Sunday, April 30, 2006

Amelia's 'Quaker Dress'

Barnaby had a terrible night last night, after his early-to-bed evening last night. He woke up frequently and then wet the bed. Unfortunately we'd got no more night-time pants, so a bit of a disaster ensued. Amelia had a slightly better night than she has had recently. We were therefore up bright and early in the morning and off to meeting with no stress at all.

After meeting, Amelia received many compliments with many people offering to hold her and comments along the lines of "Hasn't she grown!". One woman admired her dress: a needlepoint cord dress in a biscuit colour, with lace along the hem and a very pale pink ribbon around the bottom of the bodice. She said that it was very quakerly: sober but in a pretty sort of way.

After meeting we went to Bella Italia for lunch, which was very pleasant. On our return, we actually managed to get Barnaby to take an afternoon nap, Sheep and Amelia both napped too! It was only me who didn't. I woke Barnaby and Sheep at 3:45 in order to get them out of the house. We'd intended to go to one of the big DIY superstores (either Homebase or B&Q) to buy some growbags (we're showing Barnaby how to grow vegetables in the garden; the growbags are for tomatoes). So I pushed Amelia in the pram, Barnaby started off on his tricycle and Sheep pulled Barnaby's Radioflyer 'Little Red Wagon'. Sadly, I'd forgotten Sunday opening hours and we arrived too late, but had had a nice walk. Eventually Barnaby became tired of tricycling and I managed to balance his tricycle on the handlebars of Amelia's pram (it's amazing how resourceful you can be when you need to!) and Barnaby lounged in the red wagon (looking rather like a Roman Emperor) as Sheep pulled him home. (The reason for taking the little red wagon was to pull the growbags home!).

An early night was had by Barnaby and Amelia (he didn't get his sticker last night!). I also failed to bid upon a wooden (garden) wendy house that was being sold on ebay. It had started out as a terrific bargain - no one was bidding and I assumed that it was because it was local pick up only (it was located in Milton Keynes), but in the last 10 minutes there was a frenzy of bidding and it went far higher than I was prepared to bid. I'm not really looking to get a wendy house this year (it was only that it was such a bargain), so perhaps next year.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Green Fingers

Today my sister and brother-in-law came over to help us with the garden. We were all at it, to a greater or lessor degree (in my and Amelia's cases, much less; I spent most of the day making tea and trying to provide entertaining conversation!). Claire and Julian arrived at about 9:00 this morning. Barnaby was already in the garden keeping watch for their arrival. When they did arrive, they set to, starting the epic job of beginning to weed our beds. They were soon joined by Sheep and Barnaby, Barnaby 'helping'. I put Amelia in her sling and came out with her too and chatted to everyone while they worked (well, it was a hard job, but somebody had to do it!). They started at the front, so it all looks amazing as you come in, and they probably got about a third of the way around the garden. At coffee time, I realised that I had no biscuits for the 'workers' and as Amelia was extremely content snuggled next to me in her sling I walked with her to the village shop to buy some biscuits for everyone. One of her socks kept falling off and I had to retrace my steps a couple of times, in order to retrieve it. I fear that, intermittently, she suffered from a cold foot. She didn't complain though.

On my return the workers had been hard at work and Barnaby hard assisting. "Look, I've found a wiggly worm!", "Look, I've found another wiggly worm!", nearly parting Uncle Julian's hair with a garden hoe, flicking soil onto the lawn and watering Aunty Claire instead of the plants. Needless to say, he had a whale of a time. He couldn't be persuaded to have an afternoon nap, it was all too exciting.

On the topic of naps, Amelia, while in the sling, slept far, far more today than she has all week, I must remember this and think about keeping her in her sling more often. It does, however, restrict the sorts of activities I can do (jobs that require me to stand up and not keep bending over are alright but most jobs require stooping periodically).

Towards the end of the afternoon, Claire and Julian got close to the garden shed, and I mentioned how I'd like to reinstate the former garden gate that was there (boarded up). There was also this huge lump of ivy, that I'd thought was covering an old tree stump - could I have been more wrong! It turns out that it was part of an old garden shed, so covered in ivy that it make a whole wall of the stuff. Julian began hacking away at it, cleared the bricks and compost from the path leading to the gate, while Sheep went round to the road side with a pair of secateurs and began clearing the entrance from the road. Eventually, we made it through, Julian got his crow-bar and levered off the chain and padlock and Barnaby was the first to walk through the new gate!


Barnaby walking through the new gate for the first time

Sheep then found, under the ivy an old fireplace that we think must have come out of either Barnaby's or Amelia's bedroom. Probably Amelia's room. We have put it out of sight of passers by and intend to see if it can be stripped down and reinstated (or perhaps it is already too far gone, who knows?). Anyway, the removal of the wall of ivy and clearing the path to the gate and re-opening the gate has made a huge difference to the garden. Amelia and Barnaby seemed to have a great time in all the fresh air. All in all, I think a lovely day was had by all.

At dinner time, Barnaby simply fell asleep on his Uncle Julian, so we popped him into bed; both him and Amelia were in bed and asleep by 7:20.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Quiet Friday

I was so exhausted after yesterday, that I decided to have a quiet day today and that's what Amelia and I did. My main priority was to get her to nap today and to see what her sleep pattern was like, if there were no distractions. I did everything today to help her to nap well today. However to no avail; even with all my efforts, she only had three naps today of exactly 30 minutes apiece. After tonight I will stop keeping the log and summarise the results. However, what I already find frustrating is that since I've been recording her naps, her sleep pattern seems worse than it's ever been. There have been nights when she has only woken once and this week she has woken at least twice or three times. I'll analyze the logs tomorrow.

Barnaby had a good day at nursery but his keyworker, Gemma, told me that there is a virus going round the 'squirrels' and that they are dropping like flies at the moment (one has even been hospitalised!). We are bracing ourselves for the worse and I am already trying to keep Barnaby from Amelia and increase general hygene precautions.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Tired & Exhausting Day...

Tired & Exhausting Day... so why am I still bloggin after midnight?

Today Amelia woke up at 6:00 - in my stupour, I thought it was 7:00 and after her feed got us both up and dressed before I realised my mistake. Sheep and Barnaby, meanwhile, slept blissfully. Then I dropped Barnaby off to nursery. As soon as I returned, Sheep, Amelia and I left for London. We missed the train we'd been aiming for and the one I got meant that I was slightly late for the start of the student thesis presentations. These presentations went on until 12:40 (Amelia sat in my arms and entertained everyone). This meant that the Course Tutor's Meeting that was supposed to start at 12:30 didn't start until 12:40 and continued until 2:30. At 2:30 I said I had to leave as I had a supervision arranged with a PhD student, which was meant to have begun at 2:00. I met with him until 3:30, at which point Sheep, Amelia and I flew off to catch the early train (3:58) and we missed it by about 20 seconds.... grrr! Then home for the whole evening routine, but with a difference - Sheep was off on a boys night out with husbands from my NCT coffee group! Once, I'd got Amelia off to sleep, I was then on my own with Barnaby - he didn't sleep until 9:40, at which point Amelia awoke again. It was 10:00 before I actually stopped and sat down today. I'm still awake now, as I was waiting for Sheep to return (he came back at midnight and said it was ok!).

It's hard to believe I'm actually meant to be on maternity leave! Still, I've arranged a meeting with my Head of Department to request going back part time for the Autumn Term, so I don't start full time until after Christmas. I'm meeting him on Monday 8th May at 2:00 in the afternoon, at his house in Loughton! Convenient eh?

Yesterday I didn't blog as I was so busy filling in sleep logs! But, in brief, met with the NCT group for a walk around Furzton Lake which was actually really nice. In the evening I actually went out on my own in the evening for the second or third time since Barnaby was born. It was the first meeting of the book club I was invited to join. Pleasant evening sitting around drinking wine talking about books.

Anyway, must go - I am on my last legs. I am so tired.

Sleep & Nap Log #3 (Wednesday)

Nap #1
Time Amelia fell asleep: 10:00 am.
How Amelia fell asleep: intermittently sucking on my little finger .
Where Amelia fell asleep: in her moses basket, on sofa.
Where Amelia slept: in her moses basket, on sofa.
How long?: 45 minutes.
Notes:

Nap #2
Time Amelia fell asleep: 1:30 pm.
How Amelia fell asleep: intermittently sucking on my little finger .
Where Amelia fell asleep: in her moses basket, on sofa.
Where Amelia slept: in her moses basket, on sofa.
How long?: 25 minutes.
Notes:

Nap #3
Time Amelia fell asleep: 3:30 pm.
How Amelia fell asleep: in her pram.
Where Amelia fell asleep: in her pram.
Where Amelia slept: in her pram.
How long?: 30 minutes.
Notes:

Total number of naps: 3
Total hours of naptime: 1 hours 40 minutes

Amelia's Prebedtime Routine Log
This details what we did, when, the activity, noise and light level in the hour or so leading up to bed time.

Time: 5:45
What we did: sat at the kitchen table while sheep cooked and Barnaby cut out pictures to stick in his scrap book.
Activity level: moderate.
Noise level: moderate.
Light level: bright.
Notes:

Time: 6:00
What we did: ate dinner.
Activity level: moderate.
Noise level: moderate.
Light level: bright.
Notes:

Time: 6:30
What we did: We went upstairs to bed, I got her changed and ready for bed.
Activity level: calm.
Noise level: quiet.
Light level:dim.
Notes:

Time: 6:55
What we did: she fell asleep.
Activity level: calm.
Noise level: quiet.
Light level:dim.
Notes: she fell asleep in our bed.

Amelia's Night-waking Log
This details how and when she woke up, what we did and how she fell back to sleep again.

Time: 9:30 pm
How Amelia woke me up: whimpering over the baby monitor.
How long Amelia was awake and what we did:5 minutes, she didn't really wake up. I moved her from the cot into our bed and she calmed down again.
What time Amelia fell back to sleep: 9:35
How Amelia fell back to sleep: lying in bed, small comfort feed.
How long of a sleep stretch since she fell asleep: 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Notes:

Time: 12:15 am
How Amelia woke me up: movement.
How long Amelia was awake and what we did: 7 minutes, I fed her.
What time Amelia fell back to sleep: 12:22
How Amelia fell back to sleep: nursing.
How long of a sleep stretch since she fell asleep: 2 hours 40 minutes.
Notes:

Time: 3:30 am
How Amelia woke me up: movement.
How long Amelia was awake and what we did: 30 minutes, I changed her nappy and fed her.
What time Amelia fell back to sleep: 4:00
How Amelia fell back to sleep: nursing.
How long of a sleep stretch since she fell asleep: 3 hours 8 minutes.
Notes:

Time: 6:00 (she was awake for the day) after 3 hours 40 minutes.

