Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
"Do you know how to play Simon Says?" I asked ThingOne?
She'll enjoy this, I thought. I explained the rules to her once, but knew the best way to teach it to her was to play it.
I began: "Simon says put your hand on your tummy".
"Simon says put your hands on your head".
Again, she followed my (or Simon's) orders.
"Simon says put your hands on your shoulders.".
She obeys again. Now I'll catch her out.
"Put your hands on your ears."
She remained with her hands on her cheeks, and her expression slowly changed from one of innocence to one of extreme cheekiness. Could she really have understood the game first time?
"Simon says put your hands on your bum."
Hands on bum.
"Simon says nod your head."
"Simon says shake your head."
"Stick out your tongue."
Nothing. Nothing but an even more cheeky expression.
I was flabberghasted. Surely I could outwit a three (nearly four) year old at Simon Says. "Are you sure you've never played this before ThingOne?" I asked.
"We play it at nursery Daddy. I was tricking you."
I was shocked. I don't think she's ever shown such concious deception and trickery before. I think we may be in trouble here.
I'll teach her to play Risk next. Surely I can win at that?
Thursday, December 17, 2009
The panto was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She's into her Disney Princesses (shudder) so that gave us a better start than, say, Aladin. She was most impressed when Granny gave her a Snow White dress to wear there. Having been to play barns and kids' parties over the last few years I fully expected ThingOne to be one of many girls there dressed in these ubiquitous outfits. As it was there was just one other little girl dressed as Snow White. There isn't a Disney Store in WGC, so maybe these clothes aren't as widespread there as they are in Cambridge (though I notice you can get then in Sainsburys and Tesco nowadays).
As we walked in people were commenting on her dress, and ThingOne strolled through the foyer seemingly unfazed by all the affection, as if saying "Yes, I'm a beautiful princess. Deal with it."
We were soon approached by one of the staff who asked if ThingOne would be OK with going up on stage at the end of the show to do the teapot dance (not a request I often get myself when visit the theatre, but I live in hope). They gave me a numbered card, and I warned the lady I didn't know how ThingOne would cope with the panto and we may have to leave early. She told me that was fine, they always lose a few and that there were three loud bangs in the show.
ThingOne enjoyed the show a lot. She was taken aback by the first bang, so sat watching the show with her fingers in her ears until the third bang had passed. Other kids were scared of the baddies, and I heard a couple screaming they wanted to leave, but baddies don't really bother ThingOne (she's fine with them in Disney films and anyway panto villains are at about the level of Robbie Rotten in Lazytown, ThingOne's current favourite show on TV).
She kept asking if it was time for her to go on stage yet. I was a little concerned. If she was scared of loud bangs, how would she cope with going onstage in front of hundreds of people and performing. It was a long show - about two hours and twenty minutes in total, but when the time came for the four chosen kids to go on stage I took her to the steps and she went up to meet Muddles, the child-like main character. He complemented her on her dress, which again she took in her stride. ("What? This old thing?")
He asked the kids questions, and a copuple were too shy to answer. ThingOne had no problem, and answered. He asked some kids what they'd asked for for Christmas. I was hoping he'd ask ThingOne, since her plans had now been thrown out as she'd been planning to ask for an umbrella and a princess dress. She'd now changed that to an umbrella and (for some reason) a mouse outfit, which I thought would sound suitably odd. He didn't ask her that, but she answered his questions confidently and then proceeded to do the teapot dance ("I'm a little teapot...") with aplomb. She was the youngest (and by far the smallest) on stage, and I suspect the shyness shown by a couple of the other kids will come with age. ThingOne didn't seem affected by performing in front of hundreds, I'm guessing partly because she couldn't see much of the audience due to the bright lights.
I got my camera out to take a photo. My mum told me I wouldn't be allowed to take photos in the theatre. I realised she was right. I took one anyway, got told off by a member of staff and said I had no idea. I got a photo out of it, and realised I'm one of those parents who thinks the rules don't apply to me because my child is special.
ThingOne was given a goody bag to leave the stage with, in which she showed no interest even though it contained a balloon and a chocolate selection box. She acted as though it was all nothing while it made her granny's and my day.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
ThingOne saw it a few weeks ago, and having seen ice skating on Charlie and Lola decided she'd like to try it. She was very excited this morning when I told her what we were doing.
Ice skating is tricky, so I figured she may not take to it, and that we may not use our full allotted hour. Our session started at 10am, and we arrived early. We were allowed to go on the ice early, since it was already open and not busy.
Within five minutes ThingOne had uttered the phrase "I never want to go ice skating ever ever again!"
Great. It was only ten minutes to ten. Not only hadn't we lasted the hour, we hadn't even reached our start time. She didn't even fall over. She didn't have the chance.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I took my cuff-links off and went to put them in my box of cuff-links on top of my chest of drawers. In doing so I knocked over a china bowl that was on there. It's a bowl full of coins, and I've no idea why it's there. I use it to dump my 1ps and 2ps in to lighten my pockets, but I'm sure I didn't put the bowl there in the first place.
Coppers poured over the glass surface. It wasn't quiet. I fumbled to stop the noise, tipping more coins onto the glass. I realised that the only way to stop the noise was to not move. I stood as still as a statue.
THUD. THUD. THUD. THUD.
What was that? Why, a bouncy ball of course. A bouncy ball had been in the bowl I knocked over and must have been rolling about on top of my chest of drawers as I tried to stop the noise. It then rolled off and bounced across the room. Loudly.
My efforts to be silent as a mouse had been thwarted by Anne's careless turning off of the lights.
Rather than apologising to me, Anne was annoyed and tutted as she woke up. She should be grateful I hadn't accidentally turned on the robot brass band on the other side of the room.
Monday, November 16, 2009
So here's a status update about Smallest. She's 20 months old. She's (mostly) always been a happy soul, but since she started walking she's been a little delight. Very cheeky, and much more naughty than ThingOne was.
