Thursday, 31 December 2009

No more resolutions

I never thought it would happen – but my iPod now has Incy Wincy Spider on it, along with other children's favourites including I'm a Little Teapot and Dingle Dangle Scarecrow.

Resolutions made in the past – not to have any toys in the lounge; not to have Fisher Price ditties competing with daddy's Feeder or David Sylvian CDs; to avoid dirty nappies; not to be seen in public in charge of a pushchair – have all gone out of the window and the last bastion of baby-free living (daddy's iPod) has finally succumbed... Well, actually, there's still the computer which one day will inevitably have CBeebies in 'My Favourites'.

It's the time of year when people make resolutions in order to change their lives, more often than not it's something challenging that will hopefully make them feel better. Well, there are no resolutions for us this year – other than George. He's the one making all the changes – albeit indirectly – they're nearly always a challenge and when he smiles (in a nice megalomaniac type way) he makes us realise that life is better than we sometimes think.

Anyway, here's his first experience of Christmas morning.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

It's the Christmas No 1

It's George's first Christmas and he doesn't know that he's about to get stimulation overload for the next couple of days – but we're certainly looking forward to see how he copes.

Mummy and daddy have made last-minute trips to the shops and the supermarket to make sure nothing has been forgotten – presents, food and all sorts. Not that the world would come to an end if we ran out of anything before the shops open after two days – but we certainly have a 'Christmas charts' of items that could make the festive season miserable if they were in short supply. This years top five is as follows:

1. Nappies – a new entry replacing last year's regular No 1 spot holder, wine.
2. Milk formula – another new entry. Last year's No 2 was stuffing.
3. Dishwasher tablets – Making the top three all new entries and pushing cheese out of the top five altogether. We never realised how vital these little things were until our sink began to look like a job for Kim and Aggie.
4. Baby wipes – Nowhere to be seen last Christmas, this record fourth new entry knocks pigs-in-blankets down to 10th place.
5. Wine – it has slipped a few places but keeps its annual spot in the top five.

George is going to look great for all the Christmas photos and videos. He's got a 'Baby's first Christmas' romper suit and – as seen on his Christmas photo last week – a snuggly reindeer outfit. He's also got his first bruise – just under his eye on his left cheek. Even when you're right on top of them, they suddenly lurch in an unexpected direction and George lurched forward bashing himself on one of his favourite toys. Unfortunately, George is the wrong shade of pink to borrow mummy's foundation, I know it's Christmas but we don't want him looking like a pantomime dame.

Apart from that, we've all had a fun week this week (daytimes only). The highlight for daddy was when Nanny and Grandad came round for a coffee and watched as George pooed in mummy's hand just as she'd taken off his nappy.

The other highlight was the first birthday party of his friend William where George had a jolly old time joining in with the musical fun – they even sang his favourite Hokey Cokey song. Another five months and it will be George's turn and somehow – in those five months – it looks like there's a dietary transition from the mushed-up goodness of wholesome fruit and veg to cakes, crisps and pizza. Now, I'd never expect him to eat broccoli or sprouts like mummy does, but if daddy can't say no to sausage roll, what will George be like? Oh the worry... the worry... will it ever go away?

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Does he know it's Christmas?

It'll be George's first Christmas in a few days time and there have been a few Christmas dilemmas along the way.

The first was the Christmas tree. Usually adorned with colour-coordinated or themed decorations, this year it looks more like a display in a toy shop window with its colour-changing lights, Father Christmases swinging from the branches and even a wooden frog with moving arms and legs. Strange thing is, I think it looks better than ever – and George almost hyperventilates the moment his fingers get anywhere near a bauble.

The other Christmas dilemma is the wrapping paper. Do we wrap George's presents or not? After all, it will be mummy and daddy undoing all their own hard, wrapping-up work – then again, I'm going to feel a bit stingy (or should that be Scroogey) if mummy and daddy are the only ones who haven't wrapped up his presents.

There's also the Christmas entertainment dilemma – only realised the other day when daddy was faced with the musical choice of Westlife's latest single (mummy was watching the Alan Titchmarsh Show) or the Fisher Price cover version of Puff the Magic Dragon (daddy was playing with George). In a battle of these musical greats Puff the Magic Dragon won hands down, but there are going to be times in the coming week or two when the decision is oh-so-close.

And... we must remember to put some ice in the freezer in case anyone fancies it in their Baileys. Daddy forgot to put the white wine in the fridge the other day and thought he'd chill a glass with an ice cube, only all the ice cube trays are being used for you know who. Faced with the dilemma of choosing between white wine chilled with a cube of sweet potato or waiting for the white wine to cool in the fridge, daddy went for the sensible option and had a nice warm glass of white wine.

Anyway, it's a very happy Christmas from George... and his mummy and daddy. Baileys and parsnip puree anyone?

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

That's what it's all about

There's a bit of a battle going on. George loves to eat all the sweet things we give him, but he attempts to return the savoury things by way of pushing them out of the corners of his mouth.

This is what he looks like when half way through his yoghurt and fruit dessert...

And this when he's trying some of daddy's specially-made-for-George cottage pie...

He is getting better and even surprised us the other day when he happily munched down a mush of cabbage and peas.

