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“Cat nip for kids.”

This is a bit of a niche read, more than so than my normal “I’m a dad let me tell you about it” but it is something that I think other parents may relate to.

This blog is all about my beef with Iggle Piggle, Dora, Peppa, The Tweenies and other high pitched kids TV characters.Image-1

I am well aware that I am not a Kids TV executives target audience, and just 5 minutes watching our small human stand in front of the TV and dance and sing along or sit transfixed with the shrill lead characters makes you realise they know what they are doing, as my wife puts it they have created “cat nip for kids”.

Now I do not hate ALL kids TV, and I have to admit I do love getting home from work in time to watch CBeebies with Bea. I don’t get the full bed time hour; getting back in time to be met by our little one who will excitedly beckon me into the living room, point at Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy or any of the other characters that reaffirm who they are by only being able to say their own name or come up with their own theme tune and we will watch them doing their stuff in the garden. The best bit is when Iggle Piggle knobs off on his boat and we get down to the Cbeebies bedtime story. Here the Beeb pull some weight
and pull in names such as Professor Brian Cox, Guy Garvey, Simon Pegg, Mary Anne Hobbs!!! And even crossing over the childhood timelines Floella Benjamin who all then read bedtime stories and wish the children of Britain a good night. Then comes the flosong, the good night song, all part of our night time routine now. Post song Bea will even take herself off to the bottom of the stairs ready to be escorted upstairs to bed. Perfect! Although I am aware that I need to be careful saying that in public, both not to jinx our luck or to infuriate those parents with little ones that refuse to sleep. We are lucky!

I don’t remember my very early days of watching kids TV; it is likely I was a fan of Play School and Rainbow because my first two toy bears were named Ted & Bungle. The TV that stirs up the happy memories are shows that seem to now be on Hollywood’s radar, my generation now all in our 30’s with some disposable income and nostalgia pangs large enough for us to want to see a big budget Transformers/Turtles films. I am still waiting for them to make a Thundercats movie – do you hear me Hollywood, make that movie!

The American cartoons like Ghostbusters, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, He-Man & Thundercats, are so good that films and re-boots have been created, lunch boxes, t-shirts, duvet covers and new toys made and sold (something more for the disposable income to be spent on?)

The fantastic British cartoons like Banana Man, SuperTed, Duckula, Danger Mouse; frankly ANYTHING voiced/narrated by David Jason don’t seem to have the same commercial value for a reboot (I know there is a new Danger Mouse cartoon – keen to see how good/bad it is).

My wife points out that Bea “cannot be into everything you are in to.” That is correct (although it would make things easier, and allow me to buy more toys for us to play with… Or keep on a shelf in my office), I’m kind of hoping that means I don’t have to be into everything she seems to like… But that is when the guilt kicks in.

There is a fantastic blog written about In The Night Garden In The Night Garden: 10 things we’re all thinking (aren’t we?) | The (mal)Contented Mother it covers an awful lot of what I don’t like about the show – it is no Rainbow. The zero shits given about the sizes of characters in relation to the Ninky Nonk and Pinky Ponk is a real bugbear of mine!!! Plus the fact that at 33 years old I have just typed Ninky Nonk and Pinky Ponk – ridiculous!!!

merch

As with many hugely popular kids shows there are those commercial opportunities, in addition to this there seems to be a trend about creating a ‘world’ or ‘experience’ – like a smaller, less bells-and-whistles Disneyland.

My wife emailed me this week asking if I wanted to visit In The Night Garden LIVE, to see Iggle Piggle in the flesh/fur/whatever he is made out of. They create The Night Garden and you and your younglings can get up close and witness ‘the magic’ first hand (even closer if you pay a premium for front row seats). The promo email had it all, the heart-warming testimonies, the images of happy families; even a video showing you a glimpse of what to expect… And yet my reply was a resounding NO!

“But imagine seeing her face, it would be worth it surely!?” Replied my wife

And here comes the guilt.

No

I literally watch this show and pick it apart.

The Night Garden isn’t the only place I’m not sure I’d want to visit. The Tweenies strike me as an obnoxious lot and to hear Jake & Milo whinge (A LOT) to see them LIVE would be a step too far for me. TellyTubby land looks like Hobbiton, so unless you can guarantee me an army of Orcs will invade and rip the aerial off LaLa’s head then nope… Count me out.

Peppa Pig has her own world, I have heard nothing but good things from friends that have been but, for me, Peppa is like Stacey from Gavin & Stacey, I just don’t care for the title character. Both Peppa and Stacey have high pitched moaning voices and both get whiny when life doesn’t go their way. It is the support cast that make the show, George, Smithy, Daddy Pig and Uncle Bryn all funny characters that hold the show together.

