Sunday, December 24, 2006

A seasonal message

According to our contract, as relatively new parents we're obliged to take this kind of photo on ThingOne's first Christmas. We're off to Anne's mum's now. Have a good one.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Long time no post

It's been a busy time. ThingOne's coming on leaps and bounds, though her leaping and bounding aren't coming on very well at all. She keeps teasing us that she may walk soon, but then she's been doing that for a while now.

Anne and my mum were in a shop a month or so ago and Anne got a push-along trolley off the shelf to see if ThingOne liked it (by liked it I guess I mean did she go towards it or crawl away screaming). She certainly did like it, as she stood up against it and ran away from Anne, pushing the trolley across the shop! Anne was astounded and nearly moved to tears. It must have been quite a sight (though she's been cruising along the furniture for a while we'd never seen her do this). My mum bought the trolley (spoiling her granddaughter!) and she and Anne took great pleasure showing me the new trick when I got home.

ThingOne's saying a few words, notably "duck" ("Du!") and "Dada" (which I love, but she says it to the washing machine as well as to me). More so than her talking though her understanding of words is coming on well. She knows what "din-dins" is (are?), and understands "bye bye" (she waves) and hello. She obeys "clap your hands", "touch your nose" and "nod your head" (when she feels like it) and waves goodbye to the Teletubbies at the end of an episode. We have a magnetic sheep toy which we call Bepjabbah on our fridge, and we realised the other day that ThingOne now knows Bepjabbah by name. What rubbish are we teaching the poor girl?

As we near Christmas, ThingOne seems to have got a virus called "Slapped Cheek". She's very coldy, and has bright red cheeks. She's also falling asleep a lot and wanting lots of cuddles (not like her at all!) Poor thing. If she doesn't get better in a few days her first Christmas won't be much fun.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The second nine months

ThingOne turned nine months today. We often remember and talk about 11th January - it was an amazing day for us and our lives have changed a lot since then.

We've been a bit knocked out recently by illness (Anne was so dehydrated she was delerious on Saturday night - not something I'm in any hurry to see again). Being ill, like much else, is so much harder when you have to look after a baby. The rewards are, or course, just great. We have so much fun seeing ThingOne play, crawl, climb, laugh, clap, dance (a kind of freaky head-banging she does) and interact with us.

Someone sang "If you're happy and you know it clap your hands" to ThingOne today, and ThingOne clapped her hands. This is a bit surprising for us, since it's not a song we've ever sung to her. We do sing a couple of "Clap your hands" songs to her though, so it seems she now understands the phrase "clap your hands", where we'd just thought she just recognised the tunes and knew to clap. Weird! I guess we'd better stop saying inappropriate things around her if she's starting to take in words.

The next few months will, I suppose, see more changes as ThingOne turns into a little girl - a transformation we can already see starting.

Maybe consistent sleeping will come with that? We can hope.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


See that new thing over there. On the left. Above the "Recent posts". That's our Geocaching Stats Bar.

Oh yes, we are now geocachers. This involved running around the countryside looking for hidden treasure. You get a box, fill it with bits of treasure (toy cars, highlighter pens etc), hide it and note the GPS co-ordinates. Then you register it on and other people can go and find it. There are over 310,000 geocaches to find around the world. One of which we have hidden! When you find the box, you can take a bit of treasure and swap it for something you've brought with you. Then it's back to the website to brag about your find.

It's great fun and also involves buying a diggy GPS thingy. Stephen is very excited about the possibility of a new gadget. We feel this is an ideal hobby to do with ThingOne. Kids like looking for hidden treasure, right? Well, we do...

And there she is. Finding her fifth cache. Clever girl.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Four Toothies of the Apocalypse

Through our haze of tiredness, it's great watching ThingOne change and become a little person, with personality and wants. She's starting to get annoyed if you take a toy (or , say, a leaf that she's decided to eat) away from her. That's not going to be a fun trait to deal with, but it's interesting to see it, and everything else, develop. She's moving around confidently now, standing against things and climbing at every opportunity.

ThingOne's got yet another cold, and it's coincided with about four teeth coming through at once (perhaps the culprits in the small matter of our poor nights' sleep since the start of August). These join the one tooth (well, half-a-tooth really) that's already there, and have made her very clingy and grotty. Anne had been dealing with a grumpy baby for most of Friday when she found the freezer had defrosted as we'd left the door open. A lot of food lost, including about two weeks of meals Anne had made for ThingOne. A disaster. The cost is bad enough, but worse is the time Anne has spent and will have to spend again. Spare time isn't something we're rolling in at the moment, what with needing to be in bed by 10pm most nights due to exhaustion.

I had a stunning victory today though, when I saved a fair amount of money by braving the NCT Nearly New Sale. Here, lots of parents off-load baby-goods. You can save a fair bit of money on reasonable stuff, since babies tend to grow out of things before the wear them out. I got some clothes, but the main buys I heroically fought other desperate parents off for were:

- a stair-gate to stop her getting into the hall (she hates this - she looked through the bars as though we'd chucked her into Guantanamo Bay);

- a sit on walker thing (a bit battered - it's clearly been "pre-loved" but there's no guarantee ThingOne will take to it and Mothercare wanted £50 - ten times what I paid - for a similar bit of plastic);

- a metal framed baby-carrying backpack.

