Thursday, August 31, 2006

Final Nursery Visit & Locked Out

Tomorrow Amelia has her first full day at and effectively starts nursery. Eeek. Today was her fifth and final visit, from 11:00-2:00. It was another lunch and nap-time visit as it was this that had gone so badly last week. Once again, Sheep dropped her off, and he left her after checking that she seemed happy and settled. He dropped in on Barnaby to say hello, went back to the baby room to find Amelia still happy and playing and so came home. I collected her at 2:00 and she had had a good time, in that she had not been distressed and had not cried at all. However, she had not slept at all either (after 20 minutes of being in a cot, she was still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed so they let her out...) Incidentally, in order to try and get her to sleep they asked for something of mine that smelt of me. So I placed my unwashed (!) pajama top in her bag, which they laid in the cot with her, in the hope that it might calm her. She ate 10 spoonfulls of mashed sweet-potato but hardly drank any milk (formula) when offered to her. Needless to say, she was delighted to see me.

The rest of the afternoon was eventful to say the least. When I left for the nursery I was a little late and couldn't find my keys. Sheep suggested that I took his as his plans were to go to a coffee shop to work. However, he'd forgotten that we'd been having a problem with our Yale-lock latch and so it wouldn't automatically lock behind him. This meant, effectively, that he couldn't leave until I returned, as the house would be left unlocked. While waiting, he was obviously champing at the bit, and so got a screwdriver out and started to examine the latch to see if he could fix it: an entirely understandable response from an engineer! To give Sheep his due, he thought that he'd mended it. When I arrived back, in the car, from nursery, I was concerned that Amelia hadn't had her lunch time nap yet and thought that since I was in the car anyway, the easiest way to get her off to sleep was just to drive round a bit more, so when I discoved Sheep still at the house, waiting impatiently for me outside, I offered to give him a lift to the shopping centre. Amelia fell asleep beautifully and I returned home. However, as soon as I got to the front door, discovered that my Yale key would not open it. Not at all. In fact, the key just turned freely in the lock. Sheep's 'fixing' had rather backfired!

My dilemma was that my phone (which is on a fixed monthly contract) had reached the limit of its credit and as I have never had to 'top it up before' I had no idea how to go about doing so. But unless I did manage to top it up, I had no means of calling anyone, and, amongst other things, Amelia was going to need a nappy change before long (I didn't have her nappy bag with me as I'd only been collecting her from nursery). It took me 20 minutes to figure out how to top up my phone. Obviously the next problem was to get hold of a locksmith. Here the power of local social networks comes into play. It was no use asking Sheep as he was sitting in a coffee shop, and so hadn't really any access to that sort of information. On my phone I had the number of someone from my NCT group, who I was pretty sure would be home as she's due to give birth tomorrow. Luckily she was at home, and she looked through the yellow pages, and gave me the numbers of three local locksmiths. I called one and they said that they would be with me within an hour (this was about 3:50 pm). The next problem was Amelia's nappy. I called another NCT member who lives in Loughton and who has a son Amelia's age (and a daughter Barnaby's age, as it happens) and, effectively invited myself round for a nappy change! Since I'd asked the locksmith to call me when he was on his way, it seemed safe enough to go out. I actually had a nice time at her house, drinking tea and chatting, as well as doing a couple of nappy changes (Amelia's bowels rose to the occasion). I left her house at 5:00, thinking it was a little strange that the locksmith hadn't called. By this time, Sheep was heading home and as I arrived home I called the locksmith only to discover that they had already been and gone again; they had called the landline and not my mobile. Grrrr!!!! They promised, again, that they would send somebody, but that it could be another hour. This meant that there were going to be impending dinner-problems.

I left Sheep mounting guard outside the front door, prepared to pounce on any passing locksmith while I went to collect Barnaby from nursery. Luckily, I had some presence of mind while I was there, to pour out my troubles into their ears and beg some food for Amelia. They heated up some baby food in a dish, with a spoon and wrapped it all in silver foil so that it would stay hot until I got home. How wonderful is that? We all came home, to discover, joy of joys, the locksmith had arrived. I guess it was about 5:30 by this stage. I left Sheep with Amelia, the heated baby food and the locksmith and took Barnaby out in the car, again, to buy some hot dinner for us (chips and veggie nuggets, not great, but hey, it was hot food!). We returned just before six, the door was still shut fast, and so we went into the back garden to eat our dinner and I gave Amelia a breast-feed as well. Of all of us, Amelia was least put out by events.

By 6:30, the locksmith still had had no success. (He had this jointed-arm tool thingy that he was poking through the letter box in order to try to release the latch from the inside). After this didn't work he then went round all of the ground floor windows trying to break in. Again, no luck. So he then turned his attention to the upper windows. Sheep went next door to try to borrow the neighbour's ladder (in Sheep's absence, Barnaby needed a poo - and not having a potty or anything to hand, I was struggling with Amelia in one arm, whilst trying to manoeuvre Barnaby into a corner so that he could poo on a flower bed. I failed miserably, at which point we also had a pooey, sticky Barnaby to contend with...sigh). We called Claire and Julian and they came over with their ladder only to discover that our upper windows are equally impenetrable. (I felt really guilty for calling them!). Eventually, there was nothing for it but to drill out the whole lock. By this time it was approaching 7:00 (and I normally take Amelia up and start getting her ready for bed at 6:30). Shortly after 7:00 we were in. The door opened and I flew upstairs with Amelia to start to get her settled for bed (forget baths tonight!). Barnaby, equally didn't have a bath, but got into his pyjamas and sat on the stairs watching the locksmith fit the new lock. (Incidentally, the whole farce cost us £173!!!). Eventually, we got both Barnaby and Amelia off to sleep, but with all the excitement, it wasn't until 8:00 (Barnaby) and 8:30 (Amelia) when they eventually, reluctantly, drifted off.

