Friday, September 29, 2006

Study in Blue

It was extremely stressful getting Barnaby and Amelia to nursery today. I even shouted at Barnaby on the stairs (for which I had to later appologise) on our way out, as he was dawlding so much that I was risking missing my train into London. And Amelia has recently started crying, arching her back and generally wriggling like mad when we try and get her into her car seat, so she was doing all of that too... But, how many more mornings like this are we going to have? How do other people cope with working full time and getting two small children into nursery? I do seriously wonder how other people do it. (My mother never had to do this; she only returned to work when I was five and then she would leave the house before I was even awake and I was left to get myself dressed/fed and to the busstop on time! Imagine being allowed to do that now - I think people would call social services were that to happen today - what a different world we live in...)

Well, I did catch the train and it was all OK at work; I even got a slightly earlier train home as I am still tired from Bremen.

Amelia had an OK day at nursery. But, she didin't drink any milk and only slept for 30 minutes. However, they were happy to administer her antibiotics and said that she was quite relaxed about taking it. Not surprisingly, she was very pleased to see me and somewhat irritable as she was overtired by 5:30. As a consequence, she hardly ate any tea, and fell asleep in my arms as I ate my dinner.

Nursery are getting desperate to sort out Barnaby's 'accidents' (3 poo 'accidents' and 2 wee 'accidents' today - and one more of each during dinner!). They confessed that they'd even contemplated offering to take him iceskating (one of his perennial fixations: I am not sure why) as a reward for if he could manage a whole week without any 'accidents'. I did talk to the doctor about this yesterday (while I was there with Amelia) who said that it could not be anything physiological and that it was more than likely to be psychological. She suggested that he might have been upset by something and that it was probably something that, from an adult perspective, would seem trivial (another child at nursery snatching a toy from him or some such event). And, finally, that we should be careful not to get angry about it and that it would sort itself out eventually. Hey ho. (At least I have an automatic washing machine.)

Oh - but to end on a high note. When I collected Amelia from nursery, they said that she had done some painting in the afternoon. And I mentioned that it was the first time she had done any painting, so they gave it to me to bring home. I'll take a photograph of it or scan it in for the blog. Suffice to say it's blue anf blobby. Still, her very first masterpiece!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Amelia's Ears Again

Well, I had a look through Marra's paper yesterday and was convinced by his study. He does use an extremely large sample size.

I've just got back from the doctor's practice. Essentially, Amelia does have an ear infection (how could she not have with all the pus oozing out of it?) and she has been prescribed antibiotics. I did ask whether it could be a viral infection (and hence antibiotics wouldn't be any good) and the doctor explained that if I had brought Amelia to see her when Amelia had only had it for 2/3 days then the doctor would have done nothing as she would have wanted to wait and see and would have asked me to come back after a week. She said that had it been viral it would certainly have improved by now. She continued by saying that as I had been sensible (!?) and had waited a week before bringing Amelia to the surgery, it was more than likely to be bacterial.

It is also possible that she has a perforated ear drum.

So, she has prescribedd, 100ml Amoxicillin 125mg/5ml SF to be taken, 5ml three times per day. It is a bright yellow liquid that smells of synthetic banana and needs to be kept refrigerated (I bet it stains!). Common side effects of amoxicillin include an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.

A message to my future Amelia, should you ever read this and if you do end up suffering from asthma, I'm sorry I didn't manage to persuade the doctor not to give it to you. Sorry.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Amelia's Ears

I'm a little worried about her ears. I am sitting here, finishing a cup of tea, while Amelia is having a whale of a time pulling all of the newspapers out of the magazine rack/basket. She is clearly enjoying herself hugely. My role is to ensure that she doesn't start consuming them!

Anyway, I just rang the doctor's practice about her ears. They've been 'gooey' for a few days now, since before Bremen. I assumed that the cold she had last week had migrated to her ears and that this minor ear infection would clear of its own accord. But it's now a week later and her ears are still gooey and seeping. Not good! But she doesn't seem too distressed, other than perhaps off her food a little. I spoke to the surgery and they were being very grave over the phone, even offering me an emergency appointment for her today. But, given that she's been like this for about a week, I don't think another day will make a huge difference. I have to call up at 8:30 in the morning to make an appointment for her tomorrow.

