Monday, May 31, 2010

Look Up - Complete

Today is the last day of May, and therefore the last day of my Look Up project. I'm so pleased that I managed to keep going for a whole month, and have blogged every day for the last 31 days.

I haven't yet decided what I'm going to do for the next month - whether I'm going to start another list, or do another project, or what.

We had another horrendous night last night, I was up from 1.50am (which is a perfectly acceptable time to go to bed. It is not anywhere near an acceptable time to be waking up) until 5.45am when Jamie took over. J-cub finally went back to sleep at 6.30am. I was also very ill, with a raging fever, and nausea, and stomach cramps. I have no idea where it's come from, but I've had just about enough of it now.

I've therefore spent most of today sleeping (or groaning), Jamie's spent most of today juggling an overtired baby, a needy wife, and an important OU assignment which he needs to finish and get posted by tomorrow. J-cub's spent most of today in his pajamas, screeching and wreaking havoc and generally being a mischief.

I got two final Look Up photos, which I couldn't choose between. Isn't he adorable?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Day in Pictures (2)

We've had such a lovely day today, and I had too many photos to choose from, so I'm doing another day in pictures. Last night was awful - we've had 2 nights of pure, unbroken sleep from 7pm-7am, which has obviously lulled us into a false sense of security which needed shaking up. We put J-cub down at 8pm last night, he immediately fell asleep but woke up 10 minutes later and grizzled and groaned and descended into full-blown screaming over the course of the next hour. We gave up and brought him down for some extra playtime. At 10.30pm, he went back to bed, and eventually drifted off. Result, we thought, that means a lie-in tomorrow morning.

J-cub hadn't finished toying with us though. At 3.30am, the screaming started again. We were up, and down, and rubbing his back, and cuddling him, and trying everything under the sun to get him to go back to sleep. I don't know when he did, I just know that I've once again been floating on a cloud of exhaustion today (and he wouldn't go down for his afternoon nap, just when we really needed a break).

It didn't stop us from enjoying ourselves though...

J-cub having his first go on the climbing frame. It's built in a square, with different surfaces and sides on each section. He went round and round and round, while we ran round the edge to block the exits and stop him from falling off.

Crawling through the tunnel, full of giggles.

Riding a very evil looking horse.

My favourite moment - we walked round to the park for the first time with J-cub between us, holding our hands. He got tired a few times and we carried him for a while, then he'd be back down for another go. It's like we're proper parents all of a sudden.

New walking skill - holding just one hand.

Bad Mummy - J-cub's first taste of ice-cream (and it was a Magnum - nothing but the best for our boy).

Picking the flowers.

Adapting our game from a few days ago - "What's in the boot?".

Covering the car with a sarong makes it even more exciting.

Building a den under the Jumperoo.

Rescuing Jemaine from inside the den.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Today's Look Up photo: J-cub enjoying the swing with tiny chuckles and wide-mouthed grins, lots of pointing and staring up at the sky.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


My parents are visiting this weekend, so I haven't had time for thinking about blogging, and it would be hard to explain the taking of Look Up photos since they don't know about this blog, and I'd kind of like to keep it that way.

Therefore, I'm once again resorting to the archives. These photos are from a walk we took when J-cub was teeny-tiny, and from when we didn't know any better and were still using the BabyBjorn carrier (with lots of resulting painful necks and backs).

It was springtime, and most of last Spring passed by in a haze of sleep-deprivation and gradually-building depression. It was Winter when I went into labour, and I barely noticed Spring appearing as I couldn't walk for ages and spent most of the time indoors with the blinds pulled shut (having your boobs out 24/7 will do that to you). On the occasional day that I did venture outside, like in these photos, I was pretty much blinded by the sunlight and amazed at the new green leaves appearing everywhere.

On this occasion, we went for a walk through the woods in the brilliant sunshine, with J-cub sleeping happily all the way. In those days, he'd fall asleep the moment he was put in the sling, it was lovely. There are several attempts at taking a photo of the three of us together, and I love the one above. I'm sad that I don't remember so much of last year, and that what I do remember is triggered by photographs. I'm glad I have the photos or I'd have no memories at all, but it would just be nice if my brain hadn't shut down to such an extent that I've blanked everything out.

In this set of photos, there are several of Jamie looking up at a tree. I don't remember why, but I'm sure he had a good reason at the time.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Jacob's driving in his car...

The two lovely boys I work with are now aged 10, and have decided that it's about time to let go of some of their toddler toys. They invited me to rummage through their garden shed, where I found two lovely Little Tikes cars, which they thought they could just about bear to be parted from. I chose one, and while I tutored E, his brother J scrubbed and washed and cleaned all the spiders off the car. I folded down the backseats of the car and squeezed it in, and arrived home to give J-cub his belated birthday present from his honorary brothers.