ThingOne would soon learn what she was allowed to touch and what she wasn't. It didn't mean we could trust her 100% but she was pretty good about things. ThingTwo's been harder to control. Like ThingOne she soon learns what she's allowed to investigate and what she's not, but is much more likely to sneak off and have a fiddle anyway. She'll go for the DVD player or the amp, whereas ThingOne never touched these. She'll even do it when you're in the room and will look at you with a cheeky look as she switches the DVD player on. Little sod!
ThingTwo's speech hasn't come on that far yet. By this age ThingOne was speaking pretty well, counting, learning colours, and lots more. ThingTwo, in contrast, barely strings words together. She understands loads though and can usually get her message across without a problem. This frequently involves telling us she'd like some raisins, but she does also like reporting things to us. Through her own made up sign language and a few words, for example, she'll tell Anne that she was in her cot and Daddy came to get her, took her out of her sleeping bag, and then banged his head. Pretty clever stuff.
It's not surprising Child Number One was quicker to learn to speak. ThingOne got much more one-on-one attention. We spoke directly to ThingOne at her level loads. ThingTwo's had her share of attention, but spends a lot of time observing and playing with ThingOne rather than interacting directly with Anne and me.
Is this unfair on ThingTwo? Has she got the poorer deal? In some ways I suppose, but it's swings and roundabouts and she also gets some big advantages that ThingOne never had. She's exposed to things a lot earlier than ThingOne. She certainly got chocolate earlier than ThingOne. We'd never have shown ThingOne a cartoon with a dragon attacking someone at 18 months, but ThingTwo will see whatever ThingOne's watching on TV. She's also got the huge advantage of having a big sister to play with and idolise. ThingOne didn't get that (obviously). She learns loads by copying ThingOne, and ThingOne knows it. ThingOne frequently tries to get her little sister to do things she knows she'd get in trouble for doing, like pouring a bowl of water out of the bath and onto the floor. When ThingOne's in a compliant mood however she can also be a great influence on ThingTwo.
This also works the other way. Sometimes ThingOne, who may have become set in her ways, will see ThingTwo do something she herself hasn't done and give it a go. We couldn't get ThingOne to eat any sauces for ages, but ThingTwo's love of any sauce has widened ThingOne's palette and made pasta a much more interesting dish (she's always liked it, but would previously eat it dry).
ThingTwo still has very little hair, which has meant she's stayed baby-like for a long time. It's with mixed feelings we can see her turning, slowly, into a little girl. I imagine, with ThingOne's influence, she'll grow up faster than ThingOne did once she gets to a certain age. ThingOne's got ThingTwo to keep her interested in baby things, whereas ThingTwo will be pulled towards older things by her sister.
It's good for us to stop and take stock of where she's at every now and then. If ThingOne's anything to go by things move pretty quickly and can easily get away from you. We've applied for a school for ThingOne to go to next September already. How did it get to this stage already?
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Recently they've started to play "shop" together with the till or "money pinger", as Lola (and so ThingOne) calls it. I don't know how much ThingTwo understands, but they play nicely together and it's very sweet. Occasionally I get roped into buying some tat or other. I'm a very patient customer.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Five years ago today I posted the first entry to this blog (which contained a similar photo to the one in the link above). Who would have thought that, thanks to this blog, five years on I'd be working for the European Parliament, managing a budget of some seven billion? Seems amazing doesn't it! Almost as though I just made up a random "fact" off the top of my head.
The blog has gone through two name changes, and a couple of make overs, and still looks a bit noddy. I don't think we really intended it to be a regular blog, more a place to post a few photos every now and then, but I'm happy it's evolved into what it is, though wonder if I'll have to moth-ball it when the girls are old enough to see what we posted about them.
Please join us in raising your cup of coffee and saying "Happy fifth anniversary Stephen and Anne's blog". And see how silly you feel.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
ThingTwo decided to start pushing through her canines while we were away, which messed up her sleeping a bit. That was a pain.
On the last three evenings we took the girls along to the kids' show. Basically an opportunity for them to dance on stage to Europop. ThingOne loved it of course, and ThingTwo was soon getting up on stage in order to be trodden on.
There was a girl in the cabin (static caravan?) opposite us about a year older than ThingOne. ThingOne spent the first day or so watching her and asking us what her name was, how old she was etc. We told her that she'd need to talk to her to find out, and when the opportunity arose we chatted to her family and found out the info for her. ThingOne was keen to make friends with this Big Girl called Beth.
Eventually ThingOne summoned up the courage to approach her. For the next day, ThingOne and Beth wandered around together on the tracks around the cabins, synchronising their footsteps and giggling, but rarely talking. It took them a good day to actually talk to each other, but once they did they played together a lot. It was really nice to see as ThingOne loves older kids, and Beth's sisters were much older so she appreciated someone nearer her age. ThingTwo followed them around a fair bit, and they didn't seem to mind that. It meant Anne and I could sit and relax, whilst keeping an eye on them. They enjoyed playing by a basin with a leaking tap, which they called a well, about 100 metres from our cabin.
Before we went away, I'd learnt a couple of simple magic tricks online, in order to impress ThingOne. She likes it when I do tricks and pull something out of her ear, and frequently tries to put things in there so that I can pull them out 'with magic'. This doesn't impress Anne as she can see trips to A&E ahead to get beads, stones etc out of ThingOne's ears. For holiday I wanted to do some more sophisticated tricks. I learned a couple of card tricks, but decided they might be a bit beyond ThingOne. Would she be impressed that I knew what card she'd picked? Possibly not. I stuck to the tricks where I make something disappear from my hand and make it appear elsewhere. These tricks are so easy to do for toddlers, as they're all about misdirection, and toddlers, being so easily distracted, make misdirection possible for even the most cack-handed dad.
