Thursday, June 29, 2006

Test Photo

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

Today I was woken at 6:00 by Barnaby jumping into bed with us demanding that I read some Thomas the Tank Engine books to him. I did, sort of oblige, but kept nodding off... "Mummy, you've stopped!". Eventually, Barnaby ended up being taken to nursery very early this morning! I took him to give Sheep a break; Sheep's been feeling run down and even went to bed at 8:30 last night, as he could hardly stay awake!

After dropping Barnaby off at nursery I went to the mother and baby group at the Baptist Church. There I met someone who gave birth to a baby girl (Martha) exactly two months before Amelia was born and who also had Valerie as her midwife. I must email Valerie to tell her too.

Amelia was sitting up in the mother and baby group. I forgot to say yesterday that she impressed everyone in the massage course by sitting up for almost two minutes unassisted (she will sit and then eventually gravity will get the better of her and she keels over). Unfortunately, this morning I took my eye/hand off her for a moment, she toppled over and her head hit a chair leg. Oooops. I suppose this is the start of learning that parents aren't perfect.

When I arrived home, my new mobile phone had arrived (to replace my stolen one) and it had a 1.3Mpixel camera on it that I can wireless bluetooth photos to my laptop. So, I am hoping to be able to fill the blog with more photos of Ameila (and, of course, Barnaby too) now. Here was the first ever picture I took with my new phone (she just happened to be breastfeeding as I was tinkering with it).





And some others...




This afternoon my sister came around. Amongst other things, we went to pick up a new matress for Barnaby's cotbed. This is our new plan. We move the big, full-size bed (currently serving as a guest bed in Amelia's yet-to-be-inhabited room) into Barnaby's room, i.e. he finally upgrades to a BIG BED. He is quite keen on this, as he had a big bed on holiday. We move Barnaby's cotbed, re-transformed back into the cot version into our room and place it next to our bed in a side-car arrangement (it has a full dropside, so we can do this easily). We then start shifting Amelia into the cot but stealthily. This is our sneaky plan. Of course, once we've got her used to the cot, we'll have to move her into her own room fairly soon as we don't have much space in our room to accommodate such a large cot. So, the new mattress will be for Amelia. This change will take place tomorrow or most probably Monday (when I can rely on some help from Sheep to move everything around). Since, next week we are probably going to start Amelia on solids (once I've had her weighed by the health visitor on Monday), it feels like everything is changing at the moment. I still need to buy another Stokke highchair for Amelia, but I keep stalling as I can't decide on the colour (how pathetic is that?).

Finally, on the subject of baby gear - first, I think I might have found a pushchair that will fit into our tiny, tiny car (I will measure tomorrow) and second, I found an absolute drool-over website of baby stuff. If we only had the time, money and space I'd buy 90% of everything on this website! Truly. http://www.sparkability.net/

Final, final postscript. I also received a letter from the police to say that my stolen handbag has been handed in. I'll pick it up tomorrow. It will be interesting to see what is actually still in there. (Pity I've already bought a new handbag/wallet/purse).

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Update on last few days

I've not blogged for a while, partly because we were on holiday. So, this is the catch up blog; it may be a bit long.

First things first, our first holiday together as a family of four. In summary: it was lovely, it could easily have been a whole week as far as I was concerned. We picked up the car on the Monday morning and the journey down to the Isle of Wight was very easy, we only made one wee-stop for Barnaby (in a lay-by, on a potty). We arrived in good time for the ferry and driving on was all very easy and straightforward. I think that the ferry was perhaps the highlight of the whole holiday for Barnaby. Here's a couple of photos of him looking very nautical. The ferry in the background is the same kind as the one were on (I think).




Barnaby on Board the Ferry





Amelia and I on the Ferry, Looking Serene


On the first day, we spent the morning on the beach, at Steephill Cove. Barnaby took some time to get into the idea and wouldn't take off his sandals for about an hour, but eventually really got into making sandcastles and paddling in the rockpools (the sea was a bit too scary, I think).





First Sandcastle of the Day





Encouraging Barnaby through Example!