The last item was a good find, and when we put ThingOne into it and walked her into Cambridge and back we knew I'd made a good choice. She was looking everywhere and beaming with joy much of the time (not a look we've seen much in the last few cold-laden days).

On the way back, about half a mile from home, ThingOne's appreciation manifested itself in physical form when she threw up down my back. Nice. Such is my resigned demeanour, my spirit beaten down into acceptance by almost nine months of parenting and bodily fluids, that I just carried on walking, and haven't yet changed my shirt. I'm sure ThingOne will appreciate my sacrifices in years to come...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Holiday at home

I had the last week off work. We'd thought about going on holiday somewhere, but weren't up for the organisation and upheaval that going away with a seven month old would involve. A couple of months ago we were feeling more confident, but ThingOne's sleeping has taken a turn for the worse. I think staying at home turned out to be the best thing we could have done, as I wouldn't have wanted to be in a hotel and up all hours trying to get ThingOne back to sleep. So we got the grannies over a few afternoons and one evening to babysit and Anne and I had some time on our own. Anne had her first evening out in over seven months!

We'd planned to go to a zoo on Monday, but the weather was pretty dire so we made a snap decision to go to Bluewater shopping centre instead. Whilst there are people who would consider this a good day out, Anne and I aren't two of them. Generally we shun shopping centres. However, we figured:
- it's an hour away so ThingOne can get some much-needed sleep in the car;
- we'd be indoors and dry; and
- there are coffee shops there.

ThingOne seemed to enjoy looking at everything. I think she may have been a bit over stimulated though.

We spent the day doing very little shopping, walking around trying to keep ThingOne as calm as we could, and drinking coffee. In one coffee shop I noticed ThingOne was getting more out of the sports section of the paper than I ever do:

My mum had bought ThingOne a helium balloon, which ThingOne has been having a lot of fun with. A few times we've seen the balloon coming before we see ThingOne coming, so with her now mobile we figure tying a helium balloon to her will help stop us treading on her (I nearly did the other day when I wasn't looking where I was going). This, I suppose, is following the principle used in Jaws when they harpoon some barrels to the great white so they can see where he is in the water. At least the shark wasn't threatening to pull their laptop onto the floor by the power lead.

Her "crawling" is pretty funny to watch. She can do a few "steps" on her hands and knees, but finds it much faster to lie on her front and drag herself along with her hands a la James Caan in Misery (after he's had his knees shattered by Kathy Bates).

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Seven months on : ThingOne Beta

Release notes

It was seven months ago yesterday that we released ThingOne into the public domain after nine months of private development. Following some testing, we're pleased to announce that she is now officially in Beta release. Whilst ThingOne Beta is not entirely stable, she has several exciting new features.

New Features:
- Sitting Mode. Now relatively stable with little falling backwards.
- Dental Module. Installation of first tooth subroutine mostly completed by this morning. We're hoping to install more teeth over the next few months, but this one took so long to install and the installation caused a lot of issues with Sleep Mode (see Known Issues)
- Crawl Mode. This new mode has been developed over the last few weeks and it's still tentative, but ThingOne is able to move around a room and get what she wants (e.g. her developers' coffee cups - this is likely a product of faulty Java). Bugs still need to be ironed out as ThingOne tends to get quite frustrated and fall on her GUI (face) a lot. In addition, directional parameters need work as there is much crawling backwards leading to ThingOne moving away from her intended target. Note that this mode may require some upgrades to the operating environment (see below).
- Climb Mode. This bonus mode has been developed at the same time as Crawl Mode contrary to standard development procedures. ThingOne Beta has a high chance of crashing when entering this mode, especially when near the Futon Module as if the Climb routine is not completed ThingOne's GUI (face) will often collide with the desktop (floor).
- Improved search algorithm. ThingOne Beta will now look round corners to find people or things she suspects are there. Whilst not an impressing sounding feature, it should be viewed in relation to the primitive search facility she had during alpha development.
- Sound. ThingOne's sound module has received some upgrades, though no true functionality has been achieved. We've managed to enable several new babbling sounds, but though we may imagine she is purposefully saying "Dada" and "Mama" we suspect this is just a product of the randomiser algorithm.
-Hair. We've introduced some more hair in this release, though not a lot. Whilst this is really just an upgrade to the front end, and does not achieve significant new functionality, it can be quite a fun feature since it can be molded into amusing styles and ThingOne's developers can laugh at her and take photos.

Operating environment:
- ThingOne Alpha would happily operate (though with limited functionality) in most operating environments. The introduction of Crawl Mode and Climb Mode has meant that there are some environments in which it would not be advisable to operate ThingOne Beta. These are mainly due to security concerns. A firewall (also called a stair gate) will soon be needed, and various drivers may be needed to secure wiring, sockets and cupboards.

