Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve, part the second

Busy day.
The turkey is stuffed and waiting to be put in the oven at 8am in the morning. I have crafted it a bacon carapace to protect the breast meat and I have to admit I am quite proud of it. I didn't want to use the nice farm shop bacon to go on the turkey as the result is usually a stiff shape of dry inedibleness so I thought I would just buy some cheap streaky bacon from the supermarket. They didn't have any so I had to buy back bacon. You can't just slap back bacon onto a turkey breast, it would look silly, so I cut it into thin strips and made a sort of herring-bone pattern on the bird. Lady Gaga would be proud of the result, believe me. Also there are some very happy birds in my Mums garden, feasting on bacon fat and left over bread crumbs from the stuffing. There were a lot of bread crumbs, the birds wont go hungry for quite some time.
I have made a pudding with some seriously alcoholic sponge fingers in the base. Don't eat and drive, that's the message this year.
I have baked biscuits. They're covered in green sparkly icing and are stacked up into Christmas tree shapes and they look quite yummy. I only hope they survive till tomorrow morning, not that I'm accusing any member of my family of being illicit biscuit nibblers.... but I know them all very well and the temptation can be hard.
I made mince pies with puff pastry. They haven't come out quite as well as I hoped they would, but they're ok and I will be putting one out on a plate with a glass of sherry. I'm not expecting Santa, but I think Andy would probably like it as a reward for tidying up the house so well while I was out.
Joseph, in the meantime, has spent the day giving poor Granddad the run around and generally showing off his block stacking skills.
Debbie and Hope were playing and Joseph wanted to join in. Debbie said that Joseph wasn't big enough to know what to do and Joseph gave Granddad a withering look. Joseph knows what to do when it comes to stacking, he will try and stack anything. He took his naps, ate his food and impressed Granny even with that. She gave him a spoon to have a go and with a little bit of help (well ok, a lot) he managed to get some of it into his mouth!
And I was too busy baking to see any of it.

Christmas Eve

I'm having a think through of all the things I need to do today and praying that none of the things that can go wrong actually do.
We're a bit unlucky in that way, over the years we seem to have attracted more than our fair share of things going bang (or "phut" or "Eeeee..eee...eee....ump...) especially during the festive season. On Thursday evening I was playing a computer game. I feel I had earned the right to some down time, I'd had a long day at work and we'd got Joseph safely to bed and Andy was grilling me some sausages for my tea.
I hadn't noticed the smell, probably something to do with the sizzling sausages. I love the smell of sausages cooking and it was a bit of a distraction. Andy wandered in and pointed out that something "smelled hot". This might sound a little odd to anyone who doesn't have a large amount of computer experience, but they do indeed smell hot when they are just about to....
It died and even when left to cool down it did not want to re awaken. I was unhappy, Andy was annoyed. We took a guess that it was probably the power supply, but there was nothing we could do about it and we ate and went to bed. On Friday I had to have a whole day computer free. You never realise how much you use the thing until it's not there. I do so much on my PC, there are games, video streaming off the web, social networks and this blog of mine. Without it I felt somewhat anchorless and rather glum, especially as I was going to spend the day making some Christmas cards for my family using my die cutting machine that can only work when plugged into my PC.
On the Friday morning we whipped the power supply out of the machine and had a look. Inside we found a small fuse that had a whiff overcooked electronics about it and a distinct black patina on its insides. We had pushed the power supply too far and its little fuse had given up. Clearly with the new kit we had put in not too long ago we just asking too much of the poor thing.
As it was Christmas Eve Eve and surviving the whole festive season PC-less was too much to take, Andy made a special trip to buy a new power supply and thanks to the kindness of his bosses was allowed home early.
Yay! Much ringing of bells, joyfulness and dancing. My husband is home early and the computer is working again and it wasn't the expensive job we had feared. Hurrah!
A few years ago our dishwasher blew up on Christmas day. It made a proper loud bang, it did.
When I was still living with my parents our boiler got tired and died on Christmas eve. My Mum even has a story of her cooker giving up and refusing to work in a slightly explosive style, right before her parents were arriving for Christmas.
Please please, let nothing go bang this year, I don't think I could take it.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Twas the night before the night before.....

This is a sort of 'pre' blog, a blog about what is about to happen.
Tomorrow is Christmas eve and I've got a lot to do.
I did the big Christmas grocery shop today. Here's a tip, I don't care how much it hurts, you have to get up early to go to the supermarket. I got there just past 8am and it was ok, about as busy as an average Saturday. By the time I left at nearly 9am it was chock-a-block. The car park was full and it looked like fights were breaking out next to the sprouts. Even at 8am I had to move empty boxes of vegetables out of the way to get to the good stuff underneath. If there's only unhappy broccoli with long stalks left, take a look underneath, it's where they hide the good stuff.
That done I went to Grannys house and dropped off the stuff needed for the big day and headed home with boxing day supplies and a slightly unhappy child. He'd not slept and didn't want to.
Andy came home early and brought snacks. I ate some of the snacks and then made a slim flat sponge cake. Tomorrow said sponge will be cut into fingers and soaked in amaretto and coffee. This will then be doused in mascarpone whipped up with icing sugar and egg white. The whole lot will be left to set in the fridge and will hopefully turn into a tiramisu for the grand finale of my culinary feat. Mum just didn't fancy a Christmas pudding this year, and while I do rather like them I also appreciate they can be a bit filling.
Also tomorrow I must make some biscuits and turn them into Christmas trees and stuff a turkey. First I have to persuade someone to go and collect the turkey who this year has been named Timothy. Two years ago we had a turkey called Gerald who, through a pound and kilogram mix up ended up much bigger than expected. This year I am assured the same mistake has not been made and Timothy will be quite tiny in comparison.
After that there is a gratin to make, spuds to roast, a prawny starter to construct and various things to be done to carrots to make them - well - interesting. The big day is going to be spent having Gordon Ramsay moments in the kitchen, as the man seems to work on the premise that high stress levels in kitchens somehow turn into food.
Actually, although the scale of the feat is something to behold, I am actually looking forward to it. I do enjoy cooking, I just hope that my energy levels hold and that the cashier in the supermarket hasn't passed on his germs as he did sneeze in my direction. Ha, that'd be just my luck, have it all planned out and ready and then be to ill with a stupid cold to eat any of it.
I am ready and am taking a pre-emptive dose of decongestants and pain killers. They wont keep me down, not when I'm on a mission......

Monday, 19 December 2011


Has anyone else noticed that GP surgeries work on the principle of the inverse square law?
The longer you're kept waiting, the shorter your appointment will be.
Joseph had his one year review today. We were waiting for over half an hour and the entire appointment took less than three minutes. Well, there simply wasn't much to discuss in his case - any problems? No. Any worries? No. His heart and hips are fine. Good. Bye, then.
If I hadn't needed to get a page filled in in his little red book of health then I wouldn't have bothered going. Joseph hates stethoscopes and seems to be developing something of a mistrust of medical people, probably something to do with the fact that whenever he meets them he's either having his hips wiggled about, having cold things put on his chest, having his little feet stabbed for a blood sample or having large needles shoved deep into the muscles in his little legs. I keep telling him that the alternative, catching diphtheria or meningitis C or some other nasty, is a lot worse but he doesn't really understand. All he can say at the moment is "Daddy" and "Nanana" (stressed like "banana" which I think is the word he's aiming for). I am "Daddy", random people waiting in the surgery were "Daddy", the chair was pointed at and called "Daddy". "Mama" seems to have got a bit lost recently, haven't heard any of his "Muh" sounds in a while.

If all is well for Joseph then the last he need see of a health professional will be in slightly under a months time for his MMR. He'll probably hate that one as well, but the risks associated with measles are too serious to ignore and I really don't want him to get mumps as Andy has never had mumps and it can be quite serious for adult males if they catch it. As for rubella, given the problems associated with that illness and the risks involved if you pass it on to a pregnant woman then I think you'd be a bit silly not to have the jab. Besides, if he's immunised then that's three reasons why he wont have to see a health professional again for quite some time and I am hoping that he grows out of his not totally irrational fears, even if he never finds the idea of an injection palatable.
Me, I was always the little kid who wanted to see what was going on. Where others would pale and keel over, I'd be squiggling about trying to find out what was happening. I was always far more comfortable if I could see, and I still am. The only time in A&E I ever felt uncomfortable was when the doctor wouldn't let me look. I understand why, they were removing a large sewing machine needle from my finger, but all the same I wanted to see.
Joseph, I hope you are not squeamish. Still, if the doctor thinks it's more sensible to patch you up from whatever scrape you've got yourself into without you looking then it's probably better to take their advice. Hey, you're a little boy. There are going to be scrapes.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Jabs, Scabs and Christmas Shopping

