Monday, May 26, 2008

Lucy's latest


The little lady is growing into a beautiful and sweet little girl before our very eyes. And she is only 9 months old! Here are a few of her current characteristics.

She is an essentially quiet, placid and happy little girl except in two notable situations. Firstly, whenever she is required to get dressed or undressed she screams like she is watching a Takashi Shimizu movie. She also wails if she is not supplied with successive mouthfuls of food at the required rate, which has been known to hit a peak of around one mouthful every 3 seconds. But in both these situations she is not upset so much as demonstrative and she can be laughing seconds later.

Talking of mealtimes, this evening Hayley indulged her with mock surprise and indignation (as if you can be indignant whilst simultaneously having a huge grin on your face) every time Lucy threw her sippy cup of water on the floor. Lucy chuckled madly at Hayley's high-pitched protestations. I know it's right up there in the "don'ts" of good parenting, but it really was cute and quite lovely to see my two girls having such fun.

Lucy's crawling is now quite quick. She is still using the "one knee and one foot" method. Unfortunately she does sometimes get herself under chairs and tables if she's not careful and then needs to be rescued.

Her chatter is quite entertaining. I'm sure she can't really speak in any way yet, but at dinner the other evening she repeated back "Hiya!" to Hayley twice in succession. It was uncanny. She has other favorite sounds. "Ah-Gee!", which is a bit like the "Ah-Choo" of a mock sneeze in its intonation. She does this so often that Oliver often uses it as his opening attempt to engage her in conversation.

Other times she just grunts. I'm smiling as I type this because it is quite a dismissive sounding grunt and reflects the slightly superior attitude she sometimes appears to adopt. I picked her up this evening and carried her into the kitchen to watch Hayley cooking dinner. She sat there quite unsmiling on my arm looking down at her Mummy as if the re-incarnation of Fanny Craddock.

Lucy's favourite game at the moment is to take things out of a container and put them back in. This evening for the first time Hayley got her to put the little plastic cubes into the little giraffe tower that plays a tune when you do so (hard to explain, I'll get a picture later). She also loves to take the shapes out of her "cookie jar" shape sorter and put them back in.

Her other favourite activity is rolling balls across the room. I give her the toy which involves rolling balls down a helter-skelter, but within seconds she has found the more entertaining game of rolling them across the length of the living room and under the table, from where Mummy or Daddy must try to retrieve them. Throwing the plastic lid of the cookie jar toy so it spins on the hard floor was also discovered today. A noisy but pleasing pursuit.

Dare I say it, but the little lady also continues to sleep well and to go to sleep well. This evening she went to bed wide awake but didn't complain. We could hear via the monitor that she was turning over, trying to get comfortable and she even said something to Hayley when she went in to see her after a few minutes. But when Hayley left she was quiet again until she fell asleep. She is a little angel. I wish I knew what we'd done to deserve her! I do think we are in for some disturbed sleep soon though, as she still has no teeth that have come through, so surely she will be teething fairly soon.

One particular fabourite trick of hers right now is to steal my glasses. I don't help things by saying "Hey...!" in mock disapproval, which only makes her laugh and do it again. Although, she does also try to put them back on me sometimes.

And yet, none of this really adequately conveys the little lady at 9 months old. I can only say that she is essentially a very happy, smiley little girl who also brings a big smile to the faces of her brother, her Mummy and her Daddy every single day.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

What a difference a year makes: ask Gerry Giraffe


Seeing Oliver so confident as he rode on Gerry the Giraffe up at my Mum's house this weekend, was another reminder of how quickly he is growing up. Contrast his confident riding style of now (above) with his enthusiastic but less confident style of a year ago (below), when his ride involved tightly gripping Daddy's shirt to be sure he was safe.

Hold on tight

Or so I thought...

When I came to check the video of the two occasions, it seems he was quite confident in the saddle a year ago (above) once he had got the knack of it.

A year on (below) he is even more confident - even pressing the start button for himself - though quite what he is jabbering on about I honestly couldn't tell you!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

We are the champions!

To our delight, we won the Champions League final tonight in Moscow after a tense penalty shoot-out. We watched the game in a local pub with friends.

The victory comes on the back of winning the Premier League title on the last day of the season.

When we came home we found both children up and watching TV after waking and alarming our babysitter. But they were soon settled again, leaving us to try to absorb the victory.

That's my boy!

Oliver in his new United shirt.

Getting ready for the match!

