Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"Eight month" check (at nine and a half months)

OK, I'm being a little unfair. Oliver had his "eight month" check today to see whether he is developing as expected, but in fact the health visitor assess his development for his current age, not just against an arbitrary 8 month benchmark.

It was nice to see that he is at least on track in all areas and in some areas he is rated at the level expected of a 12 month old ("Manipulative", "Hearing and Language", "Interactive Social") and even a 15 month old ("Self-care Social").

On the other hand I can't help feeling a little sad that he is already being "scored", useful though it may be in conveying to us how he's doing.

The health visitor was very slightly concerned about one of his eyes. We have long since noticed that one of his eyelids opens very slightly less than the other and occasionally in photos he looks like he has a slightly lazy eye. She suggested we make an appointment to check that this is not impairing his vision in any way. I had a lazy eye when I was small so I'm not too worried about that.

Tonight he had rosy cheeks before he went to bed and he has woken crying a couple of times. Looks like more teeth are trying to break through. Hayley assures me two are already through (having come through in the last week or so), though I can't say I've managed to catch site of them yet!

Crawling (lob-sidedly)

Oliver is becoming more mobile. Yesterday we saw him move about 6 feet across the room to get to the shiny silver dustbuster vaccuum cleaner. He did it by moving on both hands, one knee and one foot. He constantly wants to get to his feet: he doesn't seem to have realised that if he stays on his hands and knees he will move more smoothly.

He is also climbing up the furniture whenever possible. Yesterday he came within a few seconds of eating our freshly signed mortgage application form which was lying on the (previously out of reach) coffee table. I can see our new house is going to need plenty of shelving, several feet off the ground.


Last night before Hayley went to her Childminding nightclass she came over to Oliver and I where we were sitting on the floor to say goodbye with a hug and a kiss. She put her amrs round both of us for a group hug. He responded by first hugging me and then Hayley and then each of us again. It was lovely that he understood what was going on and that he shows affection like this.

On her return from her nightclass Hayley related how one topic for discussion had been the fact that childminders must be very careful about any physical contact with children in their care. So much so that even if a child has hurt itself or is upset the childminder should try to avoid giving them a comforting hug.

I suspect that such hard and fast rules would naturally break down over time once the parents knew you well and you had established trust all round. After all, when parents hand over responsibility for the well-being of their child, surely it shouldn't stop at the basic physical preservation of the child. After all its emotional well-being is almost certainly foremost in a parent's mind when choosing a childminder.

It seems to me we live in sad times when a caring hug has to be avoided.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Mayhem (Mountain related or otherwise)

We've just spent a very enjoyable weekend at Mountain Mayhem 2006. THis is a 24-hour relay mountain bike race that I take part in perenially (and even Hayley had a go one year). It was a short, tough course that was a joy to ride in the warm sunny weather.

I camped with fellow riders while Hayley stayed in a local pub with Oliver and Dawn, wife of team-mate Simon, with their daughter Isabella.

When Dawn and Hayley arrived at the course on Saturday I wasn't sure who was in for a tougher weekend: me doing the race or them coping with two infants and three flights of stairs to get to their rooms. But it turned out we all coped just fine and the end of the weekend saw us all talking about how we'd all camp next year... maybe!

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Oliver absolutely loves his bath every evening and splashes like crazy. It's impossible to convey how vigorously he splashes but I've tried to get a feel for it with this picture. Note all the white water, waves, waving limbs and shouting!

We've realised that he likes to splash this way so that the water splashes right up the shower guard. He then watches the drips run down. It inevitably results in Hayley or me getting a bit of a soaking.

Then when he wants a break he stands up in the bath - he spends next to no time sitting in it now - and looks over the side at me with a big smile.

Oliver has found his "you know what"!

Oliver found a new toy in the bath last night - part of his anatomy particular to males! I suppose it had to happen eventually.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Reading time

One of the things that can keep Oliver interested, occupied and generally stop him from trying to climb the furniture for a few minutes is a good book.

He has some "touchy feely" books from Usborne that he particularly enjoys. He sits and looks at the pictures, touches the textures (see above) and even turns the pages (see below)! It's a great way to pass a few minutes with him whether it's 7am or 7pm.

Hayley has given him books of some description to "read" from very early on. She is so much more clued up than me on that sort of thing. I would probably have assumed he was much too young for books. She often takes him to the library where he helps her to choose books to borrow. He even has his own library card!

Fun in the morning

Oliver has no concept of mornings being places where you are tired or at all weary to be facing the day. His attitude is that from the moment he wakes he's ready to face the day and fill it with fun and mischief. Provided we've had at least a little sleep, it's almost impossible not to be infected by his enthusiasm, as this picture taken at 7am this morning illustrates.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bedtime cuddles

Oliver can wrap Hayley around his little finger.

Last night he went upstairs for his bath at 7.15 but instead of being in bed by about 7.50 he was still up at 8.15. Why? Because he has realised that Hayley loves him to cuddle her and give her a hug, so when he has nearly finished his bottle and it is time to go into his cot, he will turn on Hayley's lap to face her, put his arms around her neck, put his head on her shoulder and give her a hug. This generally turns Hayley to mush! It also results in her staying up a bit longer playing and chatting with him.