It's been a busy old week and no mistake.
We had the next round of immunisation jabs this week and that was what's caused all the problems. He's part of a clinical trial where they're looking at children's immunity levels to see if they actually need as many booster jabs as they are given or whether we can give them less. If less are needed then this is a good thing as it will cost the NHS less and little babies don't have to be jabbed in the leg as much, as it really looks to be a very unpleasant experience giving all the noise Joseph made about it.
To do the trial they need to take blood samples. At least an hour before they're due I have to put analgesic cream on both Josephs hands and elbows and then cover them with a dressing that's like sticky clingfilm to hold it in place. Over that he needs long socks and long sleeves to stop him getting at the dressing. He found this a bit baffling, but then he got used to it. He did look a bit odd, especially as the only socks of his I had that were long enough were the ones with the rubber bobbles on the bottom to help him grip.
The cream worked fine, the problem was that they couldn't get any blood. He was very well behaved, he sat on my knee beautifully still and was absolutely as good as gold save for the fact that he simply wouldn't yield a drop. We rescheduled having not given him his booster jab so that someone else might have a go with a bit more luck.
So, two days later I repeated the procedure with the analgesic cream and the socks. I put him down for his nap and he lay there holding up his little hands, probably wondering why they were green and bobbly once more.
This time he yielded 1/2 a millilitre. Not a lot, but apparently just enough. He's got arms like pincushions now, but they didn't cause him any pain thanks to him being a good boy and sitting still and the lovely pain killing cream.
It was a different story for the boosters. You don't get analgesic cream for those and the moment the first one went in he absolutely hollered. My poor little boy, I did feel awful subjecting him to it, but the alternative is worse. Still, he's got two red marks on each leg now and we have to spend a week measuring them and checking his temperature. It's not as fun as it sounds, especially now he's big enough to try and escape.
Last night he woke up early and refused to go back to sleep. In hindsight I should have reached for the Calpol, but when my sleep is disrupted I don't think clearly. Andy sat up with him for a bit and then we swapped over. He finally fell asleep again at about 6.45am for about an hour which means his schedule has been a bit off today, but no matter.
I wish it all just stopped there. Alas not, 'tis the season to have to brave the crowds to buy stuff you'd normally not bother with. Yes, we've left it later than I would normally but it's just been to manic to think of the festive season until now. We've bought bits for the nieces and nephew and something for each other and that's all. My gift to my Mum is that I'm doing all the cooking so she can spend the day being social rather than the kitchen pariah. As for my Dad.... socks? I don't know, I really don't. Why are Dads so hard to buy for?
We got into town before nine and were done by ten. Phew, thanks to  a well known chemist for having a 3 for 2 offer on toys as it saved us a long walk round. One coffee and Christmas muffin each later we went home. Andy put Joseph to bed and then did the same thing with himself to catch up and I beetled off to my Mums to do some emergency sewing.
The Cat is still trapped in her cone as her skin is recovering from a bad bout of feline flea allergy dermatitis. She scratches and gets scabby and then scratches off the scabs and now it's bad. She's very uncoordinated in the cone and needs to be kept trapped in the kitchen most of the day and needs grooming every day. Joseph loves grabbing hold of the cone, the Cat doesn't. The sooner her scabs heal up the better for all our sakes.
Tonight I have to bake a cake for a carol service tomorrow which I'm not going to as instead I am going to watch my Mum go for her provisional black belt exam in karate. He he, at school I always wanted to say "You can't mess with me, my Mum's a black belt." Now I can!!!
I'm hoping by next summer I'll be able to say "You can't mess with me I'M a karate black belt!" Our family feuds could get nasty......
On Monday Joseph is going to the GP for his 1 year check up, there's a Mums group on Wednesday, I'm working on Thursday and Friday I'm doing the big Christmas grocery shop. On Saturday it's all hands to the galley to pick up the turkey and do the prep for the big day the day after. I'm exhausted just typing it all out!
Tomorrow I think I'll buy some pro-plus. I think I'll need it.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

More Birthdays

Had a lovely morning today. A friend of mine has a little boy turning two and decided to have a little get together at a local garden centre.
They have a nice little play area that I hadn't really looked closely at before. It has a bouncy castle, a play house, a soft play area and a nice little area for changing dirty bottoms. If only Joseph had been walking with confidence then he could have had a turn on the castle, but I don't think he would have liked it.
The whole area was carefully fenced (sorry, can't think of a better word and it was an actual low fence!) in to make sure that the kids didn't run off into the garden centre proper.
We had coffee and we had cake and the little ones ran about and had fun. It was nice and relaxing and I have to admit, I think I might pinch the idea for Josephs next birthday, it looks a lot less stressful!
Now we are home and Joseph, who is a little under the weather, has coughed himself to sleep and I have worked my way through a heap of ironing the size of a neolithic earthwork. It's safe to say that Josephs party celebrations are finally over as the table cloths I borrowed are now washed and ironed, the balloons have gone flat and been thrown away, I've eaten the last of the sweets from the left over loot bags and the last of the savoury left overs were turned into a chicken curry last night and that's all gone too. All I have to decide now is what to do with the flag banner and the table cloth that came with the party set. They're covered in jungle animals and I'm just not sure what I can use them for again, but it does seem a bit of a waste to throw them. I've also got one pack of unused plates left, again I can't decide what to do with them as they're unused but they do say "Happy 1st Birthday" on them and Joseph wont have another. Perhaps someone else might want them so I'll hang onto them for now. If they're still of no use by the time we come to move then I think I will pitch them. It will seem a bit of a waste, but at the end of the day it'll just be extra clutter to deal with.
Got to go, it's time to poke awake a sleeping boy who's probably nicely coated with dried on snot. I have a pack of wet wipes at the ready.....

Sunday, 11 December 2011

And later on a Sunday.....

I think the party went well.
There is, as always, more prep work than you think there ought to be for things like this. I had hoped for a quieter morning but it wasn't really to be. My Mum and I got to the hall early to do a spot of decoration, some table arrangement and the laying out of food on platters. It took ages and it wasn't helped by the mysterious heating system that needed to be turned on in two separate places to work, one of which involved some significant clambering. When it was working it sounded like someone chainsawing a distant tree, very odd and a little disconcerting as I've never sat in the quiet and listened to it before.
I had my usual panic as the clock reached 2pm, wondering why people weren't arriving yet and terrified that we'd be left standing alone in a big empty hall with a mountain of food uneaten, without friends and alone. I do this every time I host any sort of event, I think it's the OCD. Of course, nobody turns up to a party bang on time and when little children are involved it can be very hard. Still, by 2.30 most were there and we almost had a full house.
Helium balloons - for a small childs party I cannot recommend them enough. The little ones laugh at them and the bigger ones play with them making the little ones laugh even more. The table for colouring in animal faces was a big hit and meant that the bigger ones didn't get bored and cause trouble. Again I recommend the idea, it really helped.
There was some food left over, but not the vast amounts I was expecting. We were just all a bit slow out of the blocks with the savoury food. Once people got into the swing of it, most of it went. We've got a few crisps and sausage rolls left and some spicy chicken wings. That's the one puzzle for me. All the barbecue chicken went even though I didn't think it looked that good and was a bit sticky. I much preferred the spicy stuff, but this is a good thing in my book. We've been left with a plateful of something we really like!
The cake was admired, for all of a few minutes and then it was devoured. For a brief moment I didn't want my masterpiece cut into, but going by the yummy noises people were making I knew I was being silly. Over half of the fruit cake head went which was a bit of a surprise as it's not normally so popular a cake. We covered the left overs up and handed it out later on the Sunday after church. It didn't last long.
And then there was nothing to do but hand out the loot bags to the kids and wave bye-bye. Loot bags - just buy a big pot of Celebrations or something similar and some lollies and share them out. I've heard stories of some very competitive parents putting all sorts in them from Beanie Babies to computer games. I don't see the point, the whole idea of a loot bag is to get it home, find a quiet corner and make yourself sick on sweets (if you're not already after all the cake!).
We tidied up and went home, all uneventful save for my Uncle nearly throwing away some cotton tablecloths by mistake. Well Mum, you did put them in a bin bag!

We had a dedication for him this morning. We don't really agree with infant baptism, not going to go into all the details but we simply wanted to get our church to pray for Joseph. A lot of people prayed and I was quite touched. Joseph hadn't a clue what was going on, he just squiggled about, wouldn't be cuddled and tried to eat the radio mic.
Then we went out for a meal with all the family in a lovely but rather noisy pub. All in all, we have had a good weekend but a very tiring one and something I have no intention of repeating for a very long time. Next year he can have a couple of mates over and a takeaway!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Early on a Saturday Morning....

It's the day of the party today and already I have decided that if we do anything at all for him next year then it's going to be very low key.
I spent all of yesterday baking. I knew it would be a big job but I had no idea just how bad it would be. My big cake I knew would be a bit of a project but it hadn't occurred to me how long it would take just to get the separate sections baked, never mind levelled, cut, filled and iced. All I can say is - many blessings on the folk at Regal Ice (shameless plug alert) as their top quality product meant that the icing job, although still tough, was possible and actually ended up looking quite good though I say it myself. Top tip - buy good quality fondant icing as it actually works and can be rolled out thinner than you think so you need less. Also, buy it on a day when the packs are 3 for 2, especially if you're making a Very Hungry Caterpillar cake with a fruit cake head and three rounds of Victoria sponge and two of chocolate for the body. I used a lot of green icing and I had to buy a whole pack of purple just to make his ears, but I think it was worth it. I've never make a cake like it before and given the amount of effort involved I don't think I will again for a considerable length of time.
There are biscuits, many biscuits. Interesting cookie cutter shapes may seem like a good idea at the time, but after you've mangled several of them trying to separate the shape from a flour encrusted work top you begin to think you've been a bit more ambitious than is sensible. I really was feeling that way as I put the last of the icing on the last biscuit at 8pm last night. I'd started at 10am with a brief break to go and buy savoury food for the party.
Hey, another top tip - don't be too ambitious with the food. Home baking is great fun and I enjoyed every minute but if I'd been daft enough to want to do all the savoury stuff as well then I think I'd probably still be at my Mums house, slaving over a hot cooker. My poor parents would have got up this morning to find a slightly manic looking woman with crazy hair decorated with small bits of green icing waving a spatula saying "You can't come in here! I'm still making the sausage rolls!"
Be creative. Know your limits.
I will be popping into the hall early today to put up a few decorations and to line up the savoury food as some of it does need heating up. I had originally intended to avoid this but there just wasn't enough choice with cold food. Still, all I have to do is bung it on a tray and shove it in, it's not exactly rocket science.
My plan has been to get all the really stressful stuff done yesterday, so that today there isn't anything heavy duty and I can relax and enjoy the party. The only dampener in the works is that my mind is still going round and round which made it very difficult to drop off to sleep last night and woke me up at 4.44am this morning. Try as I might there is no more sleep to be had so I think I will relax and watch something on the iPlayer with a nice cup of tea. Will blog again later to let you all know how the whole thing went!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