The only thing is, even if it is an ear infection, what can they do? It will either be viral or bacterial and I am not keen on her been given antibiotics because of the recent research that came out suggesting a link between childhood asthma and the administration of antibiotics to babies under 12 months of age (the advice was only to give antibiotics to under 12 month-old babies if absolutely necessary). This is according to Dr. Carlo A. Marra and colleagues at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. The paper reference is below.

Fawziah Marra, Larry Lynd, Megan Coombes, Kathryn Richardson, Michael Legal, J. Mark FitzGerald, and Carlo A. Marra
Does Antibiotic Exposure During Infancy Lead to Development of Asthma?: A Systematic Review and Metaanalysis
Chest, Mar 2006; 129: 610 - 618.

I might take a look at the original paper - it's available through the UCL library.

So, why will I take her? To reassure myself it's not too serious, I suppose... I don't think it is.

Incidentally, for the record, Amelia has had no antibiotics yet. I would like to ensure that she gets to 12 months without taking any.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Minor Planets

Phew! A quieter day at last. Amelia and I just hung out and did very little, apart from going to the Craft Group at the Quaker Meeting House in the afternoon, where Amelia was truly eclipsed as the youngest member by Claire, who is not quite a month old (and is looking lovely). Here's a thought, the next but one craft group might even be attended by my mother!

I found out today that Amelia and Dalton are minor planets!

Planet: (986) Amelia
Designation: 1922 MQ
Discovery date: October 19, 1922
Discovery site: Barcelona, Spain
Discoverer: Josep Comas i Sola, a Catalan astronomer.

Planet: (12292) Dalton
Designation: 1991 LK2
Discovery date: June 6, 1991
Discovery site: La Silla, Chile
Discoverer: Eric Walter Elst, a Belgian astronomer.

(986) Amelia has her own Wikipedia entry:

And (12292) Dalton is named after John Dalton, British physicist and chemist (and Quaker).

Monday, September 25, 2006

Amelia's First Academic Conference

Well, the long and the short of it was that it was OK; my worst fears did not materialise and on the whole it was far better than I could have hoped.

Leif arrived much later on Saturday than planned so there was a less of a hand-over, with Barnaby, than I'd have liked, but it was all ok. (Barnaby loved the tool box). Amelia, sadly, cried all the way to the airport. Things seemed like they were going downhill rapidly when we had to check in one of our bags, originally intended as hand luggage, into the hold, as toothpaste is now banned in the cabin (and who doesn't travel with toothpaste?). But we were told that we could take baby food for Amelia if we placed it in a clear plastic bag (which the check-in desk provided). After frisking Amelia at the x-ray security stage (c'est la vie, Barnaby was frisked each and every trip in/out of America), all of her baby food was chucked in the bin by the over zealous x-ray machine operators. They at least had the courtesy to debate it (one wanted it thrown, the other didn't, "It's baby food: a baby needs food!") and they did make us the offer to sit by the x-ray machine and force feed her as much as we could - how generous - but in the end, it was all binned. The waste irritates me profoundly. At this point, I was rapidly regretting the whole plan.

However, that was the nadir of our trip; it rapidly got better. The plane left on time and we were allowed through early: there was no riotous stampede, as was the case when we took Barnaby to Freiburg, and Amelia slept like an angel on the flight. Once at the hotel (about 9:00 GMT and hence 'Amelia-time') I quickly got her ready for bed, fed her and she was settled and asleep in half an hour. Sheep offered to stay with her, babysitting, as he wanted some quiet time to go through his talk once more; I went downstairs to meet with the other organisers in order to make last minute arrangements. I sent dinner up to Sheep via room service and I must say, Sheep got by far the better deal, food-wise! The hotel was lovely: they provided us with a cot and a rubber duck for the bath (unused). I realise that this was Amelia's first night away from home!

In the morning, I had another organisational meeting over breakfast (6:45 'Amelia-time'), which Amelia attended but didn't eat anything as it was probably a bit early for her (I tried valiantly). Sheep had a lie-in. Then onto the conference.

It went extremely well and Amelia was a big hit. I was sitting at the front (as organiser, as panelist, as session chair...) and Amelia crawled around merrily on the podium, behind our chairs but hidden by the 'vanity screen'. Note the baby rattle and 'bead/wire' toy.

It was a good location for her to practice her crawling and she seemed to find the A/C floor ducts particularly fascinating.

And here is Amelia schmoozing with the keynote speaker, Professor Hillier...

