Friday, 27 January 2012

Top Tens

This is my 100th post on this blog and I'd like to do a little bit of a reminisce. So, here are my top ten favourite and my top ten worst memories of the past year and a bit.
10, The first time he lifted up a little hand at me and I realised he was asking for a hug. Awwww.
10, Treading on a wooden block carelessly left on the floor and bruising the underside of my foot.
9, Carrying him downstairs one morning and listening to him whisper "Dada dat dada" in my ear.
9, Discovering that the changing facilities in motorway service stations are horrifically bad and the things they have the nerve to call "changing tables" can be downright dangerous.
8,Watching him play "raspberry tennis" with a little girl only a few weeks younger than him. I have not laughed so hard in a while and it was made all the worse as I was trying to be serious.
8, Lack of sleep really does me in. I get cranky and short tempered, my short term memory is practically non existent and I start seeing things out of the corners of my eyes that are not there. Not a good situation when you're trying to look after a small child.
7, Watching him holding a birthday present looking utterly bemused. He hadn't got a clue what to do about the wrapping paper.
7, Andy did the first meconium nappy change when Joseph was born and it was nasty sticky stuff and Joseph got one foot in it and then crossed his ankles. Yeuch.
6, The look on his face when I pick him up from my day at work. 
6, The noise he makes when I leave the room. It's like I've abandoned him even if I'm just going to the loo or making a cup of tea. Oddly enough he's fine at his Grandmas when I'm gone for a whole day.
5, Calpol. Magic stuff, works almost every time. 
5, We're starting to get tantrums now. You take something off him that he shouldn't have and not only does he cry, but he's now started laying on the floor and howling. Then he sees something else he wants and suddenly he's fine again.
4, When his only method of locomotion was rolling over, he was called "Captain Roly-Poly". He got quite accurate at getting where he needed to go, but he did bash himself on things a lot. It was a relief when he started crawling, but the whole thing was quite funny.
4, When he was a few months old I was blowing raspberries on his tum and he kicked me in the nose. It hurt quite a lot for days.
3, Watching his first wobbly steps develop quickly into quite a confident walk. He doesn't stop now.
3, He does understand "No" he just chooses to ignore it. It's very hard to keep him out of things he shouldn't be in, I've had to try all sorts of little tricks.
2, The sight of him flat on his back, arms up, fast asleep in his cot. It's the one thing every parent wants.
2, The infamous coffee incident as mentioned in a previous post.
1, The first time he smiled at me. Everything was all right from then on. Now he laughs a lot, especially when I tickle him.
1, And the top worst thing? Well that's easy - every nappy I have ever changed, especially the ones where he's very dirty and tries to escape in the middle of it. But then, that's all part of it I suppose. If I didn't have the nasty nappies then I wouldn't have the cute amazing moments either.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


He's usually such a well behaved child when we're out and about.
He's not one to sit in the pushchair and holler all the time and I let him walk in our last visit to Mothercare and he was a very good boy, he held my hand all the time and didn't make a grab for any of the merchandise. He seems to actually enjoy sitting in the trolley in the supermarket, the only trouble he's ever given me is that he once pulled a small sign off a shelf advertising a deal on sausages and he does occasionally like to reach out for the items on the belt as we're waiting to pay.
So, a trip into town isn't a big deal for him. All went well until we got tired and wanted a hot drink. Andy went for the coffee and I gave Joseph his bottle. The drinks arrived and I managed a sip or two whilst holding Joseph, but he's a big lad now and it wasn't really practical. Also he seems to think that he has a right to try and play with anything you happen to be holding at the time no matter what it is.
So, I put my drink down and tried to manoeuvre my wriggling toddler into his push chair. There was limited space available and I guess my fresh, full cup of coffee was just not quite out of reach enough.
I saw his little hand reach out. I tried to react, but you know how it goes when the inevitable is happening right before your eyes. I reached out but time itself seemed to slow right down. I saw the little hand grab the lip of the cup and I tried to steady the cup before it went, but I was just too slow. The cup tipped and hot brown liquid spilt everywhere.
When I say everywhere I really mean it. It was all over the table, it was all over the floor and it was all over me. A fair proportion of it had made it as far as Andy to make his day somewhat damper and more uncomfortable than he had planned. Joseph hadn't escaped the deluge either, but I had no sympathy for his whinging.
Apparently I told him off quite loudly and it was that that made him cry rather than the coffee. My thoughts turned to the fact that I had been rather looking forward to that large cappuccino, which was now nothing more than a brown lake with a few bits of foam floating on it. Damp and unhappy I went to ask for a cleaner as clearly this was not remediable by a few napkins from the rack.
The coffee shop were very nice about it, despite the mess and even replaced my drink for free which I hadn't expected.
I wish I could say Joseph has learned his lesson but I don't think he has. I have, though.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Working it Out