We've found he's more likely to eat the not-sweet things if he's in a good mood and it's the Hokey Cokey that works wonders at the moment - especially when he's watching daddy put his 'whole self in, his whole self out, in, out, in, out, shake it all about'.

I don't know... the things you do to get your baby to eat green stuff.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Water world we live in

George had his first swimming lesson this past week. Lots of mummies with different sized and shaped babies took their little ones for their first dip at the local pool.

George has had a dip before – on a few days break in Weymouth – when the pool was a bit nippy to say the least. The temperature at the local health club's pool was considerably warmer and George almost fell asleep as he was whirled around on his back as the mummies all sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

He took the dunking bit without even the slightest flinch and the expression on his face as he resurfaced remained utterly nonchalant. Unfortunately, there are no photos to prove it.

Even though photography was allowed, all the daddies, grandads and grandmas kept their cameras tucked away – no one wanting to be the first just in case someone objected, which was a little sad really; bit of an indictment of today's society.

George has taken a liking to slippers this week – especially daddy's big blue ones. No book or toy could keep him from leaning and stretching to see what the feet in the slippers were doing, so there was only one solution...

Early one morning and a bit bleary-eyed, daddy had to change George's nappy – which is a particularly slow process when daddy does it. Half way through, when George is without both old and new nappies he decides to do a tinkle which surprises daddy whose reactions aren't at their peak. Daddy grabs a muslin to mop up the damp patch on the carpet. However, when mummy comes to dress George a little later she is left wondering how his little trousers got wringing wet.

If they'd have been his little denim jeans with the elasticated waist then there would have been no mix up – it's just that everything else feels so soft and it's nearly all baby blue. Actually, even the little jeans with the elasticated waist are pretty soft. In fact, daddy wouldn't mind a pair of those himself... hmmm, comfy!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

You scratch your nose, you scratch mine

It doesn't seem to matter how snuggly George's little mits fit, he always seems to wake up with his hands free and a scratch (or four or five) somewhere – usually on his head.

Mummy keeps his nails nice and short but somehow he still manages to scratch himself. The other day he gave himself a long line that stretched from the top of his ear almost to his little nostril and together with the red dash on his nose and the marks on his head from previous days, looked as if we'd been putting him to bed in a bramble bush.

It bothers us a lot more than it does him – especially when it's shopping day. Instead of proudly showing him off, mummy and daddy give him much more of a lower profile to avoid the looks that say 'just what have you been doing to that poor baby?'.

This week daddy didn't feel quite so much of a paranoid parent – George managed to hang on to daddy's face long enough to give him a matching scratch on his nose which certainly got people feeling sorry for him instead...

George needed feeding half way through a shopping trip, so mummy and daddy went to the nearest cafe where mummy sat down to give George his bottle and daddy joined the queue for refreshments. Daddy returned to the table with coffee and tea and two little jugs of milk only to realise that he'd forgotten the teaspoons. Two ladies on the next table overheard his muttering and took pity on him when they saw his attempt to stir coffee by a) swishing it about, and b) using his finger. So much so that one of them got up and walked all the way across the crowded cafe just to fetch two teaspoons. How kind was that? With results like that George can scratch daddy's nose any time.

What mummy and daddy have noticed they have been enjoying over the past few months is the way they have been able to expand their use of the English language. George should be no different to all the other kids who grow up with fantastic imaginations when he has started life listening to sentences such as:
"There's a row of animals stuck to your bottom."
"Oh dear, you've got sick on the cow's hoof now."
"How did you get that elephant on your head?"
"I wish that darn crab would shut up."
"Are you looking at my slipper?"
(Of course, the last sentence has more impact when repeated Robert De Niro style).

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Our funny little fella

It's magical to see George changing (not his nappy) and becoming more interactive. He's started to do things such as arch his back when you go to lift him out of the car seat, and put his hands out on sight of anything bottle shaped.

It's great to see his little personality beginning to evolve and there are a few things that make us smile. Every time you say 'hello' he smiles and then bashfully buries his head in mummy or daddy's armpit – bashful being the operative word as his little noggin can deliver headbutts of considerable force. He can also cling on to mummy's hair like a strongman pulling a lorry, and when mummy starts saying 'ow, ow, ow', that's his cue to do a bigger smile and tug a little harder – not so funny for mummy.

Some of his facial expressions are quite amusing too – and sometimes there's a touch of mummy or daddy in them. Today is the first really windy day he has experienced and his first impression, much like the first time he felt rain, was one of disapproval. Very similar to daddy's frown, George looked around as if to say 'is there really any need...?'

There's one thing George can do that daddy hadn't even thought of, let alone tried, and that's sneeze and fart at the same time. George was sitting up on his towel all ready for his nightly bath and the eruption of noise at both ends made mummy and daddy snigger naughtily. George obviously thought he was doing something right and after a little smile repeated his sneeze/fart party piece three times in a row. That's my boy!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Wising up too soon

Well, we thought last week's fireworks might have kept George awake but he slept through all the whizzing and banging.

Strange, because the one thing that makes him stir in his sleep is the tiniest creak and slightest squeak of the door and its handle as we creep in to check on him just before we go to bed.

