Monday, July 31, 2006

From One Tooth to Two Teeth

Amelia's second tooth has arrived. She now has a multiplicity of teeth! It is the lower left of her two middle canines (i.e. on her right as you look at her). I happened to go to the chemist today and while I was there bought her a packet of bickipegs (long, narrow, very hard teething biscuits). I believe that I was given these as a baby. It's interesting, I was looking on the web for the bickipegs website - yes, they've been around since 1924 and now have their own website! And I came across a lot of reviews of them by mothers. People seem to fall into two opposing camps, either loving them or loathing them, with no middleground. Amelia got through a couple of them today (you are meant to throw them away after 20 minutes of chewing and start a new one). And I think that she seemed to like them a lot. All these teething rings containing coolable water are simply not hard enough if you want to have a really good gnaw on them. However, having read through some of these mother's complaints (in the anti-bickipegs camp) it appears that they can be a choking hazard, so I must be sure to attach the bickipeg to her clothing with the piece of ribbon provided. However, far better for her to chew on one of these than on some of the hard things she has managed to get her hands on in desperation for something hard to bite.

What else today? I've felt very tired. I think that I've just had too many nights when I've been falling asleep at 12:00/1:00 and waking at 6:00. I muat really try to get some more sleep. Amelia and I had quite a gentle day today. I am beginning to feel like I need to cherish every moment with her as her first introductory session in nursery is only three weeks away now. Three weeks! Eeeek. Where has the time gone?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Nanny Visit over the Weekend

I didn't blog over the weekend, as Nanny (my mother) came to visit. It's been at least six weeks since she was last here and she was amazed at how Amelia had grown.

On Saturday, Barnaby wanted to play an online 'Bob the Builder' game on my laptop. We ended up playing a 'game' that he rather likes, where you have to design a house (in an earlier blog there is a house that he designed for Amelia). This time, he wanted to show me what his 'other house' looked like - the blue one, with five chimneys. Of course, the programme would only let him place one chinmey on to the house, so I told him that I would help him add four more chimneys to it. I opened it in Photoshop in order to duplicate the chimneys and since I was there, asked him if there was anything else he'd like to add to his picture. He told me what he wanted, we searched together on Google for a suitable image (which he selected) and then he helped me collage it in by pointing at where he wanted it to go. So this is what Barnaby's other house looks like, complete with Billy his giraffe and 'Swimming Pond' his cat and a number of Spiderman costumes.

Friday, July 28, 2006

A Day of Deliveries

This morning Amelia's new Stokke Tripp Trapp chair arrived as predicted. Along with a red, oriental, wrap-style top (bought on ebay), an orange flower-embroidered cardigan (also bought on ebay) and a new brush for her.

After a bit of early UCL work, I set to assembling the chair, just in time for her lunch (potatoe and carrots). It's so great to see her finally sitting at the table. How grown up. How lovely, my wonderful girl.

In the afternoon I had another PhD student arrive for a tutorial, so we all sat around the kitchen table, Amelia included. As she was sitting at the head of the table, it seemed as if she was chairing the meeting. At one point, she put out her hand and placed it on my student's arm, as if to say, 'calm down' (he was getting quite animated at that point).

Barnaby was shocked to see her chair (just like his) when he got home. I think it will take him a few days to adjust to our new seating arrangements. However, it was extremely moving, for me, to have us all sitting around the table for dinner (despite the fact that it's hard to keep Barnaby on his seat for more than a few minutes at a stretch).

And Amelia's new hairbrush! I've not bought her a hairbrush yet, as, frankly, she doesn't/didn't have much hair. But recently I've increasingly thought that I wanted to do something about her cradle cap (fairly mild, I should add) and part of my plan was to get a good brush so that I could gently brush out the flakes rather than pick them out as I am wont to do in idle moments... So, what brush to choose? The problem is that I wanted a natural, wooden and bristle hairbrush and almost all babies hairbrushes are plastic, which is not only horrible and ugly but I had this hunch that the static build up (from the plastic) would make the cradle cap flakes more difficult to brush out (or maybe I just think about things too deeply). So, where could I get a natural wood/bristle babies hairbrush? Well, I decided to try the Queen's brushmaker - Kent (est. 1777!) and bought what is probably the most expensive baby's hairbrush on the market! And it arrived this morning (it is nice). What's good enough for the Queen is good enough for my Milla. (And, hey, I habitually save so much money on ebay, why not be extravagent once in a while?)

That's phase one of my cradle cap treatment. Phase two was to try some cradle cap oil by Green Baby "An easily absorbed blend of organic safflower, organic sesame and organic jojoba oils nourishes the driest of skins. Rub into the scalp, then comb through hair to loosen and remove dried skin." So, I tried this during her bath this evening. I gave her scalp a good long massage, but couldn't seem to loosen any of the flakes afterwards. I gave her hair a brush with her new posh brush... but no flakes. Perhaps I need a comb afterall! (oh well, she needed to own a brush at some point anyway). But, so far, all the oil seems to have done is make her head and scalp somewhat 'oily': what a surprise. I'll keep at it a bit longer and see what happens. And report back. I might then try some medicated cradle cap shampoo, but I wanted to try the natural remedies first.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Trip to London, Passport Application

Today I had to go into London. One of my doctoral students had gone into meltdown (threatening to quit, to sue UCL, lodge formal complaints - not against me, I should add - etc. etc.). In the end, I felt I just had to go in to try and sort/calm things out: a crisis management/damage limitation exercise. However, I was equally determined to avoid the hot, sweaty, sauna-like-Silverlink commuter trains, with Amelia, and also to spend the least possible time in London, being as hot as has been. We caught the 9:47 Virgin (air-conditioned) train into London, in ample time for a 10:45 meeting. Amelia was very happy/interested on the way in; she even had a little nap.

Let me briefly backtrack in time. While I was rushing to get Amelia ready this morning, she was lying on her changing mat (on top of her chest of drawers), when Barnaby came into her bedroom. He started grabbing clothes out of the laundry basket and so I was momentarily distracted. My worst fear happened - while I was attending to Barnaby, Amelia fell off (from a height of about 1.5m)! Head first. Oh, how bad did I feel? Recently she has become fascinated by the shiny brass doorknob of her bedroom door and I think she must have been reaching forward for it, and just toppled over. I didn't even notice. Bad mother, bad mother, bad mother! I applied a cold pack and kisses and breastfed her for a bit and more kisses - but oh did I feel bad and wrong and guilty. (I did try hard, and think that I suceeded, to not take it out on Barnaby though; It really wasn't his fault.)

We had the meeting: I don't know if I've solved any of my student's problems. Sheep, heroically, took charge of Amelia during my meeting; he whisked her off to show her off to a few people in the department and then onto an early lunch, where I subsequently caught up with them. Then she and I were back on the 13:40 train (also airconditioned - heaven) Amelia slept all the way home (oh wonderful reclining pushchair).

When we arrived at Milton Keynes railway station, the skies were darkening and there were some ominous rumbles of thunder in the distance. I set off homeward at a cracking pace, rapidly quickening to a brisk walk verging on a jog. About halfway home some unfeasibly fat raindrops began to fall and I started jogging (well, tried to anyway, intermittent jogging would be more accurate. Loping perhaps?). Stupidly, I had not got a raincover for her pushchair. Actually, I do have one, but as it's her new pushchair, I've not needed to fit it on yet, in this heatwave. As luck would have it, we just managed to get home before the deluge began. And what a storm! At one stage it was raining down hail the size of small marbles! However, as soon as the rain stopped it was so, so hot again, you could actually see the steam rising from the paving slabs.

