Friday, 23 November 2012


I am wondering if I will get to sleep in my own bed, accompanied only by my husband tonight. It'll be a first for quite a while.
Before you start getting carried away with wild ideas about mad parties, swingers and other such stuff I should explain that we've all been ill, and repeatedly so. Andy started it by getting a cold with a nasty cough, the kind of cough that goes on and on, like the shipping forecast but less pleasant.The problem with the cough, at least from my perspective, was that when he tried to suppress the cough it got worse. So, as I'm trying to relax and sleep I keep getting disturbed by a man alternately coughing or shaking trying not to cough. He decided that for all our sakes, the sofa bed in the lounge was a better idea. This meant that I could sleep relatively well, but Andy kept getting woken up by the cat, either trying to get in or out of a shut door or wanting food. Cats, they're actually more annoying than toddlers and not many things can manage that.
Then it was my turn. A sore throat, a runny nose and yes, a chesty cough. It's been more than a week and a half and I still regularly erupt in noises that sound more like a dog trying speak than a  cough, but there you go. I spent almost a week on the sofa bed and Kim the Cat made my life relatively easy the first two nights (slap a big bowl of food down at 9.30pm) and Night Nurse did the rest. Alas the third night she cuddled up behind me and I was startled from my almost somnolence by a hot feeling down my back. The wretched moggy had emptied her bladder on me, my blankets and the bed. Have I said before that I harbour passive-aggressive feelings towards our pathetic excuse for a feline? They weren't so passive after that.
Still feeling very ill and quite groggy from the little pot of green goo I had downed, I called Andy and we did our best to remedy the situation. I ended up in a sleeping bag that was more comfortable than the blankets, but my pajamas needed a wash.
Thanks, I think, to my chemical assistance I have made enough of a recovery to resume my normal sleeping position, but Joseph is ill now and he has a nasty cough. Andy had him the first night and I did the second, the poor little chap just did not like sleeping in his cot. He'd only sleep in our bed, propped up on pillows. When I was looking after him I did put him back in his cot after he went to sleep, but he woke up minutes later and howled.
I know I shouldn't let him sleep in our bed. We should be strict and we usually are, but when he's ill what can you do? I think it's better to at least manage to get some sleep even if you are regularly woken up by a little pair of feet digging you in the ribs because he's moved round in the night and is now sleeping perpendicular to the recommended position.
He's asleep now in his cot and I hope he will stay that way, but it will probably last only as long as the last dose of calpol. Until then, peace reigns - but she is nervous and knows she will most likely be deposed any minute.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Watching Joseph

He takes the wooden puzzle pieces from their cardboard box and transfers them one at a time to the body of his toy Noahs ark. It's not a very good ark, the sides have animal shaped holes in them. This would make it nice and easy for the animals to enter two by two, or even up to six by six. It would also most likely mean that they leave just as quickly through the other side and I doubt it would be any good at keeping rain or sea water at bay.
When the puzzle pieces are all in the ark he takes them out one by one and puts them back in the cardboard box.
They don't stay there, soon they are back in the ark. To make things a little more interesting the small cardboard box is now moved from next to the ark to next to me as I sit drinking a much needed cup of coffee and writing this blog. Ah caffeine, the parents friend. The puzzle pieces are now ferried across the room, one at a time until the box is full. When this happens the whole box is picked up and the pieces poured en mass back into the ark. A change from the previous pattern, but it does make a good noise. The box is returned to where I am sitting and the slow transfer process begins again.
Now they're on the sofa and he's picking them up and looking at them. The box is discarded as is the ark. I don't believe it, he's actually trying to do the puzzle.
No... wait, he's not. He's seeing if he can poke them between the sofa cushions. Whoever gets to use the sofa bed next had better check to make sure their slumber isn't interrupted by the hard wooden edge of a piece of wooden puzzle.
Actually, the ark is back in play now. He's ignoring the main body of the boat and just concentrating on its detachable deck with rather improbable house section. Many of the pieces will fit into that bit, although not all of them.
It gets me wondering, you know, the things we show and tell our children. Noah, when building a suitable structure to save all those animals from a watery apocalypse would probably not have built a comedy boat with a little house on the deck. I spent many years thinking that the Jewish Tabernacle had black and white chevrons up and down the roof due to a verse stating that it was made of "badger skins", which is a mistranslation but I still can't get the image from my mind. I wonder what little things will stick in Josephs mind. How many of those funny ideas you get as a child - based purely on somewhat inaccurate information that an adult has given either because they don't know the real answer or they think the child wont really understand - will Joseph have?
It's cups now, stacking cups. They have numbers on and Joseph thinks they're all four, five or sick - we think he means six. He's not too interested in stacking them, just rolling them along the floor and along my computer table. There are puzzle pieces all over the place but he does not care. I'll end up treading on one and screaming in a comedy fashion, no doubt.
Cups and blocks scatter the room, thus demonstrating how a toddler is the biggest generator of entropy. This room was in an ordered state whilst he was having his not-quite nap upstairs. Now it is chaos. Upstairs was chaos when I went to get him, now he is gone from it I have returned it to its ordered state and it will remain so until he is upstairs again.
And can anyone explain why it is that when I go to tidy up the toys he has discarded he gets upset and wants to play with them again? I suspect some psychology is involved, but I think I need more coffee to deal with it.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Marathon Mum

He's getting close to two years old and never has parenting seemed more like an endurance sport. I've got a minimum of sixteen more years of this, it's certainly no sprint.
He had another bout of probable rotavirus recently. Not as bad as the first time round, but not a lot of fun either. We were on holiday when it started and I was struggling to cope changing his nappy as the floors were quite hard and played murder with my knees. Even at home it was hard, on the first day back I was very tired and missed a nappy change, thinking I'd done it later in the day than I actually had. This aggravated his nappy rash to a nasty degree and probably meant that he was in a lot of discomfort.
It's all healed up now and the rotavirus is gone, but the nearly terrible twos appear to be here to stay.
You can't tell a two year old (well, nearly two) that they need to stay out of the kitchen as you're getting things in and out of the oven and it's dangerous. The more I escort him from the room, the louder the tantrum becomes. We have a small kitchen step and he likes to stand on it next to the counter to see what I am doing. This tends to keep a check on the tantrum and he does tend to stay put, but it does spoil his dinner. He tends to eat the scraps, especially if I'm cutting out biscuits.
Speaking of biscuits! Oh boy, now there's a tough one. If he knows we have some and he knows where they are...
You'll usually be dragged into the kitchen by the finger. If you try to resist then it's a straight fight between the coefficient of friction between your skin and his and the strength of your finger joint. Don't resist too much, it's safer.
When he's got you where he wants you, the real battle starts. He points at said sweet treats and says "More! More!" You, of course say: -
"No! You've already had one."
He reacts as if he's just watched you shred his favourite teddy. As if I'd do such a terrible thing! But you're still not getting another biscuit.
You'd think he'd get the message, but no. No amount of wailing, sobbing,  throwing himself on the floor and pummelling it is going to make me give in. You can pull all my fingers out of joint and you're still not getting one, my boy.
When he started banging his head on the floor I did feel a little more kindly to him in that I went to the living room and got a cushion to put under his head.
Alas  it continues. This tantrum has been going on for more than an hour and a half and I am now doing my best to ignore the attention seeking behaviour, even if it does mean this blog takes longer to write as he keeps trying to grab the keyboard. You're still not getting a biscuit.
Gah! I've got a headache now. Just how do I keep this up? It's not just biscuits either. He's tall enough to open the kitchen door and get inside and open up the drawers now. I had to wrestle the can opener off him earlier and you'd think world war three had started in my house. Dear neighbours, the noise is not me hurting my son, but me trying to prevent him hurting himself with random kitchen equipment. Just what kind of damage can a toddler do to himself with a garlic press and a bag of plastic clips? I don't know, but I don't want to find out.
No, Joseph, go and put that empty can back in the recycling. No, go and put that old newspaper back too. Ok, you can destroy that piece of junk mail that came through the door. In the grand scheme of things it's probably not important and it's taken your mind off the biscuits.
Why does doing the right thing feel like the wrong thing? I know I can't let him eat as many sweet treats as he likes and I know he needs to learn who's boss round here but right now it feels like he hates me with a passion and all I'm doing is being a real kill-joy. I keep getting visions of him as an adult lying back on a therapists couch saying "Well it all started because my Mum wouldn't let me have another biscuit....."
Still, got to go and tidy up now, I've managed to distract him with an old mobile phone case that has a magnetic flap. That can opener needs putting away again.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Joe Strummer

As I write, an entire pack of kitty treats is being given to the cat.
Joseph likes the cat, he really does. The cat does not like him, not one little bit. She hates him so much that Joseph has learned from her that the correct way to greet a cat is to hiss at them as that's what she always does to him. When she sees him coming, she runs away. Joseph runs after her, he thinks it's all a game.
When he learned to give her treats I thought she'd come round. She hasn't. She eats the treats all right but then goes back to hating and despising him. If I feed the cat treats then she can never get enough. If Joseph feeds her cat treats then, though she can get over herself enough to take a few from him, eventually her evil feeling towards him will win the day and she will take no more.
Poor Joseph, he'd give her the whole pack if she'd only take them. He has now grown bored of holding out treats to a now totally unresponsive cat and has wandered off in search of different entertainment, leaving a trail of treats in him wake. He did try and pick them up, but the pot tipped and they're scattered again. I've picked them up because I don't want them to make the carpet dirty and to be frank, the cat doesn't deserve them.

