Monday, 30 April 2012

Feet, light, Daddy

A brief transcript of what happened today right after bath time: -
Daddy - Joseph, show me your feet!
Joseph - Gurgle, lifts foot up
Daddy - Good boy! Joseph, where's the light?
Joseph - Chuckle, looks upward.
Daddy - Very good boy! Joseph, where's Daddy?
Joseph - Da da....looks at Daddy and smiles
Daddy - Yes! Joseph, show me your feet!
Joseph - Daa daa, lifts feet again, gives Daddy look that says "I already showed you once, do you not get it?" 
Daddy - Good boy! Now it's time to put your pyjamas on!
Joseph - Gurgle
Daddy - Joseph, where's the light?
Joseph - points
Daddy - No, that's not right.
I have been told to stop recording this as apparently he will now only point to a pack of sanitary towels on the bathroom racking. I guess intelligence is transitory, or he's just easily bored. Still, I think it's a step in the right direction.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

A Day Out

We had a nice day our yesterday, despite all the rain. You know, this is probably the wettest drought I've ever known. It comes to something when you're living with water restrictions and flood warnings all at the same time.
One of Andys friends was coming to town for a visit. He'd come all the way from Australia so we thought we'd better make a bit of an effort. We met up in a nice country pub, a massive group of old work colleagues, wives and children.
That was the big difference since last time, the extra people. I believe it was four years ago that they'd had the last reunion and in that time there were some marriages and a lot of procreation. We couldn't help but note that around the very large table were every stage of baby-hood, from a bump, a month old, less than a year, the interesting toddler stage that Joseph is in and two who were older and talking. I watched one of the older boys eating chocolate ice cream, ah I remember the days when it was more fun to get the food all over your face than to actually eat it.
Before the food arrived, Joseph made friends with one of the littler ones. They were sat next to each other in booster seats and little smiles soon turned into giggles as they waved their arms and slapped the table. Joseph though the whole thing was quite hilarious.
I got to compare Joseph to another little boy of almost the same age. The first thing I saw was that Joseph, despite being a month younger, was much the bigger of the two. I have no idea why, according to the experts I've pretty much done everything wrong so why my boy is above average in size, a perfect picture of rosy health and meeting his developmental targets with room to spare is quite beyond them, those pesky experts.
It was interesting to compare notes as they were communicating in different ways and had quite different temperaments. The other boy, in my opinion, seemed less shy in company and was quite happy to sit on someone other than Mum or Dads lap, as long as he could see where they were. Joseph can often get a bit spiky about that sort of thing. The other little boy was more inclined to share his toys with Joseph, who did share a little too but seemed rather unhappy about it at times.
They did get one quite well, which was nice. They would hold hands and on a couple of occasions there was even a shared little cuddle, probably the cutest thing I have seen yet! The other little boy seemed a lot less picky with eating, tucking into sausages and chips with great gusto. I was impressed.
Joseph is not the pickiest baby by any means, but when he doesn't want something, he doesn't want it. We ordered him cod goujons (posh fish fingers) mash and peas. I had wanted to get him chips, but that would have meant twice in two days so we went with the mash.
He ate some of the cod fingers with enthusiasm and then stopped. In the end I realised that it was the coating he was less keen on and he did eat a little more of the fish, but I had to feed it to him. He ate quite a bit of the mash but the best thing was the peas. He kept reaching out to the plate and picking them up, one at a time and putting them in his mouth. He would reach out with thumb and forefinger, the smaller fingers extended in the manner of a posh vicar drinking from a small teacup.
I shared my pudding with him, a mix of meringue pieces, lemon and vanilla ice cream. It was delicious and Joseph thought so to. If there's anything he's not picky about, it's pudding.
Joseph was the first to flag. To be fair, he had produced a very nasty poop that must have left him feeling a bit uncomfortable. Still, he just got restless. He wanted to run around and the restaurant was busy and it wasn't safe. He got tired and it was very noisy.
He did well, we'd been out for nearly four hours before he got too fractious. We came home and to be frank, I was tired too. A good day, and the beer battered mushrooms were rather good.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Sleep, or the lack of it

Today I was woken up at about half past six in the morning by a rather posh voice saying: - "I've just been buffed."
For anyone who's never watched Chuggington, this will seem like a strange thing, but for those of us who have and have been subjected to many episodes of this train based children's program, you will realise that the evening before, Joseph had managed to take with him one of his Chuggington interactive toys, in the shape of Harrison, a rather egotistical fellow, but fun nonetheless. Once we were awake we listened to a variety of train-y comments like: - "I'll be there in two toots of a whistle." and similar.