What an evening! However, it shows the power of local, social networks - without them I wouldn't have been able to find a locksmith, get nappies, baby food or borrow a ladder. And, at least it's stopped me worrying about Amelia's first day tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Long Day. I'm So Tired

I was, and hence so was Amelia, in London today. I had four student tutorials and a brief meeting with a colleague. Amelia sat in my office and played, tried to crawl, nursed, tried to grab paper and pens and almost destroyed someone's bound thesis (it was a bad draft, so perhaps it doesn't matter). I hope Amelia didn't have too hard a time in London today. It wasn't very interesting for her, I'm sure. However, I've also not eaten today as I've been feeling nauseous all day (I had an omlette last night: perhaps it was that). And, this evening I went out to my book group and sat, shivering, watching everyone else drink wine and eat crisps. Well, I'm off to bed. I feel awful.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Nursery Visit #4 of 5

So, Sheep took Amelia, as I said earlier. It seems as though today was a better day for her (perhaps she's been picking up on my anxiety). When Sheep dropped her off, he sat there with her for a bit to reassure her, then played 'peek-a-boo' from behind the baby-gate to the room. When she seemed happy and content, he wandered off to say hello to Barnaby. He then popped back and she seemed fine, happily playing away with some toys. He then went off again, for a longer stretch this time, and had a cup of coffee at a nearby pub, returning afterwards the second time. Upon his return, she was having afternoon tea and was getting somewhat disgruntled in her seat (a sort of low 'high-chair': they all sit around a table for meals, like a baby board meeting), so Sheep suggested that they should try taking her out and he gave her a bit of a cuddle while she ate some more (sweet potato and banana, in sequence not in parallel). Then he left entirely and came home. We went to collect both Barnaby and Amelia at 5:00 (what an odd thing to do: collect them both). When I went in to get her, she had fallen asleep in in the arms of one of the nursery nurses and was sound asleep. I went off to begin to herd Barnaby (his usual reaction when he sees me is, "No Mummy! I don't want to come home yet") towards the door. Then Amelia woke up and was wreathed in smiles and became especially smiley (read manic grin) when she saw me. She seemed quite content, if truth be told. They mentioned that they had taken a photograph (with their digital camera) of her laughing earlier that afternoon, as they had thought that I would find it reassuring; I do. So, I am a little happier today, but sad, nonetheless. This was the longest time I've had away from her, and it's just the start isn't it? She'll start to drift away from me, little by little. She'll be getting boyfriends and leaving home before I know it.

Sitting All Alone

Sheep has taken Amelia for her visit to the nursery this afternoon: from 2:30-5:00. It is now 2:50 and they left about 45 minutes ago. I think that this is already the longest I've been away from her. Sheep thought that if he took her, I'd be less upset. It does feel strange, being on my own. I should be reading MSc theses (I have three tutorial lined-up for tomorrow, in London), but I'm finding it difficult to concentrate and the quiet is strange. When was the last time I was in the house on my own? Sometime last December, I think.

Today, while I was changing an exceedingly wet nappy, I started singing this song to Amelia, to the tune of the hymm, "Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy":

"Lamb of extreme dampness, Lamb who is moist!
You need a nappy change, of that there's no choice.
Be calm for your changing, and give me I beg,
your co-op-er-ation, and don't thrash your legs."


I'm trying to keep my spirits up.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Stony Stratford Fayre

It was Bank Holiday Monday today and we decided to take Barnaby and Amelia to the annual fair at Stony Stratford, about 3 miles away. We went last year and Barnaby had really enjoyed himself. Obviously this was Amelia's first visit.

Here we go Milly-moo,
Here we go Milly-may,
Here we go Milly-moo,
All on a bank holiday...
to the tune of Looby-Loo.

We set off for the fair after lunch. Today, I actually had some time, thanks to Sheep, to prepare lunch and I finally got around to cooking Amelia something fresh (apart from the fresh avocados and bananas that she's been eating, that is). I cooked her some organic lentil, shallot, carrot and yellow pepper mush. Well, I must say, she is really a discerning baby. She wolfed it up! She definitately far preferred yummy-mummy cooking to the bottled stuff I've been giving her. Hmmm. Of course, on the one hand I'm pleased and flattered, on the other I now feel more pressured to lovingly cook her home-made, gourmet meals from now on.

The fair was interesting. Last year Barnaby quite enjoyed the Punch and Judy and the merry-go-round. This year he was frightened by the puppetry (quite right too, it's unbelievably violent), and was bored on the carousel. He did try the bouncy-castle but was too scared by the older children. So what do you do when you're too old for the merry-go-round yet too young for bouncy castles: an enigma that has plagued mankind for decades. Amelia just looked around wide-eyed at everything.

Amelia is crying now (it's 11:00), Sheep has just gone upstairs to comfort her, but looks like I'm needed.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

August Bank Holiday Weekend

Yesterday we went to collect our new car. If our old car was "The Little Red Car", this one is certainly "The Big Blue". Of course, it's not all that big, but it seems enourmous to us! I had intended to go and collect it on my own, but Barnaby really wanted to come along as well, so I relented. We set off after lunch in a taxi and drove off in it at about 2:00. Barnaby often used to complain that his legs were getting squashed by Daddy in the old car, but in this one, there is so much room, they could have a party in the back! At the moment, Amelia is still in her old car seat, which is part of the American Graco travel system, but in the next few weeks, we'll have to upgrade her into a "Stage 1" or "Stage 1/2" car seat. I am looking for an isofix one (our new car has isofix tethers, little hooks buried deep into the seat, that secure a carseat far more firmly than a seatbelt can) and, ideally, one that reclines a little, so that if Amelia falls asleep, we can recline her seat, allowing her to doze more comfortably. The problem is that these are so expensive, so I want to make sure that I am buying the right one.