We helped him into it, and he's barely spent a second out of it since. We were a bit worried that it would take him a while to work out how to climb in and out of it, but about 5 minutes after he'd first sat in it, Jamie took J-cub out of it to give him his tea, left him for a second to get his cup, and came back in to find J-cub sitting back in the car with the door shut.

His legs aren't long or strong enough yet to propel himself forwards, but he's enjoyed using it as a highchair, sitting it and spinning the wheel, reading books while leaning out the front window, climbing in the wrong way round, standing on the seat and leaning out the front window, sitting on the parcel shelf, climbing out of the door, cruising round to the other side, and climbing back in through the window.

I was very cruel and put it in the garden, after I got sick of having no room for anything else and after J-cub got stuck in the footwell for the hundredth time. I'm just waiting for him to start pointing out the back and signing 'car'. In the meantime, I've been taking him out every time it's not raining for some driving practice.

Today's Look Up photo was an easy one - he leant out the front window to check out the ceiling (just in case there was anything going on up there). AMAZING face :D

Thursday, May 27, 2010

World Cup

There appears to be some sort of major football event happening soon, which my lovely husband is very excited about (sigh). I'm far more excited about my biggest guilty pleasure - the last series of Big Brother which starts a few days beforehand.

J-cub and I popped out for a few bits and bobs this afternoon, and the Co-op had massive inflatable footballs hanging from the ceiling. J-cub had just begun to get a bit shouty and I-don't-want-to-be-in-this-trolley-any-more-y, but was suddenly transfixed when he caught sight of them.

Like father, like son.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

You can't look directly at a bluebell...

A very quick post today as I'm shattered after all the children at school today were besieged by their volume controls being stuck on high, resulting in my ears still ringing and my brain being numb. I managed to make a small girl cry uncontrollably by asking her to stop screaming "I found a woodlouse!" and just to tell her friends quietly instead.

I took today's Look Up photo standing outside my employer's back door, which opens onto a narrow walkway edged by an 8-foot high brick wall at the top of which is a small strip of wild garden (the house is cut into a hillside). The bluebells were glorious - highlighted by the sun and waving in today's welcome breeze.

From time to time, I like to baffle city-born Jamie with straight-faced explanations of nature, most of which are true, but some of which are not. These include there only being 5 clouds which encircle the world, occasionally breaking up into smaller pieces of cloud but still being part of a greater whole, and my most recent explanation of the blue haze you see at roadsides when banks and verges are covered in bluebells. I insisted, for days, that you can't look directly at a bluebell. It's an optical illusion, like a perception filter, which means your eyes slide right off it and you only take in the group of flowers (like a herd of zebra) but you can never see a single flower, except in the very periphery of your vision.

He didn't believe me. I don't know why I do this, but I get massive kicks from it. I don't think many people get my sense of humour.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

(More) new nappies

When I picked J-cub up from nursery yesterday, he was wearing a disposable nappy. They said that he'd been sweating loads (it was insanely hot, and they hadn't yet got the air conditioners working) and they were worried so had put him in one to cool him down. I was a bit unsure about whether or not they were right - cloth nappies are breathable, as are the wraps we use, whilst disposables are not. Then again, the weight of a disposable, even when saturated, is nothing compared to the weight of a wet cloth nappy.

I decided that today was the perfect time to try out the TotsBots Easyfits which I won during Real Nappy Week. The nappies are pockets, and after our initial foray into the world of pockets, we were a little reluctant to try any more. However, I figured that I'd let nursery deal with any potential leaks, and I shoved a few disposables into his bag Just In Case. Pocket nappies don't have a wrap to cover them because their outer layer is waterproof. That makes them ideal for caregivers who aren't used to cloth, as they are as easy to put on as disposables, and are seemingly good for hot weather, as they're slimmer and have less layers.

We bundled him off in one this morning, and when I collected him I had a resounding thumbs up from the nursery staff. I'm happy enough with our normal MEOS at home, but it's far easier for us to strip him off and keep him cool during a heatwave than it is for the nursery staff with all the other babies and children to deal with.

When I got him home I had a chance to see them in action - they are far quicker and easier to change, and after 2 hours and lots of drinks of water, the nappy was fairly dry (although again, the hot weather and a sweaty baby could account for that). Still, I really like them. I started to think about getting some more, as we only have 5 Easyfits which wouldn't cover 2 days at nursery. I was lucky enough to win the brand new Easyfits V2, a fancy new super-dry version which doesn't need an extra booster (hence being so skinny and cool). And which seem to cost a whopping £17.50 each. The ones I won are white, but they come in 6 gorgeous prints as well, and I am so coveting this one:

Damn it, I thought I'd escaped from the cloth nappy mania which seems to befall so many users. Until I win the lottery (or another competition), I think it's unlikely that we'll be able to afford to buy more anytime soon. In the meantime, I'm going to do some proper research into whether or not cloth nappies are hotter, and spend my hard-earned pennies on some potties so we can have lots more bare-bum time at home.