I'm afraid that's all the photos we have, our others were stolen (more on that later). In the afternoon, Emm and I went for a walk along the coastal path to visit a glass-blowing studio. We took Amelia with us in her sling, while Barnaby went to a nearby beach, Sundown, with Sheep (and Nick, Joe (10) and Esme (7)). A lovely, lovely day.
Our second day was spent going to Blackgang Chine (http://www.blackgangchine.com/), a theme park that was opened in 1843! It was definately an 'alternative' day out and actually very enjoyable in a uniquely English sort of way (halls of mirrors, giant toadstools, large plastic dinosaurs and gradually falling into the sea. Considering we had a baby, a three, seven and ten year old, there was enough to keep everyone occupied (although, admittedly, all Amelia required was an ever-ready nipple!). Barnaby particularly enjoyed clambering about on a pirate ship. The evening on Wednesday was particularly enjoyable. Emm and Nick listened out for Amelia on the baby monitor (and even soothed her back to sleep when she woke slightly) while Sheep and I had a canoodle on the hammock (wrapped up in many rugs!), on the balcony, overlooking the sea.
On Thursday we headed home and the return journey was not as good as the journey down. I'd called up and altered our departure sailing time, to give us a bit more time in the morning, which we used to have a look around Ventnor, a lovely Victorian seaside town. I was worried about Barnaby getting cold on the ferry as I'd forgotten to pack a pullover for him. In Ventnor we found an old-fashioned haberdashers which sold hand-knitted knitwear. Barnaby chose a bright rainbow striped jumper for himself, but then we found a whole bucket of small teddy/dolls clothes, all knitted by hand - and before long Barnaby's bear was also kitted out in a matching rainbow jumper (I must get a photo of this). Bizarrely, this has also become one of the highlights of Barnaby's holiday (according to Barnaby). I won't dwell on the return journey - we made many stops on the way home, we simply didn't coordinate our wee/food/nappy-change stops efficiently and a two hour journey took us four hours. C'est la vie.

Then the weekend! On Friday night we were burgled. While in the house! The burglars climbed in through a small (and I mean small, about 5 inches high) window in our utility room and from there into the kitchen; they let themselves out through the back door. The only got as far as the kitchen but took my handbag, Sheep's wallet, both our mobile phones, our digital camera (hence no more photos of the holiday, the one's posted were from Sheep's phone, prior to being stolen!) and a set of house keys. Why didn't they leave the kitchen? My personal theory is that they were disturbed; Barnaby woke about 2:30 and came into our room. This is about the time they broke in (we know from Sheep's mobile phone call transcript). So I am inclined to think that we have Barnaby to thank for not losing more. However, it is quite disconcerting to think that there were people in our house while the four of us were upstairs sleeping. The police woman called them, "creeper burglars".

Most of Saturday was a write-off. A fair amout of time was spent with the police forensics (yes, they got fingerprints from the window) and giving police statements. The rest of my time was spent cancelling cards, bank accounts, phones etc. The weird thing is that they started using Sheep's mobile phone straight away (mine had run out of charge), and made continuous calls between 2:30 and midday the following day, when the account was stopped. I mean, don't these people sleep? Don't they realise that their calls can be traced?

Actually, the truth about the burlary is that we didn't realise for ages we'd been burgled. We're so used to the house being in a state of disarray, that when I couldn't find my handbag and Sheep his wallet we just thought that we'd misplaced it or, what's more probably, that Barnaby had been moving things. It wasn't until I was calling Sheep's mobile phone (in order to locate it) and it was answered by some unknown person (!!!) that we realised something wasn't quite right.

So why have I not blogged since then?

A combination of things. Sheep and I have both been feeling rather rundown and lethargic. Perhaps hayfever? Perhaps a bit of a psychological reaction to the burglary (we were both very calm about it over the weekend, but perhaps less so since).

Today Amelia and I went to the last baby massage class of our course. Amelia, once again was in ultra-sociable mode and would hardly sit still while I tried to massage this wriggling baby. Still, I think she enjoyed it. I skipped the NCT coffee group this afternoon for the first time in ages - I was feeling too exhausted (and they were walking around Furzton Lake). Perhaps next time.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Fathers Day & Peace Pagoda

No time to blog properly. I'm packing. However:
Fathers Day today. Barnaby gave Sheep a card he'd made at nursery with a picture of him wearing roller skates (and knee pads and elbow pads). Very good picture - his best yet, I think! Also a card from Amelia: not drawn by her. Their gift? An introductory session at Airkix - a skydiving wind tunnel - where you can practice all the moves prior to a real sky dive. Sheep's got a 60 minute session. I thought he needed a bit of fun...

After meeting it was the annual anniversary of Milton Keynes Peace Pagoda. We went along and their was lots of music, dancing etc. Very pleasant. Now just packing. More packing. How much stuff can we take? I kid you not but Sheep and I are only taking changes of underwear and a couple of t-shirts each, everything else is for Barnaby and Amelia and we'll be lucky to close the boot!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Visit of Nanny

Today and yesterday 'Nanny' was visiting. It feels like it's been a tiring couple of days. Already it feels like the end of the weekend and it's only Saturday night. Today we went to Milton Keynes Village Summer Fete: white elephants stalls, sack-races and hoopla etc. Two incidents stand out in my mind: Nanny bought Barnaby some bubble mixture and somehow he ended up pouring it over himself (while my back was turned for a second). 'Uncle Julian' and I rushed him into the village hall and Julian held him over the sink while I poured a cup of water over his eyes. He was quite upset. Later, however, he decided to have a go at the 'smash a plate' stall: throwing golf balls at crockery suspended on strings. He was actually quite good at the throwing (to my surprise) but didn't break anything.

