Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween

I'm feeling better; I was still a bit wobbly until lunch, but OK since then.

Today was the halloween party at nursery. Barnaby wore a spider cape thingy, but kept telling everyone that he was Robin Hood. Amelia didn't go in costume, but I did dress her in a black t-shirt (Jenni's present from last week), a black and orange corduroy dress and orange tights so she looked very halloween-ish without being in actual costume (perhaps next year).

I did try to get some pictures of them both today, dressed up. However, because we've only got mobile phone cameras now (and low resolution ones) the photos are not so great. However, the graininess of Barnaby's photos make him look rather goulish which is, at least, suitable!





(Every year since Barnaby was born I have made a calender of family photos. I fear that this year's calender will either not look very good or simply not happen at all. I think that perhaps Sheep and I should buy ourselves a good digital camera for Christmas this year, to ensure that we can get some decent photos of them in the futre.)

Anyway back to Halloween. I think Barnaby had a very good day. There was apple-bobbing, face-painting and other games. However, Barnaby complained that he wasn't feeling very well by the time he got home. I do so hope that he hasn't got what I had yesterday.

Amelia had a good day at nursery; she ate well and slept for over an hour. She has also been doing more 'cruising'. This evening, while we were getting Barnaby and Amelia ready for bed (we skipped Barnaby's bath as he was claiming to be ill and very tired so we just went straight to bed) Amelia was holding onto the landing balustrade with just one hand and balancing very confidentally.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Poor Me

I was at work in London today, Barnaby and Amelia at nursey, when I began to feel unwell (rushing to the toilet and almost not making it type unwell!). I decided I'd better cut short my day and return home while I could still make it, pausing only en route to the station for imodium - for fear of embarassing myself on the train home. Since being home, I've been tucked up in bed with Amelia all evening (with frequent trips to the loo), feeling really rotten.

Amelia's day was spent cruising round the nursery again, following another baby, "Alex". I am beginning to think that she could be walking by the end of the year!

And, tentatively, looks like Sheep might be being offered the OU job (subject to references). Not too sure at which point we can celebrate?

Anyway - still feeling awful, so I'm off to sleep.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Skills and Dexterity

Amelia's been doing two things today: First she's starting swapping hands when I'm changing her; if I am getting her dressed/undressed and she's holding something in one hand, she'll swap it into her other hand in order to let me put her arm into/out of clothes.

The other thing she was doing this afternoon was clapping. She and I sat on the sofa today and she was clapping away (with a pretty good sense of rhythm too).

According to the book, "What to Expect the First Year", by the end of nine months, Amelia should be able to:

work to get to a toy out of reach (yes)
look for a dropped object (yes)

...will probably be able to:
pull up to standing from sitting (yes)
get into a sitting positiojn from stomach (yes)
object if you take a toy away (yes)
stand holding on to someone or something (yes)
pick up a tiny object with any part of thumb and finger (yes)
say mama or dada indiscriminately (yes)
play peekaboo (not sure - must try)

...may possibly be ably to:
play patty-cake, clap hands or wave bye-bye (yes - see above)
walk holding on to furniture ("cruise") (yes, as of last week)
understand the word "no" (not sure)

...may even be able to:
"play ball" (roll ball back to you) (not tried)
drink from a cup independently (yes!)
pick up a tiny object neatly with tips of thumb and forefinger (yes)
stand alone momentarily (almost)

Ah yes - the cup drinking. On Thursday I was in John Lewis and I'd forgotten her sippy cup, so the restaurant gave me a beaker. She loved it and and so I bought her a "Doidy cup" - it's like a regualr handled-cup but sloped so you don't need to tip it as much to pour and she is getting on really well with it.

She's also trying to stack bricks (from her walker trolley) although she's not very good at it. She has the right idea though.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

"Helping" Nanny (Not!)

Today Amelia, Barnaby and I went over to Nanny's new house in order to help out, while Sheep waited for the glazier to get the window repaired. Help is perhaps not the right word, although Barnaby started off trying to be helpful, but got carried away and started trying to put anything not nailed down into the cupboard under the stairs...

Amelia had a less than good day: managed to knock herself out with a stray solid brass watering can (which she managed to pull onto herself). I was struggling to fold up her pram outside Nanny's house, and rushed in to find her spreadeagled on the floor with aforementioned brass watering can by her head and a rapidly growing lump on her temple. I can only surmise that she'd been trying to pull herself into a standing position and made an unwise selection of support. In my defense, I had asked Barnaby to watch her, and thought that Nanny was to hand. She wasn't.

In the meantime - the window was repaired - must go, Amelia awake - wants a feed. It's midnight.

Friday, October 27, 2006

What a Week!

