Tuesday, February 28, 2006

First time at nursery

Oliver has been to his nursery for the first time.

He went for one hour last Friday and Hayley stayed there with him. That was not too bad, though the reality of leaving him with other people every day did start to hit home wih her.

Yesterday he went again and spent an hour there with Hayley watching through a window. Oliver was fne: it was Hayley that was upset, getting a bit tearful while she kept an eye on him.

Today he went again, this time for 3 hours and Hayley came home after dropping him off. I was at home, ill, and as soon as she walked through the door she put her amrs round me and had a little cry. The pain of realising that she will have to leave him like that every day after being his full-time Mummy for all this time really hit her hard.

We spent the free time while he was at nursery finally getting round to writing Thank You cards for Oliver's christening gifts (not that we managed to post them yet!). Then Hayley went to pick him up. As soon as she walked into the room she saw him sitting by himself in a chair just staring around him. The moment he spotted her his face broke into a huge smile and he got really excited. When they got home he got a big fuss from me too.

On the down side Hayley noticed when she collected him that his bib was soaked with dribble and was the same one he had been wearing when she'd left him 3 hours earlier. This concerned us as she had specifically left fresh bibs and asked that they change them because he has a chesty cough at the moment.

Worse still, she noticed a red mark on his head when he came home as if he had banged it. He was then out of sorts for the rest of the afternoon, not his usual cheery self when she took him out with her friend Jo and baby Niamh.

Not a very confidence inspiring start to his life at nursery. But it's early days. Hopefully we'll see more positive signs in his future trips, but to be honest we have already started to discuss alternatives such as child carers or a different nursery.

Then of course there is the option of Hayley giving up work completely to look after him. But this is not an easy decision. We very much want to move to a larger house, very preferably in an area with a good school. The loss of income would make this scenario a pipe dream, or at least mean that we wouldn't have money spare to do things with him such as "Tumble Tots" and "Rhythm and Rhyme" that he attends now.

It's something we have been wrestling with in our minds since before he was born and I can't see that changing. There is always a compromise to be made, simply because money and time are not in endless supply. Having a stay-at-home Mum would be great, but how can we fund it?

Looks like I won't be throwing away my lottery numbers just yet then.

Monday, February 27, 2006

BBC NEWS | Business | UK gender pay gap 'worst in EU'

BBC NEWS | Business | UK gender pay gap 'worst in EU'

This report focusses primarily on "low pay" jobs, but also alludes to the fact that women in well paid jobs are often forced into lower paid jobs or out of work altogether because they become pregnant. It's not hard for me to imagine the situation where a woman goes back to work but is refused part-time working and is effectively "constructively dismissed".

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The eyes have it!

I love this shot of Hayley and Oliver. People say Oliver has my eyes but I think they are far too striking for it to be true!

It's an odd but wonderful feeling to look into their two pairs of eyes and feel so much love.

Chatter chatter chatter!

Oliver has started to really chatter away the last few days. He babbles away making "da da da da" noises often during the day and even the night now. These are not him saying "Dada", just learning the noises he can make. He is literally finding his voice. For a couple of days he made repetitive "hmm, hmm, hmm..." sounds. He has also been making some of the most odd screeching sounds. He has one that sounds like a poor actor hamming up a death scene.

But my favourite is his loud "da da da da da...." babbling. He did it while I was playing my guitar to him last night and it sounded so musical I turned it into a tune and sang it back to him in his own style. He was somewhat transfixed by this and looked at me surprised as if to say "that's MY song Daddy"!

Best of all, when we told him how lovely he was chatting away, we discovered that saying "chatter chatter chatter" to him makes him laugh out loud.

Anti Clockwise

Some odd things are happening to Oliver's day. He has brought his bedtime forward to around 8pm (from 9pm) and consequently has been getting up around 7am (instead of his previous 8am). He did this himself. He just started getting tired earlier.

For several weeks he has been stirring around 5.30am. Usually we give him Julien and he goes straight back to sleep, but the last two mornings have been different. He has been waking, then babbling and chatting away to himself. Yesterday I went in and found Julien within his reach but he was awake and took a minute or two to settle when I placed Julien into his arms. This morning he woke at the same time but we didn't have to go in. We just listened as he babbled away and rolled in his cot, playing with a crinkly sounding book on the cot bars. After about 10 minutes and a couple of attempts he got himself to sleep for another hour. Although I'd prefer him to just sleep through, the fact he doesn't cry every time he wakes and finds ways to go back to sleep seems encouraging to me.