First, something amusing.
Joseph was getting things out of his toy box. We're pushed for space so it's in the living room. He decided that he didn't want any of the toys he'd already got out of the toy box and neither did he want any of the toys at the front of his toy box. No, he wanted something over at the back, something that needed a bit of reaching to get to. He often goes up on tip toes, but that wasn't enough. He stretched as far as he could get, but that wasn't enough.
With one final super-baby push, he got within reach of the toy. The problem was that he had slightly over done the force needed and in a fine demonstration of the laws of physics he pushed his centre of gravity over the edge of the box. This meant that his feet came up and his head went down.
He landed right on top of the toy he wanted, but this didn't cheer him up. Whilst he was now well within reach of his toy, he could not play with it, not with his head resting in the box and his little legs kicking free in the air out of the top.
I've never really approved of the idea of schadenfreude, I always think it's a rather odd trait in someone to find the sight of someone-else's misfortune amusing.
It was those wiggling legs. There was something strangely funny about the whole thing, but I resisted it as best as I could and rescued my struggling son from his box before the toys got too covered in dribble and snot. Perhaps he'll learn from his adventures with Newtonian physics.
Today he has been shouty. Lots and lots of running around and shouting "Da!" at the top of his voice to everything in sight. I was trying to watch something interesting on the iPlayer and he was adding his own opinion at every opportunity.
I looked over to him and said "Shhh!" which made him chuckle and do a sort of imitation hiss back. I followed it up with a whispered "Da" and he looked at me, and did exactly the same thing back! This lasted all of a few minutes, he wandered about whispering the same syllable that he had been shouting earlier. He's back to shouting now, but you never know, it might just work again.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


For all his other vaccinations and blood tests, he's been an absolutely perfectly behaved little boy. He's smiled, coo-ed and sat perfectly still for the blood to be taken and only grizzled a bit for the vaccination itself.
For any who don't know, we're taking part in a vaccine study looking at the meningitis vaccine given to children. They want to find out if little ones need as many boosters as they currently have and to do that you need blood samples.
Perhaps it's his teeth. He's got two little bicuspids breaking forth in his lower jaw and they're probably making him uncomfortable. All I know is that when I got out the plasters and analgesic cream to get ready, he took one look at them and howled. As I squeezed out the cream onto the plasters he howled. As I put the plasters on his elbows and hands he howled and as I covered them up with some fetching bright green long socks he howled some more.
Nap time wasn't good. I think he slept for an hour altogether, with breaks for howling. If you ask me, he jolly well knew what was coming next and was letting me know how he felt about it. It's funny, but he's not found it stressful before, even when they've had several attempts at putting needles in and no blood was forthcoming. He's sat on my lap quite content whilst being punctured without success.
Today, I got him up from his nap and he was ok until they arrived and he - guess what- howled. He pretty much howled the whole way through.
However, a small miracle occurred. He actually had some blood in him! No paltry 1ml sample this time. Despite the protestations we had a whole syringe in no time at all.
I really am not sure why today he should suddenly yield up the red stuff. Perhaps as he's had a small growth spurt his veins are just a tiny bit bigger. Perhaps with all the crying his blood pressure was raised and that helped. I don't know, but perhaps the assistant who was called Lucky, is worthy of the name. Poor chap, Joseph howled at him the whole time despite all the toys.
Next came the final jab, the big one, the three in one, the MMR.
It's had a bad press in the past. My mind was made up when I saw the results of a Scandinavian (I think) study where the uptake is low and they discovered that the incidence of autism is exactly the same in kids who have and haven't had the jab.
I do know that if you don't get immunised then the chances of having measles in particular is quite high and 1% of cases have serious complications. I don't like those odds. Also, Andy has never had mumps and if Joseph were to catch it and give it to him then Andy could potentially end up seriously ill, not to mention incapable of giving Joseph a sibling. All in all, safer to have the jab.
And he'd just calmed down. Boy did he scream when the jab went in, poor chap he was shaking.
No reactions though, and he calmed down as soon as I handed him one of his cheesy biscuits. He had chicken curry with coconut and almond for his lunch and had a little go at feeding himself (I was still holding the spoon) which went rather well.
He's got fussy with some food again. He wont eat penne pasta any more, nor cheese. He's gone off canned fruit which at first he absolutely loved. Now all I give him are bananas and fruit pots. Curry, however, still seems popular and I can't help but wonder if he'll live on keema, tikka and masala for a while. I don't mind, I like curry. If it wasn't for the heat I'd live in India for the food.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The weird

