

 

PE
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

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

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.

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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…

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

 

 

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Grace failing to understand the concept of non contact thermometers

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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.

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

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Mr Woofer patiently awaits a further mauling

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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…

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Our Favouritest Favourite

 

 

 

Repeat Performances

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Just another start to the working day, Gracie style

I always thought the problem with writing a blog would be having something to write about that someone else wants to read. After a month of writing, nearly 1000 views and some lovely feedback, I realise that the actual problem is to keep writing something new and interesting that someone else wants to read. And writing something new and interesting is going to mean I’ll have to do new and interesting things with Grace. I’m not sure childcare should necessarily be directed by the need to have material to blog about, but it’s surely a win win! Much as I welcome all the passers by, the main someone else I have in mind reading through all these posts, is of course, Grace herself. One day I hope she’ll be able to read through these ramblings and marvel at how well she’s turned out despite her formative first few months in my occasional care.

All that said, new and interesting things will have to wait. This week, we have swimming, Bumps and Babies and shopping trips.  If you think this sounds suspiciously like my itinery from week one then you’d be right! Deja vu all over again.

Tuesday was our first day back to normality following the CenterParcs break. As disrupted and unsettled as Grace’s sleep had been over the weekend, it was a joy to wake up on Tuesday morning after 7 hours sleep, and with Grace having had 11! Maybe a corner has been turned… The plan was to get over to the library to take part in SongTime and meet Elmer. Who is Elmer? No idea…looks a bit like a psychedelic elephant in the photo, and apparently he is a character from a well known children’s book. But as Grace fell asleep at exactly the time we were due to depart, I shall never know which one. Or find out if Elmer is indeed an elephant.  Hopefully one of you can elucidate for me.

A lot of what happens or doesn’t on my days in charge seems to be governed by Grace’s eating and sleeping patterns. Hopefully over time I’ll either a) be better able to plan myself around them, or b) work out how to mitigate the impact of ignoring them. At the moment I’m not organised enough for a) and too scared to try b) !

Grace takes a sneaky turn down aisle 3, and the Farleys Rusks

Having missed the singing…and I think if I’m honest, an unconscious sigh of relief was probably issued at the time, I decided that we’d have another go at the Swimming Pool.  The local pool in Wolverton is brand new so pretty good for facilities, including six huge family changing cubicles. Getting you and your baby changed single handed is tricky, but is made easier by having acres of space to spread out in. I live in fear that one day I’ll turn up and one of these wont be available…

Just as last time, Grace went from happy and smiling to unsure and grizzly the minute she entered the pool. Me ducking her head underwater slightly accidentally did not help matters. We did manage to last for 25 minutes this time, before giving up thinking Grace was suddenly going to take to this new aquatic experience. Still…she does like the poolside showers, so we got our money’s worth standing under these.

Off to the supermarket then to get the ingredients for beef goulash, which though Grace doesn’t know it yet, will be her tea on Thursday. We may well have a freezer full of freshly prepared purées, but that was then, BLW is now, though I am wondering how Grace is quite going to handle Goulash. Messily, I’ll wager.

Grace takes charge and shows daddy how to look after his teeth

Grace’s two front teeth are coming on well…I’m very careful when applying teething gel now, since experiencing the sharpness of these fangs on my finger.  Nicole is very keen that we should start Grace getting used to cleaning her teeth … I have a far more laissez faire approach to remembering to carry out my instructions. Mind you, Nicole has all her teeth and no fillings, I have had several removed and a mouthful of amalgam. So I better do as I’m told.

And so to Thursday…

There is a real risk that if you choose not to make an effort to leave the house, then  you will simply not leave the house and before long you feel claustrophobic, bored and trapped. Held hostage by your baby. So I was determined that, my thing or not, I would get out and make the Bumps and Babies group in Hanslope. On non weighing days, this is a smallish group of around 10 mums and offspring, and they all make you feel very welcome despite me being the odd one out. Well, at least I was the odd one out. Now I am one of two, which makes it a bit more comfortable as when talk drifts, as it inevitably does from time to time, onto ladies issues let’s say, I can switch to a different wavelength and chat Mano a Mano.

Today I noticed some of the mums were painting on canvasses with the “help” of their babies hands and feet. I kept clear of the mess and stuck to the soft play area. It wasn’t until the end that the leader asked me if I wanted to take my canvas home and paint it there for mummy, that I realised I’d missed a trick. Actually, I’d missed the entire show, as I had completely failed to realise that Mothers Day from now on, was no longer just about getting a card and some chocolates/flowers for my mum (ok mum…occasionally getting…!) . Panic. But still time to do something about it. So off to Milton Keynes Shopping Centre we sped. Grace will know this place like the back of her hand even before she gets to that sort of age, when she’ll get to know this place like the back of her hand!