There's another thing that has started to wake him up in the night – teething. Mummy rubs some soothing banana-flavoured gel on his gums and that seems to enable him to settle back down.

George has been trying new flavours as the weaning process progresses and, with teeth on the way, has started to look longingly as mummy and daddy sip tea, coffee or even wine – just the other day he gripped the stem of mummy's glass as if he was going to wrestle it from her grasp – or eat their breakfast or lunch, which doesn't always coincide with his eating schedule.

It makes it very tempting to stick a bit of chocolate on the end of your finger so that he can have a taste (of course, we don't) and to avoid the guilty feeling that kicks in when George stares at mummy and daddy as if they're being deliberately mean, we've taken to hiding behind him while he occupies himself with throwing toys around and bashing hell out of his activity thingy.

It's never long before he realises what's going on and he's soon back – sitting on your lap and making sure he's not missing out on anything – and I think we may have made a rod for our own backs with this one. George needs almost constant attention during his waking hours. He can play on his own for a little while but is truly happy when he's got company, which seems to come with the condition that you're not allowed to sit down.

George is at his happiest when he's out and about seeing things – and when he's at home he's happiest when mummy and daddy are carrying him round the house to look at the cooker, the bookcase, the blinds in the conservatory, the pictures on the wall or the handles on the cupboards. Mummy and daddy soon tire of this little game and take a seat in the lounge, whereon George will straighten his legs and stand on your lap as if to say 'you can sit down, but I'm not sitting down until you get up again.' His little legs stamp about, dangerously close to daddy's groin, and his knees and hips wobble away – does anyone know where we can get a Las Vegas-era Elvis jumpsuit in 6-9 months size?

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Scary moments

George caused a bit of a stir at the supermarket this week. As it was Halloween mummy had bought him a special costume – specifically for a Halloween-themed mums and babies morning when all the bundles of joy got dressed up as little horrors such as skeletons, pumpkins and witches. However, she was determined to get her money's worth and George descended on Morrisons dressed as a bat.

The fact that he was bright purple was enough to attract plenty of attention, but the bat ears and the bat wings attached to his sleeves drew many a smile and quite a few comments too.

Of course, he's not the first George to dress up as a bat, George Clooney did it too and he was a grown man at the time - you never know, our George might one day become the saviour of Gotham City too.

Today, George met his great nan for the first time – which was nice in a way but tinged with melancholy in other respects. With an age gap of more than 90 years, the chances are George won't remember his great nan in years to come and as his great nan's eyesight is pretty poor, she probably doesn't really know what he looks like either. Still, she seemed happy to hold his tiny hand and give his chubby little legs a squeeze – and it was sort of special to have four generations together at the same time.

Apart from meeting his great nan, visiting a care home was a new experience for George. Daddy remembers visiting his own great nan in a care home and being scared of the old ladies who reached out from their zimmer frames for a cuddle – but it didn't seem to scare George who, being too young to know any different, enjoyed being the centre of attention once again. The staff all stopped in their tracks to coo at him and the old ladies, who probably don't get to see many babies, loved him too. Even though daddy to this day, like many people, isn't a big fan of visiting care homes, he was certainly glad he remembered not to use the mini-scent spray he got for his birthday.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Time goes by... so slowly

Well the creams and lotions the doctor prescribed seem to be working and George's skin is looking a lot better – no more angry red patches, even though it can still be a little dry in places.

It doesn't seem to have affected his sunny disposition though. He chuckles away when he's lying on his back and we're singing 'If you're happy and you know it clap your feet' – mummy and daddy know it should be hands but George's feet clap together far more easily than his curled-up fingers.

And it's songs such as these that daddy finds himself humming or singing when he's nonchalantly chopping veg, tidying toys away or having a shower – which is all well and good when there's no one about but it's a habit that should be kept in check. Remembering all the words to long-forgotten nursery rhymes is also a bit of a challenge and mummy and daddy will get to the middle section of Sing a Song of Sixpence and head off at a lyrical tangent.

This week the clocks have gone back and fitting in an extra hour of something so that George's routine fits in with the change to GMT proved more difficult than expected. An hour seemed to be such a long time and we had to stretch things out at half an hour a day over the course of two days. His body clock is now resynchronised successfully. In fact, George's body clock is quite precise – his daytime naps last exactly 40 minutes and if we feel he needs a little more sleep we settle him down again and he sleeps for another 40 minutes. For cooking purposes it would be simpler for daddy to put George down for a kip than to reset the clock and timer on the oven.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Not quite up to scratch

Poor old George, well... poor very young George actually. He's developed a rash which we think is baby eczema. It all started behind his ears, as most things that creep up on you generally do, and has spread around his neck, across his shoulders and on to his cheeks.

At first mummy and daddy were extremely worried, but trips to the doctors and the chemists seem to have allayed any fears – if not George's rash. The pharmacist also noted a touch of cradle-cap and suggested we rub in a little olive oil, which has worked wonders – even if it does give his hairstyle that comb-over look and make his scalp smell like a parmesan crisp.

Of course, George is doing his very best to scratch the top of his head, but his arms just aren't long enough. Strange, because he looks in perfect proportion to us and daddy tested his own arms and found they were long enough to scratch the ear on the other side of his head. Perhaps arms on humans grow at a different rate to other body parts.

