Wednesday, April 30, 2008

BBC NEWS | Health | Playgroups 'cut leukaemia risk'

BBC NEWS | Health | Playgroups 'cut leukaemia risk'

BBC NEWS | Health | Pregnancy cravings 'on the rise'

BBC NEWS | Health | Pregnancy cravings 'on the rise'

Friday, April 25, 2008


  • Oliver went to a ballet class today. Our friend Claire took him and reported on her return that he was the most enthusiastic performer. He loves music and dance generally so I wasn't surprised. I think that will become a regular activity now.

  • Tomorrow is Hayley's birthday. Oliver chose the card he is giving to her. At first he was very keen on a Get Well Soon card, but thankfully he spotted a nice birthday card instead at the last minute.

  • This evening while Hayley got ready to go out with some friends, Oliver lead Lucy and I in some dance moves to accompany some "A-to-Z of the Eighties" music videos on VH-1. He shouted instructions and acted as lead choreographer. It's not easy touching your toes and then quickly reaching into the air when you have an 8 month old child perched on your right arm.

  • Lucy so likes sitting on my right arm as I wander around the house, that I have taken to calling her my little bird. The way she sits there, coupled with those beady blue eyes of hers, reminds me of nothing so much as a little bird on a branch.

  • This week I have taken every afternoon off to help Hayley rest and recover from her knee operation. Fingers crossed, it seems to have paid some benefits and her knee has a lot more movement than before the operation. A couple of times this week in the afternoons she managed to get Lucy to nap with her on our bed while Oliver and I went out to the park or elsewhere. This afternoon she went to do the same but after 10 minutes came back down and insisted we switch: she sitting reading with Oliver and me taking the nap with Lucy. After some hesitation I was persuaded and lay down beside the sleeping beauty. It's the first time since she was a very small baby I have done that and I know these opportunities will be rare, so it was a real treat to fall asleep next to her adorable little face.

  • Lucy currently love to take my glasses of my face. She then either drops them or tries to put them back. She also spends a lot of time waving to people, or even to no-one in particular. She does it by just holding her hand up and bending her fingers. It looks the cutest thing.

  • Today being Friday, we had fish, chips and mushy peas for dinner. This was also true for Lucy who has it all pureed together and loves it.

  • Yesterday afternoon when Hayley went to hospital to have the stiches removed from her knee, I took Oliver and Lucy to the park. It was surprisingly quiet for such a nice day and at one point I had both my children next to each other in the two "baby" swings. As they swung back and forth I sat in the floor between them leaning first towards Oliver as he passed and shouting "boo" and then to Lucy and doing the same. They were both laughing. A priceless moment.
  • Lucy's Christening Party CD

    We made a CD for Lucy's Christening party, split between tracks that meant something to us connected with Lucy and tracks that Oliver likes. Belatedly, I thought I would document it.

    1. "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds" The Beatles. When Hayley was pregnant with Oliver we knew that if we had a girl she would be a Lucy. And of course we always refer to her as "Lucy diamond" or "our diamond"

    It seems odd now, knowing Oliver's personality so well - and knowing how different Lucy is - it seems nonsense to imagine that Oliver might ever have been a Lucy... he was always himself. And I realise that I now think of him as being himself even before birth. This is probably reinforced by things like his love of spicy food which aligns with Hayley being able to eat it while he was in the womb. I think also that seeing how different my children are in personality from the very start, makes me realise just how much the blueprint of who we are is mapped out long before birth.

    2. "Blue Eyes" Elton John. The little lady has the most beautiful blue eyes and this song always reminds me of her. Dancing to this tune with her in my arms at the Christening party was one of the highlights of the day for me.

    3. "Girls just wanna have fun" Cyndi Lauper. The little lady is full of smiles and laughter.

    4. "With Every Heartbeat" Robyn and Kleerup. This song was Number 1 when Lucy was born.

    5. "Mathematics" Cherry Ghost. Reminds me of last Spring, clearing space in the house and preparing for our new arrival.

    6. "Stop in the name of Love" The Supremes. This is the first of three songs for Oliver. He grew to love them while watching The One and Only on BBC1 a few months ago. This track in particular is his favourite. He frequently asks for it to be played in the car. In fact, we even sang it before I put him to bed tonight. I've noticed too that he can now sing in tune and hit a note at the first attempt when he sings along.