Asleep time: 6:65
Awake time: 6:00
Total number of awakenings: 3
Longest sleep span: 3 hours 15 minutes
Total hours of sleep: t.b.c.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Babe in Arms

Sheep went to UCL today, so after he had taken Barnaby to nursery, Amelia and I had some quiet time together. I would have liked to have done some housework today or got some jobs done, but somehow it just didn't seem to happen. Amelia hardly slept (I've been making her sleep and nap log again today, so I've been more conscious of this than perhaps I would otherwise be) and so I seemed to have spent a lot of time either trying to get her off to sleep today or, when she had hardly slept at all, letting her sleep in my arms so that she would actually get some sleep! I know this is a bad habit to get into and I do try hard not to let her sleep in my arms too much. Actually, I do like what Elizabeth Pantley has to say on this subject,

"Where does your baby feel the most comfortable and secure? In your arms. Where is your baby most at peace? In your arms. If given the choice, where would your new baby tell you she wants to sleep? In your arms, of course!... There is nothing--absolutely nothing--as endearing and wonderful as a newborn baby falling asleep in your arms or at your breast....But--Danger! Alert! Warning! A baby who always sleeps in your arms will--you guessed it--always want to sleep in your arms. Smart baby! A baby who cries for the comfort of her mother's or father's arms, and the parent who responds, is working within the natural framework of instinct that has helped ensure infants' survival from the beginning of time.

This very natural and all-consuming connection would work perfectly in a perfect world--where mothers do nothing but care for their bbies that entire first year or two of life. A world in which someone else tends the home, makes the meals, provides the means to pay the bills--while Mommy and baby spend their days enjoying each other and doing those nourishing, bonding things nature intended. Alas, such a world no longer exists, if it ever did. Contemporary life, with its demands, does not provide such a privilege. We mothers have much to do, and must strike a balance between instinct and practicality.
pp70-71

She goes on to say that indulging yourself once in a while is fine, but unless you want to be saddled with a two-year old who thinks they need to sleep in your lap (or a three-year old who wants to sit on his Daddy's lap in the rocking chair!) to go to sleep, you have to let them learn to fall alseep by themselves as much as possible. I think her statement about striking a balance between instinct and practicality very apt.

Sleep & Nap Log #2

Nap #1
Time Amelia fell asleep: 10:35 am.
How Amelia fell asleep: nursing.
Where Amelia fell asleep: on my lap, on the nursing cushion.
Where Amelia slept: on my lap.
How long?: 10 minutes.
Notes:

Nap #2
Time Amelia fell asleep: 11:54 am.
How Amelia fell asleep: intermittently sucking on my little finger (removed and replaced everytime she became agitated).
Where Amelia fell asleep: in her moses basket, on sofa.
Where Amelia slept: in her moses basket, on sofa.
How long?: 33 minutes.
Notes:

Nap #3
Time Amelia fell asleep: 2:22 pm.
How Amelia fell asleep: In my arms.
Where Amelia fell asleep: In my arms.
Where Amelia slept: In my arms.
How long?: 35 minutes.
Notes: I was so concerned about how little she'd slept today and she didn't sleep anywhere else (I'd tried her cot, moses basket and 'bouncy bear chair'.

Nap #4
Time Amelia fell asleep: 3:10
How Amelia fell asleep: In my arms.
Where Amelia fell asleep: In my arms.
Where Amelia slept: In my arms.
How long?: 1 hour.
Notes: this was really an extension of the above nap. She woke briefly for 10 minutes, at which point she had a feed and fell straight back to sleep again.

Total number of naps: 4
Total hours of naptime: 2 hours 18 minutes

Amelia's Prebedtime Routine Log
This details what we did, when, the activity, noise and light level in the hour or so leading up to bed time.

Time: 5:45
What we did: sat at the kitchen table while sheep cooked and Barnaby cut out pictures to stick in his scrap book.
Activity level: moderate.
Noise level: moderate.
Light level: bright.
Notes:

Time: 6:00
What we did: ate dinner.
Activity level: moderate.
Noise level: moderate.
Light level: bright.
Notes:

Time: 6:20
What we did: Amelia briefly fell asleep for 10 minutes.
Activity level: moderate.
Noise level: moderate.
Light level: bright.
Notes:

Time: 6:40
What we did: We went upstairs to bed, I got her changed and ready for bed.
Activity level: calm.
Noise level: quiet.
Light level:dim.
Notes:

Time: 7:15
What we did: she fell asleep.
Activity level: calm.
Noise level: quiet.
Light level:dim.
Notes: she fell asleep in our bed. At 7:30 I moved her into her cot.

Amelia's Night-waking Log
This details how and when she woke up, what we did and how she fell back to sleep again.

Time: 9:30 pm
How Amelia woke me up: whimpering over the baby monitor.
How long Amelia was awake and what we did:5 minutes, she didn't really wake up. I moved her from the cot into our bed and she calmed down again.
What time Amelia fell back to sleep: 9:35
How Amelia fell back to sleep: lying in bed, small comfort feed.
How long of a sleep stretch since she fell asleep: 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Notes:

Time: 12:15 am
How Amelia woke me up: movement.
How long Amelia was awake and what we did: 7 minutes, I fed her.
What time Amelia fell back to sleep: 12:22
How Amelia fell back to sleep: nursing.
How long of a sleep stretch since she fell asleep: 2 hours 40 minutes.
Notes:

Time: 3:30 am
How Amelia woke me up: movement.
How long Amelia was awake and what we did: 30 minutes, I changed her nappy and fed her.
What time Amelia fell back to sleep: 4:00
How Amelia fell back to sleep: nursing.
How long of a sleep stretch since she fell asleep: 3 hours 8 minutes.
Notes:

Time: 7:40 (she was awake for the day) after 3 hours 40 minutes.

Asleep time: 7:15
Awake time: 7:40
Total number of awakenings: 3
Longest sleep span: 3 hours 40 minutes
Total hours of sleep: 11 hours 58 minutes

Monday, April 24, 2006

Start of Sleep Logs and Jabs

Today I decided to start Step Three of the Pantley Plan: creating the sleep logs. For a whole week I intend to record details about Amelia's day time naps, her bedtime routine and her patterns of night wakings. I've already recorded her naps today and her bedtime routine. Tonight I'll be noting down her nighttime wakings. Tomorrow morning I'll post the first 24 hour log. However, the first thing that I've noted from today is that although at three months of age Amelia is meant to be having approximately three day-time naps during the day, totally about 5-6 hours. Well, today she had just over an hour and a half of naps (3 x 30 minutes), which is almost identical to the amount of time Barnaby napped today! It will be interesting to see how this varies over the week. I'll be posting these separately every day.

The other event that happened today was that Sheep and I took Amelia to have her 3 month booster jab. She was pretty content when she had the jab in her first thigh and most indignant when she had the second jab in her other thigh. Poor girl. Sheep cuddled her in his arms while she had them done and I had to turn away (I'm such a wimp).

Barnaby had a terrible bed-time tonight - he point-blank refused to do anything that we wanted him to! He wouldn't stay in his [ SHEEP takes over as Ruth runs up stairs ] bed room and used every trick in his little book to get out of bed and stay awake (Mummy I need a wee-wee,Mummy I don't want to read that book, Is it a play day? I want to look out of the window... ). This is agrivated by not listening to anything we might say(nusery compalined about the same problem). Eventually Sheep went up and rocked him off to sleep (twice). Fortunatly now he has gone to sleep he has stayed zonked out, perhaps tomorrow he won't be so tried. Perhaps this exploreing of bounds won't last tooooo long.

Today sheep went to the OU Campus library, joined up and found an excellent place to work (electricy & wireless networking for the latptop, coffee and a nice place to sit with a view for sheep). This will get him out of the house a bit more. He cycled over and can get to the campus in about 30 mins by bike.

Amelia's Sleep & Nap Log

As per my promises of last week, I've decided to start keeping a sleep and nap log for Amelia today, and will continue to do so every day this week (for one week). Elizabeth Pantley recommends recording the following facts about daytime naps: when and how long the baby sleeps, where they fell asleep and where they actually slept (which may be different) and how they fell asleep. Here is my first nap log for her. (Usually this data would be presented in tabular form, but since I can't be bothered to work out the html of tables from scratch, I 'll make do by just recording it!

Incidentally, Pantley says on the topic of naps, that at 3 months a baby should be having 3 naps a day, with a total naptime of 5-6 hours, nighttime sleep hours of 8.5-10 hours (not unbroken!) and so total sleep time of 15-16 hours in every 24 hours. (p.48)

Nap #1
Time Amelia fell asleep: 9:30 am.
How Amelia fell asleep: intermittently sucking on my little finger (removed and replaced everytime she became agitated).
Where Amelia fell asleep: in moses basket, on sofa, with blinds lowered.
Where Amelia slept: in moses basket, on sofa, with blinds lowered.
How long?: 38 minutes.
Notes: she awoke briefly at 9:35, after I thought that she was asleep, and needed to suck on my little finger again to go back to sleep. I left the room at 10:00 and Sheep reported that as soon as I left the room she began to become restless, and agitated but didn't fully awake until 10:08.

Nap #2
Time Amelia fell asleep: 12:07 pm.
How Amelia fell asleep: intermittently sucking on my little finger (removed and replaced everytime she became agitated).
Where Amelia fell asleep: in her moses basket, on sofa, with blinds raised and ambient music playing.
Where Amelia slept: in her moses basket, on sofa, with blinds raised.
How long?: 29 minutes.
Notes: she didn't really sleep deeply at all this time, she kept waking and wanting to suck on something (my finger).

Nap #2
Time Amelia fell asleep: 2:55 pm.
How Amelia fell asleep: just fell asleep after some initial crying.
Where Amelia fell asleep: in her pram.
Where Amelia slept: in her pram.
How long?: 30 minutes.
Notes: she would have slept earlier than 2:55, but we'd just arrived at the doctors' practice (for her jabs) when she first fell asleep and so she awoke immediately. She then slept on her way home from the doctors' and woke as soon as we arrived at home (even though I tried not to disturb her).