She loves feeding him because most of the time these days he is boisterous but when he is having his bottle he snuggles up to her and sits happily on her lap.

Finally when it is time for him to go into his cot she says the same things to him every night as she carries him in her arms to his crib. "Mummy loves you", and gives him three kisses. "Dadddy loves you" and gives him three kisses. "Julien loves you" and gives him three kisses. (Julien is his favourite cuddly toy.) "God loves you" and one kiss. And finally "And lots of extra kisses" and gives him another half dozen kisses all over his face. This makes him giggle as she puts him down to sleep.

Within a couple of minutes of quiet chatting and hugging Julien he is asleep. Bliss!

Daddy's boy

Some days I seem to be flavour of the month with Oliver. But that's not all good news. Unfortunately, sometimes after I have been carrying him or holding him, when I pass him over to Hayley he will start to whinge and reach out to come back to me. It's terribly upsetting and unfair on Hayley who dotes on him, plays with him, feeds him, takes him out & about and generally sees to his every need all day!

A couple of possible reasons spring to mind. First of all, being out all day gives Daddy novelty value when he comes home. We are also wondering whether it is because Daddy doesn't tend to be around so much for those nasty jobs like getting changed, having a wash in the morning or persuading him to try new food, but often has the luxury of spending the fun hour before bedtime with him instead.

He's very happy with Hayley all the time I'm not around. And on the few occasions he becomes clingy with me he is fine with her once he realises I am not going to pick him up again. And make no mistake, he gets just as grizzly with me as he ever does with Hayley. Hayley can also make him laugh much more than I can. Nevertheless, I can see this undeserved rejection understandably hurts her.

I personally suspect that this is just a phase. I have a colleague at work whose daughter is exactly the same but in his case it's Mummy who is flavour of the month, not Daddy.

And I certainly don't have everything my way either. Oliver cuddles and kisses his Mummy but consistently just shakes his head when I ask for a kiss! Maybe he thinks he's too big a boy to kiss his Daddy already!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Phew, what a scorcher!

It's very warm in England at the moment. Daytime temperatures outside are over 25 Celcius and Oliver's room has been as warm as 28 degrees some evenings when he goes to bed. Consequently we put him to bed last night in just his nappy and occasionally put the thinnest of blankets over him. He just kicked it off anyway, which meant we spent half the night getting up hourly to check he was OK. Of course he was fine. It was us who were exhausted in the morning.

We went to Simon and Dawn's today to watch the England game and have a barbecue. Isabella was obviously there (but slept through most of the football). Amber (Tony and Sarah's daughter) was there and another slightly older boy, Sam. They all merrily disrupted our attempts to view the football before enjoying a splash in the paddling pools in the garden. Oh and England beat Paraguay 1-0. All in all a good afternoon.

Friday, June 09, 2006

On the move

Yesterday Oliver managed to start his first successful crawling movements.... backwards! I shouldn't be surprised. He manages to move his walker every direction but forwards. This morning on the bed he did the same thing, moving a few inches backwards on all fours.

At lunchtime today Hayley rang me to say she had left Oliver happily lying on his back in the living room for 30 seconds but when she came back in he was sitting up and had moved about 2 feet from where he was. Oliver loves standing up whenver possible and continually tries to climb up me when I sit next to him. Daddy has become most useful as a climbing frame.

Coupling all this with the fact that we are seeing him increasingly getting close to getting onto his hands and knees, I think we are going to have to keep a closer eye on him, as the days when he was content in one place seem to be well and truly at an end.

Talking of being on the move, we have accepted an offer on our house and had an offer accepted on the place we want in Heaton Moor. There is still a way to go but we are delighted to be in this position so soon and are already planning Christmas in our new abode.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

My first...

...Ice cream

Oliver enjoyed his first ice-cream this week. It has been warm all week - in the mid-20s Celcius - and on exiting B&Q the other day there was an ice-cream van parked on the car park. Hayley spent her last 85p on "a baby size cornet please" which Oliver duly tucked into with some gusto! He was opening his mouth as wide as possible and stuffing it right into his face (see above). He loved it!

It's a hot day driving back down the M6 from the Lake District. We stop at the service area and take our angellic little infant into the restaurant area. There he spots some balloons. "Ne ne, ne ne, ne ne.." implores our son while clasping and unclasping his hands to indicate he has seen something he greatly desires. Daddy duly obliges with one of the balloons but explains to Oliver that he can have it once he has finished his food..... fat chance Daddy!!!

Oliver grumbles and whinges and implores and refuses his food until eventually.... tears! Now I always thought those Tom And Jerry cartoons where the baby starts to cry and tears spring out of its eyes were just a device of cartoons. But it really happens! He wailed and cried and looked at us. It was clearly all frustration and Hayley was chuckling rather than getting upset about it. Eventually we calmed him, he ate a bit more food and finally Daddy produced the balloon from under the table where he had been hiding it. Happy again!

Off we went.... and ditched the balloon downstairs five minutes later when Oliver had completely lost interest in it.