Known Issues:
- Sleep Mode. During alpha development we thought we might have had this mode fairly stable, but the introduction of new features seems to be conflicting with this. There have been nights recently where ThingOne has been exiting Sleep Mode much more than is acceptable. Many times we have been unable to initiate Sleep Mode, even after attempting for extended periods of time. Often, Wail Mode has been activated by mistake and this can be hard to shut down. Sleep Mode has been shown to be especially unreliable during the day.
- Wail mode. We're looking to tone this mode down and reduce its occurrence. A Calpol patch has been released which can sometimes help, but we're told that this patch should be used sparingly. Suggestions of a gin patch have not yet been taken up.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Photographic evidence

Here's the proof of my trip to DC. First a ironic riff on the traditional tourist shot in front of the Capitol building. Note the clever, knowing air that surrounds the shot.

And here's the tour I'd like to go on. The Segway Tour!

Friday, July 21, 2006

By George, Washington!

I’m over in Washington DC at the mo with work (actually I’m next door in Arlington, VA, but let’s not split hairs).

I flew out on Sunday from Stansted. Unusually for my firm we were allowed to go business class, since MaxJet offer “business class seats at premium economy prices”. There was certainly a lot of legroom and the seats were comfortable, but I didn’t think their service was up to much. The stewardesses didn’t seem to be able to hear anything I said and got a bit shirty with me. Charming.

I was travelling with a guy from work who used to work for Airbus. As we sat in the (business class!) lounge before boarding he looked at the registration number of the plane on which we’d be travelling and looked it up on a plane-spotters website. Within seconds he had a page showing photos of the plane through its life with various airlines’ logos on it in former lives. (See the link here)It made me feel very safe to know it was over 20 years old.

Inside the plane, its age hadn’t been hidden that well. It had been done up of course, but not exactly brought up to date. The seats were quite far apart, so rather than have a TV in the seat in front of you they give you a fairly hefty (and I suspect fairly old) personal media player. I’m sure their web site boasted of a choice of hundreds of movies, but in fact there were only 10-15. Many of them were quite old and I watched Firewall (pap, but ideal for a plane journey) and the musical remake of The Producers (pointless, I’m sure it was good on stage, but most of the funny bits are from the original movie and the songs aren’t great so watch the original. Matthew Broderick does a fair impression of Gene Wilder, but Gene Wilder did a better one).

What annoyed me was, while the media player had a widescreen screen, all the movies were 4:3. (They even carried a message beforehand saying “adapted to fit your screen!) Madness. Therefore you had a choice of either watching it in the proper ratio and having a third of the screen unused or watching it stretched with everyone looking short and fat. I of course opted for the former, though looking around I see most other people preferred the latter (or more likely didn’t notice).
I arrived in my hotel in the Arlington area to find a nice big LCD TV in my room with HD services. Joy! However, the picture looks pretty rubbish, so I don’t think it’s set up properly. Grr!

...Time passes...

OK, so I’ve figured out that I am getting an HD signal on four channels in the room, but the colours (colors?) are far too bright so the picture doesn’t look very good. Shame.

My trip here isn’t all moaning about the signals and ratios on TVs of course, I also went to the pictures to see Superman Returns. With a six-month-old baby at home the only time I get to the movies nowadays is when I’m away with work (unless I take a Wednesday off to go with Anne and ThingOne to the mother and baby session at the local cinema). SR was good. It seemed a little constrained by the original movies, which I thought was both a good and bad thing. It could have done with a little updating IMO.

After four days of work and eating out in the Ballston area of Arlington in the evenings, on my last night here last night I went with a colleague into DC itself and saw some of the sights. The buildings of government are certainly impressive and there are some nice wide green areas (the green is grass). Like many American cities I feel like I already know it, having seen it in so many movies (and of course The West Wing) so walking around it I got a feeling of strangeness and familiarity.
I’m flying back to the UK tonight, arriving back in Stansted at 7am. Having only just got used to the time zone here I imagine the weekend will be a fun mix of tiredness, exhaustion and lying awake at night.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Central Parcs

On the weekend following my mum’s surprise sixtieth birthday we went to Centre Parcs. The choice of destination was largely determined by not knowing where to go with a baby. We didn’t fancy being in a hotel room with ThingOne, having to be quite so as not to wake her up and not being able to stray far when she’s asleep at night. Some friends recommended Centre Parcs, and we’d never been so thought we’d give it a try.

It worked out well. With my mum, sister and brother-in-law there we had five adults to entertain ThingOne, which kept her fairly happy, and there was a fair amount for us to do. Anne even got a morning at the spa, which I think is the most time she’s had off in six months. We took ThingOne for a swim each day, which she loves. Anne takes her to the local pool each week for a baby session, so it was nice to be able to do it myself. ThingOne didn’t really make the most of the facilities. Her bike riding is rubbish, and her abseiling woeful, but I think she enjoyed herself.