"Now ThingOne, I've got the coin in my hand and when we say the magic word I'll see if I can make it appear under the sofa cushion. Are you ready? Are you sure? Hang on ThingOne, has ThingTwo done a poo in her nappy do you think? [ThingOne smells ThingTwo's bum while I hide the coin] No poo? OK. Right - what's the magic word?" etc
It's some way off from Derren Brown. I figure I should make the most of ThingOne being impressed with my abilities while she's still distractable. I'd tried to learn a clever and subtle way of putting a coin in one hand while actually keeping it in the other. On You Tube it looked impressive. I could never get it to look impressive, but fortunately young kids don't need the best sleight of hand to be fooled.
After a few tricks around the cabin, I went for the big impressive David Blaine style tricks. Sometimes when I walked past the 'well' ThingOne and Beth played around I would drop a 20c coin in on top of the leaves that were in there (it didn't have water in it). Later I'd ask ThingOne and Beth if they wanted me to do a trick. I'd give them a bit of a show, show them the 20c coin I was holding, and it would culminate in my slamming the hand with the coin in (but not really) against our decking, saying a magic word and revealing the coin had gone. They'd run to the well, find the coin (and check that it had a 20 on, to 'prove' it was the same coin) and get excited. I let it go wrong a few times to amuse them and to give myself a get out for when I messed it up. A few times the coin didn't disappear. ("I must have said the word wrong!") Once I made the coin appear behind the well, and told the girls I must have overshot. They laughed at me. ThingOne shouted "You missed, Daddy!" as though magicking a coin 100 metres wasn't impressive if it didn't go directly in the well.
What amuses me most about this is that whilst they were really impressed, and seemed to genuinely believe I had magic powers, they still go about their days without thinking I'm some amazing warlock, or suggesting I do something useful with my laws-of-physics-defying abilities. I'm partly surprised they down back away from me, terrified.
How long have I got before ThingOne, and then ThingTwo, have the crashing realisation I'm not that good at magic? I'd better make this magic hay while the sun shines.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I was a bit concerned. If we couldn't get the rental car we'd have to find our own way to the camp site (where we'd booked a cabin - essentially a large static caravan). That may be tricky, and it was getting towards the kids' bed time. We didn't fancy an adventure on public transport with two grumpy kids. And two grumpy parents. I figured that this sort of thing must happen all the time and they'd be able to check an online database for my details in seconds.
The lady behind the counter was friendly and helpful though, and said I needed to call the DVLA in the UK and ask them to fax my details over. (Fax! Who uses faxes in 2009?) She gave me the phone and fax numbers I needed too. I called them, and they said they could do it for a £5 fee, which I was happy to pay. They said it may take up to an hour, hopefully less time. After I'd queued for 10 minutes or so to tell the Hertz people to expect the fax it was there. Great stuff. The £5 fee must barely cover the hassle for the DVLA. They could have pretty much named their price so it was nice to see such a reasonable fee.
The Hertz lady told me that if a French person was in the UK and forgot their licence the French equivalent of the DVLA would offer no such service. They'd just have to do without a car. Hooray for those good folks in Swansea!
We got to our holiday home in time to feed and bath the kids before throwing them into bed. A potentially bad start to the holiday averted.
Friday, August 28, 2009
It's our five year wedding anniversary today. Five years on and our lives are very different, with two kids to look after and Anne having had a change in career.
We don't normally buy gifts or cards to celebrate our anniversaries, but earlier in the week Anne asked if we should do something this year, given that it's our fifth, which is important because it's the number of digits on one hand and so notable in our decimalised society.
We decided not to do gifts, but we would do cards. We usually ensure we have a nice meal to celebrate, so we're going to do that too. At least it was clear though: cards yes, gifts no.
This morning I gave Anne her card from me.
Anne said "Oh, are we doing cards?"
"Yes!", I said. "We agreed it earlier in the week. We specifically said cards but no gifts."
"Did we? Oh, sorry. I'll have to get you one in town later today."
It's probably our excellent communication skills that are the secret of our success so far.
Happy anniversary my love. You are fab.
Friday, August 14, 2009
"Let's go and play 'Die!'" ThingOne said as the kids disappeared upstairs.
Jake's dad at this point was probably concerned. Anne certainly was. A moment later though Anne figured out what ThingOne was talking about and explained it to Jake's dad.
The kids recently got a new toy: a bouncy rubber die (singular of dice). They like bouncing it around the house, but ThingOne, being number-obsessed, also likes to play number games with it. She and ThingTwo take turns to throw it, and whoever throws the highest number wins. It's turned into a great little game for them, and it should help ThingTwo start to learn turns. ThingOne propbably learned about taking turns a lot later, but I suspect ThingTwo, with ThingOne's help, will learn fairly soon. We're going to get a second die, so that ThingOne can do adding games with it too. ThingOne spends much of her day adding up any numbers she sees, so she'll probably enjoy that.
I'm pleased to hear ThingOne use the correct term for a single die, but Anne's concerned she'll come across as a right little madam in pre-school if she starts correcting people on their language.
I hardly think that's likely. I correct people's English all the time and no one thinks I'm an irritating git. No one at all.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I took today off work and the four of us went to London on the train. ThingOne's never been into central London before (ThingTwo has, but only to go for allergy tests in a hospital - I don't think she got much out of those visits).
The train journey in was enough of a treat for them. The pair of them were quite excited by it all. Belle tends just to be happy to have all four of us out together, so she'd have been happy with a trip to Corby.
We then took a ride on a tube train (ThingOne, wide eyed) to Piccadilly Circus. I showed the girls where I used to work when Anne and I lived in London, and walked to Horse Guards Parade to see guards on horses, parading. (ThingOne was a little scared of them - not unreasonably). We then went up Whitehall and ThingOne was interested to see where Gordon Brown lived, and even more interested to see Big Ben looming on the horizon. We arrived there at 11am precisely, so ThingOne got to check that the bell could count to eleven correctly (it passed). We also showed her the Thames from Westminster Bridge.
From there it was through St James's Park for a picnic and a play on a slide and in a sandpit, and then to see "Queen Elizabeth's castle". Buck House must have been a disappointment for ThingOne, who despite our warnings was, I think, still expecting something out of a fairy tale. As it was it's just a big boxy building, though it helped that there were marching guards to watch. And an anti-terror cop with a bloody great gun. (Clearly they don't have much faith in the guards in bearskins.)