After we collected the car, we decided to go on a little jaunt, so that I could practice driving, so we went to Hanslope, the village where Nanny is looking to buy a house. We drove around a little and parked the car. Sheep took Barnaby to the village shop and gave him some money to buy a sweet. Barnaby selected something for him and then also bought something for Sheep and me (a curly wurly), saying, that's for you two to share. Arrrgh! What a lovely boy. We had a little wander around Hanslope. Sheep hadn't seen it before, he thought that it was very village-y and picturesque. I then went into Hanslope Wines (and independent wine shop), without Barnaby, I might add, and bought a bottle of Hanslope wine, which I am happily quaffing now.

Today, we went off to meeting, in The Big Blue, and had lunch in central MK. Apart from that it's been a quiet day for us all. Tomorrow is the August Bank Holiday and we're planning to attend the fair in Stony Stratford (Barnaby really enjoyed last year, with the Punch and Judy show).

It's 10:10. Amelia is crying, so I will go upstairs. I might just stay up there as well.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Catch Up

I've not blogged for a while. Partly things have been busy. Extremely busy. And I've been rather miserable because of Amelia's visits to nursery.

Tuesday Tuesday consisted mostly of more house-hunting with Nanny; Aunty Claire (my sister) came and joined in the fun as well. We went off to Hanslope, a village almost half-way between Milton Keynes and Northampton and saw four houses there, all in the centre of the village and all 'character cottages'. My mother decided that she really liked one of them, one she and I had seen together the previous day, so it was our second visit. After we'd viewed all of the houses and had a walk around the village pushing Amelia in her pushchair, we decided to go home. However, I vascillated about whether I should give Amelia a feed or not. Nanny suggested that I fed her in the car, which was parked next to the church and I replied that if I was going to stop and feed her, we might as well sit in the sunshine on a bench in the churchyard and enjoy the view of the magnificent church. Having fed Amelia, I decided to peer through the church doors (architecturally, it is rather splendid, see http://www.mkheritage.co.uk/hdhs/churchtour/frameset.html) when I was spotted... As it happens, there was a family 'activity day' taking place in the church: a sort of 'mother and toddler group' but with a few older children thrown into the mix. Because I had Amelia in my arms, whilst peering through the glass doors, I was mistaken as a prospective participant. When confronted, I confessed that I wasn't really there for the group, that I was just a nosy architect, and that we were visiting because my mother was thinking of moving to the village. At which point we were all invited in and plied with tea and cake! It turned out that the eagle-eyed lady was a parish councellor and, between quick dashes after one child or another, she filled us in on village life. The long and short of this tale was that not only was the tea and cake most welcome but that my mother put in an offer on one of the houses (the one we'd seen the day before) the very next day.

Wednesday My mother left for home on Wednesday morning, and, as I mentioned put an offer on one of the houses. It really is a lovely house. However, Wednesday, for me, was all about Amelia's second nursery visit. The idea was that we went over lunch time, from 11:00-2:00 so that she could have lunch with the other babies and sleep there. What can I say? All my worst fears were fulfilled. It was horrible. Amelia didn't eat and didn't sleep. She fushed, she whimpered, she moaned, she howled. Almost all of the time I was there with her, only making the occassional trip into Barnaby's room to see him, or pacing up and down outside the nursery for a bit. Not a good day at all.

Thursday Thursday was a bit better. In the morning, Sheep and I walked up to the centre, where, amongst other things, I bought some feeding bottles for nursery to use for Amelia's formula (the arrangement that they have is that you tell them what brand of formula you use and what bottle and they will then purchase the exact same that you use at home and keep it there for her exclusive use. Since we had none at home, I was looking to see what I could buy for home use and tell them to buy but in the end it seemed simpler for me to buy one for nursery as well, since I was buying one for home anyway...) and I bought a couple of pacifiers in case she would submit to using one when trying to sleep at nursery. I doubt it, but anything was surely better than the crying she did on Wednesday.

Friday Today was Amelia's third visit (they usually recommend five in total). It was from 2:00-4:30 today. It wasn't really much better. She didn't have much milk from her new bottle (a fraction of 1 fl oz, if that), condescended to eat 8 spoonfuls of carrot and 4 of banana at tea time and eventually had a 25 minute afternoon nap in one of the nursery assistant's arms. She also had two nappy changes, which I didn't do myself, but accompanied her, so that she didn't feel like she was being taken off to a strange place on her own. And guess what? She fidgeted, and howled and behaved as if a nappy change was the worst possible thing in the world. I was almost in tears a couple of times; they took pity on me and gave me a very strong cup of tea - the English answer to everything. I feel quite miserable and even though all of this happened six hours ago now, I still feel on the point of tears. Her next visit is on Tuesday now and she starts a week today.

The other news of the day is that I didn't collect our new car today as I'd told them that I would be available to collect it any time today before realising that that actually wasn't true (because of Amelia's nursery visit). So when I called them first thing this morning, it wasn't ready for me, so I'll just get it tomorrow. Also, the estate agents called my mother to say that another offer has been made on the house in Hanslope and that they are close to completion on their own house, so they are in a position to move much more quickly. So, she's probably lost the really nice one by the chuch. However, as she says, she has now decided upon the village, which, in some respects is the most important thing. And she has got her house on the market, so that if another house comes up that she likes, she will be in a position, hopefully, to move more quickly. I am so delighted about the prospect of her moving down. I think that it will be lovely for us all, but especially for Barnaby and Amelia to have their Nanny close by. I just wish I didn't feel so wretched about Amelia's nursery visits.

I'll mope off to bed now.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Amelia's Introduction to Nursery

This morning, at 10:00, Nanny and I took Amelia to nursery. She only spent an hour there and I was there with her all the time (filling in the million and one forms that need to be filled in). She seemed very interested in her new environment. The sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach hasn't started to subside yet and I suspect it will get worse before it starts to get better. However, today went alright. The real test is Wednesday when I take her and leave her for lunch and for her nap.