Of all the rude awakenings we have had, I don't think this one was the worst. After all, what can be worse than being dragged from your slumber at 4am by a howling baby in need of sustenance and some serious cleaning up around the bottom. It's all the worse as it was well after midnight when the same screaming offspring finally decided to give in and sleep.
I've had dummies thrown at me in the early hours of the morning. I've been kept up by the rather odd but still strangely cute sound of a small child snoring away because he had a head cold. I've also spent an entire night (all right, half the night as Andy and I were taking turns) laid down next to a small child gently rubbing him on the belly as this was the only way to keep him from crying. We never really got to the bottom of that incident. He didn't go to sleep at all, but he wasn't unwell. Teeth might have been to blame, but we had no way of knowing and the Calpol appeared to have no effect.
Joseph, all things considered, is a pretty good sleeper. He usually has two naps in the daytime although I think we might at last be heading towards needing to cut them down. He used to miss a nap about once a week, but now it seems every other day I put him down and it takes far longer for him to drop off and sometimes not at all.
Oh, I am not looking forward to him having less naps. I put him down between nine and ten am and during this time I do about ten minutes exercise, which I can't do when he's awake as he puts me off by laughing and tries to stick his fingers in my step machine. I get up, get washed and dressed and watch something on one of the internet players that isn't suitable for small children. Often it's one of the various CSI series as they usually have pumping music in the sound track which really helps me to keep up a good rhythm whilst I exercise.
His afternoon nap starts usually around 12.30pm, or whenever he finishes his lunch. During this break I again sometimes watch programmes I don't think are Joseph suitable and I do chores that aren't safe to do with him up and about. I do the ironing, which would be a nightmare to manage if he was awake as he'd probably be pulling on the irons flex all the time. Not safe at all.
Most of all, it's nice to have a little rest. Even if I'm doing chores, then at least I can just concentrate on what I'm doing and not have to think about where Joseph is getting himself now and how I will have to rescue him before he manages to hurt himself. Sixteen month old boys seem to have no idea at all about personal safety and the consequences of their actions.
Oh Joseph, please go back to sleep for your nap. Please be that little boy who needs lots of daytime sleep for a good while longer, or at least until I can train you do do your own ironing!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


A new milestone has been reached.
I mentioned previously that he has begun climbing on things. Today he has managed to climb up on one of the padded black boxes we have in our living room. We use them for storage, they look quite nice and keep all the clutter hidden away. Joseph has a small one for his toys, I have one that holds all the power leads and the stuff for our dining table like place mats. The other one lives by the stairs and has one half full of our paperwork and the other full of shoes and shopping bags. It's this one he has started climbing on, perhaps out of curiosity to get behind it. Behind lies the mysterious Under Stairs region, full of rucksacks, a travel cot and my exercise equipment.
Up he went, clinging onto the stair bannister. Once up he could not get down, so I rescued him, but within a few minutes he was up again.
On the third occasion, he went quiet. I was watching something on TV and was not paying him my full attention as by this time I was satisfied he was showing no interest in throwing himself off or about in some dangerous manner.
I glanced over at him, I have to admit I am more suspicious of him when he is quiet than when he is noisy. He too was watching the TV, with rapt attention. The index finger of his left hand was fully extended and was thrust past the first joint into his nostril. As he watched the program, the finger began to gently twist one way and then the other.
Yes, at nearly seventeen months old, my son has learned to pick his nose.
This is, I believe, a later than average age to learn this particular skill. But then, all I've got to go on is the fact that my niece could pick her nose before her first birthday and I only know this because at her first birthday party I got to hold her for a while and she spent most of the time with a digit placed firmly in her nose and she cried when I tried to stop her.
I keep expecting him to look up at me and say something like - "Mummy, my brain itches." which is the only reason I can think of for leaving a finger up there for so long.
Hold up, he's just worked out how to get down off the box safely. Oh wait, he's just climbed back up again. I can only hope that this will be one of those passing interests, he will soon get bored of going up there as there isn't really anything new to see and I can stop worrying that the moment I turn my back he'll do a superman impression and I'll end up spending the whole day in A&E with him whilst some snobby junior doctor tells me off.