I thought I'd combine today's Look Up photo with a snap of J-cub modelling his new nappies - although this isn't the best one as you can't really see the nappy. It was the only time he chose to stare at the ceiling though, so that's all you're getting.

I'm off to clean the telly now.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hot Hot Heat

So hot. So very very hot. Dawn broke at 4.30am this morning. And J-cub woke up. And wouldn't go back to sleep. I'm so so tired, and it's been so hot all day. When I picked him up from nursery, he was covered in heat rash and burning hot. He cried most of the way home, despite the air conditioning in the car, and screamed as soon as we got in the house. I ended up stripping him off and giving him his evening bottle straight away, lying on the lounge floor, even though he normally has it right before bed. He seems a bit better now, and is still wandering around in just his nappy with no wrap, to keep him extra cool.

I'm shattered, and can't really do much Internetting as I'm avoiding Lost spoilers. The finale was on at 5am this morning (the irony of me being awake but not able to watch it as I was tending to a grumpy baby was not lost on me) so we've Sky +'d it for later. I can't wait.

I snapped a quick photo of J-cub looking up at me while he drank his bottle, as my tired, hot brain couldn't come up with anything more inventive.

That's all for now - hope all my lovely readers are finding ways to keep cool.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

First Steps!

How could I forget?

Jacob took his first steps today :D

It was a total surprise so I have no sort of photographic or video evidence to share with you, but it was amazing. He was sitting on his trike, moving the handlebars back and forth (which is about as far as trike riding goes, so far). He slowly climbed off, and started to sit down whilst still holding onto the handlebars. Then he changed his mind, stood up, and took 3 steps straight over to where I was sitting. I got rather excited and shouted "Ohmygodohmygodohmygod" and rushed outside to grab Jamie to come see.

We passed him between us for a while, and he alternated between taking 3 or 4 steps, and falling straight towards the other parent with no attempt made to take even one step. He seemed to do it best if he was standing up unsupported first. It was a shock each and every time he did it, but so much more exciting than anything that's ever happened in my life before.

Nothing is safe now ;)

What's in the box?

Now that J-cub's getting a bit older, I've been trying to play with him in a more useful way. Tammy at The Heartful Blogger has recommend The Toddler's Busy Book, which is on my wish list. In the meantime, I've been looking for inspiration from other blogs. When I find it, it always makes me feel like such an idiot for not having thought it up myself.

Today's game, courtesy of Chasing Cheerios, is 'What's Inside?'. This was swiftly rechristened 'What's in the box?', said in a wailing, Brad Pitt-esque voice from the scene at the end of Se7en (which you can see a comedy version of here). Our version involved sneaking something into a biscuit tin, banging the lid whilst chanting "What's in the box?", shaking the box whilst chanting "What's in the box?", then saying "Oooooooh what's in the box?" during the big reveal.

J-cub cottoned on to the game after about 2 seconds, he took over the banging of the lid, clapped while I shook it, then clasped his hands together in anticipation before chuckling when he saw what was inside.

When I thought he'd had enough of playing, I wandered off for a while, only to see that J-cub was carrying on playing on his own. He quickly mastered getting the lid on and off, and even remembered to put something inside the box a few times.

Later on, he found his shadow on the wall for the first time, and happily smacked it around for a while.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I wrote yesterday about the swallows (house-martins?) and managed to get some photos today looking up at them flying into their nest in the eaves of the house behind us. This stretched my photographic capabilities to their limits, as swallows apparently forage at 30-40kph. I got a few usable shots though, and this was my favourite.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lots of Swallows make a Summer...

In the eaves of all our neighbouring houses, swallows are nesting (or house-martins, I don't know the difference). The sky today has been full of them, wheeling and circling, catching flies and swooping back to their nests.

It's been so very hot today - noticeably cooler inside the house but it still reached 25 degrees in the lounge - and J-cub has been crawling around naked for most of the day. He loved being squirted by bath toys in the water tray, closing his eyes and grinning with his face turned upwards in joy.

He had an alfresco dinner on the patio, at which point he caught sight of the birds and spent most of his meal with his head thrown back, watching them, pointing and giggling between mouthfuls.

