Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treat!

Probably as a result of Hayley's long stay in the colonies, she really enjoys Halloween and looks forward to the kids coming round and asking (or should that be 'threatening') "trick or treat"?

Well this year she decided it was time Oliver made a start on his Trick or Treating career. So he dressed up in his best pumpkin outfit, grabbed his pumpkin bucket to collect his treats and off we toddled to knock on the doors of a few of our friends and neighbours. Even Lucy came along, carried by yours truly in the Baby Bjorn sling. She seemed to quite enjoy it, though admittedly the fresh air sent her to sleep after about ten minutes.

At the first house we visited we found a bit of halloween party going on and were invited in to join the fun for a few minutes. Perhaps Oliver imagined this was the norm as he invited himself straight into his friend Ben's house when we arrived there (see video above).

Most people answered the door, though a few didn't. Those that answered the door often were prepared with a plastic bucket of sweets at the ready.

When we got home Oliver was disappointed to discover that he was only allowed one of his treats and would have to be a good boy each day to get another one.

After he went to bed we had a visit from his friend Alberto with his big sister and his Dad. But they were the only other visitors that evening. Hayley was most disappointed. Consequently, I type this with a mouthful of sugary lolly and a bag of uncollected treats close at hand. It could be a long night.

Nine togs!


Oliver got a new quilt yesterday, a light, fluffy and promising the full nine togs. TO try to enthuse Oliver about this new purchase I got into his cot. It seemed to do the trick.

Oliver always seems to get hot and sweaty in the first couple of hours after he goes to bed, almost regardless of how cold or warm I make his room. Last night he was so sweaty around his head an neck I changed his pillow (not for the first time).

Normally, with his 4 tog quilt, I have been using an oil-filed radiator to keep his room at the nominally correct temperature for the quilt and/or adding a blanket. Last night with this new fluffy cloud of luxurious insulation around him I left all heating off. Despite him still having a bit of a cold, he slept like a log all night. This was partcularly remarkable as the previous night he had cried out for me and needed me to go in and reassure him no less than eight times, spread evenly and agonsisingly throughout the night.

But that's another story. I can only hope this quilt continues to work its magic on the little man.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


My girls

Five things about Lucy at eleven weeks old (tomorrow).
  • They say young babies cry 3 hours a day. In Lucy's case I'd have to say she hardly ever cries these days and if there's anything she does for 3 hours a day it's probably smiling.

  • Lucy loves the baby-gym. It's the same one as Oliver used to play under, but in keeping with her generally more placid nature comapred to Oliver, she enjoys playing under there for longer than he did and even seems a bit more vigorous than I remember Oliver at the same age.

  • Lucy's eyelashes have started to grow longer and more like her big brother's. I sincerely hope this turns out to be the case because otherwise she would probably be understandably jealous of the little man's lashes. As a friends Aunt once put it, "look at those lashes, what a waste, it's criminal on a boy".

  • Lucy is currently enjoying the use of our fried Sarah's buggy. Hayley has swapped with them for a while because this one is backward facing, so Lucy can lie down and still see Hayley as she pushes her along. (Sadly I haven't had chance to take her out by myself since we swapped.)

  • Lucy is sleeping like a dream at the moment. She is starting her last bottle a bit earlier, around 8.30-9.00pm, but still goes through the night until as late as 8am some mornings. Long may it continue!
  • Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Normal service will be resumed shortly

    If you come to this site via our home website, you may have noticed that some of the addresses that normally point to our home website are now pointing to This is because I am in the process of moving our home website to be hosted by them, but it has not gone as smoothly as one might hope (b!*%dy computers!).

    By the time it is sorted out you should be able to get to our home website at and

    This blog isn't moving. In fact I was thinking this morning what great value for money it is (for me). I don't pay a penny for it and yet I can post lots of pictures to it and generally do everything I need with it. About the only cost I could think of is that I'm supporting the ever growing influence of Google (who own Blogger), into an Internet superpower. But as I like all Googles gizmos and gadgets I can't say I'm too bothered today at their rise to cyber hegemony.

    As well as changing my web-hosting, I'm also changing broadband provider. And phone company. And gas and elctricity suppliers for good measure. You see, Hayley has been in Wiltshire for the last couple of days with Oliver and Lucy. (I still get a kick out of writing and seeing the words "Oliver and Lucy" - still pinching myself that I have TWO kids now!!) Anyway, I have taken the opportunity to shake up our finances and save a few quid here and there. Once it's all sorted I'm sure I'll be glad I've done it, provided I don't tear all my hair out in the meantime when all these hand-overs go wrong.