Total number of naps: 3
Total hours of naptime: 1 hour 37 minutes

Amelia's Prebedtime Routine Log
This details what we did, when, the activity, noise and light level in the hour or so leading up to bed time.

Time: 5:45
What we did: Amelia sat in my lap, at the kitchen table, while Barnaby drew and cut out pictures. She also had a 10 minute feed about this time.
Activity level: Moderate but fairly calm.
Noise level: Moderate.
Light level: Average (not too bright).
Notes:

Time: 6:00
What we did: We prepared to eat dinner (Sheep was starting to serve up) and we listened to the news on Radio 4.
Activity level: Moderate to Active.
Noise level: Moderate (apart from the news on the radio).
Light level: Average (not too bright).
Notes:

Time: 6:15
What we did: We ate dinner, whilst listening to the news.
Activity level: Moderate to Active.
Noise level: Moderate (apart from the news on the radio).
Light level: Average (not too bright).
Notes:

Time: 6:28
What we did: I take Amelia upstairs for her bath.
Activity level: Calm but busy as I prepare her bath.
Noise level: Low
Light level: Average to dim (no electric lights on and the light is fading).
Notes:

Time: 6:32
What we did: Amelia takes a bath.
Activity level: Calm.
Noise level: Quiet, I talk to her softly and sing.
Light level: Average to dim (no electric lights on and the light is fading).
Notes:

Time: 6:38
What we did: I take Amelia out of her bath and give her a brief massage, after she is dry, rubbing her with baby lotion.
Activity level: Calm.
Noise level: Quiet.
Light level: Average to dim (no electric lights on and the light is fading).
Notes:

Time: 6:45
What we did: I have her changed into her nightclothes, I place her in the middle of our bed and lie down beside her to nurse her.
Activity level: Very calm.
Noise level: Silent. (Barnaby and Sheep are still downstairs).
Light level: Dim, I have now drawn the curtains. However, it is not dark as the curtains are not black-out ones.
Notes:

Time: 6:54
What we did: Finishes her feed and falls asleep (at the breast). She is still in our bed.
Activity level: Very calm.
Noise level: Silent.
Light level: Dim.
Notes:

Time: 7:00
What we did: I get up out of bed and leave the room.
Activity level: Very calm.
Noise level: Silent.
Light level: Dim.
Notes:

Time: 7:45
What we did: I move her, sleeping, from our bed into her cot.
Activity level: Very calm.
Noise level: Silent.
Light level: Dim.
Notes: I came in at 7:30 after I had finished preparing Barnaby for bed, in order to move her into her cot, but at this time she seemed rather restless so I wanted to leave her a little longer and returned 15 minutes later.

Amelia's Night-waking Log
This details how and when she woke up, what we did and how she fell back to sleep again.

Time:11:10 pm
How Amelia woke me up: I heard a whimper over the baby monitor.
How long Amelia was awake and what we did: I took her out of the cot in into our bed, where I lay down beside her and nursed her.
What time Amelia fell back to sleep: 11:20
How Amelia fell back to sleep: nursing.
How long of a sleep stretch since she fell asleep: 10 minutes.
Notes: she was practically asleep as soon as I started nursing her; I think she feeds in her sleep! At 11:45 I moved her back into her cot.

Time: 3:40
How Amelia woke me up: Stirring.
How long Amelia was awake and what we did: I changed her nappy and nursed her.
What time Amelia fell back to sleep: 3:50
How Amelia fell back to sleep: nursing.
How long of a sleep stretch since she fell asleep: 10 minutes.
Notes: She was actually already back in bed with us. She'd been stirring earlier and I thought she wanted a feed, but as soon as she was back in our bed she slept, which is why I didn't record it as an awaking. She slept with us from this point until morning.

Time: 7:30 (she was awake for the day)

Asleep time: 6:54 pm
Awake time: 7:30 am
Total number of awakenings: 2.
Longest sleep span: 4 hours 16 minutes.
Total hours of sleep: 12 hours and 16 minutes.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Rapid Account of a Sunday

We had a lovely long lie-in today: 8:30! Bliss! (Although, as Sheep reminds me, Barnaby woke up so many times in the night that we eventually brought him in to sleep in the small bed in our room - why did we bother to buy a bigger, three-bedroom house when we all end up sleeping in one room?). So breakfast at 9:00, off to Quaker meeting at 10:00. Both reasonably well-behaved in meeting. Everyone said how Amelia is growing. We confirmed with the Clerk of the meeting that we would like to go ahead with a naming ceremony and she will request it at PM (preparative meeting) and asked if we'd like her to convene a committee to help us arrange it! We said, "Yes please". Looks like possible dates in May and June are out, so I will re-poll the prospective 'godparents' for a date in July.

After meeting, off to Wagamamas for noodles. Yum. Then, I'd promised Barnaby that I would buy him a new umbrella. His cheap-and-cheerful Woolworth's umbrella has finally died a death. So, I left Sheep with a sleeping Amelia to enjoy a relaxing coffee in Costa Coffee and took Barnaby off to buy a new umbrella. He couldn't believe his eyes when he realised that he had a choice of not only the bright, primary colored one I'd bought before (18 months ago), but also a Thomas the Tank Engine umbrella and a Bob the Builder one too. What agonies of choice! However, as per the theme of the weekend, he selected the Bob the Builder and proudly bore it back to Daddy. Then home again and attempts to persuade Barnaby to nap. Eventually he keeled over on the sofa having subbornly resisted sleep as long as he could.

While Barnaby slept, I took Amelia upstairs and started sorting out her clothes. I am finally packing away her newborn/0-3month-sized clothes and upgrading all the 3-6month clothes into their place in the drawers and wardrobe. I found myself looking at some of the very small clothes, thinking, "Did she really fit into this, it seems so tiny!". Now all the small clothes are away in bags and I intend to register as a seller at the next NCT sale and sell off all of the old clothes. We've decided that we're not keeping any, 'just in case'. I honestly don't think that we plan to have a third and if 'accidents' happen, we'll just have to cope.

Post sleep (which was rather long as he'd had such a disturbed night) he insisted on going for a walk with his new-ish frog-wellington boots ("My froggie-boots!") and his new umbrella as it looked like it might rain. He was in such a hurry to leave that I gave up searching for Amelia's hat and simply grabbed Barnaby's woollen bobble hat (that Nanny had knitted him). About halfway around the village, Barnaby looks up at Amelia in the sling and indignantly catches sight of the hat. I don't know if he was more outraged that it was his or that it was too big for her. She was oblivious to all the contention and quite happy snug in her sling.

Amelia went off to sleep really early tonight, 6:00 - Barnaby a lot later. He just couldn't/wouldn't sleep and was using every ploy in his book, "I need a wee-wee", "I need a poo!", "I need to clean my teeth again!" Talk about procrastination of epic proportions. It was after 9:00 before he slept.

Tomorrow Amelia will be having her 3 month jabs. These are the same as the last set, but boosters. I'm hoping Sheep will come with me as I am such a wimp about these things (it's not easy being a mother and needle-phobic.)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Puddle Walk, NCT Sale & 2 Very Worn Out Children

Amelia went to sleep last night at 7:00 pm and slept until 8:00 am with just one feed at twoish. Actually, last night I put her into her cot after she'd fallen asleep at 7:00 (in our bed after having a feed with me) and then I brought her back in to bed for her middle-of-the-night feed. Usually I'm so tired that I just fall asleep again after her night-time feed and so she sleeps with us, but I'm trying to get into the habit of putting her back into her cot for the second half of the night. Anyway, last night I did try to place her back in the cot, but she simply wouldn't settle, so eventually, I was too tired to persist and gave up: I brought her back into bed where she immediately slept soundly next to me. This has brought it home that I need to start keeping a sleep log for her (as per the Pantley plan); I think that she is coming too reliant on my presence to fall asleep on her own (which bodes ill for later).

Anyway, first thing this morning, we decided to go on a 'puddle walk'! It had been raining hard yesterday, but was fine today, so we thought we'd be able to find some good ones. We all wore our wellies too (Barnaby's green ones with frogs on, mine with yellow sunflowers on and Sheep's manly, dark green ones!). Barnaby had a wonderful time, jumping in the puddles; it took him a while to get up to speed, but then there was no stopping him! He ended up wet, muddy and happy (we had to change his trousers when we came back!). Sheep and Barnaby also stood in the stream in their wellies, much to Barnaby's delight. I've decided that this is the definition of civilised living: being able to splash around in streams as if in a rural idyll yet still be only 30 minutes walk from buying Clinique!


Barnaby and I in our wellies

After an early lunch (sitting outside in the garden, did I mention it was a lovely, sunny, warm day?), we all piled in the car and headed off for the twice-yearly NCT sale at Wolverton (the next one will be October). Just as we arrived, Barnaby and Amelia had both fallen asleep, so Sheep remained in the car, while I went into the sale hall on my own. I rushed around at top speed and bought clothes, primarily for Amelia (I was trying to buy in the 6m-9m range for her) and a few things for Barnaby (who has plenty of clothes until he is 4) if they particularly caught my eye. This is what I bought:

Amelia
Sun hat, blue with embroidered pink flowers (2m-6m) - £1
Orange dungarees (3m-6m) & orange t-shirt (18m-24m) - £1.50
Swim-nappy, with fishes (6m) - 75p
Lilac, cotton trousers (6m-9m) - £2
White long-sleeved t-shirt with embroidered rabbit (6m-9m) - £1.25
2 cotton print sun dresses, red and green (6m-9m) - £2
Red corduroy trousers (6m-9m) - £1.50
Mint green, M&S coat (6m-12m) - £1.50
Purple fleece dress (9m-12m) - £2
Navy blue long-sleeved t-shirt with flowers (9m-12m) - 75p
Pink striped, long-sleeved t-shirt (9m-12m) - 50p
OshKosh navy blue dungarees with flowers and butterflies (9m-12m) & pale blue, embroidered t-shirt (6m) - £2.50
Next stone linen trousers with applice detail (9m-12m) - £2
Lilac chenille cardigan (9m-12m) - 75p
Orange check cotton dungarees (12m-18m) - £1.50
Swim-nappy (12m-18m) - 50p
2 bright orange cotbed blankets - 2 x £1.50
Total number of items = 20, total cost = £25, mean cost per item = £1.25