In the afternoon, I thought I'd better get some more UCL work done so I called a research colleague of mine at the University of Freiburg, with whom I am organising a conference in September. I'd been vacillating about attending (it's in Bremen) and was calling to confess my cold feat. (He'd also wanted me to give the introductory/welcoming speech/session so I felt really bad about this confession). One of my primary concerns was that Amelia would be in the early stages of getting used to nursery and that it would be too disruptive to take her out of nursery for the week, just after she had started. In the end, he persuaded me that we should just come for the weekend. I'd forgotten that our workshop is taking place on the Sunday before the week-long conference which starts on the Monday. He was quite right - there was nothing stopping us just coming in for the weekend! So, I got online and checked out the flights. It turns out that the only direct flights to Bremen (from Luton) are extremely late in the evening. And the last time I took Barnaby on a business flight (to Freiburg) it was an evening flight as was indescribably awful. Really, really awful.

So what to do? The problem is, is that this flight would be just after Barnaby's bedtime. Rather than falling asleep, he would get over excited and then become really difficult (on the Freiburg flight he wouldn't sit in his seat or put on his seatbelt or cooperate with anyone about anything). So, Sheep and I made a surprising decision. We're going to leave Barnaby behind and just take Amelia with us. EEEEEEEEEEEEEK! This will be a first for us. We've never both left Barnaby behind before. We called Leif (Barnaby's former nanny) and asked if he would come and stay for the weekend and look after Barnaby for 24 hours. Leif immediately said yes (we had given him some heads-up about this) and we booked the flights before we could change our minds.

We will fly to Bremen on Saturday evening, so Leif will have to give Barnaby his tea and get him to bed, and we will land at 22:10 at Luton on Sunday, so we should be home by midnight on Sunday night - ready to take Barnaby and Amelia to nursery on Monday morning! Leif will have sole charge of Barnaby all Sunday too - which is the day of our conference workshop. I think this is the right decision, as Barnaby would be quite bored at the conference, whereas Amelia will be too young to care and should sleep on the plane. However, I can see Barnaby being none too pleased with the arrangements when he sees us departing with Amelia! However, he is sure to have much more fun with Leif than with us (although we do feel a bit guilty about denying him the flight experience!). If the flights had only been during the day, it would have been a completely different matter - but they are at such unsociable hours of the day and there is only one flight a day (and Sheep is presenting a paper and I am kicking off the whole caboodle, so it's difficult for just one of us to go). But our first night away from Barnaby...

As soon as I'd booked the flights and hotel (so as not to back out again - I am such a wimp about travelling with one or both of them) I suddenly thought - aash, Amelia's passport... She hasn't got one. So I logged onto the Passport Agency's website and had a quick check and discovered that you can now apply online. So I did! You simply fill in all the details on an online form and then they send a hard copy of the form to you to check: you sign it and return it with a cheque (£35) and all accompanying documents. So - Amelia's first passport, eh? For the record, her application number is 147818312X. We'll have to do photos next!

Pet update. Bertie, the guest-hamster, is still alive and his visit has been extended. Barnaby actually plucked up the courage to hold him this evening. It's taken him a few days to get this far, Barnaby not Bertie, that is. We're probably going to keep Bertie for about a month now as his owners are now in the process of moving from Cambridge to Manchester (we may even keep him a bit longer, but this evening we committed ourselves to looking after him for at least the next month). On his way upstairs, to his bath, I asked Barnaby what he would call a hamster were he to have one of his own and he said, without hesitation "Inter-mono". How deliciously outre. (Of course, I was expecting him to say "Swimming Pond" so it serves me right trying to second-guess him.)

Final note on Amelia. Her cold appears to have disappeared. This evening, over dinner, while she was seated in her Bumbo, Sheep asked her if she was sated. In reply, she let out the loudest, most adult-timbre belch imaginable! We all burst out laughing: her comic timing was impeccable.

Final note on Sheep. He heard today that he's been shortlisted for a job at UCL. His interview is Tuesday. Oh, and can he prepare a ten-minute presentation please? They don't give you much warning do they?

Final, final comment, It's 00:47 and Amelia is straining to do a poo in her sleep. It sounds like a really painful one. I wish I could do it for her. Looks like I'll be changing a nappy in a minute or two. So begins my Friday.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Summer Cold

Amelia has a summer cold. Snotty nose, gummy eyes, sneezing a lot, slight temperature (99.9 degrees F, 37.7 degrees C). Not nice in this heat! Last night I kept wiping her down with a cool, damp flanel and eventually we gave her 2.5ml of Calpol. This morning I noticed that her cot sheet was covered in snot. Urrgh. So, I changed them. I'll probably end up doing the same tomorrow!

Today I finally got around to ordering Amelia's Stokke Tripp Trapp highchair. In natural wood (we just couldn't make up our minds on a colour and, at least, this matches Barnaby). Amelia has been refusing to sit in her Bumbo today. We think it makes her feel too hot, as it is effectively a huge foam tub. The place we ordered it from guarantees 24 hour delivery, so we should receive it by Friday.

On the topic of food - tongiht she ate some Hipp organic tomato, courgette and pasta (finely pulped) and appeared to love it. It's been the most enthusiastic I've seen her about anything yet. Although she does seem to like banana and avocado.

Barnaby is very happy at the moment. We have a house-guest, Bertie the hamster. He actually belongs to Joe and Esme, the children of the family with whom we stayed at the Isle of Wight. (Barnaby keeps asking if we can go back soon!). It's a long story, but Bertie has come to stay for the week. Perhaps longer. I have wondered about getting Barnaby a 'starter pet' and this seemed a good experiment. If he gets on well with Bertie, perhaps we might let Barnaby have a hamster of his own when Bertie leaves. If he wants. I wonder if it would be called "swimming pond" though? Anyway, the news on Bertie is that so far we have managed to keep him alive.

Ah - I have arranged Amelia's introduction days at the nursery - here they are:

On the 18th August she will be 7 months old.

Week beginning 21st August
Monday 21 -> 10:00-11:00 (really just introducing her, filling in forms and assigning a keyworker)
Wednesday 23 -> 11:00-14:00 (over lunch and naptime - her first trial nursery nap)
Friday 25 -> 14:00- 4:30 (almost a full afternoon)

Week beginning 28th August
Monday 28 -> 9:00-11:00 (morning snack time, up until lunch)
Thursday 31 -> 14:00-5:00 (a full afternoon, post-nap session)
Friday 1 September -> (She starts full time, for a full day, 9:00-5:00)

They have agreed that she can start two days a week in September, beginning with a Monday and a Friday (Monday is my UCL lecture day). This will increase to three days per week in October and four days per week in November. We will see how she is doing in November and then either increase her to five days a week in December or wait until January to do this.

This is the best possible scenario, in terms of introducing her gradually. However, I still wish it were not necessary. Why can't she just stay at home with me? After all, this time is so short. As some one said, they are only small for a year or two and your working life is about 40 years, it is actually such a tiny proportion of your working life.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Photos! (Ooops - They are Sideways - Sorry!)

I am not blogging tonight as we have guests - but, I am uploading some piccies :)

How much 'stuff' we were able to load into our car yesterday!

Closeup of Amelia in her car seat

Earlier photo of me messing around with Amelia

Amelia at John Lewis, last week?


On the topic of being stressed, I was meant to have written an exam this evening (for a summer re-sit). I promised faithfully that I'd do it. I've printed out some past papers, spoken to a friend over the phone, bidded (sucessfully) for some items on ebay, written Amelia's blog and not written my exams. Sigh. I am now going to bed. It's 12:34 and Sheep's been in bed for at least an hour. Work and motherhood? If Sheep were earning a good salary and my job wasn't so rare (I mean, how many places do space syntax research? UCL and Georgia Tech!) I would just be a mother for a while. At least for as long with Amelia as I was for Barnaby (i.e. nearly two years) if not a bit longer.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

First Proper Restaurant Meal Together

It's been rather a nice day today, bar the horrendous early morning start. (We really must do something about these six o'clock risings on Sundays, it is simply beyond the pale.) However, breakfast sort of segued into rather a nice play in Barnaby's playroom; I'd not put away all the toys I'd brought back from meeting and, as part of the putting away process, I wanted to check that all of the jigsaw pieces were there etc. and ensure that we'd not lost/left any at the meeting house yesterday. The result was that Barnaby and I had a nice hour-ish doing puzzles together and generally putting things away. Eventually, we left for meeting, although we were a little rushed in the end!