The rest of today was a busy day spent house hunting with Nanny. And students calling me in the evening with problems! Yawn. I'm off to bed as soon as Barnaby's clothes have finished washing and I can put them in the dryer (otherwise no pants for him in the morning). Amelia tried her first fromage frais today and seemed to like it very much.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Long, Tiring Sunday

Nanny (my mother) arrived before breakfast (7:45) and so we all sat down to breakfast together, which was nice. Equally, we all went to meeting together, which was just as well, as we were able to all fit into Nanny's car (since we do not have a car at the moment). After meeting, when we had all gone back in for notices, an Elder was demonstrating the meeting house's new sound system by playing a couple of pieces of music (by Korsakov and a piece by Charles Villiers Stanford). To give Amelia a break from sitting in my arms, I placed her sitting on the floor in front of me. Then Barnaby decided he wanted to join her and sat next to her, crosslegged. For a while they presented a picture of perfect sibling harmony, sitting side by side, appearing to be listening intently to the music. I swelled with maternal pride. That was until Barnaby took it into his head to attempt to drag Amelia around the meeting room by her arm (prevented only by my extremely swift intervention) accompanied by barely stiffled laughs from across the room.

After lunch, Nanny and I took Barnaby and Amelia 'fishing'. Sheep and I had sucumbed to pester-power yesterday and had bought Barnaby a fishing net in Newport Pagnell (99p!). So we decided to try it out. (Incidentally, we left Sheep fast asleep, on the floor of Barnaby's play room). Since the recent rains the water in the stream was running extremely fast, so there was really little chance of actually catching any fish. But Barnaby was more than happy just to don his wellies and wave the net about in the water. (Amelia slept in her pram). I have some lovely photos of Barnaby and Nanny doing just this. Such rural idyll was again broken by Barnaby suddenly clutching his bottom and announcing that he'd done a poo. We decided to walk home as quickly as we could, Nanny holding the fishing net and Barnaby grabbing his rear, walking in a peculiarly bow-legged, cowboy-gait. Nanny and I tried not to laugh, but it was hilarious.

I'll upload the photos tomorrow!



Saturday, August 19, 2006

New Car & Nursery Fun Day

Today has been a day of two halves. This morning was all about buying a new car. Yes! We have bought a new car. Claire and Julian kindly drove us to Newport Pagnall to have a look at it and we decided to buy it. Just like that. It is a Toyota Prius (hybrid electric and petrol engine) so it is still environmentally friendly (although Sheep is concerned that it is that start of a slippery slope towards us being less sustainable). Here is a photo of our new car. I'll probably pick it up next Friday.

Julian and I took it for a test run while Claire and Sheep looked after Barnaby and Amelia. The car showroom has a special area for children which contained toy cars to pedal around etc. And what did Barnaby get interested in? The drink dispenser! When we went back into the showroom, I had multiple cups of water pressed upon me, "Here's a drink for you, Mummy".

After fully examining the car, it was rapidly getting to Amelia's lunch time (11:30), so we drifted into Newport Pagnall itself and wandered down the high street looking for somewhere where we could give Amelia her lunch. We chanced upon a coffee shop at the rear of the Methodist Church, off the High Street, and settled down to give Amelia her lunch, which I had carefully packed up, before leaving home. It was at this point, I realised that I had forgotten to bring her food-bag with me from the car! Since the car whad been left at the car dealership, it would have taken me a not inconsiderable amount of time to make the journey there and back again. So instead I dashed into Boots the chemist, which was almost next door, and bought a jar of baby food, some baby-feeding-spoons, water and drinking cup (well, it's always useful to have a few more!) and rushed back into the cafe. I did, however, feel somewhat guilty that in all the excitement of our new car, I had forgotten Amelia's lunch! How awful is that? I did feel bad. Actually, Newport Pagnall is quite nice. I feel it is much maligned and ignored as most people just associate it with the motorway service station.

After Amelia's lunch, we came home again. Today was also Barnaby's Fun Day at the nursery. The day for which I was attempting to make Barnaby's now imfamous fish costume. As it happened, Barnaby declined to even wear his 'sea monster' costume. Perhaps it's just as well that I didn't finish his fish costume as I would have been devastated to have finished it only to have Barnaby refuse, point blank, to wear it. The fun day was, well, fun! Barnaby eventually overcame his initial trepidaton about the bouncy castle and ended up bouncing for about 45 minmutes without a break, while Sheep and I chatted to other parents. We didn't win any raffle prizes, but there was a 'guess how many plastic sea-animals are in the jar' competition, which I entered on Barnaby's behalf on my way to seeking for tea. And, guess what? We/he won! So he came home proudly holding a jar full of plastic sea animals (22 of them to be precise), ranging from octopusses, minky whales, dolphins, jelly-fishes, sharks, lobsters, sea otters, seals to walruses etc... ). There were also lots of cakes for sale, books (I purchased a lot!) and videos (I bought two Thomas the Tank Engine videos for Barnaby at 10p a piece). Barnaby also had his face painted as a tiger. All in all, a very fun afternoon for Barnaby. And what did Amelia do during all of this? Well, she slept in her pram for the first hour and then sat around in our arms looking photogenic and smiling widely at everyone. I think she had a fairly good time as well. She was avidly looking around at everything and drinking in all the action.

However, we did pay the price for Barnaby's bouncy-castle antics later. He fell soundly asleep in the bicycle trailer on the way home. We let him sleep while we gave Amelia her tea. Then woke him up to take him upstairs. Unfortunately, even though we tried to get him upstairs without waking him (a bit difficult, as we needed to remove his tiger-face-paint otherwise his pillowcase and sheets would have been orange!), our efforts were without success. He woke up and didn't get off to sleep until about 9:45. So, not much of an evening for Sheep and I. And so ends our eventful Saturday.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Rain Rain Go Away

Now here a conundrum. How to pick up Barnaby from nursery (1.5 mile round trip), with Amelia, and when it is pouring with rain, without a car? And, ideally, without Barnaby and Amelia getting soaked to the skin? It is raining really, really hard!

Seven Month Old Amelia!