What is less encouraging is that he has started to poo in the night sometimes. I guess it is due to the new foods he is trying. That may also be why he is waking up. Hayley even managed to change him in his cot in the near dark the other night. Much too daring for me!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Sickness and diarrhea abound!

For the last few days our house has been hit by sickness and diarrhea. The most likely cause seems to be Winter Vomiting Disease. We aren't entirely sure of the source but it has also affected a few other families we know, so it seems to be doing the rounds.

I succumbed to it first and soon had a raging temperature. At first I thought it was a bad reaction to United getting beaten by Liverpool in the FA Cup for the first time in 82 years, but unfortunately for me it was much more serious than that. Within a few hours I took to my bed with nausea and a raging temperature and stayed there without food for over 24 hours (except for the urgent dashes to the bathroom!).

While I was in self-imposed quarantine Hayley was downstairs looking after Oliver. Suddenly she started to feel sick. Then even more suddenly she threw up! She managed not to throw up on him.... just!

Although we continued to suffer for about 48 hours (and might even now be contagious), thankfully Oliver did not show any symptoms apart from being off his food and some diarrhea.

[Warning: descriptions of poo follow!]
Talking of diarrhea, tonight he took us by surprise when he poo'd projectile diarrhea up the side of the wardrobe and all over his clothes while Hayley was changing him at bedtime. He was completely happy and oblivious to the devastation he was causing through out the whole episode. All we could really do was clean it up and laugh!

BBC NEWS | UK | Births out of wedlock 'pass 40%'

BBC NEWS | UK | Births out of wedlock 'pass 40%'

Statistics published today show that an increasing number of children are born to unmarried parents. Some news programmes have highlighted the fact that if this trend continues children born to married parents will be in the minority by 2012.

As Hayley and I are unmarried ourselves, I can easily see possible causes for this trend. There is already little social pressure to marry and from my own point of view, some of the most stable, longstanding and happy families I know are unmarried.

I'm sure finances also play a major part for many. A wedding is a nice thing to have but in a world of large financial pressures the choice between spending money on a nice home in an area with good schools versus spending it on one day that passes by in a flash is probably a "no brainer". It's not a matter of being anti-marriage, more that it doesn't take top priority.

Oddly there seems to be a muddling of what these statistics indicate, as several organisations have held phone-in's that treat the issue of children born to unmarried parents and the issue of children living with a single parent as one and the same. Of course you get predictable responses from some about irresponsible single parents. Personally my perspective on single parents has been somewhat altered by the insight that having a child of my own has brought. I am, frankly, in awe of any single mother that manages to raise her baby without a partner there beside her to help.

The anecdotal evidence from the media today seems to bear out the statistics: there simply isn't any stigma associated with being unmarried parents these days with all but a few of the oldest generation.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Russia's unwanted HIV-positive orphans

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Abuses over HIV 'rife' in Russia
(This isn't actually exactly the right link as, bizarrely, the BBC who just ran this as a feature on their 10 o'clock news don't have anything about it on their website.)

We just saw this on the BBC TV news. Many Russian babies are abandoned because they are HIV-positive. Tragically they end up living in hospitals, unwanted and isolated.

BBC NEWS | UK | Farmers told to plan for bird flu

BBC NEWS | UK | Farmers told to plan for bird flu

This story has been brewing in the background for months. A few months ago we were told that the disease would reach the UK but only next winter. Now it looks certain to arrive this year. If it mutates into a form that can be passed from human to human then an epidemic is likely: a very scary thought when you have a youg child.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

First time at the swings

Hayley took Oliver to the park for the first time and played with him on the swings. He seemed to enjoy it!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I TCP/IP....

We bought this little vest long before Oliver was born. When we bought this our baby was just a bump and not knowing whether Hayley was having a boy or a girl we only had vague imaginings of the day it would be worn. Although plenty of people have cringed at us dressing him in this, it's still so nice to see him in it, a very real little boy with his own personality.

That's something I never appreciated before having Oliver: the fact that a child of only a few months old can really have a personality. He definitely likes to have his own way about certain things - holding his own spoon, holding his bottle, sitting how HE likes to sit - and he finds the oddest things funny.