Made it. And sorted Easter whilst I was at it. Very occasionally, I am still able to keep ahead of the game!

Nb the Goulash was very good….but the way Grace’s little raptor like teeth tore into the beef made me doubly sure to keep my fingers clear at all times…

Daddy’s work here is done for the day…

 

The Day’s Stats:
Music Education:   Rock Lobster – B52s  Should I Stay Or Should I Go – Clash   American Idiot – Green Day

Distance walked:  0 miles 

Time Taken for 25 minute swim:  2 hours

Minutes snoozed: None. I should point out that this is minutes snoozd by me. But given that Grace has slept 11 hours straight the last three days, none is fine!

Scary Things: 1 – Grace was decidedly unimpressed by the huge roll of thunder over the house today. But then neither was I

Meals at Table: 3

New Foodstuffs:  3 (beef, avocado, natural yoghurt)

 

In Between Days 2: A Long Weekend

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A view of the world Grace would get used to over the next three days

Of the 183 days of Grace’s time in the world, only two have been spent away from home, and these were with the in-laws, and at a stage when Grace did little more than eat and sleep. Not that her repetoire has increased massively since then it has to be said. I don’t think there was any specific reason for this…we often used to go away BG (before Grace), and we had bought a travel cot for just such an eventuality but we just hadn’t got round to sorting anything out. As an aside, don’t do as I did, and, thinking of Travel Scrabble, or Travel Iron (no, no idea really) equate travel with ease of mobility! The Travel cot is a beast that immediately fills a substantial part of your boot…a subject to which we shall shortly return.

We’d had a long weekend in the diary for a couple of months, but it wasn’t until a week and half beforehand we’d finally decided to actually leave the safe environs of home and venture further afield. When it was unseasonably warm, and the thoughts were of walking through cool, shady forest pathways, picnicking on sunlit meadows, and dipping toes into refreshing, babbling brooks. The typical British hope over experience when it comes to weather, obviously. Though given it is still March, it was less hope and more insane ignorance, and less experience and more flying in the face of meteorological science. Still, we booked ourselves into CenterParcs at Longleat and checked the weather app daily with increasing despair.

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The vagaries of British Spring weather are lost on Grace

Packing is never a last minute and unplanned activity in this household. At least as long as I have nothing to do with it that is. Lists start being made weeks in advance, and get added to and amended with increasing frequency and in smaller and smaller handwriting so as to fit more on a single page, until the day we depart. At which point everything is either ticked, ringed or underlined in red ink. These latter ones have something to do with me I think. Grace and I are similar in that we have limited wardrobe options, so packing actually boils down to stuffing most of the clothes we own into a bag that can then be squashed into a convenient space in the car. The pram, travel cot, changing bag, toys and food account for the rest of the space. By the time packing was completed, the car was full. And I mean FULL. Who knew an Astra would only just about be big enough for a family of 3. Or two and a little bit. I used to laugh at people and their need to buy ever bigger 4×4’s, but know I’m just jealous. What I’m less sure of though, is when it changed. When did a small Ford Cortina cease to be big enough to get a family of four down to Cornwall and back, when driving to Cornwall still involved an overnight stay in a lay-by along the way, there being only mud tracks west of Exeter?

And so we made it to CenterParcs. For those who have never been, I imagine it’s a bit like Butlins with less knobbly knees and more big German cars. It’s very nicely done in amongst the forests of Longleat, and I also imagine it’s great in the warm dappled sunlight. I’ll never know. Still, we had a very nicely presented lodge, and luckily for potential neighbours, only connected to one other. The travel cot, having been lugged to the nearest room (which was fortunately the bedroom) like some missing monolith from Stonehenge which we’d passed only hours earlier, was then expertly put together like so much giant iron and cloth origami. Problem was that the only available expertise was in spreadsheets. Always good for a bit of bonding, these sort of exercises….

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Lack of sleep had knock on effects on my ability to care for my daughter

By the time we were settled, it was past Grace’s usual bedtime (around 7pm), but hey…we’re on holiday, let’s go and have a quick wander, and besides, the fresh air will do Grace good.  In hindsight, all I can say is they’re not mistakes if you learn from them. And at 3am we were learning well. The break in routine may have been a factor, but to be honest, Grace’s ongoing battle with her alien teeth were the main cause. That and the related nappy filling (don’t ask me how, but there is an incontrovertible link…according to Google at least) .