If this all sounds a little rushed, it was a bit. Not too bad, but we didn't linger anywhere except St James's Park for the picnic. We wanted to fit in a few of the things ThingOne knew about or recognised, but were conscious the kids would both be worn out so wanted to give ourselves the option to cut it short if needed. We were happy not to see everything if needed. There's lots more we'd like to show them. I'd especially like to show ThingOne Tower Bridge and the Tower of London (which is a little more like the fairy tale castle she'd want to see) but there's plenty of time for all that.
They were fine after lunch, so we took the tube to South Ken for the Natural History Museum. It's free to get in, so we figured twenty minutes to see some dinosaurs would be all they needed.
However, we learned today that you don't go to the Natural History Museum in summer school holidays. We queued for about 30 minutes to get in (perhaps longer?) and if we'd have wanted to get into the proper dinosaur area we'd have had to queue for a further 45 minutes inside. Blimey! Do kids like dinosaurs or something?
Fortunately there's a big dinosaur skeleton in the entrance hall, and some other smaller skeletons and fossils around the place, so ThingOne was pretty taken aback by it (and had no idea she was missing anything). Belle was also impressed, surprisingly. We didn't realise she likes dinosaurs, but she was pretty enthusiastic about it all. We looked around some other, quieter parts of the museum, had a drink and snack in the cafe, and then went to the shop before we left. We let each of them choose a £3 dinosaur toy in the shop. This seemed to excite ThingOne a lot. She's not used to being able to choose something in a shop that she can have. We are cruel, stingy parents.
Then it was tube and train home with two very tired girls and two almost-as-tired parents. The train home was busy, so Anne and I divided the girls between us and sat separately. I had a relaxing journey reading comics on my iPod Touch while Belle slept. Anne had a tiring journey with a toddler who would not stop talking despite being almost-hallucinating with exhaustion.
When we got home we put them in front of some Baby Einstein for 20 minutes to unwind as they bashed their dinosaurs together, roaring.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
When I saw earlier in the week that The Little Polar Bear - The Mysterious Island (aka The Little Polar Bear 2) was being show as the Kids Club film in our local arts cinema on Saturday morning I thought it was ideal. I'd never heard of it. It's a German cartoon apparently (dubbed into English, which is good since ThingOne doesn't really do subtitles). Reviews warned that there wasn't much in it for older children but might keep toddlers interested.
The kids' session in the cinema is good. Cheap, especially as the kid's ticket costs and an adult goes free. I'd decided to splash out on some popcorn to really show her the cinema experience, and it wasn't until I paid that I found they had a special on popcorn for the kids' films. It ended up costing me less than a fiver for both of us plus a small popcorn.
She loved the popcorn. Except I told her at one point that a piece I had looked like a dinosaur, and then found I'd created a game whereby we had to tell each other what each piece looked like. ThingOne seemed to have limitless imagination ("This one looks like a bird, sitting down", "This one looks like a sea monster's head and shoulders"). I soon found myself clutching at straws ("This one looks like a cloud", "This one looks like a cat's back leg").
Soon the lights went down, ThingOne got excited, she tried to read the Federation Against Copyright Theft wording ("You! It says You!") and then the movie began.
She's seen full films on DVD, so I knew she could sit through 75 minutes (that's usually how long kid's movies last). We tend to show her them in three 25 minute sittings though. Once she's seen a film a few times through she has occasionally sat through the whole thing but she's used to seeing films as three part storys, what she calls the beginning, middle and end. In a way she's now well versed in the three act structure. She's never watch a film she's not seen before all the way through though, so I was concerned it may prove too much.
It was a pretty simple story, so probably ideal for her. She wanted very much to break it up into three acts ("Is this bit the beginning, the middle or the end?") and we talked a fair bit through it. Partly this was me explaining what was happening to her and what the names of all the characters were. This was fair enough as there were a lot of characters, and the script wasn't the best. The dubbing was even worse at times and the use of regional accents to differentiate species was not useful. It was as well it was a kids' screening, since I wouldn't want to be sat near us in a normal screening (say, for example, if Anne and I had gone to an evening showing of The Little Polar Bear 2). By an hour and five minutes in she was asking if it was near the end, so I'm glad I didn't start her on a longer movie (say, The Godfather, Part II).
ThingOne seemed mesmerised by the whole thing, and seemed to want to get the film on DVD so we could watch it over and over again. That ain't going to happen. As someone who has mixed feelings about Disney movies and their merits I can at least now appreciate their strong points and especially their songs more. The song in TLPB2 was pretty dire. But again, I should stress that ThingOne had a great time with it so I think it was a good choice.
I ignored the Federation Against Copyright Theft's warning, and took a photo of her enjoying her popcorn.
After the movie we stayed to the end of the credits, not because ThingOne has sufficient respect for the creative process as much as she wanted to hear the substandard song again. Plus she was interested in who would turn the screen off after the credits had rolled. She seemed to think a staff member would have to go down the front to press the switch. The fool! Then we went to Wagamamas for some lunch, and then the bus back home.
She seemed so grown up to me today, especially as I watched her slurp her noodles and try to use kiddie chopsticks in Wagamamas (mostly she just used her fingers). Anne and I are really trying to make the most of these early years with her, since in just over a year she'll be in school, and we know how quickly a year seems to go with kids. I don't know for sure what she got out of the cinema experience, but she's talked about it a lot since and I had a really good time. I'd been excited about taking her and have been waiting for the opportunity (whilst accepting that she's still a little young for it). Maybe today was more for me than for her.
Friday, July 24, 2009
"Call me Daddy."
"Are you calling me Dad because last weekend Sam and Nathan called their Mummy and Daddy Mum and Dad?"
"Right. Well in that case if you call me Dad I'll call you Nathan."
"Hello ThingOne. I'm Daddy."