    Normal blogging service has also taken a back seat, but hopefully I'll catch up over the next few days.

    I know Hayley is looking forward to some resumption of normality when she comes home, as she has had a right old time of it while away. On the way down her car started playing up. To cut a long story short, it has cost £1000 to fix and would have cost more if she hadn't been able to prove that the first garage she took it to had actually made matters worse instead of better.

    Both kids have had colds while she is down there, so her nights have been rough to say the least. She even had to take Lucy to the doctor as she seemed very hot. The doctor said she has a cold and prescribed 2.5 ml of Calpol. Meanwhile I have been rattling around an empty house, trying to make myself useful but generally feeling a bit lost in the unfamiliar silence.

    But tomorrow we'll all be home together again. Then we can get back to normality and all the joyful chaos that implies.

    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    All's well that ends well

    In Daddy's hat
    On the way into Tesco.

    I was really looking forward to this weekend. After working pretty hard all week I was all set for a relaxing Friday evening, a fun Saturday followed by an evening watching the rugby world cup final (England vs South Africa) with our friends Dawn and Simon.

    The weekend started OK, with our customary fish and chips. Friday evening passed without problems too. Then during the night Lucy woke at around 3.30am. She often does this. She wakes, makes a few grunting sounds, breaks wind and then goes back to sleep. But this time it was different. She started to cry. We then spent the next 90 minutes trying to get her back to sleep. We know from experience that she doesn't need a feed at this time any more and we didn't want to start establishing a pattern where she feeds at this time, particularly if it is just because it gets her off to sleep. But by the time it was nearing 5am we decided she might be hungry (even if she wasn't to start with) and Hayley went off to feed her.

    When I got up with Oliver at 7am I felt rough. But once I got moving I was OK. he little man and I went off to Tesco for breakfast. Once there we had the works. There was no scrambled egg so I let him have a fried egg. He barely touched the yoke but quite liked the white. After a few minutes a noticed he had a rash on his neck. Oliver was allergic to eggs when younger but isn't really affected by them any more. Or so I had thought. When I called Hayley to ask her opinion she quickly put me straight. Although I had often seen him eating scrambled egg, he still doesn't eat fried eggs.... especially the yoke.

    I felt such an idiot. I didn't even know that about my own son. I had naively assumed that scrambled egg was more or less as cooked as a well cooked fried egg. Tesco didn't sell piriton and I had none in my changing bag, so I brought him straight home and gave him some there. His neck and parts of his face were all red and he kept scratching them. But the piriton helped.

    Oliver: blotchy and itchy after eating egg yoke.

    So my dream weekend was not going to plan. Nonetheless, I suggested to Hayley that as it was a beautiful sunny day, we all take a walk down to the train and take a ride into Manchester. Oliver loves trains and I wanted him to see some real trains and go for a ride. SO off we strolled in the sunshine to Heaton Chapel station. On the way both kids fell asleep, so Hayley and I enjoyed a swift beverage at The Orangerie.

    Oliver woke in time to arrive at the station and enjoyed seeing the trains before boarding for his ride to Manchester.

    On arrival at Piccadilly we got off... which wasn't the greatest idea as we were meant to stay on until Oxford Road: another cock-up courtesy of Dad! But this afforded us a lovely walk through the spruced up area around Piccadilly and then down Canal Street and over to Oxford Road.

    Our destination was Manchester Museum. It may not sound exciting, but we had been assured that there was an exhibition of live snakes and frogs. This is all Oliver talked about on the way. Once we got there we found entrance was free and Oliver got out of the double buggy and could run around freely (albeit hotly pursued by one of us).

    After enjoying the snakes and frogs, we found on the top floor a light and airy "attic" space all kitted out for kids of all ages. There were tables and chairs of different heights and sizes for different aged kids, paper, crayons, toy animals and dinosaurs, soft toys.... and lovely sofas with childrens' books to read. In our case it was somewhere that Hayley could feed Lucy while Oliver and I drew and coloured in dinosaurs.

    Oliver with dinosaurs and other beasts.

    At this point Hayley realised that all we had spent in the entire afternoon was £3.50 for our return train tickets. "£3.50 for a day out" she kept telling me. She likes a bargain does our Hayley.

    Hayley feeding Lucy.