    7 "Delilah" Tom Jones. It sounded bizarre this evening to hear Oliver in the back seat signing the song's finale: "So before they come to break down the door, Forgive me Delilah I just coudn't take any more". Of course he is more singing sounds than words in some cases, nonetheless it has a surreal quality, especially as he seems to know the words of this song from my own infancy better than I do.

    8 "Son of a Preacher Man" Dusty Springfield. As soon as this comes on Oliver simply says "Dusty" with a big smile.

    9 "Jolene" Dolly Prton. One of Oliver's old favourites but not so much in favour these days, unless Hayley joins in with exaggerated gusto in the chorus.

    10. "We are family" Sister Sledge. What it says on the tin.

    Wednesday, April 23, 2008

    BBC NEWS | Health | High calorie diet linked to boys

    BBC NEWS | Health | High calorie diet linked to boys

    Hayley was at the tail end of a diet both times she conceived, so we've no anecdotal evidence to add.

    Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    Back on the Islabike

    After a long gap, Oliver has taken to riding his Islabike again, this time getting the knack of sitting down to ride it instead of instinctively standing up. After some success within the confines of our living room, we decided to take it to the park.

    I was delighted to see him really start to take to it. Hs isn't yet rolling down hills with his legs in the air like some of the videos you find on You Tube, but he certainly builds up speed on the flat and it needs a brisk walk for me to keep up with him. Not bad, given he's only spent about half an hour on it in total since we got it out again.

    Tie me kangaroo down sport

    One of the nice things about Oliver's much-loved Wiggles DVD is that it includes some guest appearances. Surreally these include one by Tim Finn (formerly of Crowded House) performing "Six months in a leaky boat" especcially for Captain Feather-Sword. But favourite amongst these cameos for me is that of Rolf Harris performing a (slightly cut-down) version of his 1960s hit "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport".

    I remember this song clearly from my own childhood so I have the most fun jumping around the living room kangaroo-fashion with Oliver as we sing along to it.

    Tonight after I put him to bed I sat down as I often do, next to his cot with my face inches from his own the other side of his cot's bars. Usually he just snuggles there quietly as I talk to him and say goodnight, but tonight as I whispered my goodnights to him, he unprompted launched into Time Me Kangaroo Down Sport. Well, what could I do but join in. As I left him after our performance I told him to sing it to Julien to send him to sleep. Sure enough, moments after I left the room, the familiar refrain could be heard coming through his bedroom door.

    Monday, April 21, 2008

    Dancing with Daddy, Laughing with Mummy

    Sadly, my camera phone does not really do justice to the degree to which Lucy jigs about in my arms during this clip. You can just about make out that she is shaking her head at times. She loves dancing with me to this tune and when Mummy joins in too she goes crazy.

    Is it or isn't it?

    About 3 weeks ago Lucy and Oliver spent a happy afternoon at a friends's house hunting easter eggs. One of Oliver's friends who was there that day later turned out to have Chicken Pox. As the incubation period of Chicken Pox is 14-24 days we have been waiting and wondering.

    Today, exactly 24 days after that Easter date, Lucy is showing signs of the spots coming through. It doesn't yet have the appearance of Chicken Pox to the layman, but as we know what we are looking for and looking closely, I think we are now resigned to the fact that Chicken Pox it is! No signs at all with Oliver, but he is now likely to have it as he has been exposed to Lucy for the last 3 weeks.

    Of course, it's not all bad news. It's better to get it as a child than an adult. Indeed, a couple of Mums have been consideriong bringing their toddlers round in the hope of getting it over with. The trouble for me is that I am not sure whether I had it as a child. Hayley has been texting my Mum all day but can't get a response. You see it's much worse to get it as an adult. So tomorrow I may be off to the doctors to see what steps I can take to avoid it, assuming I'm not already too late. Apparently there is a vaccine.

    On top of that, Hayley's knee isn't healing as well as it should. It's hardly surprising given she has two small children all day. So I have now managed to book every afternoon off this week to give her a lift and minimise her workload. Oliver is in Nursery 2 mornings so afternoons should be the biggest help. Today I took him to a new music class, Rhythm-time, before going on to Bruntwood Park with some of his friends and their Mums. While there I was amused to find myself standing next to someone who was at the fancy dress party the other weekend. To her embarrassment she didn't recognise me at all without my outfit.