We put our duvet out to air on the grass today, then brought it back in before the dew started to fall and laid it on the living room floor to make sure no spiders were clinging to its folds (I hate spiders). J-cub spent the last hour before bedtime rolling around on it, pressing his face to its softness and making squeaks of delight. When I lay down on it with him, he got as close to me as he could, put his forehead against mine and his arm around my shoulder.

He's such an angel.

Friday, May 21, 2010

No, THIS is Summer.

I made a misguided post about it being Summer a few days ago. It promptly rained for the following week. Today though, it has been HOT. J-cub has been sleeping in just a vest and his 1 tog Grobag, and has still been waking up drenched in sweat. He spent the morning wearing just a nappy, and the afternoon wearing a lovely new romper suit (I LOVE romper suits, I wish it was warm enough for him to wear them year-round). He's drunk 3 whole cups of water, and enjoyed sucking on an ice lolly. He got totally soaked splashing in the water tray, with his face right down close to the water and his eyes tight shut. We blew bubbles sitting on the grass and watched Tilly bouncing around trying to catch them. It was awesome, although I have a wicked headache from the heat.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I nearly discarded this photo, thinking that I'd missed half his face off (shooting from the hip again, or, in this case, shooting with the camera held up above him so he would look up). Then I realised that he is looking at the camera, but in the reflection in the glass door of the DVD cabinet. Inadvertent awesome shot WIN.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Play dates

I was supposed to have a play date with my two Mummy friends and their babies today. We used to get together every week, but illness and tiredness and other things seem to always get in the way now, and it's been a while since we've all been together.

J-cub went down late for his morning nap, therefore woke up late, and after a hurried lunch we set off to drive to R's house. By the time we arrived, my other friend, C, had already left. Her little one was having an undiagnosed screaming fit, so she'd scarpered to the sanctity of home. R's little one, P, had just gone down for her nap. So 3 out of the planned 6 of us had a lovely play - J-cub enjoyed all the novel toys, the clinky fireguard, the too-high-for-climbing-sofa, the books he'd never read before, and the dogs. The dogs quickly became his new best friends, he fed them breadsticks through the stairgate, laughed when they barked at him, and gently poked their faces.

At exactly the point when P woke up, J-cub started having a bit of an I'm-really-quite-tired-now-Mummy tantrum, threw himself eye-first onto a doorframe, and had a massive screaming meltdown.

We had approximately 5 minutes when both babies were awake and not crying, although P was adorably half-asleep and fluffy-haired and mostly just stared at J-cub in a "where did you come from?" type way.

It was a lovely afternoon, although it didn't exactly work out the way we'd planned it. It's always nice to have some mummy-talk, and for J-cub to play with some different toys. P also still has balloons up from her birthday, and today's Look Up photo shows J-cub looking up at them with glee and longing. When we got home, he stuck the tied-end of one of his balloons in his mouth and crawled around with it bobbing up and down. He now has a rather scary looking lump on his eyebrow from his incident with the doorframe, and I'm predicting a black eye tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Separation Anxiety

The biggest thing I had trouble adjusting to after J-cub was born, was never being alone. I've always valued 'me time', not that I ever did anything particularly exciting on my own, but I enjoy peace and quiet, and reading, and having time to think and freedom to do whatever I want to do. It was a massive culture shock, having a completely dependent being attached to me 24/7. I don't think I'd really thought about it at all before he arrived, but I resented him for it, and was desperate to get away, at times.

All that has changed now, and though I'm still suffering with my postnatal depression, I don't have any negative feelings towards J-cub, and only get that desperate feeling when I'm away from him, and want to get back as quickly as possible.

With all that in mind, today was horrible. He woke briefly at 6.10am, but I settled him back to sleep and came downstairs to get ready for work as I had no chance of falling back asleep at that time. I pottered around, eating my breakfast, showering, dressing, making my lunch and prettifying myself. J-cub didn't stir. On Wednesday's, Jamie doesn't work and stays home with him. At 8am, I sneaked into the bedroom, told Jamie the boy was still asleep and I was leaving, and I left. With no cuddles, no playing, no time at all with my baby.

I missed him horribly, all day. It was far worse than all the other days when I get an hour or more with him in the morning, and a half hour drive to nursery with him chatting away in the back of the car. Jamie texted me to say that they'd both woken at 9am (9! Why can't he do that on days when I'm at home?!) and were having a lovely day. And I missed him all the more.

I rushed through the last part of my working day and got home just after 6.30pm. We played some music, had some cuddles, J-cub demonstrated his new flair for the dramatic by doing huge, face-cracking yawns then flinging his hand across his face and giggling with his eyes still closed. He suddenly discovered his tongue and spent 5 minutes poking it at us and blowing bubbles. I took him to bed at 7 and he fell straight asleep.