She’s just starting to notice animals. A few months ago I showed her some ducks and swans and she didn’t react (until a swan got angry at her and ThingOne started crying). I don’t think she registered them as unusual. Now though, she’s fascinated. When we arrived at our chalet/cabin there were loads of ducks and ducklings outside and ThingOne was happy to look at them for ages. The view from our lounge window was like a scene from a Disney cartoon, with ducks, squirrels, rabbits and birds looning about. (Not sure which Disney cartoon I mean, but it was more Bambi than Aladdin.)

My mum and I took ThingOne out in a pedalo while Anne watched a football match (an England World Cup game). We thought ThingOne might find it cool being on the water, but she was more interested in watching our feet as we peddled. She looked a bit ridiculous in her life jacket, so at least we had a laugh at her expense.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

La jour de le pere de la pear

My first Father's Day (as a dad), and ThingOne was kind enough to buy me a book ("Freakonomics") and a mug with a picture of the two of us on. Good girl.

Anne had started giving ThingOne some solids a few days before, so on ThingOne on Father's Day I got to feed ThingOne some mashed up pear. She seemed to enjoy it quite a lot, and even managed to get some of it in her mouth (the rest was coating my shirt and trousers, ThingOne's face and clothes, the chair, and my mum's patio).

Part of the reason there was so much pear sprayed everywhere was ThingOne wouldn't let me feed her. She insists on grabbing the spoon and putting it in her mouth herself. She has a pretty good hit ratio, though also likes to take it out of her mouth and wave the spoon around after. My mum, the proud granny, said "She's feeding herself - how many five month olds can do that". Her cousin Jan, who has five grandchildren of her own, tactfully said nothing. She probably knows as we do that ThingOne would anything you gave her straight into her mouth, so it's not too amazing for her to put the spoon there. If ThingOne had been handed a worm she'd have put that straight in her gob and my mum would have been less impressed.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Sixtieth, Lies and Birthday Cake

For my mum's sixtieth, my sister and me (and our spouses), in cahoots with my mum's cousin Jan, threw her a surprise birthday party at her house on the preceding Saturday (meaning she got to tidy up afterwards).

I was surprised but chuffed that she didn't guess there was something going on. Jan had arrived in the morning and insisted they went out, and I rang mum on her mobile around 1.30pm to say Anne, ThingOne and I had popped in on the off chance. We'd previously said we'd come for lunch on the Sunday and I now told her we could no longer make that. I felt bad lying to her, but we knew mum wouldn't want to miss seeing ThingOne, and she and Jan raced back. Mum was pretty shocked by the crowd who greeted her when she got in.

It was all great fun. Good to see her surprised and good that everyone wanted to make the effort to give her a good day. Mum seemed to enjoy herself. As a bonus she got to show her granddaughter off to her friends and family for the first time (for most). ThingOne wasn[t in a very good mood though as it was too hot for her, poor hot Bean.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ich bin ein Frankfurter

And so it was that following a few days in Copenhagen, the following Sunday I flew out to Frankfurt to run some more training. I flew to Frankfurt Hahn airport with RyanAir. This is one of those airports that is nowhere near the city which it pretends to be in, so it took me an age to get to town. I'd arranged to meet up with a guy I used to work with at my current job who lives in Frankfurt. He was able to tell me a bit about the city and show me around, so it was more enlightening than my Copenhagen trip.

There were a few people from other offices around Europe attending my training, so I had some company in the evenings. However, they must think I'm a monkey:

In Copenhagen I changed the clocks on my phone, PC and watch to local time, and consequently missed a meeting when Outlook didn't remind me in time when I returned to the UK. Oops. So, when I got to Frankfurt i changed the time on my watch, but not on the PC or my phone. On the first day of training people were asking me how late the training would go on. "Not late", I said, seeing that the time on my PC was only 5.15pm. Only when I got back to the hotel and arranged to meet people for dinner did I look at my watch and realise I'd kept them in class until 6.30pm. Oops again.

I didn't endear myself when everyone was waiting for me in the foyer of the hotel for 15 minutes before phoning my room to wake me up. of course I'd set my phone alarm and slept for an hour more than I'd planned. 32 years old and I can't cope with a new time zone. I am a fool.

No photos of Frankfurt, but while I was there Anne sent me a very cute photo of ThingOne to tide me over until I saw her next. She is a poseur.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Reasonable, reasonable Copenhagen

(If you're confused about the posting date I've set the date to last Friday, even though I actually posted it the Wednesday after that. This is becuase I wrote this a bit ago and forgot to post it, and I have another post to post soon. Look, it's our blog and we can do what we want.)

On Sunday, Anne, ThingOne and I and some of our NCT antenatal class (and their babies) went on a sponsored walk in Chilford Hall in Linton. According to Alan Partridge, Linton is equidistant from London and Norwich, and so of course I was excited to be there. Last year we did a similar walk in a different location. Anne was seven weeks pregnant and we walked 13 miles. This year we attempted four miles, as we figured ThingOne wouldn't be up for much more. We managed it, so we are skill. To be honest, ThingOne didn't really walk the four miles, and I ended up carrying her most of the way - the lazy girl.