    Oliver had a great time at the park, after which we went to the cafe for tea and an ice-cream. Later, his lack of a nap through the day took its toll as he got whingey and then cried over little or nothing. At one point he threw Big Julien on the floor then asked for him. When I pointed out to him that he only had to move about 12 inches to reach him for himself, there were floods of tears. Then after dinner he was fine again. I know that when I am hungry and tired I am a nightmare, so all in all I don't think he was too bad!

    In fact Oliver has been really good for the last few days, a little star. We have been working hard on getting our parenting in order - with a couple of new books thrown in for good measure - and slowly but surely I think all three of us are finding our way.

    Of course Lucy is a different kettle of fish again. She is still the most adorable little baby in the world and hardly ever any bother at all. She does protest loudly at getting dressed and undressed, but that's about it. I feel rotten for her if she is getting Chicken Pox. She is such an innocent little mite.

    Saturday, April 19, 2008

    Sleeping beauty


    Lucy snuggles up for the night with Lucien bunny.

    Bless her, she seems to be losing some of her hair at the back. I remember that her hair was dark and thick at the back when she was born and I have always meant to take a snip of it. I'd better do it quick, before it all goes.

    Thursday, April 17, 2008

    BBC NEWS | Education | Fake divorce to get school places

    BBC NEWS | Education | Fake divorce to get school places

    Tuesday, April 15, 2008

    BBC NEWS | Health | Fathers are 'shut out of birth'

    BBC NEWS | Health | Fathers are 'shut out of birth'

    Monday, April 14, 2008

    BBC NEWS | England | London | TV host Speight was found hanged

    BBC NEWS | England | London | TV host Speight was found hanged

    It's hard to know what to say when someone with apparently so much to live for, but who had clearly lost so much, decides they can't go on. Oliver many times sat and watched Mark and his "Shape Store" on Smarteenies. He brought so much to so many children through his love of art and his ability to relate it to them. He really will be missed.

    In the wars

    Last Thursday Hayley went in to hospital to have some scheduled but rather urgent knee surgery. She had been trying to rest her knee but the Christening meant that plan went out of the window. On leaving hospital she was advised to rest her knee and not to stand for more than 20 minutes in an hour.

    On Friday and over the weekend I was there to help. But since I went back to work today these guidelines have been hard to follow with a baby and a toddler in tow. Friends have helped where they can. One took Oliver to playgroup today. Another is taking him to nursery tomorrow and hopefully for a play-date with her son afterwards.

    Over the weekend we were due to go to a party, my Mum coming up to babysit overnight. In the event she decided she couldn't stay over but still baby-sat while we went out. We were out for no more than two and a half hours and while there my slightly upset stomach of the afternoon progressed to full-on nausea. I couldn't even look at the delicious food and while others sipped champagne, my strongest tipple was pepto-bismol from my host's medicine cabinet. Hayley managed to accomodate a walking stick into her fancy-dress outfit but in any case spent most of the party sitting down.

    The one up-side of me being ill was that by not drinking I actually felt less than
    a complete wreck when I woke on Sunday morning to get up with Oliver and Lucy at 7am. I couldn't help thinking of everyone else who attended though. We were the only couple who had to get up with our kids the next day, everyone else having the help of overnighting grandparents or having dropped off their darlings before going to the party. Still, no-one forced us to have kids and we always knew we'd be pretty much on our own with my Mum the closest grandparent at an hour away and everyone else effectively just occasional turns on the stage of our children's lives.

    More concerning than our own woes though is that Lucy has been ill for the last few days, in fact we think we can trace it back at least a couple of weeks. She has been throwing up all her milk some evenings as she goes to bed. Her nappies are also very frequent, runny and smell very bad. She has lost weight and we also noticed her belching at odd times of the day when she'd had neither food nor milk.

    Today Hayley took her to the doctor who tentatively diagnosed two things. Firstly, she may be lactose intolerant so milk is now off the menu and we have moved to SMA-LF, a lactose free milk. This condition may not be permanent. It can disappear by age 12-18 months. The second condition diagnosed was some reflux which can be treated with Gaviscon in her milk. Hopefully this too will disappear in a similar timcescale. In fact, the doctor said his own daughter suffered from it but grew out of it.