First Day Back

Having been away for a year it was interesting to find that the place was both very different and exactly the same. Odd, I admit, but there you go. Some new faces, some old, some friends still there and some gone to pastures new.
I missed him. I did keep busy, but I couldn't help it I missed him. Deciding to to one day a week is the right call - I know in my heart I simply couldn't cope with any more. Joseph is an exhausting handful, but he's my exhausting handful and that's the way it's staying.
He seems to haver had fun at Grandmas today, he took his naps, ate his food and played with toys. The one thing he seems to be struggling with is his milk. It seems that I am still the only person that can persuade him to drink all of it. Others have tried and ended up with a small child covered in milky splashes as he fights off the teat. It's a good job I will be cutting his milk intake down soon, had I had to go back to work before he was weaned then it might be quite serious, but as he's a year old I'm not too worried.
In two days it is Joseph's big shindig, his numero uno birthday bash. I had a list of items I needed to purchase from work only to find I had left my purse at home. Now I will have to pop in tomorrow morning to pick up my things on the way to my Mums house for the great bake-a-thon. Joseph will be spending the day with Daddy and I will miss them both, but this time I will be making cakes and that does have a few up sides.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Birthday Boy

Exactly one year ago, after an awful lot of effort, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.
In the time that has followed I have changed many a dirty nappy, calmed him to sleep, wiped his tears and fed him more bottles of milk than I care to think.
In return he has lit up my life with his little smile and cracked me up with his infectious giggle. I can forgive every broken night just to see his sweet little face looking up at me in the cot, knowing that just seeing me is all he wants.
Enough sugar, to business.
We're having a big(ish) party for him on Saturday so I didn't want to do too much today, but neither did I want the day to pass without recognition. We gave him a present in the morning and he simply hadn't got a clue what to do with it, even after Andy started removing the paper for him. Inside was a wooden bench with holes containing pegs and a small wooden hammer to hit the pegs with. Thankfully Joseph hasn't grasped the concept yet as when he does I think I will have a permanent migraine.
Granny dropped by with a present of baby books and was treated to the sight of Joseph doing his almost walking. It's a bit "night of the living dead" at the moment, but he'll work it out.
A quote from Andy after reading one of the new books to Joseph - "Now we've read "Dear Zoo" what shall we have next, "War and Peace"? No, I don't think so, it's not a very good book. It's only survived because it's very long."
"That can't be right." I replied. "Jane Austen is still in print and most of her books aren't particularly long."
"Ah, but some of her books are good."
This is Andys take on literature, and he has an A level in English Literature. This apparently involved "King Lear", "Romeo and Juliet" and the poetry of Wilfred Owen. Did he analyse them purely on length?
I can't laugh, I only studied literature up to GCSE level and I got a D.
Back to the point -
Granny had bought Joseph a present and was demonstrating his drunken attempt at walking. Then we had some lunch and he ate his birthday cake. This isn't the big cake he will have at his party, but some small ones I made today as you can't have a birthday without cake, I believe there's a law about it somewhere.
They were just going to be brightly coloured sponge but my hand slipped as I was adding the dye and the mix ended up a bright vivid pink. There's only one thing to do at this point and that is to pretend that's what I meant to do all along and change tack slightly. I teamed them up with bright green icing and made white icing blobs with a chocolate drop in the top for eyes. A sliced glacé cherry made a mouth and we had little monster cakes.
After initial puzzlement Joseph loved the cake and was soon chomping away on it with gusto. Big chunks were picked up and squashed whole into his mouth and he continued determined until all was eaten, stopping only once to wipe an icing covered hand on the nearby table. He's like that, always wants to leave a foody hand print somewhere. I dread to think what effect the excess sugar will have on his nappy contents, nor the pink food colouring. I only hope it comes in the evening when Andy has to deal with it!
Now I'd best get going, things to do.....

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Missing Him

Before I start, which is the correct spelling - counsellor, counselor, counciller, councillor, ....
I've looked in many versions of the Bible and found these four different versions of the same word. Counselor was the most common but my spell checker doesn't recognise it.

It was the great Christmas event at my Church this weekend. I spent most of Friday (the afternoon and a chunk of the evening) decorating the hall, laying tables and putting out my hand made centrepieces. I  love being creative, I love making new things to hang on the ends of the curtain poles and I love coming up with a new festive design for the Sunday School board each year. The kids are supposed to put stuff up on it all the time, but they seem to have got out of the habit and I do the Christmas stuff. Last year it was candles and poinsettias, and the year before I painted a large white dove which lasted all the way through till the following September until it literally fell off the board. I think the design simply wasn't Christmassy enough and nobody felt too bothered by its presence even in the summer.
This year I've trodden more of a traditional path in that there are stars and a Bible verse, namely Isaiah ch 9 vs 6, hence the bother with the above mentioned word. It's in the spirit of the season but shouldn't cause offence if I'm lazy and don't bother taking it down.
Joseph spent the afternoon with Grandad. He volunteered for the job, as he had holiday left and needed to take it. I don't think the exact nature of the task sank in until minutes before I was about to leave having denuded my parents garden of the climbing ivy. Joseph had laid a stinker and I was running a little late and didn't have time to change him. Poor Grandad, I think Joseph gave him a bit of a tough time in the end.
Andy picked Joseph up and phoned me up at bed time to say goodnight. Hearing his happy little gurgles made me actually quite unhappy. I had been very busy and hadn't really had time to think, but I realised I missed him and his cute smile and silly giggle. I missed his little feet and the way he'd get bored and throw toys at me. Ahhh...

Today was the event itself. It was lovely. People really seemed to like all my hard work and nobody stole a centrepiece, which is always a bonus. The food was sumptuous and delicious, the desserts were divine. The speaker was interesting and the whole thing was a resounding success.
When I got home I found a frazzled Daddy and a grumpy Joseph who, as it turned out, was missing his Mum as he calmed down when he saw me. I felt guilty and happy all at the same time when I realised.
Joseph has also been something of a Hobbit today. He doesn't have big hairy feet and live in an underground house, but he did get two breakfasts due to a breakdown in communications. Andy couldn't work out why he hadn't wanted his lunch, but this explained it.
The usual order of things has been restored for now, but next weekend promises to be all topsy turvy again as it's his party weekend. Squeakers at the ready....

Thursday, 1 December 2011


I had a lovely day yesterday. We baked a cake in the morning and in the afternoon I took Joseph and the cake to visit a friend of mine who has a little boy a few months younger than Joseph.
It's nice to be sociable and Joseph had fun exploring in a new house. We had lunch and then some cake and we were having a nice relaxing conversation when Joseph decided to start shimmy-ing along the furniture again. He'd been up and down the sofa and back and forth to a little coffee table several times so I thought nothing of it, but I did keep an eye out as there were a few things I didn't want him getting hold of and dribbling on.
He must have misjudged the distance. He was holding onto the sofa and he reached out for the coffee table but his little chubby hand missed. By this point the rest of his body had decided to follow along anyway, but unable to balance he simply fell forwards in quite an impressive comedy pratfall style.
He impacted the table with quite a thump and cried accordingly. I cuddled him and very quickly his bright purple face paled, his gaping mouth slowly closed and the terrible howling gently ceased.
He seemed fine, he went back to playing with the other little boy and all was calm again. Both children were having great fun just staring and smiling at each other and I have no doubt that soon they will end up playing games of raspberry tennis. This is a game that all small children seem to love.
The afternoon drew to a close and we went home, leaving the rest of the cake. I like cake, but we're going to be having a lot of cake in the upcoming weeks so I'm happy to share and I know it will be appreciated.
I noticed a little while after I had got him home that his left eyelid was a bit puffy and had a small pink mark on it. I had assumed he'd hit himself on the forehead and I hadn't seen a mark so I hadn't been worried. I spent several minutes staring carefully into his eyes, but both were clear and bright and it looked like the only injury was to the lid.
Today the lid isn't so swollen but behind the pink mark was the dusky blue hint of a bruise. Now, in the late afternoon the blue tint has spread to the lower lid and it looks like my little boy is in for a proper shiner. I suspect the worst of the bruise will show tomorrow, my own experience shows that eye socket injuries are slow to develop their signs. I am fervently praying that whatever bruise does develop is long gone by the time his party arrives. That would just be the thing to spoil all the pictures and it would be a lasting reminder of my moment of inattention. In the mean time I'll just keep an "eye" on him to make sure everything is all right and regular doses of Calpol will be administered.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

It's that time of year again...

Oh the unescapable-ness of Christmas.
Last year I wanted to miss it. I did have a four week old baby who was still waking twice in the night for feeds so perhaps you can understand how I felt.
This year I have a bouncing eleven and a half month old and between now and Christmas I have a lot to do. There's the Ladies Christmas Lunch my church holds, an event that involves me decorating the church and making seventeen centrepieces. I love doing it, don't get me wrong, but it's a lot to do. Josephs birthday is right after and we are holding his party on the following Saturday. That week will also see me returning to work so I will be feeling the pressure. Yes, I know it's only one day a week but it's still one more thing to do.
I also have to do some sewing between now and then. I want to make a little jacket for Joseph, it will have something of the lion about it as we're having a jungle theme for his party.
Ok, for the more pedantic of you out there I do know that lions are not found in the jungle, they tend to live on open plains like the Serengeti, but this is a kids party and I didn't think the tiger print suited him so well.
I also need to either purchase new or alter my work trousers. Whilst trying to become pregnant I went on a diet and have continued to do so since giving birth and although my weight loss has now stalled I am still a good two stone lighter since I began the process getting on for two years ago. My work trousers have an air of the elephant about them and when I put them on last my lovely husband pointed out that I looked a lot like Charlie Chaplin. I guess it's all the time I've spent on my step-a-cize machine, it really has done a number on my glutes. So that's one more thing added to the heap of things I need to fit in soon.
The net result is that I've forgotten about Christmas. Two years ago, by the time advent had started I was a good 75% through my Christmas shopping, I had made a fabric advent calendar and filled the pockets with Quality Street and I was planning how to do the Christmas dinner as I had decided to take over the kitchen and do all of the cooking. It was a fine spread that included a massive turkey named Gerald (a long story for another blog) and not a single unadulterated vegetable in sight. I'd even honey glazed the carrots.
This year I'd like to cook again. Joseph is kindly letting us sleep at night so I will be safe around machinery and sharp knives, but finding the time to plan is hard. My Mum has ordered a turkey and that's about as far as it goes. She's also requested tiramisu for pudding for a change. I like tiramisu, and I especially like putting plenty of amaretto on the sponge, but I like Christmas pudding as well and I can't help but wonder if it might cause a bit of a family rebellion.
Oh, just the thought of fighting round the supermarket for the food in the week before Christmas is making me a little nauseous. Perhaps I will fit a cow-catcher on the front of the trolley this time so I can get through the crowds. Tis the season to fight over bags of sprouts and discover that there's no smoked bacon left and all the cashiers are forced to wear jolly Santa hats. There's something about a bright red hat that gives an air of malevolence. It's not a fun job at the best of times but when management force you into silly head gear it's nigh on impossible to stay positive.
I'm looking forward to the new year. So far January is promising to be a very boring month.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Back to Work