Barnaby
Vertbaudet rust-coloured corduroy trousers - £2.50
Adams black jacket (really nice) - £3
1 pair swimming trunks/shorts - £1
Dusky turquoise corduroy trousers - 50p
Denim jeans - £1
Total number of items = 5, total cost = £8, mean cost per item = £1.60

Sheep came into the hall, just as I was queuing to pay. I was particularly pleased with the swimming nappies (for Amelia) and trunks (for Barnaby) as I am hoping that we can manage a seaside holiday soon, this year (more on that topic later). I was also pleased with the sun hat for Amelia, as it was such a sunny day today we needed it immediately - we've suddenly transitioned from warm winter hats to sun hats in one week. And I love the orange cot blankets, which will look lovely in Amelia's room with the rest of her orange stuff. Then we all went into the toy hall together, I had said that Barnaby could have a treat as he had been so good. Well, in the toy hall we got:

52 piece Bob the Builder jigsaw puzzle - £3.50 (RRP £10.99)
53 piece Cat in the Hat jigsaw puzzle, unused - £1.75 (RRP £6)
Bob the Builder video - £2.50 (RRP £9.99)
Folding wooden scooter - £3.50 (RRP £24.99)
Bob the Builder book - 50P (RRP £2.99)
Alice in Wonderland book (beautifully illustrated, unread) - £1.50 (RRP £10.50)
Maisy Mouse book - 50p (RRP £5.99)
Total number of items = 7, total cost = £13.75, mean cost per item = £1.96. (Cost of items new = £71.45)

I was very pleased with the wooden folding scooter - it looks a bit like a scooter would look if it had been designed by Rietveld (the Architect), with red, blue, green and yellow wheels and rather angular. It's in very good condition and I think it's rather lovely. (I'd been thinking of buying him a scooter at some point as well.)


New Scooter (Not Barnaby, Image from Website)

On the way out, Sheep had Amelia in the Phillip Starcke sling on one hip when Barnaby asked to be carried, so Sheep swept him up onto his other hip. He received a few amazed (and admiring stares) from other parents exiting the sale, as he strolled off into the distance with a child on either hip! (I lugged the two black bags of stuff, so was no less a beast of burden, just less photogenic.) Of course, we then had the problem of fitting us, two children and two large black bin-bags of stuff into our little car. Sheep had the bag of clothes on his lap, but this still left the bag of toys/books. In the end, Barnaby held his scooter (folded) and Sheep remembered that the car has an extra storage place/boot thingy at the front, which I had completely forgotten about! This fitted the toys perfectly and so we got everything home.

When we got home, Barnaby was so excited by his purchases, that he immediately did the Bob the Builder puzzle while we had a cup of tea (sitting in the garden: it was still warm enough to sit out) and then asked if we could go for a walk with his new scooter. So, I took Amelia in the pram and Barnaby on his scooter out for another walk around the village (luckily most of the puddles had dried up by now). By the time he had had an hour's walk/scoot Barnaby was feeling really tired (Amelia simply enjoyed the pram ride). While we were out, Sheep had intended to mow the lawn and have it finished before our return. But, because he spent 45 minutes searching for the cable for the Flymo (which had been 'tidied' in the shed by my mother!!), he was still mowing upon our return. Barnaby suddenly forgets that he's tired and launches into gardening mode. First he helps Sheep with the mowing (helping his empty the grass clippings and pointing out which bits Sheep has missed) and then does some digging with a little trowel - "Mummy, I've found a wiggly worm!".

Consequently, after tea both him and Amelia just zonked out - Barnaby didn't even have a bath, he just fell asleep. We actually managed to wear out them both.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Sewing, Cooking & Welly Paintings

Well, I didn't post yesterday as the time suddenly crept up upon me without my realisation of the lateness. Yesterday and today have both been very quiet sort of days. Sheep stayed at home yesterday and together we walked 'up the hill' to the Centre. While Sheep hung out (working on his PhD) in Starbucks I went to (surprise, surprise) John Lewis. While I was wondering aimlessly around, I found myself in the dress fabric department and on an impulse decided that I should make a dress (or two) for Amelia. I bought the simplest dress pattern I could find (a Burda) pattern and then a couple of lengths of different cotton print fabrics. They had just brought out all of their new summer prints and they were very tempting. Of the two that I succumbed to, one fabric has a background pattern that is as if it has been tie-dyed in mottled blues/green/purples (very sea-like) with an overlaid pattern of peach-pink spots. It is very feminine in a non-twee-girly sort of way. The other fabric is totally O.T.T.; it has a hot pink background covered in bigred and cyan flowers. The pattern I bought can be made-up in 6m, 9m, 12m, 18m, 2 & 3 years so I think that I will either make one in the 6m size and one in the 9m size or both in the 6m size.

Anyway, all of this got me thinking about 'domestic crafts', for want of a better term, and how these are passed on from generation to generation. I grew up in a household where my mother made clothes for us (sometimes to our irritation or even embarassment) and where she also cooked. Admittedly, my mothers cooking was usually strictly 'functional' (i.e. we needed to eat) apart from the odd crumble or sponge pudding for Sunday lunch, but she did cook (unlike many families today). My step-grandmother also lived next door and most of my early memories of baking are from her; she, being retired, had more time and was always baking cakes and biscuits. Anyway, I have been thinking that I can bake and sew, or at least, am willing to 'give it a go', because I grew up in an environment where baking and sewing were simply normal domestic events. So, I would like to think that this is something that I can pass on to Barnaby and Amelia.

I already do a lot of baking with Barnaby (On Sunday, when I was rubbing in the fat, sugar and flour to make the crumble topping, Barnaby asked if I was making rock cakes and I suddenly realised that he was quite right: I've only ever done 'rubbing in' with him when we've been making rock cakes) and hopefully will be able to continue this with Amelia. I would like them to look back on their childhoods and have fond memories of baking things with me just as I do with my step-grandmother. (Actually, I take back what I said about my mother only undertaking 'functional' cooking and nothing over and beyond what was necessary to serve up our meals: we also used to make fudge together! Sorry Mum!). Actually, on the topic of baking, I'd like to buy a biscuit press to make biscuits with Barnaby and Amelia, I remember having so much fun making biscuits using a press as a child. But I digress, this might be a bit of a nostalic statement, but I almost see the act of cooking and sewing (and other crafts) with Amelia and Barnaby as the passing on of skills from previous generations, from my mother and step-grandmother. I find the thought of the continuity of skills and experiences being passed down very comforting and reassuring. Does this sound too nostalgic or even saccarine? I hope not.

Amelia is certainly getting better. In fact, Barnaby's cough seems to be lingering a little longer than hers now (or else he's picked up an entirely new one from somewhere). He had fun at nursery today, making "welly paintings" outside, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Amelia and I had a quiet day at home together (Sheep was at UCL). I wanted to do lots of housework, but everytime I settled her down to sleep, we were interrupted, so I didn't get as much done as I would have liked. Still, it's been good to have a more peaceful week after Easter.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

One Dentist, Two Children...

Barnaby and Amelia both slept pretty well last night, however I woke up feeling extremely tired, for some reason. I took Barnaby to nursery in the car this morning (as it was drizzling) and on my return I decided to take Amelia (who was about ready for her early morning nap anyway) upstairs to bed and cuddled up with her to sleep a bit more. How heavenly!

Our (Banaby's and mine) dentist's appointment was at 2:45 and so I picked him up at nursery at 2:15 (he was quite happy to leave early) and drove to the dentist at Westcroft (not too bad a drive, actually). Barnaby was very sweet at the dentist. When we went into the examining room (whatever you call the room with the BIG chair), Amelia was getting a bit whimpery so I asked Barnaby to look after her while I was given my check-up. Barnaby was so preoccupied by making sure that Amelia was alright that he didn't have a chance to get overly worried himself. My teeth appear to be in good order. Then it was Barnaby's turn. The dentist said that his teeth look great (Barnaby actually deemed to open his mouth this time) and said that there is no sign of decay (as would be expected for a 3 year old). He also went through Barnaby's teeth-cleaning routine with me in great detail, making some helpful suggestions; instead of letting Barnaby clean his teeth first followed by me "finishing off" we should reverse the order. One of us should initially clean his teeth and then let him take his turn. The reasoning behind this is that it is easier for Barnaby to mimic our teeth-brushing actions if he takes his turn immediately after ours while it is still fresh in his mind. The dentist also suggested that I speak to Barnaby's nursery about reducing the amount of sweet stuff they consume there - he eats far more biscuits/cake etc. at nursery than he ever does as home! (It's a thought, but do I want to rock the boat?) Anyway, the bottom-line regarding today's dentist's visit is that Barnaby was wonderful. Amelia was merely tolerant, but as she has no teeth yet, I think she can be forgiven.

After the detist, I took him to my NCT coffee group. Once he'd got over his initial shyness he settled down and had a good play and even didn't want to leave to come home. Amelia is, I think, 13 weeks old today (and 3 calendar months old yesterday). She seemed a lot more awake and alert than some of the other, only slightly younger, babies. I was chatting to one of the other mothers there about how she is keeping a sleep log for her son as she is following the Pantley sleep plan (which I introduced her too). I am feeling really guilty for letting this lapse, so I intend to start keeping a sleep log this week. I will. Honestly I will.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

It Feels Like a Monday Today

I must confess, it was rather nice to have Barnaby back in nursery today. Sheep and I gave a big, joint sigh and we settled down for a relaxed day; we both felt that we needed to recover from the last four, very active days.

The only thing that I had arranged for today was Amelia's doctor's appointment. This was at 2:00 and the news is that her chest sounds quite clear. If she is still a bit wheezy, it's all in the upper airways and not deep down in her chest. We talked a little bit about the possibility of future asthma and the doctor did warn that her chest problems might return with her next cold. We'll just have to keep an eye on her. It also looks as though she will be well enough for her booster immunisations next Monday.

The other news of the day is that Sheep had the delivery of his new Mac, and along with it came a suprise late Mothers Day present for me, from Amelia and Barnaby: a new colour ipod (30 Gb). It's engraved on the back with my email address and a string of zeros and ones (which Sheep revealed says 'love' in binary: perhaps I should check. I do trust him though). It's a very beautiful object and I'm looking forward to uploading photographs of Barnaby and Amelia so I can bore strangers with photos of my kids! Of course, my old ipod became sacrificed to Barnaby's bedtime ritual, so it's rather nice that I have a replacement.

