Category Archives: Fatherhood

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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…

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.

 

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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….

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.