I'd been contemplating asking Sheep if I could stay in meeting today, while he took Barnaby and Amelia into the Children's Group. However, in the end, it seemed like too much hassle, too much of a change in routine. I had just thought that perhaps it would help me feel a little calmer. But I didn't ask him. We had a good time in the Children's Group though - Barnaby played with his MegaBlocks that we'd left there yesterday... Then, after meeting we decided to eat out so we went to Wagamamas. For the first time we had Amelia sitting in a high chair (we've not been there for a few weeks, and her sitting skills are still pretty new), and I had brought some babyfood with me, so, for the first time, we sat together in a restaurant, with all of us eating. Pretty neat! Barnaby ate a good meal - vegetarian ramen.

Then, we were at a bit of a loss about what to do. I'd remembered that there had been an exhibition of new cars in the Middleton Hall, so for want of anything else, I asked Barnaby if he wanted to look at some cars. All the latest models of the most popular cars were there and when Barnaby discovered he could actually sit inside them, he had a whale of a time. What is it with boys and cars? I took advantage of his momentary distraction and took Amelia (by this time asleep in her super new ultra-reclining pram, yeah!) into John Lewis in seach of a specific sewing pattern. Barnaby's nursery is having a fun day soon, where they want everyone to dress up for an 'under the sea' theme. Simplicity do this wonderful 'fish' pattern which I am thinking of sewing for Barnaby (given the success of his astronaut costume that I made for him). Here is the pattern:

Of course, I know I'm mad to even contemplate it, afterall, I was complaining just yesterday that I was feeling overwhelmed by all the conflicting demands on my time. However, I am so tempted to try and make this for Barnaby. I'm sure he'd love it. What is there not to love about a big fish on your head? Anyway, I bought the pattern... I wonder if my sewing skills are up to it though - but what's being a mother about if not about making giant fish head-gear? (As a get out clause, there is a crocodile (Under the sea? Sort of? On top of anyway. Well, swamp, not sea, but still...) costume selling on ebay at the moment, which I will bid on, as a back up, if the fish thing doesn't work out)

Well, that was it really, we did a bit more shopping in the centre (how American of us, church followed by brunch followed by the mall) and then came home. When we got home and I unloaded the car we were amazed at how many things we'd crammed into our teeny tiny car. So amazed, I took a photo - however, I am struggling with the bluetooth connectivity between my laptop and phone and Sheep's already in bed, so I'll have to upload the photos tomorrow.

Sheep and I were saying that it was rather a nice day.

Finally, last thought of the day. I was looking at Amelia's hand, wrist and arm while I was breastfeeding her this evening. She has this adorable little crease between her hand and her arm, because her arm is so podgy. I was transfixed by it, thinking how lovely it was. When it occurred to me that if it were the limb of an adult, then a crease between the hand and arm would be really gross. How can something be utterly repulsive in an adult yet cute beyond words in an infant? How strange the human mind.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Happy Anniversary House

I forgot to mention. We moved into this house a year ago today. Happy anniversary house!

Amelia's First Wedding (& Rant)

First the rant: I am fed up with washing poo-encrusted pants and food-plastered bibs. Amelia refuses point blank to wear any of her new easy-wipe bibs; she acts as though I am trying to place something hot/toxic/burning around her neck. Of course, she makes no such fuss if I just put a normal, needs-to-be-washed bib onto her, although now she's starting to get more fussy about those too! And Barnaby pooed on three pairs of Bob the Builder pants today: so much for our "Don't poo on Bob!" campaign. Grrrrrrrr. What do I hate about motherhood? Pants covered in poo, early mornings, the amount of laundry in general, early mornings again, frequent lack of logic and never being able to dress up nicely (see rest of post!).

Rant over.

Anyway, onto the wedding. I had agreed to be at the meeting house for 2:30 with the toys (which I had sneakily loaded up into the car last night so that Barnaby wouldn't realise that I was making off with half his toys). The plan had been for Barnaby and Sheep to go down the field with 'Aunty Claire and Uncle Julian' and to generally help (?) out and possibly be rewarded by a ride on their tractor. That was the plan...

Claire arrived at about 2:10, just as I was trying to leave. At this point Barnaby decides that he doesn't want to go to the field but wants to come to the meeting house with Amelia and I. As I have the car filled to the gills with toys, and have already removed his car seat, that was not even remotely possible. Eventually I just had to leave, telling Sheep that if Barnaby continued to be so adamant, perhaps he could ask Claire to drive them to the meeting house instead.

As I got to the meeting house, a storm had just begun. I parked temporarily just outside (in the spot reserved for the bride), and rushed in to see if someone could help me bring in the toys before the deluge. I was too late - the heavens opened and I was advised to remain the meeting house. However, Amelia was still in the car! So, I rushed back in and in the 10 metres or less between the meeting house door and my car, I got completely drenched (so much for dressing up a bit). Back in the car, I decided to wait for it to subside a bit. So, there I am, in the car, the windows misting up (it's still really hot and muggy), when Amelia strains to do a big poo (anyone reading this blog must think I am poo-obsessed: I really am not). Suddenly the car is filled with this hot, steamy malodorous stench. And I am sitting there soaked to the skin. At this point, the bride's car arrives. I have to back out of a tiny spot, in the torrential rain, trying hard not to inhale too deeply.

Eventually, the rains starts to subside - I take Amelia in and ask one of the Friends I recognise from meeting to keep an eye on her and just leave her in her carseat on the floor (apologising in advance for the smell). After two or three more trips to the car, I have transferred all the toys into the meeting house, and am damp beyond belief and aware that I have just enough time to change Amelia's nappy before the wedding starts.

So, I go into the ladies toilet (there are no baby changing facilities in the meeting house), and upon opening Amelia's nappy change bag realise that I have forgotten her changing mat. I have to place my silk jacket on the floor in order to change her on it. Oh, it get's worse! I start to unbutton her only to realise that she has done the most expansive, copious poo ever - it is the worst combination of solid/breast-feeding poos: solid in all the wrong places and gooey/slimy everywhere else. It's not only all over her bottom, it's all over her tummy too - I am into serious damage limitation mode by this time. Were I a first-time mother, I think I'd be in tears. Eventually, I mop up the mess, change her completely (so much for her nice outfit as well!) and get ready to go. This is when I realise that as well as looking like a drowned rat, I have poo on the bottom of my trouser leg. How on earth did that get there? What is it with me and weddings and poo? I remember taking Barnaby to a wedding two years ago (when he was 18 months old) only to find myself in a similar situation, except that time it was poo all over my skirt. Why do I have children that reserve their most evil bowel movements for the rare occasions that I am dressed up? I don't know. But I am sure that they sense it.

However, I will admit that we made it into the meeting room in time, the promises by the bride and groom were lovely (reminding me of our wedding just over six years ago and yes, I did get all emotional) and after the promises everything went surprisingly well with looking after the children for the last 40 minutes of the meeting. Barnaby and Sheep turned up after the wedding was over and Barnaby was suitably outraged to discover that the library was full of his toys! However, he rapidly got over it (when offered a chocolate biscuit). But he was a bit perturbed that we had to leave a box of his MegaBlocks (like Duplo Lego) behind as we couldn't fit it all into the car for the homeward journey (we'll pick it up after meeting tomorrow).

So that was Amelia's first wedding. An occasion that I won't forget in a hurry. However, I am generally feeling a bit stressed and upset (hence the rant earlier). I lost my temper on Thursday night - a rare event (Sheep and I tried to remember how many times I have done that since we've been together: perhaps half a dozen times in more than a decade?), so it has freaked us both out a bit. I am certainly feeling stressed by trying to be back at work. I already feel like I am trying to juggle too many balls and that I am dropping some. I don't know. I am certainly not my usual, calm, easy-going self at the moment though.