Hey ho, it's that time again.
I've submitted my form to request the reduced hours I want to work and now I'm waiting for a call to arrange my "back to work" interview.
Am I looking forward to it?
To be brutally honest, not really. Well if you think about it, right now I spend all day with my little boy who is a lot of fun. Yes I have to get up early so a lack of a lie in isn't a problem, but mornings can still be a bit on the lazy side if I want them to be. I do a little bit of domestic work and then settle down on the sofa with Joseph to watch Timmy Time or Rastamouse. He has a nap then we might go for a walk depending on the weather or we'll make biscuits. He he, when I say "we" make biscuits, I make them and he eats them. Actually, when I say "he" eats them I eat them too and I have to be careful I don't eat them all or my post pregnancy weight loss will be all for nothing.
It will only be one day a week, but I will miss him. My main worry is that the day he spends at Grandmas will be the day he has a big development and I will miss it. I'm thinking something along the lines of his first word, or something like that.
I'll also have large degree of new mum paranoia. It's not that I don't trust you Grandma, but I will worry about him regardless. I'm sure you know what I mean. Is he eating his dinner, is he being good, have I remembered to put in enough nappies, does he miss me?
To be frank, with the last question I don't know if I'd actually be more upset if he didn't miss me. He will, no doubt, be having a whale of a time and I'll be in a corner softly blubbering.
Having had a discussion with some other mums it seems there's a big split between those of us who really don't want to part from our young offspring and those who are itching to get back to being a productive member of society. Neither side really understands the motivation of the other it seems and each thinks the other either cruel or silly.
Hey ho, we need a bit of extra cash right now. That's the motivation for me, regardless of anything else. It's probably the motivation for most working mums, now I think about it.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Yes, at eleven months and two and half weeks, he's finally joined the world of the walkers.
More or less. We've been playing about for quite some time, with one or the other of us holding onto his hands and him staggering along. We've even done it outside and this has generally been greeted by loud "aaahs" from the neighbours.
Putting one foot in front of the other with no support has been the goal and I think it's a mental thing rather than a physical. I think he has simply been scared of balancing, he probably could stand up on his own but has got so used to the idea that he needs a prop that it's got a bit stuck.
Today, at last some progress. Andy was home for his lunch break, but he didn't get any lunch. He was playing with Joseph by standing him up on his feet and then pointing him at the sofa. Joseph decided that he really wanted to go to the sofa but instead of doing his usual trick of bending down to crawl or just plain sitting down with a well padded thump, he just walked.
It was about four or five paces, the furthest he's ever managed and he didn't look as unsteady as he has done before.
To follow the example of CERN and the neutrinos (sounds like an eighties electro-band!) a one-off doesn't prove anything and we set to repeating the experiment. There were a couple of false starts but Joseph did indeed walk again and even stood still, unaided and unsupported. I have never seen him do that before, not even for a second. Today he managed to stand up for a good five or six before suddenly realising what he was doing and keeling over.
We'll keep practising and Joseph will probably keep falling over, but we'll get there. Perhaps I'll have my wish of him stumbling about at his birthday party!
Got to go, he's making a mess again.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Home Baking

I've always been partial to a nice home made cake. This has been especially true since I discovered a better recipe for sponge cake. Previously I had been using a ratio of 4oz flour to 2oz sugar and fat with one egg. It works much better if you use 2oz of everything to 1 egg, the sponge is moister and generally tastier. Of course, you get slightly less mix and if you're adding extras then a little extra touch of baking powder sometimes helps.
There you go, some baking tips. This blog isn't a total waste of time after all.
This last week has been biscuit week. I bought some funny shaped cookie cutters as the big craft fair held in the NEC a little while ago and they came with some basic biscuit recipes I wanted to try. To say that they had turned out well would be a bit of an understatement as the first batch lasted about twenty four hours even with a break to ice some of them. Joseph loved the biscuits and the icing even more. Well, he's a little boy - what's not to love about fat and icing sugar mixed together with a little artificial flavouring? It's probably the least messy finger food I've had, not that it doesn't make crumbs but he seems determined not to waste any.
Cheese straws are another hit. They're dead simple too - twice as much margarine to flour and mix in as much grated cheese as you fancy (lots). Roll out and cut up into small pieces, bake at gas mark 4-5 depending four about twenty minutes.
I started making them small and finger shaped but Joseph seems to prefer them cut out into rounds and not too crispy. I have to admit though, if I didn't have a great little food processor then I probably wouldn't bother with the home baking, I'm very much of a "throw it all in there and press the button" sort of person. It's one of the reasons I bought a bread maker many moons ago. Anticipating a fresh loaf of bread early in the morning I eagerly put all the ingredients in the evening before and set the timer.
Alas the mixer on it wasn't as good as I'd hoped and did not to a very good job. The "dough" was risen twice and baked in the machine and when I got up in the morning I opened the machine and found -
It had more in common with poor Joseph Merrick than bread. Whenever I can be bothered to make bread, which isn't very often now, I have to watch it all through the mixing process lest another mutant loaf be born. It is quite good at pizza dough, I have to admit.
I'll have to set too and make one of the cakes for Joseph's birthday soon. I'm doing a mix of cakes as there's no family consensus over what makes a good cake and a good fruit cake is best made some time in advance. I like my fruit cake with lots of cherries and almond flakes and some treacle to make it rich, I can't stand those so called light fruit cakes, in my opinion they're just too dry and a cake isn't good if it's dry.
Joseph likes cake. I'm yet to find a cake he'll refuse. I'm going to trial bake a chocolate cake next and I'm sure that will go down just as well as the others.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Little Fingers

I'm about to give up on having a bin in my living room. There just doesn't seem to be anywhere I can hide it any more that Joseph will not manage to spot, wriggle up close to and then manage to get his little fingers all over the rubbish. Perhaps my own dirty tissues aren't all that disgusting and there's probably no more germs on them than he's already been exposed to but I still don't think it will be all that healthy for him to eat them. I dread to think what will happen to his nappy contents if he did manage it!
Tissues are the least of my worries - all sorts of things have ended up in the bin, be it old socks with holes where the toes should be, defunct batteries, small pieces of craft wire, junk mail.... none of it would be terribly good news if found in conjunction with a small child's digestive system.
He now seems to have a knack for always knowing what he shouldn't be getting into. We have some black storage "cubes" in our house to keep our extraneous clutter at bay. One has a lot of Josephs toys stored in the top and one has all our various electrical chargers stored in it, along with some paperwork. You can probably guess which of the two he is most interested in getting in and which he almost totally ignores. I'm trying an experiment today, I'm swapping them over. You never know, it might just work.
I'm also calculating the "zone of reach" on all our higher surfaces. When not in use this keyboard shelf must be firmly put away or Joseph can now reach it. I was browsing the internet this morning when a little hand reached up and began patting the keyboard and before I knew what was happening the internet page had been zoomed in up close. He's tried to add extras to this blog from time to time, but I have deleted them.
It gets difficult sometimes. I'm working on some Christmas decorations for our church hall. This is a job I do every year now as we have a Christmassy event at the beginning of December and it all stays up until I get organised and take them down in January. I have been creating a some things at home and this has included painting a few things. All items including the newspaper to protect the new table must not encroach closer than two inches from the edge or a little pudgy hand will reach up and pull on it. I'm not convinced newsprint is good for the stomach and believe me, silver acrylic paint is very bad for the carpet.
I just hope that when he starts to pick up words that he will be an understanding child and not a terror. Sometimes I think he knows full well which of the black cubes he's not allowed into and goes for that one just to get my attention. Let the manipulation begin.....