I know that since, technically, I'm the grown up I should be the one to relent here, but I just can't. I really just can't.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
ThingOne knew she was turning three and a half on the Saturday, and was convinced there'd be cake, if not presents. As it was she was satisfied with her first ride on a roller coaster. I went on with her, and she beamed all the way round, screaming in appropriate places. It was, of course, a kids' roller coaster. This was apparent as I couldn't close the safety bar, being as I was too big for the carriage. The attendant seemed satisfied that my mass jammed in the carriage would prevent ThingOne from falling out so the bar was not needed.
This last weekend we visited Simon and Kate in Birmingham. They have two boys: Sam (nearly 9) and Nathan (6). Unfortunately the traffic gods weren't so kind to us this weekend and we spent two hours driving four miles on the A14, making it a four hour journey overall. Gah! To make matters worse ThingTwo was (voluminously) sick all over herself and her car seat just before we hit the queue. We stopped the car, changed her and tried to clean it up, but throughout the rest of our slow, stressful journey the car stank. I'd brought snacks for the kids, and had fortunately found half a pack of chocolate buttons in the cupboard. They helped keep the kids placated as we crawled along the road. We heard Imelda Staunton reading "The Gruffalo and Other Stories" more times than I care to remember that day.
The weekend was great though. It was interesting to see how ThingOne and ThingTwo reacted to having older boys around. They were both pretty keen on them. ThingOne wanted to do everything they were doing, and fortunately Sam and Nathan were pretty keen on the girls too. They showed the girls their chickens, and let ThingOne help feed them. Sam played music for ThingOne to dance to, and they also showed her how to play with their Wii console. I'd been wondering at what age I could get one of these and justify it as being "for the kids", but I don't think ThingOne's quite there yet. Maybe by Christmas...?
I'd never played with a Wii either, and Sam was keen to play the tennis game against me. I was a little confused, buy managed to pick up how to hit the ball, and even won my first game. I was pretty pleased. I then realised I'd just beaten a nine year old at his own game and wondered if that was the done thing. He was a little quiet. I let him win the next game and he was excited again. I think I'd managed to restore balance to the universe. I'd better get better at this aspect of parenting by the time my kids are competitive.
I was pleased that a skill I'd learned as a child was still valid today when I saw the boys playing with a Rubiks Magic. I showed them that I could complete it quickly (it just came back to me), and Sam shouted "Sick!" "Oh, can you smell it?" I asked? I checked to see if ThingTwo had been sick again, or whether I had any on me. Anne burst out laughing and called me an old man. I was baffled.
You see, it turns out "Sick" means that something is good. Sam was attempting to convey that he was impressed by my aptitude with the Rubiks Magic. How is anyone supposed to know what "Sick" means nowadays? It's just bad English. I felt very out of touch. I'm just glad ThingOne's too young to be embarrassed by me. When does that start? How long have I got?
On Sunday we drove out to a National Trust property to play in the gardens. Simon kindly took us on an extended tour of the countryside first, before we offered to take the lead and use the sat nav to find the place once Simon had admitted he was lost. (It turns out he had a sat nav in the car but hadn't realised it was there - bless.)
The kids had a great time playing hide and seek in the gardens (as did we). ThingOne especially was loving playing with the big boys, and keeps talking about how she followed Sam into a bush to hide. This is quite impressive, since ThingOne's normal idea of hiding is to lie on the floor in plain sight and then jump up and shout "Here I am" as you walk into the room.
I'm pleased to say the journey home went smoothly, and vomitlessly.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
We had a good time showing the girls various animals. After lunch we hit the playground, which was a big hit with all the kids. ThingOne seemed to particularly enjoy the trampoline.
Contrary to what several people said when they saw ThingOne's gleeful bouncing, or the photos of said bouncing, WE ARE NOT GETTING A TRAMPOLINE IN OUR GARDEN.
Sunday, July 05, 2009
I'm not sure that anyone who had emetophobia could put up with parenting. I've seen more vomit this weekend than is right for a decent human being.
Poor ThingOne has had a really high fever and, especially on Sunday, was just wiped out. The weekend started well for her. She got her silver medal at dance class on Saturday morning, but by the time we got to an NCT picnic at Wandlebury she was wiped and just wanted to cuddle up to her mum. The kids were taken to look at wildlife in a pond at one point, but this was more interesting for Anne than it was for the grumpy toddler.
Much of the rest of the weekend she spent in front of the TV, feeling sorry for herself. At times she got particularly feverish and started to talk nonsense. Anne had her counting to 100 to ensure she was with it. and I gave her a quick neurological check by ensuring she knew every Charlie and Lola episode title and what happened in each one.
ThingOne went to bed quite hot tonight, and I'm hoping she'll be feeling better tomorrow. It's so sad to see her ill. She tends to get dramatically ill quite quickly, and often recovers at a similar rate.
I'm sure the makers of Calpol are doing better than many companies during the current recession.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Anne said "We are NOT paying for the little drama queen to go to stage school - she can dream on." I didn't think she needed to be taught any more about showing off for an audience.
A few days later she was doing it again so I made a short video.
She made us stand in the kitchen, and told us off when we dared enter the back room to get a better view as she disappeared out of the door.
She then gave us an extra treat by twirling at the end of the song. The song ends quite slowly so she had to do more twirling that she probably anticipated, leading to a particularly graceful finish...
(Video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mV8H6VWUGs if you can't see the embedded version.)
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Spoke too soon of course - ThingTwo's banging around upstairs now and I may have to leave my laptop and G&T soon to settle her. I'll give her a few mins to see if she can sort herself out.
Let's take stock.
Children at start of weekend: 2
Children at end of weekend: 2
Sucessful visits to granny's house to entertain kids and give dad a hand: 1
Essential things left at my mum's house: 1. ThingOne's rabbit clock. Had tears when ThingOne found out, and will be more tears from Anne and me if this means ThingOne's up too early. Must get it back soon.