Joseph has discovered a love stringed instruments.
It started at my nieces birthday party when he was allowed to play with a ukulele and then didn't want to give it back. We had a tantrum for most of the way home after that.
Ever since, he's tried strumming things. He has a little drum that he'd rather pretend to strum than drum. One of his story books has a circular picture on the back that he pretends is a guitar and he sits and strums it. Andy found a ukulele app on his tablet and that is strummed - a lot. He downloaded it yesterday morning and I could hear the noise upstairs, but I could not tell what it was. It was a tinkly sort of noise, almost magical and very musical in a totally tuneless sort of way. It's anyone's guess where this will go, but there are quite a few musicians in his family so he may do quite well if he puts the effort in.  Will he be more of a Dave Gilmore or George Fornby? As long as he doesn't end up like Slash from Guns n Roses, I'm not too bothered.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Inner Artist

A new creative side has woken up in my son. Its arrival was heralded by a two hour tantrum, but all genius is born through pain and it was my eardrums that had to suffer.
He wanted the crayons and I couldn't tell what he meant, as his only was of communicating with me was to shout "Da! Da!" and point roughly to where the crayons were, at the back of the detritus on my sewing table. I hadn't let him play with them for a while as he'd not shown a lot of interest, had struggled to get them to make any sort of mark on the paper and had been more interested in trying to colour in the carpet. We've got a buyer for this house now (wehey, woo-hoo let's have a party) and the last thing we want is for them to change their minds because the the carpet has developed large purple marks.
Grandma has been letting him have a go with colouring pencils while she looks after him during my one working day of the week. It's obviously made an impression, but you have to watch him like a hawk or he draws on the walls. At least ordinary HB pencil can be rubbed off.
Now, at least, he's big enough to sit at the table. When we bought our nice Ikea table I also bought some plastic coated fabric and made a table protector to go under the table cloth, lest one of us should happen to be enjoying a nice glass of port and lemon and accidentally spill it on the table in a humorous middle class manner and the top of the table is ruined for ever.
The great thing about it is that it is wipe clean, even from the waxy lines left from large Crayola crayons. The best thing about crayons is that they're much softer than pencils and if he gets a bit carried away then it's the crayon that gives way and not the surface of the table.
So far all his works have been something akin to post-modern impressionism with a touch of post-pointilly abstraction (I studied some art history at college, not by choice). There's a great deal of energy in his work, perhaps showing the inner frustrations of what it's like to be a toddler.
At the moment all his work begins the same way.
A piece of plain paper is presented to him and he carefully selects a crayon. He looks up at me, looks at the paper, looks up at me again and smiles. Then he whispers his favourite phrase - "Go vroom!" and looks at the paper again. His left hand, clutching his crayon, slowly touches the paper and he draws -
A small ovoid shape object. It is carefully and gently done.
He looks up at me and points to the shape - "Voom." he states. Then he draws another one.
After that it gets trickier. A line is drawn on the paper, sometimes connecting the two bean-like objects, sometimes more random. Either way, he usually states "Car!" looking proudly up at me.
At this point it can go two ways. He gets bored and runs away or he selects another crayon and decided to express himself a little more energetically. Now we see bright swathes of colour appearing in big swiping motions across the page. It's now I'm glad of the plastic fabric as he's never totally sure where the paper stops and starts.
Eventually he has had enough. The paper is presented to me, sometimes still flat, sometimes crumpled. Perhaps he has a touch of the artists self-loathing and wants to destroy his work if he feels it's not up to scratch. Either that or he just likes the scrunchy noise.
Anyway, my fridge is starting to groan under the weight of accumulated paper.
By the way, if any of the brands mentioned in this blog would like to send me stuff then :-)

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Last Day of Summer

Summer is now on the way out, indeed it has turned off the lights and left the building.
This weekend we were predicted a sunny Saturday. Going by the forecast for the rest of the week it was going to be the last time we'd have a sunny dry day for a long time and probably the last time the temperature would be right side of 20, or even in double figures for that matter.
If life gives you a sunny day - go to the beach!
To be frank, I'd spend the day in Weymouth even if it was tipping it down. I have spent a wet day in Weymouth, but it is nicer when it's warm and dry. It was a good day to pick, with the schools back it wasn't as busy as peak times and as it's the wrong end of September there's enough of a chill breeze coming from the sea that people keep their clothes on. Nothing spoils a nice day at the beach more than sharing it with people who seem to think that the whole world wants to see their blubber.
First stop lunch and the best fish and chips you'll find. The restaurant is called King Edwards, it's on the sea front right opposite the ornate clock tower. I don't know how they do it, but the fish is so very, very good. I like a fillet of plaice, but so many places over cook it and you end up with something that has the consistency of wet tissue and all the flavour. Not here, here they get it right on that nice balance, not underdone but still nice and moist in the middle so all the flavour is still there.
Joseph ate what I can only describe as a mountain of chips and followed it up with some ice cream. He wasn't so keen on the fish, but he'll learn. Eventually, I hope. He showed his appreciation by producing the nastiest nappy I have ever seen and King Edwards, though good with the food, have a lot to be desired for nappy changing facilities. You can either precariously balance your unhappy toddler on the narrow shelf by the sinks or lay the mat on the floor, as long as you don't mind that the only space to do it is right by the inward opening door to the toilet. Either way, injuries are a risk.
We spent quite a long time sat on the beach. Andy spent quite a lot of time putting up our wind break and Joseph went to have a good look at the sea. He was happy to stand getting his toes damp, he found the waves rushing up to him quite funny. We put him in his swimming nappy and Andy took him for a proper dip, but both soon concluded that it was really too cold and much more fun was to be had by building sandcastles and trying to bury a toddlers legs in the sand. Joseph found this very funny.
We took a walk along the beach and Joseph spotted some furry four legged animals that looked like fun. A few minutes later and three pounds lighter in the pocket I was walking up the beach behind Joseph as he had his first donkey ride. He loved it, he spent most of the time hanging on with one hand with a massive grin on his face. The donkey didn't seem to mind.
Alas time was getting on and with a two hour drive ahead of us we went home, but not before stopping to have a special hot chocolate which is like a normal hot chocolate except it has spray cream, marshmallows and a flake. Joseph ate quite a lot of flake.
When we got home we scraped as much sand off as we could and put the little lad to bed. All that fun really takes it out of you.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Toddlers and Viruses

I took Joseph to toddler play group for the first time last week.
You know things are off to a shaky start when the first thing that happens is that a woman who I'm pretty sure I've never met before says "Is he yours?" in quite a shocked tone as I walk through the door. Not "Is that your little boy?" or "I didn't know you'd had a little one, how old is he?" but a shocked sentence with the stress on the worst two words, giving me the impression that the idea of me having a child is somehow shocking and a bit wrong.
I could have replied "Well no, but you need a toddler to come in here so I just grabbed one wandering around outside." but my brain wasn't coping too well and I simply said "Yes?" with such a puzzled tone in my voice that she replied "Oh well, it's a while since I've seen you."
I still don't know who they are! I've been twice now and I don't know why she thought she knew me, she's not spoken to me since.
Joseph found the push along cars and got in one and wouldn't get out. He remained in the car for the best part of an hour, only wanting to come out to try a different car. When it was drink and biscuit time I took him out to join in and the mother of all tantrums kicked off. I thought he'd be happy with a snack, but he waited until I'd got myself a cup of tea and a piece of cake to manage before really kicking off. You can't handle a stroppy toddler when you've got a hot beverage in one hand. I tried balancing my cake plate on the mug and dealing with him with one hand, but it was no use. Back in the car he went and he did not stir.
I have to confess to feeling a little wobbly at this point. I crouched down by the car, sipping my tea and utterly mortified by my sons terrible behaviour. He used to be so good in public, and now I feel like I'm being judged by every woman in the room as having the worst son in the world. Uh-oh panic attack.
Remember to breathe, it's not all that bad! Mortified I may be and a terror my son may be but there's no sense making it worse by totally freaking out in the middle of the room. Breathe! Drink the nice cup of tea... ah that's better. Right you young terror, it's time to tidy up and we're going home.
A few days later I went to bed and from the door to the bedroom I could hear a funny sound. It was as if someone had taken my cute little boy and replaced him with a grumpy rottwieler. The cot was full of snorts and growls.
This means three things - Joseph has a head cold, he's going to be keeping us up all night for days on end and just when you think it can't get any worse I'll catch it.
Poor little mite, he was really snotty and uncomfortable and he had a cough that had me worried. The magic of calpol did help, but we were still regularly woken up and in the end we took it in turns to sleep downstairs on the sofa bed so only one of us was disrupted at a time. I went to work feeling quite spaced and high on caffeine, probably not making a lot of sense to anyone. Someone did have a go at me for not answering a summons to the tills. I don't remember hearing it, though I am told it was quite audible. I must have been zoned out at the time, probably as a result of lack of sleep.
He's on the mend now and well enough that I risked another attempt at the toddler group. There's no point letting anxiety get the better of me, for Josephs sake I must persevere and the cake's pretty good as well. I don't seem to have caught the cold in the end, although I've been a little sniffly. It must be the super-immunity I developed when I caught swine flu a few years ago. Don't laugh, it's a known scientific effect. I've caught a lot less colds since I had that.
He went straight for the car again. Here we go again, I decided. At least he hasn't worked out how to make it move about so I can sit down for a bit.
After half an hour he wanted to get out! He tried another car, got bored and started looking at other toys. I was shocked, but happy. He played with a toy farm, handed random toys to people he'd never met before and sat down quietly for a biscuit and a drink with the other children and he didn't even try and steal anyone elses biscuit which is usually his trick. I had a cup of tea and a nice piece of chocolate cake without any problems at all to disturb me. We tidied up, sang some songs and Joseph had a good run around and didn't want to leave.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Park

