Thursday, November 30, 2006

Play time!

I took advantage of our flexi-time system at work today to take a long lunch hour and join Hayley and Oliver at a play group they regularly attend.

It was great fun, if a bit scary. There he was toddling around with much bigger kids racing around on tricycles and tractors and occasionally bumping into him or dispossessing him of whatever toy he had at the time. But let's not paint a one-sided picture. The first thing Oliver did was head for his favourite car to sit in it and opened the door to invite its current occupant, a little girl about his age, to leave. When she didn't he simply attempted to get in along side her. He tried this three times and each time I stopped him. Eventually she took the hint and left him to his vehicle. Boys love their cars I guess.

I also experienced something very unfamiliar to me: he wanted to be picked up by someone other than me! Normally when I am around he wants to be with me and everyone else comes second. Of course that's lovely for me, but it's quite tough on Hayley who, after looking after him all day, finds her self rejected the moment I walk through the door! But today it was my turn. I put my arms out to him and he raced towards me before.... veering off right past me to Linda who runs the group. He adores her. He even chooses to sit with her for the activities they do there leaving poor Hayley alone or helping another child.

Despite this I did get plenty of time with him playing with toys and on the big slide. It was a lovely way to spend an hour in the middle of a hectic day. I'm very lucky that I can live near my place of work and get to pop out occasionally like that.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Step back in time

Tonight our adorable little boy, who has been as good as gold all day, has treated us to half an hour of crying and screaming when he should have been going to sleep.

He's been showing signs of becoming more restless at night recently and tonight he became extremely upset. We had to resort to controlled crying, which was tough, but he settled whenever we came in to re-assure him, so he wasn't in pain, just wanting us to stay with him while he went to sleep. We really don't feel we should do that as we don't want him to become reliant on us to go to sleep, especially after he has learned to get himself to sleep so well.

It's agonising to hear him crying like that and not go into him for several minutes at a time. I just hope we are doing the right thing.

And at the end of the day I'm grateful he only kept it up for half an hour or so. We have friends whose children have screamed for hours!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

There goes the office!

Hayley and I have just done the pregnancy test and she is definitely pregnant!

We are both very excited and yet I feel very calm too, almost as if I knew this would happen. Well, I suppose that's a daft thing to say, after all we did make love at the right time for her to fall pregnant. But for the last couple of days she hasn't felt like she was going to "come on" which is odd for her.

And tonight as soon as I asked her about it she said she knew she was pregnant because she had all the same signs. To be honest from the moment she said that I was 90% sure she was right. You can use a test, but, as they say, "a woman knows". I felt my stomach flip over when she said that. After that it was all very run of the mill really: go out, get test, come home, have test, eat dinner. OK I'm being tongue in cheek but it just feels natural.

The only negative thing I've felt all night was the momentary realisation that our new house (assuming the damned lawyers exchange the contracts tomorrow!) has enough rooms for an office. Or at least it did until this news. Somehow I think that's a price worth paying.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

BBC - Woman making final embryo appeal

BBC - Woman making final embryo appeal

I feel for this woman. I can see the arguments on both sides, but the most compelling argument for me is the one given by John Harris, Professor of bioethics at Manchester University School of Law.

"Howard Johnston gave his considered, fully informed, consent to fertilisation of the eggs, the creation of the embryos and the 'procreative enterprise'. I do not see why he should now be permitted to break this contract and withdraw unilaterally from the procreative enterprise with such disastrous consequences for Natallie."

You can read Professor Harris' views on the case alongside those of Baroness Ruth Deech who takes an opposite position, in this BBC "Head to Head" article.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

'Super-nannies' to help parents

There are plenty of programmes around on TV at the moment demonstrating how unruly children can become and how TV Super-Nannies (such as Jo Frost, above) seem to have the answers.

So it should not come as a surprise that the government has decided to augment its use of ASBOs and mandatory parenting classes with the inrtoduction today of 77 Super-Nannies who will go into the homes of children deemed out-of-control.

BBC - 'Super-nannies' to help parents

Monday, November 20, 2006

BBC - Eight-year-old held at gunpoint

I was shocked to hear this story. I was even more shocked when I heard it happened in Cheadle, a well-heeled suburb only a couple of miles from where we live.

Eight-year-old held at gunpoint

BBC - Milk allergy in babies 'missed'

Cow's milk allergy in babies is being missed by doctors, a survey suggests.

Nearly 80% of 500 doctors polled by the medical taskforce Act Against Allergy thought their colleagues confused milk allergy symptoms with other conditions.

Fortunately Oliver seems OK with cow's milk. In fact he'll probably be off formula altogether in a couple of weeks. We've been reducing the amount of Aptamil 2 in his bottle. He's currently having 2 ounces of Aptamil in his 9 ounce bottle, the rest being cow's milk.