So do I want to visit that garden. NO!

 

Do I feel guilty? Should I feel guilty? I don’t know. Should I?

 

 

 

FYI: My wife and mother-in-law have decided to take Bea to see Iggle Piggle and crew, I’m sure they will have loads of fun without me muttering under my breath about the ridiculousness of it all!

 

evil forces

 

 

Blogging again

According to WordPress it has been over 200 days since my last post – 2016 will be the year I do not leave it as long.

During this blogging hiatus there has been a lot of change going on around here. The mini human is just that now, a walking, kinda talking smaller version of us, with her own personality and foibles – IT IS A LOT OF FUN

During our antenatal classes the mums to be were all discussing MILESTONES cards – now I will be honest when the concept of different cards that baby ‘holds’ whenever a major milestone is hit and we then snap a photo of this moment providing a chronological image diary was described to me I didn’t see the point of them!? However, once we started to use them, and I could stage some of the photos for comedy value (well I found them funny!) then I have to admit I started to warm to the idea.  My wife has printed some of the milestone moments and has put them in a frame together and they look great – if nothing else it is nice having lots of pictures of the youngling in different stages of her first year.

 

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Milestone Card Moments

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There are, thankfully, some milestone cards that have not been produced – I may have to set up my own line of inappropriate milestone moments…

Weaning off bottles and onto solid food was fun. I say fun. I mean messy. I say messy. I mean some of our walls have been ‘redecorated’ with food produce permanently.

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Messy eating/redecorating.

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So we began the journey with liquidised food, as previous blogs mention we used a fair amount of Ella’s pouches in this process. Some of the combos of food were fantastic and I think at times baby ate better than we did. All power to those that make their own concoctions, my wife tried, but got so disheartened to see that’s after spending ages on her flavours and prep work the meal size portions come out of the freezer, defrost and then end up on the floor or the walls!

We moved onto the pouches to save the sanity of the whole family.

So spoon feeding was an experience, at the same time Bea was entering a crazy flailing left arm phase!? Seriously, her left arm seemed to have a mind of its own for about a month. You could load up a spoon full of Sunday Roast in liquid form from the pouch and before you know it, quicker than Ali in his prime; the sting from our Bea was the crazy left arm swipe and food was everywhere!

We then moved on to the milestone of wanting to hold the spoon to feed herself, this upgraded at times to chucking the spoon aside and grabbing the pouch and squeezing the contents into her mouth.

Spoon-less eating quickly followed – who has time for spoons when you can grab handfuls of food and face palm it into your mouth and surrounding area? We know the handling of food, the schmooshing up of food and even the throwing of food is all part of experimentation; and touch and texture is as important as smell and taste. However, when you see baked beans thrown up the kitchen wall you do question the educational value of it all.

Weaning onto solid foods milestone – tick

Hand gestures such as clapping and waving are now a regularity. In the early days a wave was met with celebration (from us) she looked super pleased with herself so waving at everything became her thing. Wave at lamp, wave at car, wave at DVD case, wave at reflection in the mirror.

Teaching the high 5 was a personal highlight, again followed by much celebration from me, which led to clapping from her, so much so that when giving the gesture for high 5 she would get ahead of herself and just clap. This often left me hanging, with her looking to any bystander like she was just sarcastically clapping me.

Now, she will happily clap at gameshows when the audience do, wave when you say “hello” or “bye bye” we have even moved onto the high 10!

During my wife’s maternity leave Karen and Bea attended ‘sing and sign’ classes together. I attended once and it seemed like a lot of ladies singing while waving their hands about while the babies crawled around eating toys. BUT the classes have totally paid off.

One night a few months ago we were woken by screams of terror from Bea’s room, both running in to comfort her we lifted her from the cot bed to have a cuddle. As we did she made a hand gesture, one we knew, one we had been using to sign for milk for many months. She was telling us she needed/wanted some milk. Quickly some was made up in a bottle and she latched on as if she hadn’t eaten for days. All parents think their kids are a genius sure, but could she be a total brain box with stuff like this?

Non-verbal communication – tick (with a high five)

I achieved my own milestone, one I don’t think I would want to do too often. About 9 months after Bea was born (to coin a Mickey Flannigan term) I went out out!!! I woke up on the floor of our bathroom at 4am, it was one of ‘those’ nights. The hangover the morning after was pretty horrific, and I was left in charge of the mini human. She could sense my pain, and seemed to want to add to it. Eye gouging, face slapping, fish hooking and beard pulling. Lesson learnt, never again… until next time.

