Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cool pool


Some time ago Hayley bought this rather snazzy double pool with linking bridge/slide. Today the weather really warranted it for the first time so we put it into action.


Both kids had a fantastic time in it. Add the fact that Hayley also bought water pistols and all four of us had lots of fun.

Oliver splashes down.

Mission accomplished!

Today I completed the MAG charity bike ride. Many thanks to all those who supported me. More over on its own blog.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


I know my children are individuals. I know I should not compare them to others, including myself. But there are times when I look at my children and I can't help seeing echoes of myself and my sister.

In my defence I ask you to consider exhibits A and B below.

In exhibit A (circa 1967), my self and my sister are pictured at home on the drive. She closely inspects the workings of mother nature (a flower) while big brother looks on.
Discovering nature

In exhibit B (circa 2009), my son and his sister are pictured at home on the drive. She closely inspects the workings of mother nature (a slug) while big brother looks on.
Inspecting a slug.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Back to the 60s (if only)

There was a moment over the weekend in our house when our landline was dead, neither of our mobiles could get a signal and our PC couldn't connect to the internet. Save for the presence of Hayley's iPod Touch we were back in the 1960s.

It made me realise how dependent we have all become on our tools of communication in this highly connected world. Funnily, every time this sort of thing happens, my initial dismay is gradually replaced by a longing to recapture that unconnected world of my youth, when people wrote letters with some thought, they visited each other and made the most of that time in each other's company. When it comes to communication, our world today has quantity without much quality.

The PC is still trashed (well, its network connection anyway) but other than that we seem to be in contact with the world again. If in doubt, send me a message in no more than 160 characters.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Look what I ordered!

Having just celebrated my own birthday, I am as excited about ordering this for Oliver as I would be ordering a bike for myself. Hell, who am I kidding, I am more excited!

It's another offering from Islabikes, a company specialising in bikes for kids. This one is the Cnoc 14 (pronounced as in "knock").

I have measured Oliver and he seems to be the right size for it now. He is very confident on his Rothan (see earlier posts), so I think the time has come to see if he can add pedaling and braking to his existing cycling skills.

It's due to arrive in about a week. Watch this space.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A day in pictures (some moving)

When I first heard Lucy shouting for one of us to get up at around 6.24 this morning I can't say I knew with certainty that I would have a great day.

But I needn't have worried.

By 7.28am both kids were up, dressed and looked like this.


How could I not feel happy!

We headed downstairs where Oliver announced that he wanted organic oat pancakes for breakfast. (OK, he asked for pancakes and I'm throwing in the detail so you imagine all our diet is so healthy.)


Lucy, who will do absolutely anything her brother does, decided to have the same. (Note to self: start looking for finishing school for Lucy.)


After breakfast Oliver, who had a late night last night after accompanying me to the bike shop to pick up my bike, decided to have a little lie down and climbed into the buggy.


Soon enough though we were out and about, first heading to Borders to man-handle lots of books, read slightly fewer and buy even less. Both kids sat quietly reading like this for the whole time we were there.


Yeah right! After a good start, Lucy's attention span diminished to be as small as was her interest large in every child who came into the reading area. When it became clear that further reading was unlikely to be possible, we headed to the check-out via some playstation drums which each of them obviously had to try.

After lunch they made cakes, supervised by Mummy and assisted by their new friend Emma.


After the cakes were iced, Lucy and Emma finished of the cake mix.


A few minutes in the oven and some further decoration later (by Lucy and Mummy)...

...and voila! (Don't worry, none of the licked decorations made it onto cakes!)


Before dinner, Oliver and I went for a ride on my bike with his tag-a-long bike attached. Our destination was a field down by the river where there were some horses who would appreciate some of our carrots and an apple. It took us a while to get there as we stopped off at two parks along the way. An when we finally arrived, Oliver (in a move reminiscent of his younger days) would only let the horses have the carrots, eating the apple himself.


After dinner and some play at home, it was time for bed. Lucy threw up some of her bedtime milk (as she still does from time to time) but moments later after being cleaned up was in good humour, even singing a little of her lullaby (in tune!) before heading back to her room for hugs with Mummy.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Sing me to sleep


When Hayley was first pregnant with Oliver I wrote a lullaby in anticipation of his/her arrival. We didn't know whether we would have a boy or a girl, so I wrote two versions with just the name changed along with a few other words (making it more suitable for a boy or girl).

I had visions of singing my baby to sleep. In fact, although Hayley and I both sang this lullaby to Oliver every night as he had his bedtime milk and do the same now with Lucy, they were never sung to sleep by the song.

Funnily, Oliver never ever sang along, even though he would sometimes interrupt his milk to sing along to other songs. But Lucy has started to request my lullaby at night by singing the opening word, "Baby, baby...". Then she will ask for an encore, sometimes several times as she lies with her head on my shoulder. (She does the same with Hayley, in fact she did it with her first.) Eventually she says "Bye byes..." meaning she wants to go to sleep and we put her in her cot, contented and ready for sleep.

Yesterday Lucy spent the afternoon with me. She hadn't slept in the morning and by about 2pm she was getting tired. I sat on the sofa with her and she climbed up my front and put her head on my shoulder. I started to sing her lullaby to her and she lay there quite happily. After a couple of renditions I asked her if she wanted to lie on the sofa next to me and go to sleep. Depsite the fact she normally fights sleep and never does this, she said "Yeah" and lay back, holding her Minnie Mouse and Upsy Daisy as I pulled a blanket over her.