On Friday we were leant the 'Bumbo' seat from one of the other mothers from my NCT Coffee Group. Amelia is now sitting up, with the aid of her Bumbo. I think she likes her new perspective on the world. However, Barnaby has also discovered that he can fit in it! Nanny brought his a cloth Wendy House cover (which fits over a frame constructed from his Oomagles), he now wants Amelia to sit in her Bumbo in the Wendy house with him.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Baby Massage 2

Today was the second part of my and Amelia's Baby Massage Class. She couldn't keep still enough for me to massage her properly as she kept craning her head to try to look at and make eye contact with all of the other babies! However, I do think she liked it. However, we were asked if any of us had tried it at home and I was one of the few who hadn't! I didn't realise we were having home-work!

Last night, Barnaby went to bed and fell asleep all by himself and then slept soundly until 7:30am. This is highly significant as up until now he has either 'gone off' well but then had a disturbed night with many wakings or he has been a real pain to get to sleep, but has slept well once's he's finally been coaxed into sleep, but never the two together. How much more can you ask for than that?

I went to the NCT Coffee Group again this afternoon and it was well attended. Nice to catch up with everyone. However, Amelia didn't sleep. In fact, she hardly slept at all during the day today. She was so tired tonight that she fell asleep at 6:00 while we were still having dinner (instead of 7:00, when she usually sleeps) and then she woke up again at about 9:45 and it took me about an hour to get her back to sleep again, so this evening's been a bit of a write off.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Giving Up, Temporarily

Last night I simply couldn't face another night of trying to shift Amelia into her cot and I simply gave up and decided to have a night off. She and I curled up together and slept blissfully until 8:00. I have a vague recollection of her having a feed, sometime between midnight and the morning, but perhaps not. Consequently, I'm feeling a bit better and well-rested this morning.

What worries me at the moment though, is that unless I can sort out Amelia's sleep problem (now there's a thought: when did her sleep pattern/habit become a problem? Only since I've been trying to transfer her into her cot really!) before I go back to work in September, I am going to be so tired that I'm not going to be able to function well at work. Of course, thinking like that is also counter-productive, I know: it's effectively putting a deadline upon Amelia and I to resolve this sleep thing, one way or another, and deadlines just mean more stress. So, I really shouldn't think like that. (It still worries me though.)

Sheep and I are wondering if we should change tack entirely. Move the full-size spare bed (single) into Barnaby's room and turn his toddler bed back into cot-mode. Then move the toddler bed/cot next to our bedroom in a 'sidecar' arrangement, as this cot has a full drop-side. Then I can feed Amelia laying down in the cot and hence there is no need to transfer her when she is sleepy/asleep after a feed. Eventually, when she is used to that cot, we can move her into her own room - in the same cot.

Downside? Our room will barely fit both our bed and this big cot as it is quite large - significantly larger than her current crib/cot. Sheep measured it last night, though, and he thinks it will fit. When do we do the changing around? After our holiday?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Countdown to Holiday

We have finalised our holiday plans. We are going by car.

Car Reservation Information

Pick Up Date: June 19, 2006 at 9:30 am
Drop Off Date: June 23, 2006 at 9:30 am
Car and Rate Information: Class D/Standard (Vauxhall Astra, Toyota Corolla or similar)
£100.72 (Daily 4 Days @ 25.18)
£17.63 (VAT 17 Percent @ 100.72)

Total Car Cost £118.35

Ferry Reservation Information

OUTWARD TRAVEL DETAILS:
Route: Southampton to East Cowes
Departing: Monday 19 June 2006 @ 14:00 hrs
Arriving: Monday 19 June 2006 @ 15:00 hrs
Adults: 2; Infants: 2;

RETURN TRAVEL DETAILS:
Route: East Cowes to Southampton
Departing: Thursday 22 June 2006 @ 10:30 hrs
Arriving: Thursday 22 June 2006 @ 11:30 hrs
Vehicle: CAR (max length: 5.5m / max height: 1.99m)
Adults: 2; Infants: 2;

Total Ferry Cost: £57.50
TOTAL COST: £175.85

This will be Amelia's first holiday and, in fact, bears some resemblance to Barnaby's first holiday. In August 2003, when Barnaby was about seven months old, we drove from Atlanta to Gulf Shores, Alabama for two or three days. Of course, the Isle of Wight is not Alabama (what an interesting thought!), but it's still a few days at the beach with a baby. Gulf Shores from Atlanta was a distance of 352.7 miles (and took us about 6 hours by car). The holiday house in Ventnor is 140.4 miles from our house in Loughton and should take us about 3 hours and 22 minutes if we could travel there directly, without any stops.

We are planning to take things easy on the journey and so we've factored in a lot of time to stop and breastfeed etc.

Here are some photos of where we will be staying. The house (called Western Lines) is about 100m from the sea (our cabin at Gulf Shores was even closer, but we're not complaining!).


Holiday House Indicated by Arrow (Courtesy of Google Maps)


Click on Image for Larger Map. The House, "Western Lines" Clearly Marked

I am hoping that it will be a little cooler next week. It was 26 degrees today and Amelia was finding it hard. I am struggling to keep her comfortable. I wish she would feed a little more though. I do worry about her dehydrating.