At the moment he loves me to carry him up to his room where he can look at the "fish" mobile my Dad got him. This is fish shapes (complete with faces, of sorts)
made from foam. He also has a set of large windchines in his room and he likes to ring the bells. He is also just a perfect size to carry around sitting upright on my right arm to play all these games. All too soon he will no doubt start to get too big to be carried around for long periods like that. So I'm treasuring the chance now.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Campaigners welcome smoking ban

BBC NEWS | Politics | Campaigners welcome smoking ban

Last night MPs voted to ban smoking in public places. I have to say there is an air verging on celebration in our house this morning at this historic change in British culture. Hayley is particularly delighted that the ban is total and does not allow smoking in private/social clubs where children would still be exposed.

It means that from summer 2007 we will be able to take Oliver into cafes and family pubs (and at least one private club we occasionally visit) without fear of ill-designed layouts that mean he is in a smoky atmosphere and leaves smelling of smoke.

It also means we may be more inclined to go out to pubs and clubs again ourselves. I got sick of coming home stinking of smoke and of sitting next to people whose smoke drifted into my face all evening.

Of course, I am assuming that the ban can be enforced. It has been made to work in Ireland for the last couple of years so I hope the same will be true here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Nocturnal chuckles

At 5.30am this morning Hayley and I were to be found at the end of Oliver's bed, laughing!

He occasionally wakes up in the night and wants his favourite soother, a knitted teddy called Julien. This morning, as usual, I gave him Julien. He usually grabs him, wrestles him, possibly bites him and then falls asleep with him on his face.

This morning he did the same but as he wrestled him he wriggled and rolled around to lie diagonally across his cot. By the time he fell asleep he had rolled onto his left side with his legs up in the air against the side-bars of the cot, still holding Julien to his face.

He looked so funny that I called Hayley in to look. We both stood there trying not to laugh in the dark. I'm only sorry we didn't dare take a picture of him to post here.

Monday, February 13, 2006

B and Q: it's hilarious!

Hayley took Oliver to B&Q today as we are refitting our bathroom. He seemed to enjoy it as he laughed uproariously as Hayley chatted to him in the queue for the checkout. "Isn't Mummy hopeless with DIY" she told him. "This is the second time we've had to come back today because I bought the wrong thing isn't it!" At one point an elderley couple even diverted from their DIY musings to come and see the source of all this laughter.

He has been a happy chappy all weekend really. It's been very easy to make him laugh. He certainly seems to be enjoying life. He has started to eat three small meals per day as well as his milk. On Saturday he enjoyed the dubious sounding combination of courgette and banana. Today it was pure banana and he couldn't get it down fast enough! Long may it continue.

But maybe he was laughing because he knew that Mummy would need to change him as soon they left B&Q, in the front seat of the car in the B&Q car park (see picture above).

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Oliver's Christening

Oliver was Christened today at St John the Baptist Church in Heaton Mersey. He was a very happy chappy throughout the service and behaved impeccably, though perhaps the moment when he kicked the vicar in the face wasn't exemplary behaviour.

The whole day flew by in a blur. We arrived at the church around 10am. Dave and Susan (Godparents) were already there and my Mum drove up as we entered the church. By 10.15 we were fairly inundated with arriving guests.

We took our usual place in the back row which is wider and has room for buggies. It was also well positioned as the font is at the back of the church.

Oliver had a little nap but was awake when we were called to stand by the font. I carried him up and he sat upright on my right forearm looking alternately at me and then the surrounding scene with an interested expression. He was so cute and happy. I felt very proud to be his Dad.

Gavin (the curate at St John's) was leading the service. When I gave Oliver to him I was aware that he was nervous about his shoulder injury from rugby. He took him from me and turned to me to ask "what names are we using?" As he did this Oliver (who loves a good kick of his legs at any time) swung a firm left boot up under Gavin's chin. This was so noticeable as to make half the congregation laugh out loud.

He then lowered Oliver towards the water and splashed three large handfuls of water onto his head. Oliver didn't object in the slightest and was still all smiles.

Although Gavin was leading the service, there were also a few words from Marcus (the vicar) too. When the time came for the lighting of a candle Marcus had to nudge the woman who was meant to light it as she seemed to have nodded off on her feet!

As this part of the service went on Oliver started to get a touch bored of watching the proceedings and decided to eat my shoulder instead.

After the service there was much confusion as people attempted to make convoys from the church to the reception at The Blue Cat cafe in Heaton Moor. Dave and Susan (Oliver's Godparents) who lived in Manchester for many years managed to get lost twice while trying to lead my family to the venue. They gave them an unexpected (unguided) tour of Heaton Mersey and Heaton Moor.