Friday, July 21, 2006

To the Centre (Air Conditioning)

This morning was a quiet sort of morning, but this afternoon we'd planned to go to the Centre if only to get into some air conditioning! I also wanted to stock up on some ready-cooked baby food. I know it's a bit of a cop out, and I have all this lovely organic veg just waiting to be pureed up, but what with trying to get UCL work done whenever I have a spare minute and, not to mention, running round after Barnaby, the veggies just don't get pureed. So, I decided to stop being so hard on myself today and get some ready-made. I also wanted to get Amelia some new bibs - I'm already fed up with washing her bibs and never seeming to have a clean one to hand. Funnily enough, this had also irked me with Barnaby (how I had conveniently forgotten!) and I had also given up after a week or two of using cloth bibs with him. With him, however, I had made my own bibs out of an old shower curtain (how resourceful was that?), this time, as per the baby food, I went out and bought a couple of wipeable ones, in an attempt to make my life a little easier. (I also bought one of these sunshade parasols that attaches to the pushchair - with this sun, it's a necessity!).

So this evening I settled Amelia into her Bumbo to give her some Hipp Organic lentils and vegetables. "Yum", I thought. And then put a new bib on Amelia in preparation. But no - she didn't appear to want either. In the end I thought, forget the bib and I stripped off both the bib and her t-shirt (given that it's so hot). She was marginally happier that I had ditched the bib, but didn't seem too keen on the lentils and vegetables. More went all over her than in her mouth. Sheep, having taken a good look at her, suggested that I just cart her upstairs in her Bumbo and hose her down Bumbo and all, given that she was already undressed (bar nappy of course), but I didn't. However, did she ever need a bath? There were lentils everywhere... Since starting her on solids, I've actually been giving her a bath almost everynight. It's partially the heat but also the baby rice in her hair, in her ear, under her chin, in her hair again... I'd truly forgotten quite how messy this stage could be.

Barnaby had a Pirates and Princesses party (we asked him if he wanted to go as a princess, but he chose pirate) at nursery today for all of the 'Oaks' who are leaving to go to school in September. He had a great time and was very well behaved (bar a couple of 'acidents'). Tomorrow, Amelia and I are going to a wedding at the Quaker meeting house. Well, sort of. We'll be there for the first 15 minutes - I've been asked to provide toys and help out with the children (11 of them under the age of 7, plus Amelia). So, it should be an interesting but exhausting hour. Sheep and Barnaby are going to visit Aunty Claire and Uncle Julian's field where he's been promised a ride on their tractor. Actually, I think that Sheep and Barnaby have probably got the better deal.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Day of Sorting

Today we moved Amelia up into the Medium size Fuzzi-bunz (her colourful, cloth nappies) and I also decided that while I was at it, I might as well put away all her 3-6 month clothes and get her into her 6-9 month set (well, some are 6-9, some 6-12, then there are 9-12 and '12' which usually means 'up to 12 months'). I put all her old clothes into a bin bag and it filled it! I can't think what to do with the bin bag now, except possibly put it on top of our wardrobe for the time being. I am aiming to sell everything (Barnaby's old clothes, her old clothes, the small cot, the moses basket, the big America travel system etc. etc. ) at the NCT sale in October, so I only need store things until then (she'll be out of the 6-9 month set by then as well!).

The only thing I am thinking of selling on ebay, and I haven't quite decided about this, is the set of Monsoon clothes I was given for Amelia by one of the mothers in my NCT group. The temptation is that Monsoon clothes sell at a premium on ebay, especially since they are still this season's line! I could sell them at the sale in October, but they are summer outfits. It feels a bit bad selling something I was given, but I know of no younger girl babies I can pass them onto in turn. I could always sell them now and then donate a percentage to the NCT, of course. If you remember, I calculated that I was given about £75 worth of clothes.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

New Song, Same Heat

Ooooh, it's been hot again today. I've been doing my best to make sure that Amelia has had enough to drink today. But, she's not been comfortable.

I suddenly found myself singing a new song to Amelia today (I think the heat was getting to me too) - to the tune of the chorus of "Little Brown Jug"

Ha, ha, ha, hee hee hee,
You are not my Barnaby
Hee hee hee, ha, ha, ha,
You're my sweet Amelia!

And so I made up a version for Barnaby too.:

Hee hee hee, ha, ha, ha,
You are not Amelia!
Ha, ha, ha, hee hee hee,
You're my lovely Barnaby!

Here's the link to a midi file with the tune

Actually, although I knew the chorus and the melody, I hadn't realised that the original song was about alcoholism.

Sheep bought a fan on the way home and this evening I gave Amelia a really long bath, which she loved. (I don't blame her, I'd have loved a cool bath myself in this heat) Then, I placed her in her cot (did I mention we've got Barnaby's cotbed fully assembled and she's been in it for two or three nights now) in just a nappy with the fan turned on her.

Oooh - Amelia had some new food today - pureed apple and pear. She seemed to really like it. Now she has eaten baby rice, banana, avocado, carrot and now apple and pear. Also, this evening for dinner I fed her her first 'bought' baby food - a pot of organic banana porridge by Hipp. She ate most of that this evening. She's really getting the hang of this eating/drinking malarkey.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Happy 1/2 Year Birthday

So, Amelia is 6 months old today - both by the calendar and 26 weeks. So, Happy Birthday Amelia. 6 months means that we can start introducing more things into her diet - wheat, for example. She can now have porridge instead of just baby rice.

Today has been a hot day again. Too hot for Amelia, certainly. This afternoon, once she got off to sleep, at about 12:30, she slept until after 3:00. Then, this evening, she really struggled to sleep (usually she's off like clockwork at 7:00; you can almost set your watch by her). Tonight it was 9:00 until she slept: when it had become a little cooler. I kept bathing her with a cool flannel, but it was no good.

Claire and Julian have promised to lend us a fan for Amelia, because of the current heat wave, but perhaps we'll just go and buy one tomorrow.

Also, last night, she kept straining to poo: it was heart-rending. She keeps pushing out these tiny 'pellets' of poo. Poor girl. Today, I've been giving her lots of cooled, boiled water (to try to help ease her bowel movements) and today was the first day that she truly got the hang of her 'sippy cup' (a Tommee Tippee First Cup). I suppose she has also been thirsty enough today, so she's had a real incentive to get to grips with it! In fact, I must say she's getting really good at both drinking and eating.

I had thought about baking some fairy cakes (for us and for Barnaby) to celebrate Amelia being 6 months old, but it's just been too hot to bake!

So - half a year. Does this mean I've reached the half-way point of this blog too? I suspect so, after all, I can't keep this up forever! I think that I'll stop when I get to her first birthday.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hot, Hot, Hot Monday

One of the few things I didn't really have time to write about over the weekend was that we went to a garden party in New Bradwell on Saturday. It was actually delightful. The house was an old (circa 1870), detached house with a large garden all around. The garden was nice and shady, the food exceedingly good and there was a live jazz band. The couple, whose house it was, were from Meeting and had invited us the previous week at meeting. It turns out, that this is an annual event for them. We also found out that the husband (who we only know through meeting) is actually the Chief Executive of Milton Keynes Council - hence the nice house and garden! He also played in the jazz band.

We were joined by some other people we knew from meeting along with their babies. Since there was a toddler-sized table and toddler-sized chairs available, we arranged the three of them around the table, under a marquee, in order to have their tea (at about 5:30). I wish I'd managed to take a photo of that; they all looked very sweet together.