In bullet points:

* Internet connection on a 'go slow' or even direct outage all week, hence no blogging. Grrrr and double-grrrrr.
* Tuesday, Amelia reportedly 'cruising' (walking around holding onto furniture) around nursery.
* Wednesday, Amelia gets yet another tooth (number 7: bottom left of centre) - is there no stopping this girl?
* Wednesday, Sheep ill for two days; mysterious bug. He sleeps all day and still feels exhausted.
* Thursday, day at home with Amelia; she starts 'walking' with the baby walker I bought her from the NCT sale. Has no one told her she is only 9 months old?
* I get broody as I feel Amelia is growing up too fast. Where's my baby gone?
* Barnaby's poos are lessening somewhat, but he has a bizarre episode at nursery where he says he's afraid of sitting on the toilet as aliens lurking in the bowl jump up to bite your poo as you are pooing. The nursery staff tell him that the best way to deal with toilet-bowl aliens is to wee or poo on their heads as they don't like it and it sends them back to "Planet La La".
* Barnaby starting to do simple sums on his calculator. What is he going to do when he starts school?
* Sheep interview at OU today (good, we think), my mother moves into her new house (so far, so good) and we get a rock thrown through our window at about 9:30 this evening. If the blinds had not been down, it would have scored a direct hit on Sheep's head which was in the line of fire and about a foot from the window. The police ask if we have any enemies and the only thing that Sheep thinks is the person jailed for burglaring our house in June has been released and is expressing his indignation at our part in his arrest. Or it was a random drunk. Who knows? All I do know is that there was glass everywhere and I've only just finished tidying/cleaning/picking up glass in the living room and it's 12:30. Sheep is sleepin/mounting guard in the living room tonight, we'll call a glazier in the morning. I am only upset at the amount of glass that was everywhere and paranoid about Amelia.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Naming Un-ceremony

I didn't blog last night as we were so tired. (I even fell asleep sitting upright at about 5:00!). However, it was a lovely, lovely day.

In the Childrens' Group during the meeting, they made a collage of a picture of children holding hands in a circle with Barnaby and Amelia in the middle. Even Pippa, who is only 18 months old even coloured in some of them. We now have this picture to keep as a reminder of the day.

The special meeting for worship took place at 12:00 and was attended by Barnaby and Amelia, Sheep and I, my mother, Sheep's parents, Jackie and Derek, Sheep's brother and his wife, Michael and Gabrielle, my sister and partner, Claire and Julian and the other two godmothers, Jenni and Caroline as well as about thirty (at a guess) members of the meeting. Those unable to attend were John Peponis (one of Barnaby's godfathers) and John Branch (Amelia's godfather). John did send a loving message below:

"I formally accept a commitment to Barnaby, to offer friendship and sancturay, so that he can turn to me in times of doubt or difficulty with confidence and trust. I look forward to see him grow and prosper in happiness and wish to be a mentor and a friend as he grows and becomes himself through the circunmstances of his life."

I am happy today, for the occasion you are about to celebrate and sorry that I have not been able to be there with Barnaby and you two.


One of the elders of the meeting, D.R., started the meeting with an introduction and did an excellent job of explaining how Quakers do not have a tradition of baptism or christenings but that they recognised the need to support families and children in such a manner. He also read a passage from Advices and Queries (below). He spoke for about five minutes, then after another five minutes, Sheep and I got to our feet (in a manner very reminiscent of our wedding). I had been breastfeeding Amelia who had dozed off with her still latched on, as it happened, and managed to talk with her still attached, which I think many people didn't realize! I spoke about realising as parents how important family, friends and community are and how parents can not raise children in isolation. This led on to introducing the four of the six 'godparents' or 'supporting friends' who were present. Then three of the four of them chose to speak. Michael and Caroline more or less read out the suggestion that I had sent by email. Jenni also added her own additional promises which were, I recall, love, learning and laughter (I hope I've got those right as I am sure she'll correct me if I have not!).

This took until about 12:15, then there was a period of approximately fifteen minutes left during which there were quite a few ministries, including one by Sheep right at the very end, where he spoke about children always remaining children to their parents and vice versa. There was also a reading from Quaker Faith and Practice (below) and a lovely ministry by A.B. talking about a recent experience of her daughter, R. The Clerk, A. also spoke about the pleasure of the meeting in being about to hold such a meeting. All in all, I could not have wished for a more thoughtful set of ministries. Amelia slept all the way through and Barnaby, who was feeling a little tired and perhaps a little overwhelmed, cuddled peacefully on Sheep's lap all the way through.

This was the reading from Advices and Queries:

Rejoice in the presence of children and young people in your meeting and recognise the gifts they bring. Remember that the meeting as a whole shares a responsibility for every child in its care. Seek for them as for yourself a full development of God's gifts and the abundant life Jesus tells us can be ours. How do you share your deepest beliefs with them, while leaving them free to develop as the spirit of God may lead them? Do you invite them to share their insights with you? Are you ready both to learn from them and to accept your responsibilities towards them? Advices and Queries, number 19.