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The abuse of a hungover father.

Hungover childcare – tick

Linked to this semi non appropriate parenting, is another story I am not massively proud of, but will probably be part of my father of the bride speech if/when one is needed.

Our little one gets a bit clingy every now and then. If we dare to disappear to the toilet for example she wants to follow us, weirdly transfixed by the running water from the tap when we wash our hands. Now picture the scene (but not too vividly as you will discover shortly); home alone, I am in need of a number 1. Having left the door open to appease the clingy one, in she walks. First up, she heads to the loo roll and does her best Andrex puppy impression unraveling it so it ends up covering the floor at my feet. Then… Uh oh. She notices running liquid, this time not from a tap, from me. Outstretches her little hand between my legs to try and touch said liquid, still flowing I try to contort my body so she can get nowhere near me or my wee. It’s a milestone the books don’t tell you about or they have made a card for and one I am not sure how to define?

The walking milestone is another we can tick off. It all started on a family holiday, Bea had been standing on her own for a while, but you could sense that she was desperate to join in the fun and games, especially watching older cousins running about. The first few tentative steps were a thing of beauty, Bea looked so happy on stumbling a few steps and with us all cheering and clapping. Since then walking has become running, dancing, and attempting jumps. My only issue is how she has a tendency to use of her head as a brake!!!

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Taking Dad for a walk.

Walking milestone: tick

There are hundreds of little milestones that we have witnessed, ones that don’t have a card. We are currently smashing animal noises out of the park, now when I leave for work and ask for a kiss I get a little person running up to me and planting one on me.

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The Mile High Club…

Having just got home from our first family trip abroad I feel both refreshed and in need of another holiday in equal measures.

My wife put so much research into making sure our trip abroad was one we could remember for all the right reasons I was concerned that if it didn’t work out what the fallout would be.

It was, thankfully, totally worth it.

During her extensive research of blogs, chat rooms, websites, brochures etc she came across some helpful titbits that ensured baby felt as comfortable as she could be on a plane for the first time, sleeping in a new bed and also what to do with sand! I will share these little nuggets of information on the off chance that regular readers with babies are booking a holiday soon, or someone searching a tag or category can benefit from my wife’s collation of holiday hacks. Or for those that are none of the above, but are lovely enough to read on.

Tip of the cap to the people of Pollença (Pollensa) in Majorca, a beautiful spot in the north of the island that is VERY child friendly; all bars, restaurants and shops are buggy friendly, particularly once you master the pedestrian crossing etiquette – generally take a leap of faith and walk out across the zebra crossing, there are no lights to stop traffic, they are SUPPOSED to stop when you are waiting to cross. With such a precious cargo in the buggy whichever parent wasn’t pushing had to take on the role of lolly pop person and guide the other over safely, there were a few false starts as we doubted the brakes of some vehicles.

We stayed in Las Velas, a hotel of self-catering apartments about a 5 minute walk away from the beach and 20 minute walk from the main stretch of restaurants on the Pine Walk. At check-in Bea was awake and full of smiles, after a few minutes of chat in Spanish between reception staff and a couple of clicks on the computer we were told we had a free upgrade to a room with a balcony and a roof terrace. We like to think that this down to her smiles and gurgles of delight to the reception staff attention, not the fact they saw a baby and thought lets get them as far away from other guests as possible!

HOLIDAY HACK – FLIGHT MODE                                                                                                If flying with a little one, take a bottle of milk, water or get a boob out for feeding during take off and landing. The suck movement of the jaw and swallowing will ease the pain of ears popping. Unlike us who can hold our nose and pull a funny face; puffing cheeks out to attempt to. They just stare at you as if you are a little bit weird.

The Pob Face - the face we all pull when popping our ears!

The Pob Face – the face we all pull when popping our ears!

Staying in an apartment meant we had a little kitchen, this meant we could have breakfast whenever we woke up (more importantly when baby woke up),so there was no rush to make it to a set time or venue. Mornings therefore were pretty relaxed, the only concern were the hard tiled floors and a baby determined to throw herself around in the high chair (provided along with cot by the hotel – all down to the extensive research).

We packed our baby monitor from home, along with almost everything else. For some reason only one of the MANY Ella’s pouches we packed raised concern at security leaving the UK. I don’t know what they put in their breakfast packets but it went through two pretty expensive looking machines for testing. Those that have read previous blogs will know we are a bottle feeding family, there was a chance we would have to do rock, paper, scissors to see who would have to taste the formula to prove it was not some sort of combustible liquid going onto the plane, but these machines gave them the once over and they were handed back to us. PHEW no need for tasting!