Eventually, the drugs *did* work

Eventually, the drugs *did* work

Think we got through four or five nappies in the darkest hours before dawn that Saturday morning. From that point on we never really recovered, and the rest of the weekend was spent trying to time painkillers, teething gel, sleeps and eats in such a way as to minimise poor Gracie’s discomfort. We did manage to get out and about, and even made the Sub Tropical Paradise (a greater emphasis on the word Sub than I had expected…) a couple of times.

But all the time Grace was either moaning, filling her nappy, or just generally not being herself. It was good to get away for a few days and escape our own little routines built around Grace and work, but still, come Monday afternoon we were back in Castlethorpe, feet up, drinking tea, and breathing a sigh of relief. Home…no place like it.

 

 

6 Months and a Day

So you join us, as you usually do at the start my days in charge, somewhere between 4 and 5 in the morning, birds going doolally outside, with a warm, yet wriggly body in my arms, trying my hardest to get it to sleep. Strangely, the night after I had been last been in charge, Grace slept 11 hours straight. Unfortunately tonight I had been up to 1am with some work, so it didn’t really feel time to get up, and it was a relief when Grace slumped under the pressure of my will and fell asleep again quickly. No sofa for me this time though…for Grace now has her own room at last, and so I could put her into the cot and sneak back to my own bedroom, for another two hours….they make all the difference! Fortunately I’m a short sleeper anyway. I don’t feel I’ve got my money out of a day if I go to sleep before midnight, and the alarm…in the days when I still needed one,  would go off at 6.30am. Some people would note that it would still then take me two hours to actually leave the house….

The nursery in quieter times….

Six months then. And a day. It was just over six months when we were putting the finishing touches to the nursey, not knowing what exactly we were letting into our lives.  We’d only had our crash NCT intense weekend course the week before. We were surely not yet qualified. But then barely over 12 months ago, I was still in blissful ignorance of it all! Years used to go by fairly sedately, with little to tell between one and the next. No longer I suspect.

Back to the now, and it being a Thursday means, as we learnt last week…Bumps and Babies! (There were no bumps for the record…I suspect those with bumps prefer the ignorance of what is in store, as opposed to the screaming, wrestling, pushing, pulling, hitting, snatching reality on the floor in front of them).   I still haven’t quite got my mind around attending these, but the continuing development of Grace’s Treasure Box does depend on it, so I was happy to make the effort. However, Grace woke up as grouchy as I remember her, and I didn’t feel her wailing and squealing was what the other babies needed….though to be fair, they all give as good as they get. So happily grasping any excuse that came my way, we decided the box could wait until next week. It is actually very tough to see your child crying and obviously in some discomfort and not knowing what to do. You feed, you change, you cuddle, but that’s about the full repetoire. After that, and without any decent patient feedback, I guess it’s Calpol. Or try to mentally tune out the grizzling. For now, I settle on the latter.

Now just exactly where do you intend to be sticking that thermometer….?!

 

Just to be on the safe side, I take Grace’s temperature. This is something I probably did about 3 times an hour when Grace first came home, and I still do reasonably regularly. This is probably due to fascination with the gadget, rather than any particular concern I have over Grace’s fluctuating temperature since in all the hundreds of readings I’ve taken, not one has ever been outside of the normal range.  The beauty of the thermometer is that it measures room and bath temperatures too! Stand still long enough in this house and you’ll get zapped. Alongside the Nappy Disposal System, this has got to be at the top of the baby gadget essentials to have. Maybe that’s now earmarked as a blog topic for another day!

 

I photobomb Gracie’s selfie (not sure these words will actually make sense in the future when Grace reads this)

For today, the writing must be limited. I am supposed to be packing for a three night stay at Centre Parcs, leaving tomorrow. This is truly a military exercise of industrial proportions. I can’t even begin to face the logistical challenge that will be getting everything in the car, until daylight.  I have already taken  an unhealthy fascination in car top boxes. Just one example of how much a year can change you!

 

 

 

 

 

“I hope mummy wont be long…” says  

The Day’s Stats:
Music Education:   Creep (Radio Edit of course!) / Street Spirit – Radiohead   Caribou – Pixies 

Distance walked:  4.2 miles to the water park. 1 hour 10 mins… 12 months ago I could run it in under 37mins

Photos Posted to Facebook: 5 (an addiction fuelled by being stuck home alone with a photogenic baby, a camera phone, and no plans to go out )

Baths:  1 (boiler fixed!!)

Minutes snoozed: None

Meals at Table: 3

New Foodstuffs: 1 (melon)