I performed nappy changes on the stage (hidden by the screen), breastfed her sitting on the podium, bounced her, rocked her etc. etc. I actually don't think anyone noticed the breastfeeding! Everyone remarked on how good she was, what a nice atmosphere it created and she was photographed frequently. I believe the comments were all genuine and no one seemed irritated to have her there.

She also raised a laugh when I gave my paper (Sheep was holding her in his arms while I talked) and then my paper was immediately followed by Sheep's so we walked across the podium and exchanged Amelia en route as Sheep stepped up to the lectern (cue laughs). She only whimpered a few times during the day and between us we managed to ensure that neither of us missed too much, if one or other of us had to leave the room with her.

All in all, the day went as well (and from a professional perspective better) than I could possibly have foreseen.

However, on the way home, things were a little less than ideal. Our flight was delayed leaving Bremen by half an hour (but compare this to 90 minutes when we flew with Barnaby to Freiburg...) and our luggage was very slow to be released into the baggage claim area at the other end. Amelia, who had once again slept peacefully through the flight (thank you, thank you, thank you), awoke while we were waiting by the carousel. Here is a picture of her looking groggy and somewhat disorientated (and Sheep looking very tired too).

By the time we made it back to the car, Amelia's patience had reached its end and she wailed piteously all the way home in the car (which at least made for an extremely symmetrical journey). This was particularly difficult for us as we were both tired as well and we didn't get home until after midnight. What an utterly exhausting day. Leif was there to greet us and seems to have had a good day with Barnaby.

Amelia slept until 9:00 this morning at which point I had to rush out as it was the start of term at UCL today ('meet and greet' the students) so Sheep and Leif took her and Barnaby to nursery. I think she had a lovely calming day at nursery today though, as there were only two babies in the baby room, so she had lots of cuddles and one to one attention. She ate loads, slept for a whopping 2 hours and 20 minutes at midday (why am I not surprised?) but still drank next to no milk...

When Barnaby awoke this morning, he rushed in to see us (as he was obviously asleep when we all crawled in) and I invited him into bed for a cuddle. When I asked him if he'd had a good time with Leif, he said 'Yes' without any hesitation. Then when I asked him what they had done together he replied, "We ate carrots!".

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Amelia's Weight

I was wondering whether to take Amelia's car seat on the plane (checked-in to the hold, that is) as I wasn't sure if German taxis carried car seats. Apparently, in Bremen, all taxis carry car seats for babies over 9 kilos. So I sat Amelia on the scales this morning, and she is about 18.4 pounds which is 8.3 kilos. Oh well, looks like we'll be taking her car seat for her afterall.

I'm nervous about the flight. A few weeks ago there was a big security scare and for a while most carry-on luggage was banned. Now, they are relaxing the rules again, but it's all still a bit of a mess. I must make sure I don't take any water for Amelia to drink (liquids are still completely banned).

Friday, September 22, 2006

Amelia is Crawling

I think I can safely declare that she is crawling. On Wednesday afternoon at the NCT coffee group, she managed a full crawl (one movement forward, of all four limbs, in the correct sequence)! And there were witnesses. Yesterday, around breakfast time, Sheep and Barnaby saw her take three crawl-moves and this was corroborated by nursery today! So, I think that I can officially declare her crawling. Of course, after a strenuous three-moves she then tends to collapse onto her tummy. However, give her a couple of weeks and I think that there will be no stopping her!

This week has been manic: I have finally finished the corrections to my paper, almost sorted out the teaching for next year (and suffered a commensurate lack of sleep in order to acheive this), and am preparing to leave for Bremen tomorrow , which I am dreading.

I am full of dread tonight. I don't want to go. I don't want to have to take Amelia on to a flight and give her such a distruptive day. Equally, I don't want to leave Barnaby behind on his own (well, with Leif). I told Barnaby today what was happening and he said that he didn't want us to go as he would miss us. (I also bought him a tool box and builder's hard hat today which I have wrapped up so that Leif can give it to him at some suitable moment when we've gone). Still, I don't want to go.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Eight Month Old Amelia

Amelia was eight months old yesterday. How fabulous is that! Sadly, I've not been blogging recently - I've been working on a paper over the weekend (to bed at 2:00am Saturday and 1:00am on Sunday) and I did get it finished. But things are crazy this week with the term starting, I have deadlines coming out of my ears. It does feel like a baptism of fire at the moment. I thought that by going back part time, I would be easing myself back into work, but not at all!