    We were very impressed with the museum. One word of warning though. There are two lifts, only one of which goes to the top floor. The other is also at the "wrong" end of the Money gallery if you have a double buggy. I managed to tilt it over a little without toppling Lucy onto the floor, but it was a truly tight squeeze.

    We came home happy and on alighting the train, treated ourselves (including Oliver) to a packet of Quavers. (Big spenders eh!)

    In the evening Dawn, Simon and Isabella came round. After the kids had gone to bed we watched the rugby (in which England lost but without disgracing themselves) and got through a wildly extravagant two bottles of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. But then again, we did have a whole day out for £3.50.

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    More bottom humour

    Yesterday afternoon, Oliver was sitting on the sofa watching Postman Pat while Hayley was feeding Lucy her bottle. I left the room foor a moment. When I returned I found Hayley crying with laughter. Apparently, Oliver, without taking his eyes off the TV, had lifted his right buttock, broken wind and then lowered it again without further comment.

    Poor Lucy continued to drink her bottle despite it shaking with Hayley's laughter. I couoldn't help feeling a tinge of pride at the little man's blokish demeanor.

    Lucy's full name

    If you read this blog regularly you'll know that Lucy's full name is Lucy Anne Townley. Hoowever, were you to spend any time around our little family you'd be forgiven for thinking it was something quite different.

    Lucy gets called different names by all three of us. My favourite name for her is "Lucy Diamond". We've always called her our little diamond and even sung her the famoous Beatles song which helped us to name her. (It also reminded us of our fun times at the Edinburgh fringe festival where we saw the comedienne Lucy Porter. It also means "bringer of light", which is funny because she loves looking at any kind of light. Several times I've calmed her by rocking her in my arms under the spotlights in ur kitchen. I digress...)

    Even Oliver has started to call her Lucy Diamond. The other day as I got her out of the car, quite unprompted he said "come on Lucy Diamond". So cute.

    Hayley prefers "Lucy Woosey". Other names we use include "lemon popsicle", "my little cherry tomato" (as I think she just looks like a juicy cherry tomato, with her little round face), and "our china doll" as that's just what she looks like too us now. When she was born I teased Hayley that her wrinkly little face looked more like Les Dawson than either of us, but now I think she has the prettiest little face. I shouldn't be surprised though as I also think she has started to look more like Hayley. :)

    We're still here!

    I've been working daft hours recently. My hours in the office currently extend to the weekends, but more intrusively I have started to bring a laptop home. Consequently, time I might have spent writing this blog have found me woorking on, well, work.

    Meanwhile life goes on. "Time and tide wait for no man". That thought has crossed my mind a lot recently, along with "no-one's last words were ever 'I wish I'd spent more time at the office'".

    Lucy passed the 2 months mark earlier this week. She is sleeping (yes, sleep again!)from abut 10pm until 6am or 7am, although she does start murmuring about an hour or so before she wakes which means we rarely get as much sleep as she does. She has a bit of a feeding frenzy in the evening and sleeps in after her 6am feed until around 10am or 11am, so she's going 12 hours with a feed in the middle really. (By the way this laptop's keyboard is knackered, so you'll find this post has a near random number oof letter "o"s. And I can't be bothered too correct them any more so do forgive me!

    The little lady is smiling lots. And talking too. Well, not words, obviously, but lots of lovely cooooing sounds. Tonight she fell asleep on a pillow on my lap and when she woke after a few minutes she gave me the biggest smile. Priceless.

    Oliver, on the other hand, has finally reversed the trend of the last 15 months or so and become an absolute Mummy's boy. I thought he had started to do this a few weeks ago, but it was a false start. This time there's no doubt. He demands that Hayley give him his bedtime milk EVERY night at the moment. We can't afford to let him do that every night, as some nights Hayley might be out, and anyway he'll think he's in charge... even more than he does already!

    His current big thing is "that's MY toy..." or "book" or "dinner" or whatever. He shouts it at the top of his lungs. His behaviour varies from headstrong to angelic. But mostly he is still adorable and I have too steel myself too be strict with him when I used to find it easy. Perhaps that's because he is less adoring of his Daddy and less readily compliant at this age.

    One thing is for sure, he is a very loving big brother. He is always nice to his sister, which is lovely to see.

    Saturday, October 06, 2007

    Out with Daddy

    All happy

    While Hayley went to the hairdresser this afternoon, I took Oliver and Lucy out by myself for the first time. We ventured to the park, where Oliver enjoyed exploring the undergrowth and playing on the slide. Meanwhile, Lucy lay in her buggy looking up at the leaves and throwing me the occasional contented smile.