It turns out Spain is not a third world country and they do sell baby items! So you don’t need to pack the entire contents of your kitchen cupboards. I say this in jest as it felt like we had enough pouches and powder to feed an entire nursery… But we weren’t to know what would be on offer so with the added weight allowance of having a little person in tow we packed the lot!

Skip to a funny moment in the local super market with both of us trying to work out which nappies were the all night/sleep variety (guess what we forgot to pack)

“This one has a kid being ‘active’ on it”

“These have got a sun on!”

“Oooh this has a moon on the pack… These have to be the ones – get um!”

One thing we did remember to pack, but forgot to use is talcum powder

HOLIDAY HACK – SAND                                                                                                   Apparently, and I’m sorry I have no anecdotal evidence of this, but talcum powder is very effective when it comes to getting sand off little people. Grab a handful of talc (possibly from that bottle your nan got you for Christmas in 1998) and use it to effectively rid sand from the rolls of chunk on baby’s thighs, arms and neck. As I say, we had all the best intentions to do this, but talc is not the first thing to go on the list of what to pack in the beach bag… Still trying to master this parenting lark! So dips in the sea were used to rid the grains, we also resorted to holding her naked in the shower and hosing her down…

mouthful of sand... not the first, certainly not the last

mouthful of sand… not the first, certainly not the last

Alas we were still finding sand days later.

What didn’t help was the fact that Bea seemed to enjoy devouring sand.

By. The. Handful!!!

When it came to putting her to sleep we had two choices, stick to our routine from home and have her in bed by 7ish (not much chance therefore to visit local eateries) OR to take her with us, put her in her sleep gear and hope she would nod off while we ate.

Now multi tasking is some thing men get some slack over not being able to do, but I successfully managed the eating food and rocking baby with my foot combo, so we had meals out got bubs back to bed afterwards.

HOLIDAY HACK – HIGHCHAIRS                                                                                               This was not from research, this one happened through necessity. Almost every high chair we used, including the one in the apartment didn’t have a middle bit/strap to put babies legs either side of. Which meant if she was feeling very Houdini-like she could have slipped through. So taking a muslin I fashioned a makeshift strap tying it between bar across her belly and to the bar near her feet to stop any limbo type escaping.

Getting back to the apartment and putting baby to bed was usually pretty easy, on the walk back along the coast she would normally nod off through sheer exhaustion of eating sand, knocking back handfuls of sea water or trying to roll off every surface onto the extremely hard floor during her days.

Long gone are the days of sitting on a sun lounger for hours at a time, heading to the bar to grab a cocktail or taking a dip in the sea to cool off. With a small person on holiday we were pretty exhausted too. To enable EVERYONE to get a decent nights sleep there were a couple of tips we picked up on, and I can say these worked as she slept mostly through the night for a good 8-10 hours!!!

HOLIDAY HACK – BEDTIME                                                                                                     We packed a sheet from home to place in the cot for baby. The science behind this is it is something she recognises from bedtime at home thus feeling comfortable and the smell of our usual washing powder will add to this. No scratchy/starchy sheets that smell weird will hopefully help little one drift off.

Nodding off in new surroundings, helped by familiar smells and friends.

Nodding off in new surroundings, helped by familiar smells and friends.

Assuming you book a trip away where sun is almost guaranteed I suggest using a blackout blind. Buy one, borrow one, what ever you do stop the morning suns rays from entering the bedroom. The one we borrowed was a ‘travel version’ it had suction pads allowing me to shut out the light effectively, drawing the curtains added extra gloom. So nap time at any point of the day was like that of the night. And the early morning sun didn’t stir her.

Non holiday nap/bedtimes are usually accompanied by the Sleep Squad, these are the cuddly toys that inhabit the cot with Bea, I guess naming them the Sleep Squad is my way of making them sound similar to comic book heroes (lame attempt at indoctrinating her to that world), these guys are the heroes of sleep.

I’m sure all parents have a few favourite toys that they place in the cot, or babies have one they will eat the limbs of more than others. We packed two favourites: Bumble Bee and Tag Blanket (yes I have named them, and yes they all have different voices when I make them talk to bubs) and new recruits Don the dinosaur and LadyBug joined us. New toys add to the excitement of holiday, we used them on the flight to distract baby, “ooh new toy, new limbs to chew on!” They quickly became recruits to the Sleep Squad and were even favoured over older members for nap time.

The Sleep Squad, with new additions!