Amelia had a fairly good day at nursery yesterday (but only had 2 fl oz of milk). But, I was about to take her and Barnaby home in the car, and the look on my face, as I went to open the car door, must have been quite comical. I'd forgotten Amelia's car seat. Luckily, Sheep had realised that before I did and unbeknnown to me was already more than half way to nursery, on his bike, with her car seat flung over his shoulder. What a hero!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I Forgot to Mention...

At lunch time, I hurried across the road to the nearest sandwich bar, to grab some food. While I was waiting for them to make coffee, I looked at my watch and realised that this time yesterday, I had just met Sheep and Amelia coming back from nursery. As I thought of Amelia I suddenly felt a familiar, 'let down' sensation in my breast, and inwardly groaned, 'oh no!'. As I surreptitiously looked down at myself, I could see a circle of wetness, about the size of a fifty pence piece, materialising. Aaah! (I used to wear absorbant breast pads, but it's been so long since I 'leaked' that I just haven't bothered for months.) Luckily, I had been wearing my handbag (with a long and fairly wide strap) slung over my head and shoulder so that it crossed my chest diagonally. I deftly adjusted the strap so that it covered the growing wet patch and hoped that no one around me had noticed. Then, as nonchalantly as possible, I asked the sandwich bar owner if he could throw a few extra serviettes into the bag, joking with him that I was a messy eater! As soon as I got into my office building, I stepped into the lift, fortunately on my own, and so managed to stuff a couple of serviettes down my bra, one on each side (I am so glad the bar owner didn't realise what I actually wanted them for!). As I stepped out onto my floor, I ensured that my handbag strap was still providing suitable camouflage and hurried to my office. I then reckoned that I had about 90 minutes before I had to be present at an end-of-session meeting with our completing students and basically prayed that that would be sufficient time for the wet patch to dry off. The trials and tribulations of returning back to work, eh?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Amelia Still Sick

Amelia has just produced the most copius amount of vomit imaginable. And, I am completely out of clean sheets for her (or even single sheets I could have folded up double) - the piles of laundry in our house are ever mounting, what with Amelia's three days of vomiting, Barnaby's bed-wetting and ever present pooed-in-pants... let alone the ever-full nappy bucket and as for our laundry, will that ever be a priority?

Note to self, stop giving Amelia fromage frais until she has completely shaken off this bug. I've just had to wash down her cot with Dettol and it was mostly, barely-digested fromage frais (it even smelt of strawberries).

However, I do think that she has an OK time at nursery today and her temperature is only slightly elevated, not even enough to be called feverish. A bit 'radiant' perhaps? I've had a really hectic day in London (I have so much to do: complete a paper by Monday, re-plan the course curriculum, prepare for Bremen next weekend, read and second-read masters theses.... aarrghhhhhh). However, today was incomparably better than last Friday and I am less set on quitting than I was a week ago. Although I do feel a bit like crawling under a big stone/into a dark hole and hiding out there for a while.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Frantic Day, Mellow Evening

Today was a little fraught. Amelia was a little hot this morning (we gave her her last dose of Calpol at midnight, which meant that she could not have another dose before 6:00am); we decided not to dose her up, and ask nursery if they would accept her. To our surprise they were happy to have her, even with a slightly elevated temperature. I hot-footed it off to London and to my 10:30 meeting which I made by the skin of my teeth. Mid-morning, nursery called Sheep to say that Amelia had a temperature of 102 C (about 39 F) and could he give them permission to give her Calpol, which he did. My meeting ended at 12:30 and I raced home as fast as I could and was actually home before Sheep arrived home with Amelia, having picked her up at 1:30. (As I walked towards the house, I espied Sheep and Amelia in the distance and actually walked up the road to meet them). She had had an OK sort of day, despite her elevated temperature, she had played (with plastic 'food' toys), eaten a reasonable lunch (cauliflower and brocolli in a cheese sauce) and slept for over an hour (an hour and 15 minutes). Their professional opinion was that perhaps she is teething rather than suffering from an infection. Who knows? However, they are happy to accept her in the same state tomorrow. Both Sheep and I did feel awful, though, leaving her when she was less than 100%

ruth had to rush up to bed. Entrty to be updated tommorow.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Feverish Amelia