Visits to shopping centre to meet children's TV character ThingOne was confused and mostly nonplussed by: 1
Treats including party rings and chocolate used to get the kids on my side: Lost count
Cups of water dropped on floor: 1
Cups of water dropped on floor by me: 0
Meals missed: 0
Meals with part forgotten: 1 (who needs potatoes? I gave them some bread and butter when I realised.)
Days where I dressed the girls and their clothes looked like they hadn't been dressed in the dark by a mental: 0 (still, they were at least dressed)
Examples of simultaneous multi-tasking and child neglect: 1. I mowed the lawn while ThingOne watched The Little Mermaid in French, and ThingTwo watched In The Night Garden on the laptop, strapped into her high chair. Not sure how wrong this was of me. Suspect a bit.
Sessions of ThingOne screaming "I want my mummy!": 2 (once at bed time and once when I told her off). Not too bad all things considered.
Sessions of me screaming "I want my Annie!": 0 (out loud)
Serious injuries to kids: 0 (just the usual bumps for ThingTwo - what with her walking into tables and door frames, and ThingOne bashing her, she barely even feels it any more)
Visits to a mini zoo: 1
Picnics next to a river: 1 (the pressure's really going to be on Anne now!)
New skills acquired by ThingOne: 2. I gave her a Cat in the Hat PC program and she's getting pretty good with using the mouse. Also she asked to watch The Little Mermaid DVD with the French soundtrack, so she seems to be teaching herself a language. Show off.
A self-proclaimed victory. Right - I've proved I can do it now. Please can I have my wife back?
(ThingTwo seems to have settled herself. Another victory to Lassez-Faire parenting - as The Little Mermaid might call it.)
Friday, June 26, 2009
For three whole days.
She's gone to a conferince in Wales with her work, and suddenly I'm expected to cope with two (count 'em) kids. Yikes.
Anne's never been away from ThingTwo, and I've never been alone with the kids over night. She's really going to miss them (and miss me, I'm sure).
I can relate to how she's feeling. I lent her my iPod Touch so she could pick up emails while she's away. I'm really going to miss it.
I'm taking ThingTwo along to ThingOne's dance class on Saturday morning, and then after that we're going to stay with my mum. For the girls this is a big treat and will hopefully stop them missing their mum too much. For me it's an extra pair of hands.
ThingOne's been really good today, but soon after I put her to bed she was up crying that she wanted her mum. Poor thing. She's being a bit dramatic for the sake of it, but also she doesn't like things to be different.
What's a dad to do to help his girls when their mum's away?
Chocolate for pudding - that's what!
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Anne and I have learned to pick our battles. The fact that you don't see a broom, a teddy and several balloons on the table in the photo below is a sign of at least some victories by the grown ups.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Anne found her looking quizically at the photos on the readers' pictures page.
"Is that a boy or a girl?" ThingOne asked.
Anne saw the name was ThingOne and was just about to say that it was a girl when she looked at the photo and recognised it. It was a photo I'd emailed in a month or so ago after ThingOne and I had spent an afternoon making a (very very pink) Charlie and Lola hair salon (my life...)
"Do you know who that is ThingOne?" Anne asked.
"Yes, it's me", said ThingOne, shutting the magazine. Strange little child.
She's so used to seeing photos of herself (and frequently asks for a Picasa slideshow - eg "Please I watch photos from the holiday in France when I was one and a half") that this didn't surprise her much.
Mind you, it says something that even ThingOne couldn't initially work out if the photo was of a girl or a boy. Even now she gets mistaken for a boy by strangers. ThingTwo does too - it's the lack of hair - but that's more understandable at 16 months. Recently ThingOne's refused to wear trousers and insists on wearing dresses or skirts every day, so that's helped.
Now people know she's a girl and Anne and I lament all the nice trousers and tops she has that she won't wear.
Anne bought the magazine once she saw ThingOne was in it.
Anne's away this weekend. What craft project will I end up creating then?
Sunday, June 07, 2009
ThingTwo's a cheery soul most of the time, and I am very very grateful to her for being a pretty good sleeper. Having the second child being a better sleeper than the first seems to me to be a good deal. She very much likes her home and her people (Anne, ThingOne and me), which is nice to know, but can sometimes be grumpy when she goes somewhere without her mum and sister, or when someone (even grannies) visits. She eventually warms to these intuders, but it takes time, and she's not very sublte at showing her annoyance.
She adores teddies (she has her favourites, but isn't really that fussy and any teddy will do in an emergency). If she bangs her head (as she does a lot, given how unsteady she is on her feet) through her tears she cries "Teddy, teddy!" and needs a teddy to cry into. Initially I thought she was calling for me (her "Teddy!" sounds similar to her "Daddy!") but apparently I'm a poor second to a stuffed toy.
In the second photo below you should be able to make out her latest head injury on her right temple. She's a clumsy monkey.
Friday, May 29, 2009
The photos are all now on Picasa's servers, and I'm assuming Google's storage is as reliable as you're going to get so, unless they change their links, I should be sorted now.
As I was doing the painstaking work of relinking photos I knew that no one would even notice the results (unless they clicked the Go To A Random Post link), but this is mainly for Anne and me (I especially use this blog as an alternative to having a memory).
Thursday, May 28, 2009
The garden does tend to get a bit cluttered in the summer though, with a tent and tunnel combo, a push chair, bikes (including a new 'big girl's bike' for ThingOne), balls, a space hopper and now a plastic see saw too. The last item was ostensibly for ThingTwo when ThingOne got her new bike, but ThingOne's having a great time on it too. She's trying to see if she can send Belle flying through the garden. It's starting to look like she may succeed.
I'm sure we never had this much stuff as kids.
Sunday, May 03, 2009
It seems she's sick of Anne's and my constant shouting of "Why can't you be more like your sister? She was walking at one!" and has decided walking is where it's at. It's interesting (to us) that at 11 1/2 months ThingOne was doing similar but in a much more unstable way. ThingTwo's first attempts are a few months later but a lot more assured. (I should think so too!)