What's an oggie?
I was under the impression that it was some sort of Welsh pasty type thing, but not covered by the EU protected status legislation.
Joseph seems to want one, whatever they are. He wanders round and round saying "Oggie, oggie, oggie." Andy can only think of one response to this - "Oi, oi, oi." I think I've missed the cultural significance of that one, but I have a funny feeling it might relate to Christmas pantomimes. Oh well, we're talking about the inner workings of the mind of a one year old boy. This is someone who finds it the height of delight to be picked up by the ankles and swung like the pendulum of a clock. He also likes being picked up and tossed high in the air in the kind of motion that would leave me quite nauseous very quickly. Perhaps he'll be a daredevil one day.
Children, it seems, are all a bit weird. A friend of mine has just put a post on facebook about removing a coco pop from her daughters nostril and I know my niece decided not to bother with a piggy bank at one point and simply ate the change. This resulted in a trip to A&E where they were told all was well, but to make sure they had to check the childs poop every day to make sure the coin was passed. It's times like that when you must wish you'd taken up that treasure hunting hobby after all and bought a metal detector.
Joseph is, at the moment, clear of A&E visits, but given all the squashed digits we've had recently it may not be long. He's walking well and picking up speed but he does not have any concept of what is near his feet and what is in front of him on the ground, trip hazards are an alien idea to him.
I'd like to know what goes on in his little head when he plays with his toys. Stacking stuff is fun, but smashing it down is better. Everything has to be stacked, whether it's designed for it or not, but if Mummy stacks up all the plastic cups into a tower then they can't be left up like that for more than a second.
Now he's moved on linguistically. "Oggie, oggie, oggie." has been added to and changed into "N'gor, n'gor, n'gor." Perhaps he's trying to tell us he wants to go to Africa on holiday.
Andy is now trying to amuse the boy by playing 90's dance tracks on his phone. Joseph is not dancing, but he did do a reasonable impression of Robby the Robot when we were playing with his singing teddy. It looked like either dancing or some form of medieval malady that needed quick attendance by a priest for a cure!
No, not even Pink Floyd is having an effect now. As I've said before, if you want to get Joseph moving to the music you need good nursery rhymes or Motorhead. He loves "The Ace of Spades".