I didn't blog last night and almost missed blogging tonight as Amelia has been ill. This is, of course, not exactly unexpected, now that she has started nursery and is collecting bugs. When Barnaby first started (he was doing Thursdays and Fridays) he was ill almost every weekend from the beginning of September, when he started, until Christmas. She started to feel hot in the evening and didn't eat much dinner. Then she was sick, her temperature was about 37 degrees C (98.6F) and we did the usual dosing with Calpol. Today she's just been lethargic and rather tearful if I've put her down. She's slept a lot, mostly in my arms, which I let her do as I felt that it was good for her to get some sleep. She's not really been eating, but has been breastfeeding alot. Porr girl. However, in the midst of all of it, she has still managed to flash me the odd, beaming smile. What a girl! This evening her temperature was 78.7C (101.7F) so more Calpol this evening. I don't know if she'll be well enough to go to nursery tomorrow. I have a course tutors' meeting that couldn't be scheduled on Friday, when I am meant to be in. I initially threatened to bring Amelia with me, but nursery offered to let her come in for the morning as an emergency day (the baby room are quite flexible this week; a couple of babies have chicken pox so their numbers are down). However, if she is not well, she clearly can't go to nursery nor will she be well enough to come down to London with me. Sheep has said that he'll look after her, so that I can go to the meeting, but I don't know. It's too much of a baptism by fire: I am only just getting my head (heart?) around the idea of leaving her at all, let alone if she is ill!!!! What to do? Wait until the morning, obviously.

And Barnaby? He loved his swimming lesson (and didn't poo in the water having been sternly warned by anyone and everyone). Barnaby can be quite timid in new situations, but wasn't about this. At the beginning they all had to jump into the shallow end, shouting out their name as they did so. Apparently, he was a complete star - yelling out his name and jumping in, trying to make the biggest splash. He'll be going every Tuesday morning from now on.

There was a downside to his behaviour yesterday, though. An 'incident'. I am almost too embarassed to record this. He, inexplicably (and he's been asked why), cornered another child in the playhouse and started pushing him against the wall repeatedly, but with such force that eventually the whole wendy/playhouse toppled over. The worst of it was that this didn't stop Barnaby, he kept on pummelling the other child, but now he's on top of him, due to the house having tipped onto its side (and it is quite a sturdy house!). Eventually Barnaby had to be dragged off him (how unbelievable is that?). The other child was put on 'concussion watch' for the afternoon, but, luckily it seems that there was no permanent damage. The nursery staff just couldn't believe that Barnaby had managed to push over the house and have remarked that he seems not to know his own strength. Still, we hardly know what to make of it. When questioned, Barnaby has said that the other child bit his nose or stratched his face first (there is no sign of this) and this is disputed by a third party, a little girl, who was watching the whole event and said that there was no provocation. Oh dear. What are we, as parents, meant to do in this situation?

The lights have just flickered and there are rumblings of thunder; I'd best get to bed and check on Amelia too.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Barnaby's Swimming Lesson

Well, he departed the house this morning with all his swimming gear carefully packed into a bag, which he slung over his shoulder. I wait with baited breath. Amelia and I are having some close, cuddly 'down-time' today.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Weekend & Start the Week

The weekend was good. Although I've still felt very fragile and brittle. I was so upset on Friday and it's taken me three days, more or less, to get over Friday. It's funny, Sheep and I tend to react in different ways to distress. I tend to bounce back quickly, whereas Sheep slowly feels his way back to normality. Over the last few days, I've been acting more like Sheep than me: there has definately been no instant 'bouncing back' this weekend!

On Saturday, we all went to the special "Steam-up Weekend" at the Leighton Buzzard Railway ( We went for the first time last year with Barnaby's Aunty Claire, Uncle Julian and his Aititi (my father). Amelia, this time last year, sort of accompanied us too, as my bump was pretty pronounced by then and I am sure that she could feel the jiggers of the carriage! Bizarrely, Barnaby seemed to have an amazing recall of our last visit; he kept commenting on what he had or hadn't done previously.