This has been a week of going to the park.
And why not? The weather is good and the schools have gone back so the childrens play area will not be over-run by school age children, many of whom are probably too old to be using the facilities anyway. I recently read a story about how a teenage girl had to be cut free from a toddler swing by the fire brigade. She was drunk, which probably explains it, but I did wonder if she'd be made to pay for a replacement swing for the little kids.
I'm struggling to get Joseph to like the swings. The very first go he had he seemed to like it. It was a snowy weekend back at the start of the year and Andy and I thought it would be fun to take him for a walk. We ended up at the play area and had a go on the swings and he seemed to love it.
I didn't take him again for a while, I wanted to wait for less inclement weather. When I did go, he hated the swings and cried when I pushed him.
I took him to the park on Wednesday and he hated the swings. He decided that he liked the slide though, as long as I climbed up with him and slid down with him. Eventually he slid down on his own, but I didn't like the idea of letting him run about on the top without adult supervision. It's one of this big multi-play gym things with a bridge, a climbing rope, a climbing wall and shallow steps to climb up. This means that there are a lot of places an unwary toddler could fall off, not to mention the slide itself which he liked, but needed help to use.
We had fun and we went home for lunch, before the sun got too strong it would burn. Joseph seems to be relatively sun-proof, but I go the colour of lobster thermidor very quickly if I don't wear the strongest suntan lotion you can buy. Ironically it's me slapping on the baby suncream and I hardly worry about Joseph. I do give him some cream as well, but he doesn't ever burn.
I went to the park on Friday as well. It was a nice day, I had done all my boring domestic jobs so we went. This time I spent a lot of the time stood at the top of the slide whilst Joseph climbed up the steps on his own, slid down the slide with me to help and then ran the long way round the equipment and climbed up again. I lost count of how many times he slid, but I did start to wonder about the state of the seat of his trousers! He still didn't like the swings, I had a couple of goes with him and on the last attempt he cried as soon as he realised we were walking towards them. Very odd, as this is a child who loves to be held by the ankles and swung round.
We went out on Saturday. We went to a local aircraft museum which Joseph loved - lots of engines to look at. In my opinion all it needed was an open cockpit for him to sit in. Having said that, if they had got one we'd probably never have managed to leave. He is a little boy who loves buttons and switches. We stopped for a snack and Joseph ate a large ring doughnut by sucking the icing off first and then eating the rest.
After that we went to a different park and Joseph showed his Daddy how to use the slide. I also noticed that he'd got the idea that you need to sit down before you slide and he was climbing up, sitting down and then waiting to be pushed.
We went to the park again this afternoon. I know, four times in one week! Still, there's a good chance we might be moving house quite soon so we might as well make the most of the good quality local facilities whilst they're still in walking distance.
Joseph excelled himself. He climbed up all on his own, sat down in front of the slide and then scooted himself forwards and slid without any help at all. Andy put him on the swing and got him to smile, even if Joseph wasn't fully enjoying it, at least he wasn't crying.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


I had thought that as Joseph is now a confident walker that there would be times when I could take him out without having to bother wrestling the buggy into the back of the car, wrestling it out again and then wrestling him into it. I do a lot of wrestling now, it seems to come with the territory. I have to wrestle him into his clothes and I have to pin him down on the floor to change his nappy sometimes. I've even had to wrestle him into his cot when he really doesn't want to go and this usually results in lots of cuddly toys being thrown on the floor and anything else within reach.
We popped out shopping at the weekend. We did not take the buggy.
We were looking for a pair of cycling shoes for Andy and some new cot bedding for Joseph. His current blankets are just too small to be of any practical use. It really did surprise me just how much places charge for a square of edged fleece that they call a childs blanket. I refused to pay that much and in the end we bought some fleece from a fabric shop and I will edge it myself.
The really big mistake we made was to go into Toys R Us. They do some baby stuff including bedding and they're not the most expensive place so it seemed a good idea. It really isn't when you've got a 21 month old who isn't restrained and a man who has a bit of a bad back. Joseph ran about and generally got under feet, which was bad enough, but then he found the aisle with the cars.
The proper toy cars, the ones that are big enough to get inside and play with the steering wheel. There were toy motorbikes and a toy tractor complete with trailer. Joseph loved all of these and really really really didn't want to stop playing with them.
Have you ever tried to extract a toddler from one of those cars when he really doesn't want to? We had to one before when we were at a garden centre and they had the kiddy trolleys that had the same plastic car shape underneath the basket. At least on that occasion we had been out in a quiet car park and not in the middle of a busy shop.
Joseph did not want to go. I could not keep hold of him and it looks pretty bad if you're walking along dragging a small screaming child along the floor by one arm. It also looks bad if you are holding a toddler having a tantrum under your arm like some sort of outsize clutch purse. That hadn't been intentional, but he just would keep wiggling and kicking. Andy managed to get him sat up on his shoulders which kept him a little more out of trouble, but didn't stop him crying and didn't do Andys back any good at all. Joseph kept trying to twist round and reach out to me, but I don't know why. When I'd been holding him he'd been very unhappy and I'd had the brunt of the kicking and flailing elbows.
We left quickly, vowing never to make the same mistake again. When I met Andy for lunch yesterday and we popped into a fabric shop I had the little terror safely tied down in his buggy. Andy made the mistake of letting him out and chaos briefly ensued until we wrestled him back into the buggy and got the straps done up. No, it's going to be a long while yet before I decide it's safe enough to go anywhere sans buggy, a long long while.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

I start to feel a little less needed

We've had some more firsts this week.
On Tuesday evening, when I was feeling rather tired and a little lazy, I presented Joseph with a bowl of curried rice and a spoon. I popped back into the kitchen to get something, expecting to find a puzzled little boy and a bit of mess when I got back.
No indeed. He was sat in his booster seat, which I now put straight on the floor on top of a piece of plastic table-cloth. He was watching Chuggington.
He was also feeding himself. The spoon was picking up big lumps of the sticky spicy rice and they were making it into his mouth. He did not stop feeding himself until the bowl was empty. Now here I must add a few more details to the story to make it even more impressive. There was only a small amount adhering to the side of his mouth and only a little dropped in the bib. There was none on the tray in front of him and none scattered about on the floor. He had eaten pretty much the whole bowl himself, using the spoon. A little shocked, I then gave him his yoghurt and a spoon and he did the same thing.
That's a first. He's been showing signs of wanting to self feed with cutlery for a while now, but has generally got bored and given up half way through or hasn't managed to master keeping the food on the spoon for long enough to get it to his mouth. Of course, later in the week he hasn't been as good, but I'm still pleased. He's shown he can do it and we can work on consistency. It wont be long before he doesn't need me at all at meal times, my role will simply be to provide the food.
On Wednesday he was sat on his small push along car in the living room. Up until now he's only ever been able to make it go backwards, unless he gets off and then pushes it along. I looked at him sat on it and then I pointed further down the room and asked if he could go to where I was pointing.
He looked over and then began to slowly and bumpily scoot the car along the floor in a forwards direction! I gave him a lot of praise, he looked surprised and he hasn't done it since. No matter, at least I know he can do it. It was starting to worry me a bit, considering he's ahead of the curve in other areas. He's starting to put words together and he can do jigsaws on the tablet, but to not be able to make a sit-on car go forwards seemed.... perverse.
Perhaps it was just laziness. He knew that if he sat there and made noise at me then I'd eventually get up and push him along anyway. Also, it's not the only locomotive oddity he's had, when most children start crawling, he was getting about by doing a sideways roly-poly and he got quite quick at it too, he could roll all the way across the living room in a matter of seconds. He didn't crawl for all that long in the end, deciding that at one week past his first birthday - he'd rather walk.
We've had two new almost words - flower and "wowsers" which we think was him trying to say "trousers". We've not heard either of them since, adding to my idea that Joseph doesn't like to say a word out loud to us until he could say it properly. He never really said "Mama" or "Dada" it was pretty much straight to "Mummy" and "Daddy". There seem to be hardly any words that he does not understand, he can even work out the difference between "Where's Joseph's nose?" and "Where's Daddy's nose?" when you ask and give the corresponding correct hooter a good tweak. You have to say "Honk!" when he does, he finds that very funny.
Andy and I have concluded that when we put him down for the night and we hear him chattering away to himself in his cot, he's practising. He doesn't like anyone to hear, so he does it when he's alone. I'm imagining him up there right now going "Wowers - no. T... t... tousers - no. T... t... tr... tousers. Oh bother. T... t..."
It really wouldn't surprise me if he was, he's showing signs of being such a little perfectionist.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Lonliness of the Long Distance Shopper

It occurs to me that I have written a blog post on this subject before, but it was a while ago now so never mind.
Yesterday Granny and I took Joseph to Ikea. We had decided that we'd do something with the day, my other half being away for the weekend on a camping trip with a friend. Whilst he was off enjoying camping, cream teas and fish and chips, I did not want to sit at home, alone and bereft. We initially thought we'd pop into town for a bit, but then we remembered that it was the time of the music festival and spending even five minutes in a public place full of those sorts of smelly weirdos did not sound like a good day to me. Public toilets are usually all closed and that's not good when you've a small child who needs his bum tending to on a regular basis.
We don't even get the same calibre weirdo that we used to. When I was growing up, in the late eighties and early nineties they used to put some effort into the weird, there were kooky off the wall costumes that looked like some actual thought had gone into it, even if they were odd thoughts that nobody else would understand. Nowadays we just get a mix of the usual tired and grubby hippy types mixed in with the teeny-bopper girly chavvy types who wear hot pants and big green wellies. I want to tell them they look so many shades of ridiculous, but I doubt they'd listen.
We decided to get far out of town instead and we went to Ikea. I didn't have anything specific in mind, but it's a fun place to browse. Thinking of the houses we had looked in, I wanted to look at potential storage ideas and I ended up coming home with a recycling bin system that beats what I had before (a box on the floor in the kitchen) a neat Swedish idea of two square buckets fitting inside a bigger bucket and lids. I can sort my recycling as I go and it's got proper lids and carry handles. I'm getting excited about recycling systems, how sad am I?
I did buy a new front door mat. The old one had got a bit damaged.
Joseph spent a long time in the buggy and seemed quite content to stare goggle eyed at all the nice furniture and things. In the restaurant he ate two and a half meatballs and quite a few chips. He even ate some of the berry sauce they put with them. He only got unhappy when we started eating our puddings and he was still on the mains. He doesn't like to feel he's missing out.
In the evening I got a Chinese takeaway, which I had been very much looking forwards to. When I got home I found that only half the starter I had ordered was in the bag. The trouble is, when that happens you're a bit over a barrel. What do you do? You can go back and complain but by then the food you have got has gone cold. Or you can just sit at home, eat what you have and feel annoyed. I was too tired to walk back. Joseph didn't help much, he didn't want his sesame prawn toast, he wasn't too keen on the sweet cabbage and he didn't like sweet and sour pork balls. He didn't even want any egg fried rice, something I know he's liked before. He didn't half cry this morning though, when I ate the left overs for breakfast and he didn't get any. I told him I wasn't going to waste good pork balls on a little boy who'd just squish them for a bit and throw them away. He still wasn't happy, but he did feed himself almost all of his banana and cereal breakfast without help.
He had oven chips for lunch and ate all of them and for his tea he had pasta with mushrooms, peas and cheese sauce. He not only ate a whole portion, but he was doing so well I gave him some seconds and he ate almost as much again. I was helping this time, he was too intent on watching Chuggington. Sometimes if I try and feed him he refuses and will only eat if he does it himself. Sometimes he's just lazy and will sit doing a baby bird impression with his mouth wide open and I have to put the food in. I didn't mind, he ate such a lot! I worry he's getting skinny you see, so when he's hungry I make the most of it.
I also watched a Disney film with him. You can't have a small child and escape the long, clinging tendrils of the Disney corporation, who have successfully managed to bottle and sell childhood innocence and fun and leave it feeling like the beef in a McD's burger - tasteless and bland. The film was "Homeward Bound II" and it was as cheesy (in a bright orange pre-processed kind of way) as I had expected, but Joseph loved it. He liked the dogs "Go da! Go da!" and he liked the cat "Go miaow! Go miaow!" and he sat on my lap totally transfixed for more than half an hour, the longest any programme has held his attention. He did give up eventually and decided to create Duplo sculptures worthy of the Turbine Hall, but never mind.
After that it was bath and bedtime. Usually, Andy does this as by the evening I like a little break, but today I enjoyed the privilege of giving the worlds cutest little boy a dip in the foamy water. He splashed and shouted and went to bed. I sang "Twinkle twinkle little star" and he laughed at me and then fell asleep in the pose I like to call "Stunned starfish".
Now it's my turn to go to bed and I fully intend to achieve the pose of "Comatose Mum" in fairly short order.
Good night.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Feeling Better

