Tuesday, March 31, 2009

DJ Lucy


I have taken this photo in the full expectation that when Lucy does her first set as a cool and happening DJ she will use this picture on the flyers. (Will there still be flyers by then? I bet there will!)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Our house


Yesterday Hayley and I assembled this rather splendid little playhouse bought from friends at a very reasonable price. The kids immediately took to it. Oliver has already started referring to it as "our house" meaning it belongs to him and Lucy.

Hayley commented last night that if the weather holds up this week they'll be able to play out there long enough to allow her to stand in the kitchen watching them while she tries to reduce the height of the mountain of ironing that seems to have built up recently.


The Dress - No image available

The wedding dress has been ordered.

Hayley has spent a lot, hell ALL her spare time recently looking for her wedding dress. Bridal shops, wedding fares and retail outlets all got a look-in. And as these places don't allow kids to come in and wreck their expensive gowns, I have been able to spend some quality Daddy time with both kids.

Of course, I haven't been allowed to see anything to do with the dress so there is absolutely no chance of a photo here. Nor of the dresses for the flower girls which will also remain a carefully kept secret until the big day.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Little Hayley


I sometimes call Lucy "Little Hayley" and here's why. The girl at the back on the left is Hayley at 5 years old. If you can't see the resemblance with Lucy I suggest you make an appointment with an optician. (There's a bigger image here.)

For the record, second from the front on the right is Hayley's older brother Paul who is sadly no longer with us. In some shots of Oliver I think you can see a resemblance between him and Paul too. Hayley's younger brother Wayne is sitting in the centre at the far end of the table and her cousin Becky is sitting next to Hayley.

The party was jointly for Hayley's 5th birthday and Paul's 6th birthday as they were born 11 and a half months apart.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Big boy gel


Last week Oliver got his hair cut at our local salon. (Too expensive for me and Hayley but the little man likes it there!)

At the conclusion of the cutting, the hairdresser asked Oliver whether he wanted any "big boy gel" on his hair. He agreed. Hayley then took the above photo to send to me.

Obviously I think the little man looks adorable.

But I'm not sure about the gel. I mean I'm not sure whether a 3-year-old needs gel or should be hooked into the trappings of an overly image-obseesed world. I am adamant that I want his self-esteem to come from the person inside, not the appearance outside, but am I being out-of-touch and missing the point in thinking hair products are a bad idea?

I should add I use the odd dab of "product" myself, but only started to do so in adulthood.

I don't have a clear answer, but I suspect he can have both the hair gel and the self-esteem as entirely independent facets of his life and I'm just an old fuddy duddy trying to keep up with the times!

BBC NEWS | Education | Parents feel excluded by children

BBC NEWS | Education | Parents feel excluded by children

The other day I had a conversation with Oliver that went something like this.

Me: "What did you do at nursery today?"
Oliver: "Nothing."
"Who did you see?"
"OK. What did you have for lunch?"
"Well where did you go with Mummy after nursery?"
"So you did nothing, saw nobody and went nowhere."

Of course he had a full day as always, but so often it's hard to get answers. And when you do they can be fabrications.

However, Hayley and I have happened on another great way to find out what Oliver does at nursery. This weekend he has taken to pretending to be his teacher and treating us as his pupils. The result is that we are finding out more about his days now than we have in the whole of the last term!

Yesterday I did songtime and he read me a story before announcing that it was time to watch Teletubbies on the big telly. (And there was I thinking that nursery was the one place he wouldn't be watching more TV!)

Today he made Hayley the VIP, which means she gets to ring the bell when it's tidy-up time and ride in the lift instead of walking downstairs amongst other things. I'm feeling lucky. I think it might be my turn tomorrow.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mother's Day 2009


You would think that on Mothering Sunday of all days Hayley would have had a nice long lie-in. In fact when I got up, she got up too for a while, watching TV in bed with Lucy until Oliver woke, and then helping me dress them. Then when I took them downstairs she read the paper and watched TV. Only then did she finally decide to have a nap.

Meanwhile Lucy, Oliver and I wrote her Mother's Day cards and drew pictures to put in with them.