Friday, 13 January 2012

Medical Experiments

He's got a silver award now.
Yes indeed, the local university phoned up again asking if Joseph would like to be prodded and poked and generally made unhappy in the name of science.
That's not quite true. They did ring up, but as it's the psychology department they're not actually allowed to do any prodding or poking and there are plenty of toys so no discomfort allowed.
This time it was very simple and quick. Joseph was sat on my knee and we sat in a dark cubby looking at a big screen. A voice said "Look!" and Joseph was shown two pictures while a word was said, relating to one of the pictures. It's all about word recognition at that age - do babies understand the word and the object it relates to specifically or is it just about sounds and shapes? The example she gave me was - does Joseph understand that a banana is a banana or does he think the sound applies to crescent shapes?
It was fun, he didn't misbehave and this time I think they might actually end up with some usable data.
If we're asked back again he gets a free t-shirt.
It's a shame I never get to see the results of these studies, but you never know. One of them might just be of such significance that it makes it on the news and I can sit smugly at home thinking "I helped!" Or rather, Joseph helped and I... sat there and stopped him wiggling away.
This afternoon it was all going so well. He likes to play with our multimedia cabinet thingy that Andy made to house all our stuff with wires. It has a flappy front door that hides the shelf with the keyboard and mouse on it. Joseph has often played with this and come to no harm, but today was different. The door opens downwards and the hinge drops as it does so. Joseph seems to be keen to try and crush his fingers in many things at the moment and he did a good job today. His poor little finger on his left hand did go rather pink and it was quite some time before he calmed down. I'm on a heightened state of alert now, as he tried to squash his fingers in Grannys CD cupboard yesterday as well. It's probably a good job that the only doors he has access to are usually kept quite shut.
I shall leave off now, my son is supposed to be feeding himself a healthy tea of cheesy biscuit (home made), lettuce, carrot and a little cheese. He's not doing so well.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


Apparently, according to some clever research, breast fed babies cry more than formula fed babies.
I can attest to that. The six weeks of toe-curling discomfort I spent trying to breast feed my son were also his unhappiest. It's just a shame nobody could tell me that at the time, but then as he was barely managing an average of two hours between feeds, I just put his grumpiness down to hunger and soldiered on.
I didn't soldier for all that long. Tiredness, chafing and severe wrist ache were the final nails in the coffin and I gave up for life on the bottle. At eight weeks old he was pretty much sleeping through so I can definitely say that formula feeding had a positive impact on my mental health. Some cope well on less than four hours of sleep at night, some get rather cranky and short and start seeing things where there are no things. When I got my first eight hour sleep I felt so much better.
There are a number of things that felt a little glossed over at the time. All the leaflets about breast feeding were full of pictures of happy contented women showing that breast feeding was easy! Way to go to make me feel even more of a failure and added to my giving up. It didn't feel natural, it felt like torture.
Well, those days are long gone and I have to admit I don't miss them. If we decide to have another then I'll do my best, I'll give it a bash but if it doesn't work out then it just doesn't and I wont let anyone guilt trip me.
Now he's finger feeding a lot of the time other issues have come to the fore.
He likes toast, which is good. He's even had a go at celery and won, which is impressive. He'll eat little pieces of cheese and he likes bread sticks and surprise surprise, he likes biscuits.
We've hit a wall with the carrot though. I've not given it to him in ages as it was just getting spat back out again. Pasta seems to be unpopular, especially as a finger food. I gave him a bowl of soft pasta tubes with bacon in a cheese sauce a few days ago. He looked at it, looked up at me and then totally ignored the food. I tried to put some in his mouth and I came up against a tightly locked little jaw. Mission a failure.
Fruit is now the next big hurdle He still eats banana, but his other favourite - strawberry- isn't on the radar this time of year. I tried him on canned fruit which he seemed to initially love, but now suddenly hates. It goes in the mouth, he looks puzzled and out it comes. Even the little pink cherries you get in a fruit cocktail are refused and they're my favourite.
And yet he will eat some beef mince flavoured with tikka spice with spinach mixed in. There's no accounting for taste.
Well, I'd better go as dinner needs cooking and by the sound of things bath time is winding down. There was a lot of noise earlier, Joseph was trying to play with the toilet duck and Andy wasn't letting him. Tears happened.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