All of us, on a steam train
Barnaby in the front carriage, watching the engine with complete and utter concentration
Meanwhile, Amelia slept peacefully through the whole experience
And, one of the engines: we were pulled by this one

And as for today. I did, eventually, go into UCL/London (and, of course, Amelia into nursery) and it wasn't anywhere near as bad as Friday. However, I've been thinking about human evolutionary biology. Essentially, as far as I can see it, I am programmed (as the result of eons of evolutionary selection), driven even, to maintain close, physical proximity to my baby for reasons of basic feeding and protection. This is so obvious. One of the reasons I am clearly getting so distressed at the moment, is that being so far away from Amelia and handing her into the care of others goes completely contrary to all my instincts. All my instincts are screaming, "They're taking my baby away!". I need to be close to her. NEED! This is a completely irrational, instinctive and an utterly primal urge.

Essentially, Sheep had to partially manhandle me, partially push me out of the door today. But he was right: today, at UCL, was easier than Friday and so it will continue to get better. However, Amelia still only drank 1.5 fluid ounces of milk at nursery though.

Other news: I was so upset on Friday that I forgot to mention that Amelia's passport has arrived. Her passport number is 459569586 and guess what? It's a biometric passport. It comes with a little chip and its own antenna at the back. So she's got a far more sophisticated passport than the rest of us put together. It makes you wonder what info can be encoded on the chip though, doesn't it?

Other news: Barnaby has his first swimming lesson tomorrow. Sheep bought him some new, dinky little swimming trunks today. They are soooooo cute. My lovely, lovely boy.

Friday, September 08, 2006

What a Day

I am so depressed. I want to resign.

In London, Alone and Upset

What a day. I am feeling fragile. I am in London without Amelia. This is the furthest apart we have yet been. On the way in, on the train, it felt as if there was a virtual umbilical cord being stretched more and more thinly, the further away from her I travelled. Since I arrived at UCL, there have been so many different demands on my time and many of them emotionally upsetting (Will I even get lunch today?). I am feeling brittle and almost on the edge of tears. I just rang nursery and everything sounds, sort of alright. They said that Amelia was a bit 'whingey' (their phrase) when she went down to sleep - how much crying is that in reality? and that she'd not been crying, much. Much? That means some, doesn't it? So, she's been crying too. She also cried when I left her today. I feel awful.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Meet the Ancestors!

Amelia, Sheep and I had a bit of an adventure today. We went to Leamington Spa! It turns out that Nanny had booked a coach trip to Leamington Spa and Sheep and I had hoped to go and meet her there. I wanted to see where an ancestor of mine had lived and, as Sheep used to live in Leamington Spa (when he was a student at Warwick University), we had agreed that he should also show me his old haunts. Our original plans had been to go by train, but when Barnaby was slightly uncooperative about getting to nursery quickly, we missed our train and ended up making the last minute decision to drive.

We had just 2.5 hours with Nanny. After a lovely (yummy!) lunch we quickly walked to the site of the two houses where Joseph Iliffe (a Butler) used to live. Joseph Iliffe was my Great, Great, Great Grandfather (he lived from 1806-1896) and so was Amelia's Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather! In 1861, when he was still working as a butler, he lived at number 16 Binswood Street and by the time of the 1881 census he had retired and was living at 4 Barretts Place, just around the corner. Neither of these two locations exist any more, but Nanny and I were keen to visit the locations of where they had been. Here is a map, showing 16 Binswood Street (rightmost red block) and 4 Barretts Place (leftmost square) superimposed onto the modern map (a bit difficult to read, I'm afraid).

The first site we saw was 16 Binswood Street. This site sits, literally, just in front of a rather uninspiring newsagents: Nanny, Amelia and I got to stand in what was probably the living room or front parlour of the house. This is what it looks like now!

And this is what 4 Barretts Place now looks like (a bit grim, really).

Interestingly enough, the propertly boundary-line of his house still exists (as a difference in ground texture: a change from tarmac to concrete), even though the site of the house is just a carpark (for a pub) now. I was able to stand 'in the living room' once again. To think that Amelia was born almost exactly two hundred years after Joseph Illiffe (who was born on January 9, 1806: so two hundred years and 9 days to be precise!) and today she managed to sit (albeit in her pram) in his, virtual, front parlour. Amelia and Joseph are not really separated by so much: Nanny (my mother) knows Amelia, obviously, and also personally knew her own grandmother, known as "Nanny B" personally. "Nanny B" (a.k.a. Amy Elizabeth Iliffe, b. 1876) was raised, for a while, by her grandfather, Joseph Iliffe, the butler. So, Amelia and Joseph are connected, in memory, by a mere three links, Amelia -> Nanny -> "Nanny B" -> Joseph.