I must say, I am glad that I checked the distance from Atlanta to Gulf Shores. If Sheep and I were able to make a 6 hour journey with baby Barnaby, we should be able to make a considerably shorter journey with Amelia. I can become a bit of a wimp, sometimes, at the prospect of travelling with them both: on occassion it can seem so much easier just to stay at home! But no - we are going. Thanks to our friends Emm and Nick for inviting us.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Problem With Sleep...

...is that when you're not getting enough it becomes the focus of your attention. Everything revolves around you getting enough sleep.

Last night, Amelia woke for her feed at about 11:30 (I think, she usually has her midnight feed sometime between 11:00 and 12:30) and after she was finished I tried to put her into her cot. She woke, I 'shushed' her, rocked the cot, put the cot vibrator on, rubbed her tummy, 'shushed' her some more until I eventually got her back into our bed, let her fall asleep and repeated the above pattern. At 2:30, having been trying to get her to sleep in her cot for the better part of two hours, I was finally sucessful. Half way through this 'loop' Sheep told me to just give up. But the problem is that if I give up I know that the next night it will be that little bit harder and the next night that little bit harder still. So, Amelia slept at 2:30; at 4:30 she was awake again as she was quite wet. I changed her and gave her another feed, but this time I was so tired and probably quite unable to face another couple of hours of coaxing her into her cot that I just let her stay where she was, next to me. (Quick aside: actually, in this heat you'd think she'd almost prefer being on her own. It's sweltering in this bedroom tonight and I am sure I give off a fair amount of body heat in addition to the ambient temperature.) Finally, Amelia and I slept until 8:00.

What else has happened this weekend? Yesterday (Saturday) morning, we were all having a bit of a family bed time, first thing in the morning, when Barnaby grabs Amelia's hard rattle and lobs it at her head, where he scores a direct hit right in the middle of her forehead - with quite a thwack, too! Natuarally Amelia is shocked and almost inconsolable. Upon being reprimanded (quite vociferously) he replies, in apparent consternation, "But she was meant to have caught it!".

Yesterday morning one of my students came for a tutorial at 11:00 and stayed until 3:00. I had Amelia with me for most of this time (bar one nappy change that Sheep did for me) in various stages of alertness, sleep, feeding etc. Poor Sheep had to keep Barnaby occupied and away from us, and I think began to feel the strain of this. I must not schedule any more Saturday tutorials (it was only that she was in Milton Keynes anyway attending a Bon Jovi concert!).

In the afternoon my sister and brother-in-law came over with his sister (my sister's sister-in-law: is there a term for that?), brother-in-law and baby daughter. We had afternoon tea in the garden which was a bit riotous with three infants in various stages of baby/toddlerhood.

In the evening Sheep and I just collapsed. Ditto for tonight. In fact, I don't recall an evening that Sheep and I haven't just collapsed in a heap since we started trying to encourage Amelia to reconcile herself to her cot.

Today was a bit calmer, we went to meeting, as usual, followed by meeting everyone from yesterday in a restaurant for Sunday lunch. Again, not the most relaxing Sunday lunch with so many little ones, but I must say Barnaby was a hero. He sat in a grown-up chair and was so well-behaved and ate his lunch so nicely. I was sitting as far away from his as possible (his seating arrangement, not mine, I might add) and I kept looking at him over the table feeling really proud of him.

In the afternoon, I put up Barnaby's play tents in the garden and we sat outside for a bit, but even though Amelia was in the shade it was far too hot for her. I took her inside for a long feed. With the heat, she's been feeding less, not more as I would expect (i.e. to prevent dehydration). She's certainly not as good a feeder as Barnaby was. But, once in the cool, she focussed, a little better, on the job in hand.

This evening, Sheep and I collapsed in a heap. It would be nice to have some Ruth and Sheep time together when we're not just exhausted. I do miss Sheep (in a, I know he's around but... sort of way).

Friday, June 09, 2006

Quiet Days, Lousy Nights

I've had a couple of very quiet days, interspersed with at least one truly dreadful night: last night. This business of getting Amelia into her cot is developing into such a struggle. Yesterday and last night it was hopeless. During the day, every time I tried to get her to sleep in her cot, she simply didn't and eventually only slept when I placed her onto our bed and lay down beside her (spot the 'sleep-association': answers on a postcard please). In the night, every time I tried to move her when she was already asleep, she'd wake up within ten minutes of being in her cot. At one point, I'd been trying to get her back to sleep for about an hour and it was nearly five o'clock in the morning (this was last night). Sheep woke up and asked me if everything was alright (or some such innocent and solicitous enquiry) and I'm afraid this was just red rag to a bull and I completely lost my temper! I wasn't angry with Sheep or Amelia, but with myself. What I was, and still am, to some extent, so angry about is the fact that after all the problems we have had with Barnaby's sleeping routine (or lack of it) since he was born, we made sure that we knew exactly what we were and weren't meant to do with Amelia. Somehow, even with this foresight, we have still managed to end up in a position where she is now not sleeping well, having started from a point where she was sleeping blissfully through the night. I feel so stupid for ending up in this situation and there is nothing that makes me madder than being made to feel stupid.