At The Blue Cat we had to re-arrange the food slightly and put out the cake as our caterer had been more interested in getting to her concert rehearsals in the Bridgewater Hall than in doing a professional job for us. Once that was done we were free to mingle... or so I thought! Neither of us seemed to get any decent amount of time to talk to anyone.

I said a few words to thank everyone for coming and we presented the Godparents with some cermaic plates that hand been hand decorated by Hayley and Oliver (with his big footprint featuring heavily). Then I thanked Hayley and she got a round of applause for all her efforts arranging the days events. I didn't notice at the time but she did a little courtsey. (What a cutie.)

And that was the cue to tuck into the food! To be fair to our caterer the food itself was good. It was a shame that we forgot to tell the veggies there that the "chicken" sandwiches were actually Quorn chicken. In fact almost everything was vegetarian. (Just the chicken drumsticks and tuna sandwiches were "no go" areas.)

Many months ago when Hayley was 9 months pregnant we went to Longnor in Derbyshire. While there we met Chris Stevenson, a professional magician. At the time we said how fun it would be to have him perform at the Christening. Although I thought we had decided against this, in fact Hayley booked him secretly as a special surprise for me. He worked the tables for 2 hours and thoroughly impressed everyone with his close magic. One person said to me "I don't know how much you paid that guy but it wasn't enough". Being one of the best in his field (third in the British close magic chapmionship) he wasn't what I'd call cheap but he was certainly woth every penny. He also entertained the kids with tricks balloons.

I also managed to get a picture of what I cheekily call Oliver's harem! You see, out of our ante-natal group he is the only boy! So he is forever surrounded by women. Lucky fella'!

Before we knew it, the afternoon was moving on and people started to leave. It flew by so fast! We packed up some of the leftover food and headed home. Oliver's first social engagement was over.

He has set himself a high standard for future events. One 3-year-old guest summed it all up nicely when she left, telling her Dad simply "that was fun!".

There are some pictures from the day here.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

All aboard the Sleep Deprivation Roller-Coaster

Thursday night: Oliver goes to bed without complaint and sleeps right through the night without more than a wimper in his sleep. Result? Rested parents, happy day!

Friday night: Oliver goes to bed without complaint but wakes after 1.5 hours, 2.5 hours, 5 hours and 6 hours and has to be picked up or at least visitied and re-assured every time. Result? Paracetamol required for my banging head and generally fuzzy feeling to the day.

My point (apart from feeling sorry for myself as usual)? It's amazing how much his sleep pattern still varies.

Hayley is at the hairdressers for a few hours this morning. I've played with Oliver since she left but by now nothing I do seems to please him. So I have now taken refuge in the parents friend: CBeebies! He is quite happy watching it. By the time he is bored he'll want his bottle. So I'd better get off and make use of the time to clean up and prepare for tomorrow.

If I get the kitchen clean I may give myself a paw point. (It's a CBeebies thing!)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Ready for action

Following last night's defeat for Man Utd 4-3 at Blackburn, we're wondering whether Oliver might do better than Rio Ferdinand at centre-half.

He's certainly a good dribbler anyway.

Looking forward to the Christening

Pretty much everything is set for the Christening now and we're really looking forward to it. As a surprise for me, Hayley has booked the magician we met last summer in Longnor.

Everybody seems to be sorted for transport and accomodation now and hopefully there won't be too many last minute withdrawals due to poorly infants. Though to be honest, I'm starting to picture a rather crowded Blue Cat cafe if all 52 adults, 11 children and 7 babies turn up, despite the owner assuring us that it could cope with eighty people.

A crying shame

Last night Oliver went to bed beautifully. He played with Julien as he lay in his cot and made little happy noises. After about 5 minutes he went to sleep.

However, he woke around three hours later at midnight, crying. He eventually had to be picked up and it took us til about 12.40am before we could go back to bed.

It's such a shame that as one problem starts to get fixed another one appears. (Back to Rubik's damned cube!) If only he would sleep through the night. He was doing so for the last few nights, despite having a cold (though a 5ml dose of Medised must have helped!). The improvement in our general health and well-being due to the uninterrupted sleep was noticable to say the last. But now we seem to be facing another stint of being woken by cries.

Once he gets to 6 months I'm sure we will not find it too hard to try "controlled crying" techniques. But right now I still feel that I don't want to leave him feeling insecure and frightened and so possibly create longer term problems (sleep or otherwise).