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Crab

It's time for walkies...
Mmm, not quite, but we're practising. If you hold both of his hands he will totter along quite happily and doesn't put all his weight on your hands so he's trying to balance. I even tried this outside recently as I thought it was time for his shoes to be used for the purpose that they were originally intended and not just to make his feet look cute.
It didn't work. He saw a leaf on the ground and wanted to play with it. Nothing would persuade him to stand up on his feet and I didn't want him crawling along the pavement. When Joseph decides he's not going to stand up then there's nothing you can do about it, apart from stand there holding the hand of an unhappy child who will do nothing other than be permanently bent at the knee. You can carry on trying if you like, but the results would be a little to similar to those infamous American "nanny-cam" exposés for comfort. The poor child would end up hanging from my arm like an ungainly fashion accessory.
In the house things are a little more successful. When you hold both hands he walks quite well, but it's a bit tough on the back. If you hold one hand he's a little less sure, but will walk along in a sideways shuffling motion rather like a crab.
We have decided to be more pro-active with Joseph learning to walk. He's eleven months old now and I'd really like him to be able to totter about at his birthday party so we've been propping him up on a chair and trying to encourage him to take a brave bold step towards us.
He's managed about two steps in a row on one occasion, but nothing more successful than that. Mostly he just leans forwards to make a grab at our hands and then brings his feet into play when he's at a 45 degree angle. Several times he has reached out, missed and done a face-plant into the carpet.
Perhaps we're trying to hard. He's shown no inclination at all for wanting to balance on his feet on his own at all. Sometimes, if he forgets for a moment that he's got no support he can almost do it, but it inevitably ends up with him buckling at the knees and sitting firmly down on the floor with a thump.
He'll do it in his own time and whilst the encouraging might help I do wonder whether hurrying him into it is asking for trouble. I can remember the days when I could put him down and he'd still be there when I came back, how I didn't have to worry about leaving a pair of trainers by the door getting played with and covered in dribble and there was a time when he wasn't able to pull himself up and constantly get into things I'd rather he wouldn't.
With him walking a few things might be easier, but it's a whole new kettle of fish and I'm suddenly not too keen to hurry the last of his baby-hood away too quickly.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Cat Flap

He's got a new skill.
I remember, quite some time ago now, I was newly pregnant and we'd gone out for a meal at Nandos. It's not exactly the heights of culinary excellence but it's good comfort food especially when you're feeling a bit wobbly. On the table next to us were two women and a little boy who was somewhere between one and two years of age. The tables were quite close together and the little chap was clearly quite eager to meet new people and share things with them.
I was handed the childrens menu, the main menu and several items of cutlery. I probably would have been handed the cruet as well if his mum hadn't got a handle on things.
Yes, Joseph has now mastered the art of handing me things. It started out as him just holding things out to me, but he hadn't got the idea that he needed to let go. Now he's quite happy to hand me toys quite a lot and even some of his finger food, a concept he finds quite hilarious. A few days ago he held out one of his baby crisps to me and I leant forwards to jokily try and eat it. As I did so he shoved it quite firmly into my mouth. Well, I've been doing the same thing to him for months now so I can't really complain and they were quite nice crisps.
Handing me things goes hand in hand with "putting" things. Toys are picked up and put places where, to be honest, you don't really want toys. Mostly it seems as if he's trying to hide them in the manner of a squirrel storing up nuts for the winter. Perhaps he's trying to get a toy stash for the lean months ahead!
No, I don't think so. He's just not that tidy and his favourite place for depositing toys wouldn't lend well for the location of a secret stash.
He's discovered the cat flap. More importantly he's discovered that he can open the cat flap and post things out of it. So far we have had a muslin (twice), several soft toys, one of his little shoes, a broken handset from our cordless phone (he likes toys with buttons, it's a useful distraction), some plastic rings, some wooden blocks and my mobile phone which I had been looking for and it was making me a bit cross that I couldn't find it and in the end had probably been on the front step for quite some time and it's a miracle it wasn't stolen.
If I lock the cat flap then Joseph can't post things through it, but it's only when the cat flap is locked that The Cat decided she wants to use it. Normally she completely ignores  it in favour of scratching at the back door or jumping up through the kitchen window if it's open. My kitchen window is covered in muddy footprints now thanks to that annoying animal, but it's better than having to deal with her constantly being on the wrong side of the back door.
So, you see the dilemma. Cat flap open - toys on the front step but no annoyed cat. Cat flap shut and no risk of toy loss, but cue one irritating little moggy having a whine by the front door. Also, whilst she never uses the cat flap to exit the house, she occasionally uses it to enter quickly when being chased by other feline members of the community. The sight of her slamming into the cat flap at full tilt, totally unaware that it wouldn't open was both tragic and quite funny. The cat that was chasing her caught up with her and was so confused that he'd done so he didn't know what to do. They both sat there looking a bit embarrassed until I let The Cat in the house where she turned and hissed at the chaser safely through the locked cat flap.
Right now the cat flap is in its usual unlocked state and I am keeping an eye open for anything that might get sent through it.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The big day....

The invites have been made and distributed. Plans are afoot and I have done a trial birthday cake as I've never used roll out fondant before now. The cake seems to have been something of a hit, I took it to a Mums group and almost all of it went. I'm sure all of it would have gone if one little boy had got his way, he really wanted some more but his mum very sensibly decided that any more would spoil his lunch. I'm sure there are lots of  little boys out there who would rather lunch on sponge cake than anything else, but it's not what you'd call a nutritious meal. I have managed to discipline myself and save a small slice for Andy. It's only a small slice and I don't feel too guilty that it's small, he's said himself on many occasions that he prefers fruit cake anyway.
I've even had a couple of responses to the invitations already! Clearly the prospect of a jungly themed party is attracting some interest, it will certainly be a break from the relentlessness of Christmas.
I'm hearing more Christmas music than I would like. It's only November, and early November at that and there are already so many ads on the telly that are so relentlessly Chrismassy that it makes me want to vomit. I know the festive season is probably closer than it feels, but I really have my limits. Some retailers simply don't get that with all the forcefulness of the marketing that most people are sick to the back teeth of Christmas well before it arrives. This rather takes the fun out of it and sure makes it less likely for me to waste my money on anything festive.
Also, has anyone else noticed that the awful Slade classic actually has hidden messages in it? If you play it backwards through a filter it says "Noddy Holder is the Dark Lord of Beltane".
Enough Christmas rant save for this one point - in America the main purpose of thanksgiving is to keep Christmas at bay for a bit longer.
At least I've got a good distraction in the shape of my little boys anniversary of arrival. There will be fun, balloons, jungly games and jungly mask making. There will be cake, but there will be nothing Christmassy about it. Right, I'm going to order the paper plates for the party. Bye now!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Big Bang

Well I was assuming he'd be scared.
There's a local fireworks display near us that happens every year. We've been a few times and it's pretty good. We didn't go last year as I was past eight months pregnant at the time and I didn't think I'd cope well with the press of the crowd and standing up in the cold for that long. You can see some of the aerial stuff from our bedroom window though, and it was still nice - but warmer!
I had assumed Joseph would find the noise as distressing as The Cat, who has a tendency to hide behind furniture and be incontinent on soft furnishings. She beetled straight behind the sofa as soon as the first pop was heard and didn't come out again. I have checked and this year she's managed to maintain bladder control, which is a relief.
Andy decided to let Joseph see a few of the big fireworks from the window yesterday evening. He was all dressed and ready for bed in his baby sleeping bag and Andy took him to the window for a look.
As soon as he saw the pretty colours he was entranced. Joseph ended up stood on the window sill (with one of us holding him) for the best part of twenty minutes as the big fireworks went up, big splashes of pink and purple with sprays of orange and sharp white streaks of screaming rockets. He loved every second, although I do wonder was passers by must have thought, this ghostly white shape of a baby in a darkened window! Perhaps next year we'll take him to a display if we think he can cope with the standing around.
We had small firework displays quite a few times when I was a young thing, but it doesn't seem to be quite the fashion any more. The price of getting anything decent has really shot up and all the really fun stuff has been banned for being too dangerous. They have a point, I have to admit. I remember one year we'd bought a special rockety sort of thing that was supposed to shoot up in two directions. One part did shoot up in the air, but the other shot sideways and landed in the bonfire, narrowly missing my brother. At the time I remember we found it all quite hilarious and then chowed down on some home-made doughnuts (thanks Mum, they were yummy) but it could have been different.
Who knows, with modern technology they might find a way to make them a lot safer in the future. Still, it is fun to celebrate the anniversary of something in our nations history that could have been quite significant except that it wasn't because they failed. Instead we burn effigies of a single member of the group who could perhaps be described as the worlds most hapless terrorists.
They really were awful. While the group hid out just before their capture they realised that their gunpowder was damp. Some 'bright spark' had the idea of drying it out in front of the open fire. Sometimes I think they were not executed for treason but humanely euthanised for the safety of those around them.
Long live bonfire night and the perils of damp gunpowder!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Strawberries and Bananas are the only fruit

Well, here's a little bit more about weaning and getting my son to feed himself.
It's going pretty well some of the time. He'll happily sit and gnaw on a rusk until it's all gone, but then they're quite sweet, even the reduced sugar versions that I buy. The really sweet thing is that he's started handing me things including his dummy when I was holding him - he put it in my mouth and it was the most hilarious thing ever according to him - and his finger food. Sometimes he's just being sweet and he's tried to feed it to me a few times, but other times he's being.... well, a bit naughty. It's a lot to say of an eleven month old child, surely he hasn't any concept of that yet, but let me explain.
If he decided he's had enough finger food it isn't simply a matter of sweeping the bowl away or crying until I let him off. no, he gets hold of the finger food and drops it over the side of his chair and I can only assume that for him "out of sight is out of mind". Perhaps he thinks that as he can't see it any more then neither can I and I wont make him eat any more.
I have started picking the bits up as he throws them but when I bend down he throws another, clearly thinking that if I can't see him do it then I wont realise what's going on. Now I am in a situation where if I am giving him finger food I have to give him only one or two pieces at a time as that way he seems to get through a bit more of it before it is flung.
Currently he is eating a rusk, the last of his lunch. He's not totally convinced by it today, he's tried hitting it on his food tray, the chair and the table. I'm not sure what he's planning to achieve by this, apart from a lot of crumbs in a lot of places, but there you go.
He's never been too much of a vegetable fan, he tends to get bored of carrot very fast and spuds are only really useful as a bulking agent. He's even not a massive fan of chips! He'll have one or two, but only if they're crispy fries. No, where things are going well with his diet is fruit.
For breakfast he has half a banana, chopped up. Sometimes he has it with some baby breakfast cerial and sometimes with porridge. Either way the banana is good. The only problem I have is gauging how many to buy as I'm never sure if Andy or I will suddenly have a banana craving in the week or not. I have run out of bananas half way through the week before but on other occasions I find myself looking at a heap of brown soft festering banana on a Monday morning.
Strawberries always go down well. He can't feed them to himself yet, which is a bit annoying. He generally needs them quartered to be small enough not to gag on, but he can only manage to pick them up whole. Perhaps now his front teeth are pretty much through he'll be better, but the strawberry season is over now and I really must switch him to something cheaper. Saying that, given the odd weather we've been having it wouldn't surprise me if there's a southern farmer desperately clinging on to his poly-tunnels because the strawberry bushes are still throwing up the odd fruit here and there. Two of my rose bushes are still flowering - in November!
I think I'll get some of those mandarin segments in cans, I used to love those as a kid. I don't think he's up to real oranges yet, too much pith and chewy bits and pips.
Well, Joseph is really making a meal out of this rusk. There seems to be more of it crumbled to dust around him than in his mouth. Guess I'll have to vacuum again.