The other event of the day was that I finally decided to do something about finding us a dentist (which I haven't done since we moved). First I logged onto the British Dental Association website and used their "find an NHS dentist" service. According to them the five nearest NHS dentists (accepting patients) are in Luton, Coventry and London (x3). Then I rang the special NHS Direct helpline to find a dentist. They gave me three numbers in Milton Keynes to call: all of them were full and the receptionists quite rude. In the end I just did a Google search on "NHS dentist" and "Milton Keynes" and found a comprehensive list of them and just started calling around. It looks like I might have found one in Westcroft (a couple of miles away) and they were very helpful over the phone. As it happens, they had just had a cancellation for an appointment tomorrow and so the receptionist suggested that Barnaby and I come in for a joint check-up and so effectively get ourselves onto their database. Anyway, it will be intresting to see how it goes tomorrow.

Amelia has been doing this strange thing today. She been holding her hand in front of her face, with her fingers spread out. I don't know if it is simply that she's just noticed her hands or whether she is starting to associate the motion of holding her hands in front of her with the visual sight of her hands. I have this book in my office called "How Babies Think: The Science of Childhood" by Alison Gopnik, Andrew Meltzoff, Patricia K. Kuhl which I would like to read (and perhaps might shed some light on this behaviour) but I keep forgetting to ask Sheep to pick it up for me next time he is at UCL.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter Monday at Willen Lake

Today we wanted to do something with Barnaby and Amelia that involved getting them out of the house. Although the house was (and still is, to some extent) in dire need of being tidied, I felt that if we concentrated on house-work today and left Barnaby to play by himself then he would simply create an amount of chaos, in one room, in equal measure to the order that we would be able to create in another. In other words, the sum total of chaos-reduction would be zero and therefore there would be no point in doing it. Our time would be better spent enjoying Easter Monday with them both and undertaking some house-work tomorrow!

With this in mind, we set off for Willen Lake (our first visit), as I had found out that there was, supposedly, a minature railway there. We decided that we'd investigate the railway and also take a look at the labyrinth on the North Lake.


Map of the South Lake at Willen: the Railway is Located at the Bottom-right of the Map (Click on Image to Enlarge)

We managed to find the minature railway (serendipitously, we'd parked almost next to it). All four of us were able to have a ride. Amelia was in her car-seat and she slept soundly all the way through the ride.




Minature Railway at Willen

After our train ride (which Barnaby thoroughly enjoyed) we walked towards the bandstand. Barnaby has decided that he'd like to have a ride in a boat (there are sail boats, canoes, rowing boats, pedalos and kayaks for hire!) next time so perhaps we'll risk a pedalo with him: not with Amelia though. As we approached the bandstand, Amelia began to get rather distressed. We thought that perhaps she didn't like being in her BabyBjorn carrier and so I took her out and walked with her in my arms. Eventually we arrived at the bandstand/events area and there were children's playgrounds, a cafe and a small sort of 'fair'. Since she was still upset, I sat in the cafe and fed Amelia (I don't know if that was why she was crying, but it worked anyway) and I watched the "water ski cable tow" thingy they have there (very entertaining!) while Sheep took Barnaby to the playground. He was even allowed a ride on the carousel at the 'fair'. But in the end, we decided to cut short our visit (no visit to the labyrinth) as Amelia was still quite upset and so we came home.

Both of them fell asleep in the car and since the weather was lovely, Sheep and I sat in the garden and had a cup of tea while we waited for them to wake up! (I even managed to mark a student paper.) Later in the afternoon, Barnaby had a long tricycle ride around the village with Sheep and I did some tidying upstairs with Amelia (well, I chatted to her while I put away laundry). Before dinner Barnaby did some really impressive drawing/writing.


Barnaby's Drawing

He was practising drawing the letters B, R, D & E. (R for 'Ruth', he said). Isn't his 'E' great, with all those horizontal strokes? We thought that the wiggly line he drew was perhaps the train-track passing through the trees (the dots) that he rode on today. Perhaps the outer circle is the lake? Who knows? We do know that the drawing of the man was meant to be his Uncle Julian though! This is the first time Barnaby has ever really drawn a proper person with legs (and not just a face). He was extremely proud of the way he'd used different colours to draw him. Here is the extract below.


Picture of Uncle Julian

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Sunday

We would have liked a lie-in today and we had a small-ish one. Everyone had a good night last night (but Barnaby was up at about 6:00, had some milk and crashed out again on the small bed on the floor in our room. Amelia had an extra feed last night (so two instead of one), but slept soundly. I believe her chest and wheezes are getting a little better.

My sister, father and brother-in-law arrived at 11:00 and we began an Egg-hunt for Barnaby (I'd nipped out earlier and hidden two-dozen plastic eggs filled with yoghurt and chocolate covered nuts/fruit). My sister brought over some baskets and all of us, Amelia included, but excluding Sheep who was starting to cook Sunday lunch, went on an egg hunt. Barnaby really got into it and really enjoyed finding them (squeals of delight). (I can't wait until Amelia is old enough to join in properly!) After we had found them, all bar one, I realised that the missing one had been placed (by me) by the wheel of our car and It turned out that Sheep had mischieviously removed it and had placed it on the front seat of the car when he'd been transferring Amelia and Barnaby's car-seats from my father's hire-car into ours. That had me flumouxed for a bit! The weather was pleasant and almost warm so once we'd found them, we all sat outside and ate the contents of an egg apiece. Barnaby then decided that it was his turn to hide the eggs. So he put them all back into a basket and practically replaced them in their original positions (quite a feat of memory!), including asking me for my car keys so that he could put one back into our car! Then we all had to hunt for them again. (My father took some photos of the egg hunt, I do hope he'll send them to me).

At this point I took Amelia inside to help Sheep with lunch and to make an apple crumble for desert (The crumble song: "Everybody's good at doing something, and I'm good at cooking crumble," by Lorraine Bowen, was running through my head as I was cooking...). We had a lovely Sunday lunch and compared childhood memories of Sunday lunches, Easters, family rituals (my grandfather eating Melton Mowbray pork pies for breakfast at Christmas) etc. My father had to rush off immediately after lunch to catch his plane back to Spain, but I wrapped up some Simnel cake for him and insisted that he took some filled-eggs too (incidentally, I think there are still about four eggs in the garden from when Barnaby's 'hiding' became a bit too enthusiastic: lobbing them into bushes!).

After teatime (Simnel cake) at 4:00 my sister and brother-in-law left. Within minutes of them leaving, we had more visitors: one of my PhD students and his wife! I had received an email from him just before Easter saying that he'd like to visit, but I didn't think we'd finalised the arrangements, so I wasn't expecting him. Still, it was extremely pleasant to see them both and Sheep was wonderful looking after Barnaby while the three of us chatted (and talked about his PhD progress). They brought a Monsoon dress and little embroidered shoes as a present for Amelia, which was extremely thoughtful of them and wonderfully generous (given the general hardship of students!). They left shortly after 6:00, with Sheep escorting them to the station to show them the quickest route.

Amelia simply 'zonked out' at 7:00 (so quickly that I didn't have time to change her into a night-time nappy; she will be a 'damp lamb' when I get upstairs, no doubt, but as she's due for a feed at midnight I can change her too). And Barnaby gets another sticker tonight - number five in his good behaviour chart which means he gets a new book tomorrow.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Ackworth Old Scholars Association

My old school, Ackworth, has a reunion every Easter (and have done for countless years; I used to be taken to 'Easter at Ackworth' as a child by my own parents!). We planned to leave home at 8:00 in the morning in order to arrive at Ackworth in Yorkshire by mid-morning. The journey up was actually pretty good (with Dad driving his hire car and Amelia and Barnaby in the back). We stopped off on the way for a 'pit stop'; Barnaby had a wee and a snack, Amelia had a feed and we all had a drink. The car journey was far, far better than I'd imagined. (We travelled in convoy, with Claire and Julian in the other car and Sheep travelling with them for the first leg and swapping over after 'pit stop').

Ackworth was actually pretty good fun, especially for Barnaby who had a whale of a time playing with his helicopter:


Here is a shot of him playing with his helicopter on Centre Green. He ran around so much that he became quite flushed. Here is a photo of him all hot and pink after chasing his helicopter.


Julian's two sisters turned up, with their partners (Julian and his sisters are old scholars too). Here is a picture of us all.


The people in the photograph (of whom seven are old scholars) are:

Top row: Fiona (Julian's sister), Mohammed (Fiona's husband) and Julian
Middle row: Marguerita (Julian's other sister), Anna (Maggie's baby girl, age 1), Alex (Maggie's husband), Claire, Amelia (in sling) and Sheep
Bottom row: My father, my mother (both far left), Me (sitting down, far right) and Barnaby

The weather in the afternoon was actually really nice and we went for a walk around Great Gardens. Lots of memories! Below is a photo taken of my mother, Amelia and I in Great Gardens. Three generations of women!


After our wandering around the gardens, there was a tea for children at 5:00 followed by a children's party. Barnaby couldn't decide if the best thing about today was the helicopter or eating jelly and icecream for tea (or the green balloons he got from the children's party). We left at 6:00 immediately after dinner, Dad driving Sheep, Barnaby, Amelia and I again. The only event on the way back, what when Barnaby decided that he needed to stop for a poo! Luckily there was so much room in the hire car that he could have a long sit on his potty on the floor of the back of the car and the deed was eventually done, evidence dealt with by Sheep (my hero). Dad took the opportunity to nosh some picnic/snacks I'd brought with me.

Finally, here is a photo from yesterday which I could resist publishing as Amelia looks so lovely.


Thanks to my father for the photographs.

Whoops, must go. Amelia waking. Time for midnight feed!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Tantrums & Helicopters

My sister dropped off my father at 7:30 this morning. Wonderfully, we were all up, dressed, (teeth cleaned) and having breakfast when he arrived. Barnaby was thrilled to see him again. It also meant that we had a long morning together and with Barnaby being so excited to see his Aititi, he didn't get to see much of Amelia.

