November comes and November goes, with the last red berries and the first white snows

When I chose that quote by Clyde Watson a couple of weeks ago for the last post in November (didn’t quite make that), I had no idea how portentous it would be.  The heaviest November snow for 17 years, the coldest November temperature since 1985.  Looks like we could be in for a cold winter.

Currently I am on three days weeks.  No, we have not returned to the dark days of the 1970’s (well not yet anyway) but because I am trying to use up my annual leave before the end of the year.  Not as easy as you might think.  And not actually as enjoyable as you may think.  It is great to spend more time with the family but I have to try to squeeze 5 days of work into 3.  OK, put the violins away.

Our health visitor, Kate, has continued her visits to see how Amélie is progressing.  As you know, Amélie has been quite disturbed, very sicky and colicky since birth.  Trying to track it down means eliminating one thing at a time.  Although this may sound like we are just trying to have an easy ride and it is something that all babies go through, Amélie’s weight chart tells a different story.  When Amélie was born she was in the 75th centile, this has progressively dropped, so although she is putting on weight it is not at the rate one would expect.  In fact, she is now below the 50th centile and still hasn’t broke through the 5kg barrier.  This obviously is concerning us, and we have been in regular contact with Kate about this.  Unfortunately, with all these diet related things you have to keep trying to eliminate what it is by trial and error.  Hence we have used Infacol, Colief, Gaviscon, Breast Milk, Formula, different manufacturers bottles, different teats all to no avail.  After consulting with a dietician Kate (and we) believe Amélie to be Milk Protein Intolerant.

Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance is different to Milk allergies, and Lactose intolerance and is something that the majority of babies grow out of by the age of three.  It currently means that Amélie has to have artificial milk powder given on prescription.  If Lucinda wants to continue to breast feed it would mean cutting out all milk protein from her diet.  No milk, cheese and yoghurts as well as food such as chocolate, biscuits and cakes for they also contain milk protein.  For Amélie’s and Lucinda sake it is probably much safer to stick to one source.  We are still giving her Gaviscon in the feeds since her stomach has more than likely been inflamed by 8 weeks of milk protein and the Gaviscon will hopefully ease the pain of eating.  We have to say that the support given to us by Kate has been fantastic.  She has maintained the perfect balance of giving us space but being there to assist and proffer advice.

Éowyn on the other hand is thriving.  She astounds us daily with the things she comes out with.  She seems to know a new word every day.  She has also discovered Toy Story (1, 2 and 3!).  At least it is a change from CBeebies and I have no problems sitting and watching a Toy Story film.  I have tried her with other Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks films such as The Little Mermaid, Shrek, Finding Nemo but it is always: “Éowyn not like this.  Toy Story please daddy.”  Must keep persevering.

She picks phrases and actions off us (we have to be careful) as well as off the TV.  We are sure that she has started to use the word gorgeous from us.  She has definitely picked us sign language from the T.V. programme: ‘Something Special‘.  She will quite often sign phrases from the show.  However she doesn’t always use them in the appropriate place.  Éowyn was saying that Mommy was gorgeous and then Daddy was gorgeous when Lucinda said ‘No, daddy is handsome’.  Éowyn then repeated ‘Daddy is hamster’ and signed hamster.  Nearly right!

She is a little comic though.  We were in Lucinda’s car when she drove over a speed bump, Éowyn immediately said ‘It’s just like the Ninky Nonk!’ Referring to the bumping train in the programme ‘In the Night Garden’.  She is also liable to over-dramatising.  She has already come out with the phrase ‘I have been sad all day!’  And will often pout her lips and fold her arms if things aren’t going her way.  She does, however, try to be useful around the home.  She will take plates and cups into the kitchen and woe betide anyone who takes their own plate out when it is her job!.  She threw a strop the other day when I got up to take my cup out.  ‘OK’ I said, ‘Éowyn can do it.’

‘No, Daddy I can’t.’ she replied through her tears.

‘Why?’ I asked.

‘Because I’m crying’ she answered.

Éowyn enjoyed shoe shopping for the first time recently.  We bought her a pair of winter shoes and a pair of winter boots (size 7 1/2 now!).  Her shoes are more expensive that I pay for myself!  When she was trying the shoes on in Clarks she walked over to the bag section and picked up a Peppa Pig bag to walk around with.  She is starting early!  Her boots are cool though with red flashing leds down the side that are triggered on every heel strike.  I am a sucker for flashing lights, I’m sure that’s why I got into telly!