Amelia is seven months old today. So, what can she do? Here is our Amelia-audit: according to the book, "What to Expect: the First Year", these are the seven-month developmental goals.

By the end of this [the seventh] month, your baby... should be able to:
* feed self a cracker - Amelia can attempt to feed herself a rusk but it usually gets dropped on the floor before it is entirely consumed. I am interpreting that as fulfilling this goal.

...will probably be able to:
* bear some weight on legs when held upright - Yes. I tried this earlier today. More on this skill further down!
* sit without support - Easily. She has been doing this for a while now and rarely topples over, although occasionally she still does.
* object if you try to take a toy away - Oooooh yes, very much so. She is very good at expressing outrage and indignation.
* work to get a toy out of reach - Yes. Usually be crawling backwards.
* pass a cube or other object from one hand to the other - I haven't tried this yes. I will experiment when she wakes up (she is sleeping as I type).
* look for a dropped object - She frequently demonstrates this behaviour when sitting in her high chair.
* take a raisin and pick it up in fist - No problem, see below.
* turn in the direction of a voice - I think so.
* babble, combining vowels and consonants such as ga-ga-ga-ga - She does this frequently and constantly. She will also have 'conversations' with you, demonstrating turn-taking.
* play peek-a-boo - Now, what does this mean? That she covers her own eyes up and then peeks out from behind them, or that she responds when you do the same? Certainly she does the latter.

...may possibly be able to:
* standing holding on to someone or something - Ah, well. I thought I would try this out today! Amelia has a wooden cube toy, with different puzzles and things on each face. I tried standing her in front of it, and placed her hands onto the wires (for the wire-bead-toy part of it) on top. Then I took away my own support. For about 30 seconds she stood up, by herself, holding onto her cube toy! I was impressed.

...may even be able to:
* pull up to standing position from sitting - No. I don't think so.
* get into a sitting position from stomach - No. She can do it the other way around though!
* clap hands or wave bye-bye - I tried a bit of clapping with and waving to her today. No response from Amelia other than a look of rather condescending bemusement.
* pick up tiny object with any part of thumb and finger - Yes. I believe she can do this. I have seen her try, and suceed, to pick things up with her thumb and forefinger.
* walk holding onto furniture - No. not even close.
*say mama or dada indiscriminately - Only by accident, not, I am sure, by design.

Apparently, the age of crawling is so variable that it is not considered a developmental stage. I can, however, report that Amelia is crawling. Albeit, backwards. She can cover about two metres backwards, in a shuffling, pushing and occassionally, rolling manner. (She is a very good roller.) She has yet to work out any method of forward-propulsion. I seem to recall that Barnaby started crawling at about the end of October/beginning of November (and bear in mind that their birthdays are only a week apart). And, when he did start crawling, he immediately started crawling up the stairs! I am already eyeing up our stairgates (which have both been, temporarily, taken down at the moment), thinking that we'll have to put them back before long.

In honour of Amelia achieving seven months, I decided to try her out with a stage two (lumpier) jar of baby food for lunch. It was noodles in an organic cheese and leek sauce and I must say, it smelt very nice indeed, I'm sure I would have enjoyed it. I think that Amelia wasn't too sure what to do with the lumpy bits and more than a few came out again. She'll get the hang of it soon, though, I am sure. Also, I intend to start giving her breakfast now, so she'll be up to three full meals a day.

Finally, I just noticed Amelia's first mole today. It's halfway down her torso, on her right side, so about three inches below her armpit. Funnily enough, this is very close to where Barnaby's first (and I think, still his only) mole was/is. His mole is proportionally about as far down the trunk of his body, as hers is, and his is also on his right side, but his is slightly closer to his tummy; Amelia's is exactly on her side.

Bye Bye, Little Red Car

They have just come to take away our "Little Red Car", our fully electric, Reva GWiz. We've had it just under 12 months and it was, obviously, Amelia's first car and the first car that Barnaby can actually remember (we had a silver Ford Focus when Barnbay was a baby in Atlanta; it is now in New Orleans in the ownership of our friend Ginette). This morning, on his way to nursery, Barnaby went into the back garden to bid it farewell, saying, "Bye Bye, Little Red Car. Come and visit us again soon!". We may see it around London though, as Sheep and I regularly see them in Central London.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Fish Called Blunder!

OK - perhaps I am being a little hard on myself, but the long and short of it is that it looks as though Barnaby will not be going to his nursery fun day as a fish. After a month of planning, gathering materials etc and a couple of nights of cutting the pattern, the moment of truth arrived this evening, when I attempted to sew the foam. Essentially, the foam is just too thick for my sewing machine, which is a modern one. My mother thinks that her sewing machine, an old Singer, could probably cope with it, but that's obviously no help for Saturday's fun day. Luckily, I had a back-up plan; I had, with some foresight, bought Barnaby a second-hand, generic dragon/dinosaur costume on ebay for a couple of pounds, on the basis that if the worst came to the worst he could always go as a 'sea monster'! Since the worst does appear to have come to the worst, it looks like he will be going as a sea monster. He'll probably be just as happy. I am, of course, rather disappointed. But, the big question is, what should I do with all the costume bits now?

I am also a little upset this evening. Amelia is awake and wailing upstairs. With Sheep. I am sitting down here, having been, gently but firmly, ordered downstairs by Sheep ("Go and write your blog"). Amelia is in a difficult mood in which she wants to go to sleep with my nipple in her mouth (fair enough, in many respects, for a breastfed baby). But, everytime I withdraw my nipple she goes into a paroxysm of outraged indignation, even if I judge her to be asleep when I remove myself. Somehow or other she senses this and wakes up, howling. After an hour of this my nipples are as sore as hell and my nerves utterly jangled. It's a choice between sore nipples and a screaming baby or extremely sore nipples and momentary peace. In Elizabeth Pantley's book, she talks about the "Pantley pull-off" manoeuvre whereby you keep inserting and removing your nipple/dummy/bottle/whatever until the baby gets the message. However, it doesn't say what to do if your nipples feel like they've been put through the mangle.