It was even suggested that a little olive oil could be added to George's bath water, but since then the doctor has prescribed some special stuff which does the same thing – its main ingredient being soya oil. George's bath times have certainly become more fun though – mainly because he now has toys and has started giggling at all the splashing and squirting. And it has definitely been getting more splashy with the slippier rubber starfish, crabs and ducks.

After bath it's usually bed time, which we've noticed is a peak time for accidents. Not for us, but for people in general. There often seems to be an ambulance/fire engine/police car siren wailing loudly on its way to someone's misfortune in the next village (or the villages further on) that makes George stir just as we've got him off to sleep. Never normally hear them during the day for some reason.

Once he is off to sleep it's time for mummy to enjoy the regular mid-evening glut of soap operas and last night EastEnders' Evva (that's Heather to anyone outside Walford) gave birth. What she was pretty much expecting to be a baby girl turned out to be a baby boy which she immediately named George. Mummy and daddy are just hoping they haven't started a trend – first the Jack Russell terrier, now Heather's new arrival...

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Bouncing baby boy

It's been fun this week. George has started to realise when people, and in particular mummy and daddy, enter or leave the room.

The fun bit is when you've got a spoonful of mushed-up butternut squash that suddenly finds its way into his ear rather than his mouth as his head shoots round to see what it was that has appeared in his peripheral vision.

It has also been a little strange this week too. George stopped overnight at his nana's house to give mummy a full night of sleep and a little lie-in too. After years of quite happily being a couple all of a sudden the house seemed half empty. It was devoid of George and felt a bit lifeless like it had lost its soul – a bit like a house without any furniture.

Even though when George is at home he is usually tucked up asleep in his room and doesn't (usually) wake until the early hours, we still missed him.

It's been quite exciting this week as well. George spent a few tentative minutes sussing out a bouncer thingy that you hook on the door frame and seemed to relish the experience. He loved it even more when daddy took the contraption off the door frame so that George could 'walk' around the house – a bit more like bounding than bouncing.

The main thing that makes us laugh at the moment are the noises he makes. George has a sort of "Charlie Says..." meow that he makes when he's tired. Problem is that this makes daddy giggle, which makes George jiggle when daddy's putting him to bed, which means George opens his eyes and we have to start all over again. He's also started blowing rasberries with his lips and gets surprised when he sprays himself with droplets of saliva – nice. And the other day he surprised mummy and daddy when, after they'd warmed a bottle for his feed and brought it to him, he seemed to exclaim "allelujah".

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Hair we go again

George has had it a bit rough this past week or so. Firstly he had his last round of injections which left him with an upturned bottom lip for a couple of days, now he's got the snivels... and so has mummy.

Even though you can tell he's not quite himself you can still get a smile out of him. Apart from the smiles you get when he first sees you, it takes a little extra effort to get him giggling away.

Tickles are the best bet, then next is jigging up and down which is not as straight forward as it sounds. Mummy and daddy have to face each other with one of them holding George facing outward, then bob up and down to some music – George is one of the few males to appreciate Girls Aloud solely for their music – and just hope no one is walking past the kitchen window.

Anyway, we soon get tired of that – even if George doesn't – and it's back to George with his cold again. It doesn't seem to have affected his sense of taste though. He tried butternut squash puree this week and seems to like it. The apple juice we bought him hasn't gone down so well – in fact it seems to come up a lot more easily. So after checking the bottle and discovering that it's suitable for any age from four months up (which must include 42-year-olds), daddy has found that he quite likes it.

The other thing about George having a cold is that he doesn't sleep so well. We can hear him on the monitor with his snuffly breathing thrashing about in his sleep and the little thin patch on the back of his head is getting that bit balder. It has left daddy rubbing the top of his own head and wondering what position I must be sleeping in.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Food for thought

We all have our favourite food programmes in our house. Both mummy and daddy quite enjoy Come Dine With Me and the various Masterchef formats, daddy quite likes Jamie's American Road Trip, and George has his favourite too. He prefers The Hairy Bikers. In fact, he even does a mean impression of a throaty Harley Davidson (but not with his mouth).

His Hairy Biker fascination could be down to their lilting Geordie accents or even their proportional resemblance to daddy, but could equally be because he is trying a few new flavours and getting his first experience of different foods.

At the moment pear seems to be winning out over carrot – even though the puree made from the carrots grown in daddy's garden is a lot sweeter than the mushed-up pears from the supermarket. Mummy, though, has decided that there will be no more carrots for George – just when the latest episode of The Hairy Bikers featured some delicious-looking quinnels of carrot and pumpkin puree.

Anyway, as we all know, carrots are bright orange and the reason mummy has put a moratorium on the eating of carrots is because many of George's bibs and his new blue spoons have turned this lovely shade too.

And it's not only George's bibs that have suffered this week – daddy offered to iron a couple of vests as mummy was really busy (what could be more difficult?) and the little pictures on the fronts started reappearing on the bottom of the iron in a hot, sticky mess. Now the row of happy animals that was half-way on a journey from George's right armpit to his left look as if they've been run over by a truck. A lesson on the cruelty of life perhaps?