I then set to work cooking her breakfast. I confess this was a somewhat wasteful enterprise, mostly because several times I had to leave the cooker to resolve disputes over toys. The loud shouting of Lucy usually indicated that despite her best efforts to take something from Oliver he was not letting go without a fight. At one point I entered to see her repeatedly hitting him over the head as he hung on to a toy car. I quickly intervened and reprimanded her, even getting her to say sorry to him. But by the time peace had broken out and I returned to the cooker to find there were some very burned tomatoes awaiting me.

Eventually the meal was assembled and the three of us hiked eagerly up the stairs to deliver breakfast-in-bed complete with cards and flowers. Hayley was delighted. She tucked in eagerly (once I had gone back for the ketchup) but pretty soon found that her offspring were ready for a second breakfast. Lucy in particular would happily have eaten all her quorn sausages if I hadn't distracted her with our final task of the morning.


Unable to find the right wrapping paper, I happily wrapped Hayley's presents with pink Happy Birthday paper, eagerly assisted by Lucy. She then started to unwrap them again but I managed to stop her before all our good work was undone. I won't tell you what her presents were, but if you see Hayley out and about, feel free to tell her she smells nice and to comment on how she is carrying something more stylish than her usual giant changing bag.

After all this we drove up to my Mum's house for a fun afternoon before heading back home in time to bath the kids and put them to bed on time.

As the day closed, Hayley told me several times how much she had enjoyed her special day. And from the glint in her eye, I reckon she's already looking forward to next year's breakfast-in-bed!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

PLoS Medicine - Advanced Paternal Age Is Associated with Impaired Neurocognitive Outcomes during Infancy and Childhood

PLoS Medicine - Advanced Paternal Age Is Associated with Impaired Neurocognitive Outcomes during Infancy and Childhood

Not sure I can make sense of this research. It seems to contrast the positive effects of having an older mother with the negative effects of having an older father, without clearly saying what happens if you have both. Well, it wasn't clear to me anyway in the 60 seconds I had to read the summary. Decide for yourself.

Anyway it says the negative effects are subtle and it is not clear what happens in the years from age 8 and beyond.


"Help! I need somebody.
Help! Not just anybody."
The Beatles

Help. I need some, desperately.

We want a band for the wedding reception in the evening. We thought we had one but then their agent told us that it turned out the guitarist is Best Man at a wedding that day. We've searched the web and asked around but so far we are still bandless.

We do have a couple of other irons in the fire but so far nothing that immediately and clearly fits the bill. Not that we are very clear what the bill is!

So if anyone out there knows of a band they think would go down a storm at our reception, perhaps someone you saw at somebody else's wedding who got all ages up and dancing, then please please please let me know. Soon!

Monday, March 16, 2009

BBC NEWS | Health | Vegetarians 'get fewer cancers'

BBC NEWS | Health | Vegetarians 'get fewer cancers'

Interesting, but not quite a blanket thumbs-up for vegetarianism.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How do you like them apples?


Oliver has been keen on apples for some time, but only recently has his sister started to treat them as something to eat rather than just chew then spit out. I took a few shots of them with a borrowed Nikon D40 DSLR. In the midst of the credit crunch and with the wedding approaching this might be as close as I get to owning such a fine piece of photographic kit.



Heaton Moor watch

The restaurant replacing Room 311 now has an ad in the front window looking for staff and a link to its website. Not sure we'll be able to just pop in for coffee.

So the only place on our doorstep to go out for an alcoholic beverage in the evening is The Moor Top pub, which is OK at best. It also means it's the only handy place to go for the kids to eat more than a snack. This wouldn't be a big issue, but as we are having some of the house redecorated at the moment to repair the damage caused by the Christmas flood, we haven't been eating at home in the evening as the place is full of dust, smelling strongly of paint and anyway most of the kitchen utensils are packed away.

Monday, March 09, 2009

BBC NEWS | England | Tyne | Head urges lie-ins for teenagers

BBC NEWS | England | Tyne | Head urges lie-ins for teenagers

I'm not sure whether this is a common sense idea that will benefit the learning of teenagers or a pandering to their desire to stay up late and get up late which won't serve them well for "the real world". As a teenager I often burned the midnight oil. But in adulthood, breaking this habit brought me more energy. My aim now is always to go to bed before I am (yawning) tired. That way I feel refreshed when I wake. Well, I do on the occasions the kids don't keep waking me inbetween times, but that's a different story.