That evening I had to get a flight to Copenhagen, because I am an international jet-setter, I am I am. I'm in Frankfurt next week. Get me! (I've been working for my current employer for over two years and this is the first international travel I've done.) I was running some training at our office there - the first proper training I've run. The fact that I was training people for whom English wasn't their first language didn't bother me, since of course Danes speak English as well as most Europeans. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

I managed to do a bit of sightseeing on one of the evenings, wandering around Copenhagen looking at what I was supposed to look at. I'd been warned that The Little Mermaid statue is disappointing, so when I saw it was a bit rubbish with a largely unattractive backdrop I wasn't disappointed at all.

I wandered through Copenhagen listening to Cinecast, a movie review podcast (soon to be renamed Filmspotting for legal reasons). Mission Impossible 3 was being given a largely positive review. I approached the famous Tivoli Gardens, an old fashioned funfair and thought about going in. Over the road was a large Mission Impossible 3 poster outside a cinema, and I don't get to go to the cinema much now we have ThingOne. Should I see Tivoli Gardens and soak up some more of a famous city, or should I go to see an action flick? You can guess can't you?

I went into Tivoli Gardens. It cost me about £7.50, and for that I expected at least an hour's entertainment. Half hour later I'd had a look around and it was raining and I was bored. I look forward to showing ThingOne lots of stuff and taking her to funfairs, but there's not a lot of entertainment for a 31 year old man on his own at one. I walked out and spent £7.50 on seeing Mission Impossible 3 which was, coincidentally, just about to start. Yay for me - I timed it right. (I wish I'd referred to it as M:I:3 from the start - it would have saved a lot of typing.)

I enjoyed my first bit of foreign travel with work for a while, but it struck me that tourism on you own isn't a lot of fun. Copenhagen's fine as a city, but not a hell of a lot different from many others. I didn't have a guide book, so I was having to make up the history and "facts" about the place in my head. Perhaps if I'd gone the whole hog and actually read something about it I might have been more interested.

Still, I liked Mission Impossible 3 (M:I:3) and took Anne a large Toblerone home, so it wasn't a wasted journey.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Telekinesis baby

We've had a busy Easter weekend, and I took two extra days off, so it's been a good long break for me.

We went to the first birthday party of the child of some friends on Saturday. It was a two hour drive away. We'd not had ThingOne in the car for this long before, but apart from a little noise on the way back ThingOne behaved well for her anxious parents. It was odd to see a one year old and babies of various ages, as it gave me an indication of what ThingOne might be doing in the months to come. (Anne sees lots of babies during her days, so it was less of a revelation to her.)

It was good that ThingOne wasn't bad in the car, since on Chocolate Egg Sunday we drove up to Lincolnshire (another two hours) to see Anne's mum and step dad. We stayed there on Sunday and Monday night, and on Monday traveled to Bridlington (Yorkshire) and back to see Anne's grandparent (ThingOne's great grandparents, obviously).

ThingOne has shown a new talent in the last few weeks - telekinetic powers. I know it sounds like a parent's boasting, but really - she has found that she can move her hands using just the power of her mind. She stares at her hands in awe as she moves them through the air. It's fun to watch. (Fun for me, as her dad. For most people it'd be pretty dull.)

Anne spent a small fortune on a handmade wooden rattle. I took the mickey a fair bit but it turned out to be a timely purchase. ThingOne started hitting hanging toys and grabbing things a few weeks ago, and has been able to hold some of her soft toys for short periods. However, she has been holding and shaking this rattle quite well and for prolonged periods of time. Here's a photo of her in her Bumbo seat her Auntie Lindsay bought her, weilding her rattle like a light sabre. The force is strong with this one.

Not as clumsy or random as a blaster...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Three months on...

ThingOne's nearly three months old (three calendar months I mean, she hit the three lunar months mark on Wednesday). Has it really been that long? Yes. It has.

She's changed a fair bit recently. Lots of nice smiles and now grabbing at things. She started to go down very easily in the evenings, which meant Anne and I would get a pleasant evening together without worrying that she'd be awake and crying soon. Fairly consistently she'd be up once in the night for a feed, at some point between 11.30pm and 4am. Consistently unpredictable.

Then, around the ten week mark, she dropped her night feed and was sleeping from 8pm through to sometime between 6am and 8am. It was amazing! Anne and I really hoped it would continue, and it did. For nine consecutive nights.

Last night though it fell apart a bit. She wouldn't settle at 8pm, and then was up at 3.30am for a feed. In addition, Anne was ill all night, which may have been connected. Perhaps ThingOne was off her game due to her mum being ill? She took a fair while to settle tonight too, so I'm expecting another night feed tonight (though it'll be Anne giving her the feed, not me). Let's hope the previous NINE NIGHTS weren't a fluke and we get back to the bliss of a good night's sleep soon.

In general, ThingOne's being a little angel. She's very pleasant to be around, and is a pretty happy baby. That makes it sadder when she cries and cries and cries, since we think something must be wrong (whereas before we just accepted she'd cry for no reason some times.)

