Saturday, December 31, 2011


Happy New Year - health and happiness to all xxxx

A Happy Christmas

My two loves

Jacob loved his main present from us - a robot which was a last minute cheap purchase from ebay, when I realised I wasn't going to be able to finish the blanket I had been making for him

Skyping with family.  Technical issues meant we had to use the landline for audio ;)

My second head

Watching The Snowman before bed.  My favourite time of the day - Jacob loved it

Christmas dinner (eaten on Boxing Day) - Jacob carefully inspecting the components

Midweek - staving off the cabin fever (the weather here is terrible) at soft play with my sister

Quiet, peaceful, happy - Christmas 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Nadolig Llawen i bawb

I picked up these wooden reindeer thingies in the hobbycraft sale (yes, already), and wanted to do something with them quickly.  I had a sheet of midnight blue felt and a load of star buttons, so I shoved them all on together, blanket stitched the edge, and embroidered 'Nadolig Llawen' (Merry Christmas in Welsh).  I suck at embroidery, and this is just backstitched over paper (I used a scrap of wrapping paper, as it's so thin) which is then carefully torn away.  I was really pleased with it.

Nadolig Llawen i bawb ;) xxxx

The stockings were hung...

Today, Christmas took on a whole new meaning.  We spent the morning playing elaborate train tracks and ransacking the entire house in a search for the remote control for the train (which I eventually found in the one toybox I deemed it wouldn't be in, so had left til last), only to realise that actually, it's far more fun to just push the trains around with your hands.

After a nap, Jacob and I burnt gingerbread (hey, at least he won't be hyped up on sugar all day...) and made a yule log in lieu of a proper Christmas cake, which only I would eat.

Jacob was so excited about the presents under the tree, and kept asking to give us one ("Just one for you Mummy").  After dinner, we wrote a letter to Santa, rolled it up and stuffed it in his stocking, which he hung by himself from the mantel [no chimney] with care.  So different from last year, when he really had no idea what was going on, and was a bit overwhelmed by it all (a feeling I seem to be sharing this year); and the year before, when he was a baby of 9 months and we were all struggling through a horrendous gastric bug.

We're going through some tough challenges at the moment, behaviour-wise, which seems especially hard at this time of year.  But when he's nice, he is such a wonderful person.  "I luff yew Mummy", he says, grabbing my face with both hands and pulling me in for a kiss.  He's so utterly charming, and cheeky, and wonderful, and I'm so blessed to have him.  He went to bed late, but I'm wagering he'll be up at the crack of dawn tomorrow to tell us that he heard Santa "Doing STOMP, STOMP, STOMP on the roof Mummy".  He's been talking about it all day.

 My heart.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Felt and blanket stitch

Hobbycraft recently opened a store less than 3 miles from my house.  This was obviously a bad move on their part, as it will no doubt bring about my eventual financial ruin, which they will then have on their conscious for the rest of their existence.  Their Christmas crafting materials are amazing - usually I spend hours scouring ebay for buttons and ribbon and things, the postal costs of which usually exceeds their cost, so I end up not buying anything.  So being able to drive to the store, chuck a load of stuff in my basket, and get back home in less than half an hour is blissful.

That is, apart from the cost.  It is fairly-to-very expensive.  A multi-pack of felt squares was £6.49, and I ummed and ahhed over it for ages, before leaving it on the shelf.  I found a half-size pack in Tesco later on for just a couple of pounds, and since then I've been going felt-crazy.  I love felt Christmas decorations.  I love blanket stitch.  But I've never tried to make any myself, until Pinterest popped into my life, with all its inspiration-providing goodness.

One of my wonderful Mummy-friends moved house recently, and as we were going over there today for our present-swap, I decided to knock up a lovely Christmas decoration as a housewarming present.  3 and a half short hours later, I'd produced this:

Blanket stitch is fun, but for a novice, it isn't quick.  I was so pleased with the final product, that this evening I made this for myself.  Holly buttons from Hobbycraft, ribbon from stash.  And there's more to come.  I need more days before Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas crafts

Ooooh, this new blogger template is a bit scary.  I have no idea what I'm doing, forgive me if this post is filled with weird formatting.

I've been crafting pretty much constantly for the past few months.  It's one of the main reasons my posts have been so sporadic recently as I've had no time for both, but it's frustrating as I did tons of autumn activities and crafts which I wanted to share, but felt like I should do so in a timely fashion, and that time has now passed.  Still, there's always next year.