On Wednesday, at the NCT coffee group, all the other mothers were beginning to say how their babies are now sleeping through the night and that they simply place them in the cot and they don't even cry or fuss, they just fall asleep, and it feels that as they have all progressed, we've made equal and opposite steps in the opposite direction. I feel like I've totally f**ked it all up.

I am sitting here in bed, typing this, with Amelia sound asleep beside me. I hardly dare pick her up to move her into the cot (although I will as soon as I finish), as I know that she will then wake up shortly after her transferral. Last night, at 5:00, she became so distressed that she couldn't even fall back asleep in our bed, next to me, while I was nursing her. In the end I became so distressed that I just abandoned Amelia to Sheep's ministratons and fled to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. I was hoping to calm down, but sitting at the kitchen table in the early hours of the morning while I could hear Amelia howling in indignation upstairs was more than I could bear and I came back up again. Eventually I did get her off to sleep. But what a palaver. Needless to say neither Amelia and I did much today: we recovered. Poor Sheep, however, had to go into London (he slept a little on the train).

What can I do? I feel such a failure.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Amelia Fighting Fit

Today I took Amelia to the doctor and she was given a clean bill of health. No more wheezes!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Baby Massage Course

Today Amelia and I attended part one of a four-part baby massage course, run by the local doctors practice. It took place at the practice, run by one of the Health Visitors (who has a degree or diploma in baby massage!). It's meant to be a cross between traditional Indian and Swedish massage. There were about twelve people there including one mother of twins! Today we focussed on the legs and a bit on the abdomen. Amelia seemed to enjoy herself, but I suspect that her enjoyment had very little to do with the massage itself. She kept completely ignoring me, and what I was doing to her, in her attempts to look around and see what everyone else was up to. I must say though, that given that I was mostly being ignored, she still seemed to have a far better time than most of the babies; of the twelve or so mothers who were there, there were at least four or five babies crying at any moment. Amelia was the only one not to cry at all for the whole morning. I certainly think she's quite sociable little thing! We were also given tea and biscuits (30p) and I am beginning to think that a major aim of the course is to be sociable: to get to meet other mothers.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Repeat Visit to Doctors

I took Amelia back to the surgery today. She is still wheezy and the practice nurse asked the doctor's advice. Since Amelia doesn't appear to be in distress, her feeding isn't affected and the coughing isn't waking her too much at night, they were loath to give her any antibiotics (which I agree with) but they want to keep her under observation. I am to take her back at 4:50 on Thursday to see the doctor.

I took Amelia to the Quaker craft group today, where she was able to be very sociable and was given a few cuddles by everyone. I realise that I've never written about what craftwork I take to the craft group. I am knitting a jumper, in yellow wool, that I started knitting for Barnaby when he was 18 months old (i.e. I started it two years ago). I have finished the back and the sleeves and, since attending the craft group, have been working on the front. I am hoping that I might eventually complete it in time for when Amelia is two (it is size two years). I know I am being very slow - I manage to knit about 6 rows every fortnight - however, I should get there eventually.

I think we've decided that we're going to the Isle of Wight. By car. I'll book the car and ferry tomorrow.

Thumb Sucking

I forgot to mention that for about a week now Amelia has been sucking her thumb quite sucessfully!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Trip to the Doctor's Surgery

I decided that I would take Amelia to see the practice nurse today. She been getting a bit more wheezy over the last few days, and I just wanted to get a second opinion. The practice nurse, Judy, had a listen to her chest and said that it did sound a bit rattly to her too, although it was quite a 'deep' rattle. Is deep good or bad? She wants me to take Amelia back tomorrow for another listen and if it still sounds a bit wheezy, she'll get one of the doctors to take a look. While I was there, I thought I'd take her into the Monday baby clinic and get her weighed again. Just because I was there really! Today she weighed 6.38 Kg which is 14 lbs; this places her firmly on the 25th percentile. I expressed a little concern about this drop but the Health Visitor was completely unconcerned; she said that it was because Amelia is so long! She pointed out that her legs and arms are long and so her weight will be lower. Perhaps I am tired, but even in retrospect, I am not too sure that I agree with this logic, but if I think about it a little more, I might allow myself to be convinced.

"A long wasted short legged individual will have a higher [body mass index] for the same overall height as someone with especially long legs" "Anthropometric Indicators Measurement Guide" by Bruce Cogill. Presumably the converse is true, that long legged individuals, and presumably babies count as individuals too, have lower BMIs.

Anyway, since the Health Visitor was a different one, I decided to also mention my thoughts about starting Amelia on solids. She was equally scathing and encouraged me to postpone it until nearer 6 months. She also suggested that the reason why Amelia is grabbing food from my plate at meal times is that she is just being sociable and that the reason why Barnaby didn't really do this to the same extent is that girls are more sociable than boys!

