Monday, 28 May 2012

A Day in the Life

On the 28th of May, 2012, the following events happened: -
Joseph got hold of the Tesco Baby and Toddler club magazine that came through the door this morning. It was quite handy as he needed his nappy changed and it was very stinky. He's not happy with nappy changes much any more and tends to grizzle the whole way through and make a break for just before I've got the new one on. This morning he lay there, reading his magazine whilst I cleaned him up and he was not at all bothered by the whole thing. He even turned the page.
He did not let go of the magazine, perhaps he was just enjoying the toddler fashion pages. He would not let go of it when I took him up for his nap and he lay there in his cot reading it. I checked on him a few minutes later and he was still reading. Fifteen minutes after that he looked like he was trying to sleep on it and a little while later he was crying as the magazine was now rather crumpled and thrown on the floor. I decided that he'd probably got all the information he needed and I threw it away. He eventually took his nap, but later than usual.
In the morning we went out into the garden for a bit, which was a lot of fun. Now that our lawn is short and free of cat faeces it's safe to play out there and I can hang my washing out without having to worry about where I'm putting my feet. I put some stinky crystals down yesterday and they seemed to work, but I could not see any of them out there today.
Lunch was a wash out. I cooked him a nice omelette and he totally rejected it. It's hard to keep your cool when your child is spitting lumps of egg, onion and mushroom at you. I could not work out what the problem was, he'd eaten omelette before without complaint but this time - no. I will not go down the force-feeding route so I let him sit by himself in his chair for a few minutes and tried again to no avail. I took a break to stack the dishwasher and tidy up and came back again for one last try. He ate a little bread, but no omelette. There's only one way I think he'll learn so I put him down for his nap without offering him anything else and without his fromage frais.
He seemed to settle, it went quiet anyway. Ten minutes later he was crying quite loudly. Sometimes I give him a few minutes when he cries as often he just needs to wind down a little, but for some reason this time I felt I should go up.
What a good thing I did. I had put him down without his sleeping bag as it was warm and I had not put his trousers back on after his nappy change for the same reason.
He was stood there in his little t-shirt, pointing at something on the floor. I did not look at the floor first as I was more startled by he himself. Why was he totally naked from the waist?
The thing on the floor was his nappy. I guess he hadn't been asleep, just curious about the sticky fasteny things around his middle. He must have wondered what happened if he pulled them and no doubt he rather liked the noise they made. He must have pulled on them to see what would happen and then he had a soft thing to play with, even if it did smell a bit odd. He must have got carried away and thrown it around, only crying when he dropped it.
I had arrived just in time, there were no wet patches on the mattress. The nappy was restored, I put him in his sleeping bag for the sake of safety and re-settled him. He went to sleep quite quickly after that.
In the afternoon we played in the garden again and Joseph got his hands nice and dirty by playing in the soil and got big grass stains on both knees by tripping over and then shuffling on his knees to my garden chair to pull himself up. When we came back in I had to clean his feet as there was mud between his toes. Whilst he was having fun I took out all my frustrations from the week on the weeds. Nothing like thwarting the bindweed to make you feel a little better.
Soon, Andy will be home and it will be bath time. That's his job and I get to sit down with a well deserved cup of tea.

Saturday, 26 May 2012


It's been a day and half today, it really has, and it's not over yet.
The plan today was simple, or at least it was at the beginning of the week. We'd do a little garden tidying, remove the cat mess from the lawn, do a little grocery shopping and settle down for a nice barbecue in the cooler evening. I mentioned in an earlier blog that we were planning this and I've got a nice pack of burgers waiting in the fridge now.
I did the groceries, no problem, and the garden cleaning was quickly done, even the lawn was mowed. It was after this that the plan changed a little. Andy had noticed that his car was starting to sound a little off, the gear changes were not as smooth as they used to be and he wondered if a bearing had gone.
We knew we had two choices. Pay a lot of money to keep the old thing on the road, or seriously consider junking the thing and finding something better. I had misgivings, we are, after all, trying to save up to move house. We're going to need all our spare cash for all the hidden costs of house moving and there might be unexpected DIY at the other end. On the other hand, putting a new gear box in and mucking about with the clutch was not going to be cheap and we'd probably end up spending more than the car was worth.
With that in mind, and having been reminded that we'd sort of agreed that the next big bill the car presented with was going to be the time to change, I reluctantly agreed to at least go and have a shufti at what was out there with the local dealers. Andy had got a few ideas from the internet and was liking the idea of a Ford Focus.
I tagged along, after all, what was the worst that could happen?

