Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Sauce for the gander (and possibly the gosling)

While out shopping at Keswick market this weekend I found a tomato ketchup that is much healthier than most: less sugar in other words. As Hayley likes a good dollop of ketchup I'm glad to have found it. It's produced locally but is available over the web.

It's rather spicy, but maybe in time Oliver could be enticed into partaking too.

Houses, houses everywhere

I have spent all day looking over our finances to try to work out exactly how much we can afford to spend on a new house. It's a headache because half the answer lies in however much we get for our current house. I think I may be seeing Excel spreadsheets in my sleep tonight.

We have our eyes on a place but it is right at the edge of what we can afford, in fact we really need them to accept a lower offer. Ho hum. What will be, will be! You have to be rather fatalistic when it comes to these things. There is so much that go wrong along the way.

We've been to see a place today and taken a drive round too. I think we are becoming pretty sure of where we want to be, partially drivcen by the school catchment areas of course! Primary schools that is. We have resisted the temptation to consider secondary schools... so far.

Monday, May 22, 2006

We're on the market!

After several months of tidying up our house it has finally gone up for sale. Interested parties can see details of the house here. (Search between £134000 and £135000 and you'll find us!)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Backside 1080's (and other nocturnal habits)

Every night before we go to bed we sneak into Oliver's room and take a peek at him (usually stealing a sneaky peck on his cheek). Often he will be lying on his side, holding Julien, with his feet up against the vertical bars on the side of his cot. It doesn't look all that comfortable but he seems to like it.

In the night we can sometimes hear him wriggling around to get comfortable. Sometimes after hearing him turning in the night, one of us will go in to find him starting to turn across his cot, so we straighten him up. Consequently it's no real surprise when we go into his room some mornings to find his head at the foot of the bed having turned right through 180 degrees.

But last night I made a discovery. I went in to see him at around 4am. He was asleep but already lying with his head to the foot of the bed. He was comfortable so I left him that way. Three hours later, when I went to get him up, his head was back at the head of the bed! If I hadn't been in to see him in the night I'd have assumed he had stayed that way all night.

This set me to wondering exactly how many rotations he completes in his nocturnal wrestling with Julien. It give a whole new meaning to the term "backside 1080". Maybe it's an omen that I should start saving for his first snowboard right now.

Sharing a joke

For the first time Oliver has laughed at something that also made me laugh. Unfortunately it was his Mummy!

She was feeding him yesterday and gave him the spoon for a moment. He then tried to throw it onto the floor. Hayley instinctively leapt to catch it and ended up juggling it in a slap-stick fashion before it finally dropped to the floor. This made Oliver roar with laughter. It made me laugh too. Of course, as soon as he got the spoon back he repeated the joke. Hayley then dutifully obliged him by juggling the spoon each time in an increasingly comic fashion.

In the past he has laughed for reasons that are beyond us or at things that only a baby would laugh at (such as his Mummy's hair in his face). But yesterday's fun was a reminder that he really is a little person with his own sense of humour, not that different to our own.

He has been an absolute joy this weekend. Of course he still has a few grizzly moments, but his overall mood is generally very happy.

I remember a few months ago writing about how awful bedtimes were. I read with envy, in one of the books we bought on sleep, how wonderful it was when your baby goes to bed gurgling happily and wakes up in an equally good mood. It seemed a distant land we might never reach. But now he wakes up in the morning and chats cheerfully away to Julien. Hayley and I lie in bed listetning to him for a few minutes on the monitor with smiles on our faces. And the dread of bedtimes has also gone as he generally goes to sleep hugging Julien and talking himself to sleep. Bliss!

While out mountain biking in the pouring rain for 3 hours yesterday I contemplated how it was the bad times that sometimes make the good times feel so good. It's a theory that works for raising babies too!

New improved Peekaboo!

Oliver has found a way to play Peekaboo without needing anything to hide behind. He simply covers his eyes with his hands and then removes them and waits for the customary repornse. I guess he thinks that if he can't see us then we can't see him.

I'm sure he won't appreciate being compared to a cat, but I did have a cat once that tried to hide in the vet's surgery by sticking her head and front legs into a box where she remained for several minutes, convinced she was completely hidden from the world.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


The little man's sleeping habits seem to be improving. He still wakes from time to time but it's been a while since he woke and cried every 45 minutes through the night.

He still occasionally wakes and needs us to go in before he'll stop crying. Sometimes he hasn't even opened his eyes. We've been wondering whether he's just having nightmares sometimes. A reassuring caress on his head usually sends him back to sleep.