The Sleep Squad, with new additions!

All these HOLIDAY HACKS led to a very chilled baby happy to experience new things and a great holiday for all of us. The only issue we had was the mixture of sand consumption and heat made her a little bit dehydrated, we tried to get her to drink as much water/milk as we could, we even had her trying watermelon and kiwi fruit to try getting liquid into her that way. The dehydration meant she suffered a bit of constipation. When poos did make an appearance they looked like pebbles from the beach – slightly concerning!

However, on our flight home gone were the pebble poos, a waft of stench floated across our nostrils, the standard lift baby and smell her undercarriage led to the conclusion that there was “one in the chamber”, this just as the pilot announced we were getting ready to land. A quick dash to the toilet and I was multitasking again. Preventing baby from rolling off the change table into the mini sink, while keeping my balance as the plane banked and dropped altitude. Can now add the mile high change club to my parent CV.

And just when we started thinking she was probably feeling a bit better having been able to relieve herself properly, at meal time on arrival home an ABSOLUTE monster poo that covered her had me cutting her out of her vest (no envelope shoulders) to prevent an unwanted face mask.

Welcome home parents. Thanks for the holiday!!!

Do you have any HOLIDAY HACKS that you can share?

If you like this blog, check out my other ramblings 

https://inkeddaddy.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/one-month-in/

https://inkeddaddy.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/one-armed-bandits/

https://inkeddaddy.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/were-all-going-crazy-at-the-same-time/

https://inkeddaddy.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/the-butterfly-effect/

https://inkeddaddy.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/snot-and-other-gifts-for-our-first-christmas/

https://inkeddaddy.wordpress.com/2015/04/19/six-months-in/

https://inkeddaddy.wordpress.com/2015/05/02/please-take-a-seat/

https://inkeddaddy.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/questions/

Questions

So let’s start with a question.

Does anybody else have a baby that on occasion will randomly stare into an empty space? We’ll be happily playing as little one sits on my lap and suddenly her head will pivot to stare into the dark corner of the room as if there is something untoward taking place.

What could be so interesting, do they think they see something… do they ACTUALLY see something? Do babies have extra sensory perception that we lose as we get older, if they could talk what would they tell us? Would we want to know?

Other strange fixations our little person has are feet! Yep, feet! The rugrat will grab your toe if you stand still for too long and will promptly shove said toe into her mouth and chomp down… it started out cute and funny. Now, she has teeth and when the little fangs are plunged in it bloody hurts!!! She won’t try and chomp through a shoe, so it has to be a toe thing, male or female digit she will roll towards you and try to eat it. Freak!

Another one of her obsessions is lampshades. We have a few in our house but she shows a keen interest in two in particular. Firstly, the one in her bedroom – It has cartoon animals and what look like little tags on it, so I guess you could understand wanting to grab it. The second lampshade of interest is in our living room and has no pattern, yet she will attempt to hold it, push it, really happy to just touch it.

oooh lampshade!

oooh lampshade!

With me over 6ft she gets pretty close to the lampshades so she is in prime position for a whack or a grab, usually knocking an avalanche of dust flying, perhaps that is the attraction? Or perhaps it is revenge… I have been guilty once or twice when playing ‘throw the baby in the air game’ in throwing her too high and causing a bit of a collision between baby head and light fitting.

So she has her weird little idiosyncrasies, and I guess looking at things from her point of view I have mine. A good friend of mine and a new dad himself asked me the other day whether I speak ‘mumbo jumbo’ to Bea as he does to his daughter. I sure do, any random noise seems to keep her attention so I will speak utter jibberish sounding something like Pingu/Morph on caffeine.

I am also guilty of smelling her LOTS. Any given opportunity I will grab a quick sniff of her head or neck, the new born baby smell has passed, but she now has her own distinct aroma, AND. IT. IS. LUSH! My mum used to do the same thing to me and my sister… this carried on well into our adult life, causing us much embarrassment when a hug in public would result in a big inhale and a resounding “Aaaah” noise of contentment . I now understand why Mum would sniff us; I guess there is something animalistic or innate in us, to sniff out our offspring to ensure they are close and safe.

I have been thinking a lot about my Mum recently as she would have been 61 years old in April. Dealing with a poorly baby full of cold, teething, constipated or worse; made me think of all the late nights/early mornings, tears, projectile poos/vomit etc that Mum dealt with when raising me and my sister. As kids you say thank you for certain things your parents do for you; birthday presents, help with homework, a cooked meal. As you grow older you thank them for their vital advice about work, relationships etc (even if you don’t want to admit how vital it is). Now as a parent myself I feel like I owe my mum a different kind of thank you, one that you can’t put into words really, it is more appreciation, a thank you for everything that got me to this point in my life allowing me to be a parent with a small understanding of what I am doing.