Sunday, 30 October 2011


An open letter to Ikea: -
First of all, I have to admit that I do - on balance - like you. You are cheap but not as tatty as MFI used to be. I like the air of calm Sweedish-ness and I really like the meatballs in the cafeteria. I like all your ingenious storage ideas and believe me I am tempted by one of those massive bookshelf thingies that take up an entire wall. I'd have enough room to store probably 1/3 of my CD collection and a fair number of my books, not to mention a lot of my kick-knacks. To be fair, to store all of my CDs, DVDs and books I'd need units like that covering every wall in my house and then another house to store the computer games, but now I'm getting carried away. Most of my CD collection is still in boxes in the garage and I'll probably toss most of them when we move house. Does anyone want some 90's and 2000's indie slash rock music that wasn't really very popular at the time and is now on an out-dated format? I think I've got a Travis record in there somewhere and possibly still some Supergrass. I can remember really liking the records at the time but now I probably couldn't name a single track on them. Oh well, I suspect the local charity shop is going to end up with a large stack of unwanted music.
Back to the subject I started with, my trip to Ikea.
I like the fact the furniture is cheap, but actually quite good quality. I like the way everything has funny names. I saw a lamp-shade called "Stig". Alas it was not white, had nothing to do with cars and it did not know two incorrect facts about ducks. Pity.
There are some things I think need a little work. It's tough getting a buggy round Ikea, the designated path they make you follow has slightly raised edges and my buggy wheels kept sticking on it. I didn't want to shove down the middle as others needed room too, but I did keep getting stuck on the edge.
Also, why have you not got round to building one in my town? We keep getting told it might happen, but it never does and this means that every time I want to go and look at cheap stylish furniture it's over an hours drive, hardly a quick trip for a bit of a browse. Please get on with it and build your store, I believe there are some buildings free near the Savacentre, opposite Dunelm Mill.
Finally, why do the instructions in your flat-pack furniture make the job look a lot harder than it actually is? Our table instructions looked remarkably similar to the manual that came with the Lego Imperial Star Destroyer (biggest Lego kit you could get, many many little pieces and finished it was about a metre long) and implied a level of knowledge and skill only seen at degree level mechanics. Actually it was quite easy, I managed to attach the legs myself and I'm not a very mechanical person at all. It's a nice table, it looks good in my room.
And so, I am signing off. I suspect it will be some time before I visit you again although I might peruse your website and sigh at all your nice things. Andy can sleep easy for now, I wont be making our house look like a set from Wallander any time soon.

Monday, 24 October 2011


We're getting a lot of "oops" moments now. Joseph has found his feet all right, he's just not sure what to do with them all of the time! He's all right when holding on and can even manage to balance when simply leaning on something and using his hands to do something else (usually making a grab for something he shouldn't have) but actually standing up unaided is still a skill that is yet to develop.
The problem is, Joseph sometimes seems to forget. Andy noticed this recently, when extracting something from Josephs little mitts, he was so concentrating on rescuing the item from Joseph that he initially didn't realise that he had in fact removed Josephs prop. He stood there for a moment and then toppled over in a true David Jason style.
Just before we went on holiday the last time he managed to nut a chair leg, so in many of the pictures he has a pink line on his forehead. Yesterday, whilst visiting Granny and Granddad he slipped and cracked his head quite hard on a solid item of furniture and developed quite a large pink lump on his head, which was in addition to the bruises from pulling a chair over onto himself earlier in the day. I watch him and I watch him and in the split second I look the other way....
Given the sheer number of times that boy has managed to clonk his noggin on hard objects, it's a wonder he has any feeling left! I hope he gets his sense of balance soon, it's getting a bit worrying!
Still, at least his top front teeth are coming through now and he no longer looks like a little baby vampire. We've had a bit of grizzling this time, but it's not been too bad. Instead we've had lakes of drool and rivers of snot to contend with, not a welcoming sight when he comes shimmying down the furniture to say hello to you by rubbing his face on your knee. That boy has left puddles big enough to irrigate a paddy field.
Still, his teeth will come through in time and I'm hoping he grows out of the habit of regularly trying to give himself a concussion. We've not had to go to A&E yet with him and I hope it's a long time before we have to - or never, but he is a little boy so I have to be realistic! At some point the inevitable little piece of lego is going to make a trip into a nostril or ear canal that will require professional help to remove.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Ten and a Half Months

Well, the birthday party is booked for 10th December.
We decided to get in early with that, what with the time of year we didn't want to leave it late and find that we had nowhere to hold it!
First things first, I've already made some big cake decisions - deal with the important things first! The problem I have is that I prefer sponge cake and Andy much prefers fruit cake. I have a solution in mind, watch this space and I will report on how my trial cake goes! The main thing I am worried about is that I have never used fondant icing before and I'm not totally sure on how it works when sticking it to a round cake. I will have a lot of fun finding out, of that I am sure!
We're going for an animal theme, it's a good excuse to get the littl'uns to have a go at dressing up. I'm thinking of dressing Joseph as a lion, I think he'll look cute with a main and a tail! The problem is that not everyone likes the idea of costumes and of the few costume parties I have been to, some people make a lot of effort and some people don't and each side thinks the other is silly. Still, perhaps as it's little kids people might be more prepared to have a go, I'm not expecting any of the adults to dress up!
You can get an awful lot of party equipment now. It would seem the days of just having a couple of balloons stuck to the wall and a few streamers are long gone. You can get whole packs of stuff that follow a theme: - banners, plates and cups, goody bags, big foil balloons with helium, specially themed music and the list goes on. The problem with all of this is the increasing cost, we're going to try and follow a theme as far as our budget will allow but there are limits. I've also heard stories about parents handing out goody bags that have contents far in excess of the piece of cake and a few sweeties that I remember as a child. Well, if people coming to Josephs party want more than cake in a bag then they'll just have to be disappointed.
Then, just as my plans were becoming settled we discovered that you can get lots of party themed stuff based on the Gruffalo, Andys favourite bedtime story. Well, plans are still being discussed and no doubt there will be a lot of cake being made in my kitchen as we trial a few ideas. Perhaps I'll share some of it, perhaps....
Joseph doesn't seem at all bothered, he's spent part of the morning trying to eat my hairbrush and is now attempting to play with my CD cleaning kit. Given the contents, I'd better go and rescue one from the other.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

New Skills

Oh the times they are a-changing...
Don't really know why I said that, I can't stand Bob Dylan. Still, Joseph has been making some big strides this week (and then falling over, he he!) in what he can now do on his own.
I've been trying to make him use a sippy cup for some time, but had given up due to his complete lack of interest. I wasn't sure if he simply didn't like any other fluid than milk or whether he found the change in liquid delivery too different to cope with.
Well, remembering a tip from a while ago I tried again, this time laying him on his back with the cup. It took a dew goes, but suddenly he was sucking away at the spout and has managed to have small amounts of drink out of the cup. Tadaah!
Also this week....
He was rolling around on the floor after his morning bottle of milk and he got hold of the bottle, I let him do this quite regularly as he likes to play with them. He got himself sat up and started sucking on the teat. Nothing came out of course, the bottle was pretty much empty and he was holding it at completely the wrong angle even if it wasn't. It gave me inspiration and for his next bottle I tried the same trick, I laid him flat on his back and gave him his bottle. It worked a treat, he just lay there sucking on it until it was empty, clever boy!
This has left me with something of a quandary. If he feeds himself his own milk then I get an extra 45mins to an hour each day that I'm not spending stuck on the sofa and I also get three short patches when he's happily glued to the spot and I can relax. On the other hand, that's the three longest cuddles I get now and the only time he'll sit on my lap without getting squirmy very quickly. I suspect then that there are days when I will be stressed and tired and he will feed himself and days where I will want cuddles and he wont. At least he's still so young that when he has a bump a Mummy cuddle is the only remedy!
Finger feeding is going rather well, a new favourite is turning out to be eggy-bread, an old holiday treat of my childhood and the first thing Joseph has eaten where half of it didn't end up squashed up and on the floor. The only problem with it is that it's quite high in fat so I don't want to do it too often. Joseph has also decided that anything on Andys plate is fair game and will often insist on having a taste, which is fine if Andy happens to be eating porridge, but not if it's Thai green curry!
And in less than two months our little one turns one. Plans are afoot.....