At least now I know why the dribble levels have massively increased over the last week, and just when I was starting to make good headway on the patch of nasty dry flaky skin under his chin.
His upper canine teeth have broken through. They're just tiny little points at the moment, but they are there. I noticed when he was sat on my lap and I was blowing raspberries on his tummy, he leant back and laughed and I got a very good view of them.
Got to go now. Someone has just put a Lidl catalogue through the door and Joseph is trying to make paper mache out of it with his own dribble.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Climbing Frame

I have previously mentioned how he likes to clamber all over the sofa if given the tiniest fraction of a chance. He bounces, he wriggles and he tries to climb up on the arms, all of which end up in heart stopping moments. I have only once left him on his own on the sofa, I thought he was safely absorbed in watching a particularly dramatic episode of Chuggington.
I popped into the kitchen to get a cup of tea and came back to find him practising for Olympics by using the sofa as a sort of cross between balance bars and a vaulting horse. Needless to say I quickly returned him to a safer altitude (ground level) but he really wasn't happy.
Whilst I type these entries I am sat on a rather nice, hand crafted sit-kneel chair. It's good for the posture and was surprisingly comfortable when I was in the latter stages of pregnancy. Joseph has seen me sitting on it and I think he is trying to emulate, but with only being about a quarter of my height it's not as successful as he'd like. He ends up sitting on the support in the middle, back to front in the chair and bashing away at the seat section. He's tried a variety of different ways to move about on it and even dismount but the vast majority of the time he ends up getting quite stuck.
Feet and legs get in places where he doesn't want and he finds himself having to use his arms to support his weight as his bottom slips sideways and his feet are out of action, tangled up in the general workings of the chair.
When I've managed to quell my laughter, I go and rescue him. Oh, if only he'd learn his lesson, but he never does. It's usually only a matter of minutes before he's back and having another go.
If I'm sat on the chair then he wants to sit at my lap. Sometimes this is all right, if I'm just surfing the web or I'm streaming a video. If I'm trying to actually do anything productive then it's a nightmare. He likes anything with buttons, you see, and a computer keyboard is just too much temptation for the little fellow. I've been trying to write this blog before and suddenly finding that everything is in capitals or he's managed to change a setting somewhere and it's all gone horribly wrong.

In other news, we're starting a war of kindness on The Cat. Joseph has finally worked out that he can't eat the cat treats, but he can give them to The Cat. He sits, a small dentabit clutched in his chubby fingers, arm outstretched. The Cat sits and stares back at him, really wanting to just ignore him the way she always has, but instinct telling her that she really wants the treat. She always takes the treat in the end, but the trick is persuading Joseph to let go.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


If, in the future, we manage to be able to genetically alter the human race, then there are two things I would ask for.
One is that all children are born with a set of gauges on the side of them, a bit like in the computer game "The Sims". That way I'd be able to tell if my baby was crying because it was hungry, or whether it was tired or simply in need of a hug. Now Joseph is a little older it's getting easier to tell, so instead I'd want a nice display on the side of his head telling me what he's actually thinking. Why does he crawl under the table and try and get to all my boxes of CDs and DVDs? Why keep pulling his socks off? Why refuse to sleep even when obviously tired?
He plays with all sorts of stuff now and sometimes with his actual toys. Recently, when playing with one of his stacking cups, Andy saw him doing something interesting.
It was just after dinner and Joseph was sat in his booster seat. Quite often, Joseph likes to pick up his food and offer it to us. He finds it very amusing and seems to want to eat more if we accept. I think it's because he sees us giving him food and probably assumes that's what you're supposed to do.
He likes picking up crumbs and giving them to us and will even pick up small items of detritus from the floor and hand them over. I hope this means he is naturally tidy, but then I've seen him pick up his box of duplo and scatter it all over the floor in one easy motion. Who knows?
This time he was picking up absolutely nothing and handing it to Andy. He was also picking up nothing and putting it in the stacking cup. He then took the nothing out of the cup and put it back. Andy said that it was pretty clear that he knew it was nothing that he was picking up, he was pretending.
Imagination! Well, I've always had a pretty active one so it wouldn't surprise me if Joseph does too. I have to admit I hadn't expected to see signs of it yet, I thought things like that came later when speech starts, but I must be wrong. This is why I'd like a little display telling me what he's thinking. How much of what he does is curiosity and how much is actual imaginative play? What exactly is he imagining if that is the case? He's sixteen months old and his life experiences are pretty limited, although we've done our best.
If nothing else, the thought display might tell me why things like empty boxes, vacuum bags of his old clothes (we had a sort out but I've not had a chance to put them in the loft yet) and Lidl catalogues that come through the door, are all more preferable play things than his actual toys.
Come on the scientists, all the Mums in the world will thank you for this.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Of Blankets and Coasters