I came home unexpectedly early from work today, and had a leisurely catch-up with the blogs on my blogroll with my after-school cup of coffee, where I found this post about making paper lanterns.  I'd forgotten how easy they were to make, and I had a whole stack of lovely Christmassy paper just crying out to be cut and pasted.

Fold, embellish edges, cut slits, double-sided tape one side, roll, and stick.  Job done.

String up on beads, baffle the cats, enjoy the ANTM finale.

5 days to go.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas is confusing

We're waiting until later in the week to put up the decorations, but whilst dragging them out of the loft in readiness, we found this tiny tree which used to perch on top of the freezer (which lived in the lounge, great for easy ice-cream-access) in our first house together. In pulling it out of its bag (I was in the loft, Jacob was attempting to climb the ladder standing waiting patiently at the bottom of the ladder), I knocked a stocking through the loft hatch and onto his head. Jacob shouted "Jeeeeeeesus!". He's not one of these kids who repeats inappropriate things as soon as you say them, he stores them up for freaking months before trotting them out and then waiting angelically for the backlash.

"We don't say Jesus Jacob, that's not nice," (hmm, need to rephrase that really...).
"Yes it is nice", he says, nodding earnestly.
"No, we shouldn't shout that when we do something wrong. We should say 'Whoopsadaisy!'" I say, wanting to actually shoot myself for having got myself into this conversation and for the banality which is now coming out of my mouth.

Luckily, he got distracted by something shiny and trotted off elsewhere. It's a hell of a confusing time, Christmas: mixed messages about Jesus for a boy being brought up in an atheist household, with very-religious grandparents; confusion about who-the-hell-is-Santa-and-why-is-a-strange-man-coming-into-my-house-in-the-middle-of-the-night?; lotsnlotsnlots of shiny things sprouting out of the walls; and random old ladies suddenly asking you what you want for a present but then not giving you anything.

And today was nicely rounded off with trying to explain to Jacob about spaces between words. He was nicely tucked into bed, when he spotted the 'Merry Christmas' banner on his wall, and sat up again, saying "Pick me up Mummy, it's broken". I looked round in confusion, trying to figure out what he was talking about. "The letters Mummy, it's broken". I realised he was pointing to the space between Merry and Christmas, where yes, it looked like a letter had fallen off. I explained about words, and spaces, and sentences. I picked up a book, and showed him the spaces between all the words. I picked him up and held him up to the banner, showing him what sound each letter made, and how none were missing. He said "No Mummy, it's broken".

I agreed, and put him to bed.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bang, Bang, Rock and Roll

We went out last night, Jamie and I. Sister-in-law Rachel came to stay and mind the kid, while we caught a train to Cardiff, checked into a hotel, and went to see Totem Terrors, The Lovely Eggs and Art Brut at Clwb Ifor Bach.

Having spent the last week listening to Art Brut CDs in the car (which makes a pleasant change from The Wiggles, I must say), J-cub has become a hardcore fan of his Uncle Eddie, and spent all of Tuesday after nursery demanding "More Bang Bang Rock a Roll Mummy! Sing it!", and watching live Art Brut videos on youtube.

This gave me ample opportunity to get one of his rockstar moments captured on film for posterity:

Even though I'd been up since 6.30am for work, we went on to a club afterwards, where all the young hipsters sat around glaring at us while we, our friends from Bristol, and all three bands invaded the dance-floor and danced to our most favourite indie and pop/rock songs of the last 2 decades. Because being over thirty ROCKS. We knew the DJ, and two minutes after we walked in, he was playing Punka (because we are), and we didn't move from the dancefloor until the club shut at 2am. Then we loitered on the pavement outside til we were frozen solid at 3am.

Today, I am more tired than I could possibly imagine. But also, extremely happy.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Why I love SLINGS

Voting through the ages - J-cub accompanying me into the polling booth aged 2 months, 14 months and 26 months.

I'm just catching International Babywearing week by the very skin of my teeth. The irony being, of course, that I haven't slung J-cub this week, or even for the memorable past. He walks around 2 miles a day quite happily, only requesting "Nicking him up Mummy!" if we come across a particularly deep patch of mud or thicket of brambles that he just can't splosh or fight through.

And whilst I miss his closeness, and the happiness that having him chattering over my shoulder gives me, I'm just as happy to see him haring off down a path, legs going like pistons, because he's seen the glint of a puddle in the distance or a bird has just flown away and he wants to talk to it. He's growing up, and I'm slowly selling or packing away or lending out my slings.

Of course, having said that, I'm sure he'll now demand to be carried everywhere for the next few weeks.