I continued to sing to her and her eyes started to droop. After a couple of minutes she was fast asleep. For me, it was a little dream finally come true.

When she woke a full hour later she was as happy as can be and the two of us sat on the sofa (with my arm around her), Lucy drinking very dilute hot chocolate while I drank tea and we both enjoyed a few baked crisps as we watched a programme previewing the upcoming Champions League semi-final (Man Utd vs Arsenal). Does life get any better than that?!

BBC NEWS | Health | Fathers' depression 'harms young'

BBC NEWS | Health | Fathers' depression 'harms young'

Although this may not seem on first inspection to be a very positive news story, at least it's an indication that the role of fathers is being given more attention and more weight when considering the well-being of children.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Getting ready for winter

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | WHO warns against flu complacency

So, apparently after the building anticipation and some media-induced fear of the last two weeks, we now learn that the coming swine flu pandemic may fizzle out. But (and it's a big but), it may return in the winter in a more deadly form.

Someone better qualified than I, speaking on Radio 4 yesterday, described the ongoing battle within each of us between the primeval part of our brain that says we should stock up on supplies and stay indoors versus the more evolved part (the pre-frontal cortex, I believe) that tells us not to panic and to consider the evidence more calmly. Every time I turn on the news it's like a mini version of the mixed feelings you get when stepping onto a plane to fly at 37000 feet. Rationally you know the chances of disaster are small, but part of you is still asking "what the hell are you thinking!".

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Getting ready for summer

This morning I made the sort of no-nonsense, optimistic remark that I might usually hesitate to make lest fate might decide to make an ass of me. Hayley was hanging out of the bedroom window looking down into the garden where Lucy, Oliver and I were playing. I told her "I think this is going to be a great summer for us. One to remember."

And why shouldn't it be. We are getting married. We have our brown eyed boy and our blue eyed girl. Even the weather here is supposed to be good for a change. What is more, Oliver and Lucy are at ages where they are not only adorable in their own rights, but they are also very close in a way that will surely fade in years to come.

So it was with good cheer in my heart that I started this sunny Saturday. Hayley then surprised me by trying a new hair style which I think rather suits her.


We then dropped the kids with friends (of ours and theirs) while we took in a wedding fayre in Stockport for a few more ideas and maybe a band. (Yes, we still haven't got one.) It turned out to be a bit small but that meant we had time for a Subway and (for me) even a swift half in a pub to catch a few minutes of the footy.

We picked up the kids who promptly fell asleep. When they woke we all went to the park, Hayley and Lucy by buggy while Oliver and I went by bike-plus-tagalong. I had planned to take Oliver for a ride further afield but he knew so many children at the park that we ended up staying their the whole of the rest of the afternoon.

Memorable moments included Oliver and his friend Jess taking me by the hands and running me round the playground as they were "rescuing me", though Jess several times said she was "taking me to the vets". Later, Oliver and a nursery friend chased round the playground "getting baddies". This included approaching a group of four, aged around 14, one boy from whom Oliver pointed out as the "baddy", much to the amusement of the boy's friends. I did have to take an interest at this point, as Oliver was waving a stick dangerously if inadvertently close to them as he expounded his views. I also spent a fair amount of time being leapt on, first by Oliver and Jess, then by Oliver and Alberto. However, most memorable was probably the moment when Jess and Oliver were "rescuing" me from a tree, by each pulling on one of my legs as I sat astride a branch. Just the memory makes my eyes water a little!

Meanwhile. Lucy insisted on going up the slide as well as down it.


On coming home Oliver took an interest in my Camelbak hydration pack (or "bladder" as we straightforwardly call them in these parts). To my surprise he immediately got the knack of biting the valve to release water flow and simultaneously sucking to drink.


Later, Lucy also took an interest. Much to my surprise she also managed to master the technique.


At bedtime Oliver asked whether he could replace his customary sippy cup that he keeps in his bed with a Camelbak. Sadly I had to decline his request.

But they both went to bed happy and if you throw in the fact that Hayley made a delicious vegetarian Jalfrezi this evening, plus a whole lot of laughter along the way, then you have a pretty terrific day. May the coming summer see many many more.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Daddy and Oliver time

Mmmmm... chocolate.

Last month Lucy and I had a little Friday afternoon trip to our local Polish deli. So this afternoon when I picked up Oliver from nursery I evened things up by taking him there for a snack.

He chose chocolate cake (no surprise there) and some water while I had carrot cake and a cup of tea. He was in a great mood after seemingly having had a fun time at nursery, playing with his friend, pretending to be Power Rangers. In an uncharacteristic bout of giving out information he also mentioned soft play (in the soft play room), singing and dancing. He didn't tell me exactly what he had for lunch but judging from the front of his jumper tomato sauce was involved. (He mentioned "bacon sauce"!)

The staff were friendly and we all chatted away as Oliver and I devoured our snacks. Afterwards I carried him off on my shoulders, something he always loves.

It was a tiny trip, but it's always nice to seize the opportunity of a little special one-to-one time with my boy.


Oliver decides to show me his knee which apparently had got a bit wet. (It was raining outside.)