Mid-morning I wanted to take Barnaby for a walk in order to wear him out a little (so that he would go down for his afternoon nap easily), so my father and I took Amelia in the pram and Barnaby for a walk. To begin with, Barnaby perched on the front of the pram and all was going reasonably well (except that I was getting more exercise that Barnaby!) until a disagreement over route-direction ensued: Barnaby wanted to go one way and I another. Things rapidly deteriorated until Barnaby had a huge tantrum, crying his eyes out, refusing to move, didn't want to walk, didn't want to sit on the pram, (didn't want to visit the fire station or the ducks which is where we'd been heading). He wanted me to pick him up and carry him (which I am unable to do with my back and was unwilling to let Dad do for the same reason). So Barnaby simply went into meltdown, saying that he wanted his daddy. In the end I managed to calm him down by prompting him to think of solutions to the problem of getting home quickly to see daddy (and interesting technique - I must remember). In the end he worked out for himself that the quickest way of getting back was to stop crying and simply walk home! Anyway, when we got home, Sheep was still asleep (and we were loath to wake him) and the sun was shining, so my father got out a helicopter that he'd brought with him (a present from my step-mother) and we played with that in the garden. Barnaby had great fun as we kept getting it stuck on the flat roof and up in trees! I think the act of getting it down with a big, long stick was almost as exciting as the helicopter itself.

After that, we went out to lunch at the Fountain Pub in Loughton; Sheep raced us home on his bike (we were in the car) and Sheep won. In the afternoon, there was more playing with the new helicopter. After Barnaby, Sheep and my father came back inside, I fed Amelia while my father checked email and Sheep played with Barnaby in the playroom. We just couldn't get Barnaby to nap, which is a real disaster as it means that we have real problems getting him off to sleep (as we did!). I suppose it was too much to expect, him to sleep when his Aititi was here.

Dad left with my sister at about 4:00, to go and collect his hire car. We're off to Yorkshire, to Ackworth for the day tomorrow. We didn't get Barnaby off to sleep until about 9:30 tonight, although Amelia was down at 7:00 as per usual. I hope that tomorrow's trip wont be too disruptive for her.

Sheep said to make a note that Barnaby had a very disturbed night again last night (in the end he came and slept on the inflatable bed in our room). Sheep has a new theory that there is a pattern to his disturbed nights and so wants me to record them.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Visit of My Father (Amelia's Grandfather)

My father arrived in the UK last night and is staying with my sister (well, with Amelia's bronchiolitis, I thought that it was best not to expose him to too much germs!). I took Barnaby to nursery this morning and shortly after I returned, my father and sister arrived. Here is a photo I took this morning, shortly after their arrival.

My father's reaction, when he saw this photo, was to say that he looked old and added that the age gap between him and Amelia is exactly 65 years! However, I've noticed that I look old compared to Amelia. I mean, babies complexions are so soft and smooth that anyone over the age of 20 will look old, so I don't think my father should worry!

At 10:40 I took Amelia to the doctor. The doctor thought that her breathing was a little better, the fluid being a little higher in the bronchial tube and less in the chest. However, they still want to see her again on Tuesday (at 2:00), so I can't complain that they are not looking after her.

Immediately after lunch, we went to look at this house-for-rent (owned by the Friend living in Japan). Sheep and I liked it a lot (and the geodesic dome in the garden), but I'm not sure that it's my mother's cup of tea. (It's very modern inside). My father and sister came along and as well as looking at the house (and helping the owner move his heavy, bulky television) we all went to the Camphill Cafe for lunch, which was very yummy. The owner of the house, also came along, and although he had many very interesting anecdotes to rattle off, I think that my father would have preferred more family-only time (about which I feel guilty and insensitive). The lunch concluded with Amelia being copiously sick upon my shoulder, which effectively put an end to it. Dad and Claire then went off to Bletchley and Sheep and I came home. They returned just after 5:00 so that my father could see Barnaby as well, as he was at nursery when he was here ealier. Unfortunately, I think that Barnaby was so excited to see his "Aititi" that he became a bit hyper-excited and didn't behave terribly well.

Barnaby brought a chocolate egg back from nursery (as well as an Easter card, an Easter bonnet, an Easter cake...).

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dust, NCT Coffee Group & Baths

Quiet sort of day really. Amelia still not completely better and still marginally more grumpy than usual, poor girl. We were all up fairly early, Sheep took Barnaby to nursery. I think that Amelia has been feeding more than usual, probably because she's been under the weather. This morning was pretty boring; Amelia had a decent snooze in her cot while Sheep and I rallied round and tidied the house a bit (well, as much as we could while she slept!). Since watching a programme on television on Monday (and the preceding week) about asthma I've been a bit paranoid, so I gave upstairs a good dust today.

In the afternoon it was my NCT coffee group, there were five, six, including me there today. One of the topics of conversation I got into today was about christenings. One of the other mothers, who lives in Loughton, is getting her daughter christened at All Saints Church Loughton so we chatted about the ins and outs of such arrangements. I've also been asked whether we would like Amelia's birth story to be featured in the next NCT newsletter. Since it's mostly been written already, in this blog, there wouldn't be much more writing to do, so I suspect I'll agree. I collected Barnaby from the nursery on the way home; he'd had a great day today.

This evening we tried to make it through the bedtime routine more speedily than usual. I gave Amelia her bath and, you know what? She really seemed to enjoy it: splashing around quite energetically (and grinning). She's really starting to be more alert and interacting with the world around her. One of the mothers at the NCT group remarked that the change that takes place at around 11/12 weeks is quite remarkable, it's as if the baby suddenly 'wakes up' to the world. There is something in that.

Finally, my father flew into the UK this evening and so should get to meet his granddaughter for the first time tomorrow (and vice versa).

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Doctor, Again, & Craft Group

Today Sheep went into UCL and I took Barnaby (& hence Amelia!) to nursery again. Actually, both Sheep and Barnaby slept in this morning (until 8:20), as Barnaby was up in the night complaining that his penis hurt! Complete puzzlement all around, as it looked OK to us. (So this is what being a parent is all about; bleary-eyed examinations of genitals in the early hours...) I suggested that he sleep without a nappy (immediately resigning myself to having to launder bedclothes in the morning), but after trying this for a while, I think he became equally disturbed at the thought of not wearing one and we put a new one on him. Anyway, with all the kerfuffle (interesting word, kerfuffle - etymology: Gaelic cur `twist, bend' + fuffle) both Sheep and Barnaby had an extremely disturbed night (and, to a lesser extent, me).

We had a relatively calm morning and then at 2:00 pm it was time for Amelia's appointment with the practice nurse. The nurse's verdict was that there was no change in her condition. She was concerned that there is a four-day holiday looming and that if Amelia took a turn for the worse over the long weekend, we would have no support. She wants us to go back and see a doctor on Thursday so that the doctor can decide if they want to try any treatment (for example, give anitbiotics a try). So, we've an appointment for 10:40 on Thursday.

I went straight from the doctors' practice to the craft circle at the Quaker Meeting House (which also starts at 2:00). There were lots of people there today (about twelve) (and yummy home-made cakes: just what every breastfeeding mother needs!). One of whom is a member of the meeting but has been living in Japan for many years (he is just visiting for a few days) and who rents out his house here. Since I'd already mentioned to some Friends that my mother is possibly looking for a house to rent in MK for a while, he suggested that I come and take a look at his house on Thursday. What I found intriguing was that fact that his house was apparently featured in the 1972 Architects Journal (as a house of considerable architectural merit) and that he has a geodesic dome in his garden (Buckminster Fuller's iconic dome-design). Oh, and the rest of the meeting calls it the "Mondrian House" because of the colours it's painted. So, I agreed to come and see it on Thursday morning out of pure curiosity. I doubt it's my mother's cup of tea, but it's something to do on Thursday! We will need to go directly after Amelia's doctor's appointment to get there for 11:00. And I'm hoping to drag my father along too (as he arrives tomorrow night).

Amelia seemed to enjoy the craft circle a lot, she spent a lot of time looking around at everyone (very alert) and numerous people managed to elicit quite a few smiles from her (I even got about six lines of knitting knitted!). There is this soft toy that I've hung from her car-seat handle which has sea-animals suspended from it and she's started to reach for it and to grab it. For about a week, she's been able to purposely grab things (although it's still a bit hit and miss about when she's successful!). But, when I look at her I'm simply amazed about how far she's developed in such a short period of time!

Talking of her development, we received a parcel from my mother this morning containing a new wooly hat for Barnaby and an Easter dress for Amelia, which is lovely. It's got Easter rabbits and chicks and lambs on it, but, I suspect that it wont fit her as it's 0-3 months in size and I've just about moved her into the 3-6 months now (at least, for anything with 'legs' as hers are so long). Anyway, I'll try the dress on her; I might get her into the dress part, even if the matching 'onsie' wont fit!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Amelia's Bronchioles

I had my first relaxing morning for ages (particularly since I had to take Barnaby to nursery on Thursday and Friday). Sheep took Barnaby to nursery today and Amelia and I had a bit of a lazy lie-in today. Amelia's slightly better, but still a bit off-colour. She's not been feeding well today, I've been wondering if she doesn't like lying down (she's definitely more grisly lying down) because there's more fluid in her lungs. My mother suggested propping her up between my legs to breastfeed her (rather than have her lying down). Whatever next, breastfeeding advice from my mother, miracles will never cease!

I took Amelia back to the doctor's practice this afternoon. First we saw the practice nurse (who is an extremely pleasant person, I like her very much). However, she wasn't too pleased with Amelia's progress, so she called in one of the doctors to have a look at her as well. I thought that Amelia was a little better, but she's still wheezy and the nurse commented on how rattly her chest was. The doctor advised that we bring her in tomorrow and continue to monitor her carefully until she has recovered. So, we've an appointment to take her back at 2:00 tomorrow. Since Monday afternoons are the baby clinic days anyway, I thought that I would also take her in to be weighed. I've been concerned as she's been vomitting a little due to the the coughing, and has been noticeably less keen on her feeds. So I just wanted to check that she'd not been losing any weight. Anyway, she weighed 5423 grams or 11 lbs 15.5 ounces. Until now, Amelia's been squarely on the 50th percentile for weight, but today she had slipped below the line. She's now on, about, the 40th percentile. Still, nothing that she can't recover from in due course.

My mother said that both her and I had bronchitis badly as babies and given that we both weighed 4 lbs something at birth (she was 4 lbs 4 oz, I was 4 lbs 7 oz) and we both survived, Amelia being so much larger and stronger than we were, should be right as rain.

All the requests for our friends to serve as 'godparents' have been finally issued. John Peponis has agreed to be one of Barnaby's 'godfathers' today and Jenni has agreed to be one of Amelia's 'godmothers' (my sister being the other one). We now have a complete compliment of godparents for Amelia:

- My sister, Claire Conroy
- My oldest friend, (we've known each other since we were 11), Jenni, who's been an enourmous support before and after her birth
- Sheep's oldest friend, Jon Branch

We are still waiting for Sheep's brother to confirm that he'll be one of Barnaby's godparents, but assuming he says yes, Barnaby's godparents will be:

-Sheep's brother, Michael Dalton
- John Peponis, Barnaby's first visitor in hospital in Atlanta and a huge support post-birth when we were so far from our own families
- Caroline Woodbridge, present at Barnaby's conception (well, in the next room!)