He's playing in the water feature again, that child of mine. If even the sit in toy car fails to amuse, the water feature does not. Simply turn it on and check to make sure that the water in it is still reasonably fresh. He'll sit there for hours if I let him.
Right now I'm tempted. I'm tired, quite tired. It's taken me ages to pull up from this stomach bug, probably due to the fact that one of its side effects has been to dramatically shrink the amount of food I can eat in one go. I have for a while been living on a reduced calorie diet, mostly because it aids my digestion, but this is something else. My main meal has become more of a light lunch and any attempts to cram more in there results in quite severe pain and nausea. If I eat till I feel full at lunch time then I stay feeling full the rest of the day and it's all I can do to manage a cup-a-soup in the evening. Since Sunday, when I started trying to eat more normal sized portions I doubt I've averaged much more than 1,000 calories a day.
Were I still overweight I'd go with the flow, but I'm not any more and it's beyond exhausting chasing after a mad toddler when you know you're low on fuel. Sometimes, at least, I have a trouble free nap time by dint of leaving the radio on low in the bedroom. If I know I've got a couple of hours in the middle of the day to totally relax and unwind then I do better.  If Joseph feels I am neglecting him by not playing with him enough and just flopping on the sofa to watch something easy on the brain then he lets me know.
That's why I've given in and put the water feature on. I can clearly see him from the living room and he'll spend a long time poking little stones in the hole in the top to make the water spurt out in different ways.

He's coping quite well with people coming to view our house. Male visitors still make him nervous, but he doesn't cry on sight. Mostly he just gets a little shy and becomes very clingy. He will hand on tight when I stand up and he will be glued to my lap when I am seated. I don't mind, I like the extra cuddles. We've looked at a couple of places so far and I think at least one of them presents as a real possibility. It needs a bit of work, but we can cope with that.
Something did puzzle me, though. If you're trying to sell your house, what's the best thing to do?
Option one - thoroughly clean, tidy and de-clutter. Redo a little paintwork to freshen up and generally try and present your house as best you can.
Option two - don't do any of the above and leave stuff all over the floor, washing up in the sink and give the impression you can't be bothered.
Option three - rent out your house to the laziest, scummiest tenants in the world and never bother to check on them. Let them actually bash holes in the bathroom, ruin the carpets and generally destroy all the fixtures and fittings. If the house reeks of cooking, BO and other nasties, all the better.
We visited three houses and two of them thought options two and three were the way to go. I couldn't help but think that those tenants had probably knocked a good £20,000 off the asking price, if not more. Who wants to buy a house that you wont actually be able to move into for several weeks as you need to rip out all the carpets and replace them and also hire an industrial cleaning team. I saw things squashed onto the walls that do not bear thinking about.
Joseph didn't like it much in there either.

Friday, 17 August 2012


I can now safely state that Josephs little illness wasn't the result of him having an illicit nibble on a broken piece of plant pot in the back garden but was in fact a stomach bug.
How do I know this?
He gave it to me.
I've had stomach bugs in the past and this one was easily the worst. I was writhing in pain for most of Wednesday night and once the sickness started it just got worse. I spent all of Thursday either being sick or collapsed out in bed. It was lucky in one sense that I normally work on Thursdays so Granny was expecting to have Joseph for the day anyway, I'd never have coped with him at home. It was bad luck in another way as it was a work day and I'm pretty sure that I've now exceeded my sickness allowance this year. I'll get in trouble, but what can I say? I just keep catching things and there's not a thing I can do about it. It's not as if I can somehow magically stop myself from being ill, unless I spend my life in some sort of plastic bubble and that would make work rather hard.
Today I have been recovering. By that I mean I am no longer throwing up, but still feel pretty awful. I have eaten a little toast and have managed to keep down some cups of tea which means my lack of caffeine headache has gone away, but I still feel like I've gone several rounds with an invisible boxer. The kind of invisible boxer that puts you in illegal wrist holds and really does a number on your kidneys.
Today Joseph has been... well.... Joseph. When you're dog tired and just want to lie flat, you really don't want to be dealing with a bouncy toddler who keeps trying to climb on you and knee you in your very sensitive middle. He also refused to take any naps at all today, no matter how much coaxing, singing or other sorts of bribery I tried. You can say "Joseph - go sleep!" and he will giggle, lay his head down on the pillow and shut his eyes. This is great, but it only lasts for a few seconds. After that, he is up and bouncing and generally doing the best he can to act the part of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh.
In the end I had to call in expert help. I called Granny.
Poor Granny, she must have had quite enough of me this week. I called her over when Joseph got chunder all over the bedroom on Tuesday. She came over on Wednesday afternoon to babysit whilst I went to the dentist (my teeth are fine and Joseph will be coming with me next time, he he!) and she had the little terror all of yesterday. I really needed help today, we had two different people coming to view our house this afternoon and I didn't want the house to have l'eau de sick person about it. You know what I mean, that disinfectant smell with an edge of something rather unpleasant that it's just not quite covering up. Kitchens can have a bleachy smell about them, it's a sign of good cleaning, but not bedrooms. Thank goodness for febreese!
Joseph quite liked the viewings. He smiled at the people and was generally cute without getting in the way. I take this as a good sign as he's usually terrified of people he doesn't know and screams at them. That, if you ask me, does not create a good first impression.
In the mean time, he's screaming now. He didn't want any of his naps in the day and he's been in his cot for more than half an hour. We've been up, we've played, made him laugh and sung to him. I'd feel sorry for him if I just had the energy.....

Tuesday, 14 August 2012


I made a mistake in my last blog. I mentioned that Joseph hasn't really been a sick child. When he was on milk he threw up a handful of times and his stomach has been well behaved since weaning.
Fate, it appears, does not like to be tempted and today... well I guess most other mums out there will be giving me an ironic smile right now, you're probably used to scraping piles of sick off the floor on a semi-regular basis. I'm not.
Joseph was sick today, very sick.
He was fine in the morning, he played about like he usually does. I let him have some fun in the garden and whilst he was running round and round on the lawn, I took a few minutes to tidy up in the kitchen and get a load in the dishwasher. When I popped my head round the door I saw him trying to eat a small piece of broken flower pot. This may have been what did the damage, or it might just be a bug going round.
Either way, he was ill. He ate his lunch like normal and had his afternoon nap as normal and woke up at about 2.45pm whimpering. I'd been having a doze downstairs and this is when I woke up. I headed upstairs and concluded that he couldn't have been crying for very long as he hadn't scattered soft toys all over the room, which is his standard response to being in his cot when he'd rather be out.
I picked him up, he still whimpered. A moment later it was my turn to cry out as Joseph let out what sounded like an almighty belch and my arm, part of my leg, some of our bed and a large patch of carpet became lost in a shower of projectile vomit. He'd had chicken sandwiches, cherry tomatoes and a fromage frais for his lunch. You could tell.
I gently sat him back down in his cot and tried to take stock and work out what to do next. Joseph would be safe in the cot, even if he was now quite unhappy. I could go and clean myself off, grab some cleaning stuff and go to work on the carpet.
Joseph had other ideas. He belched again, a damp and ominous noise that was the harbinger of an even bigger shower of sick covered himself and the cot. There were pieces of tomato in that as well.
Now what? I couldn't pick him up, he was so covered in sick! I couldn't leave the room, as soon as I did he started screaming and that was just asking for trouble. Stuck between a rock and a sicky place, I called for backup.
Granny came over, armed with a pile of old towels, something that is utterly invaluable when it comes to sicky children. They sick up on the towels and not the soft furnishings, much easier to clean.
Granny got the cuddles. Poor little Joseph, he was quite ashen faced. He had huge grey rings under his eyes and his lips were a pale white. We gave him a little cold water and the poor mite couldn't even keep that down.
Joseph was happy to cuddle Granny. I slunk back upstairs and set to the grim task of picking vomit off the carpet and cleaning it with washing up liquid and a special enzyme cleaner that actually for cleaning up cat mess, but it works on baby mess too. I cleaned myself, collected up all the grotty bedding including moving our full sized mattress to get the dirty valance sheet out. I gathered up all the ickyness in the cot together in its fitted sheet and then said a silent prayer of thanks that we hadn't been able to afford the proper sprung fabric mattress and had gone for the foam filled plastic covered one. Much easier to clean.
I changed sheets, scrubbed some more and did more washing than I care to think about. Joseph just got cuddles.
I think I've got it all out. The room doesn't smell any more and I don't think I do. By late afternoon Joseph had picked up enough to take some calpol (magic!) and some cool boiled water and a little dry toast. He hiccuped and then belched, causing me to start forward and lay him down on his side with an old towel ready to catch the explosion, but it was unnecessary. He was still under the weather, but there was no more sick.
He's gone to bed now, hopefully he will sleep. Hopefully there will be no more sick because it really is nasty. I really do feel for any mum who has this sort of thing on a regular basis, it must be quite tempting to get everything including yourself teflon coated to make it all easier to clean.
By the way, I've found all the pieces of the broken flower pot in the garden and got rid of them. I'm not taking any more risks.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Growth Spurt