Sunday, as I mentioned, was the committee meeting to discuss the proposed naming ceremony (first thing that was decided was that we mustn't use the word 'ceremony' at it is anti-Quaker) for Barnaby and Amelia. A couple from meeting had offered to look after Barnaby and Amelia whilst we met with the committee. We'd packed some toys for Barnaby and an enourmous picnic for him on the principle that one or the other would suitably divert him. So, Amelia fell asleep in the arms of one of them while Barnaby played and grazed on the picnic. After our meeting with the committee had finished (which went very sucessfully, I must say) Sheep and I settled down to eat the remains of the picnic and had decided that we might as well simply stay in the garden outside the meeting house, rather than decamp to elsewhere. It was after this that we went for our walk in Linford Wood. At one stage, we stopped in the middle of the wood and put down our picnic rug. Amelia was asleep in the pram and Sheep, Barnaby and I lay on the rug looking up at the sky through the leaves of the tree. Barnaby started to describe, with hand gestures, how he intended to eat the leaves, eat the sky, eat the trees, eat the clouds, eat the grass etc. etc. (It would have been a wonderfully idyllic moment except that it was immediately followed by Barnaby pooing in his pants.)

Today has been hot and so we've not been doing much. I've been starting to try to get Amelia to drink cooled, boiled water as I am worried about her dehydrating in this heat. Also, over the weekend, she had such problems with her poos - she was straining, going purple in her face and then producing very little. Again, I wondered whether this might be down to dehydration (her hard stools, I mean). On the one hand, it was tempting to laugh: she seemed so comical, but on the other hand, we felt so awful about it all as she was cleary discomforted and somewhat distressed and obviously didn't understand what had suddenly changed. Hence my determination to get her to drink more water at the moment.

Finally, talking of hands - both Sheep and I both happened to mention today that we have a suspicion that Amelia might be left-handed (certainly, while I am feeding her, she will grab the spoon or hold another spoon with her left hand). We discussed how interesting it would be if Amelia were the one who ended up being dyslexic (it's Barnaby we've always worried about as boys are much more likely to inherit dyslexia from their parents than girls: 75% v 25% I recall) as dyslexia and left-handedness seem to go together: Sheep is left-handed.

Sheep reminds me that I must include a post about "Barnaby's House" this is his fictional house that he has started telling us stories about over the last four weeks or so. It is remarkably consistent. It is some distance away from here (possibly in a wood), it is blue in colour with five chimneys (or chimlies, as Barnaby calls them). Inside live his pet dog and cat called "Billy" and "Swimming Pond" respectively. It is apparently full of spiderman clothes (well socks at least). All of this is remarkably consistent. I believe there is a blue open-topped (convertable) car at his house which is possibly also called Billy. The car has blue wheels and a blue stearing wheel. There may also be a 'fat car' (SUV/4x4/Chelsea Tractor) at the house and possibly a true tractor which might also be blue. Some items come and go, for example, a giraffe, also called Billy lived there at one point. The fridges are, by repute, extensively stocked with choclate. More about his house as we hear it.

Possibly this is also a good point to repeat Barnaby's story about going with Sheep to the train station where he and Sheep got on a train which then went straight up and went to the moon. Possibly called 'moon train' - steam naturally as an electric train won't reach the moon.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Photo of a Combi Dash DX for my Father

And, yes, we drove to meeting with the pushchair in our car today and after meeting and our picnic outside the meeting house we drove to Linford Wood and its wheels were up to walking in the wood (we thought it would be cool in the wood as it was so hot today).

Minutes from Meeting

I am too tired to post properly tonight; suffice to say our meeting about the godparents/naming ceremony (mustn't use the word ceremony!) went well and Barnaby and Amelia we looked after in our absence (we provided a picnic). Here is the /report minute (We are possibly looking at 15th or 22nd October):

Supporting Friends

Further to minute 5 of Preparative Meeting of 7th May 2006, we have met with Ruth and Sheep Dalton as requested to look at the possibility of holding a Meeting for Worship in which Barnaby and Amelia are formally welcomed into Meeting and to witness our ongoing commitment, as individuals and as a Meeting, to their nurture.

Six of Ruth and Sheep's friends are willing to act as 'Supporting Friends' to Barnaby and Amelia.

We envisage a Meeting for Worship for Witness to be held separately after Meeting for Worship one Sunday. This Meeting will be introduced by a member of our PM and may include a reading from Quaker Faith and Practice; it will offer the supporting friends an opportunity to make an explicit statement of their commitment should they wish to do so. Following this, the Meeting would continue in the usual way, with ministry if appropriate.

We hope the Meeting for Worship for Witness may take place during October. Ruth Dalton will investigate possible dates which would be convenient for all parties and report back to us. We intend to meet again in September to finalise arrangements.

MC will circulate this minute to elders for information and will send a copy to the clerk for the next PM.

15th July 2006

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Eventful Day

We decided to walk up to the Centre this morning, primarily with the intention of returning Barnaby's "Bob the Builder" video to the library and buying some food for our 'picnic' at the meeting house tomorrow (more on that later). It was also an opportunity to try out Amelia's new pram. Our conclusion - a great success. The wheels are definitely larger than Barnaby's Maclaren (he insisted on being pushed in his pushchair after being most put out that he didn't have a new pushchair himself. We tried pointing out to him that his pushchair was new for him when he was exactly Amelia's age, but to no avail!). It seems narrower than Barnaby's as well, which is great for getting around shops. The reclining mechanism works well; Amelia slept on the way back. All in all, very good. We're really pleased with it.

Ooops - Amelia is crying. I must go upstairs and tend to her. I will complete this tomorrow!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Other stuff today

Apart from preparing for the meeting on Sunday (see first post for today), this is what else has been going on today.

Amelia had a bit of a disturbed night. Then Barnaby work at 6:00, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Consequently, we both felt exhausted today and I don't feel like I've done much today.

Amelia had her first quasi-solid poo today, after eating (and enjoying) avocado yesterday. I think she was rather surprised that she was having to strain. But at least her digestive system seems to be functioning as it should!

Our new Combi Dash DX arrived this evening (at about 5:30). We are both seriously impressed with it. It is brand new, fits in our car (shock!!!), is far more comfortable than either our light-weight Maclaren or our large American travelsystem (both of which can be retired now) and has lots of nifty features and accessories. Looks like we don't need to buy the Mothercare Impro at all. We're very pleased with it. It comes in a 'tasteful' brown colour (!) called 'cappucino'.

Preparation for the Naming Ceremony

This is what I have been writing tonight in preparation for our meeting with the committee on Sunday. It is still work in progress.


Is the main function naming or welcoming or both?
Is it to make a parental or godparental commitment or both?
Is it to give thanks for the gift of our children?

Possible terms:

Godparents, Lay-parents, Special Friends, Mentors, Sponsors, Supporting Adults, Guardians, Friend-parents, Guides, Advisors, Supporters, Alternative Parents

Anglican - godparents
Druid - godfather/goddess mother
Humanist - supporting adults
Methodist - sponsors
Pagan - guardians
Roman Catholic - godparents or Christian witnesses (if not RC)
Unitarian - godparents

Do we choose which term we prefer or let each godparent choose the term that they feel most reflects their perceived role?

What is the promise/commitment of the godparents?

Anglican - faith commitments only.
Druid - act of welcoming.
Humanist - to be supportive friends to the parents/to be interested in the child’s development/to offer friendship and sanctuary.
Methodist - faith commitments only.
Unitarian - to nurture the child’s fullest potential.

What is the promise/commitment of the parents?

Anglican - to be trustworthy, patient, understanding and steadfast in our love.
Druid - safekeeping.
Humanist - to clothe, feed and shelter the child/to love and cherish their uniqueness/to help them learn self-discipline, self reliance and to reach their potential.
Methodist - to provide a (Christian) home of love and faithfulness.
Unitarian - to nurture the child’s fullest potential.

In the book, “A Practical Guide to Alternative Baptism and Baby-Naming” by Kate Gordon, we particularly liked the Humanist list of commitments, pages 37-40. However, I do feel that they are lengthy. What we liked about the Quaker wedding MfW was that the promises made to each other were distilled into the quintessential promises necessary for marriage, namely to be loving and faithful. What should the equivalent promises of parents/godparents be?