This was the reading from Quaker Faith and Practice:

21.02 When I was about seven years old, I announced that my favourite text was 'Hitherto hath the Lord helped me'. The elders were amused, but I am not so sure that it was funny after all. The distance from one birthday to the next seems infinite to a small child, and 'the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts'. Looking back over many years, I fancy my choice now would be much the same. I am not prepared, here and now, to analyse and define the reasons, but I can only say that this quiet certainty has run all through my life linking up babyhood and youth and middle age with the latest stretch of the road and 'hitherto', though sometimes almost slipping through one's fingers, that golden thread has never wholly escaped my grasp.

Elizabeth Fox Howard, 1943


The meeting ended shortly after 12:30 with a shaking of hands as is usual practice. Then we all went into the nursery/pre-school room for lunch, which Mum and I had bought yesterday, with Amelia. Everyone was very helpful setting everything out, but in particular Mum and Jenni who just set to and did most of the unwrapping and setting out etc. There was also an unfeasibly large amout of chocolate cake provided by everyone! Six I think! Barnaby's lunch consisted of some bread and some cake. After lunch, we arrived back home at 2:00ish and drank some Champagne. After a glass or two, everyone began to disappear, starting with Michael and Gabrielle as she was about to get on a plane to Helsinki!

To our surprise everyone had left by about 4:30 and we all just collapsed with exhaustion. What a wonderful day though. And now Barnaby and Amelia have three 'godparents' apeice.

Jenni took some photos of the day, which are currently online as a photocast. I will download some and re-upload them on my blog (assuming she doesn't mind). There are obviously none taken of the meeting for worship or the meeting room as that's not allowed.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention, Jenni bought Amelia a lovely silver charm bracelet as an 'un-christening', 'un-naming' gift. (And a really cool t-shirt too as a non-non gift!). What lovely friends we have.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Weekend of the Naming Thing

We are all starting to gather for tomorrow. Sheep's parents arrived yesterday and my mother arrived this morning. My friend Jenni is also staying here tonight (one of Amelia's godmothers). Barnaby seemed to really enjoy the company of three of his four grandparents today, especially his grandfather, Grandpa Derek. My mother and I took Amelia to the supermarket in order to buy food for tomorrow. It looksl like we are still expecting four of our six godparents to be there in person. I'll try and get some photos of tomorrow to post on the blog.

One of our concerns is how to ensure that Barnaby has enough clean 'smart' pairs of trousers to get him through the day.

Sheep and I are still not sure what it is that we are going to say tomorrow. I hope that we can manage to say something coherent tomorrow.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Countdown to Naming Ceremony

Well, it's this weekend and people have starting arriving. Sheep's parents arrived this evening and are staying in a hotel near by. My mother is arriving in the morning. Unfortunately we're two down on the godparent front. John Peponis has been unable to route his ticket from Greece to the USA via Milton Keynes and Sheep's friend, Jon Branch, is unfortunately away. However, we will have four of the six godparents (or supporting adults) present. Tomorrow we also have Jenni to stay so it should be quite a house full.

I'm afraid Sheep and I have not been able to give the naming ceremony much thought yet, as we had a paper deadline tonight (yes, we got it submitted, but only by the skin of our teeth) for a conference in Baton Rouge and I had a hectic day teaching at UCL today.

Amelia had a good day at nursery again, everyone remarks on what a smiley girl she is and how good natured she is. She drank 5 1/2 fl oz of milk this afternoon as well.

On the topic of milk, I am beginning to consider weaning her off breast milk. I feel guilty about even thinking about this, as I didn't start to wean Barnaby until after his first birthday and Amelia is only 9 months old. But, I am finding it hard being back at work and still breastfeeding. And the nights are currently hard too; sInce her recent vomit-fest she is waking a lot at night and that makes it very difficult for me. If she is starting to accept a bottle, perhaps that is the way forward. However, I also want to be fair and treat her as I did Barnaby.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Caravans and Sign Language

This will be a very quick post. Today Sheep and I took Amelia to the National Exhbition Centre at Birmingham to see the "International Caravan & Motorhome 2006 Exhibition". Doesn't that sound geeky? I have been fantasizing, for a while now, about getting a caravan (or similar) in order to take future family holidays. The problem is that neither Sheep nor I come from familys that took holidays. We just didn't! So, it's hard for us to think about family holidays as we have no frame of reference. Anyway, we had a fun time today... we took Amelia on the train to Birmingham and explored lots of caravans. Actually we were most taken by trailer 'campers' (not quite tent, not quite caravan!) and in particular the "Conway Countryman" 4 berth camper by the Pennine Group. So who knows, may next year? Anyway, I think we all had a fun time - Amelia included.

Then this evening, I attended a parents' infomation evening at the nursery. They are starting to do sign language there ("Tiny Talk") and I really went along to see how similar it was to the Makaton sign language that we did with Barnaby. It's about 80% similar from what I can gauge (well, they are both based on BSL). So, it looks like we'll all be starting to sign with Amelia very soon.