So mummy went shopping for a new vest or two – only she came back with a new toy. A colourful, musical-type thing that looks like a cross between a radio and a xylophone which makes lots of weird and wonderful noises. This new toy is the latest item on the must-take list when George goes out visiting (as if we need more to carry). The mistake mummy made, though, was to put it at the bottom of the bag. Every time she got George and all his paraphernalia out of the car the thing would strike up a jolly tune at considerable volume. Daddy opened the front door to welcome mummy and George home when they were only half-way up the path after hearing the unmistakable strains of Skip to the Loo My Darling.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Nature or nurture

George is developing a little personality all of his own – well, I say all of his own, but there are bits that he definitely gets from his mummy and daddy.

Unlike daddy, he's a real happy chappy first thing in the morning, and just like mummy he sticks his tongue out a little when he laughs.

This week he's found his hands and the first two fingers on his right hand have found a permanent home in his mouth – apparently daddy sucked these two fingers (his own – not George's) when he was a baby. The only trouble with this is that when someone coos at George he beams toothlessly as his fingers slip out of his mouth, giving the impression that he is either making a very rude gesture or asking for a cigarette.

The other thing George has found this week is his voice. He has always been a gurgling, ga-ga-ing baby, but all of a sudden his vocal range has taken on a whole new variety of sounds and volumes – probably to make himself heard after a noisy few days away with grandparents and dog. Hopefully, volume will be restored to normal level over the next week or so.

George, now four months old, has been trying a little bit of baby rice and pear puree and he seems to instinctively know how to use a spoon just as well as he knew how to suck on a nipple or teat. It's something we haven't taught him and, as spoons are an invention, must be a genetic mutation now inbuilt into the human genome – or perhaps it's just that we shoved something with food on directly in front of his mouth. Anyway, after a couple of mouthfuls with a measure of unsure frowning, George decided he quite liked this new development on the eating front – mummy and daddy's unsure frowns were concentrated on the fact that feeding times look to be a far more messy affair in future.

With this latest development comes the need for a food processor – not a need as such, but certainly time and effort saving – and it seems that with every passing day, just as George is learning something new, mummy and daddy are learning that they need something new too.

The realisation that our car is just too small means more expense on the horizon. Supermarket shopping and a pushchair thingy will not fit, and after a midweek break – when more luggage belonged to George than four adults – something will have to change if there are to be any holidays in the future.

So, recently, mummy and daddy have been making a mental note of all the cars that might meet their requirements – mummy points out a shiny Audi A4 estate, daddy points out a sleek Jag X-type estate, mummy notices a fashionable Volvo V50 estate and then daddy spots the perfect solution – a Transit van.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Taking the plunge

George has been on his holidays this week – and he's had experiences of enough things to keep him over-stimulated for weeks.

His first time in a swimming pool was a bit of a test to see if booking him in for baby swimming classes would be money well spent. Even though the pool wasn't particularly cold it was cool enough to make daddy hold his breath as the water got to about waist level (a no-diving rule meant daddy entered the pool in a far more gingerly manner) – George, however, with his special nappies and wetsuit, found the whole thing quite enlightening and didn't even flinch as daddy gently lowered him into the water. A resounding success that left us all wondering whether we should head down to the bookies and place bets on him becoming the next David Wilkie, Duncan Goodhew or Adrian Moorhouse.

Along with a dip in the pool, George seemed to take everything else in his stride and behaved impeccably throughout. His first outing on an evening meal – even though he wasn't doing any eating – went so well that the people on the next table didn't even realise we'd had a baby with us until it came time for us to leave and we wheeled the pushchair thingy from where we'd been sitting.

George was unfazed by his first go on a swing and also didn't seem overly impressed at the sight of the sea. All these things will come and it will probably be more interesting to revisit the experiences when George has started talking and he can tell us what he's thinking – apparently when daddy first saw the sea he said "look... big bath!"

And just as we were lucky enough to pick a week of good weather for our break, we were also lucky enough to enjoy a day of sunshine for a barbecue when George's mates (and their parents) from the ante-natal classes popped round for a catch-up and a bite to eat. George lined up with his gang members for a photo – from the left we have Babyface Sam, Babyface Noah, Babyface George and Babyface Ellis.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The shout whisperers

Most of the time, once George is asleep, a little bit of background noise and chatter isn't anything to worry about. In fact, not so long back when we moved him into his nursery, daddy was setting up the baby monitor (incorrectly) and the alarm kept going off and even though it was right next to George he didn't even flinch.

It's the bit when we're trying to get him to sleep when we worry about the noise – and also at night when we're trying to get to sleep and the last thing we want is to wake our slumbering beauty.

These are the times when mummy and daddy have learned a new volume in communication – the shout-whisper. Mummy tends to use it when she's upstairs putting George to bed and wants to know if daddy, who's downstairs, has got George's milk ready (he has one bottle of formula just before bedtime to help mummy and daddy sleep longer).

Daddy tends to use it to alarm mummy – unintentionally of course – and when he shout-whispers "quick, quick, quick, come here" mummy immediately thinks there might be something seriously wrong with baby George. She races to daddy, panicking "what is it? what is it?" and daddy points to the garden "look... a fox!"