So, without further ado, the various slings which have enabled our babywearing journey in all their glory....

#1 - The BabyBjorn

Often referred to (in babywearing circles, anyway) as what I used when I didn't know better. Knowing that Jamie has back issues, we elected to get the BabyBjorn Active, which is supposed to do all kinds of clever weight-spreading things, so that the user is as comfortable as possible and the weight doesn't put any strain where it shouldn't. Unfortunately, these types of mass-produced carriers do just that. They seem to hang the weight off your shoulders and neck, rather than distributing it around your waist - even a simple home-made Mei Tai is infinitely better engineered when it comes to weight-distribution. Jamie actually found it comfortable until he fell down the stairs and had to stop carrying, but the first time I put it on (J-cub weighed 17lbs, I recall) I felt like he was literally hanging on a strap round my neck, and I had terrible shoulder-strain for the next few days. It may be that we had not adjusted it correctly - but bearing in mind I can now carry a 3 stone toddler for hours with ease, I do think that these types of carriers don't built on the centuries of available experience in slinging babies. They also don't allow the baby to be carried with their knees higher than their bum, which prevents too much pressure being placed on their spine - more traditional carriers give knee-to-knee support which is a much more natural position for the baby to be in. has some fantastic information on the different types of carriers, and puts across their viewpoints about BabyBjorn-type carriers here.

#2 - The Infantino Side-Rider
(See start of post for picture - on the left.)
Note: still available to buy if anyone wants it - I haven't got round to ebaying this yet.
I picked this up in TK Maxx (which quite often has good branded carriers at loooow prices) to see if it was more comfortable than the BB. It was, allowing me to breastfeed while I hung the washing on the line, and J-cub slept quite happily in it while I pottered around the house. It was like a revelation to me. I was constantly worried he was going to fall out or his head was going to fall off though - I wish I'd had something more secure at that time as it might have brought me round to full-time sling-use a lot earlier.

#3 - The Mei Tai
On holiday in Pembrokeshire, tickling J-cub's feet to keep him awake 'til we got home.

As a result of my success with the Infantino, but wanting something a bit more secure and multi-functional, I started Googling (ahhh, if only I'd found the Natural Mamas forum at that point. I'll just insert that there, in case you're getting bored. LOADS of info there). I found some recommendations and a sewing tutorial to make a Mei Tai - a traditional Asian carrier. I told my mum I was planning on cracking open the sewing machine and giving it a go, but she kindly read through the instructions and suggested it might be a little beyond my modest skills. She spirited the printed instructions away and returned with a Mei Tai a few weeks later.

I fell in love with it straight away - it was so comfortable, so easy to use, and I started using it all the time. In fact I continued using it right up to about a year ago, when I realised that he was getting a bit big for it. It's now out on loan to the lovely Emily at The Tangled Yarn, although I'll be demanding it back (or getting my mum to make me a new one) if (ha!) and when baby #2 comes along.

#4 - The woven wrap - Girasol
When boyface started getting a bit heavy, and nothing else was going on in my life and I was looking for a new hobby, I decided to have a go at a woven wrap. These can be a bit baffling, so I won't preach to the converted or try and explain something you could read about elsewhere. Suffice to say - they rock. Supportive, comfortable, multi-functional, and fun. You can do front, hip and back carries, you can use them as swings, hammocks and blankets. Just learning how to do the different carries is great fun, and when you crack it, you get a huge sense of satisfaction. I've never felt more comfortable than when J-cub's been up on my back in my Girasol, it's like having a great big hug.

Lots of people go a bit mental with the wraps, ending up with cabinets full of them (which, to give them their due, they do use) as they come in several different lengths, and obviously the available colourways across all the different manufacturers are numerous. I can't afford to be doing that, so I went for a bog-standard, cheap-as-chips, second-hand Girasol Laguuni to start with. And, to be fair, I got it right first time. Nothing else I've tried can beat it for softness and supportiveness. It's definitely a keeper. But see, if it gets dirty, you need another one to use while it's in the wash...