Of course he had a bad reaction to eggs at 6 months. Fortunately he seems better with them now. He has even had some boiled egg white after several months of gradually re-introducing food containing egg.

Milk allergy in babies 'missed'

Friday, November 17, 2006

First hair cut

First hair-cut

This afternoon we took Oliver to have his hair cut for the first time. He had his very own appointment at Brendan Parr hairdressers in Heaton Moor. He sat quite happily and was well-behaved though not exactly still during his new experience. His hair has been very long at the back: he's had quite a mullet! But now he looks rather dapper after his trim.

Apparently having his hair cut will cause it to grow faster and hopefully a bit thicker too as the little man's gorgeous blonde locks are still quite thin at the moment.

Hayley took a lock of his hair to put in a locket. She took some for me too, but I'm not sure what Dads do with locks of their sons hair. Our friend Jo suggested saving it for when I'll need it myself in a few years!

I think the cost including the tip was £5. That's about half the price of mine and... well, let's just say it's quite a lot less than his Mummy's.

First hair-cut

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Morning routines


Here is Oliver's rough weekday morning routine at the moment.

He usually wakes any time after 6am but will doze off and snooze or play until nearly 7am. Then one of us goes into his room, gets him up and brings him into our room where he sits on the bed between us.

While we start to come round we put the TV on. The "Early Worms" come on and Oliver jigs about to their tune. They simply introduce the first programme which is Thomas the Tank Engine. Oliver doesn't really watch Thomas and friends as much as give them the occasional glance while climbing all over Mummy and Daddy, stealing Daddy's glasses or trying to eat his cereal (if I have managed to get some by this point).

He sits and plays or watches Thomas while Hayley gets up and dressed, then she dresses him and takes him downstairs to give him his breakfast. By the time I come down he is usually tucking into his breakfast and will always offer me some, whether it be soggy corn flakes or partially sucked toast.

I cycle to work and when I put my cycling helmet on he starts waving to me and saying "bye bye" which is somewhere between cute and heart-breaking!

Before I leave the house Mummy and Oliver get a kiss, but once outside the door Oliver pushes his face up against the door to give me kisses through the glass. Sometimes Mummy joins in too!

Then I cycle off to work with this happy image in my mind.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

BBC - 'Do not revive' earliest babies

What a minefield, especially for the parents.

'Do not revive' earliest babies

Monday, November 13, 2006

Name that tune


Oliver loves "Boogie Beebies" on CBeebies at the moment. It's a programme where kids dance specific moves to music based around a theme. So, for example, a football theme (that's soccer for our American readers) will have them kicking and heading an imaginary ball. I thought this show would be much too old for him but he seems to like anything musical right now.

When I came home tonight I sang "If you're happy and you know it..." and he immediately started clapping his hands. More surprising to me, later when I played it on his xylophone he immediately recognised the tune and started clapping his hands again.

He's really enjoying his xylophone. He had to be helped to take it out of its box this morning. After a few minutes hitting the keys with the sticks, he happened upon the sound made by running the stick up and down the keys. It's great watching him discover things like that.

Last night I sat and played guitar and sang to him. He jigged about happily watching me attempt to play the guitar while inserting the motion of the wheels on the bus or the marching of the grand old duke of York's men. He applauds at the end of each song, bless him. He also applauds his own performances on the xylophone! But if I sing or play something he doesn't want to hear he waves his hands in his "all done!" sign to make me stop! Apparently he also did that to Damien the other day at Song Time and Hayley had to explain what he meant. Poor chap!

I was talking to Jack's Dad the other day about our hopes for our sons. Being a bit of a footballer, he has discussed with mates what position Jack will play. (Centre-half if you are interested. He's going to be a BIG lad.) Being musical is perhaps the only special aspiration I have for Oliver beyond the predictable parental yearnings for their offspring to be happy, confident and to buy them a retirement home in the Florida quays. (Just kidding.)

But it seems his talents may lie elsewhere. At Alphabet Zoo today he worked out that if he took his socks off he could climb up the slide in the wrong direction. He's constantly trying to climb stairs of all kinds, climb on top of hs walkers and most often climb all over me. I wonder whether one day he'll be off to the Himalayas.

So perhaps I should buy him a Tibetan musical instrument to combine both hobbies. Come to think of it, maybe playing all that Buddhist music we had playing during labour had some effect after all!

Remembrance Sunday (2006) - Kipling and his Son

Yesterday was Remembrance Sunday. To be honest it largely passed me by, which is unusual. But in the evening there was a programme on BBC1 about Rudyard Kipling and how his life was blighted by the loss of his son, John, in the First World War.