I can’t say that thank you in person that and the fact that Bea will never meet her Nana is something that has me in tears often. This blog isn’t some cathartic note, I promise. But I have been thinking recently how I get across to Bea how amazing her Nana was. We’re lucky to have so many of Mums friends who can tell stories from her past, likewise my aunties and uncles. Mum worked as a Teaching Assistant in a school and during their grieving process they got staff and pupils at the school to write in a memory book, the notes in it give a great indication of how caring Mum was to any child who needed some extra attention. Stories from her colleagues in the book also give an insight into her cheeky mischievous side. One day we will go through the book together.

Bea & Nana Mary

Bea & Nana Mary

I have started to tell Bea about her Nana and we have some lovely photos of Mum up in her nursery so she will know the face… albeit she probably links the pictures with me welling up at the moment!

I am still hearing new stories about Mum, recently I was told a story about how on a school trip to see the Olympic Torch relay Mum low fived a traffic cop as he rode past on his motorbike, turned to the kids in her care and just winked.  Apparently the kids all thought she was the coolest.

She was the coolest!

So let’s end as we started; with a question.

How do other parents ensure that those that have passed away are remembered by those that don’t have any memories of the loved one in the first place?

I guess the biggest thank you I can give to my Mum is providing memories of a positive childhood to Bea and any brothers and/or sisters she may have in the future, in the same way me and my sister have from our time with Mum. Her crazy playful nature lives on in us both that’s for sure, she inspired me to work with kids and that motivation makes me work harder to keep our little charity going providing play and childhood memories to those less fortunate than most. Her empathy and care for others I hope is exhibited by us on a regular basis.

If you still have the chance to, can I suggest thanking your mum, your dad, or whoever did the feeds in the night, cleaned the poo off the carpet after a poonami, comforted you when you were teething gave you happy memories of childhood and got you to where you are now.

Not all of us have the chance to do it face to face anymore.

Thanks Mum x

Snot and other ‘gifts’ for our first Christmas

It has been a while since I last updated the blog (thank you for all the kind words about the previous episodes)… a combination of the Christmas holidays and getting back into the swing of things at work heading into a busy 2015 has meant that the blog has been placed firmly on the back burner.

Having now reached some sort of balance and routine (famous last words) I have been able to reflect over our first Christmas and put pen to paper/fingers to keyboard.

We embarked on a Lord of The Rings type journey up the country from the sleepy South West to the even sleepier Lake District for a family holiday. Bubs had her first cold, so the five hour car journey was a traumatic one for all involved. If she wasn’t asleep she was SCREAMING… full of snot and goodness knows what else she found feeding hard, the whole breathing through nose while sucking on a bottle was not happening. All of this in conjunction with what we know as a ‘leap’ – a growth spurt where physically and mentally EVERYTHING changes for little people.

So she didn’t eat a lot, so she was hungry, so she screamed.

She didn’t sleep a lot because of the breathing thing, so she was tired, so she screamed.

She was cramped into a car seat, so couldn’t stretch and wriggle like normal, so she screamed.

Once out of the car seat at service stations she could stretch, but that probably hurt with growing pains, so she screamed.

Even though I am sure a large proportion of those people having the caffeine stop at the service stations we visited en route were understanding of our situation, when you are holding a screaming banshee ball of mucus you start to think those eyes looking upon you are judging your parent skills. Mix that with trying to communicate with the other half when one of us is holding the banshee, you end up shouting in short concise (could be taken as ‘moody’) sentences in between shrieks and snuffles… a perfect cocktail of stress and tiredness – that’s what Christmas is all about right?

When it comes to cold remedies babies get the raw end of the deal until three months old. Most remedies suggest that baby needs to be at least three months old before use… Now pre baby my wife was a stickler for rules. It could be any rule, we would have to keep to it… However a baby screaming with snot bubbling out of each nostril and not sleeping the rule of three months and over for certain products was thrown out. To clarify we were not completely gun ho with the life of our little one, we weren’t filling her bottles with Nightnurse or anything like that. Clarification from the local GP that our chunky monkey was the weight of a three month and therefore the rules could be bent gave us the green light to try any remedy to ease the snuffles.