Today has been a day of hiding heads under blankets.
It went cold in the afternoon, it clouded over and threatened to rain. Then, it did rain.
I put the gas fire on and snuggled under a blanket to warm up. I tried to give Joseph a hug, but he wasn't in the mood and squiggled about. Rather than risk another serious nose injury as I'm not sure I've fully recovered from all the others yet, I decided to play it safe and put him down.
He played with his duplo for a bit and then came to shout at me. I have no idea why he does this, but he does love running up to me and shouting Da! Da! at the top of his lungs. I tried to calm him down, but to no avail. He saw my blanket and was immediately interested. He looked under the blanket and then over the blanket, chattering all the time.
Then he cottoned on to the idea of hiding his head under it. I did the same and this resulted in much baby giggling.
A little while later I needed the toilet and nipped upstairs. Joseph got hold of the blanket and stuck his head under it again.
When I came back there was a blanket mound in the shape of a baby. All that remained on view was a bright orange tip of a socked foot sticking out. He was laughing and so did I, I even took a picture and sent it to Andy, pointing out that our son was growing up into a total loon.
He slowly extricated himself from the blanket, laughing all the way. It's odd because the first time I tried to play peek-a-boo by putting a blanket over him, he cried and has often reacted badly if he's felt he can't get whatever it is over his head off very quickly.

Sometimes when I sit with him on the sofa he will sit and be cuddled quietly. Other times he will squiggle and wiggle, he will clamber about and generally cause havoc. Today it was a bit of both and he kept reaching out to the shelf next to the sofa where I put my cup of tea. It was empty at least and he wanted to play with it.
I took the cup off him and he played with the coaster. He likes playing with coasters, there's a wooden one in Grandmas house that he plays with all the time. He got hold of my cup again and started putting the coaster down and the cup on top of it. It was very cute.
Some while later I needed to start cooking dinner. I left him in the living room, well aware to be on my guard now as he has worked out how to open the door into the kitchen.
The door opened. He chattered to himself, there was a soft clump sort of noise and then he turned and walked away. I looked down and saw in the middle of the kitchen floor, a coaster with my mug placed neatly in the middle of it.

Monday, 9 April 2012


There was a lot of chocolate, oh yes.
I hadn't planned it that way. I has bought a small egg each from the Linden Lady chocolate stall at the last NEC craft fair. They were of modest size with some rather nice decoration on.
Andy bought two boxes of Creme Eggs and some Cadbury's buttons eggs for Joseph. Joseph, it seems, does not deserve just the one egg but three as they were on special offer.
It's a good job too, as whenever one of us went to eat some chocolate, Joseph would be incredibly upset if he didn't get any.
You can only ignore this level of tantrum for so long. In the end we had him sat up on his booster seat with a small selection of buttons and pieces from the smashed shell whilst we ate some of our own chocolate. Our eggs were very nice, I have to recommend Linden Lady if you're ever in a position to buy some.
As it's the school holidays there was no Sunday school or creche at church. Joseph can only sit still for so long before needing to run around. The previous week Andy had taken him outside for some air, but it was rather damp and I didn't fancy that. The Mum and Baby room had a Dad and three noisy children in it, not was Joseph needed at all.
In the end I resorted to letting him run up and down the back of the hall. I'm sure most people could hear his little feet going thumpity thump, but it was better than trying to hold onto him and having him scream.
Even that wasn't enough in the end. He wanted to explore more and I wasn't letting him. The meeting over-ran as it often does and we decided to brave going outside. The rain had stopped but the ground was damp and there were deep gutters running around the building. He pointed at plants, shouted at birds and ended up running literal rings around me.
I had to keep a tight hold of his hand due to the gutters, which he didn't like. In the end I stood still and he ran around, I just changed hands as he moved.
Eventually the service finished and I went back in and then we went home, nice and hungry for the chocolate.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Of sleep and spicy food.