Well wouldn't you know, at the first dealership they had the ideal car. It was a Ford C-Max and not a Focus which to me seemed a better car what with it being cheaper than the Focuses on offer and having a much much bigger boot. We like to go camping, a big boot is a must. Andy took a few moments to warm up to it, he thought it looked like a Dad Car. I pointed out that he was a Dad now so what was wrong?
We took the details and left. We looked round several more local dealers and drew up big fat goose eggs every time. Everything else seemed to be more expensive, in worse condition or just plain wrong. There was a reasonable Citroen Xara Picasso, but it was over budget.
There's only one thing to do at a point like this and that's to go to a coffee shop and have a good old mull over the facts. We went to our favourite garden centre (Henry Street, the coffee shop is excellent and I recommend the scampi) to have a drink and some cake.
Joseph had a plate of chips. He's had two lots of chips in two days which is a bit negligent of me, but I think he'll be fine. He liked the chips and seemed entirely unfased by the whole business of cars and the like.

We mulled and then decided to call the first dealership for a test drive the lovely C-Max. After all, if it was a pig to drive then it settled the question.
It wasn't a pig, it was actually quite nice. The air conditioning worked a treat and the car seat went in all right. Joseph threw a small spanner in the works by pulling the information board off the side window, but I managed to rescue it before it got dribble damaged.
So, the final question. Do we go for it? I was slowly leaning towards a yes as I'd noticed that every time Andy changed gear in his current car it sounded like a little person was shouting "Ouch!" in a high voice. On one junction we struggled to pull away and it was very juddery.
We went for it. After all it did have a full service history and a recent MOT with no advisories on it at all. When we bought the last car, I had asked Andy if it was normal to have regular puffs of white smoke coming out the back as it went along and it turned out to have a broken head gasket. Perhaps we should have given up with it then and demanded our money back, but instead we simply insisted that they fix it for free.
So, I was wary, but we did it. We put down a deposit and became the proud owners of a Dad car.

It is now I should admit that I am typing this on my Dads computer and Joseph is asleep upstairs in my Mums spare room. Why am I here at my parents house and not at home helping with the last of the garden tidying and getting a few bits ready for the barbecue?
Because just as we signed for the car, the leader of the four guardian angels that live under the wheel arches said: -
"That's it lads, he's bought a different one. Let's go and have a look at our new home!" and off they went. The one that was holding the clutch together dropped what he was doing and went to have a look.
We got in the car, our old car, to go home. Andy started the car but could not get first gear. We'd driven in all right, reverse parked the thing all right and here we were unable to leave. We spoke to the man in the dealership: - "That small part exchange offer we agreed, does it still apply if the thing is actually dead?"
Yes, it did. To be frank, he'd not offered us much but it was more that it was worth. He said that all he'd been going to do was pass it on for scrap anyway.
He had a go at starting it again but the engine sounded like it was screaming out in pain. Something very nasty had gone wrong in there. 

I got out, packed Joseph into his buggy and walked for about ten minutes in the hot sun to my parents house, who aren't even in today. I spent the whole time wishing I'd remembered to put my sun cream on. Joseph had a nappy change and then pretty much went straight to sleep so I'm sat here typing. Andy walked home, a significantly longer distance and is having a brief rest before continuing with the original plan of the day by tidying the garden. I'll ring him when the baby wakes up. Hopefully this week we will cope with one car, but at least the thing had the decency to break down at the dealership and not the garden centre which was a lot more than walking distance from home. It was a little miracle and I'll settle for that for now.