Calpol has the sweetest smell of any medication I have encountered, Mary Poppins sang a ‘Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down’ this stuff smells like it has a ladle full of sugar although it tells us it is sugar and colour free!? We administer it via the provided syringe… at times this syringe sticks and I admit to having sent a medical torpedo of this sickly sweet smelling concoction right down the back of the throat of our trusting little person. Cue wide eyes of surprise and then screaming through shock!

On arrival to the accommodation in the Lakes we were met by all the family. Some baby had met once, others she had never met… cue a sense overload… so many coochee coos and cuddles, passed from one cousin to the next, obviously this led to more screaming.

Tanked up on calpol, baby vicks and having had time to get comfortable with new surroundings baby sat with family members having a play–Graunty Sally (we have coined Graunty and Gruncle for the great aunties and uncles) playing who can make the silliest noise, managed to break through the tiredness/hunger/grumpiness and got the first ever giggle from our bambino. A release of emotion from stressed parents led to a mix of laughter and crying… baby just laughed along with us.

Post first giggle our mission then was to make baby laugh as much as possible. She clued up pretty quickly and decided she would not be a performing monkey and would not laugh on demand. She let out an almighty giggle when Karen and I were bent over in hysterics… This moment of mirth started during bath time. We often joked that at some point she was bound to poo in the bath, the law of parenting averages would tell you to expect it. As I muttered “Perhaps tonight is poo-bath night” we had her crimson face of disaster… a brief strain/grunt and the bath water turned an evil EVIL shade… something touched my hand as I held baby to prevent her splashing this evil bath/poo soup everywhere… it wasn’t the wash cloth!!! We fell about laughing, baby found this hilarious and copied us… all three of us laughing, two of us with poo on or around us. We had to wait for the laughter tears to pass before cleaning up the mess and starting bath time all over again!

iPone pics Jan 2015 097 iPone pics Jan 2015 205

It is during the regular bath times that I realised how much stuff baby has; oils, lotions, shampoos, medicated things, soothing smells etc etc. When I moved in with Karen the bathroom products I had at my disposal increased in size dramatically (male friends have admitted to similar increase of toiletries when living with girls). Options of silky smooth shampoos, ultra moisturising whatsits, hair oils, hand stuff, exfoliating sandpaper like body washes… and so on. I tried them all. Now with baby’s stuff I have a plethora of other options when it comes to pampering at bath/shower time. I am not afraid to admit it, I will probably try everything!

The Butterfly Effect

The early stages of parenthood have offered up a host of ‘firsts’ for us as Mum & Dad – yes there are the expected firsts that bring much joy, first gurgle of noise, first smile, first night where baby slept 6 hours straight!!!

Then there are the firsts that the books and websites don’t prepare you for. The first time you discover dried milk in your ear when at work sitting next to a colleague, the first time you run to and stand in the shower as your baby projectile vomits a milky fountain everywhere (I couldn’t think of another place to stand where carpet of upholstery would not be in the firing line). A first for us as a couple was me being woken by my wife exclaiming “YAY, you’ve done a poo!!!” – having a baby suffering from reflux we were prescribed infant Gaviscon. The stuff worked for the sickness but proceeded to cause constipation in our little one (a usual side effect we had been warned about) – because of this we were on poo watch. In the early hours of a dark November morning waking up to this statement of joy from my wife was a welcome, albeit weird first.

We have since been prescribed Ranitidine for the acid and this one prevents the blocking up of waste disposal routes. We have to administer via syringe into the mouth and the liquid has a smell that at first I could not put my finger on, then a flood of heavy nights out came back to me… sambucca, the stuff smells like sambucca! Add that to the firsts list, syringing what smells like a devil of a shot into my baby daughters mouth!

This week I have had a new tattoo. As soon as we decided on name options for our little one (we had two names for a boy and two for a girl) I started to think about a tattoo. I didn’t want text (nothing wrong with it, just not for me) so I needed to think outside of the box. We chose Beatrix (we shorten it often to Bea) as the name within minutes of seeing her and I knew from many months of thought beforehand what tattoo I was going to get – this decision was aided by a number of weird events leading up to Bea’s birth.

My mum passed away after a short intense battle with cancer on 29th October 2013. During the funeral service I noticed a tortoiseshell butterfly on the alter, front and center in the church, it is rare seeing one in November and when I mentioned it to family they also saw the butterfly (confirming I wasn’t totally losing the plot) – My sister and I told the story to Mums colleagues (mum was a teaching assistant in a primary school) at a later date, one of her friends then explained that during the Easter service, as the kids were singing Mums favourite hymn a tortoiseshell butterfly flew into the church, over the pupils heads and then out again! Now I am not daft enough to think this was the SAME butterfly, but this is a strange coincidence is it not?