All the other babies from our ante-natal class are giggling already, and ThingOne isn't. ThingOne's the youngest, but only by a few days. Anne and I are desperate to get a giggle out of her, so we've been looning around a lot to try to make ThingOne laugh. A friend suggested that perhaps ThingOne is more highbrow than us, so I'm going to start reading her some Oscar Wilde quips. I should at least get a wry smile from her.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Char Wars

I'm away from home for four nights on a course. I'm training on a software package, and staying in a hotel in the evenings. After eight weeks of constantly being aware of a helpless child in the house I should be enjoying the time off, but I feel a bit guilty as ThingOne was hard work in the evenings at the weekend due, it seems, to teething. At eight weeks - ridiculous! (I'm pleased to say it sounds like ThingOne's been better since I've been away, so maybe it's me that's the problem.)

Anyway, I've been entertaining myself by watching season two of Deadwood on my laptop, and sleeping (though I've found I keep waking in the night, of course). The hotel is an old Tudor building, with wireless internet access. A nice mixture.

I returned to the hotel for the second evening on Tuesday to find the cleaning lady (I'm assuming it's a lady - sue me) had decided that I'd put things in all the wrong places, and had sorted the room out for me. My bags go in the cupboard, not on the floor apparently, and the bag of laundry doesn't go under the desk - it goes on top of the cupboard. My washbag doesn't go near the sink - it goes behing the loo. I have some photos of ThingOne with me, which I'd put next to my bed, but it seems only the phone is allowed there, so the photos went next to the TV.

I was mildly annoyed that she'd rearranged everything, so put things back where I wanted them. But I decided to relax and have some fun with it. I've been moving more and more things around, and each evening things are back where (the cleaning lady thinks) they should be. I was tempted to move the TV into the bathroom, but came to my senses and realised I had to be mature about this, so I just stuck to putting my property all around the room in odd places.

It's lucky I'm only here for four nights, else this could get nasty.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Lotsa ThingOne

There haven't been many photos of ThingOne posted recently. This is because we had my mum's diggy camera on loan for a few weeks and managed to get some good shots. Since then I've only had my diggy camera, which isn't as good and the photos don't seem as good.

I keep meaning to get a reasonably decent diggy camera, but I can't seem to find the time to read up on them to figure out which one to get. There are so many variables. I don't need a top of the range one - just 4-5 megapixels. That should suit most needs shouldn't it. The important thing is it needs to be able to take decent photos without a flash more often than my current ones. I keep upsetting ThingOne with the flash.

Last weekend Anne's sister Kerry visited with her boyfriend Mark. Mark has a very good camera, and we got some nice shots of ThingOne. So here are a few.

ThingOne likes looking over people's shoulders, so this is a view we see a lot of.

She looks wise beyond her weeks in this one below.

ThingOne seemed to like looking at Mark a lot. Given that she was similar with my brother-in-law, Chris, I reckon she must have a thing for beards.

This one isn't done with Mark's camera. You can probably tell by the quality. However, it shows how much ThingOne likes the new mobile we bought her last weekend.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Logan's Bum

Oh dear, ThingOne's losing her hair. She had lovely blonde/brown/red hair, and it's falling out. The top of her head is now mostly bald, and she has a bald patch round the back too. She looks slightly ridiculous, I have to say. Poor ThingOne.

ThingOne has more nicknames than you could shake a stick at. Well, several, so I guess that depends on the size and weight of your stick.

-The Bean, or Beanie, or Beanster. Obviously.
-Logan, as she looks like Michael York in Logan's Run when she's in one of her white sleep suits.
-Baldy Baby. See above.

I had a fright the other day when Logan did some projectile pooing when I was changing her nappy. It flew across her change table! Amazing. Anne tells me of a friend who knows of a baby whose poo once squirted six feet, so now I'm getting competitive. Come on Baldy - you can do it!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

There IS still good in me...

I got to have a short cuddle with ThingOne this morning when Anne nipped to the loo mid feed (I generally don't get to see much of ThingOne before I leave for work). Her (ThingOne's, not Anne's) bum exploded mid cuddle, so I gave her back to Anne and said I had to leave for work. I am a terrible father.

Throughout Anne's pregnancy I would say to her tummy, in a booming voice, "I AM YOUR FATHER BEANIE. JOIN ME AND TOGETHER WE CAN BRING ORDER TO THE GALAXY!"

Like Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back, obviously.

I suspect ThingOne enjoyed this while inside, but the fun is multiplied now (by a number greater than one). First, she sometimes cries like a baby like Luke does in that scene. Second, initially her sleep suits were too large for her and her hand wouldn't be protruding from her sleeve, making it look like it had been lopped off by a lightsabre.

I then tend to throw her in the vast expanse of Cloud City where she may or may not fall through some tubes and get rescued by the Millenium Falcon. (Of course I don't really do that last bit. That would be silly.)

Monday, January 30, 2006

Extreme potty training

My stepmum was telling me about these (crazy) women who potty train their babies from birth. Apparently they spend their whole time looking for little clues that their baby is about to wee or poo and then shove them on a potty dead quick, despite the fact that these poor children can't even hold their own heads up yet.