On the subject of caravans and communication, before dinner, Barnaby was sitting at the dinner table drawing a caravan (we'd brought him back a picture to draw on) and he asked me how to write caravan underneath his drawing. Because I was sitting on the opposite side of the table and so couldn't show him, I simply told him the letter name and its phonetic sound in trhe correct sequence and - he wrote down the word caravan! Just like that! I was completely astonished. I know he can just about write "Barnaby", but to just write "caravan" as if it were something he did every day of the week! (Admittedly, he got one of his As upside down - but no big deal). I am so, so proud of him - he is so smart.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Day with Amelia and Conversation about Love

So, today was a Ruth and Amelia day. It was nice to be with her: lots of smiles and cuddles. In the morning, she slept in my arms for a bit (at about 9:00; she's starting to drop her morning nap, but sometimes gets a bit sleepy...), we played with some toys together, I tried to cook her lunch (she wasn't terribly impressed with my mixed vegetables and pasta!). After her lunch, at midday, I took her in the car to Ikea. Her first trip! She slept for a fair amount of the visit, but we also managed to fit in a nappy change and a feed. Then it was home to drop off our acquisitions and off again to the NCT coffee group, which was really nice as almost all the babies there today were about Amelia's age and so they're all starting to crawl around now and interact with each other in a really nice way.

I left Amelia with Sheep when I went to collect Barnaby from nursery. As I arrived he'd just had an accident in the playground having hit his forehead with quite an impact (we were watching him for signs of concussion over tea) causing a huge lump to appear. On the way home, he was obviously feeling a bit sorry for himself and asked me if I loved him. Naturally I reassured him in no uncertain terms that I did. He said that Maureen (one of the nursery assistants) said that she loved him but sometimes she didn't if he was naughty. I reassured him that there was nothing he could do that would stop me from loving him. He obviously thought about this a lot on the way home and asked who else I loved. I said that I loved Daddy and Amelia (I would have got on to more, but he stopped me there with more questions). Then, after some more questions and obvious reflection, he asked me if I loved myself. What an interesting question! I asked him if he loved himself and he said no without any hesitation.

Then over tea, Barnaby was talking about his current best friend at nursery, a boy called John. He said that he loved John and I remarked that that was nice. He then stated, musingly, that John didn't love him. Neither Sheep nor I commented on this and then he said, almost to himself, "And so I must shoot him!". It doesn't sound funny written down (in fact it sounds worrying psychotic, I know) but the tone of voice in which he said it, just sounded so hilarious, it was all Sheep and I could do not to burst out laughing. Incidentally, I'm not sure that Barnaby even knows what 'shooting' is, as it is not a word or concept that we've ever introduced him to.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Amelia's Nursery Days

Well, Amelia seems to have had a good couple of days at nursery. Today she not only slept well but also drank a whopping 6 fl oz of milk this afternoon. I can't begin to describe how happy that makes me. She really seems to have settled down. However, I am looking forward to her and I spending the day together tomorrow; I feel a bit 'out of touch' with her having spent two days at nursery in a row. How will I feel when she's there five days? I am truly glad she's settling, but I'm feeling a little deprived of her company.

Last night was the night of bizarre dreams. First Barnaby had a nightmare; he told Sheep that he'd dreamt that he had rescued Sheep (or all of us, I am not sure) from a burning building (shades of firefighters meets Spiderman?). So Sheep brought him into our bed, at which point he fell instantly fast asleep, so spreadeagled that Sheep didn't even bother trying to get back into bed, but went to sleep next door (so one of us had a good night last night). Sometime shortly after this point I started to have a really disturbing dream. I was lying, in reality, with Amelia to my right and Barnaby to my left and in my dream we were lying together in exactly the same way, but we were all on a raft floating on pitch black, cold water. It was perhaps a moat or something as there was an old, smooth stone wall rising straight upwards from the water immediately to one side of us. Just below the surface of the water I could see or sense an abundance of water weed and I was afraid of entanglement. And so I lay there, in my dream, terrified to move in case I rocked the raft and either Barnaby or Amelia were sent tumbling into the cold, murky depths.

Clearly an anxiety dream. Do parents ever stop being anxious about their children?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Label Counting

Well, bizarrely, it's actually been quite a relaxing day today.

Although last night was a bit awful. I usually give Amelia a bit of a breastfeed at about midnight. I know that I should probably have stopped this habit by now (the advice with bottle-ed babies is to substitute the night feed for water, until they realise that it's not worth waking up for!), but she tends to nurse at about midnight, which is usually when I go to bed, so it's not exactly an inconvenience for me and that is why the habit has persisted. However, this last week has seen Amelia waking repeatedly, demanding to be fed and then falling asleep on the breast and reawakening as soon as I move myself away. It came to a head on Friday night, when, essentially, I had no sleep at all. Last night looked like it was going the same way, so Sheep banished me from the bedroom. (I was at my wits' end, having had next to no sleep since Thursday night at this point!) So, I kipped in the spare room (a.k.a. Amelia's room) for about three hours (approx. 2-5 am), so at least I got some sleep - bliss. She woke three times in during these three hours, and Sheep coaxed her back to sleep, without a breastfeed, obviously! However, this development clearly needs some attention. I suspect that her suddent re-interest in night-feeding has developed since her recent vomit-fest, which makes sense because if you've just emptied your stomach a few hours earlier, you might well feel both hungry and in need of some physical comfort. However, especially since I am working again, I can't really accommodate too many sleepless nights like Friday/Saturday night.