After having quite a lot of comments about Josephs size, including people vastly over estimating his age, I decided to measure him today and plot him on the little growth chart that can be found at the back of the little red book every new mum is given.
It's actually quite hard to measure a toddler, Joseph kept thinking that the tape measure was a toy and he got very upset when I decided that I'd got the best measure I could and the thing was going away.
Joseph is 89cm tall.
Actually, that's a lot. A whole lot.
He now sits just a hairs breadth below the 98th percentile line on the chart. That means that if you lined up 100 boys of his age then only two would be taller than him, and not by much. It means that he's a full 2cm taller than the average two year old. No wonder most people think he's older and it's no wonder I worry about his development. I see children the same size as him and they're talking in a coherent manner - because they're much older!
I'm a little gob-smacked, I have to admit. Why is my child, my lovely little boy, heading towards giant proportions? I'm average height, my husband is average height as are my parents and his. The only tall person in my family was my Grandad and he wasn't massive, just a bit taller than average.
Perhaps I should be pleased. He's perfectly healthy, astoundingly so. He's only ever had one doctors appointment since he stopped seeing health visitors at a few months old and that was the standard year old check up. The doctor all but said that I'd wasted his time bringing him in as there was nothing at all to be concerned about. He's had a couple of light colds, a couple of very short lived fevers and a very light touch of rotavirus. I've read about some other cases of that bug and to say that he got off lightly is an understatement. He's never needed any sort of emergency treatment, for health or injury. When he was milk fed he threw up about five times in total and since weaning he's never been sick at all, apart from a tiny little bit when he got rather excited.
Me worry?
Perhaps he's "too" healthy?
To be frank, a child that jumps from the 75th percentile in height to the 98th in a matter of months... is that right? I'm going to measure him again just to be sure.
If anything, I got his height a little short. He did stand still for me, he'd got an ornament off the shelf and was intent on turning it over and over in his hands, thus enabling me to sneak up behind him with the measure. I had it locked at the 89cm measurement and when I placed the square  body of the measure on the back of his head, the tip did not quite reach the ground. If he's 90cm then that would shoot him up past the 98th percentile, but he'd still be on the chart, but only just. I'm going to go and weigh him now.
He weighs two stone. After a bit of head scratching, I remembered that there are 14 pounds in a stone and was able to use the conversion chart in the back of the book. I have never understood imperial measurements, 14 of this, 16 of something else, there are 12s and other measures too, none of which holds any logic to me.
28 pounds is roughly 12.72 kilos and that puts him...
Between the 75th and the 91st percentile lines. For a moment I thought he was too skinny, then I realised I was looking at the 2 year old line and not 20 months.
That means he's tall and thin-ish. I guess all those portions of chips and cake he ate on holiday haven't done him any harm. It certainly doesn't explain why he can still comfortably wear trousers designed for a 6-9 month old baby. They're fine in the waist, just short in the legs. On him they're cargo pants. A baby who actually fits in them must be a chubby, stubby thing.
Excuse me, but I have to go now. Joseph has just discovered how much fun it is to run his truck up and down on the top of our gas fire....

Saturday, 11 August 2012

On the move

It's seeming now as if Joseph has shaken off his little adventure with the rotavirus without too much trouble. It was bad enough while it lasted, but even the nappy rash is all gone now. He seems calmer now, probably because he's not in discomfort any more.
We have some big news this week. Our house is now up for sale! It was put up on a property website only yesterday and we've already had one viewing, which I find encouraging. They seemed to like the place, but had lots more places to go and look at so I doubt we'll hear back from them, but you never know. It means we now have to start doing the same thing. I didn't want to look at places before we were ready to sell ourselves. Knowing me I'd see somewhere I liked, get my heart set on it and then we'd not sell quickly enough and we'd lose out.
Now we're on the market, it's time to bite that bullet and go look around a few places. I have to admit, I'm not sure how Joseph is going to fare with all this. We had two different valuations from estate agents and he took a little while to not be scared of the first one and he didn't like the second chap at all! When we discussed the matter afterwards we both preferred going with the first one. We were all three in agreement!
My main worry is that we'll have someone come round who is really interested in the house and Joseph will take a violent dislike to them. He was fine yesterday, a little clingy but he didn't cry. When I showed them the bedroom he was quite happy to bounce about on the bed while I showed them the lovely fitted wardrobe and the spacious airing cupboard.
I really can't help it, but I do keep picturing the worst case scenario! Five minutes before someone is due to come and view, our next door neighbours territorial tom cat decided to spray all over the front step, and the first impression they get is the strong sulphurous smell of cat pee. Never mind, inside we have a spacious living room where a small child has just upended a big box of duplo all over the floor. Still, it covers up the place where he tried to take the lid off his drink and there's a puddle of orange juice on the carpet.
In the kitchen we have a bowl of stinking cat food that half dragged out over the floor to match the scattered cleaning products the cat knocked over whilst trying to escape out of the window.
Never mind, on to the upstairs. The pungent smell coming from the bathroom is where the aforementioned cat got a little caught short and took a dump in the bath. There she is, curled on on the bed having a wash. It's probably best to ignore the stressed looking woman holding a toddler who is screaming fit to bust and generally trying to elbow her in the face. It's also good to keep your cool when the same toddler looks you right in the eye and says: -
All the above has happened on various occasions. To be honest, it's the cat I'm most worried about. At least I can strap Joseph into his booster seat and give him smarties to keep quiet. The cat is a whole other ball game, her food has an unmistakeable odour that has a whiff of baby poop about it and the crystals that we use to stop her using the lawn as a toilet smell almost as bad as the waste she leaves.
Oh, I forgot one thing. Knowing my luck I'll be mid nappy change on the floor when the viewers turn up. Now that's a sight that will leave a lasting impression, a woman scraping poop of a small child's backside.

Monday, 6 August 2012

A sporting chance

Given the general sporting atmosphere of the moment it would seem a little mean to ignore it. I'm no big sports fan, although I have enjoyed watching the cycling. Just how do they go so fast and make it look so simple? I know for a fact I wouldn't even be able to keep up with the warm up.
Josephs sporting efforts haven't got much further than throwing a ball or trying to beat me up with a toy keyboard, but looking after him at the moment is proving to be something of an endurance event.
He's got rotavirus.
No, it's not some terrifying thing that needs urgent hospital attention and living in a hermetically sealed room for a month, but it would be nice.
Rotavirus is a common infection in small children, it causes a mild fever and... ugh... gastroenteritis. As far as the scale goes, with Cholera at the top end, then this is nearer the bottom, something akin to the after effects of having had a bad kebab.
I got all the information I needed from the Bounty website, a great resource if you can put up with the fact they hide all the really useful stuff away and you've got the patience to keep looking. You'd think they'd keep the information about fevers and runny poop a bit more accessible as they're common sources of worry in parent. (The worry, not the poop).
The news is that rotavirus isn't a problem for adults as we've all developed immunity by five or six. Small children however have to have the bug several times before getting full immunity, but it's not considered a serious illness, just a smelly one. Apparently there's no cause for concern unless he stops drinking and can't hold food down for more than 24 hours or if the "soft stools" continue for more than a week.
A week? Good grief! I might have to put up with this for that long?
For now I'm just up to my elbows in Olympic levels of nappy changes. There's a 10km run in the Olympics, and it looks easy compared to this.

So, if we were going to have an Olympics for parents (logo, five different coloured teethers, all linked together) what events would we have?
1, The babygro - it's an art form on a newborn, they don't fight back. All you've got to do is overcome the sleep deprivation to get all the poppers in the right holes. In a toddler, it's a little closer to a bout of judo - with added kicking.
2, The healthy breakfast - points awarded for getting healthy fruit into the child, but deducted for the amount spat out, thrown around and generally mashed into the carpet.
3, The nappy change - must be concluded in less than 60 seconds for true Olympic standard, but points are lost for any residual solid matter remaining, improper wiping, and the child escaping part way through. There's a specialist event called the Stealth Nappy where you change a sleeping child and don't wake them up. Points are also lost for gagging and calling the child Mr Stinky or Sir Stinks-a-lot.
4, The first endurance event - night time teething. Just how long can you endure the noise before grabbing the calpol?
5, Persuading a toddler to nap - it's more of an art than a sport. It can be made more interesting by people ringing the doorbell or the phone just as you've got them to calm down and shut their eyes. It can result in an unplanned martial arts event against the person at the door.
6, Another endurance event - the whinge. When the child wants something they can't have. How long till you give in?
7, Shopping - points are lost for uncontrollable tantrums and the number of things ending up in the trolley that you didn't actually want. Points are gained for being patient when your child calls the cashier "Mummy".
8, Unpacking the shopping - just how do you keep a toddler out of all those bags? Speed is a factor as are good distraction techniques, but points are lost of items damaged or mislaid and then found a week later squashed at the bottom of a toy box
9, Bath and bedtime - speed is not a skill here, simply the ability to brave the crying and over-exuberant splashing. Points are gained for inventive story telling and lost if you forget to clean anything or mess up the last nappy change. It's a little like the heptathlon as it contains several of the previously mentioned events.
10, Aftermath - a speed and endurance event. You've got to get all those toys put away, clean up the bathroom and all the other general mess and still sort yourself out with a sensible meal. Points are lost for saying "No, I'll leave that till tomorrow" and "Shall we just get a takeaway?"