Well, the little clue that ThingOne is about to wee or poo, is the fact that I have taken her nappy off, cleaned her bottom and am just bending down for a clean nappy. At this point she decides to wee and/or poo all over the changing mat, her vest and her babygro, necessitating a full change of clothing (bear in mind ThingOne thinks having a new vest put on is some form of torture). She has done this SIX times since Friday. She did it at 6am and 9am this morning. Frankly, I'm buying her a potty and I shall balance her on it until she has finished her evacuations. Dirty Bean.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A year in DVDs

"Baby, baby, baby etc. Where's the real news Stephen?"

Well, here's a post about DVDs, which I know is what you really want to know about. In January 2005 we started renting DVDs by mail from Amazon (six a month, three at a time). We've now downgraded our plan, since we're never going to get to watch many movies with ThingOne eating up our time. In the last year and a bit though, we've got through some great DVDs (and some rubbish ones). Here's what we've rented:

The Station Agent
The Day After Tomorrow
Fahrenheit 9/11
28 Days Later
House Of Sand And Fog
The Chronicles Of Riddick - Pitch Black
Anchorman [The Legend Of Ron Burgundy]
City Of God (Cidade De Deus)
The Terminal
Super Size Me
Belleville Rendez-Vous
The 25th Hour
The Corporation
Finding Neverland
Layer Cake
Man On Fire
The Manchurian Candidate
The Village
Goodbye Lenin!
I Heart Huckabees
National Treasure
The Long Good Friday
After The Sunset
Dirty Pretty Things
A Comprehensive Guide To British Birds (Yes, really!)
Matchstick Men
The Grudge
Once Upon A Time In Mexico
The Producers
A Very Long Engagement
In Good Company
The Aviator
Double Indemnity
Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself
Melinda And Melinda
Assault On Precinct 13
The Machinist
Y Tu Mama Tambien
Auto Focus
Look Around You follows shortly
Million Dollar Baby
Fifteen Storeys High - Series 1
Sin City
A Beautiful Mind
Blade: Trinity
The League Of Gentlemen's Apocalypse
Hotel Rwanda
No Direction Home: Bob Dylan
The Chorus
Rio Bravo
The Mighty Boosh - Series 1 [Disc 1 - Episodes 1-4]
Escape From New York
The Interpreter
The Edukators
War of the Worlds
The Descent
Absolute Power - Series 1
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Fantastic Four
Stewart Lee - Stand Up Comedian
The Princess Bride
Kung Fu Hustle
Wedding Crashers
Land of the Dead
The Dukes of Hazzard - Unseen
The Island
Old Boy

Not a bad way to spend a year. I suspect we'll watch many fewer in 2006.

We've not watched Old Boy yet, but we saw The Island today. I expected it to be rubbish, but hoped it'd be more fun than it was.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Anne and The Bean's talk

Blimey. ThingOne appeared to mutter her first word at two weeks, and in the process correctly answered a question!

We were about to bath ThingOne, and had her on a change mat in the bathroom while we checked the water temp etc. She had one of her cow sleep suits on. Not the one with the cow-hide markings, but one with a picture of a cartoon cow and "C is for Cow" written on it.

As I wrangled with ThingOne to get the sleep suit off her (she hates this) I did my baby talk thing and said, "C is for Cow ThingOne. What is C for?"

"Cow", ThingOne replied, in a cooing tone.

I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. It was "Cow", clear as day.

Anne and I looked at each other in excitement/terror. What freak child had we spawned that, at just two weeks old, spoke and correctly answered a riddle, albeit a simple one?

Of course, she hadn't meant to say cow. She hadn't been revising by reading the text on her sleep suit while we were looking away. It was very strange though. It was just a cooing sound that babies tend to make as they develop, but it was the first time she's made such a sound, and that she made the cow-coo there and in response to the question was uncanny.

I'm glad both Anne and I were there at the time, else the absent one would have never believed the other.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Don't have a cow, Anne!

Anne and I are bad parents and should not be allowed to dress our daughter. We needed some more sleepsuits, since ThingOne is proving proficient at vomiting, weeing and pooing all over the place, so picked some up in Mothercare on Sunday. We wanted to avoid pink, so got a cow-themed three pack. Whilst two had pictures of cartoon cows on, we thought the third was particularly snazzy as it had cow-hide effect patterns on it.

We are terrible parents. See the photo of poor poor ThingOne below.

We immediately saw that it didn't suit her. ThingOne obviously hated it, as she regurgitated milk on it within seconds and proceeded to give us one of our worst nights since she joined us.

She's never going to forgive us these mistakes. Especially as we have photographic evidence. As long as we don't show them to anyone I think the damage should be minimal.

Brave parents

Anne and I were very brave on Sunday, and took ThingOne to the shops. This is brave not just because it's the first time we've taken ThingOne out to shops for more than a few minutes, but also because Anne and I both hate shopping.

We did OK really, with ThingOne on my front in one of those backpack things. We even felt adventurous enough to have lunch in Debenhams cafe (lunch in Debenhams cafe is an adventure for us - what have we become?) I should take the rucksack off next time - I kept thinking I was going to drop baked potato on her head.