#5 - The woven wrap - Storchenwiege

So I succumbed and got myself a spare - going for a Storchenwiege Inka which I'd been lusting after for weeks. I always thought of this as my workhorse wrap - I was happy for it to get muddy and sandy and to be used for swinging on or as a roof for a den...

and I loved it while it was here, but I wanted something prettier. So I sold it. And that makes me kind of sad, now. I miss it :(

#6 - The Ring Sling
I got a cheapy cotton ring sling off ebay, for about £6, just to try it out. Ring slings are great for quick up-and-downs - they're really quick and easy to put on, and I for times when you'd normally carry your little one on your hip, they allow you to do so hands-free, with a little extra support. When J-cub was going through a big separation-anxiety phase, I could get on with washing up or cooking with him watching. I perfected sliding him onto my back in it, which was surprisingly comfortable (I normally don't like a lot of weight on one shoulder) and I used the cheap ring sling a lot. I guess that it wasn't as supportive as it could be though, so I splashed out on a BB-Slen ring sling which are made from a woven wrap.

#7 - The REAL Ring Sling
It made such a difference, and I used it loads. It's so quick and easy to use, and I'd probably still be using it now, but I loaned it out to a friend in need when J-cub stopped wanting to be slung around the house. I do miss it for those super-clingy times though!

#8 - The Shorty
Shorties are short woven wraps - usually between 2-3 metres in length rather than 4-5 metres. I bought this one out of necessity - we were going to a wedding and I didn't want the faff of a long wrap, I wanted something smarter than the Mei Tai, and my ring sling didn't go with my dress. So I sourced and bought this particularly to go with the dress, and it went perfectly. It was just what I needed, as we had to park a long way from the church and J-cub was not in a walking mood, it kept him contained while we were in the church (you can see here I'm licking his fingers clean after feeding him Welsh cakes - lovely) and gave him somewhere to cwtch when he got tired. It's just like a ring sling, in that it can be worn in a very simple hip carry, but you can do front and back carries with it too. Apparently. I've never managed it.
(Oh, it's a BB Slen in Green Peas, if you're interested).

#9 - The Soft-Structured Carrier (SSC)

My babywearing journey is almost complete - I got my SSC around this time last year, and if we were still using slings a lot I'd be looking for a pre-schooler sized one now, as this no longer supports J-cub knee-to-knee and is not quite as supportive as it once was. When we first got it though, he was weightless. I could carry him all day, with not so much as a twinge of "Ooof! You're getting a bit heavy up there"ness. It's a Babyhawk Oh Snap!, bought second hand (as indeed all my slings have been), and I love it. So quick and easy, just click and go. I've got more comments and questions about this than any other carrier, and I'd highly recommend it.

And finally...

#10 - The woven wrap - Didymos or FISHIES!
Hoernum Fische (above) and Petrol Fische (below)

Didymos are the epitome of woven wraps. They make lots of limited editions, and all kinds of special weaves and blends of things-I-don't-quite-understand. I'd been lusting after some printed with fish (babywearers seem to either love or hate these fish - I love them) for a long time, and a fellow BLW-forumite took pity on me and sent her Hoernum Fish on holiday here for me to try out. And oh my holy alpaca, were they ever soft. So beautiful, and I've never wrapped with so much ease. Just perfect. Again, another one to add to the list for baby #2.

So of course I wanted my own, sold my Inka and some other stuff, and bought myself some petrol-coloured ones. They're beautiful. Of course, this was around the time that J-cub decided he didn't actually want to be slung any more, thank you very much, so this one has not seen much love. And therefore might be sold on before too long, as I feel a bit guilty having that much expensive fabric sitting around doing nothing. But I'm glad I got to own them, I've scratched all of my babywearing itches, and I'm 100% more prepared for slinging a baby second time around.

To conclude, slinging rocks. The happy, knowing smile when you see a fellow sling-user checking you out; the cuddles; being able to use stairs and go off-road and on-beach; not having to find a place for a buggy in the house or car (ours has been languishing in the garage for nearly a year, with just a solitary outing to the zoo in April to boast about); and the never-ending chatter in your ear.

Such as, when I was standing on a narrow pavement in my local town, waiting to use a cashpoint. There were two cashpoints; one was out of order, and beeping to indicate there was a problem, and the other was being used by a lady. I walked up to the first, realised it wasn't working, so turned to queue at the second. J-cub said something along the lines of "Beep! Is beeping! Beep beep!" and I replied "Beep beep! It's doing BIG beeping, isn't it? Beeeeeeep!". At which point the poor woman in front of me, who'd finished her transaction, hadn't seen J-cub on my back in the sling and obviously thought I was talking to her, turned to me kindly and said "Yes, it is doing big beeping, isn't it dear?"

I'm baaaaack


Sorry. Blah blah, excuses excuses. Must do better etc etc.