Now we just need to find a date in May or June when all of the above six people will be available, arrange this with the Friends Meeting House, work out what kind of ceremony we'd like, think about food etc. etc.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

OK Sort of Sunday, but Still Tired...

By 8:00 we were all up, dressed, abluted and sitting having breakfast together. When I think back to our pre-children days, Sheep and I never managed this feat on a weekday, let alone on a Sunday. The thought of being up before eight would have seemed completely, insanely alien; lie-ins on Sundays lasted, usually, to midday. Oh, how I miss lazy-day Sundays. In London it was possible to buy the Sunday papers late on Saturday night, so we would buy one on our way home (from whatever gallivanting we'd been doing). Then we could have Sunday breakfast in bed, looking through the papers etc.

But I digress. Since we were up and ready so early and we'd had no stressful tussles with Barnaby, we made it to meeting feeling very relaxed. He was even pretty well behaved in meeting. There were six children in meeting today, so it was quite crowded and lively in the Children's Group in the library.

Sheep and I have been talking about holding some sort of 'naming ceremony' for Amelia and Barnaby with three 'godparents' apiece (two same-gender, one the other) or 'supporting adults' or 'mentors' as they are known in secular ceremonies. Well, we had wondered if we could use the Quaker meeting house as a venue (as a venue only, so it would still be an essentially secular event) so I spoke to the warden and the Clerk of the meeting today. But it seems that one of the children in the meeting recently had a sort of 'naming ceremony', which was basically a special meeting that took place after the regular Sunday meeting for worship, attended by anyone from the meeting who wished to stay on. The clerk of the meeting was very enthusiastic about the idea about us having a naming ceremony within the meeting itself (needless to say, there is no Quaker equivalent of a christening or baptism, but meetings have the scope to be somewhat flexible about allowing ad hoc celebrations). We still need to ask all the 'godparents' or 'special Friends' (as the Clerk suggested their names could be) and if they are willing, arrange a date. We were thinking May or June would be good. Well, we started asking people. Today, over lunch, we asked my sister if she would be Amelia's 'godmother'/'special friend' and she said yes. We also, already, have our friend Caroline willing to be Barnaby's one and only 'godmother' and Sheep's friend Jon has just agreed to be Amelia's godfather, so we just have three more people to ask. (We have them in mind, but I wont mention names until they agree!). So, the Clerk of the meeting needs to request permission from PM and, if they agree, we can go ahead. I think, as well as the six godparents, we'll just invite immediate family and perhaps one or two other Ffriends.

After meeting we had lunch with my sister and brother-in-law, in the italian restaurant we often go to on a Sunday. Well, I've never seen so many toddlers in the restuaurant as there were there today. I was a little worried that Claire and Julian would be wondering what we'd dragged them into, but I think that a nice lunch was had by all.

The rest of today has been pretty low-key. Amelia is still a bit wheezy (we're taking her to the doctor's tomorrow) and Barnaby still coughing a bit. I'm not feeling sick now, but Sheep has felt a little under the weather (probably the same thing). All in all, I think we could do with a good holiday! I'm feeling extremely tired now and so I am off to bed to give Amelia her late-evening feed.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Happy Birthday Nursery

First things first, I think that Amelia is a little better than she was yesterday. She's still not well, but she's had fewer of the truly dreadful wheezing fits of the last couple of days. Consequently, we decided to attend the birthday party at Barnaby's nursery, celebrating 10 years of the nursery being open. Barnaby was, understandably, somewhat confused as to whose birthday it actually was. It was hard to explain to him that it was a party for the nursery and not for a person.

We got there early (10:30) and since we were some of the first to arrive, I spent a fair amount of time in the baby room, chatting to the woman who would be looking after Amelia in September; I suppose I feel slightly more reassured (for example we discussed the possibility of me expressing milk for Amelia), but I am still not too keen on her starting full-time in the Autumn.

The nursery day was actually fun in a gentle, low-key sort of way -- raffles and lots of toys and games for Barnaby to play with. We didn't win anything (I never do!) but Barnaby seemed to quite enjoy himself. Although they did have a clown (the same clown that Barnaby took an instant dislike to at their Christmas party). Barnaby hasn't warmed to him since then! Once again, he refused to see his 'show' and even wouldn't let him make him a balloon animal. On the way home he said, "I don't like going to nursery on playdays" (Playdays are what weekends are called on the children's television programme Balamory). When I asked why, he said "Because they have clowns there on playdays!" I quickly reassured him that there would be no clowns there on Monday. Although he has conceded that he does like clowns in books, but just not in real life!

Amelia spent a lot of time being admired and smiling sunnily at everyone and anyone. She certainly knows how to win friends. And, if you remember that she's not very well herself, her sunny disposition today was all the more remarkable. Oh, and I nearly forgot, I finally brought out the Phillipe Starck hip sling, which I'd used with Barnaby. I'd thought that it was for older babies, but when I finally got the box out of storage, I read that it was for babies from 7lbs to 25lbs, so I could have been using it already! Grrrr! So, today, at the nursery party, I had Amelia in the sling for the first time. I'd forgotten how much I liked this sling too - see below.

Philippe Starck Sling

Later, there was a barbeque, and all three of us had a vegetarian hot-dog to eat. Then Barnaby declared that he was feeling sleepy, so we came home to allow him to nap (he just zonked out on the sofa: very easy!). I had intended us to return for the grande finale of the party (the birthday cake, speeches, raffle draws etc.), but when Barnaby awoke, he was feeling unwell: primarily his tummy hurt. He was also very subdued and lethargic. In the end, Amelia and I went back, as I'd promised a few people I would return, so I was able to bring Barnaby's piece of birthday cake back with me.

However, this evening, I am feeling unwell: my tummy hurts! I feel sick... All in all, we're still under the weather. Bleah

Friday, April 07, 2006

Oh No, Not Again

To quote the bowl of petunias from Douglas Adams' A Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "Oh No, Not Again" - Amelia is ill again. I didn't blog yesterday as I ended up going to bed early with Amelia. She's had a head-cold for a few days and yesterday she started coughing rather a lot. Yesterday, I ended up going to bed early to sit with her, as she kept waking herself up with every coughing fit. During the day, she also made herself vomit rather a lot; if she had a prolonged coughing fit shortly after a feed, she could cough so violently, that she would make herself vomit. All in all, it wasn't the best day for Amelia yesterday. (Or me, since I was the one being vomitted upon!) Today, I was keeping an eye on her cough and when she woke up from her morning nap, at about 11:00, I noticed that her breathing had suddenly become rather laboured. It wasn't simpy loud and rasping, it was rasping with a very 'mucus-y', wet sort of wheeze. This didn't sound at all right to me, I had a very bad gut instinct about it, and so I called the doctor's practice to make an appointment. Even though I telephoned on the dot of 1:30 (which is when the bookings open for afternoon surgery), there were no doctors' appointments available. However, I was able to have an appointment to see the practice nurse. I was right: her breathing had become extremely laboured and wheezy. Diagnosis - she's now got bronchiolitis. (Bronchitis is inflammation of the large airways in the chest and pneumonia is inflammation of the lung. Bronchiolitis is inflammation of the smaller airways connecting the two.) It's usually caused by a virus, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus). Basically, there isn't much that can be done about it; antibiotics would be no use. We need to keep her under careful observation. There is always a chance, with a small baby, that she might suddenly take a turn for the worse. They want to see her again on Monday. If we are unsure about her condition over the weekend, we must call the emergency doctor.

The virus was almost certainly given to her by Barnaby, who also has a nasty cold/cough. But his bronchioles are sufficiently larger than hers, so his tubes haven't got blocked with mucus. However, his 'normal', racking cough did wake him up four or five times last night. In the end, he became so distressed, that Sheep came and tucked him into bed next to me (so I had both of them coughing: one into each of my ears!).

I suppose that if there is any consolation it is that her immune system should be shaping up nicely. (Although, on the down-side, if she gets another bad RSV infection before the age of two it will mean that she'll be even more susceptable to Asthma than she already is.)

To change topics entirely, Sheep and I have been discussing my maternity leave. I've been quite upset since Wednesday, since I realized that I was already into week 14 of my maternity leave and hence more than halfway through. So far, I've thought of two real alternatives (options 2 and 3) to going back to work in September.

Option 1 (current option)
I go back to work full time on Monday 4th September. Amelia goes straight into full-time day care at Acorn nursery age 7 months and 17 days.

Option 2
Sheep has been told by the EPSRC that he's entitled to paternity leave equal to the maternity leave given to their female research engineers (although UCL are currently disputing this - t.b.c.). Sheep takes 6 months paternity leave from Monday 3rd July (when mine ends) and, instead of Sheep staying at home with Amelia, he gets a well-paid job as a contract programmer. Consequently, I extend my maternity leave for another six months, without pay (but we're living on Sheep's temp. salary). And Amelia starts nursery full-time in January, after her first birthday.

Option 3
I request, from my Head of Department, to go back to work part-time (two and a half days a week) between September and December, i.e. for the duration of the autumn term. Given that my contract is for 50% teaching and 50% research I undertake to fulfil only the teaching component of my job and I effectively lose a term of research. I would go into London on a Monday and a Friday (my teaching day is Monday), working from home for the other half-day. Amelia could either go to nursery on those days, or perhaps just for a single day, while Sheep looks after her on the other day. Again, with this scenario, she doesn't start full-time day care until January 2007, but she would be eased in gently from September.

Option 4
Sheep takes his paternity leave, as per Option 2, and uses it correctly, namely by actually looking after Amelia himself, while I work full time.