Of course, if we do decide to go to the Isle of Wight (and we are 99% close to making a decision), then we'll probably postpone starting her on solids until after our return anyway; it's so much easier to be breastfeeding on holiday.

After I came back from the doctors, Amelia and I sat in the garden. Or to be precise, she lay on a rug while I hung out the washing. I got to thinking how familiar a scene this would have been to my grandparents, even my great grandparents: hanging out washing on the line (on a Monday, no less!), pegging them out with old-fashioned wooden pegs from a peg-bag, a baby lying on a rug waving her legs in the air, wearing a cloth nappy in the garden of a house built in 1902.

Those are the similarities. The differences? Our washing machine is automatic and spins the clothes so that they are quite dry. No wash-tubs or mangles! And, although I was hanging the washing on the line, this was a choice not a necessity since we have a perfectly good dryer; we hang out the washing on fine days in order to be environmentally conscious (a concept that would have meant little a hundred years ago) and finally, although Amelia's nappy are cloth, they would have looked very strange to my grandparents' generation with their bright colours and popper-fasteners.

The thought did cross my mind, when I was pegging out the washing, that I'm turning into my mother but perhaps that's the fate of all of us! (To turn into our parents, that is, not into my mother specifically!)

Final thought of the day. How did university professors live a hundred years ago? Admittedly they wouldn't have been women but I bet they had a far higher standard of living than we do today. I can't imagine a university professor of two or three generations ago not being in a position to employ housekeepers, maids, nannies etc. etc.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Picnics & Kite Flying

Today was a lovely Sunday, if a bit tiring for us all! Barnaby and Amelia were up bright and early, in fact, all four of us were up, dressed etc. and eating breakfast by 7:30 this morning! So much for lazy-day Sundays, eh? However, as it looked set to be another lovely sunny day today, I packed up a picnic to take with us to Quaker meeting, in order to be able to go for a picnic afterwards. I'm not sure that Barnaby was quite sure what a picnic was, but he was suitably excited nevertheless.

It was so sunny during meeting that the children's group decamped to the lawn outside the meeting house, where I sat with Amelia and Pippa (the other meeting baby) and Barnaby played ball with one of the two Friends running the group today. After meeting we met my sister and brother-in-law (Aunty Claire and Uncle Julian) in Campbell Park for our picnic.


Extract of Campbell Park Map Showing Picnic & Kite Flying Locations

We sat (see arrow on the plan) overlooking a gentle slope upon which sheep were grazing. The scene was actually quite picturesque and if it wasn't for the glimpse of the occassional rooftop on the horizon you could almost imagine yourself in the countryside. I think we all enjoyed the picnic. Well, Amelia couldn't eat anything, of course, and she had the good sense to sleep while we ate, waking up for her feed at a most convenient point: after we'd all finished eating ourselves! Smart girl.

I had bought a 'pocket kite' last week, and while I was nursing Amelia, Sheep, Barnaby and Julian headed off to "The Beacon" (see arrow on map) to try some kite flying. For a small, cheap, pocket kite, I must say that they managed to get it airborne successfully, even if Barnaby was a little reticent about handling the kite-string himself. (We also decided it would make an excellent tobogganing site for next winter!). After the kite flying, Barnaby went off to see the sheep, clambering over a five-bar gate in his quest for exploration. The sheep were pretty sensible and kept their distance.

The only other amusement this afternoon was afforded by Sheep and Claire who kept throwing a stick for Barnaby with the instructions to "Fetch!". It was dreadful to laugh, but he did fetch the stick each time.

We then retired to Claire & Julian's for a cup of tea at 3:30 and we left for home at 4:30. I think that we managed to wear them both out, as Amelia was asleep by 6:45 and Barnaby by 7:15! I never thought I'd see the day.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

I Say Potato and You Say Tomato

Today we decided we'd plant out the tomato seedlings that Barnaby (well, nominally Barnaby, I've mostly been doing the daily watering!) has been growing on the windowsill of his playroom. We've also got some seed potatoes that have been chitting that needed planting. So we wanted to plant out those today too. We're officially a bit late with them both, season-wise, but, to be honest, the main idea is that we want Barnaby to learn more about where vegetables come from.

Now, as it happens, we needed some more compost (potatoes) and one more growbag (tomatoes) so we headed off to the garden centre pulling Barnaby along in his Radioflyer Little Red Wagon. We had a lovely walk in the hot hot sunshine (not a cloud to be seen). Sheep and I took it in turns to either pull Barnaby in the Little Red Wagon or to push Amelia in her pram. On our way home we piled the Wagon high with compost/growbags and perched Barnaby on top! (He was quite safe as we were not going at any speed).