Once George is sound asleep though, normal volume resumes – until our bedtime comes around when we go all quiet again.

And even though George tries to fight the sleep, what he eventually enjoys most about it is the waking up in the morning. It doesn't matter that he's fallen asleep in his pushchair at a friend's house or in his grandparents' arms at one of their houses – the joy and amazement that he has woken up in his own room, in his own cot, beneath his own mobile is written all over his face.

And it was this big beautiful gummy grin that greeted daddy on the morning of his birthday – definitely the best present in the world. Oh... that and the mini-scent spray that lets daddy see ladies in their animal-print underwear.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Occupation therapy

George had his second round of injections last Friday, which made his bank holiday a little miserable. At bedtime he has been particularly whingey and not his usual self, so it has been slightly more difficult to keep him entertained and occupied.

The usual tricks have lost some of their impact. I might have mentioned that George discovered the TV, but since then someone has told us about the Baby Channel and this seems to impress George even more – his arms bounce up and down and he adopts an expression of permanent surprise.

Daddy even purchased a DVD of Mr Benn – something of a nostalgia trip – and George seems to quite enjoy this too. Well, he enjoys everything – even Adrian Chiles on The One Show has the power to mesmerise our little fella (or perhaps it's Christine Beakley) – and as daddy has been catching up on the Mr Benn episodes of his own childhood, he has been wondering if this bowler-hatted chap is a good role model after all. Here we have a middle-aged business man who lives on his own who, when not indulging his fetish for dressing up, spends his time peering out of his bedroom window. And the shopkeeper who appears as if by magic must surely be miffed that Mr Benn never spends any money.

It's not just TV – that's a slippery slope we want to be careful about. George enjoys his games and books too. Of course, it's daddy who does the reading – and the opening of flaps – and George seems to enjoy the whole business, even if he doesn't understand the stories or why a lion under the stairs or a hippo in the piano should be amusing.

When things get desperate, mummy will take George on a little stroll – although, like daddy doing the reading, she does all the strolling. After a trip around the block George tends to nod off, which is seen as a resounding success and celebrated with a cup of tea and a chocolate mini-roll.

Car journeys seem to have the same effect as a stroll round the block and sometimes mummy and daddy will take George out with them for a couple of hours. He'll generally fall asleep on the way, stay asleep all the time mummy and daddy are out and remain asleep on the journey back, only to wake up just as you pull up outside home. He then looks at you with a tired little frown on his face as if to say "well, come on... aren't we going anywhere then?"

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Coming or going?

Last night George managed a marathon sleep – 7.30pm to 6.30am. Brilliant – especially for mummy because, to be honest, she's the one who's been getting up to feed him with her breasts.

The nights have been getting better, though, and mummy and daddy no longer feel like they don't know whether they're coming or going through lack of sleep.

On the nights when daddy can't nod off, which to be fair isn't that often, he finds himself worrying about the daftest things; dogs on the loose – especially the rottweiler and pitbull varieties, busy roads and runaway pushchairs, the dangers of electric sockets, doors that slam shut in the wind and things that are extra hot like saucepans, kettles and fires.

Daddy used to fall asleep thinking about nice things, such as the plants he was going to choose for his garden.

Just when he is about to fall asleep mummy will break the darkened silence with "I wonder if I've tucked him in properly" or "does that sound like a choking sound or just a cough?". That, of course, is a cue for daddy to count in his head all the things that George might try to put in his mouth one day.

Now, even though daddy is getting enough sleep he still doesn't know if he's coming or going, and he's worked out that lack of sleep is not the reason. It's his t-shirts. Years of struggling with the likes of spaghetti bolognese, slushing wine glasses and a tummy that sticks out a bit means he has got used to the inevitable stain here and there. But George comes along and all of a sudden there are stains on the backs of his t-shirts too.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

High hopes

X Factor starts again this week – that's our Saturday nights sorted up until Christmas (it seems to make Christmas feel a lot nearer than it actually is) – and there will be lots of talented and talentless hopefuls wishing for their dream to come true.

There are phrases and quotes that pop up every year and the truly awful auditionees, when asked "so who has told you that you can sing?", will most likely reply "my mum and dad".

Now, even though I have high hopes for our little George, I'm not going to tell him he's great at something if he's not. He'll only end up as one of the deluded wannabes on Britain's Got Talent 2019.

Actually, we'd probably like to encourage him in a more academic direction – a surgeon or a pilot perhaps or, if daddy had his way, a world-renowned composer, a Formula 1 driver or a Nobel prize winner – much more aspirational than the world of pop, TV or football.

Anyway, the clever stuff goes on apace in our household. This week we bought a Baby Bjorn baby carrier, which took a bit of working out – but we got there. Then there was the lifecast set which involves making a mould of your baby's hands and feet and then casting them into life-size replicas which you can then paint. We managed to do George's foot – mummy got her emergency boob out to help stop George wriggling – now we have his hand to do. We'll probably end up with a 12-week-old's foot and a 12-year-old's hand.

The other clever thing is George's latest babygro. It has pictures of three characters alongside the words "koala + zebra + panda = friends". Now, I doubt koala, zebra and panda have actually met, seen as they live on three different continents, but the subliminal message of intercultural and interracial harmony is definitely there – let's hope George takes it on board when he's closing his eyes and having a think.