He's not the only one who's been having nightmares. After bathing Oliver in the bath by himself for the first time (rather than getting in with him as I'd done previously) I dreamt that he drowned in the bath after I turned my back for a second (as if I would!). Then a few nights ago I dreamt that we had a second child but that it was barely recognisable as being human.

I suppose it just shows a level of insecurity or worry within me. I've been surprised at just what a terrible worrier I can be over Oliver. Oh well. Seems I'm no different to 99% of parents in the world after all.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Fun and Games

Taking off glasses
Anyone who picks up Oliver while wearing glasses soon finds out that he likes nothing better at the moment than to grab them, remove them from the wearer and then bite them. I tease him by dodging left and right when he reaches to grab them. He chuckles at this. Then I put may face down and he grabs my head and pulls it up until he can get a hand on the offending spectacles. As a result I have taken to wearing my contact lenses more often but I often put an old pair of sunglasses on just so he can have his fun.

Throwing the ball
Last night Oliver and I sat throwing a small ball to each other for several minutes. If he didn't manage to throw it to me he would pick it up again and try again until it got to me. Then he'd sit and wait for me to throw it back. It struck me what a classic father and son game this was. I was surprised to find myself playing it with him at such a young age. But throughout his life I have often under-estimated just how interactive he will be at any given age.

Ringing the chimes
At Christmas we bought a set of windchimes that now hang in Oliver's room. He grabs the wooden block and swings it to ring the chimes. Then he grabs the chimes themselves and rings them that way too. But what makes me laugh the most are his antics with the mirror next to the chimes. After ringing them for a while he leans over sideways in my arms so that he can see me in the mirror. Then he sits up and returns to the chimes. Then after a few seconds he notices he can't see me in the mirror any more and leans over again until he can see me, smiles, then sits up again. He repeats this as many times as possible until eventually Daddy decides his arm is too tired to carry on. (I wonder if part of our evolution has made babies start to walk just about the time they get too damned heavy to keep carrying around!)

Tumble tot
He loves it when I tumble him head-over-heels from on top of my head. He arrives on my lap with a big smile on his face. Another favourite is when I throw him up in the air and catch him. But what makes him laugh the most is when I dangle him upside down over my shoulder. When I pop him back up he roars with laughter.

Pick it up Daddy
He is very keen on throwing things on the floor at the moment, then deciding he wants them again. I'm still trying to resist that game. I pick things up three times then no more. Hayley must be more patient as she has set her her limit at five times!

Monday, May 15, 2006

BBC NEWS | Health | Worker-mothers 'healthiest women'

BBC NEWS | Health | Worker-mothers 'healthiest women'

This is an interesting study but look at when it was carried out: from 1972, when the women were 26 years old, until today. There have been such shifts in society during that time that I find it hard to see how any study over that period can realistically be said to say much about the prospects for today's 26 year olds (or 36 year olds for that matter).

Having said that, it's not hard to see why working mothers might keep their weight down. After all, if you are happy to leave your child in childcare for 5 days a week, 8-10 hours a day you'll probably be happy to fit in a regular hour in the gym for part of that time. But maybe that's more the exception than the rule. It's just that I've seen enough parents already who far from feeling the wrench at putting their child in daycare seem eager to cast off their reponsibilities and get back to work, leaving little Jimmy/Jemima in the capable hands of 17 year olds on minimum wage. Hmmmmm...

I find it sad when I hear women saying "oh I can't wait to get back to work, I'd go mad if I had to stay home." While I sympathise with how they feel, I'm glad that Hayley doesn't feel that way and has some imagination about her role outside the 9-5 treadmill. It's not as if giving up 9-5 work means you have to give up work altogether. And it's not as if working 9-5 is the only (or even the best) way to keep the old grey matter active.

Most of all I'm glad she enjoys the prospect of being there to raise Oliver herself in these first few years. There'll be many many years when he doesn't need her like he does now. Then she'll be free to rejoin the rat-race!

Old dogs and new tricks

The old dog is me. The new tricks are Oliver's.

Yesterday I celebrated my birthday. My first as a Dad. And sure enough there was a card for me from Oliver. He handed it to me (well, kind of dropped it onto me) in bed when Hayley brought him in after my lie-in (a birthday treat in itself).

We had breakfast at Room 311 where Oliver was a bit of a handful but in a fun way. He made me laugh. He is into everything at the moment. He is full of energy and reaching out to grab things from the moment we lift him out of his cot in the morning. Once he has grabbed them he usually throws them on the floor. So his first target every morning, which is a sterlling silver Winnie the Pooh "first tooth" jar, will have to be put out of sight, as he keeps throwing it around the room when I finally relent and let him grab it.