Friday, 25 May 2012


I like a little boy who likes his food.
This week, he's been eating well. On Wednesday he had a nice nourishing lunch of home made risotto followed by fromage frais and a little bit of home made cake. As he was finishing the latter (open mouth wide, cake on palm of hand, slap it in there) I popped upstairs to do a few important things like tidy up and change the sheet on his cot which was getting a few dribble stains on it.
I arrived back downstairs to find a very sated little boy, belly pushed out and generally leaning back in the chair like one very exhausted. He even seemed to be breathing quite heavily and I was really rather temped to offer him a "waffer theen mint", but decided not to as I didn't want to risk an explosive side effect.
Today we had a garden centre lunch and Joseph had "chicken boulders and chips" which to you and I would be nuggets, but I guess to a small child they must look more like boulders. He began by picking up the peas one at a time in his usual fashion and when the food had cooled to a more palatable temperature for him he began to make good progress with the chips. For the boulders he needed a little help as he just couldn't seem to get the idea of picking them up and biting off a small piece. They wouldn't go in whole and it upset him. Still, he ate nearly all of it in the end which impressed me as he's often not so keen on chicken breast meat.
It would seem that little old ladies like a boy who likes his food too. My son is already turning into something of a flirt, he's got sweethearts of all ages. The old ladies love him and we were interrupted in our meal twice by comments about how good he was and how handsome he was. I know how handsome my son is and I'm very proud but here's the odd thing: - when the old ladies comment they hardly ever talk to me! More often than not they just address Joseph as if I'm not even there (ooh, you are a good boy aren't you, yes you are!) and I'm left sitting there with a piece of chicken boulder on a fork wondering whether I'm meant to join in the conversation or not.
Towards the end of the meal Joseph started throwing peas at one table of old ladies, but they didn't seem to notice. It's certainly not my idea of a chat up line.
In the end, he had to concede defeat. I had chosen a rather nice piece of cake for us to share, but it was a classic example of eyes being bigger than the head. We had to keep the cake hidden as it distracted him from his peas, throwing, eating or otherwise. I cut the cake into small pieces with the idea that for every small piece he ate, I'd have a bit. This was to stop me eating my share too quickly.
Like every small child, the cake on the plate is always more interesting that the bit you're squashing in your hand. The icing was eaten first, followed by the sponge, but by his third mouthful he was struggling, his mouth full of crumbs. It was spat out all in a lump, but that didn't stop him demanding more. In the end I realised that it was the icing he wanted as with the last piece he sucked the icing off the top and dropped the rest. It was more cake for me, then. This left him with nothing more to do than to pick a few discarded peas out of his bib and see just how far he could throw them.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


It would seem that, for the moment, we have a little bit of summer and we all know what that means.
Sun, sweatiness, sunburn and heat rash.
Well, that's what I usually end up with if I don't slap the factor 50+ on with a trowel. I end up looking like an Elizabethan all painted up with white lead, but it's better than lobster skin and the risk of melanoma.
Joseph doesn't seem to mind the general warmth at the moment. He's in an old pair of trousers that still fit well round the waist but are much too short in the leg. In the winter this lead to cold ankles but now he just looks like he's in three quarter length trousers. If I don't mention it then people will think that's what they're supposed to be.
It's also the season of barbecues which is always fun, but keeping Joseph away from the hot stuff is going to be tricky. I'd like to point out that when I do a barbecue there's no botulism burgers or salmonella sausages. It is possible to cook on them without carbon on the outside and blood still in the middle, as long as you actually know how to cope in a kitchen. My advice? If you don't regularly cook on the hob, then don't think you can suddenly produce wonders over the coals, one of the hardest methods of cooking good food. Still, when it comes to grilling, my favourite thing to do is to stuff a sardine with garlic butter, wrap it in tinfoil and put it on. Yummy!
Joseph doesn't like fish that much. He'll cope with the highly processed fingers with their crispy crumb coating (but not too crispy) and that's about all. I gave him a mouthful of mackerel once and he gave me a look that would freeze the sun, followed by a grimace and then followed by the fish.
He doesn't like sausages much either, which is going to put a bit of a crimp in the grilling season. Nothing like some chunky cumberlands sizzling away.... ahhh.
I tried to give him salad once but I think he only ate it by mistake. It was a nice cous-cous salad with some spiciness to make it interesting. He liked the spice and the cous-cous and the bacon and ate some lettuce because it had some of the former attached to it, but the second bite was very much refused. 
No, I fear he will always be holding out for the desert. It is a funny thing how he will behave like he is full up with main course, only to suddenly find some room for a bit of cake or a biscuit.

So, for this years barbecue season Joseph will be eating: -
Half a bun and some ice cream.

Monday, 21 May 2012


I can say, with some degree of certainty that Josephs first word where I am pretty sure he knew what it meant as he was pointing to one at the time is: -


He was pointing to the front door when he said it. I smiled and said "Yes!" and clapped him. He then ran to my kitchen door and said "Door!" quite clearly and I again responded positively with clapping.
It was spoiled when he ran to the fish tank and said "door" which made me wonder, but he wasn't done yet. I told him calmly that it wasn't a door, it was a fish tank. He then ran to the front door again and repeated the process, with me giving encouragement. He returned to the fish tank, looked at it and said quite firmly "Ni do" which, if I understand baby-ese correctly, probably means "not a door".
This brings his total of understandable syllables up by one as we now have "Mummy" meaning sometimes me or sometimes "I need a hug" or just that he's heard someone else say it and he likes the word. "Daddy" which sometimes means Andy but more often "What's that?" and "No" which just means that he's heard me say it a lot and he likes to repeat it.