So with winter truly upon us  (Although we have had barely an inch of snow around these parts, mores the pity!) and Christmas around the corner there may plenty of chances for her to wear them but perhaps not so many updates between now and the end of the year.  Hopefully Éowyn will understand Christmas a little more.  She has a book about Rudolph at the North Pole so I have been reading that to her so she has a bit of a feel for who Santa is and why there is a sleigh pulled by reindeer.  We hope to put the tree up on Monday while she is at Jo’s and then it will start to feel Christmassy.

So I will leave you to your festive merrymaking (and shopping – do it online so much easier!) and hope to squeeze at least one more update in before Chirstmas. And a quick get welll soon to my sister Mary who is an early victim of the snow and ice, slipping and breaking her elbow.  Hope it heals quickly!

Peace and love


A week off goes so fast!

I’m sure that someone has got my life on fast forward at the moment, I barely seem to have 5 minutes to myself these days.  However when you try to analyse what exactly I have been doing, it doesn’t sound a lot.  Although you have to say that I am doing well with this updating lark!

So what have we done with my week off?  The weekend saw us pop up to West Bromwich to visit Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz.  I woke up Saturday morning with a sore left eye that took at least half an hour before it felt 100%.  No reason, seemingly just one of those things.  So, after loading the car we were about an hour behind the time we were aiming to leave (isn’t that always the case with children anyhow?). However, as I was lifting Éowyn into her car seat, she was transferring her book from one hand to the other and managed to drag the edge of one of the pages across my eyeball.  Effectively giving me a papercut on the eyeball.  It did hurt!  I was unable to open the eye or stem the streaming tears for about 3 hours, so Lucinda had to drive my car up the M40 (OK for accuracy:  the M25, M40, M42, M5) to the Black Country.

We arrived safely and spent a couple of days relaxing with Nanny Fran.  Well, relaxing for Lucinda and me but perhaps not so much for Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz.  We also took Éowyn for her first ‘proper’ haircut.  Lucinda and I have trimmed her hair on a number of occasions but only to keep the fringe out of her eyes.  Her hair looks quite good as it is, with her long loose curls so we didn’t want too much taken off, only to give her a decent fringe so that her hair wasn’t in her eyes.  Nanny Fran was already booked to have her hair done at her friend’s salon so it was a good excuse to take Éowyn.  Considering it was Éowyn’s first time in a hairdressers and the first time she had met Janet she was remarkably good and Janet managed to trim her fringe nicely.  It did take a bit of time to coax her into the chair (on daddy’s lap) but as the place was quiet Janet had the time to win her trust so hopefully next time it will not be so difficult.  The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing and a good night’s sleep sorted my eye out and I was fine to drive home on Sunday evening.

Amélie seems much more settled of late, so perhaps the bottle thing is working.  Which is allowing us, but Lucinda especially, to feel somewhat normal.  However we are far from being a 100% there and a couple of days she has been unsettled and then Thursday night (first night after going back to work) she did not settle until 0500.  I think she knew that I had to work the next day and therefore could really annoy mommy!

We have been feeling a little guilty over Amélie.  I think as a parent, the midwife hands you the baby and a whole bucketload of guilt.  Being raised a Catholic I am used to carrying guilt about but that of a parent is something different.  Everything you do, or don’t do you have half a thought in your head that you are doing your child harm.  So it is with Amélie.  With Éowyn we had time to devote to her; she was the entire focus of our attention and everything was new.  With Amélie we do not have the luxury of devoting our entire attention to her because we have to balance that attention with that we give Éowyn.  So at the moment we are going through the guilt that we are not doing as much with Amélie as we did with Éowyn at the same stage.

Nevertheless Amélie is doing well.  The bottle feeding seems to be helping and although not entirely a contented baby is significantly more settled than before and we are getting more sleep.  Although the first day back to work was met with a disturbed night until she finally succumbed to sleep at 0500.

Amélie has also begun to smile.  You are never sure at first whether it is wind or whether a genuine smile, b ut now she responds to your smile with one of her own, definitive proof that she is smiling.  She also has very strong legs and will push herself off you.  She also moves herself around a little.  It is all coming back to us.