We made it to meeting, which was great! Our first time in three weeks (the last two Sundays we couldn't go because of the above-mentioned vomiting). Everything seems broadly set for their naming ceremony or "meeting for worship to bear witness to the committment to Barnaby and Amelia by their supporting friends...". Then we had lunch at Wagamamas (with our friends from meeting/NCT/nursery etc.). Afterwards, I had volunteered to help add up labels for the NCT as part of my contribution to yesterday's sale. My original plan had been to leave Sheep and Barnaby at Wagamamas and take Amelia with me in the car; Amelia was then to fall asleep in the car and sleep throughout most of my label-adding etc. etc. The best laid plans, eh? Barnaby simply refused to let me go; he just became really clingy (his-arms-wrapped-round-my-legs-style clingy). So the outcome was that we all turned up for label-adding! For a while, Barnaby sat next to me, calculator in hand, and pretended to add up tickets himself (how wonderful!). However, this wasn't really working too well though (in that it was unsustainable over a long period of time). And Amelia hadn't slept, as per my original plan. Then another friend of mine turned up to count labels, who has a daughter in Barnaby's nursery class and a baby Amelia's age. So Barnaby started to run round and play with this other little girl (and they played really nicely all afternoon) while Sheep put Amelia in her pram and joined my friend's husband (whom he knows too) for a walk round the park (which eventually turned into coffee at a coffee shop. And Amelia got to have her nap in the pram afterall. So, although I spent from 1:30-5:15 adding up labels on a calculator whilst watching Barnaby out of the corner of my eye, it was actually a remarkably peaceful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

And after all his running around with Catherine, Barnaby was asleep by 6:30!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Away Break

The week beginning 30th October is the reading week at UCL. Sheep and I have been talking about needing a bit of a break and it occurred to us that we could actually take a short break away. We're not going for the whole week, partially because my mother will have just moved in and I'd like to be around to help out (it would be a bit awful, if she moved down here only to have us disappear the moment she arrives!). So, we are thinking of having a long weekend away, from Thursday 2nd November until Sunday 5th. We are considering staying in a Youth Hostel in Stow-on-the-Wold, in the Chilterns, which has family rooms, a children's menu, a cot etc. And it's only an hour and 20 minutes away, so it should be pretty low-stress in terms of travelling. There's also some fun things to do with children in the area: In Bourton-on-the-Water, which is close by, there is a miniature village, which I think Barnaby would like as well as "The Model Railway Exhibition" which is meant to be the largest model railway anywhere - what could Barnaby not like about that? Anyway, this is currently our plan... and the Isle of Wight was OK.

NCT Sale

Well, it was the NCT sale today - and I got some things, but hadn't registered in time (you needed to register by 29th September) to be a seller (more's the pity). However, I have now already registed for the April sale. I got in early, as I am volunteering to do some label counting tomorrow. This is what I got:

Toys

Amelia

Wooden push trolly with 24 letter bricks (the kind for when you start walking, usually about £25/£30) £4.00
Caterpiller toy £1.25
Bead ball rattle thing £1.00

Amelia toys £6.25

Barnaby

Spiderman outfit with mask £2.00
Builder's mask 50p
Road puzzle with 39 pieces £2.25
Pack of 4 Mr Men books £1
Pack of 4 Mr Men books £1
Pack of 4 Mr Men books £1
Wooden digger/crane £1.50
35 piece Bob the builder puzzle £2.50
And a free balloon!

Barnaby toys £11.75

Total toys £18.00

Barnaby Clothes

Brown linen Okaidi trousers, age 5 £2.50
Green Okaidi t-shirt, age 5 £1.00
Blue cord trousers, 4-5, £3.50
Next blue trousers, age 5 £1.50
Adams black/white check button-down shirt, age 4, £1.25
Levi-Strauss black jeans, age 4, £2.50
Brown Ladybird (computer circuit) t-shirt, 75p
Brown/teal stripe Okaidi long-sleave t-shirt £1.50
Red/oatmeal stripe Okaidi long-sleave t-shirt £1.50
Next blue 'snake' long-sleave t-shirt £1.00
Next brown cords (really lovely), age 5, £2.00
Pair of Mothercare Spiderman pyjamas, age 4-5, £1.50

Total Barnaby £20.50

Amelia (all size 12-18 months)

Black velvet Adam's pinafore dress, with embroidered coloured floweres, £1.25
H&M purple/orange summer dress, £1.25
OshKosh dark raspberry corderoy dungarees, £2.00
Orange/purple chenille jumper, £1.00
Pair of lovely Petit Bateau long-sleave tops (orange pin-stripe & oatmeal pin-stripe), £2.50
Really gorgious Vert Baudet cardigan, beige outside, stripy inside with MOP buttons (!), £2.00
Red Benetton t-shirt, long-sleaved, £2.00
Navy cord trousers, by George, £1.00
Dark raspberry red velvet trousers, £1.50
Mothercare cream polo-neck body, 50p
Thick padded purple/lilac winter coat by Next, £3.50
3 pairs of wooly tights, inc. orange and red, £1.50