Of course, with having a baby comes big changes to your lifestyle and when daddy was at the supermarket this week he realised he would have to make one – and without hesitation he switched from his usual HP sauce to Daddies.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Names and games

Choosing a name for your baby is quite a responsibility. One which is often taken too lightly by the lower echelons of society who give their offspring strangely spelled or quite ridiculous monickers. In our antenatal classes there were six couples, including ourselves, who discussed absolutely everything about babies – except names.

The underlying fear that someone may have opted for the same name made the whole subject completely off limits. As it turned out everyone had chosen different names (all proper), some having been chosen well before the big arrival. Our choice, for instance, was made five months before George arrived, and even though there was no chance of us changing it if anyone else had decided on George, we're glad that he's the only one...

That is until the man who works in the field at the end of our garden acquired a Jack Russell puppy – very cute and friendly and sporting a bandana round his neck and, of course, called George.

Before George was born we used to play him music. Mummy would press the headphones against her tummy and relax. It wasn't that we believed it would make a vast difference or that we were 'new-age' parents, more that we love music and, well, it wouldn't do any harm – after all it wasn't Radio 2.

The other day – 12 weeks on – we decided to play him the music we played him in the womb and the reaction was certainly noticeable. Big smiles, kicking legs, cooing and waving arms instantly replaced his quiet relaxation.

And there are other unusual things that get George excited. The inside of cupboards for one, but mainly light fittings. There could be a reason for this – as George spends most of his day looking up, he gets to see a lot of ceilings and skies with not an awful lot going on for most of the time.

We tried to make his sky-gazing a little more interesting with the introduction of sunglasses, but it's still the light fittings that amuse him. His favourite toy is the mobile above his cot – a bit like a light fitting but with movement and music... and it's much better than some of the views he sees while lying on his back.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

It's a matter of size

There's quite a bit of comparing going on between new mums and dads when it comes to their babies – and much of it is about size.

The first question, after 'is it a boy or a girl?', is inevitably about how much the new arrival weighs. The weight comparison gives way to size comparison after just a few weeks when mums with prams and pushchairs – or travel systems if you like – take a peek as if to check on how their own young one is doing.

And it's surprising how noticeable the differences can be for just a matter of weeks or months. We thought our ten-week old George was a tiny thing when he was born. He certainly looked minute and fragile against our friend's sturdy ten-month-old boy, which is probably why mummy accidently sent a card with 'Now You Are 2' on the front for his first birthday. Luckily mummy's friend saw the funny side.

On a recent shopping trip, our pushchair thingy pulled alongside another one in a lift (we know where all the lifts are now), the occupant of which was a cute four-week-old. Suddenly our little George looks like quite a big fella. In fact, mummy took him out the other day and when she got back daddy was sure George looked bigger than he had done that morning.

All of a sudden George is growing too big for things – one of his first vests is a bit of stretch and looks more like a baby Borat's mankini – and the gifts of clothing that looked like they would fit a four-year-old are turning out to be a perfect fit.

And it's not just size that's up for comparison. Mini achievements – such as sleeping through the night, when the first smile arrives and whether they've rolled over yet – are also subjects of comparison up for discussion.

George did try to roll on to his front the other day, but his arms – which he still hasn't realised he has control over – keep getting in the way. The one achievement that George has accomplished – and that I haven't heard anyone compare – is the ability to be sick and smile at the same time.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009


George hits double figures this weekend – he'll be ten weeks old – and he's starting his bad habits early.

The first ones – and the obvious ones – are the burping after meals and the farting. Noises so grown-up that his parents often have to ask each other if it was them or George who trumpeted in such a mighty fashion.

George has now spotted the TV, which has become a bit of a distraction at feeding time. You can see his train of thought – 'boob or TV? boob or TV?'. Usually boob wins and George will throw his head in the direction of lunch.

He's had a bit of a snuffle this week too, and not just a baby snuffle – this one's a real manly cold. And even though there's this Swine Flu going round, it's more likely to be Wine Flu in our house. Anyway, he's coped with it pretty well and has even made something of a game out of it. A bit like one of those bash-the-mole-on-the-head-when-he-pops-up games, mummy and daddy have been playing 'Catch the Bogey'. Just when you think you've got it, it shoots back up his nose.

Another game we've been playing is 'Guess What He's Trying to Say'. Obviously he isn't trying to say anything at ten weeks, but the gurgling sounds are becoming more phonetically recognisable. Mummy's been repeating "m-m-m-m-m" sounds in the hope that George's first word might be "mummy". Daddy's been going "d-d-d-d-d". Then, when George does make a sound, mummy will say, "hey, that sounded like 'momma' to me", and daddy will disagree – "no, surely it was 'dodecahedron'".

There's a long way to go before he's actually talking, but the manly behaviour is picking up pace – he has even started hogging the sofa!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

One small step...

George has moved into his own room – that's one small step for George, one giant leap for his parents – and I'm not sure if we're getting any more sleep.