None of these events are part of the Olympic games but maybe they should be. After all it's no less silly than a hop, skip and a jump.

Friday, 27 July 2012

The Vyne

We had a fun day on Monday. Andy had taken an extra day off to finish unpacking all our camping stuff only to find that we got 90% of it done on the Saturday evening and the rest on Sunday. That left us with a day of good weather to do something nice in. After some thought we decided to make good use of our National Trust membership and visit one of their nice properties that aren't too far away. You know where you are with a National Trust place, lots of history, pretty gardens to run about in and cream teas in the tea shop.
We decided not to risk Joseph in the actual house. The Vyne is full of historical artefacts that don't react to well to over-excitable toddlers grabbing them and throwing them around. I know what he's like, he'll wait for the one moment when my concentration has lapsed and then we'll find ourselves with the bill to repair one smashed Regency ormolu clock.
We stuck to the grounds. There's a nice short woodland walk that we took and let me tell you that 1.1 miles feels like a lot longer when you walk it with a toddler. He was fine to start with and then he just decided that he didn't want to hold either of our hands. That meant lots of wandering off, lots of grabbing at bushes and getting too close to the deep ditches that line some of the paths. He also kept wanting to walk back down the path the other way and was none to keen on being picked up and brought back.
When we got to the tea shop we'd worked up quite an appetite and the cream teas were very much appreciated. Joseph had a kids meal and did pretty well, but he did get quite a lot of grated cheese on the floor. When it comes to cheese sandwiches for him I think I'll just use thinly sliced cheese or just make a bit of Welsh rarebit, it's less messy. He liked the cake, it was chocolate rice krispie cake cut into a big triangle with smarties to make it look like a mouse. It even had a bit of strawberry lace for a tail!
He did cause some fuss when we were sat, I think he just got bored. Andy took him outside and he wanted to be in and when in he wanted to be somewhere else. Since we got back from holiday I have noticed a bit of extra clinginess towards me this week. I can't say I mind too much, I like that he's got more cuddly but I do get a little annoyed that bedtimes, which used to be solely Andys job (so I get a little break) now often require my presence just to stop the tantrum. I'm minded to be harsh and not give into him, but it does tug at the heart strings and he's not doing it to be naughty, he just needs to know I'm always there. Also, if I don't go up when he's in that sort of mood then he doesn't want to go to sleep until I do.
After the cake Joseph ran around the pretty gardens for a bit and then we came home. We were tired and my sensitive skin had had enough of the sun for one day.
The previous day, Andy had mysteriously disappeared in the afternoon. He just went, mumbling something about "something to get" which left me puzzled. He came back with a paddling pool. I had previously vetoed this idea as we're short on space but it was only a few quid and it's inflatable so it folds down small.
So, Sunday afternoon had been spent trying to work out the best way to inflate the thing. The manual airbed pump didn't work as the nozzle was the wrong shape. The electric pump had the same problem and human lungs just don't seem to have the capacity to manage the job with any rapidity. We ended up using a little pump that came with some twist and shape balloons. It was slow, but better than huffing.
Joseph wasn't too sure until we added a lot of warm water to it and then he was happy. On the Monday we got the inflation done a little quicker and with warm water added from the start our little boy had a fun filled afternoon splashing about. At least this time we stand half a chance of using up his swim nappies before he grows out of them.
Once Joseph gets the hang of splashing you can't get him to stop. He did get bored in the end, I think the water cooled down. We went in, he had a warm squash and he ran around with a large bath towel draped around him in a romanesque style. Veni vidi splashi.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Holiday - part the second

It would be rather remiss of me to do another post about my lovely holiday without mentioning the one thing that threatened to spoil it all. If you're camping in the New Forest then there's one animal you've got to be really wary of. It's not the ponies, despite all the pulled up guy ropes and large piles of poo they like to leave all over the place they are not all that bad once you get used to them. They can even be quite cute. Neither is it the large toad we found nestling under the groundsheet for a sleep. It's a good job Andy noticed the bump or it would have been one squashed toad by the following day. My Mum found one living under their tent at the end of the week as well.
No, the animal in question are the Ninja Squirrels.
Imagine, if you will, the mission impossible music. Picture a creature that is like a rat in most ways, save that it has a fluffier tail, lives up a tree and has better PR. It smells the smell of an unguarded loaf of bread, slips quickly into the tent through the small zip opening that our gas line for the fridge passes through and now it's near it's goal. These silly people have left their cook stand slightly unzipped, through which it is easy to slip. The cardboard packs of smarties cause some problems, but they are nibbled and cast aside. The goal is ahead, a brand new loaf of bread just waiting.
The packaging is torn and a small piece of bread is removed. The rodent escapes leaving a trail of slightly damp smarties, bread crumbs and small pieces of poop behind it.
We were not impressed. The following day we zipped the cook stand up tight, forgetting that in the back it has two small mesh panels for air flow. They were the work of a moment for a determined grey vermin creature and when we came home we found a hole gnawed in our cook stand and a brand new fresh loaf of bread ruined.
In the end we borrowed a plastic box from my Mum and stored anything of interest to a rodent in there. Later that day Andy found a suspicious lump under the tent that wasn't a toad, but a sleeping squirrel and he scared it off.
Now, from the bad to the really rather good.
In Brockenhurst there is a café called The Secret Garden. We stopped there for lunch and cream tea as time was getting on and we'd not yet had one. I fancied a sausage roll, some nice comfort food. They were advertising "jumbo" sausage rolls and I confidently expected something like the standard sort you get in Gregs, mostly pastry and a bit of meat, just a bit longer.
I was wrong, oh boy was I wrong.
Perhaps I should set the scene a little first. The café is attached to a small hotel and it's all out in the open. It's a lovely garden with nice garden seating, some gazebos and toys for the children. The whole thing has a lovely old fashioned British feel to it, you'd half expect children in Victorian costume to come running round the corner any moment.
Back to the food.
Joseph had a cheese sandwich that he did eat all of. He made a bit of a mess, but then he's only 20 months.
My sausage roll was the diametric opposite to what I mentioned above. It was meaty, the big round meaty cross section was probably a good 4cm across, if I remember right. The pasty was not the usual mix of flake and stodge, but just a light coating to act as a crispy counter to the lovely meatiness.  If you're ever in the area, then go. Even if it's raining and blowing a gale, it's still worth it.
The cream tea was pretty good too.
We ended up going back on the Saturday as our last holiday meal. We were all packed up and this was the last gasp. Everyone else had the sausage roll, which didn't surprise me as they'd all been quite envious when they'd seen me eating it. I had the hot sausage and caramelised onion sandwich - just as nice in my opinion.
Then we had cake.
I have never in my life eaten cake like it and I've eaten a lot of cake. I've made cake, and some pretty good cake too if I say it myself but it all paled into insignificance compared to this.
First of all, the portions were quite generous. I had what could only be described as a large slab of coffee tiramisu cake and it was delicious. Everyone else had Victoria sponge.
Oh, it was so good! It was moist but not soggy, it was melt in the mouth and yet not too crumbly and it was so light in texture! I ate a massive piece of cake and came away feeling pleasantly full rather than weighted round the middle with concrete, which is what usually happens if I overdo the cake. I can only hope that in time and with a lot of practice, my cakes can be half as good.

Reading this back I realise that Joseph isn't really mentioned much in the above. I shall remedy this by telling you what happened on Wednesday, a slightly damp day.
We decided to have another go at "Solent Sky", an aircraft museum we'd tried to see on the Monday, but it was closed. Relieved to find it opened on Wednesdays we popped in. It was very interesting, lots of planes to look at including a Spitfire and lots of it's history and a very interesting Short Sandringham IV VH-BRC, a four engine flying boat that you could climb aboard, poke about in and they let you sit up in the flight deck while a guide tells you lots of anecdotes about it's history.
Joseph couldn't get up into the flight deck, the ladder was too steep. So, after taking Granddad for a tour around the museum ("Da! Da! Pla! Pla!") he spent some time with Granny, who attracted the attention of a museum guide who asked if Joseph would like a go in the cockpit of a Harrier Jump Jet.
Would he? Were there buttons to press? Were there switches to flip? I'd make a daft joke about the Pope or a bear at this point, but I think you get it.
He was in his element, let me tell you.
They had two separate cockpits that could be sat in. He played in the Harrier for a while and then had a go in the Spitfire. Eventually he decided that his plane of choice was the Harrier and he was happy. He didn't want to leave, as far as he was concerned he was in paradise. For Christmas (or his birthday, he really doesn't mind) he would like aeroplane please, or just the cockpit. That's the important bit.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Holiday, part the first