Total Amelia £20.00

Total clothes £40.50

Friday, October 13, 2006

I Think We're All Settling in to a Routine

Today wasn't too bad. First of all, Barnaby slept in, which meant that Sheep and I could get up, ablute and get Amelia dressed first, rather than being rudely awoken by an energetic toddler leaping into our midst. It's amazing what a different perspective such a start gives to your day! So, all in all, the morning was pretty calm (apart from Barnaby almost going into meltdown because I'd set the breakfast table the night before, which meant that he couldn't do it... and there was I thinking that I was being efficient). Sheep took Amelia into nursery, she was in the pram, Barnaby on his scooter, and they both seemed to have had a good day. Amongst Amelia's activities today were looking at books, playing with Megablox, singing and playing with electronic toys that go 'beep'. Interestingly, we have toys that go 'beep' which we've not replaced the batteries in since Barnaby was playing with them. Perhaps we should get around to resurrecting them for her.

They are also going to start baby signing in the baby room at nursery. They've all been on 'Baby Talk' courses and I was given a form this evening to fill in indicating whether we want to attend an evening parents' session and/or buy a pack/video/dvd... Of course, we did baby signing with Barnaby - with him we used Makaton (which is very like BSL) and he got on like a house on fire with it. So we're quite happy for her to start with nursery, it's a very good time for her as well, with her first birthday on the horizon (well, she's almost nine months old).

Sheep's telling me to stop blogging and come to bed. So, I'd better go!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Not Much of a Fun Day for Amelia

Poor Amelia - today's been a bit of a drag for her. I'm teaching a workshop tomorrow, for which I have a teaching assistant. However, my TA has disappeared for the weekend and should have left some important files somewhere where they were accessible. The consequence was that I had to 're-do' a lot of work this morning. So there I was tapping away on my computer, with Amelia desperately trying to get my attention. (Which she is pretty good at, I must say), but I kept on working, after pausing for the odd cuddle. The afternoon wasn't much better, as I took her grocery shopping. However, she is so good-natured, I am so lucky.

She's also started crawling a lot more. If I leave her in one room, to go into the kitchen, for example, she'll follow me, and before I know it she's half way into the kitchen! She manages her way over/round obstacles pretty well too. I get the feeling that she'll be quite adventuresome when she's older. The days of leaving her in one location and having her be there on my return are long gone.

Barnaby had a fun day at nursery today. They're studying (if 'studying' is the right word) foods from other cultures at the moment and all of the pre-school room were taken off to a chinese restaurant for lunch today, to sample chinese food. Of course, Barnaby is pretty 'au fait' with restaurants and Chinese-style food as we eat at Wagamamas regularly, and it seems like he had a good time.

Barnaby's fixation at the moment is a calculator that Sheep found when he was going through boxes of books. He is fascinated with it - the way he can press a number-button and it appears on the little screen. He is memorised by the act of making strings of 1s or 8s. So much so he's started to take it to bed with him. (Ok- this might also be down to the fact that when he was having a nightmare about aliens in the loft on Tuesday night, Sheep told him that the calculator would protect him against not only aliens but monsters and daddy-long-legs (his trio of terrors)).

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

New Teeth

Amelia pooed in the night - big time, so I took her through to the changing mat in her room and turned on the bright light (serious clean-up job!). Naturally, she objected to this, somewhat, having gone from being sleepy (albeit a little uncomfortable) in a darkened room to suddenly being placed under a bright light (but believe me - she needed it - it was everywhere!). Naturally, she cried in indignation. That was when I noticed - she's got four new teeth and I didn't even notice!!! One is protruding more than the others, the top left of the middle ones, as you look at her. I estimate that that one appeared about three days ago. The other three are all at the same stage, just through the skin of the gums and these are the other top three, the middle top right and then the two either side of the top middle two. Way to go Amelia - no doing anything by halves, eh? However, I feel a bit bad that I've been so preoccupied with work that I only noticed once they were all through...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Lack of Blogging

Well, I've not really blogged for a week - frankly I'm feeling the strain of trying to work and mother and everything... This last week has been horrendous. First, last night was the first night since my posting last week, that Amelia didn't vomit! (The doctor suggested that perhaps catarrh has been draining into her stomach, while she is lying down and that's what's upsetting her stomach. Who knows?). Saturday night was awful as Barnaby started vomitting as well, so both of them were vomitting in unison. (As Sheep says, synchronised vomitting will be the next Olympic sport!). Friday and Monday are my UCL days at the moment. On Thursday night I had only about 3 hours sleep because of Amelia vomitting and then had to be in UCL to deliver my first lecture. How I managed it, I don't know, but lots of strong coffee contributed. On Saturday we drove to London, en famille, to collect boxes of books from my office (my colleague has run out of patience with having her office look like a storage depot for Sheep's books!). Saturday was actually quite nice as we had a bit of a mooch through Islington and met up with our friends. Little did we know that the night of the mass-vomit lay ahead.