Half an hour with my baby in the last 24 hours. I feel lost.

I can't wait til tomorrow, and Friday and Saturday and Sunday. Although after a couple of hours of mania tomorrow morning, I'll probably be begging him to go down for his nap.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

An oldie for today's Look Up photo, I think I might even have posted it on here before, but it's lovely and appropriate and has given me a nice half hour looking through the photos, which eases the pain of missing him a bit.

Now I just have to try and stop longing to go and get him up again.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Boogie Wonderland

We spent a delightful afternoon at school today, building dens for fairies as part of our Eco School initiative. My group of four boys built the best den by far, even beating the normally endless creativity and imagination of the girls (although the girls' den did have a swing). I can't even take any credit for it, as I was inside catching up on paperwork during the initial design stages (I brought the paperwork home to do last night, but J-cub scuppered that plan by screaming solidly for 4 hours. Ho hum.). When I rejoined the boys, they gave me a guided tour.

My look up photo is taken from the ground floor (which you can't see), which included sleeping, eating and lounging areas. It was covered with a thick layer of cut grass, which made it almost completely waterproof and very warm and snuggly. The first level you can see is a dance floor "for the fairies to have lots of discos". Can you see the mirror ball? How cool is that?

And the top layer, which you can see the bottom of, with the mirror ball hanging from it ... it contained nothing but a thick layer of soft grass and leaves. "What's that bit for?" I asked. They answered "It's a secret place for snogging!"


Monday, May 17, 2010

One small step...

During my drive home from work this evening, where I first stopped to pick up J-cub from nursery, then to drop off the boys at their karate lesson, we had a long, rambly conversation. We covered topics such as how much it cost to fix my car door, why I couldn't afford to buy an Ipod, or an Iphone, or an Ipad, or the DVD of Avatar (all things the boys thought I should own, rather than things I necessarily want), which of their old toys I thought J-cub might like, and how many spiders I thought might be living in their garage, how much I fancy David Tennant and how much I'd cried during his last episode of Doctor Who, why alternative energy sources are important, and how wind turbines are being set up in America above highways, to harness the energy of passing cars. That sounds interesting, said I, I'll have to look that up when I get home.

Today's post is therefore a bit different - I've looked up this unimagined concept which the boys had seen or read about, and found that not only is it true, but there's a whole variety of ways of harnessing wind energy, which don't have the negative impacts which are so often associated with standard wind turbines. There's an excellent post on Biofriendly which explains it all if you're interested. The pictures are amazing, I especially love the aesthetically-pleasing streetlights towards the end of the post.

We try to do our best to help the environment here, we are fanatical recyclers, are now cloth-nappy users, grow our own veg, only have one car ... I know there's a lot more that we could (and should) be doing, particularly to cut down our electricity usage. I was reminded of this post on The King and Eye, about making your blog carbon neutral, which I read a while ago and forgot to follow up. It's high-time I did so, even though my blog falls waaaaaay short of the apparent 'average' traffic of 15,000 hits per month (where are you, readers?). The initiative in question was started by a company called kaufDA in Germany, and, in their own words: "“My blog is carbon neutral” is an initiative, originally started in Germany by the “Make it Green” programme, that has the goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. We plant a tree for your blog and thereby neutralise your blog’s carbon footprint for the next 50 years! Everyone can make a small contribution to the environment. Every tree counts!". All you need to do to sign up is to write a post about the initiative, insert one of their buttons, email them, and they'll plant a tree for your blog. How awesome is that? Your tree, in its lifetime, will offset the carbon produced by your blog, as well as doing all the other wonderful tree-ey things that trees do.

Who's with me?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Jacob loves Jemaine

Taken 5/01/10 - aged 10 months

As part of our Sunday cleaning blitz, I decided that it was high time J-cub's giraffe, Jemaine, had a wash (for those who are interested, Jemaine is named after Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords, another of our favourite TV programmes. We're not telly addicts, honest). J-cub sleeps with Jemaine, and drags him around everywhere, and bites on his head when he's teething, and dips him in his food, and takes him to nursery, so he tends to get a bit dirty. Or completely filthy. His care label says 'wipe clean only', which I successfully did for a while, but from time to time he needs a proper clean, and I put him in the dishwasher, with the idea that he won't get as wet in there as he would in the washing machine. It doesn't work, as he comes out sopping wet, but he does come out clean, and (so far) unscathed.