He has developed a couple of new tricks too. He waves goodbye now. On Saturday our friend Lisa (one of his two Godmothers) took him out for a couple of hours in her car. He sat in the back waving to us out of the window. It was lovely amd yet a bit of a wrench too!

Hayley has also taught him another greeting. "Gimme five!" she says to him, holding out her palm. And sure enough he slaps her hand. He also gives her hugs and cuddles in the morning when she asks him, lying down on her chest and resting his hgead on her shoulder.

He seems to be developing more quickly now than the last couple of months. This morning he launched himself forwards from his sitting position and got into a crawling position. Then he started to wriggle and almost crawled. He is getting close. He is such an energetic little handful at the moment that it's hard to imagine how we will contain him once he can crawl.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Crying with laughter

Today I saw Oliver laugh so much he cried. Hayley was the cause of his merriment as she so often is. She was playing a kind of hide-and-seek which involved him sitting in his high-chair and her hiding down by his feet then slowly popping up again from one side or the other or sometimes from behind a bowl that he was chewing! She would peer up at him through her dishevelled hair - a sight that he finds amusing in any case.

He was roaring with laughter. I heard him laugh for a full breath, so he was almost gasping to catch his breath as an adult would! Tears were rolling down his face!

I love these times the best, just watching him so happy with his Mummy. They are priceless moments.

Monday, May 08, 2006

New sounds and new skills

Oliver said "mama" yesterday. He has been saying various sounds for a while but "mama" has only just been added to his gabbling. He is a right old chatterbox at times.

He also has a new expressive sound to add to his other favourites such as blowing raspberries and "aggy!". His new sound is a simple "Mmmmmmm" but with the sort of intonation that Kenneth Williams might have used when confronted with something saucily surprising. Oliver has used it several times when looking at something new and he really sounds like he is expressing interest. It makes me laugh every time he does it.

He has also started to throw things on the floor and happily wait for Daddy to pick them up again to give him back. It seems to me that he knows perfectly well what he is doing, so I'm trying to resist that game.

It's great to see him growing, changing and developing though as the weeks go by. He still isn't crawling: he's definitely a bum shuffler. He does launch himself forwards sometimes but mostly ends up in a bit of a pickle and whinges to be sat up again. Then again he does love to stand up. Maybe he won't crawl for long before walking.

Ultimately he'll crawl, walk and talk in his own time, even with our encouragement. I not really concerned about being able to look back and say "he crawled at 8 months" or "he walked at 12 months" or whatever other milestone one might choose. I only want to be able to look back at any age and be able to say "he was happy at that age".

Me and my big mouth!

Did I just say that everything was on the up? Silly me! The little man's sleeping habits have reverted to his old form. After two nights on the trot of "sleeping through", the last two nights he has needed us to go in to him. Yesterday morning he woke at 5.30am and refused to stop shouting until we brought him into our bed.... where he then continued to whinge and poke us in the eye until eventually he had a nap. Ho hum. I still think we are getting there.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

On the up!

What a difference a week makes. A week ago yesterday we sat with a crying son who had refused to eat all day and wasn't sleeping too well either. Yesterday evening we sat with a happy Oliver as he ate his dinner before he went to bed awake and contented before sleeping through the night.

So what has changed?

It's hard to say what has caused the improvement for sure. He has eaten home cooked food all week, but that was on offer last week too. He hasn't had a dummy for over a week now. Maybe he has got the knack of that and it has helped him to sleep.

Whatever the cause, it's a great change for all three of us.

When I got back from my morning bike ride I found Hayley and Oliver sitting on a picnic blanket in the garden. Oliver was happily eating his lunch. When he had finished the two of them played and giggled on the blanket while I filmed them with the camera. (I love to get his laughter on film - he's just so cute.) They were idyllic moments. May there be many, many more!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Scotland's greatest export

The BBC's channel for babies and toddlers is CBeebies. It has many wonderful programmes (that I am sure to discuss here in the future) but one of Oliver's favourites is Balamory. Actually, I say it's Oliver's favourite, Hayley reckons I enjoy it about as much as he does. Oliver certainly loves the music in it and stops whatever he is doing when he hears it come on.

I'd love to know where the real Balamory is. It certainly exists in some form, complete with it coloured houses. I suspect it is probably something of a tourist hot-spot with young families. I'm not convinced that pink castle is real though!