His son went to war despite extreme short-sightedness and with the encouragement of his father who was greatly in favour of the war. His son's letters as he approached the front betrayed his youthful innocence and optimism.

The story was reconstructed with actors in parts and I was moved by the scene where Kipling opens the "Missing In Action..." telegram in front of his wife, who breaks down into the most harrowing of sobbing. I thought how awful it would be to lose Oliver. Later I told Hayley about it and reflected on how I would hate him to be sent to war, especially a war created by over-arching politicians. "Well he won't be going to any war, I won't let him" was her summary reply.

But of course, we had to admit he will make his own mind up. And we were left wondering how we will instill in him the right values; values that will steer him into a good life but just as importantly to us will help him to survive.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

First Sleepover


Oliver had his first sleep-over last night. His friend Jack stayed over so that his Mummy and Daddy (Sara and Manny) could go out.

Oliver stayed up a bit later than usual playing with Jack. He went quietly enough up for his bedtime bottle but when it came time to go to sleep he complained, reluctant not to rejoin the fun with his mate.

Jack goes to bed later than Oliver and he was as good as gold. Hayely fed him downstairs before taking him up to Oliver's room to his travel cot.

Feeding Jack

He briefly complained when put down until we gave him his cuddly toys but then he was as quiet as a mouse for the whole night, unlike Oliver who always seems to let out an enormous shout when he has to turn over.

In the morning they had lots of fun including a ride on one of the walkers for Oliver and a ride on a reindeer for both of them.


At lunchtime Mummy and Daddy came round and we all went out for Sunday lunch. All in all a great success.

And at the risk of sounding selfish, we are already excited about taking up Sara and Manny on their offer to return the favour!


Saturday, November 11, 2006

The little man walking

Oliver has been walking for a while now so I thought it was about time I captured him on film.

Tonight I sat on the floor with my arms open wide. He walked over to me much as he does in the above video, but laughing as he came before falling into my arms. We both laughed like it was the funniest thing imaginable.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Oliver at the wheel

Oliver familiarised himself with the controls of Hayley's car today.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

BBC - Girl, 4, 'suffering depression'

A four-year-old is suffering from depression because she cannot attend the same primary school as her nursery friends, according to her doctor.

Girl, 4, 'suffering depression'

Monday, November 06, 2006

I love him to death but...

Recently this blog seems to have been all sweetness and light. Lest anyone mistakenly conclude that this narrative is a smug celebration of a life that defines the utopian experience, here are a few bumps in the road.

  • I miss going out as a couple with Hayley. We haven't managed anything near enough evenings out for the just the two of us and I know that's wrong. But we lack a good baby sitter who knows Oliver and with whom he is comfortable. We are trying to rectify that, but it's not easy.

  • I miss my sleep. Last week the clocks went back for the end of British Summer Time. That used to mean an extra hour in bed. Ha! Fat chance. This time it meant an extra hour of play for Oliver. Mummy and Daddy were exhausted by the time he went to bed.

  • I miss going to Man Utd, especially with Hayley.

  • I miss having the time to sit and play guitar, let alone ponder long enough to write a song.

  • I miss being able to go out and eat a meal at a leisurely pace instead of having to wolf down food in time to pacify my bored/fractious/not-getting-his-way toddler. Last weekend I met Hayley and Oliver at Jaba, an Indian deli in Heaton Mersey. He protested at sitting down, refused all food (Indian or otherwise), climbed all over us as we ate and even when I took him for a walk as he'd been demanding he protested at that too after a couple of minutes. The result? Lovely food eaten at 100 miles per hour. So much for the pleasant lunch I pictured as I headed up there to meet them.

  • So there you have it. It's not a long list really. And I'd probably be quite happy if I could just get a bit more time with Hayley as a couple again. Preferably within the next 20 years!

    Thursday, November 02, 2006

    BBC - UK youths 'among worst in Europe'

    Britain's teenagers are among the most badly behaved in Europe, a study by a think-tank has suggested.

    On every indicator of bad behaviour - drugs, drink, violence, promiscuity - the UK was at or near the top, said the Institute for Public Policy Research.

    UK youths 'among worst in Europe'

    Depressing reading. But is it surprising that kids just hang out with other kids when their parents are working as hard as possible to keep their mortgages paid and food on the table? I just hope we give Oliver the right messages and support so he won't indulge to excess when his experimental teenage years arrive.

    I also pray to God we give him enough self-esteem and confidence not to have to rely on brands and designer-wear for his identity. I feel so lucky that I grew up in an era when such pressures were much less pervasive.

    Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    BBC - Brain flaws 'linked to cot death'

    "Brain abnormalities which affect breathing and temperature control could increase a baby's risk of cot death, a study has suggested."

    Brain flaws 'linked to cot death'