I put him in today, after J-cub's morning nap. So far, so good. J-cub was a bit grizzly, and signed 'more, cuddles' a few times, whilst looking in all his usual Jemaine-depositing areas. When he got tired, the dishwasher hadn't finished, so I tried to put him down with his other sleepy friend, Blue Ted. And J-cub screamed, and screamed, and sobbed, and kept crawling around the cot, and peering out to look on the floor, and picking up Blue Ted, and throwing him as hard as he could at the other end of the cot. After an hour of cuddles and rocking, we gave up and brought him downstairs again.

Jemaine had since been moved to the tumble dryer, but was still damp. A couple of hours later, J-cub eventually fell asleep, and I felt like the worst mother ever. Both for taking away his special friend, and for him being so reliant on a transient object, that even I can't comfort him without it. Part of me can't help but feel that his attachment for Jemaine must stem from sleeping in his own room, in his own cot, with just Jemaine and Blue Ted for company. I know it's silly, and I know that lots of babies have special toys or blankets that they love. I'm just spectacularly good at beating myself up over things like this.

A couple of hours later, J-cub had woken from his nap, the tumble dryer was finished, and they were reunited. J-cub was almost indifferent, giving Jemaine a cursory glance then carrying on with his cup game. Maybe I over-reacted.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Today's Look Up photo was taken at lunchtime, during an ill-advised "Let's eat cherry tomatoes on the rug in the lounge" moment. J-cub enjoyed picking them up, squishing them in his fist, sucking them a bit, then spitting them out. We were picking up tomato pips for hours.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Shooting from the hip

I was just fooling around with J-cub on the sofa this morning, playing phonecalls (J-cub picks up anything - a remote control, Jemaine, a book - and clutches it to his neck/ear area. I do the same, and we have a 'chat'.), and I started taking photos without looking through the viewfinder. I read about doing this when I was learning how to use my Fisheye camera, but have never tried it with my normal camera. I'm so happy with the photos I got, they're much more natural and really capture the feel of our day.

In this photo, I'm sitting next to J-cub, but holding the camera out in front of us. He's looking at me, chatting away. I love love love this photo.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Today's Look Up photo comes with courtesy from Maeby, who was having a loving-us (rather than an indifferent-to-us) morning. Maeby is the special one, out of the two cats. She's very shy, and doesn't really understand that she's a cat, and likes to do things like stare at walls for hours on end and hide under blankets when she's scared (which is most of the time). She's named after a character from our most favouritest TV show of all time, Arrested Development, although her name is purposefully misspelt so as to not confuse vets (who would pronounce Maebe either Mayb or Mave).

When she decides that actually, we're not scary giants after all, and might be worth paying a bit of attention to, she suddenly morphs from crazy, haughty, I'm-not-looking-at-you into OhMyGODIloveyousomuchcanIhaveacuddlepleasenownowSTROKEME! She expresses this by miaowing quietly (the rest of the time she is entirely silent), trying to get as close to your hands as possible and reaching up to make stroking movements with her paw (with claws fully extended - it's quite scary). I managed to catch her in full pleading mode here. Isn't she pretty?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Looking back

I think I spoke too soon yesterday, about Summer being here. We awoke this morning to rain, and it didn't stop until after J-cub went to bed.

We had to break out his new waterproof coat when we went out (as I couldn't find his old one), but strangely, although it is sized 18-24 months, it didn't fit. I stuck all the stickers and tags back onto it so I can return it, and found his 9-12 month one, which he's been wearing since last July. It still fits with room to spare.

He seems to have grown loads recently. His huge, always-fit-no-matter-what's-underneath dungarees have been getting a bit snug, and the shoulder straps have been let out to their maximum length. We've had to let his nappies out by another popper, and this evening we've moved him into his 18-36 month sized Grobags. His feet were right at the end of his old ones, and he kept getting stuck in the night as there wasn't room to wiggle free. I hope the new ones will last the prescribed 18 months, as he sleeps so much better in them than with blankets.

I spent a while this afternoon looking back through my photo archives for a suitable Look Up photo. I found this one, where he's just turned 9 months old. He looks so different here - he has so little hair compared to now, and that really changes the look of his face. He didn't use to have a fringe at all, as you can see here, then it suddenly grew out of nowhere. Plus his legs look really short and undeveloped - he hadn't even started crawling at this point.

He's looking at the lampshade in his room here; a cheap paper globe which I painted while I was pregnant to match the jungle stickers on his wall. It has monkeys, butterflies, vines and flowers on it, and I love it. And I love that he loves it too.

Taken 8/12/09

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Is this Summer?

We've spent a gorgeous afternoon in the garden - eating ice lollies, bouncing on the trampoline, splashing in the water tray, watering the plants, investigating here, sowing more seeds, practising walking, investigating there, taking photos, tying up sweet peas, and having a rest on a sun-warmed growbag...