Andy's got some time off at the moment.
This meant that on Thursday, whilst I was selling cream eggs to people and generally indulging my OCD side on a particularly messy fixture, Andy was at home with Joseph.
Mum got the day off, but Andy didn't. Joseph behaved the way he always does at home - full of boundless energy, always being where he shouldn't and being fussy with his naps. Every now and again I think that Joseph probably needs less sleep in the day, sometimes he hardly wants to sleep at all. The problem with this is that on those days he gets more and more unmanageable as the day goes on and by 6pm it's a Herculean task to get his dinner in him. He gets distressed and then finds it hard to go to sleep in the evening.
What usually happens is that just as I'm thinking I should cut his sleep time down, he decides that once more he needs all of it again. He will then be a good boy in the evening, go down at 7pm and not wake till after six.
This Thursday was a no-sleep day. Apparently all he did was stand up in his cot and cry. He had about ten minutes in the afternoon and that was all. Yesterday, his morning nap was also rather broken and he didn't get an afternoon nap, well not a proper one, as we were out for the day.

We wanted Joseph to see the baby lambs. He decided to fall asleep in the car just as we drove past the field they were in and he missed them the first time. Still, no matter. We parked, wrestled a rather grumpy child into his baby back pack and took a stroll.
He likes being carried around. He liked patting Daddy on the head and pointing at things. He liked it even more when we stopped to give him some of his lunch and he was allowed to run around for a while.
Joseph is now of the age of passing. That means that he picks things up and passes them to you, whether you want them or not. After a very short space of time I had a handful of flint rocks and dry pieces of grass. Eventually he gave up with trying to lever a very large lump of flint out of the path and we turned round and headed back.
A small child walking back down a slope - a recipe for fun, games and running really really fast. Poor little boy, he just kept picking up speed. He also still kept trying to pick up rocks from the path and this ended with him taking a little tumble.
We put him back in the baby carrier. He didn't want to go and really expressed his opinion about it. Eventually we got going again and walked back down the path and further up the road to where the little sheep were.
Baby lambs are cute, but for the most part, Joseph wasn't too convinced. He did look at them, but as he couldn't pick them up and pass them to me and they didn't have buttons to press, they were of limited interest.
The plan after that was to have a cream tea in a near by National Trust property, but we realised that we'd forgotten my membership card. No matter, there was an Indian restaurant just up the road that said it did lunches.
I have to admit, when we pulled up it looked like it might be shut. It wasn't, but we were the only people there. I felt a bit silly, all dusty and sweaty from our walk and walking into quite a posh looking establishment.  We ordered and ate poppadums, letting Joseph sample all the flavours but the lime pickle.
We ate chicken shashlik, tamarind lamb, sag aloo, peshwari naan and pilau rice. Joseph liked all of it, but seemed a little unconvinced by the naan. We finished off with caramel ice cream and Joseph had his fair share of that, too.
This morning he is in his usual mood of both cute and annoying so the curry has done him no harm at all. The trouble is, I know there's a nappy brewing and it's going to be full of curry.

Monday, 2 April 2012


So, you take one small child and a square of chocolate cake with chocolatey butter-cream icing. You put them both together and see what happens.
It was nice cake, very nice cake indeed. Andy made it, with a little bit of help from me. By that I mean he used my recipe, I told him exactly what to do and when to do it and I spent most of the time hovering around behind him to make sure he did it right.
It was good, melt in the mouth, moist sponge. The icing was just the right amount of gooey to be nice, but not too rich. Joseph loves it and it shows all over his face.
He takes a piece and picks it up between thumb and forefinger in the most dainty way possible, even his little finger pokes up in the manner of a maiden aunt drinking her tea. He takes a delicate nibble, and then another.
At this point, a connection is made in the brain. It probably says - "Oh, I remember this stuff. I like this stuff."
From there, all manners are off. Chocolate cake exists for one purpose and one only, to see just how much of it can be stuffed into a small mouth. Never mind that the piece in question is too big to fit, there will be some collateral damage around the cheeks but it does not matter. If the cake still stubbornly refuses to fit in the mouth then the over hanging portions can be dropped and then poked for a bit until the mouth is ready for round two.
Sometimes, when the bulk of the cake is gone, he will sit and pick up one crumb at a time and keep eating. Sometimes he will get frustrated and wave his hands about on his tray and scatter the crumbs as far as possible. At this point I decided to bend down and pick up some of the strays before they got trodden into the carpet and for my reward he reached out and patted me on the head with a chocolatey hand.
Never mind, I needed to get the Flash wipes out to clean the crusted on mess from his tray, having to wipe sticky marks off my hair clip as well wasn't the end of the world.
When we picked him up for his bath I found that he was sat on a small pile of peas.