What is the promise/commitment of the meeting?

What form of the Meeting for Worship take?

How can we/should we strike a balance between spontaneous and structured?

We imagine it being rather like a Quaker wedding, where, in the place of the promises made by the Friends to each other, the godparents (and possibly parents) make their promises to Barnaby and Amelia. This could be followed by sufficient time for other ministries/contributions from the rest of the meeting. It might even be good to record the promises made on a Quaker-marriage-like certificate, which could then be signed by the godparents and witnessed by those present. Barnaby and Amelia would be able to have these to keep when they became older.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

More Songs & Update on Naming Ceremony

I made a post a long time ago about a song I sing to Amelia which is set to the melody that her musical lamb plays. I play it to her when I am changing her nappy and since I didn't know the original German lullaby I made up my own words to the tune. This is what I sing

You are my Melia.
You are my one little girl,
You are the centre of my world.

I had a student visiting today, for a tutorial, and I asked her to listen and tell me what was the original melody. I have now solved the puzzle. Below is the German lullaby (excuse absence of umlauts, Blogger doesn't appear to support them!).

Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf.
Der Vater huet't die Schaf.
Die Mutter schuettelt's Baeumelein,
Da faellt herab ein Traeumelein.
Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf!

Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf.
Am Himmel ziehn die Schaf.
Die Sternlein sind die Laemmerlein,
Der Mond, der ist das Schaeferlein.
Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf!

Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf.
So schenk' ich dir ein Schaf.
Mit einer goldnen Schelle fein,
Das soll dein Spielgeselle sein.
Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf.

And an English tranlation

Sleep, baby, sleep.
Your father tends the sheep.
Your mother shakes the branches small,
Lovely dreams in showers fall.
Sleep, baby, sleep.

Sleep, baby, sleep.
Across the heavens move the sheep.
The little stars are lambs, I guess,
And the moon is the shepherdess.
Sleep, baby, sleep.

Sleep, baby, sleep.
I'll give to you a sheep.
And it shall have a bell of gold
For you to play with and to hold.
Sleep, baby, sleep.

On another topic, I am busy reading a book all about batism and naming ceremonies: "A practical guide to Alternative Baptism and Baby-Naming" by Kate Gordon. On Sunday Sheep and I are meeting with the appointed committee at the Quaker meeting, in order to consider the proposed meeting for worship to welcome Amelia and Barnaby. As far as I understand, and this hasn't been explicitly clarified, it's a sort of 'meeting for clearness': a meeting, amongst Friends, to determine the clear intentions of those involved (usually referring to marriage) or more generally in respect to the meeting becoming clear about the way to proceed with any project that the meeting is considering. I am making sure that I am doing my homework prior to Sunday.

Induction and Colic/Sleeping Problems

Last week I went to the mother and baby group at the Baptist Church and started talking to a woman who had had the same midwife as Amelia and I (Valerie). Amongst other coincidences that emerged, the following facts were established. We both had an older sibling who had been induced and had subsequently developed colic and sleeping problems. This was followed by a second child who wasn't induced and didn't develop colic and sleeps wonderfully. The similarities were extremely strong. Today, I went along to the same group and was talking about this to another mother and guess what? Her 3 1/2 year old was induced (two weeks late), had extremely bad colic and is only now beginning to overcome her sleeping problems (ditto for Barnaby). Her younger child (a little over 1, I think) was not induced, didn't have colic and sleeps beautifully. Even now she is much more likely to be disturbed in the night from her older child than for her younger one. Ditto for us. So, this is my question: is there something to do with the process of induction that either causes colic or makes a baby more predisposed towards it? Is it simply that the child is being born before it's ready (regardless of whether it is perceived as being 'late' by the medical community) or could it be connected with the drugs that are administed to the mother in order to precipitate the birth? Certainly colic has always been around and induction is a more recent medical intervention. Have rates of colic increased in line with rates of induction? In our small sample of just three mothers, it was our first children who were induced. Can I find examples of second children being induced and first children being born without induction, who exhibit these patterns of colic and associated sleep problems?

I have looked on the internet and done a quick medical paper search, but there appears to be no research conducted on this topic.

I am very interested in this, as it would be nice to partially explain Barnaby's sleep problems. Certainly, we've not done everything 'right', but had he not have had colic, I suspect his sleep problems would not have been as severe or as prolonged. And, after all, we're doing broadly the same things with Amelia and she sleeps wonderfully, apart from the fact that she associates my presence with falling asleep (and it is hard to avoid that with a breastfed baby). Mostly, she now sleep from 7:00pm - 6:00/7:00am with one feed in between some time between midnight and one. I recently found a 'sleep log' for Barnaby aged 10 months that showed that he was still waking four or five times during the night!

If I were a medical researcher, I would proposed looking into this connection.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Letter to Nursery about Amelia's Place

Here is the letter I just wrote.

Dear xxxxx,

As we have discussed in person, I would like Amelia to start at the Acorn nursery at the beginning of September (for example, the week beginning the 4th September). However, my preference would be for her to start part time (two days per week) and then to rapidly build up her attendance to a full time place around Christmas time. For example, one such scenario could be:

* Beginning of September until mid October: 2 days per week.
* Mid October until end of November: 3 days per week.
* End of November until Christmas: 4 days per week.
* From the New Year: 5 days per week.

This is clearly just a 'serving suggestion' on my behalf and I am, of course, willing to fit in with and accept whatever you are able to offer me. The above simply states what would best suit me.

In terms of days, I am completely flexible with one exception. I must be available go into London on Mondays, so from the beginning of September I shall require a Monday session for Amelia. (Ideally, I would like to start with a Monday and a Friday place, however it is only the Monday that is vitally important.)

Given that the beginning of September is only seven weeks away, when would you like to begin introducing her into the baby room? I think that it would be good to chat with the baby room staff at some point, about schedules etc. so that I can begin to try and coordinate Amelia's food and nap routine with theirs.

Thank you,
Ruth Conroy Dalton

90 Minutes of Cot Assembly...

...and still not finished! We're still trying to get Amelia moved into Barnaby's old cotbed, transformed back into a cot again. However, the transformation isn't going so well. Sheep and I spent 90 minutes disassembling and assembling tonight (that's three man hours between us) and we're still only half way there! Eventually, we gave up; we'll continue tomorrow. Still, I remember that when Sheep and my father first assembled it for Barnaby (when he was 12 months old) they took at least a couple of hours doing it. Of course, what is a bit dispiriting is the fact that when we move the cot out of our room and into Amelia's room in two or three month's time, we'll have to disassemble and construct it once more and then, when we transform it to a cotbed for her...

On the subject of reusing Barnaby's things for Amelia, I am wondering whether I should buy another Stokke Tripp Trapp chair. Barnaby seems to have taken a sudden aversion to his one; luckily I've not yet ordered Amelia's Tripp Trapp chair. I'll wait another week and if Barnaby still insists on using a 'grown up' chair in preference to his one, I will ask him about whether we can give it to Amelia instead. (I would like to buy a cushion for her though, as she is still quite little).

I didn't blog yesterday as I was so tired after a five hour tutorial! (1:45-6:45!). I know that I am meant to be working 2.5 days a week at the moment (just since Monday), but I'm already finding it hard. I felt so sorry for Amelia yesterday: she was being seriously sidelined when my student was here. At one point, I was operating my laptop with my left hand (looking through the student's data on Excel) and trying to feed Amelia banana with my right hand and praying that I didn't confuse the two; getting banana over the keyboard! I am already wondering if it wouldn't be fairer for Amelia to be at nursery, rather than her being at home and ignored by me while I work.

Ooops! I just remembered that I promised the Acorn nursery manager a letter tomorrow stating what nursery days we want for Amelia and how many. I must do that now.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Oh No. You've Pooed on Bob!