ThingOne's a little envious of the attention, so we're trying to be mindful of her feelings. She's talken to walking between Anne and me and expecting praise for doing it. She puts on a look of extreme concentration as she does it. Anne and I praise her a lot. It's lucky she doesn't really get sarcasm yet.
Here's a short video of either:
- ThingTwo's parents lovingly encouraging her to walk; or
- ThingTwo's parents bullying her and teasing her in order to force her to walk.
And just for fun, here's a short vid of ThingTwo playing by our back doors this evening. The last bit where she leans against the window using just her face is something she's picked up and seems to enjoy.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Fortunately ThingTwo slept much better, despite her also trying to push some teeth through. This is good since we need a lot of energy to cope with the two girls, and the full nights’ sleep were essential.
ThingOne was walking at 14 months, whereas ThingTwo isn’t yet (standing well, and taking steps when she feels like it, but really showing little interest and preferring to crawl). This meant she was at a very different stage to ThingOne at 14 months, but still seemed to have a great time and basked in the extra attention she was able to get. Every now and then she'd take a few steps, and convince us she was about to start trying to walk a bit more, but she's been doing this for a month now and still doesn't seem very keen.
This post is quite long and has more detail in than we normally post, but we wanted to remember it, so suck it up.
On our way to Sheringham we stopped off at Thetford Forest for a break and a picnic. There was a trail there where ThingOne could lead us to the next animal-shaped climbing frame by following arrows. She had a great time, and where we could we let ThingTwo crawl through and over things too. She especially likes slides and seems to love going down them as quickly as gravity will allow.
ThingOne was particularly keen to explore the ‘holiday home’ when we arrived in Sheringham. She was astounded by the bunk bed in her room (‘it’s like Peppa Pig’s!’) and declared she would be sleeping on the top bunk. After a quick play up top the reality sunk in and she decided it would be best if she slept on the bottom bunk. I helped her to feel like this was less of a literal and figurative climb-down when I hung a duvet from the top bunk to make her a ‘tent’ of the bottom bunk. This was now her Bunk Bed Tent, which lasted for one night before she decided that wasn’t best for her either. Chuh, women.
A quick walk to the sea before dinner. ThingOne was keen to paddle, with no thought of how cold it would be. We had to explain that there was no time and she could paddle another day. Sheringham has a pebble beach, and we’d heard that nearby Cromer had a sandy beach which sounded more suitable.
Aside from paddling in the sea, ThingOne had also declared that since we were on holiday there would be swimming. We didn’t need to discourage this since we’d heard that Sheringham had a good indoor swimming pool (‘The Splash’) with a wave machine and water slides. We trekked up to the pool on Tuesday morning. ThingOne was very excited.
We arrived to speak to a surly woman behind the counter. If she’d have been eating a banana as she spoke to us she’d have been a match for the lady at the desk in the swimming pool sketch on The Day Today. Having let some people jump the queue in front of us she told us that we couldn’t go swimming now since there pool was only available for public swimming during limited sessions in the day. She was pretty abrupt and we found we had to ask the right questions to get the information we needed to find out when we could swim. I saw a sign for a café in the building. It would have been quite a wait, but I asked the rude woman if we could get a coffee while we waited for the pool to open to the public. “The café’s been closed for ages” she said, clearly astounded we didn’t know this. She’d never come across non-locals, it seems, despite working in a touristy seaside town. Cow. Anne and I were pretty peed off, as much by the service as by being unable to swim after our trek. ThingOne was surprisingly chipper.
We wandered back into town, Anne and I in a bit of a grump. Bloody British service. Our faith in British tourism and good luck was restored when we happened upon a steam train about to leave the station. We bought (pricey) tickets and hopped onto the train. Both the girls enjoyed this. We only went to the next stop. There we looked around the station at some Croft and Perry exhibits. It seems some Dad’s Army and Hi-Di-Hi scenes were filmed there, this being a relic from olden times. ThingOne and ThingTwo didn’t seem very interested in this, so we sat by the edge of Sheringham Park and gave the girls their snack, looking at horses in a field. ThingOne saw some horse poo. This was possibly the high point of the trip for her. We got the next steam train back to Sheringham.
In the afternoon we tried swimming again. The timetable said we had a one hour window between 3pm and 4pm during which we’d be permitted to pay a large amount to swim. I was trying to coax ThingOne to tell the woman at the counter that the woman this morning hadn’t been very helpful, but that didn’t work. Disappointingly the woman at the counter in the afternoon was very helpful and friendly. How am I supposed to get worked up if people are going to be reasonable and professional?
Fortunately the lifeguard was a miserable, unhelpful cow, so all was not lost.
We spent Wednesday just down the road in Cromer. We didn’t have any crab (I gather we committed some kind of faux pas by doing that) but we did lots of other things. We went to Lifeboat Museum, the pier, the Cromer Museum, and to the beach.
ThingOne was keen to go for a paddle in the sea, since That Is What You Do At The Seaside. We warned her it might be cold, but I dutifully rolled up my trouser legs and went in with her. I thought a cursory paddle would suffice, but once I’d got out ThingOne carried on paddling and splashing for ten minutes or more. She was having a great time and seemed to have no notion that it was Bloody Freezing.
Both the girls seemed to have a great day, and the fish and chip lunch we had was probably the biggest hit of the holiday. Both of them devoured their food, and sat nicely throughout the meal. We were near the door, which meant ThingTwo could wave and flirt with everyone who went past. This probably bought us an extra twenty minutes of good sitting-down-and-eating-dinner before she got fidgety.
By 2.30pm we figured ThingTwo would need a nap. I’d thought that one of us could do something fun with ThingOne while the other pushed ThingTwo along the prom in her pushchair. It soon became clear though that ThingOne was shattered, and we had nowhere to put her. She asked to be picked up, and within a minute had fallen asleep in my arms. I don’t think she’s ever done that before. Maybe when she was ill I suppose. For half an hour we wandered around as our girls slept and my arms and back ached.