En route we stopped at the playground for Barnaby to have a play (and for us to rest; the L.R.W. was heavy). Suddenly Barnaby annouces he needs a wee - but before we can get out the potty liquid is gushing everywhere, seemingly in every direction; I've never seen such a torrent. I did actually get out the travel potty (Yes, I did remember it!) and when Barnaby sat on it he proceeded to do another wee and then a big fat poo. My quandry now is that I have discovered that although I did bring the travel potty with me, I have no change of underwear/clothes for him and his current ones are as sodden as if he had been fully immersed in water. Although we are close to home, it is still some distance from the playground and I'm not overly keen on him walking home completely naked from the waist down! And so? After some consideration of the problem I manage to fashion a pair of 'modesty' pants for him out of a cloth shopping bag I happen to have had with me. I am quite proud of this (photo to be posted in due course - we couldn't resist taking a picture, it was so comical) and am tempted to draw a diagram showing, for future reference, how to make a pair of pants from a shopping bag and post it in the blog! I have decided though, that I should start carrying a couple of safety pins with me. You never know when they might come in useful. I must add, Sheep and I chuckled all the way home.

After lunch we were in the garden planting the tomato seedlings into the growbags. We have a growbag each (each with three seedlings), including Amelia, even though she has no idea what a tomato is. However, given how quickly they are growing and how quickly she is growing it's not beyond the realm of possibility that she might yet get to sample one of her own tomatoes. Given her abilities, or lack thereof, I undertake to water her tomato plants on her behalf.

The seed potatoes were planted into mini-tubs (or special black potato bags), which Barnaby helped fill with a trowel from the large bags of compost we'd collected earlier in the day. I sat cross-legged, nursing Amelia, drinking tea, chatting to Sheep and Barnaby as they made a lovely composty mess together, bagging up these seed potatoes and what with the sunshine and the row of clean nappies hanging on the washing line it all felt rather special and domestic and a bit hippy-ish/eco-family-ish and the sort of day that I am sure we'll remember for a long time. It certainly felt like a precious memory in the making.

I'm still "tired with a K" (to quote Uncle Julian) tonight though.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Off to Bed

I've not been writing my blog tonight as I've been trying to work out the logistics of getting two small children to the Isle of Wight and remaining sane in the process (i.e. avoiding Central London). We are contemplating accepting an offer from our friends Emm and Nick to join their family for a bit of a holiday over there. It's not easy finding a route that avoids Central London (I don't fancy crossing London with bags and babies and pushchairs and toddlers... This is what I've come up with: the solution via Coventry of all places!

Outward Journey on Monday 19 June 2006

MILTON KEYNES CENTRAL dep 10:12
COVENTRY arr 10:44
Duration: 0:32

Wait at Coventry Station: 0:40

COVENTRY dep 11:24
SOUTHAMPTON CENTRAL arr 13:40
Duration: 2:16

Total Duration of Train Journey: 3:28

Distance from Train Station to Town Quay: 1.4 miles
Taxi Journey Time: 0:03
Journey on Foot: 0:15
Time to make change from Ferry to Station: 0:20 (or 0:50 for the 14:30 Ferry)

Ferry
SOUTHAMPTON TERMINAL 2 dep 14:00
EAST COWES arr 14:22 (14:55 for Passenger Vehicle Ferry Service)

TOTAL JOURNEY TIME: 4:12

Return Journey on Thursday 22 June 2006

EAST COWES dep 10:30
SOUTHAMPTON TERMINAL 2 arr 10:52 (11:25 for Passenger Vehicle Ferry Service)

Distance from Train Station to Town Quay: 1.4 miles
Taxi Journey Time: 0:03
Journey on Foot: 0:15
Time to make change from Ferry to Station: 0:23 (or 0:53 for the 10:00 Ferry)

SOUTHAMPTON CENTRAL dep 11:15
COVENTRY arr 13:22
Duration: 2:07

Wait at Coventry Station: 0:28

COVENTRY dep 13:50
MILTON KEYNES CENTRAL arr 14:22
Duration: 0:32

Total Duration of Train Journey: 3:07

TOTAL JOURNEY TIME: 3:52

Cost of Red Jet Hi-Speed Ferry Tickets (x2) £26.80
Cost of Passenger Vehicle Ferry Tickets (x2) £23.00
Cost of Saver Return Tickets (x2) to Coventry £28.60
Cost of Saver Return Tickets (x2) from Coventry to Southampton £104.20

Notes

If we travelled from Milton Keynes to Euston, Euston to Waterloo and Waterloo to Southampton the journey times would be 2:50 & 2:55 (so by avoiding Central London we are adding an additional 38 minutes onto the outward journey and 12 minutes on to the return journey).

However the cost from Milton Keynes to Southampton for two Saver Return Tickets is £99.20, so avoiding Central London would cost us an additional £33.60 (£15.30 each).

Total cost via Coventry = £159.62 (excluding taxis)
Total cost via London = £126.00 (excluding taxis)

We will have a big pram, carseat, bags, travel cot etc. etc. and a toddler. Do we attempt this for a couple of days on the beach?

Or hire a car?

I intend to sleep on it!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

More Songs

I'm back from the book club and am sitting drinking a cup of tea before bed. I've been meaning to type in some more song lyrics, ones that I've been making up or changing for Amelia. Here's one I've been intending to note down for postererity.