I lay practically underneath the trampoline to get this picture, and even though I missed half his head, I love the happiness you can see on his face. He finally got the hang of bouncing on it today, despite having been happily bouncing in his cot for weeks. And my voice is now hoarse from repeatedly singing the Tigger song in encouragement.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Bloggers

I've just been catching up on reading some of my favourite blogs, and realised that no less than three of them are celebrating their birthdays today.

So, as a little birthday present to them, I'd like to point you in their direction, to enjoy their loveliness and share in their very different worlds.

Firstly, Happy 21st Birthday to Carla at Messy Carla: A Fashion Blog in a Size 16. Carla is a lovely girl, with impeccable music taste and beautiful dress sense. Her blog offers fashion and make-up advice, lovely giveaways, interviews with fellow fashionistas and much more. I've been Internet-friends with Carla since the days of frequenting myspace, and I once had a funny dream about her, which I can't remember now.

Nextly, Jen at Cakewrecks. I don't 'know' Jen at all, but the blog is well worth a look, if you enjoy eating cake and laughing at people who can't spell and seemingly have no idea of how to make something look edible. Jen's comments on the cakes are hilarious, and she deserves an extra-special birthday cake all of her own. Here you go: CAKE :D (yes, that's the best I can do, I'm tired).

Lastily, the most wonderful Anna Pickard at Little Red Boat, whose birthday, now I come to think of it, might actually have been yesterday. She's currently residing in San Francisco, and I can't work out the time difference. I think it's yesterday. Or was yesterday. Whatever, her blog was the very first blog I ever came across, and have read religiously since. It is, without a doubt, the most funny and best written blog I've ever read, and I am always cheered up by reading it. And she has two lovely cats who are very similar to our dappy cats, and that makes me happy. So Happy (probably belated) Birthday to Anna.

That's all!

The Wicker Boy

When I was pregnant, we found a lovely wicker storage basket in Dunelm Mill, lined with blue gingham and with little wooden wheels. We stored in it all the bits and bobs of baby-clothes which we acquired, and some special soft toys. It languished in the corner of the nursery during the first few months of J-cub's life, filled with cot blankets which were too big to be used while he was tiny.

As he got bigger and the influx of toys started, the basket was moved downstairs to the lounge, was gradually filled up, and quickly overflowed. It's fairly sturdy, and J-cub first pulled himself to stand holding on to it, tempted by the bounty within. From time to time, he starts searching for something in it, chucking toys over his shoulder with little or no regard for people or cats who might be within a hitting radius.

This afternoon he managed to empty the entire basket, turn it on its side, and began to delight himself with the sound the wicker made as he hit it, and rubbed his hands on it, and scratched it. He then realised that he could see through the sides, and played Peepo with us through and around it for ages...

At the moment, when he gets excited he reaches both arms up to the ceiling, throws his head back, squeezes his eyes tightly shut and giggles before slamming both hands down on whatever it is that he's crushing on. I tried to get a shot-from-above of this move (pre-shutting-eyes) for today's look up photo, but was foiled. I just love the expression of pure joy on his face here though...

Having extricated the basket from the mess he'd made, I discovered that the wheels were sturdier than they looked, and I pushed him around the lounge in it for a while, getting up as much speed as possible and crashing into the furniture...

Then J-cub realised that he could push the basket around himself. He's been using his VTech First Steps Baby Walker for a week or so now, and is so proud of his abilities to walk across the floor with it. It does go a bit fast though, and he tends to get left behind and ends up on his knees (or flat on his face). He also can't push it one handed, and can't hold the handle with his giraffe Jemaine also in his hand. The basket solved both these problems; heavy enough to push at a J-cub-appropriate speed, and with room to spare for Jemaine to travel in style...

He also struggles to turn the VTech walker around corners, or to reverse direction, but the basket was just the right height to cruise around to the far side, then push it back the way he came...

J-cub played with the basket for TWO SOLID HOURS. I didn't get a proper look up photo, but it's my rules, and I say the second and third photos count. And it was great fun.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Willow Maze

Not an ideal photo today, as I took it with my phone seconds before the battery died, so I didn't have time to improve on it.

Still, this gives an idea of where I spend around an hour each working day - building dens in the living willow maze in the school field. The maze was planted 3 or 4 years ago, and is now mature and full of twisty passages and secret areas for the children to play in. In the summer it's so green and leafy and cool, and the children get embroiled in scraps from the start of break until the bell rings, over who has laid claim to each den.

It was my first day back at work today, and I managed to cope with only a few coughing fits and no fainting spells whatsoever.