Sunday we skipped meeting, again, as we were unsure about whether Amelia's condition was just catarrh or not - but given Barnaby joining in, we thought that we'd better not risk passing it on!). Then to Monday, another UCL day and another lecture - this time I had a little more sleep (although Amelia did still have a vomit-fest again on Sunday night) but in my rush to get Barnaby and Amelia to nursery on time I missed my own breakfast and once I'd arrived at UCL I had so much work to do that I missed lunch as well (and still managed to deliver a two hour lecture having not eaten since Sunday!). No wonder I've not blogged. And as for the laundry - what with washing a set of bedclothes every night, it's all backing up. Frankly, I am not coping at all.

Amelia news - at nursery on Friday she actually drank 4 fl oz of milk, at last, hallelujah! Today she had 4.5 fl oz. She is really settling in. Lovely girl. There's a woman there called Jackie (about my mother's age) whom Amelia has taken a real shine to and loves to cuddle. She is also appearing to like the company of the other babies. Today, when I dropped her off, she was happy to be there and didn't blink an eye when I left. Although, on the bad news front, she sustained an injury at nursery today. Her finger became trapped in the gate (to the baby room) when a member of staff came through. It's red and sore. They applied a cold compress to it and gave her lots of cuddles. I suppose these things happen from time to time. It didn't seem to affect how she felt about being there though.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Email to 'Godparents'

Dear 'supporting friends' (a.k.a. godparents),

I'm sorry to have been so quiet about the impending ceremony (oops, not really meant to use the word ceremony, but you know what I mean) for Barnaby and Amelia. As far as I am aware, you are all able to attend (bar one).

It's been a difficult time for me recently, with going back to work and with Amelia starting nursery and somehow, October seems to have suddenly crept up upon me, so I am sorry that you are only getting this email now, detailing what is to take place.

I thought that I had better begin to let you know what to expect.

Date: Sunday 22nd October, 2006

Location: The Quaker Centre
1 Oakley Gardens
Downhead Park
Milton Keynes
MK15 9BH

Directions by road:

From M1 Junction 14

Take A509 towards Milton Keynes. At first roundabout (Northfield) take 3rd exit on to A509 (H5 Portway).
Over 2 further roundabouts. At North Overgate roundabout turn right on to Overstreet (V9), right again into Fairford Crescent, then immediately right into Oakley Gardens. The Quaker Centre is on the corner on your right. Please park considerately.

From the A5.
Turn off at the A509, over 6 roundabouts. Turn left at North Overgate roundabout onto Overstreet (V9), right again into Fairford Crescent, then immediately right into Oakley Gardens. The Quaker Centre is on the corner on your right. Please park considerately.

Or, you can find a map at:

www.streetmap.co.uk/newmap.srf?x=486548&y=240263&z=0&sv=MK15+9BH&st=2&pc=MK15+9BH&mapp=newmap.srf&searchp=newsearch.srf

(Lifts to/from Luton airport/Milton Keynes Railway Station available. Please ask)

Essentially, the usual meeting for worship will take place at 10:30 and will last until 11:30. Barnaby and Amelia will be attending this for the first 15 minutes only, after which they will leave to attend the 'children's group' for the rest of the hour. At 11:30 there will be a chance for a cup of tea and a chat. Then the meeting for Barnaby and Amelia will begin at 12:00 and will be a shortened meeting that will last about 30 minutes.

If you can manage it (time and travel-wise) I think that it would be easiest if you could manage to arrive in time to attend the 10:30 meeting for worship, as there is only a short half-hour gap between the two meetings, which doesn't leave much time (to arrive, say hello etc.). If you do attend the first meeting, with children, they will be very welcome to join the 'children's group' (mostly drawing/stories). Please let me know when you intend to arrive.

The format of the meeting is that it will last 30 minutes. The meeting will be partially structured/partially silent. It will begin with a general introduction given by one of the Friends from the meeting (possibly a reading from Quaker Faith and Practice).

After a short period of silence, Sheep and/or I will be probably say something (t.b.c.). Then this will be followed by a brief period during which each of the six 'supporting friends' (three for Barnaby, three for Amelia) may say something in turn (or not, should you wish to remain silent). Just to give you an idea of the kind of thing that you might wish to say, this following text is adapted from the Humanist naming/welcoming ceremony,

"I formally accept a commitment to Barnaby/Amelia [one or the other], to offer friendship and sanctuary, so that s/he can turn to me in times of doubt or difficulty with confidence and trust."

Should you wish to think of your own promises to Barnaby and Amelia, this would be lovely. The above text is simply to help you get started, should you want to say something different, or as a fallback, should you wish to use it.