Catch-ups to come soon...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

On forking out £45 to meet Igglepiggle

When we first became aware that you could go and see these children's entertainment things, J-cub was waaaay too young to have sat and enjoyed. We really, really wanted to go and see the Wiggles (oh, and probably take him too), but with prices starting at £30 a ticket, it was just way beyond our means.

So when this year's In the Night Garden Live! tour was announced, we ummed and ahhed over it for a while. We knew he would love it, but also that he probably wouldn't remember it, but ohhh it would be fun ... and so on, back and forth and back and forth. At £15 a ticket (including one for the boy - apparently you even have to pay for babes in arms, which seems a little excessive...), we eventually gulped down our pride ("Our child is NEVER going to watch television" HA, pre-Jacob Beth'n'Jamie, swallow your foolish words.) and booked it.

And of course, two weeks before the big day, he got chicken pox. It was touch and go as to whether or not he'd be scabby enough to go, but it turned out he was, and off we trotted to Cardiff.

Not sure who was most excited. Oh wait, it was me.

Parking near the Showdome (it's an inflatable indoor stage, for those not in the know) and walking across the park amongst hoards of excited pre-schoolers, I got that feeling, y'know, like when you go to a festival and everyone is dragging their tents and shit in the same direction and you can hear the music and it smells of crushed grass and other things and ohhhh ... I nearly started hallucinating and skipping around, really, I did.

Inside, we had to queue for about 6 hours (or maybe 10 minutes, I'm not sure, but it was damn hot and once they let you in, the queues move quickly, so don't bother getting there early.), then were quickly ushered inside and sat down to marvel at the birds and flowers all over the ceiling. J-cub was more than a little excited (oh, I forgot to mention that between booking the tickets and now, his interest in ITNG totally waned) and we were so glad that he was falling into the bouncing-up-and-down camp, rather than the screaming-with-unbridled-terror camp which roughly half the children seemed to be taunting their parents with.

And when it started, it was lovely. The puppetry was fantastic, it was captivating and beautiful, and really, really special. Honestly, if you'd told me mere months ago that I'd be waxing lyrical about some programme off CBeebies, I would have laughed in your face. But there you have it, I loved it.

J-cub loved it. I'm pretty sure that Jamie, despite his cynical exterior, loved it too.

And after every little scene or song, J-cub frantically signed and said "Moremoremoremoremore!". He talked about it for days afterwards.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to survive chickenpox with a toddler

Just before the end of term, I changed Jacob's nappy in the morning before taking him to nursery, and noticed he looked a bit sore around his bottom. He often blisters when he has nappy rash, so I thought nothing of it, slapped on some Metanium and deposited him at nursery.

Less than 2 hours later, I was called to pick him up, as he was breaking out in The Pox.

A couple of days later, and my poor boy was covered in them. In his mouth. In his hair. In his ears. On his boy bits. And the poor love was so so grumpy and just didn't know what to do with himself. And I didn't know what to do with him. He wanted to go in the garden but by the time we got to the backdoor, he didn't want to go in the garden. He wanted to watch Peppa Pig, but then again he also didn't want to watch Peppa Pig. He wanted a cuddle, but equally, he didn't want me anywhere near him. But woe betide if I tried to leave the room to get dressed or put a load of washing on.

Mostly, I just felt so so sorry for him. He kept saying "Jacob sad" and grabbing his nappy area and shouting "owwwww!". Poor love.

I managed to persuade him into the garden, and we spent most of the following days covering every inch of the patio in chalk, and then scrubbing it off with a washing up scrubby brush and a bowl of bubbly water. He was in 7th heaven, it was great. Then he went on a tiger hunt and found a tiger hiding in the bushes, introduced himself as "Jacob big boy!" and had fun feeding the tiger stones.

But oh, the itching. He hadn't quite figured out how to scratch, so just kept frantically scrubbing at himself, grabbing his nappy and screaming and rubbingrubbingrubbing his head, and the combination of this and liberal applications of calamine in his hair meant he soon resembled some sort of nutty professor.

We found Calpol, Piriton and aqueous cream with calamine were the most effective. Apparently, calamine lotion gives immediate relief but as it dries, the itching becomes worse - the aqueous cream counteracts this (you can buy aqueous cream with calamine from pharmacies, I found it in the dry skin section and it cost less than a couple of pounds. We went through 2 tubs!).

On one night, the itching was so bad that Jacob didn't go to bed til 5am. He was quite happy, he just couldn't drop off as every time he lay down, he'd start trying to scratch again.

Not sleeping on his blow up bed in the living room.