As for words he can understand but not say, the list is increasing rapidly. He knows feet, socks, shoes, head (sometimes), nose, wheel, kitty and cat, his own name, and probably several others that escape me for the moment. My favourite at the moment is "bee", courtesy of Granny reading him a storybook about a garden quite regularly. Whenever the bee appears she demonstrates by saying "Buzzzz!" and waving her finger around. Now if you say the word "bee" to Joseph he quite happily makes a noise halfway between a buzz and a raspberry and wiggles his index finger about in the air. Ironically, when we saw a real bee in Grannys garden, he was scared of it and not inclined to demonstrate its behaviour.
I'd take him out in our garden to get a little closer to nature, but for some reason our stupid cat (note the lack of capitals, she no longer occupies a place of monarch in our house) has decided that she will no longer do her sinful business in the flowerbed or under next doors hedge, but in the middle of the lawn. Boy, does it make hanging the washing out a voyage of stinky difficulty when you don't always know where it's safe to tread and I can't let Joseph run about out there, I don't want him to get toxoplasmosis. She, by the way, still can't stand him, even though he's getting really good at giving her treats.
Better finish up now, he's posting wooden bricks out of the letterbox, whatever must the neighbours think?

Monday, 14 May 2012

The Next Age of Baby

When a child is born, there is little to their personality beyond hunger and uncomfortable feelings in the bowels. For the first weeks of their lives you are doing little more than simply keeping them alive.
As they start to grow, they start to come out of their shell, if you'll forgive the rather poor analogy. They recognise faces, they start to smile and then laugh. They begin to move around under their own efforts and start to understand that there's a whole world of experience out there that goes beyond milk and nappies.
There is an age of enlightenment. The dawning realisation that for every action there is a consequence, everything that they do will impact on someone somewhere in a good or bad way depending on what it is they have just done. This, if you ask me, is the start of a conscience in a small child.
Joseph's not quite that far along yet. The age of enlightenment for him I fear is still some way away, although we are getting closer. No, Joseph is still very much a selfish little being, all his emotions are directed towards making himself feel better. It matters not to him what the consequences are, I doubt he is at all aware that there will ever be any. All he cares about is that there's something interesting going on in the kitchen and he wants to know what. The interesting activity was in fact me getting things in and out of the oven, a rather hot environment which we all know would have devastating consequences if a small child put himself in the wrong place. By the way he was howling every time I turned him round and escorted him from the kitchen the terrible consequences might have already happened.
By the way, I can't just shut the door on him any more. He stands outside and screams for a bit and then remembers that he knows how to open the door anyway.
Today was another step on the pathway towards self understanding. He knows what he wants know and generally speaking, wont stop till he gets it. This was evident with the kitchen routine and at dinner time when every spoonful I gave him was rapidly spat out. It was cous-cous and I felt as if I was under siege from some sort of human cannon using grape shot.
He wanted the spoon. As soon as he had the spoon he was happy. I did give a little assistance getting the food on the spoon and directing it, but the food was now being eaten and not orally machine gunned across the room. I decided that two spoons were better than one and fed him myself which was fine as long as he had his own spoon. Very little of the dinner made it into his mouth under his own direction, but I think it was the principle of the thing that mattered. Hey ho, now I can only give him foods that are safe for him to try and self feed with a spoon, no more tomato or carrot based foods for you young man.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Bang Bang

I'm sure it's normal for all little boys.
My son seems to have something of an obsession with acting out the part of a Christmas song character, namely the Little Drummer Boy. Oh, if he would only stick to the drum.
He has a little drum with two beaters and he does rather like bashing it and has done it some damage. He also has a rather tuneless xylophone on which it is really only possible to play atonal chromatic style music. I feel as if I should put the word music in that sentence in inverted commas.
To start with he will sit and play on these instruments, but he sees no reason to stop there. Why just hit the drum when you can hit the floor, the sofa, a book, the Cat and Mummy's knee? Although Mummy doesn't go bang, she goes ouch.
The fish tank makes quite a good noise when hit, but this also results in the pictus catfish being disturbed from their algae festooned depths, rising quickly in panic and waving their long whiskers in shaking disapproval. There's also a chance he might break the glass and then I'd have to scrape green water, bits of plant, various species of tropical fish and gravel off the carpet. Andy would probably be a bit cross too, what with it being his fish tank.
My knees (and the rest of me, for that matter) and the fish tank are off limits. Still, given the reasoning power of a small child, just because he's been told off for hitting things with a beater doesn't necessarily mean he can't hit it with something else. Now, I don't mind being gently thumped with a small stuffed owl or even a large stuffed tiger for that matter. I really do object to being hit with a large wooden spoon, sneakily stolen from the dishwasher. Many things were tested with that spoon and there was even an experiment to see if it was edible, after all many nice things are found on the end of spoons. It wasn't edible, but the experiment was repeated a few times just to make sure.
Today it's more of a duplo day, which is nice. It's certainly quieter.