After all of us have made our promises, the meeting will conclude with another period of silence (although, in the spirit of Quaker worship, there may be additional contributions) after which Elders will close the Meeting.

Once the meeting has concluded, it is our intention to celebrate with chocolate cake, which we will provide (you are, of course, more than welcome to bring a contribution!) which will be served in the meeting house and everyone is more than welcome to join us in its consumption.

After this, it is my proposal that those of the supporting friends and immediate family who wish to go out for Sunday lunch should then leave for Sunday lunch. My initial suggestion is that we should come back to our house for lunch (please confirm if you would like to do this).

I trust that this is clear. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Email from Council

From: "AandT"
To: sheep@ovinity.co.uk
Subject: Web Admissions Applications.
Date: Wed, 04 Oct 2006 19:47:57 +0100

Dear Dr Ruth Dalton

Thank you for submitting your application using the Online Admissions Application Service.
You have submitted preferences for the following schools:

1 Loughton Manor First School (2506) Milton Keynes Council

2 Glastonbury Thorn School (2347) Milton Keynes Council

3 Caroline Haslett Primary School (2336) Milton Keynes Council


Changes can be made to this selection until 01/12/2006.

Kind Regards,

Admissions Administrator

Barnaby's School Application

This year, Milton Keynes Council has started to use the web for all its applications to schools. The site 'opened' for applications at 10:00 on Monday 2nd October. I tried to fill in Barnaby's application at 10:01 (I had an alarm set on my mobile 'phone; is that sad?) only to meet with unsurmountable technical problems. Today I finally received a response to my technical-support 'help' email. This is an extract from the council's email reply:

Thank you for trying to apply online for a school place for your child. As you know, there were some difficulties yesterday which meant that a new password was issued. You have probably been able to register your details but, unfortunately, have not been able to make an application. This difficulty applies only to a small number of parents who attempted to apply before approximately 2.00 pm yesterday. Any registrations and applications submitted after that time have been processed without difficulty. Meanwhile the IT Section is working with the programme supplier to resolve the problem so that you will be able to use the system.

So, this evening I tried again and this time I was sucessful! Here is a copy of Barnaby's school application:

APPLICANT'S DETAILS
Dr Ruth Dalton is the adult responsible for the child in this application and is making an application for Single Point of Entry 2007. The details below are relevant to this application.

Applicant's Address: (removed from blog)
PostCode: (removed from blog)
Gender: Female
Relationship to pupil: Mother
Do you have parental responsibility for this child?: Yes

Child Details
Forename/given name: Aidan
Middle name(s): Barnaby
Surname/family name: Dalton
Date of Birth Day:11 Month:1 Year:2003
Gender: Male
Postcode: (removed from blog)

Applications
Preference School: 1
Name of School: Loughton Manor First School
Post code of School: MK5 8FA
Please tick any of the following reasons for your preference for this school. you may tick as many reasons as you like.
* Distance (home to preferred school)

Preference School: 2
Name of School: Glastonbury Thorn School
Post code of School MK5 6AB
Please tick any of the following reasons for your preference for this school. you may tick as many reasons as you like.
* Distance (home to preferred school)

Preference School: 3
Name of School: Caroline Haslett Primary School
Post code of School MK5 7DF
Please tick any of the following reasons for your preference for this school. you may tick as many reasons as you like.
* Distance (home to preferred school)

I think that we are notified about Barnaby's place in the early Spring. We were having a discussion about the relative merits of the local primary schools at the NCT coffee group this afternoon and the general consensus seemed to be that all of the three that I have selected are pretty good, with not a lot to choose between them. So my order of preference is purely geographical (Loughton Manor First School is only about 10 minutes walk from our house). However, it's no coincidence that all the school local to us have good reputations - I checked them out before moving here!

Well, at least that's one less task off my mind...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Bug or Allergic Reaction?

My mother's been here for the weekend and it's been very pleasant. However, Amelia has not been well. I don't know if it is a bug she picked up from nursery on Friday or an allergic reaction to the antibiotics. If I look at the side-effects/symptons of allergic reaction to Amoxicillin, it says

Side effects of amoxicillin allergic reaction to amoxicillin may include upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, colitis, confusion, convulsions, dizziness, hives, liver problems and jaundice, fungal infections, rash, tooth discoloration in children, and appetite loss. (from http://allergic-reaction-to-amoxicillin-nbr.blogspot.com/)

Anyway, she was copiously sick last night (we got little sleep between 3 and 6 am) and so I didn't give her any amoxicillin today, and only gave her very bland, non-milky food. Then just before bed this evening, I thought I'd risk giving her some more - and she was very, very sick (about 30 minutes later). It was all in her hair - I had to hold her over the sink and wash her hair and even then I couldn't get the bits out, I had to use a comb. Poor Amelia (It was also in her ear - I had to use cotton wool to pick out the bits of vomit stuck around her ear).

What to do? I don't want to give amoxicillin. I will try and speak to the doctor tomorrow. But, I might be wrong. It might have been a bug she picked up from nursery. Either way, she'd been very ill.