Unfortunately, shortly after this, Nanny had to race back to get on her coach (her afternoon was spent in Stratford-upon-Avon). At this point Sheep, Amelia and I wandered around Leamington, re-visiting some of Sheep's old student memories. Here's a slightly more picturesque photo of Amelia and I in the Pump Rooms of Leamington Spa. (And yes, I got to sample ther water. Amelia did not: lucky her.)

A lovely day was had by all.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Amelia's Second Day at Nursery

I have to report that Amelia's second day went well too. She had two naps (30 and 45 minutes at lunch time and mid-afternoon respectively) and ate unfeasibly large amounts of food. How come she never eats that much for me? It was butternut squash followed by custard at lunch and something (?) followed by pear for afternoon tea, where she ate a whopping 19 spoonfuls. They say she didn't cry much as they put her down to sleep (just a few whimpers) and that she didn't cry at all during the day. In the morning she played with soft toys, in particular soft 'cubes' which they built up into towers for her to knock down and when I arrived at 5:00 she was playing with musical intruments. In the morning they tried feeding her milk from the 'soft spout trainer bottle' and she drank none at all, so in the afternoon they tried her with the new breast-like bottle and she drank 3 fluid ounces which they, and I, am very pleased with. They think that once she has got used to it all a bit more, she'll be drinking quite happily from the pseudo-breast-bottle.

Sheep asked me if I was pleased today had gone well. Of course, I am. I am delighted. However, it's a bit of a double-edged sword, I also don't want her to appear to do so well without me, too easily, if you know what I mean? I'm in a no win situation: I'm unhappy if she doesn't do well and unhappy if she does. Still, given each alternative, I would clearly much rather she settled in and was happy than otherwise. Still, three whole days of just Amelia and I together before she goes back again.

Start of Amelia's First Week at Nursery

It is 9:30 on Monday morning and I'm just back from having dropped off both Barnaby and Amelia at nursery. (As well as Amelia's new nipple-like bottle!) When we first went in, she immediately had a cuddle with one of the older ladies in the baby room (Jackie, who is about my mother's age, I think). She was so busy looking around at everything, I thought that I might as well just slope off (better for Amelia, worse for me). I'll call again at lunch time.

Contrary to my plans to go into UCL today, I've decided to work from home again. I have a paper deadline looming. A paper that I was hoping to have finished on Friday, so I'll be working on that instead.

Last night was strange. Barnaby suddenly started screaming - really screaming - for Sheep. It was such a terrifying sound that both Sheep and I ran through to him. He'd had a nightmare about aliens (always aliens not monsters for Barnaby) sitting on his chest and eating his t-shirt (!) and I think they's come into his bedroom in a lift (I'm not entirely sure about that last part, it was a bit garbled). In the end we just brought him through to us, so we had a pretty squashed night last night with all four of us together! It took him a long time to settle afterwards though. I don't think that he slept for a good hour - and kept asking questions, every so often, in a small voice about aliens. It's no use being rational at that time of night, we just kept telling him that he was safe with us. Over breakfast this morning I tried the rational approach, i.e. "You do know that aliens don't exist don't you?" approach. Poor Barnaby.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Quiet Sunday

Not much to report about today. Up early, as usual, meeting and then home for lunch for a change, rather than eating out. After lunch, Barnaby helped Sheep in the garden (and spent a considerable amount of time pretending to be a locksmith and fixing our front door, ("This next bit is going to be loud. Put your hands by your ears, Daddy!"). In the meantime, Amelia was upstairs with me, keeping me company while I put away laundry and made beds. How wonderfully gender-sterotypic! We got them both off to bed early tonight (7:30). The only thing that really stands out for me today was how much Amelia enjoyed her bath, she was splashing and giggling away.

Tomorrow Amelia is at nursery again - so starts her first full week. In September she will be doing two days a week, Mondays and Fridays, working up to three in October, and increasing incrementally to five days in January.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


A typical Saturday really. The day started with all of us in bed together (Barnaby having come in upon waking), me breastfeeding Amelia, Barnaby watching "The Clangers" on DVD on Sheep's laptop (Amelia watching intermittently), Barnaby drinking some milk, Sheep trying to snatch a few more minutes of sleep: one big heaping huddle of Dalton family!