This is what Pantley has to say, "It may take two to five (or even more) attempts, but eventually your baby will fall asleep without the pacifier or nipple in her mouth. When she has done this a number of times over a period of days, you will notice the removals are much easier, and her awakenings are less frequent." Two to five times? Hah. Clearly, Amelia hasn't read her book.

Hmmm. I've just read a load of emails on http://www.mothering.com/ which suggests that I am not the only one to have this happen to them. Here are some of their comments, all from different mothers (I've made them anonymous):

I had the same problem. No advice because after working herself into such a "tizzy" 4 nights in a row I decided now wasn't the time for us to change this sleep association.

The Pantly pull-off came in handy for me when my daughter would nurse in her sleep for hours straight. It only worked when she was sound asleep though.

I always use the Pantley pull-off, and no, it is not nightweaning. It means that I don't want to lie on my side with my nipple in his mouth all night long... You can nurse the baby on demand all night and still take your nipple out of his/her mouth. Or are we supposed to be such martyrs that we need to sleep on one side all night and not move?

I've done PPO since birth (mostly while she slept on me in the Boppy) and all I can say is: sometimes the magic works; sometimes it doesn't! Don't sweat it. Try again. Try again. Try again. I usually have to try 10x or more. Just when I think she'll never stop rooting, she stops.

There are some days (and sometimes weeks) when he nurses all night and I can't unlatch him at all. This typically happens when he's sick, or having a growth spurt. Is it possible that your son is just having a growth spurt, or cutting teeth, and that is creating a (temporary) need to nurse all night?


So, at least it's just not me. My nipples still feel on fire though. The wailing seems to have subsided upstairs, after all that blogging. I suppose I should go and investigate what's been happening.

What an evening. And to think I forewent a night out 'with the girls' (the book group watching 'Pride and Prejudice') in order to flunk a fish costume and get my nipples mangled. Bah.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Visit of Caroline

Caroline, our friend and Barnaby's godmother came to visit today. She arrived in time for lunch. As a gift, she brought Amelia a lovely couple of books, The Complete Illustrated Stories of The Brothers Grimm and The Complete Illustrated Stories of Hans Christian Andersen. They are two very big and heavy books for such a little girl! Caroline went on to say that, as a younger sibling herself, she vividly recalled how her older brother seemed to have all the best books and wouldn't let her read them. Therefore, she wished Amelia to have some copies for herself. As a pair of younger siblings ourselves (both Sheep and I, that is), we both have memories of feeling hard-done by with respect to items being passed down, or not, as the case may be (one of my lingering niggles involved a dolls house). Both of us are already striving hard to ensure a certain princple of fairness, a parity of treatment between the two of them. We both value justice and fairness most highly as well, so I think this contributes to our desire that Amelia should not suffer from younger-siblingitis. The books are lovely; I shall enjoy reading them to her followed by her enjoyment of reading them to herself, no doubt.

Caroline also performed another valuable service when she arrived. I collected Amelia's passport photographs from Jessops (they now have a system whereby you can upload a photo online and they print your digital photos for you on very high quality paper and then can either send them to you (for an extra charge and more time) or you collect them in person from your nearest Jessop's shop). So, I collected the photos and when Caroline arrived, she agreed to act as Amelia's countersignatory: confirming that Amelia and I are who we say we are. Of course, what is most cool about this, is that on the form, Caroline gives her place of work as "HM Treasury" and address as "1 Horse Guards Road". You can't get better credentials than that, can you? I should get her form posted off by the end of the week now.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Fish Costume

Finally, the foam I had been waiting for has arrived. Tonight I intend to start cutting out the foam and fabric. I will be able to start sewing tomorrow night. This is all for Barnaby's 'fun day' at nursery on Saturday.

Amelia was quite sick this evening. A veritable torrent. Actually, I think she simply over-ate/drank rather than ill per se. Still, as a result, I am up to my ears in laundry again. Hey ho.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Tidying the Playroom

I have spent the entire evening tidying the playroom, which had got into quite a mess, especially over the weekend. I can't believe I just spent a whole evening of my life tidying up Barnaby's toys. And there is only one of them at the moment - one of them in chaos-creation-mode, that is!

It is now one week, and counting, until Amelia's first introductory session at the nursery.

I think I can hear Amelia crying. She has had two or three very disturbed nights recently, especially last night, when I don't think I got more than an hour's continuous sleep. She has another tooth coming through and I think it is causing her a lot of pain. Poor girl. So, duty calls - I'm off upstairs...

When Amelia cries at the moment, she sounds like an old, thick oak door creaking. I wonder if I could hire her out to an audio special effects department.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Passport Photographs

Our friend, Jenni, was here today (and yesterday, hence no blog last evening). As one of her pre-'godmotherly' duties, we asked her to take Amelia's passport photograph. And here is the result. Just out of interest, I unearthed Barnaby's baby passport photograph (taken at about 4 months, I recall) for comparison. So, here they are, side by side. My georgous babies!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Saturday Photos

Sheep and Amelia at garden party


Ruth feeding Amelia in kitchen at garden party



JENNI'S PHOTOS!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Hectic Day

Today has been rather frantic, as I was in London today - having meetings, conducting tutorials, attending seminars, reading papers, sorting out admin etc etc. All with Amelia in tow! By the time I came back, I couldn't face sitting in front of the computer (well, I am now, but it is midnight), so I baked a cake for a garden party we are all attending tomorrow.

I think Amelia had an ok time in London and she was really quite good during the seminar. After about an hour, she started to get a bit 'vocal' in a complaining sort of tone (I think she was a bit tired), but by then it was time for me to leave to catch the train anyway.