Today started with Barnaby and Sheep departing to go to the zoo; sheep was accompanying Barnaby on his nursery's annual summer trip to Whipsnade zoo. Then Leif departed, just as Amelia and I also left in order to go to the funeral of the Friend from the Quaker meeting who died recently. One Friend asked if it was Amelia's first funeral, which it was. Actually, as funerals go, it was quite nice. Amelia was quite happy during the burial, at the Green Burial Ground at Olney (biodegradeable coffin, shallow grave with tree to be planted on top), even though I thought it was a little windswept for her. Nice view though and lots of sheep (of the woolly variety) around. I could quite fancy it as a final destination for myself. However, Amelia became more and more disgruntled during the meeting for worship that took place at the meeting house afterwards; I'd changed her nappy just before the meeting and also given her a feed, so I thought she'd be quite content, but no, far from it. After 40 minutes (out of 60) I took her out as she was being too disruptive. When I got her home, I realised she'd soiled her nappy (I'd had a quick peek, but hadn't noticed anything). Silly Mummy!

We had not been back at the house for long when Sheep called to say that he and Barnaby were also on their way back from the zoo. I have to report that Barnaby had a wonderful time and Sheep a pretty dreadful one. Even though Barnaby was there with his 'classmates', he stuck to Sheep like a limpet, wanting to be carried and refusing to go to the toilet when they went en masse (resulting in an 'accident' later, of course). I suspect Sheep wont volunteer to go along as a parent helper again (actually, I effectively volunteered him, so I feel rather bad now).

The other thing I did in the afternoon, between coming back from the funeral and collecting Sheep and Barnaby from nursery was to sucessfully bid on a Combi Dash DX pushchair on ebay. It was brand new, all accessories included, for £67.00 instead of the RRP of £159.99. So, I'm feeling quite pleased and excited about that. About the only nice thing that's happened today; the rest of the day has been a little sad and emotional.

Finally, this evening, just before dinner, Barnaby suddenly annouces that he's done a poo in his pants. Sure enough, he had! Now, in our quest to stop him having so many 'wet accidents' at nursery we'd bought him some new 'Bob the Builder' pants, with the accompanying instructions, "No weeing on Bob!" - Well, we thought it was worth a try. So we were surprised to find that he'd pooed on his new 'Bob' pants, and so we said to him, "Oh poor Bob, you've pooed on him. You've pooed on Bob!" I don't know if it will deter him, but anything's worth a try (we also have a new sticker chart for him).

Finally, today is the official end (or was that yesterday) of my maternity leave. Now I am back three days a week. What a shame. All good things must come to an end though. Effectively I am now working 2.5 days per week, until September, from home.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

First Night Out

Since Leif was visiting he offered to baby sit tonight, so Sheep and I went out to see a film together. We even managed to leave the house at 7:45, with both children safely abed! Our choices were limited, as we were trying to find a film that started around 8:00 and didn't run too late (so many films seem to be almost 3 hours long these days!), however we eventually saw the latest X-men film. It was just nice to be out with Sheep on our own. Contrary to my jittery nerves, neither Barnaby or Amelia stirred until we were home (instead, they both erupted about 20 minutes after we came through the door). It was lovely though and very nice of Leif to offer.

I think a fun day was had by all, but especially Barnaby who was thrilled to see Leif again. I took Amelia to meeting on her own to day; Barnaby stayed to play with Leif and Sheep (although this was more by accident than design as our car wasn't charged sufficiently, so I hitched a lift from our friends in Shenley Lodge). Still no new food for Amelia today. More baby rice, I'm afraid. Not even banana.

I don't think Amelia will do well on the food front tomorrow, either, as she and I are going to a funeral, so for convenience sake, I suspect I'll just breastfeed her. Sheep and Barnaby are off to the zoo (Whipsnade), taking part in an organised nursery excursion.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Visit of Leif

Leif, Barnaby's former nanny has just arrived for a visit, which is great. So, I probably won't blog for long. Today was pretty much like last Saturday; we went to Story Time at the Central Library followed by some lunch in the centre (we got the bus there and walked back). Amelia had pureed carrot and banana for dinner (one after the other, not mixed together). When our new organic fruit and vegetable box arrives on Tuesday, I'm aiming to cook and puree a whole batch, freezing them into ice-cubes.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Another Bump for Barnaby

Barnaby now sports an almost-matching bump on his left temple (walking/crawling into a table), yesterday's was on his right temple. They asked me at nursery if he is usually clumsy. Good question, compared to what? How many three and a half year olds am I well acquainted with? Certainly he walks into more things than Sheep and I do. And more than Amelia, come to think of it.

Amelia and I had a quiet day, with a visitor this afternoon: Julienne, neighbour and colleague (professor) from UCL. That was very pleasant and made a nice end to the afternoon.

This evening I tried Amelia with organic pureed carrot (I'd texted Sheep in London with instructions to bring home an organic carrot - he brought home two). I don't know if it was that she didn't take to the carrot or she was tired, but she didn't really have any. I rapidly gave up and took her upstairs for a feed (once I'd got her ready for bed).

Amelia is upstairs beginning to moan in a grizzly sort of way. I think my presence is required.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Concussion Watch

This evening was meant to be the parents evening at Barnaby's nursery. Instead we were observing him for signs of concussion. He was walking backwards in the playground (backwards???) and walked into another child on a trycycle. When I went into collect him, it had only happened 10 minutes earlier and everyone was nervously sitting round watching him for signs of concussion. We cancelled the parent evening and took him home to do the same thing. The lump is on the side of his temple and it looks quite horrendous. Not only lumpy but lots of mottled burst red blood cells. Anyway, no signs of concussion and Sheep, who's just gone upstairs said he is still breathing! However, nursery were so concerned that the manager rang this evening to see how he was.

Amelia has had a less traumatic day. No new food today, more baby rice and banana. I've joined an organic vegetable box scheme (first delivery on Tuesday) so that I can start giving her some yummy pureed organic vegetables. I remember Barnaby lived on banana and avocado, both great first foods and so easily mashable; you can just crack open a banana or avocado, scoop some out, mash it with your fork and your're away! What did people do before bananas and avocados, I found myself wondering.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

More Food and a Sponsored Toddle.

Barnaby did a half mile sponsored 'toddle' today, in aid of Barnardo's. He managed to stay the distance and raised £40 for the charity. We tried Amelia with baby rice and breast milk for lunch, she still seemed pretty happy with it, and then went on to sleep for two whole hours. Wow. I could hardly believe it. Usually, I'm lucky to get 20 minutes out of her.

Still, I'm dreading her first post-solids poo. Breastfed poos are so innocuous. They smell like slightly sweet, rancid yoghurt (which, effectively, is what they are). Now that she's started on solids, we on to the serious stuff.

While she slept, I decorated Barnaby's bedroom with some large transport-motiff wallpaper 'cutouts' - pre-glued decorative wall stickers. I've placed them in a border and they look really good. This is to make his big bed more friendly. He was quite thrilled when he came home tonight.

Amelia and I went off the to NCT coffee group this afternoon. She sat up so stably (only a couple of topples) whilst playing with one of the toys there. She is developing so fast at the moment, it seems that if I blink I might miss something.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Day of Firsts: First Food, First Day in a Big Bed

Today was the day that Amelia had her first food. Powdered organic baby rice mixed with breast milk. Time: about 11:45. Verdict: thumbs up. She had about a rounded tablespoon full. Since there was a little milk left, she had another couple of teaspoonfulls. Then, this evening, while I was preparing dinner, I sat her in her Bumbo chair and she looked to expectant that I went against all advice (only introduce one new food a day, only introduce new foods at lunch time, only start with solid food at lunch time, etc. etc.) and thought, b****r it and mashed up about an inch of ripe banana. So, we all had dinner together tonight. The banana seemed to go down very well indeed. She actually got the hang of it pretty rapidly; I think she's been taking notes!