    We headed off a little earlier than planned as Oliver had clearly filled his nappy. To ensure a smooth transition I must admit that I resorted to the inducement of an ice-cream. Everyone went home happy.

    "Tickly eyes"

    I seem to have a lot of fun with Oliver at bathtime and bedtime, which is nice at the end of what can sometimes be a stressful day.

    I've already recounted the "mystery of the sponge" game. Another of our regular games takes place when I lie him on the "big bed" to get him changed ready for his bath. Once his trousers are off and he is lying on his back on the bed, I tell him "I'm going to tickle you, because I know... that you've got tickly feet" and I tickle his feet. He chuckles and wriggles. Then I say "And I know... that you've got tickly knees" and tickle his knees. He laughs a little more. Then comes what he has been waiting for. "And I know... that you've got tickly thighs!" and I tickle his chubby little thighs. He roars with laughter until he almost has to gasp for breath (when I obviously stop). "Tickly eyes again!" he insists.

    The other night he was sitting in the bath, daydreaming, staring into space over the side of the bath. So I leaned forward until my face was directly in his line of sight, which broke his reverie and made him laugh. "Again!" But it's a bit hard to recreate that sort of thing.

    And after his bath when I am putting on his pyjamas on the changing table, we have Daddy running around the nursery flapping his arms ("Is it a bird?"), swooping with arms outstretched ("Is it a plane?") and finally diving, super-hero like down to within an inch of Oliver's face ("It's Super-Daddy!"). More laughter all round.

    I am sometimes wonder how he goes to sleep after all the excitement. It's not exactly an exemplary "wind-down" time. At least he goes to bed happy.

    Friday, October 05, 2007

    Now and Then


    Lucy's Moses basket was once Oliver's Moses basket. The other day I was playing with Oliver when I picked him up and cradled him in my arms saying "are you Daddy's baby?". He laughed. Then, realising that the Moses basket was right next to me, I laid him in it. It was a bit of a squeeze as you can see. So then I dug out the photo below for comparison. It was taken the first night Oliver came home after the hospital. Quite a contrast.

    Oliver in his Moses basket

    She smiles!

    Lucy in her buggy this afternoon with Lucien Bunny.

    Lucy has been smiling for perhaps a couple of weeks now. I got my first fantastic full-on smile from her in the early morning light as she lay on her changing mat. I asked her "are you going to give your Daddy a smile?" and right on cue she obliged. I could have floated all the way to work on the high.

    Her sleep has (dare we say it) been going well. Since last week she has started to go 7-8 hours. Going to sleep at about 10.30 and rising at 6.30, it couldn't be any better really. Well, I suppose she could sleep in until after we've got Oliver up and fed but that would be asking a bit much! So her early moprning feed has moved to as late as 6.30am but is sometimes still as early as 4.30am.

    She is always a little delight when I feed her in the early morning. I take her into the spare room and she lies there farly content as I warm her milk. Feeding her is a lovely experience. It is a quiet and tranquil time with her content and happy. I listen to 5 Live quietly as she feeds. (Even Hayley has started to do this. The other morning she enjoyed the excitement of the Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix!)

    Hayley has now entirely stopped breast feeding. Lucy seems to have realised that the bottles require less work and she started to really complain when offered the breast. So it's all bottles from now on. But she had 7 weeks of breast milk (and I think we might still have a bit left in the freezer), so she has had a very good start. Certainly much more breast-milk than Oliver got. And it means I can get more involved which is nice. Maybe it's my imagination, but I seem to be more popular with Lucy since feeding her more often too!

    The early morning feeds have come in handy as a way of me getting into work early. I've had a few 6.30am starts as a result. I've also been in at the weekend. It's a sign of how busy we are. It's not exactly welcome. After all, no-ones last words were "I wish I'd spent more time in the office", but it's a necessary evil right now.

    Oliver has been showing more signs of the terriblw twos. More whinging and pester power than tantrums to be honest. But other times he can be a gem. And he is always good to Lucy so I think he's doing pretty well.

    Yesterday some friends came round. When Oliver came down from his nap to find John and Iona in the living room he said "Hi John. How are you?" Hayley couldn't believe her ears. I've never heard him as "How are you" before.

    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    He knows me so well

    This morning as I dashed off to work, Oliver was sitting at his little table in the kitchen eating his cereal.
    "Bye Oliver. See you later!"
    "See you later", he replied. Then he turned on his chair and shouted to me " got your pass?"
    Forgetful? Moi?