    Little Lucy never complains much despite her woes. Even when she has thrown up vast amounts of milk and food all over herself and Hayley, after a few seconds of tears she then often musters a little smile. It tugs at the heart-strings I can tell you.

    Last night she must have wondered what on earth was going on. We managed to get her to bed without her being sick. A couple of hours later we came to bed ourselves (in the same room... yes we still haven't moved her!). No sooner were we in bed than we heard the unmistakeable sound of a nappy being filled. So we both got up, put the light on and changed her in her cot. SHe woke up and smiled at us. We largely managed to avoid eye contact as this is supposed to encourage her back to sleep. Then we cleaned up and went back to bed. Only one of us had made it under the covers before we heard the same sound again. The light went on again and the process was repeated. This time Lucy was making cute little shrieks and smiling madly at us. Resistance was crumbling as we smiled back. After a while we went back to bed. But not for long. About 45 minutes later a third explosion was heard and we got up again. After this change she wouldn't settle and in the end we were up for an hour.

    Today hasn't been much better. As she woke she set the tone for the day with a runny nappy and Hayley reported that she has either had to change her or clear up sick for much of the day. And yet she is still one of the happiest babies I ever saw. TOngiht while Hayley went out for an hour, I sat on the sofa reading books to Oliver while Lucy sat and played next to me, occasionally entertaining herself by biting my arm. Her favourite trick right now though is to bite my nose but ever so gently, which makes me laugh, in turn making her laugh and repeating the trick.

    Other pastimes for Lucy right no are to give Mummy kisses: very similar in fashion to Oliver at around the same age. She also waved to me unaided this morning when I waved goodbye to her from the door.

    So Oliver is currently the healthiest member of the household, with only the occasional runny nose to boast.

    Who needs Holby City when you can read my blog.

    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    BBC NEWS | Health | Europe-wide food colour ban call

    BBC NEWS | Health | Europe-wide food colour ban call

    Wednesday, April 09, 2008

    BBC NEWS | Health | Heart risk may be set in the womb

    BBC NEWS | Health | Heart risk may be set in the womb

    Tuesday, April 08, 2008

    On the move

    Today Lucy appears to have crawled, though we are not sure exactly how. All we know is that Hayley left her playing on the soft tiles in the living room near one of the chairs while she was in the kitchen for a few moments, but then turned around to see her almost at the door to the kitchen. That means she had travelled a distance of at least 6 feet.

    Back on the bike

    Today I came home to find Oliver has taken to riding his Islabike around the living room, sitting down on the seat this time, unlike his earlier ventures. Hayley had been encouraging him while I was at work and the two of them kept telling me I would have a surprise when I got home, which indeed I did. I hadn't expected him to try to ride it again until the summer.

    Plink, plink, fizz!

    Not the sound of a well-known indigetion remedy, but quite probably the sound Hayley's phone made this morning when Oliver made it the last of his selected objects to drop into her bedside glass of water. From outside the room I just heard the words "Oliver, no!!!!", then came in to find Hayley trying to turn off her phone and telling Oliver in a remarkably restrained manner "Oliver we don't do that with phones".

    Sunday, April 06, 2008

    Lucy's Christening


    We woke to find that despite choosing a date in April for Lucy's Christening, the world was covered in a coating of crisp white snow. But the sun was shining and we had lots to do before we got to the church. All went well until Oliver decided to have a tantrum and refuse to get dressed. Eventually he decided to let me dress him in his matching pin-striped trousers and waistcoat with white shirt and burgundy tie. Once dressed everyone heaped praise on him for looking so handsome and his reluctance to dress up was all forgotten. In fact he was quite pleased with himself.

    Once fed, we got Lucy into her Christening dress and she played happily in an armchair as the rest of us tried to make ourselves look decent.

    At the church there was only time for a few hellos before we got to our seats. Oliver and Niamh decided to walk hand in hand down the aisle to their places. Once the service was under way it became clear that my expectations were accurate: the kids were having a great time in the play area and making lots of noise. There were a few frowns and looks of disapproval from one or two in the congregation (and even one in the choir!) but overall most seem to take it in their stride.