BBC NEWS | Health | Woman to be oldest mother at 63

BBC NEWS | Health | Woman to be oldest mother at 63

There was some discussiuon of this at work this lunchtime. One colleague decided that women in their 60s should be banned from having IVF. Then he decided in fact it should be women in their 50s.

It's not difficult to imagine the problems of being the parent to a teenager when you are pushing 80, but people can be very quick to judge in situations like this. The woman in this case is said to have given much thought to the long-term well being of the child. If only the same could be said of many teenage parents and even some parents in their 20s and 30s for that matter. And yet we place no restrictions on their right to have children. Nor is there a huge moral outcry to prevent them. That's always struck me as something rather patronising and hypocritical in our society.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Happy Day!

Yesterday Oliver was very cheery all day. He was very chatty round at Bernadette's house in the afternoon and in the evening I made him laugh uproariously by dangling him upside down by his legs over my shoulder (not as dangerous as it might sound, honest!).

Then last night he slept through the night without more than a slight murmur! That was from 8pm until 6.50am. Fantastic!

All in all a happy reminder of just how joyous life can be.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Oliver's favourite word at the moment is "Aggy!". I'm not sure who or what Aggy is, but it's his most assertive shout recently.

He also has an odd tendency to shout "hiyaaaaa" in a rather oriental sounding way and at the same time bow his head quickly down and up. I must check whether there's any Japanese blood in our families!

BBC NEWS | Health | Children 'failed' over nutrition

BBC NEWS | Health | Children 'failed' over nutrition: "In total, 27% of children under five in developing countries do not have enough to eat - around 146 million. "

As a world we are failing our children. It's a reminder of how lucky we are to live in the UK. One sentence in this article said it all for me. "In total, 27% of children under five in developing countries do not have enough to eat - around 146 million."

BBC NEWS | Health | Britons 'put fun before babies'

BBC NEWS | Health | Britons 'put fun before babies'

Reading this article doesn't enhance my confidence about producing a sibling for Oliver, but hey, we're blessed just to have the little man and I still think we may even get lucky twice.

BBC NEWS | Health | Spring babies 'face suicide risk'

BBC NEWS | Health | Spring babies 'face suicide risk'

Not exactly the cheeriest of stories! Oliver, of course, doesn't fall into this group, but Hayley and I do!!!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Sisyphusian torment?

In Greek mythology Sisyphus was condemned by the Gods to spend all eternity pushing a boulder to the top of a hill, only to see it roll back down again for him to start his task again. Now I can't claim that we have been suffering to that degree, but when Oliver refuses both to eat and to sleep and is consequently less than happy in himself, life starts to feel like some sort of punishment. Hayley puts a lot of time and effort into making him nice home-made food and it can be very demoralising to have to pour much of it into the bin uneaten and then start again with the same probable outcome.

On Friday Oliver decided that all he would eat was yoghurt. One yoghurt in fact. All other meals - lovingly home-made by Hayley - were refused. (His bottles were accepted, thankfully.) As a consequence he went to his bath hungry, having whinged from dinner-time to bath-time, then spent most of his bath very uncharacteristically complaining. Finally he was satisfied when he got out of the bath and had his bedtime bottle.

Surprisingly after a day with next to no food Oliver then slept really well! So I've decided to do my best not to worry when he goes off his food for a day. (Easier said than done!)

One of our Health Visitors (Geraldine) came round the other day and suggested that the fact Oliver has his dummy sometime during the day but not at night might be contributing to his sleep problems. This makes sense (even though offering him his dummy in the night doesn't necessarily appease him) so for the last 4 days we've not been giving him his dummy to nap in the daytime. He's complained a bit but thankfully he still goes off to sleep very quickly. He just has the same comforters as he does in the night: Julien and his blanket. He's even had a couple of long (2 hour) sleeps which is very good (as it should help him sleep at night too).

His night-time sleep is still a bit hit and miss but on Saturday night he did effectively sleep through: he made a few cries in the night but none of them more than a few seconds and we didn't have to go into him. If he could do this consistently it would be a great breakthrough.

One night last week he slept for a good 5 hours without waking me at all. As a result of this relatively long spell of unbroken sleep I was able to get up at 6am and go to work for 7am. I remember the days before Oliver when 5 hours would sound like torture!

Having painted a picture of suffering, we've just had a long (Bank Holiday) weekend - much of it spent de-cluttering the house and travelling back and forth to the tip - but the whole weekend has been filled with Oliver's happy smiles and laughter. He has eaten pretty well each day and apart from waking once for a spell last night he has slept well too. We are still struggling to find exactly why he wakes and cries sometimes (as he has done once while I type this!), but hopefully we are slowly moving in the right direction.