There has been a short intermission from my regular blogging as I have been off for the week on a camping trip to the New Forest. I don't know why it's called that, being as it's actually quite old, but I guess there was once an older forest and they just couldn't think of anything more imaginative.
We weren't sure if we should go. I was quite ill, getting over a bad fever and the weather forecast was threatening all sorts of nasties. When I looked at it the day we left I was expecting it to say "Call Noah, he might be able to help."
It did rain the day we got there and pitching the tent was a little tricky due to the number of lakes on the camp site. We found a dry island next to a tree and set too, with my parents finding enough space to pitch near by. I say "we" when I really mean Andy. I was still unwell. I had got over the fever but I was still suffering the after effects and I wasn't a lot of use. Besides, it was too muddy to let Joseph run about and he was happier of someone stayed in the car with him.
Sunday was better. Sunday was quite dry. We decided to have a lazy day as the camp site was reasonably quiet. Joseph ran around and fell into puddles and got muddy. I sat about and laughed at him. We did pop out and get some groceries and a few bits in a camping shop and on the way back we found a cafe called the Tasty Pastry which had the yummiest looking French Fancies in the window so we just had to stop. Joseph, showing signs of growing up fast, sat patiently on a normal adult chair (no booster seat) and ate his way through most of a very large smartie cookie without causing any trouble.
We decided to have a barbecue that day as the forecast said that it was probably the only dry day we were going to get. Joseph ate part of a bun, most of a sausage and went to bed, sleeping the sleep over the over fed. Andy washed up and was then attacked by a group of New Forest ponies, who bore more of a resemblance to donkies than ponies, who wanted to drink the washing up water. I don't know why they wanted to do this, given that there were plenty of places for them to stop and have a drink around the site, what with all the rain water lakes. It took quite a lot of effort to get them to leave us alone and they came back to visit us more than once in the week. Quite often we'd wake up to find several guy ropes pulled out, was it people tripping on them in the dark or ponies?
Monday was a wet day. We tried to go to several touristy places only to find that nothing is open on a Monday. This resulted in us trogging round a damp Southampton, rather lost. We were trying to follow the map my Dad has on his phone, but miserably failing to orient it properly so the shopping centre we were sure must exist somewhere just kept getting further and further away. Soggy, with our gore-tex failing to stop the damp we returned to the car in a bad mood. Next we tried the tidal mill in Eling but that was shut too.
On the other hand, if it had been open we would not have decided to stop off at a local pub for lunch. It was a very nice pub, one of those old fashioned family run places that hardly seemed to exist any more. The menu was full of good comfort food and Joseph again showed himself to be a little star by sitting still on a normal adult chair to eat. He had some battered fish that didn't seem to touch the sides on the way down and a large bowl of ice cream.
Tuesday was a good day. Joseph had his first ever trip on a boat. We went to Hurst Castle, and the only way to get there was a mile and half walk down a long gravel spit or a boat ride. We went for the boat ride. Joseph was a little puzzled by it, but seemed to enjoy the experience. On the way home he was so relaxed by it all he fell asleep.
In  the castle he had lots of fun. There were big green spaces to run about on, there were big echoing rooms to shout in and lots of things to look at. He especially liked the cafe where he was given a taste of all the grown up cakes we were eating and for lunch he had a sausage roll. He ate the puff pastry and I ended up eating most of the sausage.
This post is now quite long enough so I will tell the rest on another day.

Friday, 13 July 2012


Yesterday Joseph was very ill.
He's nineteen months old and apart from a couple of light colds he's never really been ill before. No, not ever. No fevers, no big vomits and no A&E trips. When he was milk fed he probably threw up about five times in total and now he's fully weaned he's never been sick. We've had a little bit of "posseting", a little bit of food coming back, mostly in his sleep and even that has only happened a few times.
I had spent the day at work yesterday feeling increasing groggy and uncomfortable. My whole body was aching, I was tired but strangely buzzing and I felt cold. Anyone who knows me knows I don't feel the cold, hardly at all. If I'm really feeling cold then I know something is probably wrong. Still, I was staying upright and managing to keep going so it couldn't have been that bad.
So I thought.
When I went to pick Joseph up, he looked pale and unwell. My Mum said that he'd been fine till about lunch time where he hadn't wanted to eat and had produced a couple of nasty nappies. He'd slept well but just didn't seem his usual self, he was a little lethargic and a touch grumpy. I thought he felt a little warm, so I got him home.
He didn't want his tea. On Thursdays he always has toast and tinned spaghetti. I know it's not the healthiest of meals but it's only once a week and I need to give him something quick with minimum effort. He didn't want it, he only ate a few mouthfuls of toast and didn't want any spaghetti. Usually he loves it, but not this time.
Andy dug out our baby thermometer, a funny shaped dummy that takes a reading in the mouth just as long as you can persuade him to keep it in long enough. I had to sit cuddling him while he watched Chuggington and we eventually got a reading.
38.9 degrees centigrade.
I knew this was high, 38 degrees is considered a fever temperature in adults. After a lot of faffing about on the Bounty website (why do they make it so confusing to navigate?) we were informed that 37.5 degrees is a fever in a small child and above 38.5 could be potentially serious.
We stripped him down to his nappy and broke out the Calpol, that magical pink liquid that seems to be made from fairy dust, children's wishes and paracetamol. I conclude this to be the case due to its miraculous effects on small children and its inability to help adults at all. Fairy dust doesn't work on adults, you see.
Joseph was sometimes distressed and a little more subdued than his usual self, but appeared to not really be bothered by his high body temperature. I took my own and it was 38.1. I felt like something squashed and scraped off the road, he seemed all right. Must be the Calpol.
I took him upstairs and tried to encourage him to rest with me on our bed. He rested for about three seconds and then started bouncing about and giggling. Nothing I could do would calm him down, he just wanted to play. In the end I gave up, put him in his cot and slunk back downstairs to try and crash on the sofa for a bit. He went to sleep, I did not.
He woke up about twenty minutes later. I've never put him down in just a nappy, he usually has at least a sleeping bag between him and the sheet. I've never risked it since I put him down for his nap on a hot day in just his t-shirt and he pulled his nappy off and threw it over the side of the cot.
He was unhappy because he was sweaty. The sweat had puddled beneath him and collected, due to the fact that his mattress is covered in plastic. The rest of him was cold, his back was hot and sticky. So, I lifted him up and put a fleecy blanket under him and spent quite some time calming him down. By the way, the magical pink fluid was working and his temperature had dropped a little.
He slept on, rather fitfully and broken by odd little whimpers and gurgles, but nonetheless he slept. There's nothing so cute as a small child huddled up on their front, knees tucked up underneath him and bum sticking up in the air.
I slept fitfully and had odd broken dreams. Andy decided that for the good of both of us it was better to sleep downstairs on the sofa bed. A wise decision as I woke up at 5am with a totally stuffed up nose and needing to sneeze. I'd probably been snoring before then.
In the morning I still felt rough and was struggling to function. Joseph was behaving as if he was made of indiarubber, bouncing around all over the place. No-one could guess he'd had a potentially serious fever the night before.
Tonight he's having a bath and managing to do the usual of getting more water out of the bath than in. He's fully recovered, I've still got aches here and there and although my temperature is back to normal (thank-you paracetamol) I still feel rather off.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


It's what makes your heart skip and your blood run cold - when your little one takes a tumble and for a moment you think it might be very serious.
Joseph has had a few bumps recently, he seems to be having something of a clumsy patch. Either that or he's just getting too adventurous for his own good. Perhaps it's both, he's that sort of little boy.
On Tuesday last week he took quite a bad tumble. He's a terror for climbing up on things and we have some faux leather covered storage cubes that I use for keeping stuff he shouldn't have his little mitts in well out of his sight. At nineteen months he likes climbing and will often be seen using a lower object to reach a higher one. Sometimes he will use his push along car to reach up onto our dining table. Other times he will use one of the boxes that contain duplo or brio trains to stand on and reach up. This time he was using a black cube to reach up to my sewing cabinet and have a good look at what might be lurking on the top. There was nothing up there he hadn't seen before, just his nappy bag and a few odd and ends pushed well out of reach.
I should explain at this point that given the size of house we currently live in (teeny tiny) I have got the living room to as safe an arrangement as possible given our current furniture. The only way to make it safer would be to start getting rid of some quite big things, or invading and annexing next doors living room to get some space. Neither is practical at the moment. The result is not perfect, but it's the best I can manage.
On this morning I had popped upstairs to hang up a load of laundry. I'd have hung it up outside in the bright sunshine, but as anyone living in the UK knows, at the moment the sunny patches are transitory, only paying us brief visits between the bouts of rain that well warrant the description "stair rods". Had I merely gone into the back garden I would have shod him and taken him out with me where, as yet, he has managed to do little more to himself than grass stain on the knees.
Instead I had to go upstairs to the bathroom. Now, I've left him on his own in the living room to do this many times before and nothing untoward had happened.
On hanging up the third item I was interrupted by a scream. I'm used to him crying, usually it's because I've left the room and he doesn't like it. This time it was the sudden, sharp scream that sends a jolt down your spine. I dropped the pile of warm damp washing and ran downstairs to find my little boy lying flat on the floor next to the sewing cabinet with lots and lots of blood in his mouth.
I have, till now, been quite cool in a crisis. When someone else is injured I'm usually the calm one who gets the first aid kit. When at college I managed to machine sew my own finger, I was the calm one and everyone else panicked.
This time I was not cool, or even slightly collected. He just lay there and howled like only a scared small child can and I got flustered. What do I do? Do I try and move him? Well, no. Do I dare look in his mouth? With all that blood I didn't want to do any more damage, so no. Should I call 999? Is it that bad? HELP!
I called my Mum and I was feeling quite panicky. I must have scared her from my tone of voice as she decided to come rushing straight over. Perhaps it really was bad!

Would you believe the little scamp? Just as I'm getting to the end of the phone call, now relieved I'm getting some help and wondering what I'll tell the people in A&E (I didn't see it happen, can't give them a full explanation, they'll be suspicious, panic panic panic) he stops crying, looks up at me, smiles and gets up. Within seconds he's running around like his usual self and not a care in the world, save for the blood on his chin. My Mum came over anyway and we realised that all he'd done was damaged the little bit of membrane that joins the top lip to the top gum. He had a little cut on his lip and that was all. He must have caught his mouth on the corner of the sewing table as he slipped, damaging the membrane and getting the cut on his lip.
Crisis over. By the end of the day, you'd not know anything had happened at all.