We googled for help and found oaty baths are recommended, so each day from then on he sat in the bath for 1-2 hours while I gently wiped him with a leg from a pair of tights stuffed with oats.

This was easy enough to make - just cut a leg off, put it over a big cup or something to hold it open, fill with oats, then tie. I made a loop and hung it over the tap so the water ran over it while the bath filled, then kept squeezing it to let more of the oaty goodness out. It felt so silky and lovely, and whilst he didn't like it being near him, if I could get it behind him without him seeing what it was, I could gently wipe him all over with the oats-in-tights and he went into a kind of happy daze.

In the end, it took about 10 days before he suddenly felt loads better, his temperature came down and he was back to his usual energy-filled self.

The spots in his nappy area never scabbed over, but nursery said this often happens and were happy to take him back after a week off as all the other were scabby. Funnily enough, only 2 others at nursery came down with it, both babies who he doesn't socialise with. Then again, he's survived 3 previous CP bouts at nursery without catching it in the past.

I'm so glad it's over now, and hoping the scars will fade in time. Bless him.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011


You know that feeling, when you've been squinting in the sun, lying on the beach, too hot to breathe, swimming until your lungs give out, salt drying on your eyelashes, climbing up the cliff, walking miles back to the car, and trying to stay awake while you drive home? That. Except we haven't even been to the beach today.

Following the mother of all tantrums yesterday afternoon (I swear, they only get higher in intensity as the days pass...), we bundled into the car (in the rain and mist and coldness) and went to Pizza Hut, where J-cub delightfully constructed his own happy face pizza (unprompted) using carrots and cherry tomatoes and croutons.

And as he didn't really eat anything other than carrots and breadsticks and croutons, we thought it best not to have ice cream factories, so we went to Morrison's and loaded up on Ben and Jerry's. And they had a Peppa Pig ride on thing in the entrance. So far, J-cub has existed not knowing what these strange things in supermarkets are. But he needed cheering up, and so did we, so out popped our pound, and in popped our boy. He's been talking about it ever since.

We managed to thoroughly exhaust him enough that he went to bed pretty much as soon as we came home, and we settled in for an awesome-sauce evening of watching Parks and Recreation (soon to supplant The [American] Office as my favourite ever TV show). And somehow, despite it being Sunday, we were up and dressed and out before 9am this morning, on our way to a Safari Swim at our leisure centre. It was sunny but pretty fresh and chilly - hence our bundled-upness:

I'm not entirely sure why it constituted a safari swim - it was supposed to be for little people who were too small to go on the slides, with calmer waters and jungle animals. None of which seemed to be in evidence. Still, they charged us a fairly shocking £6 each to get in, so we thought we'd better make the most of it, and stayed in til we all turned blue. Which turned to be two hours after we first went in!

We started swimming with J-cub when he was 12 weeks old, we did Water Babies which was, on the whole, great ... but also beset with problem after problem. Swimming pools were too cold/deep/busy. Staff left. Classes were too small so we got bumped up into a toddler group while J-cub couldn't crawl, let alone walk (leaving us bobbing around, totally unable to join in the activities as he just didn't have the skills or understanding). He went through a big wobbly phase, which they say always happens, but having a child clinging onto you so tightly that you're left with deep fingernail marks, and who screams bloody murder when you even suggest that they should hold onto the side or do one of the million exercises they've been doing weekly for a year, just felt horrible and wrong and I left each class in tears. So we quit. We've been swimming precisely once since then ... more clinging, and more screaming.

But swimming should be fun, and we don't want to just give in when we know that he'll eventually get over it and start enjoying himself. So we stayed, and splashed, and cuddled, and gradually he calmed down. At the start of our two hours, he was screaming and refusing to approach the water's edge. At the end, he was riding on my back, holding on to the straps of my costume while I bobbed around the lazy river. And he went down a slide, which involved going through a curtain of water, and splashing into a shallow pool at the bottom. Yay!

We'll try and keep going I think, although maybe not at that time of the weekend with those prices.

Afterwards, we emerged to find the sun had put his hat on, and it was freakishly hot. We went to check out the marina (see the building in front of Jamie's face? Imagine that hadn't been built, and instead you could see a rather grimy ex-launderette in the basement of a fancy marina-flat-complex ... that's where we first lived together. Awwww.) - how similar are my boys?

And just to emphasise how perfect* the day has been ...

*By perfect, I mean too stinking hot to breathe. It's quite nice indoors though. We've also managed to weed and clean half the patio. It took 2 hours. That'll teach me to have a baby and ignore the gardening for nearly 3 years.