Monday, 10 October 2011

Little Swimmer

Bath times have had their ups and downs. Initially, as I believe with almost all babies, they were a thing of horror. I was taking my vulnerable little newborn and unceremoniously dunking him in a container of water with the inevitable result of much screaming. Still, it really doesn't take much to end up with a newborn screaming, just changing his nappy could do it.
Suddenly he learned to smile and bath time began to be fun. By now bath time was Daddy's job and I would often find myself sat downstairs wondering what was going on, whether between all the splashing and giggling any bathing was actually taking place. I often wondered if any of the bath water would actually still be in the bath by the end of it all.
If I had to take over bath duties, usually because Daddy's back was playing up, it never seemed to be as fun, Joseph preferred Daddy and that was that.
Well, I've been on holiday again. Yes, again. It was an accidental holiday, I was never supposed to be going originally, my Mum and Dad had invited my brother, his wife and their son but they couldn't make it so rather than waste the spare room in the cottage I was invited.
Poor Andy couldn't make it due to the fact that all his annual leave was used up so Joseph and I went without him, poor chap. I was envisioning him pining away and spending a week curled up mournfully in the dark subsisting on takeaway kebabs, but actually he  managed quite well and even had a rather nice home made fish pie waiting when we got back. I bought him some whisky and some hand made fudge, you can't go much wrong with that.
But back to the subject in hand - baby vs water. The cottage had an indoor pool available for use in an outbuilding and as we were currently the only holiday makers on the site (in October that's hardly surprising) we had full unrestricted access.
My last proper swimming experience was at senior school, quite a long time ago now. I did have a bit of a dip in the sea at Weymouth this year, but it hardly counted and it was too cold to really enjoy it.
This pool was warm, small enough to not be scary and wasn't over chlorinated and it really surprised me how quickly I felt at home in the water, the ability to swim appears to be something not easily forgotten.
The pool had a small area on one side that was warmer than the rest and had the option of Jacuzzi bubbles. So, one morning with Joseph in his special swimming nappies and wearing a cheap baby wetsuit I found in Tescos I prepared him for a dunking. I was rather nervous, I had bathed him the day before and he had screamed from start to finish.
He screamed and screamed and screamed. I braved the experience again two days later and we discovered that if I bounced him on my knee and Grandma pulled enough silly faces at him then he forgot where he was long enough to not hate it.
On the third and last occasion we realised that the seating area around the Jacuzzi was just the right height for him to stand on and hold onto the side and he at last began to enjoy himself, even splashing the water. My heart did skip a beat when he managed to sidle up to the button for activating the bubbles, but he couldn't press it hard enough. The thought of what his reaction would have been if he had......!
I'll miss the pool, it was rather nice. I'm not sure Joseph will cope with time in a public swimming pool yet, he didn't like it when I tried floating him on his back, he screamed and lifted his legs fully out of the water which made it quite hard to keep hold of him. Well, we'll see. If an opportunity comes up then I'll take advantage of it, but for now I'll just look forward to the new coffee mornings starting this week at my church for Mums of littl'uns. I believe cake might be in the offing....

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Ten Things about Toys

1, It is a fact universally acknowledged that no matter how much you have spent and how desirable the toy, your child will be more interested in the box
2, At less than a year old a toys desirability is based solely on how good it feels when chewed. Don't try to test this principle when shopping, they tend to get a bit annoyed.
3, A toy is often only interesting when someone else is playing with it.
4, We have a thing called Octo-tunes, it is an octopus that plays different notes when you squeeze its legs. It can also be quite a scary thing, especially when you've come downstairs in the night to get a drink and you tread on the dratted thing, making a noise akin to the ghost of an unhappy set of bagpipes. I nearly dropped my drink.
5, Why play with the special toy Mummy and Daddy actually spent quite a lot of money on that has crinkly crackly sections that come off and are great fun when you can get the same result from a casually discarded carrier bag?
6, Shoes are toys. I think it's the laces.
7, Don't leave anything that rattles, crackles or toots in the cot overnight. I have done this by mistake and have been woken up in the early hours by the noise. Joseph is also best not left with anything other than very soft toys in the cot as he has the habit of rattling the hard ones up and down the bars like a prisoner with a metal cup. I don't care how cute you look, you're staying in there as it's not time to get up yet.
8, Joseph is something of a corporate logo child, mostly because the companies have a "loyalty club" which sends you vouchers and a free toy. We have a Cow and Gate cow an Aptamil polar bear and a Hipp elephant. Pampers don't seem to do free toys, which is a bit rubbish in my opinion.
9, There is no such thing as a toy box that is too big.
10, All in all, at the end of the day, at this age we probably enjoy the toys more than he does. Still, I suspect it wont be long before we get him saying "Mine! Mine!" and not letting us play any more.


A new era has been reached in Josephs little life: -
He now is the proud possessor of a set of wooden building blocks.
Over the last few weeks I have been noticing a sudden awareness in him - of objects and how they relate to each other. This is manifesting itself in an ability to start trying to put things in other things. At Hopes party he was trying to put small toys in her toy shopping basket. At home he tries to put his dummy in my mouth, an event he greets with much hilarity.
Andy bought a small set of cubes with letters and numbers and pictures on. At first there seemed to be no relationship between the pictures and letters, but in some cases there were. One cube has X and I, with pictures of a xylophone and an igloo. However another block with K and E had a kangaroo and a star. The next block I looked at had a C and a P with a picture of a dog and a fish. Carp and Puppy perhaps?
Then it dawned on us that they were French. Etoille is star and a dog is a chien and a fish is poisson. Brilliant, learning cubes in a language I can hardly speak any more. Does anyone know the French for binoculars? All I can tell you is that it begins with a J.
Still, we liked the little blocks and Joseph did too, so Andy headed back to the same charity shop to pick up another pack of them the following day.
However, rather than popping into Sue Ryder as was the plan he was waylaid by a large consignment of new toys in Oxfam, namely a chunky plastic car for 99p and a large bag of assorted wooden blocks. Now all I need is something to keep them in.
Joseph loves the blocks. He loves picking them up and bashing them together in a 2001 ape sort of way and he loves chewing them. Also he adores it when someone builds a tower out of the blocks and he can knock it down. Sometimes you have to physically restrain him so you've got time to put more than two blocks in the tower, so keen is he on its destruction.
In other news, Joseph and I had a nice afternoon out in town. We had a nice lunch in Las Iguanas where he was perfectly behaved and ate all his lunch and even a rusk which he did not drop even once and he smiled at my friends in Hobbycraft who all want to know when I'll be coming back. Haven't decided yet.

Monday, 26 September 2011


I blame the little girl.
She was really very sweet and wanted to give Joseph a kiss goodbye before she and her family left cousin Hopes third birthday party. He didn't seem to mind, he seems to quite like having female admirers. The problem was that she was clearly incubating a cold virus and has turned my beautiful nine month old baby into something resembling a slug. Well, he does keep leaving sticky mucus trails all over the house to show where he's been.
His nose became like the Niagara Falls and he was really grumpy, but not as much as I and Andy were when we realised a few days later that we had it too. I hate colds, I hate runny noses and blocked sinuses. I hate the inevitable sore throat and hoarse voice. I hate the way it feels like you've got a fever but you actually haven't and I hate people who say "Oh, it's only a cold." No, there is no such thing as "only a cold" and I can't just take something and feel better. Believe me I've tried doing that and even when I'm maxed out on sudafed, lemsip and anything else floating around I still feel just as bad as I did right at the start. Dynamite wouldn't shift this congestion.
In the end I made use of the sofa bed. Andy and Joseph were upstairs, the one coughing and hacking, the other sounding like someone cutting through tiny logs with the junior-est of junior hacksaws. It would have been sweet were it not so annoying. I remained downstairs and could toss and turn and blow my nose as much as I liked without disturbing anyone. When it gets really bad I just jam a tissue up there which seems to help but apparently makes me snore like a warthog. At least downstairs I'm only upsetting The Cat who greeted me in the morning by throwing up her breakfast on my blanket.
I am at last feeling better and Andy seems to have shifted the worst of it, but Joseph is still producing large quantities of yellow muck from his nose. His favourite thing at the moment is to crawl up to you and leave great big strings of it on your trouser legs.
Still, I got a laugh today. He crawled down behind the sofa and got stuck, I found it amusing but he found it quite upsetting and when I pulled him out the facial mucus levels had reached critical levels. He calmed down and smiled, blowing me a nice yellow mucus bubble from his nose. Lovely.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

We're all going on a late summer holiday....

Yes, we went on holiday in September! Yes, we went camping - and with a nine month old baby too!
The weather had a few moments. We did decide to change campsite last minute due to the imminent arrival of hurricane Katia we decided that the campsite with the lovely views of the ocean was probably a bit too exposed, what with it being on a cliff top and all.
It was a bit windy, but nothing too scary. It's the noise that does it, the flapping of canvas and guy ropes and the constant whooshing. It can be scary, but we'd camped through worse and was simply too tired to lay awake worrying.
We had a little bit of wet and it rather hampered the day out we planned at Weymouth, but we still ended up going for a dip in the sea when the sun came out. Joseph didn't like it one bit and ended up staying on the beach so Granny could chase him up and down and get him all sandy. He had fun, but when we got back to the site and tried to bathe him in a washing up bowl outside the tent, he really wasn't too keen.
Many cream teas were had and fish and chips were consumed in considerable quantities, after all if you're having a holiday down in Purbeck I believe it is the done thing. Anyway if you're going to Weymouth for a day it's the law to have fish and chips in King Edwards restaurant. It's the best I've ever eaten (and I've eaten a lot). You can't miss them they're on the corner by the big clock tower.
He he, whenever I remember holidays it's always the food that comes to mind. Joseph wasn't too keen on fish and chips but he did love scones this time, I was surprised that it didn't make him sick! Granny and Daddy were also keen to share some ice cream with him which he also liked a lot, but it did make it difficult to put some sudocream on some dry skin on his face, he saw a finger with some white stuff on it coming towards him and he thought it was another treat and tried to eat it. Yeuch!
We also had a fun trip on the steam railway (Joseph fell asleep) and had a look round the King Tut exhibition in Dorchester (Joseph had a whinge, had a bottle and then fell asleep). Corfe castle is always worth a visit (Joseph, all comfy in his baby back - you guessed it - fell asleep) especially the nice National Trust tea shop outside, they do good scones. While we were there we were treated to some events in the last day of the Purbeck folk festival which included accordion playing, clog dancing and the delights of men in silly hats with bells on their knees doing Morris dancing.
We had a debate about whether the design on the costume was a dragon, a griffin or a wyvern. In the end I have concluded it was a wyvern as it looked pretty dragon-ish but only had two legs. Before anyone could consider that we were actually a part of the proceedings we escaped to have a cream tea and I mused on how we the English have become a little ashamed of our own culture.
Well, even if the dancing is just too much to cope with, we still have all our fine food - cream teas, Cumberland sausages, cheddar cheese, Bakewell tart, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, dumplings, Cornish pasties, deep fried fish (the chips are Belgian), Earl Grey tea, Lancashire hot-pot....
I'd better stop as I'm getting hungry. Anything I've missed I'm sure you can add on in the comment section.....