Of course she played up for most of the afternoon and wouldn't sleep. We thought perhaps we'd broken her, but then she's been similar today and we've done almost nothing (other than try to catch up on sleep after two bad nights in a row).

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Lil ThingOne

ThingOne's being pretty good in the nights, all things considered. The problem is with trying to settle her in the day, especially in the evenings. When things are going well and she's happy, sleeping well and feeding well we feel like we're doing really well. When she's not, we feel like useless failures.

Only ten days old, so there's time for us to learn.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Do you have one without the noise please?

After a tough night last night, Anne asked me this morning if I would change ThingOne.

I said that I didn't think we could change her after seven days.

Boom boom.

I'm tired. It's all I can manage.

No photos today. The last thing we want to do is take photos of the noisy thing! Anne and I find ourselves staring in joy at photos of ThingOne asleep. We initially thought we liked these so much because ThingOne is a beauty. We now realise it's the sleeping we adore.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Weekend at Beany's

What a weekend! Thursday and Friday were pretty easy, and we just spent the whole time looking at ThingOne in amazement (whom we still call The Bean - old habits and all that). On Friday and Saturday night, however, she didn't sleep much and wanted feeding a lot. That mean not much sleep for mum and dad. Thus the weekend was spent staring at The Bean in amazement, only this time through an exhausted haze.

We had grandparents and my sister and brother-in-law round on Saturday, so we had plenty of opportunity to show off our baby, but ThingOne was a bit grumpy by the evening and we weren't feeling very good at his whole baby lark.

On Sunday night, just when we needed it most, ThingOne slept really well and when she fed she settled down afterwards. Perfect! Anne and I each got loads of sleep (having gone to bed at 9pm) and so felt refreshed and adventurous this morning. Thus we cleaned her in the bath with Anne in the morning and then took her out to Homebase this afternoon (in one of those baby rucksacks on my front). Get us! We were great! (Please sleep well tonight Beany, please!)

That said, Anne's in bed now, shattered at 7pm!

We've had three visits from midwives since we arrived back from the hospital. This has been good to reassure us things are OK (Anne and I seem to spend a lot of time thinking ThingOne's stopped breathing, or that she may be terribly ill!) and to convince Anne she's not a "failure" when ThingOne doesn't feed for long, or feeds for ages and then throws it all up.

So far, so good...

Friday, January 13, 2006

Name that Bean

Understandably, it's been an odd couple of days here. We had the grannies up yesterday and Anne's mum's still here. She's cleaning the house and won't stop no matter how much I tell her to relax!

ThingOne wouldn't settle without Anne or me holding her the first night, but last night she settled well and Anne and I both managed to get a reasonable amount of kip.

It's been an amazing time. Of course there are important issues to consider - the main one being how to spell ThingOne's name. When the midwife asked us we were a bit dazed and said double-L. After some debate, Googling and writing it down and looking at it we've decided to stay with the double-L. I think it may be the American spelling, but it's the one we prefer the look of. You'd have thought we'd have thought about the spelling before this time. You'd be wrong.

ThingOne is still spelt with one L though - it's the law. I'm sure I've confused people by spelling it both ways on emails, but you'll just have to put it down to exhaustion.

ThingOne's great-granmother also had January 11th as her birthday, which is a fab coincidence.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Introducing ThingOne

(May is the middle name BTW.)

Born today at 10.41am in Addenbrooks Hospital. 7lbs 7oz (bang on average I gather). She's just fab. Mother and baby well. Dad not too bad either.

We arrived at the hospital at about 4.30am, and were home by 7pm. Not too shabby really. I'll leave it to Anne to post the birth tale at a later date. We have a little baby to play with now.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

No Bean as yet...

Well, The Bean still hasn't arrived. Bum.

It's now eight days overdue. Apparently the average first birth goes eight days overdue, so I've told The Bean that after today it is officially below average. (No harm in grading them early, I say.)

Anne tells me that this delay has been designed to test me. Presumably designed by some superior force. So God is punishing me for being an impatient fool. Apparently.

However, whilst I am getting very very impatient, it's Anne who's having a worse time of it. Her hips and knees are aching, and she's getting quite upset. I wouldn't be so churlish as to bat back her God comment and suggest that He has something to do with it. It's physics darling. The almighty has nowt to do with it. (Discuss.)

It's Anne's and my tenth anniversary on Tuesday (ten years since we first got together at uni). With a bit luck (and a few more curries) The Bean will have arrived by then and we'll have a double celebration.

Also Chimp Week starts on the BBC today. I think it would be very fitting if our child arrived in Chimp Week.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Announcing the arrival of...

...the longest pregnancy known to man. Norris Mcwhirter is coming round to see me in the morning.

Where is The Bean? Where is The Bean? Actually, I am all too acutely aware of where The Bean is and it is not where it should be. Grrrrrrr.

I have managed to restrain myself and only watch one heat of World's Strongest Man each day. I am contemplating naming The Bean after the World's Strongest Man. Mariusz Kent-Taylor, anyone?