    At one point things did start to get a bit out of hand (though I found it amusing to say the least). Oliver suddenly appeared from further back in the church, ran down the aisle and then fell to his knees to slide along the floor. He was chased by Niamh who ran after him shouting "Olver, Olver". I gathered up Oliver and then went after Niamh who was giving her Mummy the runaround and eventually caught her and carried her over to the play area before returning to my seat.

    The part of the service relating to the Christening was at the front of the church and involved us pledging to bring her up in a Christian fashion. Lucy was awake in my arms and happy.

    Then we moved to the back of the church where the font was. Hayley held Lucy before giving her to Chris. the vicar, who had to pause at one point and allow someone else to conduct part of the service over the tannoy because she was suffering an allergic reaction to someone's perfume. It was a slightly eerie moment: a voice booming out God-like from somewhere above us in the church.

    As I stood there I realised Oliver was standing right next to me on a chair in the pew next to the font with my Mum. He kept asking me "IS she going on the water?". I had the job of pouring the water into the font and am pleased to report that (to my surprise) it was warm. When the moment came to pour the water onto Lucy, in her typical way she took it all in her stride. In fact as she emerged upright after the water had been placed on her face she smiled, producing an audible "awwwww" from the congregation.

    For the final part of the Christening we stood at the front of the church for Lucy to be welcomed by the congregation. She had fallen asleep, but when everyone applauded to welcome her, she woke with a start and smiled.

    Oliver then headed up to the very top of the church beyond the choir stalls. "Oh wowee!" he cried as he made for various untouchable pieces of religious paraphenalia, before having to be forcibly removed wriggling in my arms down the aisle.

    At the conclusion of the service we headed off to the adjacent church hall for tea and biscuits. As I got my coat on I looked round to see Oliver doing his utmopst to climb onto the stool of the drum-kit that was standing in the corner of the church. I helped him up and alowed him a few strikes of drums and cymbals (too good an opportunity to miss!) before persuading him away with the promise of biscuits.

    After some tea and biscuits we took some pictures by the font. The fact that no-one was allowed to take any pictures in the service was the one disappointment to me. At St John's people were invited to take pictures for 30 seconds before the part of the service at the font. Here it was completely banned as "out of keeping with the atmosphere of the servoce". Oh well.

    Then it was off to Th Heatons SPorts Club for the party. We arrived to find next to no parking due to a couple of rugby games and once in found we had lost my Mum on route. Then the laptop being used to run the disco threatened to play up, but after a few minutes we were all present, correct and suitably emtertained with music.

    We said a few words of thanks and gave gifts to the God-parents before everyone attacked the buffet. While people ate we played the CD we made and Hayley and I took our opportunities to dance with the little lady. Hayley dancing to "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", me dancing to "Blue Eyes". That dance was one of the loveliest moments of the day. I will never forget it.

    After w ahile, Janine (our DJ) produced a bubble machine for the kids which went down a storm. The kids -mostly toddlers - were all runninng around, dancing and generally having a good time.

    The turn out was good, but as often seems to be the case on these occasions we hardly managed to get to say more than "hello" to anyone. Before we knew it nearly all the food was gone, leaving Hayley and I to grab the odd scrap (mini veggie rolls to be precise)!

    Everyone departed by about 2.30pm. But the hallwas booked til 5pm, including bar staff, so we stayed on in hall until then with Manny, Sara, Jack, Janine, her duaghter Lucie and Sara's parents. We watched the women's rugby through the window, danced and played games with the kids, and had a few more drinks than we would normally on a Sunday afternoon! (Not difficult admittedly, as we don't normally drink.) Perhaps that explains how I came to have video of Hayley and the ladies demonstrating the Birdy Song to Oliver and Jack.

    After that we all headed back to our house where the fun went on and Oliver was allowed to stay up til 8.30, which is very late for him. But it was a special day. A special day we will never forget.

    The photos from the day are gathered together here.


    Wednesday, April 02, 2008

    The front backward crawl

    Today Lucy crawled backwards for the first time. Most of the rooms she spends time in have uncarpeted floors, so the poor little lady would find it hard to crawl. But we often put down some patterned tiles that give her a little more purchase and it was on these that she has made her first move.

    She has lots of body strength, probably from all that time she spends in her Baby Bjorn front carrier. And in the morning she raises herself up off her belly with both arms to peer up into the bed and look for signs of wakefulness. So if we let her spend a bit more time in a crawling position, I wouldn't be surprised if she starts to get around a bit more.