Relevant points

* Sheep's supervisor, Alan, warns us that taking a break of any duration (and six months is quite a long break) is extremely risky as it means that Sheep might find it difficult to get back into the swing of his research, once the momentum has been lost.
* Although the EPSRC have said that Sheep has an entitlement to parity of paternity leave, UCL disagree. We would need to take this up with the Equal Opportunities Co-ordinator at UCL. But, since the EPSRC has already agreed in writing, he'd have a good case to argue.
* The Acorn nursery is less than keen to keep open Amelia's full-time place between September and January. They have hinted that there is a risk that we could lose the place altogether. On the other hand, they would be more willing to keep her place open, if she started part-time in September.
* If I go back to work full-time in September, I would really need to stop breastfeeding by then (or at least during the day time). I could express milk for her, but I am not keen on doing this every day (at UCL). The WHO now recommends breastfeeding for 12 months, which is what I did with Barnaby. By failing to breastfeed Amelia for 12 months, it would feel like I had short-changed her compared to Barnaby.
* I really like being at home with Amelia.
* I also like my job. There are so few places that do the kind of research we do at UCL that another job like mine simply wouldn't materialise elsewhere.
* I have four PhD students depending on me; it can be devastating for PhDs if their supervisor goes AWOL.

WHAT TO DO?

Photos from Oxford

I just received an email from our friend Jenni, with some photographs she took of our trip to Oxford last weekend.

Sheep and Meela in Lebanese restaurant

Sheep and Meela again

Barnaby behaves

Thanks to Jenni for these!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

More Songs 2

In my ongoing quest to record all the nonsense songs we sing to Amelia, here are some more!

Today she's been sitting in her "bear chair" (by BabyBjorn), which has four bears (greeen, red, blue and yellow) on a frame in front of her, which spin around. I've been sitting, spinning them for her and singing the following song (freshly coined today!):

Green bear, green bear, blue and red,
You've got fluffy hair on your head.

Red bear, red bear, yellow and blue,
You're my Meela and I love you.

Blue bear, blue bear, green and yellow,
Please don't whimper, just be mellow.

Yellow bear, yellow bear, red and green,
Look around you, what have you seen?


And so on, repeated, it's cyclical! I don't think the melody is anything established, it's also my own nonsense!

One of Sheep's current refrains goes something like this:

Meela, Meela!
Little tiny Meela.
Little tiny Mela,
With a Milly, Milly-moo.


On an earlier post, I mentioned a song which we sing to her, that starts, "Hello Meela, hello you!" and I wrote that I thought the melody was a football chant. I've since found out (thanks to Jenni's flatmate, Dan) that it is the chorus to the song "Football Crazy". The melody can be found here - http://www.folkinfo.org/abctest/getmidi.php?songid=567 On the website they suggest that "...it was written by Glaswegian James Curran (born in Donegal, but grew up in Scotland) who died in 1900." The actual chorus goes like this,

For he's football crazy,
He's football mad,
The football it has taken away
The little bit o' sense he had,
And it would take a dozen servants
To wash his clothes and scrub,
Since Paul became a member of
That terrible football club.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My Very Own Tintin

When I gave Amelia a bath last night, I couldn't resist washing her hair; when I wash her hair, it goes all downy and feathery. Anyway, when she awoke this morning, there was a whole snatch of hair, sticking up vertically and slightly skewed off the left. She looked just like Tintin!

Actually, I was looking at her hair closely today, and I noticed that the tiny spot of cradle cap she has at the top of her forehead has increased and that she now has an additional tiny spot right at the centre of her crown. Barnaby had terrible cradle cap and I was hoping that she wouldn't get it. But I wonder if my hair-washing and use of shampoo is actually causing it. I think that I will avoid washing her hair with shampoo, instead I'll just rinse it with water for a while and see if that helps.

Barnaby's been calling her "Rabbit": "Stop crying Rabbit!", "I love you little Rabbit." or even "Go back into Mummy's tummy, Rabbit" (Well, he's only said that once, a couple of days ago, I'm glad to say). I can't think where this rabbit business comes from though: lamb we could understand.

At the NCT coffee group today, she did an enourmous, explosive poo - such a massive outburst that she soiled her top (I was cleaning her up to her armpits!). However, when I searched in her nappy bag for a change of clothing, there was none there. I'd just used them previously and forgotten to restock her bag. (That's two vital things, the other being Barnaby's travel potty,
I've forgotten in a matter of days; I am clearly losing the plot somehow). So, I had to bring her home, with her cardigan buttoned up to her neck and with nothing on underneath.

I have been thinking, Amelia is 11 weeks old today and I have been on maternity leave for 13 weeks (rounded down), which means that I am already exactly half way through my maternity leave. I get 26 weeks leave (which is half a year) and on top of that I've elected to take one month's holiday and one month's unpaid leave. However, it all feels like it's going far too fast. How can I be half way through my maternity leave already? I can't think that I'll feel ready or able to go back in the summer. I didn't start work until Barnaby was nearly two and even that felt too soon. These thoughts are beginning to make me feel quite upset.

Whoops. Amelia is crying. I need to go.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Thumb Sucking

Amelia is asleep upstairs and over the baby monitor we could hear that she was being quite restless (although still sound asleep). I went up to have a look at her, and she was trying so hard to suck her thumb, in her sleep. So much for all my previous agonising about dummies; I'm sure that she's going to be a thumb sucker. Sheep and I have talked about this, and we're both fairly relaxed about the idea of her sucking her thumb, as we were both thumb suckers ourselves. In fact, I remember my mother trying hard to cure me of the habit (I must have been older than the age of four because it was in Yearnor Cottage). So I had a look at some websites to see if any of them were pro-thumb sucking and a surprising number were extremely positive about it. Aparently there is no risk to dental malformation if children stop before they lose their milk teeth (which is about age 6) and most children naturally stop by then anyway (in fact, apparently, the ones who don't are the ones whose parents put pressure on them to quit!). The other advantages are that thumbs are always there, always accessible, never fall on the floor and the child is in control of it/them, unlike dummies. And, frankly, from an aesthetic point of view, I do prefer the sight of thumb sucking to a dummy. And, at the end of the day, if it helps her self-soothe and sleep better, I'm all for it!

Two other things of note. Amelia slept from 7:00pm-7:00am last night, with only one feed at 3:00am (that's a gap of 8 hours!). Also, we think that she deliberately held something for the first time today: her blanket lamb.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Mum, I Licked my Finger!

Today, Barnaby was up early and so was Sheep, which meant that by the time I was up with Amelia, at about 8:30, Sheep was starting to get quite grumpy and somewhat short with Barnaby. I, therefore, made the, perhaps a little foolish, offer to take Amelia and Barnaby to Quaker meeting, on my own, in order to give Sheep a break (in other words, to let him go back to bed and catch up on his sleep).

Sheep stayed awake long enough to help us all into the car, and so I took off with them both. Sheep, thinking I was being awfully brave and me feeling relatively (stupidly?) confident about the impending prospect. We made it to meeting in good time, in fact, we arrived about ten minutes early, which was just as well, as Barnaby rapidly announced that he needed a wee. This was when the full horror of the morning struck: I HAD FORGOTTEN THE TRAVEL POTTY!

I abandoned Amelia in her car seat, in the library, and rushed with Barnaby into the toilets. I tried, begged, cajoled, coaxed and bribed him to sit on the toilet. (Afterall, they do have mini-toilets in nursery, so, I figured, this was just a bigger version of something he was already used to.) However, it was all to no avail. He was quite adamant that he wasn't going to sit on the toilet. Eventually, what else could we do, but go into meeting?

The children stay in meeting for the first fifteen minutes, and initially things went smoothly. I was merely hoping that Barnaby could 'hold on' long enough for us to get out again, and so realised that I had exactly 15 minutes to come up with an alternative solution (to the toilet). I sat there racking my brains about what to do. On the way in, I had grabbed a book from the libary for Barnaby to look at in the vain hope that this might serve to take his mind off his bladder. To begin, it seemed as if my plan was working. Amelia had fallen asleep in my arms and Barnaby was angelically examining his book. I did try to ignore Barnaby's occassional grab at his crotch, persuading myself that it did not signify anything.

As his book began to pale Barnaby looked around for alternative entertainment and decided to start picking his nose. After hissing at him to stop, which was ignored, and whispering in his ear that I would give him chocolate buttons if he would desist, I finally resorted to holding his hands, to prevent further nasal exploration. This became a game for Barnaby, as he tryed to dodge my hands in order to get his fingers nosewards. And, of course, I just knew that everyone was watching this tussle. As his giggles got louder and louder, he eventually managed to dodge my hands, and instead of inserting a finger into his nose, he places it into his mouth, declaring, gleefully, to the whole meeting, "Mum, I licked my finger!" There was no chance that anyone in the meeting missed this exchange and the meaning of his loud declaration. I couldn't look up for fear of meeting anyone's eyes.

Luckily, soon after this, the door opened and it was time to leave for the children's meeting. But, to put a cap on my embarrassment, as we left, I noticed an extremely large, round, wet patch on the cloth seat upon which Barnaby had been sitting. In my concentration on preventing him from picking his nose, I'd forgotten his full bladder!

Once in the library, I realised that I had no change of clothes for him, as they were also in the forgotten potty-bag. After checking that the couple running the children's group didn't object, I stripped off his trousers and pants and put them on the radiator, hoping that 45 minutes was sufficient time to dry them out a little. With Barnaby now running around naked from the waist down, we proceeded to 'sedately' put together a jigsaw. Then Barnaby announces, again, that he needs another wee! This time, I am able to put into action the plan that I had formed during the first fifteen minutes of meeting. I grabbed the water-bottle (for drinking) that I carry around in Amelia's nappy bag, grabbed Barnaby, rushed into the toilets and proceeded to instruct Barnaby to pee into the bottle, which he actually did quite happily. I decided that sacrificing my drinking bottle was a small price to pay for averting another disaster.

We returned to the libary and assembled more of the jigsaw, when Barnaby suddenly cries out that he now wants a poo! Oh dear! Here was a situation that even my poor ex-water bottle would be unable to help with! We all looked at each other aghast! One of the women suggests that surely there must be "little toilets" in the nursery attached to the meeting house, so I scoop up Barnaby into my arms and all three of us run past the meeting house doors (which are partially glazed) to the nursery room, only to find no toilets at all (little or big). So everyone sitting in meeting was further entertained by the spectacle of a semi-naked Barnaby being rushed past the meeting-room's glazed doors for the second time. This time, I decided to countenance no objections and quickly grabbed Barnaby in a bear-hug and pressed him onto the toilet seat. He did a wee but no poo (had that been his naughty joke?). The long and short of it was that I managed to get him back into his semi-damp clothes by the end of meeting, a kindly Friend offered to 'deal with' the offending meeting room chair, and only one joke made about the nose-picking.

I think that I might wait a while before offering to take them to meeting on my own again.