Combining babies and work? I am not entirely convinced that it is a good idea other than for a occasional, one-off trip. So much for Liedloff's 'Continuum Concept'. I wonder if she ever truly put this into practice?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Quick Post

I just realised that I've not posted since Monday. To be honest, I've been quite depressed. It comes and goes and some days have been a lot worse than others this week. Primarily, it is the thought of Amelia starting nursery that is getting me down. A few other things as well, but that's the main thing. I really thought, this week, that if I were doing any other job, anywhere else, I would just quit and spend some more time at home with Amelia. The problem is that there are only two research centres in which my research is focused: London and Atlanta. And, if I were to hand in my notice at UCL, the probability of getting my job back again, or even remotely similar is next to none. They rarely advertise lecturer jobs in my field. And, it is a good, fun, interesting job, at a reasonable salary and flexible enough to allow you to have a family as well. It is a good job. If it wasn't I would stop tomorrow. However, all of that doesn't make me feel any better at the moment.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Visit to Baby Clinic

I took Amelia to the Baby Clinic today at the health centre. She now weighs 7.44Kg which is 16.4 pounds or 16 pounds and 6 ounces. She is 6 months, 20 days old or just under 29 weeks (tomorrow). This means that she is now a little bit above the 25th percentile (although, intriguingly, if I use the American CDC growth charts, Amelia is exactly on the 50th percentile).

I wanted to bring her today, as I've been worried about her transition to solids/weaning. At the moment, she is having two meals a day, lunch and dinner. And she is still meant to be drinking just over a pint of milk per day (or between 20-32 fluid ounces). I don't think she is getting anywhere near this amount, although, obviously it's hard to tell as I am breastfeeding. Essentially, she is still nursing when she first awakes in the morning and before going to sleep at night, but is showing scant interest during the day. It doesn't seem to make any difference whether I offer her a breastfeed before or after her solid food: she nurses for about 30 seconds and then stops. I am feeling increasingly upset about it as I'm feeling that she is starting to self-wean. I have even contemplated giving her formula during the day (as I often make up some formula to mix with her baby rice/porridge etc and then just end up throwing the remains away anyway) as I would then know how much she is getting. Of course, I feel guilty about thinking about giving her formula, but then she'll have to have formula in a few weeks time anyway, when she starts nursery (her intro-session is two weeks today), so wouldn't it be better if I were the one to start it? But then I feel that perhaps she is refusing the breast because I am unconsciously wanting her to so that I don't feel so guilty about her having to have formula at nursery. And then I feel like I am just going round and round in circles.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

R.I.P. Bertie the Hamster

Well, I am sorry to say that Bertie did not survive the night and died at the veterinary hospital. We received the news by phone at 9:30 this morning. Sheep and I have been a little sad; Barnaby is quite indifferent. He rather enjoyed his jaunt to the hospital last night, and today hasn't even asked where Bertie is or when/why he is coming back home. Well, as Barnaby and Amelia's first ersatz-pet, I must say that he didn't last long: less than a fortnight, to be precise. It was an interesting experiment; I must say that Bertie served us a useful turn in our musings about whether Barnaby is ready for a pet yet. Our conclusion is that we will wait a while yet. And even then, perhaps start with a couple of goldfish!

Sheep and I were both exhausted today. We were disinfecting Bertie's cage/belongings until after 1:00am. Yawn. I've felt pretty crap all day.

Barnaby's earache has still been around and we ran out of Calpol this morning and needed to replenish our stocks after meeting. I am amazed that we even made to meeting, given how exhausted we all were this morning. But, still we made it.

In meeting, about 5 minutes before the time that the children usually leave, Barnaby suddenly announces, in a quite distinct theatrical whisper, "I need a poo!". I scooped him up and marched briskly to the door and once outside broke into a mad dash for the loo. We made it! The meeting house now owns a 'meeting house potty', which was a life-saver (no fumbling around in bags for our travel potty). Apparently there were a fair few smiles around the room upon our exit.

After meeting, since we needed to stock up on Calpol anyway, we decided to treat ourselves to a trip to Wagamama's at the Centre. Unfortunately, we arrived there half an hour later than our usual lunch time (we must have dawdled considerably after meeting) and so Amelia was really quite hungry when we got there. Amelia did eat some lunch, but was really too hungry to eat properly. Oh dear. Sorry! Eventually, I left the restaurant early, leaving Sheep to finish and pay the bill, as Amelia was beginning to cry with tiredness. I did think, as I was wolfing down my lunch, scarely tasting it, that I couldn't recall the last time that I truly savoured a meal. Oh, the joy of parenthood. I wonder if this is the same for all parents?

Later, we purchased more Calpol and dosed up Barnaby. Amelia, who was also out of sorts last night (waking up and not settling back to sleep until 11:50), seems better today. We did give her half a dose of Calpol last night, just in case she had Barnby's earache, but we seen no evidence to suggest that she needed any today.

Tonight, when I was giving Amelia her evening feed, I nodded off myself. And slept until about 9:30. I just got up to write this blog, have a cup of tea and I'll be back to bed soon.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Good Day, Utterly Awful Evening

I can not trust myself to write about this evening, it was truly awful beyond words. Let's just say that it encompassed near-demise of hamster, howling hunger of Amelia, hand-washing refusal tantrums, emergency visit to veterinary hospital, horribly disrupted routines, non-sleeping children, earache, calpol... Put it another way: it is midnight, Amelia went to sleep only ten minutes ago and Barnaby at 9:30. And I still have a hamster cage to fully disinfect. At midnight. Urrrggh.

Anyway - enough of that. Why dwell on the nightmare that constituted this evening? We had a nice day at Gambado's: the soft play area. Here are some photos.

Barnaby and Amelia in balls together, and yes, Amelia is holding up a ball for the camera!
Barnaby on the medium-sized slide with no assistance!

Amelia sleeping completely horizontally in her new pram - what a joy.

These last two photos are from Nanny's visit, last weekend.

Doesn't she look lovely? Get a load of that quiff, though.