After her nap, ThingOne had a Mini Milk lolly. This to her is a dream come true, and she now thinks it must be summer.
On Thursday, after a quick search for a Geocache in some ruins, we went to nearby Priory Maze and Gardens. This is a fairly small ‘attraction’ with gardens and a hedge maze. We had some fun in the maze and there were letters and statues of monks to find. This seemed to keep ThingOne’s interest for a fair while, and the snack in the café had us all interested. (Scone, cream and jam for me. I think the appropriate word would be nummy.)
We drove to Holt in the afternoon. It’s a pretty village and we wandered around for a while. ThingTwo and ThingOne both enjoyed spotting dogs there. We saw a kid about ThingTwo’s age who was toddling around. I wondered if this might encourage her to do some walking. I put her on the floor and she immediately sat down to eat stones. Joy.
We had a really nice coffee and snack in Byfords, a decent café in Holt. Having already been for a snack in the morning we felt a bit guilty, so bought a piece of millionaires shortbread and shared it between the four of us. I had the largest share, but Anne’s hot chocolate was practically a meal in itself.
While ThingOne wound down to some of Sleeping Beauty before her bath that evening I took ThingTwo in the backpack for a walk up the cliffs near Sheringham, in search of another Geocache. We were successful (I did most of the searching if I’m honest) and the view was great. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a two cache day. Bonus!
Anne suggested we go swimming again before the drive home on Friday. I wasn’t keen to give the pool any more money, but as soon as ThingOne woke up she asked if she could go swimming one more time before we left. That swung it and we all went for a splash around.
It’s not relaxing taking young kids on holiday, but this was a lot of fun, and we really lucked out on the weather. It was sunny and pretty warm each of the five days we were away. Given that the previous week had been grotty we felt pretty fortunate for this. If it had been wet what would we have done? More coffee shops and snacks I imagine.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
I took the train to work on Tuesday so Anne could have the car for the day. She was taking the girls for an Easter Egg Hunt at a friend's house in the afternoon.
The walk to the station and into work was a nice change for me, and it was a pleasant morning. I listened to my podcasts whilst getting some excercise. All was well.
Anne was going to pick me up from work at 6pm, following the Egg Hunt and kids tea, and I would drive them home to get the kids in the bath. I was looking forward to being met from work by my three ladies, so when Anne called to let me know she was about to leave to pick me up I was happy.
Then I got another, more frantic call from Anne. As Anne had neared my work ThingOne had thrown up all over herself and the car seats. She gets a bit car sick sometimes, but this is ridiculous. Anne had to stop in a lay-by and clean up ThingOne and the car, and I trudged down the road to meet them.
My expectations of a fun drive home with company were not met. Instead I had a miserable ThingOne, a screaming ThingTwo, a stressed Anne, and a car that smelled strongly of sick.
I missed my podcasts. I missed my peace. I missed the aroma of no kid sick.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
ThingOne's taking quite an interest in the daffodils, the other blooming flowers, the buds on trees etc. With her new found knowledge of death she's asking what will die and what won't ("Will our bath mat die? Is that a living thing?") and, so far, seems merely interested, not distressed by the thought of death. I try to be philosophical with her ("Imagine if no one died ThingOne - the world would be full up!") The other day I told her that whilst people are no longer around when they die we can still remember them in our heads. "In our heads? Do we eat them?" Best to stick to the basics for the moment.
Seizing on a sunny day, after playing and doing jobs in the garden this morning the four of us went to Wimpole Hall Farm for a Mother's Day treat. (It might have been even more of a treat for Anne if just ThingOne, ThingTwo and I had gone, but I think Anne enjoyed this too.)
We saw pigs with piglets, sheep with lambs, cows, chickens, goats, horses. i.e. farm animals. And ThingOne got to groom a donkey (not in a dodgy, internet chat-room way). We had our first picnic of the year (here's to many more to come) and ThingOne got to see different types of animal poo and identify male and female animals.
L: "That sheep has udders - it's a girl!"
L: "Bulls are boys, so where's the bull's winkie?"
S: "Erm, it's that thing underneath"
ThingOne then bent down for ages trying to embarrass us in front of the other visitors, making sure she'd seen said winkie and wasn't mistaking it for something else, and that everyone around knew she'd seen it and correctly identified it.
As a National Trust property, it's not cheap to get in, but they have two playgrounds, so we probably got our money's worth. After a tiring but fun five or so hours in the farm we made our way back to the car. As we passed some temporary toilets in a portocabin I asked ThingOne if she needed the loo. She's never one to pass up trying out a public toilet she's not previously used, so she jumped at the chance.
I partly ruined the day at this point.
I couldn't work out the taps as ThingOne went to wash her hands. I pulled it one way, and pushed it the other and it wouldn't work. I pulled a bit harder, and it broke off in my hand. Water sprayed out all over me, soaking me, the floor, and some men at the urinals. Whoops. I tried to stem the flow but couldn't. I tried to reattach the tap but couldn't. I searched around for a stopcock to no avail. At this point I realised ThingOne was screaming. I turned to see she was standing directly in the trajectory of the water spray. I told her to stand aside, where she'd be dry, but she was too busy being sad and wet. I moved her away and she went, dripping, to find her mum as I shoved some paper towels into the hole to try to stop the water spraying everywhere. Eventually a member of staff appeared (one of the guys I'd soaked had gone to get someone). He knew less than I did about plumbing, but I was happy that at this point I had passed the baton to someone with authority, and skulked out of the portocabin, apologising as I left.
ThingOne was pretty upset, but soon recovered. Hopefully this won't scar her, and it'll be the memory of poo, udders, winkies and donkey grooming that she takes home with her.
Some photos. A pinic on a groundsheet, despite the fact that we own two or three picnic blankets. ThingOne catches some rays:
ThingTwo's standing is getting better each day:
We find somewhere to keep ThingOne while we nip off for a fag:
ThingOne gets our money's worth at the playground. This crows' nest was frighteningly high (for me):