Friday, 9 September 2011


He's got a lot of hair, clearly something he's inherited from my side and not his Dads! :-)
There are problems attached to having a boy with pale skin, big blue eyes and lots and lots of fair hair. The problem is, quite simply that people assume he's a girl. I have got round this by clever dressing, lots of denim trousers and dungarees, lots and lots of blue and olive green, all of which should shout BOY. Still, none of it does any good if it looks like he's halfway to growing a fair ponytail.
The problems with haircuts are few but difficult to deal with. We've tried pinning him down and utilising the comb and scissors method, but he just wont sit still. The net result was a rather uneven haircut that just wasn't any good because it just carried on growing all uneven and untidy.
He was getting long locks again, threatening to get in his eyes. Andy was giving himself a haircut, he likes to keep what he has left nice and short, it suits him. He also doesn't think it good economy to go to a barbers when you can do it yourself at home in about 5 minutes. He wondered if he should use his electric clippers on Joseph.
I wasn't sure. I thought they'd be too powerful for Josephs delicate hair and I also thought he'd find it a bit scary, but the options were to have another go with the comb and scissors, not something I was too keen on as I was worried I might poke him in the eye or pay a professional.
Well, chances are the professional would use electric clippers. Do they do special small ones for tots?
So, we decided to have a go. Andy put a grade 8 on the clippers and we soon discovered that the hair on the back of his head isn't that long yet. So, we tried a grade 5 and soon the back of his head was looking even and tidy. We used the grade 8 on the top and his fringe went from messy and getting in his eyes to  neat and tidy. He looks much better and is entirely unfazed by the experience and I now have a nice bag full of clippings from his first 'proper' hair cut!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Onwards and Upwards

Well, we've had a few developmental milestones over the last few days, the result of one being that I have had to use my ingenuity to work out a way of stopping Joseph getting in the base of our fish tank as he's worked out how to open the doors. At the moment it's rigged shut with the strap off an old baby carrier tied round the handles. Joseph finds it fun to play with the strap, but the fish food is safe. He's also worked out how to get into one of the kitchen cupboards which has made me doubly determined to keep him out of that room. The problem with this is that whenever I go in there he always wants to follow. If Andy is home it's fine, he can be the watch warden but when I'm on my own it's harder. If I shut the door behind me then I'm in for trouble as Joseph will crawl up to the door and try and get it open. The door opens outwards onto the living room and if Joseph's close on the other side then I am effectively trapped in the kitchen. This leaves finding a way of keeping him contained in the living room.
He hates being put in the travel cot I sometimes use as a play-pen (also known as "the baby cage"). I can put him in his bumbo but the play tray has to be on or he can escape and I also think he gets a little confused and thinks lunch might be coming early. My other technique (if I was going to be very quick in the kitchen) was to stand him up on his feet and prop him up on a chair as he did enjoy it but hadn't worked out how to get down.
Alas now, he has. It involves sitting down on to his nappy-padded bottom and quickly rolling sideways in the kind of manoeuvre any judo aficionado would be proud.
He does enjoy being up on his feet but until yesterday has always needed help to do so having never elevated himself further than his knees under his own efforts. That's changed now, yesterday afternoon he suddenly got how to pull himself up onto his feet. Twice while I was holding his hands - I wasn't helping in any way - and twice whilst holding onto a chair.
Today he pulled himself up on the side of a chair but didn't get it quite right. Both feet started sliding outwards and he couldn't work out how to stop them. He started whinging and when I looked over he looked like he was practicing for the World Championship Baby Gymnastics. I think he'll be good at the splits.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


What's with all the weather at the moment?
In the last few years, our summers have been notable by not so much their absence but their general lack of dryness. This year I thought we might get more of a summer and we've had a few patches, but it's been pretty wet. Today is wet, we've had very wet days this week and when it does dry out it gets humid because the ground is so wet.
Why oh why? Sometimes I have a free afternoon and I'd like to take Joseph for a short walk and it tips it down. The poor boy hasn't been outside anything like as much as I would have liked him to be by now. We've had a couple of trips out in is baby back-pack, but that's about it. The poor thing needs to get a little sun and there simply isn't any.
I'm not a tanning fanatic. I have very sensitive skin and I don't like the heat, I actually prefer the cooler weather. However even for me the general sogginess is getting to much. When I was not a mum the weather was an inconvenience but not really a problem, now it's a proper barrier to me getting out and about. For myself I'm not too fussed, but trying to get a rain cover on the buggy is always a bit of a faff and getting him in and out of the car in the rain is very hard, we inevitably end up getting wet. While I'm faffing around getting him in the car seat the buggy gets wet and ends up with a musty smell.
So, what's up with the weather?

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

My Son, the Test Subject

Yesterday we got all packed up and ready and headed off to the university for my son to be experimented on!
No, he wasn't being filled with drugs or anything like that, it was a psychological experiment to see how the minds of eight month old babies work. No, it wasn't the Stanford Prison experiment but with tots!
Apparently babies of his age make a common mistake. They get used to where a certain object is hidden and then even when they've seen it be put somewhere else they try to find it where they're used to finding it. The researcher wanted to know if this still applied if you used a toy that the baby was familiar with rather than just toys provided by the researcher.
Joseph didn't want to to start with and just tried to chew the covers that were being used to hide the toys. He did that a lot. We even tried sat on the floor so he could crawl around as he was getting a little fussy, but all he wanted to do was try and crawl under the swivel chair in the corner of the room.
Eventually he did decide to play along and I hope they got the data needed and that Joseph hasn't managed to screw up someones phd too badly. The researcher did get a cuddle off him at the end, which was quite surprising as he's been a bit fussy with that for a while. He's been ok when people he doesn't know are around (as long as Mummy or Daddy are close) but can't be handed to them or he screams. Perhaps it was because we spend an hour in a small room and he felt a bit more familiarised. Also, she did keep handing him toys which must have helped!
It was an interesting experience and I'll be happy to do others if they come up. I quite like the possibility that my son will contribute to psychological science, even if that is simply by dribbling on it a bit!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Mum's gone all Judgemental

Does anyone else  do this?
I can't help it, but whenever I'm out and about with the munchkin I start doing baby comparisons. I don't mean to, but it still happens.
Sometimes it's just me trying to work out how old the other children are, something I'm a bit rubbish at. I see a child sitting confidently in a high-chair, oh then they must be a bit older than Joseph.  Hum, but they look smaller and are just wearing a baby-gro and not a "day" outfit as I would call it. Now there's a little one screaming, aren't I lucky that Joseph's so well behaved in public, shhh Joseph you're showing me up!
That's usually how it goes. Joseph has no concept of anything like this yet, though I'm sure he will in the future. I still find myself looking at other Mums buggies to see who's got what and if anyone else has the same as me and I've seen a couple. It's hard not to try and exchange a knowing nod with the women who have the same buggy, they'd probably think me odd if I tried! It's hard not to be judgemental when it comes to buggies, every time I see an ICandy I think "More money than sense!" which might not be the case at all, someone might have bought it for them. Still, they're jolly expensive pieces of kit!
It's hard not to tut when you see someone in a restaurant feeding their little one chips. Still, without knowing what they eat at home it would be silly to judge, this might be a once-a-month treat and doesn't mean that they eat nothing but deep fried garbage. After all, I did once spend a happy afternoon with my niece in a garden centre, we looked at plants, coo-ed at bunnies, marveled at some very big fish and ate a LOT of chocolate cake.
It does make me wonder what other mums think of me when I'm out and about. Do they tut if I let Joseph use his dummy? Well, it's that or you can all hear him yell. Do they tut when I feed him his bottle while he is sat in his buggy? Well, I would have got him out but there wasn't a lot of room and he's a bit of a magpie, my cutlery and who knows what else would have been grabbed at and probably thrown on the floor. At home I always cuddle him while giving him his bottle, it's just not always practical when out and about. Anyway, he's nearly nine months now and he's old enough to start feeling what it's like to feed himself. He can just about hold the bottle now, but can't hold it at the right angle to actually drink from it yet!
And then you get into the whole "competitive mum" thing, my child did this young, my child did that, my child has NEVER done that in public, my child knows this.... blah blah blah!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


It's like a little light bulb suddenly went on in his head, just as soon as he was crawling he was pulling himself up on things - or at least trying to do so. Mostly he ends up propped up on something on his knees, unsure what to do next. Sometimes he will be trying to grab at stuff, sometimes he will simply stay there and try and bounce up and down for a minute whilst attempting to eat whatever it is he's pulled himself up on.
This morning he was trying to pull himself up on the sofa when a small cuddly toy caught his eye. He grasped it firmly in one hand, happily shaking it and smiling. With his other hand he also grabbed the toy in order to give it a a cuddle and yes, you've guessed. He realised too late that he didn't have a third hand with which to hold onto the sofa and quickly went splat onto the floor.
This was not an isolated incident. His poor little noggin has suffered a few bumps in recent days, I catch him most of the time, but not always. Sometimes it's that he's tired and just gives up, but you can usually spot this coming as he cries for a bit first. Sometimes he simply over-reaches himself. When propped up on one object he reaches for a further, taller one and the results are less than spectacular. Thankfully at least his rear end is quite well padded.
On two occasions he's managed to get up from his knees and actually stand on his feet. Alas this is not much of a success story as on neither occasion was he particularly well balanced and the first time he looked like he was attempting to do sideways splits. Both quickly resulted in a little tumble, but I was close enough to catch. He's pulling himself up in his cot now as well and is just tall enough to bash his head on the side if he falls over, so we have to be very vigilant!
Poor Joseph, it's tricky stuff is gravity.
A little tip - a large heap of laundry dumped on the floor after having quickly rescued it in from the rain is not only a very interesting plaything for an eight month old, but is also quite good for keeping him in one place. You can't crawl through a heap of bedsheets that quickly!