Friday, August 04, 2006

A Full House

This is a brief blog tonight as our friend, Nick, is staying with his two children, Joe and Esme, so we are a full house tonight! Joe is sleeping in Barnaby's bed, Esme is sleeping on the floor of Barnaby's room, in his inflatable sleeping bag/bed. Nick is sleeping on the floor in Amelia's room (yet to be used nocturnally by her, of course). So, where are all of us? In our room, en masse, of course. Barnaby was persuaded to inhabit his old bed (now in cot-mode) only under duress and after I had the genius idea (modesty alert) of offering to convert it into a tent for him (which I did with his oomagles). And Amelia is back in bed with us tonight, for this one night only. As the cot is right up against our bed, effectively we're all in bed together. Tomorrow morning will be interesting. It did take me a long time to get both Barnaby and Amelia asleep in one room, as each kept waking the other and it was 8:45 before I arrived downstairs, somewhat bedraggled and parched after reading stories to Barnaby for an hour and a fifteen minutes.

Tomorrow, Nick, Joe and Esme may leave about 11:00 or we may take them all to Gambado for a soft-play/ball pit extravaganza.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Amelia and Daddy-time

Today has been a significant day in that Amelia has spent a lot of time with Sheep. I've been trying to get started on a paper (for work) for which the deadline was meant to have been the end of July. Whooops. I know I am dropping balls all over the place at the moment. However, today, I managed to get started on it, while Amelia had her early morning nap. Then, over lunch, to my surprise, Sheep offered to give Amelia her lunch so that I could get a bit more work done and a few other important jobs. So that's what he did. It gave me an extremely nice break (actually, this gooey-food stage is not all it's cracked up to be: fun? Hah!) and I think Amelia was equally as happy to have been fed by him as by me. It took me a while to get her settled for her afternoon nap, but eventually she slept. After her nap, I took her for a walk (I went to buy some minor bits and pieces for Barnaby's fish costume).

This evening, we had both Barnaby and Amelia fed, watered, bathed, teeth cleaned, read to and abed by 7:10. I will say that again, as it is truly remarkable: by 7:10. Cue standing ovation please.

Actually, this reminds me, the other day I idly picked up a book which had belonged to my grandparents (published c. 1940), called "The First Six Months are the Worst". It is a sort of quasi-humorous antidote to war-time parenting guides. This is what I was surprised and amused to find on page 83, "By the way, Baby's bed-time can last for anything between one and two hours even in the best-regulated homes." Of course, if I listen to my mother, we were all in bed and fast asleep by 6:00! So, given that proviso, I think we did really well to have them all tucked up and fast asleep by 7:10.

Do my self-congratulatory tones sound a little hollow? They were. This evening was my book club evening and the only time I get to go out at the moment and it only comes around about once a month. The long and short of it was, that about half-way through our discussion, Sheep telephoned and there was Amelia wailing her heart out down the phone. It was so loud, I almost had to make one of those comic, holding the phone at arm's length from your ear, gestures. The jist of his call was, "Come home please, I don't know what to do!" I did suggest seeing if she was wet, which he did (she was, a little) and that bought me about another 5 minutes, but eventually, there was nothing else I could do but beat a hasty retreat. The rub was, that I had been given a lift, so not only did I have to go, but I effectively ended up cutting short the entire evening for everyone else.

Well, of course, within seconds of going into the bedroom, she calmed down and stopped crying. So, there you have it - my evening out. Amelia, if you are reading this as an adult, please take note. How about taking your father and I out for a nice meal to compensate?

Oh, why was I given a lift? How ditzy am I? I realized today that I'd forgotten to tax the car (it's done online now, but I still need to wait for the taxdisc to arrive) so I can't legally drive it (I said I was dropping balls). Also, our car's being taken away on Wednesday anyway to be serviced, so I don't think we'll get much use out of it for a while (we are considering selling it anyway). I've found a bus (1E) that will take us to Quaker meeting on Sunday, so we'll give that a go this weekend. Having had a good look at bus timetables online today, I am beginning to think that perhaps we should just ditch the car and wait until Sheep is working again before we bother with getting another one.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Amelia in Red

Amelia looked lovely today. She was wearing red cord trousers and her new, japanese-style wrap top. I also put her in some new red shoes and she looked adorable. I must try and get a photograph of her tomorrow (I managed not to get her too covered in pureed pumkin and potato this evening).

I took Amelia to the NCT coffee group this afternoon. She had rather a nice time, I think, as did I.

The fabric for Barnaby's fish costume turned up this morning. I will start cutting out the pattern next week. I am hoping that the foam will arrive on Friday.

Barnaby had a go at feeding Amelia this evening, which makes it all the more remarkable that she didn't end up plastered in runny-pumpkin!

The expensive cradle-cap oil from "Green Baby" seems to have done the trick. Of course, I am now wondering whether common or garden olive oil would have had the same effect. But, it felt a bit weird slathering her scalp in olive oil. Plus the smell, of course.

I have been feeling a bit low and short-tempered this evening. I think I'm tired. I did the unthnkable this evening. Amelia woke up crying and I'd tried and tried to get her back to sleep. In the end, I just thought, b***er it and brought her downstairs for a spell. Bad move, I know, but I thought it preferable to me being upstairs with her feeling more and more resentful or just letting her cry herself silly, which she had also done for a bit. So, I'm off to bed. It's 10:18. I need to get Amelia back to bed again. I do hope I haven't set a precident.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Countdown to Nursey

I meant to say, yesterday, that Amelia's countdown to nursery has begun. She now has less than three weeks until her first introductory session. I wish I could say that I was happy about it: I'm not. Well, I am, but I really wish that it was still a few more months away (and could remain so!).

I had a thought today, while I was getting frustrated with her lunch. I was trying to feed Amelia and she wouldn't wear her bib (she had been looking really nice in a pair of lilac trousers and a brown t-shirt). In an unfeasibly brief period of time she was covered in pureed penne, tomato and courgette! At one point I thought that if I simply had a blunderbuss filled with baby food that I fired at her repeatedly, she would probably end up eating more than I was managing to shovel into her and her clothes would be far cleaner than they were.