Oliver, lucy and hayley are all in United shirts today.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Big steps, Little steps

How quickly they grow. And how quickly they grow up. You hear every parent say it and yet it can't be said enough, because no matter how hard we might try there are moments constantly slipping through our hands like the sands of time itself.

When taking Oliver for a ride in his new bike-mounted seat, it struck me that I had probably taken him out in the Wee-Ride carrier for the last time. And when that last time came, some time last summer, I didn't know it had arrived. It was a poignant reflection and one I seem to be encountering often recently.

As I walked up the stairs behind Oliver tonight, I noticed he was no longer stepping up with one foot and then the other onto the same step, but was instead walking up as an adult would, with each new step being trodden by alternating feet. He didn't do it all the way up, but it was a noticeable development. A far cry from when he crawled up the stairs with me right at his back to catch him. And yet it seems not so long ago.

Although Oliver dropped every bottle but his bedtime bottle by around 17 months, he has still been having a bottle of milk in an Avent bottle at bedtime. What is more, despite his age, he has still been having one of us hold it for him and feed him exactly as we fed him as a baby. Consequently, with both kids going to bed around the same time, recently Hayley had to feed them both their bottles simultaneously, one on each knee.

So we decided we would get Oliver a special cup that he would want to drink from himself. Hayley got a rocket shaped cup with a retractable straw that sports a picture of Roary the Racing Car. A brilliant choice.

So last night we let him have this cup and as he sat on my knee drinking his bedtime milk our roles as bottle holders officially became redundant. Again it was a bitter sweet experience to see my big boy growing up and yet to have to say goodbye to a little moment that we shared where he was happily dependent on me. But isn't that exactly what being a parent is all about: learning to very slowly let go. It's just happening so much earlier than I expected and is therfore so much harder than I had imagined.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Back on our bikes


This afternoon I fitted the new seat to my bike. Oliver has pretty much outgrown the Wee-Ride carrier but Lucy is now big enough to enjoy it (pictured above). So this afternoon we all took a spin to the park and a little beyond. Lucy protested every time Hayley stopped. Oliver shriekd with delight on his first trip down the road as well as playing the drums on my back occasionally and shouting "again!" every time I went over a speed bump.

Meanwhile we have bought an exercise bike. It's not always easy to get a babysitter or to slip out for a spin, so our stationary cycle gives us the opportunity to exercise at home. It is quite snazzy machine with many of the programmes we are used to using in the gym (way back when we could afford a membership!). Hayley has already taken to it eagerly and seems to be adopting a policy of only watching Eastenders while enduring a cardio workout programme on our new toy.

So far the only hazards are that Oliver wants to climb onto it which is far too dangerous and that Lucy occasionally crawls across the room and under the path of the pedals, bringing exercise to a temporary halt. However, the bike's permanent home will be in the corner of our bedroom, so hopefully it will be less prone to attck in there.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

9 months old today - She is officially crawling

I've seen Lucy shuffle herself around to move a few feet before today, but this morning I saw her crawl.

First of all we left her in the living room for a couple of minutes with Oliver, returning to find her on the other side of the room and trying to reach a ball under the coffee table! We were both open-mouthed.

A few minutes later we took her upstairs and sat her on the floor of the bathroom so Hayley could have a shower. While Hayley got a towel and sorted her clothes, Lucy got bored of the bathroom and I saw her crawl out of the bathroom and onto the landing. It was an unforgettable moment. She moved just as Oliver did at first: on one knee and one foot.

On returning home from work, Hayley reported to me that Lucy had ventured under the dining table and also, worryingly, had attempted to get under the television. Looks like it's time to start getting things out of reach again.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Just gorgeous


My birthday


Oliver and Hayley sang "Happy Birthday" before helping me with my cake. Lucy clapped and made approving noises. As she was unable to share the cake (due to her dairy free diet) she had some none-dairy chocolate.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Stay-at-home mums becoming a thing of the past - Times Online

Stay-at-home mums becoming a thing of the past - Times Online

Any time I feel hacked off with work, I remember how lucky we are that Hayley can stay at home and be a full-time Mum.

Stay-at-home mums becoming a thing of the past
Joanna Sugden

More mothers are returning to work than at any time in the last 15 years because of the escalating cost of living, research indicates.

The pressures of inflation and the Government's incentives to get women back into work mean that stay-at-home mums are becoming a rarity with one in three women returning to work before their child's second birthday, the survey suggests.