I was much more relaxed at work today, as I dropped J-cub off at nursery with no tears whatsoever, and he even held out his arms to go to his keyworker, then waved bye-bye to me. When I went to pick him up, he was happy playing in a pile of Duplo and turned away as if to say "Just let me finish this game Mummy". He also told me all about his day, in his own inimitable style, by pointing out the painting he'd done, some glittery pictures he liked, the books he read, and the cot he'd slept in.

We came home for a couple of hours of cuddles, squeezes, smooshy kisses, no nap for me (J-cub delightfully crawled over to me and prised my eyelids open) ... then the next 4 or 5 years of our life were ruined as Brown stood down, Cameron became PM and a mostly-Tory government came one step closer. If you're as unhappy about this as I am, you might want to consider offering your support here:

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This photo was taken looking up from the very centre of the willow maze, where all the paths converge into a circular clearing and all the branches criss-cross to create a ceiling overhead.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Thoughts on co-sleeping

Trawling our massive YMCA charity shop the other day (yes, even charity shops are going super-sized), I found a book which causes Jamie to giggle every time he catches sight of the title: Three in a Bed by Deborah Jackson.

I've nearly finished it now, and it's been an illuminating read. The book pulls together anecdotes, research, advice from parenting manuals and the author's own experiences to give the historical and societal reasons for co-sleeping with your baby. Co-sleeping was never an option for us, as Jamie wouldn't wake if a fire alarm was going off, and has been on pretty heavy duty medication since before J-cub was born, which is a big no-no when it comes to safe co-sleeping. Regardless of this, the book has made me want to go back in time and enjoy the comfort and ease of being right there with J-cub all the time.

It would definitely have made our lives easier when J-cub was tiny, as we ended up taking it in turns to sleep with him in our arms on the sofa (him sleeping, me watching Friends DVDs or Jamie watching The Wire) or bounce him in his bouncy chair. I fed him in bed plenty of times, but started waking up screaming "Get the baby! I've dropped him!" having dreamt that I'd fallen asleep with him on me underneath the duvet (even though I never had him under the duvet), and the stress was just so much that it was easier to bring him downstairs to feed.

I found it very difficult to sleep in the same room as him, as I was constantly woken by his noises, and found it hard to fall back to sleep. Again, the book covers this, suggesting that after a few days, the mother becomes so attuned to her baby's noises that they don't wake her at all, and as she doesn't need to sit up or get out of bed to attend to the baby, she never wakes up fully, and so is more rested in the morning. That would have been amazing, and I wouldn't have to carry around the guilt from all the night's I spent sleeping in the study, while Jamie stayed with J-cub.

When he was a bit older, and still sleeping in a crib at the foot of our bed, I would feed J-cub to sleep lying on our bed, and often fell asleep there with him. Jamie would come up to find me, as my dinner was ready, and I'd stumble downstairs after him, sleep-drugged and on an oxytocin-high from the breastfeeding.

I've already started entertaining fantasies of setting up a separate bed for me and the next baby, maybe a mattress on the floor of the nursery, where I can sleep with him or her, and breastfeed all night, so I never have problems with engorgement and mastitis and latching. I'm an eternal cock-eyed optimist.

The book talks at length about how by sleeping together, the infant never experiences separation anxiety, and grows up to be more confident and to sleep without any battles, as they've never had to fear the dark or being alone. I think we're lucky in that respect - yes we've had our fair share of battles with getting J-cub to sleep, but it's been more of the rocking-him-for-hours kind of fight, rather than leaving him to cry. We've never left him to cry for longer than the time it takes to dash upstairs when we hear him over the baby monitor. He is secure in our love, and now (mostly, teething episodes aside) falls asleep within seconds of being put in his cot.

This evening I've been back through our archives of photos, trying to find some of us sleeping together. There's only a few, but they're so lovely and so evocative of happy memories.

On our last day in hospital, I went for a shower and came back to find my two boys sleeping together

At my mum and dad's house, where J-cub did not sleep at all well at night, Jamie found this chair in their conservatory was comfy enough to catch up on some sleep

One of the hottest days of last year, J-cub had screamed and screamed for hours in the heat of the house. Mid-afternoon, I opened all the windows and turned on the ceiling fan in the study, and we both fell immediately asleep. Jamie found us here several hours later

This morning, after a Skip-worthy fainting spell caused by a) my new anti-depressants and b) trying to decide which bag to take to work, I called in sick and snuggled up with a very-glad-not-to-be-going-to-nursery baby

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Today's Look Up picture comes from the archives, J-cub reaching up to catch a balloon his Daddy is about to drop on his head. In his stash of toys we have 4 or 5 balloons from his first birthday party - pretty good going bearing in mind that he turned 14 months old today. And bearing in mind that he likes to a) sit on them b) drop heavy toys on them and c) bite them.