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?"