The number of women in Britain becoming full-time mothers has fallen 24 per cent from 2.7 million in 1993 to just 2.04 million in 2008. That figure is set to drop below the two million mark by 2010 according to the joint YouGov and uSwitch research.

Given the choice, most mothers would prefer to look after their children themselves the survey found. Seventy five per cent of women said if money were no object, they would stay at home to care for their children, but in the current economic climate they do not have that luxury. Parents said they would need an average household income of £31,731 for one partner to be the full-time carer, but with the average wage for men and women nationally far lower than that mothers are forced to return to work earlier than they would like after giving birth.

One in three parents thinks their child would have a better quality of life if they looked after them full time but the survey also found that a third of children under two years of age come from families where both parents work.

The research indicates increasing childcare and living costs have created a vicious circle where parents cannot afford to remain at home but also struggle to pay fees for nurseries which can cost as much as £8,000 per child.

Labour have introduced a raft of measures to get mothers back in to employment and the welfare reform programme announced in the latest Budget aims to get 300,000 single parents back to work. But the Government is under pressure from popular Conservatives policies such as tax breaks for married couples to help mothers stay at home and the right to flexible working hours for all parents with children under 18.

Labour launched a review of the right to request flexible work last year which could see parents of children as old as 18 being given the right to work part-time, work from home or work flexitime.

Maria Miller, Shadow Minister for Families, said the Government had lost touch with what families need.

"The increase in childcare costs which this report unveils is worrying for parents dealing with the rising cost of living. The Government's complicated tax credits make it hard for parents to get the support they need with childcare."

The survey sought responses from 2198 adults of whom 1391 were parents.

BBC NEWS | England | Manchester | Sex attack on elderly dog walker

BBC NEWS | England | Manchester | Sex attack on elderly dog walker

Hayley and her friend Clare were in this park with the kids at the time of this attack. Scary.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

On the move - Little by little


Lucy is sooooo close to crawling now. She gets on all fours and moves her hands forwards so her tummy touches the ground, then drags her legs forward. Any day she will get all four limbs moving in co-ordination. ANd then we will be in trouble!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Good morning!


Oliver has taken to coming into our bed after we get him out of his cot in the mornings. This morning he brought along (from left to right) Iggle Piggle, Peter Rabbit (who was his first ever toy and whom he has recently rediscovered), Baby Lucien (the smaller of Lucy's two Lucien Bunnies) and last but not least Big Julien (the larger and by far the most cherished of Oliver's two Julien dogs).

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Silent Night

On her first night in her own room, Lucy slept soundly all night. And when she woke, we could hear her moving on the monitor, no doubt raising her head to look around. But rather than letting out a cry when she couldn't see us, she just made her usual morning "waking up" sounds and even nodded off for a few minutes. All in all a great success.

Of course, I wouldn't like you to imagine this meant we slept soundly ourselves. As well as getting up occasionally to check that she wasn't too hot or cold (with the window open as it was 23 Celcius when she went to bed but much colder later), Oliver also woke twice, a little upset and needing re-assurance before going back to sleep.

Even so, a great start. And it means we can do wild things in our bedroom now.... like read in bed and watch TV!

Monday, May 05, 2008

On the move - to a room of her own


Tonight, at nearly nine months old, Lucy has moved into her own room for the first time!

It has been a wrench for both of us, but for her own sake we thought we ought to try to get her used to having her own room earlier rather than (even) later. If we didn't do it now, I could see it being years. And that didn't feel quite fair on Oliver either, as he moved into his own room many months earlier than Lucy (though it was out of necessity).

Every morning Lucy wakes before Oliver at around 6.00-6.20am. She then lifts her head, Sphynx-like, to peer at Hayley and I in bed. After a few minutes (during which she rarely goes back to sleep) she will complain loudly enough for us to get her out of the cot and take her out of her gro-bag and put her into bed between us. There she proceeds to bash nine bells out of our faces and grab our noses at all opportunities with her vice-like grip. Adorable but also sometimes quite painful. The when I hear Oliver wake I go and carry him in and he joins us in bed. More precisely he usually takes my spot, next to Lucy, then generously moves over to make room for me when I ask him nicely.

So tonight for the first time we go to sleep without the little lady there beside us. But as I re-assured Hayley this evening, she is only another 10 paces and less than 5 seconds away. When we hear her on the baby monitor I suspect it may turn out to be even less than that!