Then, off the the Library for story time, followed by lunch at John Lewis. I'd wanted to try and buy Amelia a different sort of bottle. Since she's never used a bottle before and she is quite able to take water from her Tommee Tippee cup, I suggested at nursery that we didn't try to introduce her to a bottle (at the stage where most parents are trying desperately to wean their babies off the bottle and onto a 'sippy cup'). However, it was soon apparent that the flow rates of the sippy cup were not sufficient for her to take in enough milk, so last week a bought her what is known as a 'bottle-to-cup trainer bottle' with a soft spout. (Barnaby got on very well with these at 12 months). However, she is still not drinking much milk at all - I mean, half a fluid ounce is next to none). So, today I thought that I would get her a proper bottle. Tomme Tippee have started this new range of bottles that are meant to look and feel just like a breast - seriously! See image below. So, I thought that this was worth a try.

When we got it home, I thought that I should try it; my intention was to try her with it a couple of times over the weekend, so that it wasn't such a surprise on Monday. When I first showed it to her, she was fascinated and kept fingering and flicking it with her finger (like she sometimes tries to do with my nipple, although I don't let her as it hurts!) and she certainly got the idea of putting it in her mouth. I must say, I am very impressed with how nipple-like it actually is. But would she actually drink any formula from it. Not on your Nelly! I will try again tomorrow. (Perhaps I should try expressing. The problem is, I don't really like to do it...)

The other thing that I had thought about doing, while we were out at the centre, is get Amelia photographed. I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but every year the local paper holds a beautiful baby competion and for the last couple of days, up until tomorrow, they have had professional photographers in Middleton Hall (next to John Lewis) who will take photos of your baby. They are then printed in a special supplement and you get to vote on the most adorable baby. Of course, I can't imagine that any baby could be more adorable than Amelia and so I was going to get her photo taken. However, what with coordinating various regimes of eat/sleep/poo/wee/nappy changes etc. the photos didn't happen. I'm not sure that tomorrow (which is the last day) is really viable either, partially because I am not sure about whether I could cope with another day in the shopping centre!

Oh - I heard tonight, by email, that the Quaker naming non-ceremony is now set for the 22nd October. Much planning to follow.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Amelia's First Day at Nursery

So this was it. Her official start. And I can actually report that contrary to all my anxieties, it seems as if she had a good day today. I telephoned the nursery shortly after I had posted to the blog earlier today, to be told that she had eaten a good lunch and had slept for half an hour. I almost wept down the phone! Apparently they placed my stinky pyjama top in the cot and she cuddled into it and slept almost immediately, without crying (she was very tired having been too excited and stimulated to have her usual 9:30 mini-nap). I think she ate squash for lunch. But she also had a second sleep in the afternoon and it was an exact replay of before, out came my pyjamas and Amelia cuddled up to them and slept. So, in total, she had two half hour naps. She ate a good tea (at 3:30) which included 17 spoonfuls of banana! "She likes her banana, doesn't she?" They reported (and I am inclined to believe them) that she had had no tears all day. In fact, at one point, they said that she had been sitting with another baby (called Josie who is about 10 months old), looking at books together and gabbering to each other! But was she pleased to see me? In fact, I don't know who was more pleased to see the other, me or her. I had such a lovely long cuddle with her when I first saw her. In fact, as soon as I arrived, she wanted to breastfeed, and I thought, why not - afterall it's about the closest, most comforting thing imagineable, so I sat and nursed her for about 20 minutes, while they filled me in on her day. In the end, I had to prise her off, as I needed to collect Barnaby from next door. (She hadn't really drank much formula during the day, only about 1/2 a fluid ounce; maybe I'll try buying another type of bottle over the weekend). The reason I think that I believe that she had a good day though, is that once I got her home and she was sitting in her highchair in the kitchen, she sat there, really excited, babbling away as if trying to tell me all about her day: that's certainly how it seemed to me.

Having written all of that, I feel a bit tearful again. Isn't this silly? I feel tearful if things don't go well and tearful if they do.


Amelia's first day at nursery. It's 12:30 and I have finally stopped to draw breath (I've been trying to deal with a problem student who may or may not have mental health problems) and pressed play on my ipod, only to have Moby's "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?" start playing...

Why does my heart
Feel so bad?
Why does my soul
Feel so bad?

And now the rant: why have I wasted all morning dealing with this student's affairs (and not working on my paper that needs completing) and who is being extremely difficult, threatening to sue UCL, etc. etc. when someone else is looking after my lovely girl? Which is more important?