It gets stranger.

My sister and I began to clear Mums house of her belongings… Mum was a hoarder, and she LOVED books! We took a library’s worth of books to local charity shops, and still there was more. Some were damaged and some just really old and falling apart, so we had to throw some away. As we were chucking books into the hired skip in the garden my sister and I were bombarded by swooping tortoiseshell butterflies. At least six of these kamikaze insects flew over us, into us and some even landed on the wall beside us – watching! With knowledge of previous butterfly encounters my sister exclaimed “We cant keep all of these books Mum, some have to be thrown away!”  

You may think us crazy, clutching at straws during the grieving process perhaps? But these butterflies do keep making an appearance, one flew past me on my return to work after paternity leave in mid October, nearly a year to the day of Mum losing her battle with cancer.

So when discussing my tattoo I knew I wanted a bee to represent my daughter, I also knew I wanted a tortoiseshell butterfly to be close by.

Thank you so much to Claire Dunn of DunnandDusted Tattoos https://www.facebook.com/DunnNDustedTattoo?fref=ts based at Third Eye Tattoos https://www.facebook.com/thirdeyecheltenham who captured EXACTLY what I wanted – we used an photo I took of one of the kamikaze book protecting butterflies to go with images of honeycomb and a bee I found online.

Processed with Moldiv butterfly

We’re all going crazy at the same time!

We have become gambling parents… no we are not taking punts our baby’s trust fund at the local bookies or on those bingo websites you see when watching day time TV. No not gambling of that nature, more of a risk benefit assessment at certain times of our parenthood journey.

For example, moving a naked soapy baby from bath to towel on bed is a risky business. Risk of bubs slipping out of our grip like a bar of soap, but also more pressingly (and thankfully yet to happen *touches wood as he types*) you could have a wee/poo moment during transition. Nappy roulette is also an interesting game to play, regular visitors to this blog (all three episodes!) will know we are bottle feeders. With bottle feeding comes less nappy action of the poo variety, what that does mean though is that when it does happen… it happens BIG! Therefore nappy roulette is a regular occurrence, you pray in silence that your turn to change is not THE ONE with the bullet in the chamber so to speak.

The cutting of the kitten-like nails of our baby is a gamble neither of us have taken yet. Being big fans of The Apprentice we have even purchased the Nipper Clipper from the genius mind of Tom Pellereau – they come with a handy window to prevent the nipping off of finger tips! tomEven so, we havenipper clipper both been too chicken to attempt it with a wriggler of limbs. We have resulted to minor cannibalism and nibbled at the offending mini blades on our daughters tiny hands.

The biggest gamble we took was not finding out the sex of our baby, it led to an exciting 9 months of speculation and buying non gender specific clothing (difficult to find in most stores but out there if you search far and wide) so when our little girl arrived she had a collection of outfits that were truly unisex. This week someone said “ooh what a lovely little boy” – we quickly corrected her, but in that case just ask boy or girl? Surely NEVER gamble!?

Trips out with the little one result in a car load of baby paraphernalia just to ensure every eventuality is catered for, the other day we had three outfit changes due to what can only be described as a poo-nami. Some changing facilities in public spaces you visit are great, others not so much. I am hugely surprised that security were not called to our local Waitrose (free coffee thank you very much!) when I used the baby change ‘room’. Me, baby and pram did not fit together cue a lot of crashing and banging and a fair bit of swearing. To escape with the pram intact I ended up resembling Austin Powers and his 15 point turn!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLKR9tCiwvA

We did manage to find a local pub to fit all our ante-natal group into. The mums have been meeting up on a regular basis since all babies were born, but this was the first time dads were involved. All our bundles of joy lined up in their car seats as we chatted, ate and drank – the six babies (one baby & her folks couldn’t make it) caused quite a stir with other bar flies – especially around the festive time of year they did resemble the seven dwarfs (minus one dwarf) in their Christmas jumpers. 7 babies

Us dads managed to talk rugby, Christmas lights and Star Wars (much excitement about the Episode VII trailer between two of us). But, as soon as our little ones were passed to us we turned to mush and began the baby talk – sleep patterns, nappies and the level of nostril stingingness of the waste products held within.

The support network the girls provide each other is fantastic and a reason alone to do ante-natal classes. As we shared stories of night time routines, nappy life hacks and the different options of bottle it was nice to know other parents suffer with grunty babies and talk to themselves.

One conversation summed it all up:

new mum “I’m glad that happens to you too and I’m not going crazy!”

new dad “No, we are all crazy… just we are all going crazy at the same time!”