BBC NEWS | England | Manchester | More held in Pc hit-and-run death

BBC NEWS | England | Manchester | More held in Pc hit-and-run death

This pub is in the same group of shops as our chippy. Only a few hours before this incident Oliver and I had been there on my bike.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Daddy and Lucy time


This afternoon as I cycled home from work I got a call from Hayley. She was trying to load her car with equipment for her playgroup with Lucy in tow. There was a lot to shift and after carrying a few small parcels Lucy had lost interest and wasn't helping. At all. In fact she was trying to join the 6 year olds in the playground at the school where this was all taking place.

Once home I jumped into the car and collected the little lady. So we had some unexpected Daddy and Lucy time. As it was perhaps the nicest day of the year so far, I decided to take her for a ride on my bike as I often used to do with Oliver.

Already she is really too big for WeeRide carrier, so I put her in the Hamax seat behind me on my On-One. We had only gone about 10 feet down our drive and then stopped to get round the car when I heard her chuckle. I wasn't at all surprised to find that Lucy really enjoyed riding on my bike.

So we headed off to Pokusevski's, a local deli often visted by me and Oliver. Despite the nice weather they hadn't sorted out the seating in the rear garden. Nonetheless we stayed, as they had seating in the shop part. I had a cup of tea and we each had some cake. I had a piece of carrot cake while Lucy had a piece of rich chocolate cake.

We sat with a gentleman in his eighties, Lucy being charming as ever. All three of us chatted away. I told him we were going to collect Oliver shortly from his nursery and discovered that his own children went to the same nursery 50 years ago when it first opened. He said that from the start it was a charitable trust and was inclusive of children of all backgrounds and welcoming to children of all abilities and disabilities, just as it is today.

A little later we pedalled our way home, the little lady staying awake all the way, despite being tired. With a little persuasion I got her into my car and we went to collect Oliver.

I really enjoyed having a bit of quality one-on-one time with my daughter (even if she spent the first couple of minutes telling me "want Mummy"!). It is something I look forward to repeating. Hayley and I have been trying to make sure that in addition to time spent as a family, we each have a bit of time with the kids one-to-one like that. It's at least as important with Oliver as the little lady doesn't have his restraint and so can be disruptive to the sort of things he likes to do.

The rest of the day was equally lovely. We went to the park. Hayley took the kids down there while I showered. She said that they walked into the park hand in hand, producing suitable cooing from the other Mums.

After I joined them, Oliver and I went to get the fish and chips on my bike. Back at the house, eating our dinner, Oliver's manners were immaculate, he even corrected Lucy ("don't forget to say Thank You, Lucy"). Perhaps good manners were the subject at nursery today. Whatever the reason, he was about as perfect a little boy as I could imagine, laughing and chatting away with us and playing nicely with Lucy.

Tonight I'm feeling quite tired, but perhaps my most tired muscles are the ones I've been using all afternoon to smile.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

BBC NEWS | Health | Stillbirth rate 'still too high'

BBC NEWS | Health | Stillbirth rate 'still too high'

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Unexpected pleasures

Yesterday lunchtime I suddenly decided to pop home from work. I needed a couple of things and thought I'd take the chance to have a nice break from the office. Often Hayley doesn't go home on Monday lunchtimes, but driving home I got a text from her to say that she, Oliver, Lucy and her minded child were all having lunch outside Blue Corn (our local organic store). So I texted back to say I'd be there in 5 mins. I arrived to find cheese on toast had been ordered for me and the rest of my family were tucking onto theirs.

Oliver had ridden there from nursery on his Rothan bike and decided to ride around on the very wide pavement area while I ate. So I grabbed this bit of footage of him. I was so excited to see how confident he is on his bike now. I am growing more confident myself that he will transition to a bike with pedals without needing stabilisers (which is the whole point of the Rothan).

The whole experience was a little oasis of bliss in the middle of an otherwise unremarkable day at the office. I'm so glad I work so close to home and can do this sort of thing.