Over the weekend, he has fallen over a number of times and head butted the edge of a table.
Today, when coming in from the garden he fell up the steps and cried. Later, when the door was open for a little fresh air he tried to climb out with only socks on and slipped on the door sill before I could get to him. He also tried to climb up on one of my black boxes and used and empty really useful box for leverage which pitched him face first down on the floor. This last incident resulted in a small cut on the bottom of his chin. I put a plaster on it and he spent the next few hours patting it and pulling funny faces, clearly puzzled by it's restrictive nature. After a while he got bored of it, pulled it off and gave it back to me. If he keeps this up then I'll just always have a box of plasters and some Calpol ready to hand.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Age Gap

It sometimes seems to me that so many companies don't seem to understand that children come in all shapes, sizes and ages. I have increasing noticed that Joseph, my big, bouncing nineteen month old is getting rather too big for most of those nasty fold down nappy changing tables you get in public toilets. I used one today that looked like it could barely cope, its cantilevered end bent down most alarmingly and Joseph looked like he might slide off. The fact is that I am highly unlikely to start potty training him for another six months yet and it could be another six months after that before he is confident enough to be out and about nappy-less. I've heard of a poor unfortunate few who've still been struggling at over three years old - usually with a little boy who's just too lazy to bother properly. I am really not looking forwards to having to manhandle a large and unhappy two and a half year old up onto one of those horrible changing tables and they'd probably not cope with the weight. Anyway, the one I had to use today simply wasn't long enough. His feet were hanging well over the end and his head was rammed as tight up to the top end as I could manage.
You might ask why I don't lay him on the floor?
Given that the vast majority of public loos, be they restaurants or otherwise, rarely clean their toilet floors more than once a day then I think I've answered my question. Given that the baby changing is usually in the disabled toilet and these are generally used not so much by the mobility impaired but by Mums with large numbers of little boys all with poor aim then there's no way I'm risking laying my son on the floor. Joseph can be a bit of a handful at home with a nappy change, when we're out and about he hates it with a passion. People outside the toilets must think I'm torturing him rather than just scraping poop off his little bum.
As a result I am often tempted to leave it and risk waiting till we get home. I did this once and found that he was liberally coated with excrement all around, both back and front and leaking from the leg holes as well as out the top. It was horrific, he was unhappy but at least I could change him in more comforting surroundings. I'm not going to risk it again, it have him nappy rash, but I am still regularly tempted.
There's something else that doesn't really cater for children who are between one and two, and that's kids menus. Most now offer jars of soft food, which is great if you're mid weaning. Every childrens menu I have ordered from always supplies portions geared up towards the average five year old. Many have I scanned and several have been utterly short of any sort of meal that can be safely presented to a 1-2 year old. I end up having to grab hold of his plate before it gets to near to him and cut up his food and remove anything unsuitable. All meals so far have been served on breakable plates and these always make me nervous as at home, when he's eaten about 3/4 of the food he likes to turn the bowl upside down to see if there's something more interesting underneath. I also have to try and remember to bring suitable cutlery for him as well.
So what do I do? Take my own food for him, which always seems a little mean, or only go to places that are specifically for children. I don't think my psyche would cope.
So - restaurants. Stop forgetting this age group exists and at least provide better changing facilities. So far, only the ones in Debenhams and Mothercare have been up to scratch.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

When Joseph has a Bath

When Joseph has a bath, more of the water ends up out of it than in. When Joseph has a bath, Andy ends up wetter than he does and smelling of Johnsons Bathtime Bubbles. When Joseph has a bath he gets quite excited and downstairs it sounds like someone is moving furniture about. When Joseph has a bath there is giggling to the point where I am wondering if it is actually nitrous oxide they are using instead of water.
When Joseph has a bath it's best not to try and lie him down in the water to clean off the shampoo, he really doesn't like it. He doesn't like the shower head much either, but it's quicker at least.
When Joseph has a bath he likes his toys. He likes the yellow ducks, you can squish them, get water in them and squirt it out again. You can also make them squeak, but that's just not as fun.
When Joseph has a bath he likes to help. He likes to have a flannel or the sponge and he will wipe his knees, his arms, the side of the bath, you and anything else within reach. When Joseph has a bath he does like to play with the round sponge, he likes to hold it like a steering wheel and make "vroom vroom" noises.
After Joseph has a bath it's best not to let him get hold of the talcum power unless you want to be choking through great clouds of white stuff. After Joseph has a bath you can spend quite a long time trying to dry his hair with a towel and he doesn't like it much and usually ends up looking like a damp dandelion clock. Andy just had a go with my hair dryer and from the sound of it, Joseph wasn't too happy with the idea.
After Joseph has a bath, there's a lot of cleaning up to do.

Sunday, 1 July 2012


Joseph has a lot of toys. We keep saying that we shouldn't get him any more toys as we haven't really got enough room for the toys he already has, but we keep breaking our own rule. Andy recently bought a brio train set from a charity shop. It was cheap and in very good condition so it was a bargain and we knew he'd like it as he'd played with one in a garden centre and had quite enjoyed himself. Other children had been playing at the same time including a little girl somewhat older than him who glared at him in the manner of a scientist examining a new specimen. "What is this?" you could see her thinking "And what does it do? Hmmm, best be safe and just stand back and stare for a bit."
Joseph mostly plays with the track. I lay it out and he decides he doesn't like it like that and tries to move it around. We rarely spend very long playing with the little trains and their magnetic freight carriages. Luckily the Chugginton trains we bought are the same gauge and fit on the track, but they're too big to fit under the bridge.
A while ago Andy bought Joseph a camping chair with a tiger face on it. He was giving the garage a good clear out this weekend. Another carload of junk off to the tip (where does it all come from?) and more tidying and there's still yet more to do, but he saw the chair and brought it inside for Joseph to play with. Joseph loved the chair. He very quickly grasped the idea of it and was sitting in it, getting up, sitting in it again, getting up and moving the chair and then sitting in it again. I put the chair away and he cried and when I got it out again later he was happy. The situation soon got out of hand of course. Joseph moved the chair and put it by the table and was able to use one of the dining chairs as balance so he could climb up onto his little chair and stand up. The little chair soon became a platform to reach higher surfaces and I had to step in once again and tears were shed.
At a garden centre this week I saw a pop up tent. Now, I don't have a high opinion of pop up tents. They're usually single skin so this makes sleeping out on anything but a very mild night utterly hypothermia ridden agony. They are usually badly made, if it rains then the zip leaks straight inside and whilst they're good at popping up they don't pop down very well. They never seem to fold down small enough to be portable in any meaningful way and people always forget to peg them down so they move about.
This tent had a tiger on it. Joseph had a tiger chair so I was tempted but I held off.

Today we were given a new toy. A friend of ours was having a bit of a clean out of their shed and found a toddler car and thought Joseph might like it. I agreed with them that he probably would and we took proud possession of the vehicle. We were told that the horn only worked some of the time, which was fine by me as a horn that only works some of the time is going to be a lot less annoying than a horn that works loudly all of the time.
Joseph did like the car, but hasn't yet worked out how to do anything other than go backwards a few feet. He did get to grips with the horn quite quickly and in-between the "Vroom vroom!" noises and him working away hard on the steering wheel could be heard the gentle "pwarp pwarp" of a horn more in common with a duck than anything else.
We bought the tent, by the way. Joseph sat outside in his car, clearly as happy as a lark whilst we checked the tent over inside. It popped up all right and had one pole in the roof to keep it stable. We'd only messed with it once and the bit of elastic that held the two pieces of pole together parted company, but it didn't matter. Putting the wretched thing away was another matter as is the usual way. I wrestled with it but I couldn't make head nor tail of the instructions so Andy had a go, all to the sounds of a very happy duck in the back garden. We'll get the tent out for him another time, one new toy at a time is best.
Joseph spent a long time in that car. Andy played with him in the garden and I went upstairs and finished off a little bit of bedroom paintwork, easily done with Joseph safely out of the way. With the window wide open I worked to the sounds of a giggling toddler, a Daddy having fun and the occasional confused quack.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Say Cheese

We seem to have hit another magic development window and it's really noticeable with his speech. At nineteen (almost) months old he's started to pick up new words at a quicker rate and I am beginning to wonder just how much of what I say to him he really does understand.
He's stopped saying "Gone down" quite so much now, but it still comes round pretty regularly. We had almost a week where that was all he would say about anything and it got a little wearing towards the end.
His next favourite word is "Garden", usually used to ask if he can go out and play. However, he did do something interesting last week. He looked out of an upstairs window and said "Garden gone down" which I think meant "the garden is down there". This means that he's starting to connect words together a little. This is a very early age for doing that and I am very impressed. Either that or it was just a fluke and he was shouting out his two favourite sounds.
Saying Mummy and Daddy has made a comeback at last and now I think he often means me when he says it. Ah.
At the moment he loves playing with wooden shape puzzles. He has a number puzzle with pictures that he loves and if you ask him "where's the cars?" he can point to them. He can manage most of them now except ladybirds and pencils. If you ask him to point to the ladybirds he points to the little birds elsewhere on the puzzle. It's an understandable mistake.
He can almost say "balloon" now, which is quite sweet. If you ask him to point to the balloons on the puzzle, he will and he will also often clap his hands - once and as loudly as possible. Granny has taught him that balloons go BANG! and that's all he thinks about now! Also, if you ask him what a fish does he will look at you slightly sheepishly and then will open and shut his mouth. I'm trying to teach him to do the gills with his hands and I've had a small amount of success.
Now all I have to do is train him to say "Mummy I am full, I don't want any more of the nice food that you have made for me. Thank you for making it for me, I love you." instead of just trying to throw it all over the floor.
Andy has decided that food thrown on the floor will not be returned to him, which is fine when it comes to things like biscuits, but when he's throwing things away because he doesn't want to eat them rather than in a fit of frustration it might backfire. Still, having watched enough episodes of SuperNanny I have taken more of a no nonsense attitude to meal times. If he kicks up a fuss and doesn't eat then he doesn't get anything else. If I'm feeling charitable then he'll get to try it again in a bit but no treats. I did once have to send him to bed hungry.
It makes me sound like a tough and straight down the line sort of person! I'm not at all! I was so worried when he refused that dinner and I was terrified I was doing the wrong thing! I have also discovered that if you distract him with Chuggington he eats more and it's always worth melting some cheese on the top of something he's not so sure of as he likes melted cheese.
I'm starting to wonder if there might be some American DNA in him!! (he did once eat a whole plate of loaded nachos as well)