So the Princes Trust is blaming a lack of routine and structure in the lives of children for poor academic performance and poorer prospects as adults.
I have to admit I want to suppress a large "Well Duh" here. Kids need structure in their lives, the world is a confusing place for little ones and I am doing my best to make Josephs life as simple for him as possible at the moment. I decide when he has his naps and when he goes to bed. I decide when he eats and what he eats. I decide when it's play time, but he has some choice on the toys. I decide when we go out and the only thing he has any real authority on is when he fills his nappy.
Instead of him feeling tired and struggling to express to me what he wants his routine provides for all his physical needs and the pair of us are less stressed. This means he can spend all his spare mental energy on working out that the square block wont go through the round hole in the new shape sorter toy. As he gets older I will let him have more choice in certain areas, but the routine will be a set one and he will always know where he should be and, within reason, what he should be doing. If the rules are simple then they are easy to follow.
They've missed something though, in this report. It doesn't seem to occur to them that children with stabler family lives - set bedtimes, family mealtimes and such are much more likely to have parents who take an active interest and role in their children's academic life. They'll help with homework more and provide more encouragement.
Of course, being a disorganised parent doesn't mean that you're condemning your children to a life of F grades and failure as an adult, but it does make it harder to get on in a very structured world if you're not used to it. After all, the vast majority of us will end up with jobs that have set hours, set break times and set work. A few might be fortunate enough to break free in a spirit of entrepreneur-ship, but you still have to work hard for it.
My point? Well, it does seem to show a correlation between putting effort in and getting results out. There are no guarantees, there never are in life. Joseph will, no doubt, have days where he fights against the structures I make him live by, in fact he already has done so. Yesterday he decided that he wouldn't have is 9am nap, no way no how. At 12pm he slept for 1 hour and refused to go back. As he's over a year old now I'm more inclined to leave him a little longer now, so often he has a whinge for a bit and then gives up and goes to sleep.
Andy didn't like this and let him get up. The net result was a child who was screaming tired before 6pm and it was hard getting any dinner into him. He was frustrated and cross and generally unpleasant. Let that be a lesson, Joseph. Take your naps!
I think that's all I can cope with on this subject. It frustrates me no end when people claim that discipline is against the human rights of a child. For goodness sake people, it's not like back in the bad old days when kids were locked in coal cellars and hit with canes. Kids need structure and they need showing when they've broken the rules or they'll never grasp right from wrong and we've all seen what happens with people like that.
Parenting is hard.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Little Slippers

Christmas was good. Joseph got more presents than he knew what to do with - more than we knew what to do with - and couldn't work out how to unwrap any of them.
We ate too much, were generally lazy and enjoyed the season. Isn't it all about "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we shall all have indigestion and significant weight gain." Or something like that!
We've also taken full advantage of the January sales. There's quite a bit of reduced kids stuff out there and there are even one or two gems to be found for little boys. Alas the vast majority of children's clothing in the sale rails are for girls aged 0-6 months or girls aged 2+. It's all pink and frilly and nasty and what little there is for boys is often damaged and you have to fight for it with at least three other women. Now Joseph, those little trousers were worth nearly getting charged for assault, you look very cute in them.
We also bought him a pair of slippers.
Andy is paranoid that Joseph will somehow always be too cold. I've always been less worried, our house is pretty warm and he always wears socks. Still, they were cheap and cute and had two of the characters from Chuggington on them.
Well, how could we resist?
They have some drawbacks. We bought a size 4, which are a little big, but he'll grow into them. They have velcro fasteners on them which he loves. Perhaps I should be a little bit more specific on that - he loves undoing them. Inevitably he ends up wearing only one slipper and we have to hunt for the lost one.
You know, that sounds like a Victorian parlour game - "Hunt the Slipper".
The velcro straps are very sticky, they are good quality velcro. The problem is that they do like to stick to other things apart from the other side of the strap. Josephs play mat is quite a good surface, being loop pile fibre. Yesterday, my little boy was sitting down and the velcro of his one remaining shoe stuck fast to the mat. He got up and began his seamans roll style gait across the floor, only to find himself encumbered with an unexpected weight.
The corner of the play mat was stuck fast and was following. The play mat was slowly peeling up off the floor and Joseph was unwittingly managing to fold the thing in half. Goodness knows what sort of a mess he'd have made of it if I hadn't seen it when I did, but I did rescue him. After I'd spent a little while laughing of course.
His walking is generally improving. He can get up quite a bit of speed now, but he's not yet confident enough to try and run. He can walk a very long way if you hold his hand and on 2nd January we took him to a local park and he did indeed walk a long way and got rather muddy in the process. His little shoes were quite caked but they're well enough made that the large lumps of raw nature clinging to them hadn't stopped the little flashy lights working.
He could probably walk a long way without any assistance, but he does lack confidence and a little stumble inside is bad enough, but outside he'd get quite mucky and I'm not ready to deal with that yet.