Although I'm thrilled it all went well today and the greater part of me almost can't wait to try her with all the new foods out there, just waiting for her. And it is really exciting. But, another, smaller, part of me also feels a little sad. Today marks the end of her total dependency upon me. Until now, I've been the sole source of her nutrition. From here onwards she'll gradually become more and more independant and consequently need me less and less. Sigh. Of course, I am sure that no mother would have it be any different. But I still find it a bit poignant, nonetheless.

First mouthful
Oooh, I'm not too sure about this!
No. Still not too sure
Bleah. What's this?
OK. Getting the hang of this now...
More please!
Actually. I think I rather like this eating business

It was also Barnaby's first sleep in a big, full-size adult bed. Sheep and I changed all of his room around this morning and he seemed quite impressed with the results when he came home. Particularly with the new duvet cover with jungle animals on it. We haven't yet managed to convert Barnaby's cotbed back into a cot again, perhaps Sheep and I will tackle it tomorrow. We need to find the instructions!

Finally, here are another couple of images I downloaded off my phone. Not from today.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Amelia Weigh-in: Count Down to Solids

It's been another scorcer and I've been hard-pushed to keep Amelia cool. She's been having problems sleeping and then when she does, sleeps for a long time because of the heat. Today was really a big house-work day; I got six loads of laundry done (not all the dirty laundry, I might add, there's another couple of loads ready to go!) as the washing was drying in about half an hour. I even washed the single duvet which is due to become Barnaby's new duvet tomorrow!

I took Amelia to the clinic to get her weighed. We scraped in right at the end of the day (4:00) as she had been sleeping earlier. She is now 14 lbs and 8.5 ounces (6.84 Kg) and still on the 25th percentile. I mentioned that I intended to start her on solids tomorrow, at 24 weeks and this time not a murmer of dissent. So, tomorrow is S-Day! We'll endeavor to get some photos of the event.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

First Case of Sibling-inflicted Injury

Today has been hot again. On the radio this morning they declared an official heat-wave and instructed the vulnerable: the elderly, the young or otherwise infirm, to keep out of the worst of the heat today. Consequently we took Barnaby to the playground at 8:30 this morning so that he could run around and expend some energy before it became too hot. I must say the temperature was lovely at such an early time. This heat is due to continue for another three or so days. After the playground, we went off to meeting. This morning was especially sad as a member of the meeting, whom we knew, died last night. Luckily I was in the children's group as usual with Barnaby and Amelia, otherwise I would have found the ministries quite distressing, I think; I still don't cope well with death.

After meeting Sheep and I were too worn out with the heat to come home and cook lunch, so we decided to go to Bella Italia, our usual Italian restaurant haunt. (Lunch out two days on the trot: how extravagent) We invited the couple we know, who have recently started attending meeting: the wife who runs my NCT coffee group, my book club and whose son, Michael, is at nursery with Barnaby (so many overlapping spheres!) to join us, which they did. This made an extremely pleasant change to our usual routine.

Ah, yes - the first case of sibling-inflicted injury. At the end of the meal, Barnaby suddenly grabs Amelia's upper arm in a fierce pinch, leaving it both red and with the deep imprint of one of his nails. This was so strong a pinch that the mark is still there this evening. What was so strange about this, was that Amelia made no noise about it; I was expecting her to bawl (and given the resultant mark, I think it was well within her rights to howl with indignation), but she was quite stoic about it. The other strange aspect to this event was that it seemed to have been prompted by nothing at all. When asked why he did it, Barnaby replied that it was because she hadn't opened her mouth (I think he wanted to look at her new tooth). There were precursors to this action in meeting; during the first fifteen minutes Barnaby was not terribly nice or gentle with Amelia: to such an extent that Sheep took him out a few mintures early to admonish him. After the lunchtime mauling, I was outraged on Amelia's behalf and Barnaby was suitably reprimanded and made to appologise. It is very strange though, because other than that, Barnaby has been quite delightful and loving over the weekened. Everyone has an off day, I suppose.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

First Tooth

It's official. Amelia has her first tooth. Way to go, Milla! Yesterday it was just below the surface, today there is no doubt about it. It's here. Barnaby's first tooth arrived on 11th July when he was exactly 6 months old. Amelia is 5 months and 13 days old, excluding the end date, today. Of course, she was born late and Barnaby early, so that means nothing really. Still. Teeth! We are definately going to start her on solids next week, after I've had her weighed at the doctor's practice on Monday. On Tuesday (the day I'll probably try it) she'll be 24 weeks, so just 2 weeks shy of 26 weeks (6 months) anyway. I think we began Barnaby on solids sometime around the week beginning 8 July, as his first tooth appeared on 11th. So, they are broadly in synch.

We caught the bus up to the centre this morning and took Barnaby and Amelia to story time at the library. Today was also significant as we decided that it was about time that Barnaby had his own library card instead of using ours! While we were at it, we thought that we might as well get one for Amelia too. Barnaby took out 6 books on his card (4 of them Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends) and we chose one book for Amelia to take out with her card.

After a good lunch at Wagamamas (and Barnaby ate very well), we sloped next door to Costa Coffee for a coffee as both Barnaby and Amelia were nearly asleep. This morning, Sheep's new phone arrived and he's been playing with it and it's camera. Here are some pictures of Sheep with Barnaby asleep next to him and me with Amelia asleep on me!

Before going home we went to look at some possible new prams for Amelia (and tried her in some). I'd really like one that would fit in our car, reclines for Amelia's comfort yet is robust enough to be pushed the two miles to the centre. I selected models that I liked and was considering and entered their width, depth, length, weight and cost into a spreadsheet. I then performed a weighted ranking on their volume, weight and cost, added these factors together to get a final ranked list. These are the results (low value is good, high less good, scale 0-1):

Pushchair V|C|W
Mothercare Impro Stroller 0.01
Maclaren Volo Stroller 0.09
Combi Dash DX Stroller 0.09
Quinny Zapp 3-wheeler 0.31
Micralite Stroller 0.42
Bebe Confort Loola 0.47
Bugaboo Cameleon 0.81
Stokke Xplory 0.98

The Maclaren Volo is our current lightweight stroller which I put in for comparison; it scores well as it is both light and cheap. However, it's too long for our car and doesn't recline. The Mothercare Impro Stroller is impressively small (56cm x 28cm x 27cm) and is the only one that we are unequivocally sure will fit in our car. The only snags are that it has no raincover, doesn't fit any standard raincovers, doesn't recline and has small wheels (not exactly and all-terrain vehicle!). However, were still suitably impressed that we may get one anyway just to keep in the car (it also fits into overhead lockers on airplanes). The Combi Dash is also tempting. There are two versions of it: the Dash (lighter, cheaper, reclines to just 140 degrees) and the Combi Dash DX which is the full version (i.e. more expensive) with knobs and bells on it. The Dash DX reclines to 180 degrees, i.e. lies flat - great for sleeping babies. Given that we are probably going to get an Impro anyway, even though I suspect it will not be too comfortable for long periods of time, I'd think I'd like to get another one that is high on comfort, but is still a lot smaller than our big American model. At 93cm x 34cm x 22cm there is still a chance that it might fit into our car as well. My temptation is to first buy a Combi Dash (but to DX or not DX that is the question? The DX is more than three times the cost of the non-DX) and if it fits in the car, all well and good and if it doesn't, get a Mothercare Impro as an additional one that will fit in the car. The real question is, should we just stick with the ones that we have and simply put up with the fact that none of our current two fit in our car and that when we get rid of the big American pram (a Graco Travelsystem, b.t.w.) in September/October we'll be left with the Volo which is light, easily foldable but none too comfortable.

Anyway, enough musings about prams. Time for bed. It is so hot today. I gave Amelia a nice cool bath before bedtime and damped down her hair and then lay her to sleep in just a nappy. Poor hot girl. As of a couple of weeks ago, I've taken to giving her a bath every other night and since we got back from holiday, started reading a book to her before bed, to start to get her used to the bath/book/sleep routine. I hope it's cooler tomorrow.