To the tune of "Molly Malone":

In Milton Keynes city,
Where girls are so pretty,
I first set my eyes on sweet Milly Dalton,
She was pushed in her stroller
Through streets short and longer,
Crying, "Hello, how are you? I'm Milly Dalton"!


(Yes, Dad, I know you know some rude lyrics to this too...)

Another to the tune of "Looby Loo":

Here we go Milly Moo
Here we go Milly bright
Here we go Milly Moo
All on a Saturday night


Finally, on the topic of songs, before I left the house tonight, I was reading to Barnaby. Irritatingly he selected a book which is just a book of objects and words (and I like to read him a book with some sort of story to him at night!). This book was on a theme of "Things That Go" and it's hard to know how to 'read' it to him. Anyway, there was a picture of a bus, and Barnaby asked for the bus song, so we started singing "Wheels on the Bus". He then asks for the songs of all the other vehicles (as if each vehicle or mode of transport should have its own special song!). Well, I tried valiantly; here are some of the vehicles from his book and the corresponding songs I dredged up from memory!

Bus - "Wheels on the Bus" - nursery song
Rubbish Truck - "My Old Man's A Dustman" - Lonnie Donegan?
Car - "Twinkle Twinkle Chocolate Bar" - to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

("Twinkle, twinkle chocolate bar
My daddy drives a rusty car
Press the starter
Press the choke
Off he goes in a cloud of smoke!")

They sing this at nursery, which is the only reason I know of it.

Truck - "I Like Trucking" - from 'Not the Nine O'Clock News' in the early 80s (scraping the barrel a bit here, but can you think of a 'truck song'? Of course, I could only remember the chorus)

("I like trucking, I like trucking,
I like trucking and I like to truck.
I like trucking, I like trucking,
If you don't like trucking, tough luck.")


Digger - "The Digger Song" - Boogie Babies (a programme on CBeebies)
Fire Engine - "London's Burning" - nursery song
Rowing Boat - "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" - nursery song
Submarine - "The Yellow Submarine" - The Beatles
Ship - "I Saw Three Ships" - Traditional Carol
Yacht - "I am Sailing" - Rod Stewart
Train - "The Runaway Train" - Robert E. Massey?

I ran out of steam when Barnaby asked what the windsurfing song was. Perhaps I should have tried "Surfin' USA" by The Beach Brothers, but I'm not sure I can remember the tune. However, I drew a complete and utter blank at a parachuting song!

What's the point of this. Well, I don't think I've heard Rod Stewart's "I am Sailing" for years, decades even. However, when I was at the bookclub tonight, guess what came up on their ipod? Weird eh?

(Any suggestions for modes of transport and songs?) Finished tea, I'm off to bed now.

Upgrading Stuff

The experiment with the pushchair yesterday got me thinking about how many things Amelia is either growing out of or growing into.

I've decided to buy another Stokke Tripp Trapp chair for her now rather than wait for her to reach six months. The order form is up on another window as I type. The only snag is that I just can't decide which colour combinaton to buy! Decisions...

Her nappies (the Fuzzi-Bunz) in size 'small' are for the weight range 7-16 lbs. At her last weigh-in she was 13 lbs 11 oz. On her current weight-trajectory she should be OK in these until mid July - just 6 weeks!

Her car seat: this is part of a travel system by Graco. According to their website, "The... infant car seat is to be used rear-facing only and is for infants 5 lbs to 22 lbs (approx. 10Kg) and less than 29 inches tall." This could take her up to, and I am guessing here, well after 12months. Although, I seem to recall that Barnaby effectively outgrew his carseat shortly after our arrival in the UK, which was the end of September/beginning of October - i.e. when he was 9 months old. At 9Kg (about 10 months) Amelia can safely move into a "Group 1" carseat. At this point we can sell our large travel system - yeah. There is an NCT Sale in September and I would be tempted to try and sell it then, if Amelia is big/heavy enough to move up into a Group 1 carseat.

She has just about grown out of her Moses basket. But, as I am trying to put her down to nap in her cot during the day now (to acclimatise herself to it!) this is no great loss.

Her bath is good until she is 18 months old. At about 10 months old we began giving Barnaby nightly baths as part of a strict bedtime routine (which he stll adheres to today); I expect we'll start doing that with her too. At this point we'll probably just place her bath into our bath.

She is getting big for her small crib/cot - but I think we can eke it out until she is 6 months old. Barnaby says he'd like a big boy bed and, unbeknown to him, I've been busy buying funky duvet covers to match his bedroom (lime green) ready for the change-around. We can then convert his toddler bed back into a full-size cot for Amelia.

Post-script. I am watching a pushchair currently for sale on ebay. It's called a 'Quinny Zap'; it's almost new and I'm tempted to bid on it. They fold up really small (69cm x 27cm x 30cm). I would like to be able to sell both our current prams and buy this instead, as it's the only pram I can imagine fitting into our current car with ease! However, it does feel extravagent to buy a new item when we already own something serviceable!

No more blogging. I am off out tonight! To my book group.