Friday, 4 May 2012

My Birthday

It was my birthday yesterday. I'm of an age now that when the day rolls around I'm a little bit less keen to advertise the fact and I have no ideas in my head at all about what I want for presents.
Joseph gave me a card and I suspect he had a little help in writing his name, but there was a drawing in it that was clearly all his own work, created when Andy turned his back and left Joseph with the pen for a moment. All right, it was more of a scribble, but it was still sweet.
I went out for a meal with my Mum. Yes, if there's one thing I'm sure to like it's going to a place that does good steak. I like mine rare, the way the French do it. I can't see the point of cooking it to the point there's no juice in it.
Joseph had cheesy omelette, French fries and peas and sweetcorn. To be honest I was expecting him to struggle, but he liked the omelette, he liked it a lot. He liked the chips too, but that's hardly a surprise. If he was presented with chips and he didn't want them then I'd start to wonder if he was feeling a little unwell. He did his usual thing with the peas and ate most of them one at a time. In the end I helped by shovelling them in on a spoon which speeds things up but means he chews them less. I guess I'll be seeing them again soon!
We had chocolate cake for pudding which was very gooey in the middle and Joseph had chocolate ice cream which he absolutely loved. It dribbled down his chin and gave him a chocolatey goatee beard and when I fed him some of the white chocolate ice cream some of that dribbled, making the beard look a bit more greying and middle aged.
After that I had to make use of the facilities for babies as Joseph had produced something rather explosive and smelly for me to deal with.
We went shopping and I bought a t-shirt for Joseph that read "I'm cute, my Mummy is cute and my Daddy is lucky". I would like to point out that I had seen this t-shirt before and when I had told Andy about it he had seemed sad that I had not got it.
In the evening Andy set to and would have created me a feast had I not still been full from lunch. He ate chilli-con-carne and I had a taste. Then, he made my birthday cake!
It was a chocolate layer sponge. I know, it's a lot of chocolate in one day but it was my birthday and I like chocolate cake. It had thick buttercream icing with lots of chocolate melted into it. Absolutely yummy. Alas for Joseph, he'd gone to bed by the time the icing was done and he didn't get any. Still, I think he'd had enough at lunch.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012


Oh joy, he has a cold again. We've had intermittent sleep thanks to him waking up quite a lot to have a little whinge. All he ever wanted was his dummy back or a quick stroke on the cheek, but disrupted sleep still leaves you with the feeling like you've been turned inside out and scrubbed with sandpaper. Andy made a comment on his way out that I think I'm going to get printed on a T-shirt - "He's a somnocidal maniac."
So, I now have the prospect of days on end of snottiness and desperately hoping I don't catch it. It's my birthday this week and I have booked the day off work and everything. It would really spoil it if I had to spend the day feeling ill. As for where he's caught it from, I have no idea. He's not gone anywhere I haven't and he's not met anyone I haven't, unless one of the children in the Sunday creche were secretly snotty. On the other hand I did spend yesterday feeling like my nose was itchy and sneezy, so maybe I have had it, but very lightly. Please!
Poor little chap, his canine teeth are on the move so he's already a bit uncomfortable and the dribble is back. The points of the top two are through, but they're moving very slowly and you can see two massive triangles in his gums where the bottom two are on the move. Give it a few weeks and my son will have a full toothsome smile!
The trouble is, we've got teething dribble, snot and extra dribbling because his nose is blocked. Should I perhaps just dress him in plastic for the whole day to help prevent the rash on his chin coming back or should I just sit back and accept the oncoming storm of liquid and clean it up later?
Despite being under the weather he's still climbing all over things. He seems to have got himself to the point of no return at the moment, so I'll sign off for now.