The monitor isn't as sensitive as human ears and instead of being able to hear his every sigh and whimper, all we get are the louder noises. So the knock-on effect is that we lie awake, holding our breath, head off the pillow, straining to hear the slightest noise coming through the little, white walkie-talkie thing on the bedside table.

After a little while the agitation sets in and there's nothing else for it but to get up and check on our little fella – only to find he is indeed making those sleepy gurgling sounds and probably has been all along.

Apart from keeping us awake – even when he isn't making any noise – George has had some other strange effects on mummy and daddy. For example, when mummy picks up the phone she has found herself rocking back and forth as if she's trying to send the person on the other end of the line to sleep. Daddy on the other hand has started to walk around like he's Danny Zuko or one the T-Birds – if he didn't have a crying baby in his arms he'd need a leather jacket and a quiff (not much chance of that).

The strangest one though, is when mummy and daddy kiss each other goodnight. First they kiss, then they cuddle, then they rub each others back, then pat each others back, then finally they burp in each others ear and fall happily asleep – until the monitor makes a noise or, of course, stays quiet.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The firsts of many

George is on a journey of many firsts, and mummy and daddy are there to enjoy them too. His first trips out went pretty much without a hitch – in fact he slept through most of them.

The fruit and veg counter at the local supermarket seems to make George's eyes light up, and we just hope that in future he'll be just as excited about the tastes as he is about the colours. He's not so keen on the checkout though, and we've deduced that that is down to the trolley coming to a halt.

And George was particularly well behaved at a recent Christening. He managed to keep his face and clothes free of baby sick the whole time – unless that was down to mummy's adept skill with the muslin. In fact, daddy didn't see him for most of the day as mummy and grandma passed him from pillar to post.

His first smile was a special moment and ever since mummy and daddy have been carefully scrutinising each smile to make sure it's not just wind.

There are many more firsts to come – after all he's only seven and a half weeks old – the walking, the talking, the tooth, the bike and the zoo. And it's the zoo that concerns me most...

We already have a collection of wild animals, in particular a selection of elephants that range from stripy red ones to purple and green spotty ones and multi-coloured patchwork ones. I'm just wondering what George's reaction will be when he finds out they're all grey.

Along with that, we all know how to impersonate animal noises – elephants, monkeys, parrots, lions and tigers, cows,
pigs and sheep – but what will George think when he finds
out the giraffe doesn't jovially say "Hello George... how are you today?"?

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Law of the Fairground

Probably not a major breakthrough in the world of newborn baby science, but I think I've discovered that babies first learn the main rule in the Law of the Fairground.

Breastfeeding may come naturally and those little, puckering, pouty sucks that George does in his sleep are simply a somnolent precursor to fairground mayhem.

Daddy can't sleep when his little George is grunting and sighing through the night, and when George stops making those noises, daddy can't sleep until he starts them again. Then all of a sudden comes the full-blown 'wah' and it's action all stations for mummy and daddy, whatever the time (more often for mummy because she's the one with the boobs).

Luckily for mummy, she can have a sleep in the day and daddy gets to look after little George when there's no one around to hear him sing and make silly noises and play games like introducing him to the kitchen utensils... "This is a fish slice". Of course George isn't always impressed – perhaps it would have been beneficial to explain what a fish was first.

Anyway, the old 'life is a rollercoaster' cliche has been over used many a time, possibly with some justification. After all, there are many ups and downs when enjoying life as a new family – the ups are higher than the high thing in High Street, High Town and the downs, in actual fact, aren't that much lower... just tiring. There are also the waltzers – round and round and round – and sometimes you do feel as if you're getting nowhere... but it's still a thrill.

And even though George has never seen a fish, a rollercoaster or a waltzer there's one thing he knows for sure – the louder he screams the faster we (mummy and daddy) go. Surely the main rule in the Law of the Fairground.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Lucky dad

According to some, having bird poo land on you is meant to be lucky. I don't know how this adage came about but if it is true then apparently I'm luckier than most.

There aren't many who can say they have had a seagull poo on their nose, yet it doesn't feel very lucky when you have to turn to your friends to ask them what the warm sensation on the end of your nose actually is.

This week I've been particularly lucky. While sitting in the garden, a swift, at least 50 or 60 feet in the air, managed to land one on my bare foot – at least this one had time to cool on its descent and was considerably smaller.

But luckiest of all was the projectile poo that shot from my son's bare botty as I changed his nappy. Having been left to look after him for a short while I had managed to cope with the feeding from a bottle of expressed milk, the burping ritual and keeping him entertained and was hoping mummy would be back before the nappy-change business.

Not so. George wanted his nappy changing and he wanted it doing now. So reluctantly daddy, having watched mummy do it many times, decided to give it a go. After all, after five minutes of yuk would come the joy of peace and quiet and a happy, little, not-so-red-faced baby.

George couldn't have picked his moment better – nappy off, mummy arriving home with grandma and grandad in tow and daddy holding baby's feet in the air.

Mummy took over the nappy changing while daddy went and changed himself and the grandparents chuckled away and archived their first anecdote for many future social occasions when they might feel it necessary to embarrass daddy or George.

Daddy doesn't mind though. After waiting for quite some time for George to come along, he feels very lucky indeed – perhaps George just wanted to emphasise the point.