Éowyn has been very good with her and always wants to be involved, however when Amélie is feeding, Éowyn becomes jealous.  This tends to happen when it is just Lucinda in with the girls, as when I am about Éowyn is obviously getting attention from me (or Lucinda – for now we are on bottles I can do some of the feeding).  The jealousy manifests itself as hitting and hair-pulling, which is very strange as Éowyn is so loving at all other times.  It is a well recognised phase that they go through and something we have to deal with, without making a deal out of it.

Granddad’s 71st birthday was spent at the local Harvester, the first time that Lucinda and I had been there since June.  We avoided the scampi this time.  Amélie slept through the majority of the meal while Éowyn kept us all entertained, and a number of the fellow diners, too!

The week has also been noticeable for the Freezing fog that has been affecting us for the last week and the fact that we have tried Purple Majesty.  A variety of purple potato with its ancestry in the high reaches of the Andes (see photo of mash below).  To be honest, nice to look at but the taste is nothing special and we concluded that we much more prefer Sweet Potato mash.  We still have some left so we might try some purple jacket wedges.  What next? Red Brussels Sprouts?

Just as an aside.  Amélie is beginning to understand what it is like to be a West Bromwich Albion fan.  The euphoria of the first couple of months of this Premier League campaign is gradually being replaced by the feeling of been there, done that.  The only bright news is that Wolverhampton Wanderers are only not bottom because West Ham United are so bad!  Let’s hope they can put an end to this dip in form and remember the highs from The Emirates and Old Trafford.

Peace and love


In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Remember, remember the Fifth of November, gun powder, treason and plot.  I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason, should ever be forgot.

Up until this year I have always enjoyed Bonfire night (latent pyromania?), not for the history nor the idea encapsulated in the actions of Guido Fawkes and the other co-conspirators to blow up the House of Lords on the state opening of Parliament (caught by Lord Thomas Knyvet of Stanwell, coincidentally) but the fact that you get to have a big fire, fireworks and eat a variety of wholesome winter grub.  Obviously the lighting of bonfires to mark the start of Winter, giving thanks for the previous year and praying for the coming year is an ancient custom, as with many things hijacked for propaganda along the corridors of history and is just now synonymous with poor old Guy .  However I may have to revise my liking of the 5th November after this year.

This 5th November this year was a double celebration as it was also the Feast of Diwali (the Festival of Lights), the most important festival in the Hindu calendar.  Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama and his vanquishing of the demon-king Ravana.  His nation marked the return of their king by illuminating the kingdom with oil lamps.  Again this marked the end of the harvest season and prayers for a good harvest for the coming year.

Both of these festivals now incorporate the use of fireworks which although not an integral part of the either of the original festivals definitely compliment their spirits.  Plus they are just great.  Well, from a personal point of view, they are.  However, when you are a two year old girl asleep in your bed loud unknown noises can be quite unsettling.  So it was for poor Éowyn who woke up, disturbed by the bangs of the fireworks.  Her little heart was beating nineteen to the dozen, and she was extremely upset.  Eventually I managed to calm her back to sleep but it took over an hour and I had to stay with her until she fell back to sleep.

This repeated itself the next night, but this is where being a parent puts you in a quandary.  Obviously, Éowyn was upset and so it is important to go into her and reassure her.  But then the cuddling to sleep, or even just sitting in the room until she drops off could quickly develop from loving reassurance to a bad habit.  So, the third night she woke up (and this time there were no fireworks) I had to resort to bad cop.  A quick cuddle and a kiss, then I made her lie down and left then room.  She cried for five minutes or so, but then succumbed to the arms of Morpheus.  A quick sneak back in and tuck her in and the reliance on a parent to be in the room to fall asleep has thankfully gone away.

I also explained everything to her the next morning and she seemed to understand remarkably well, including repeating the sequence of events back to us.  ‘Éowyn go to sleep, fireworks noisy, bang, bang, bang! Éowyn wake up, cry.  Daddy kiss and cuddle.  Éowyn go back to sleep.’ Myself and Lucinda were astounded when she repeated it back to us.

Tuesday was Lucinda’s mum’s 70th birthday and so Sunday she hosted a party for friends and family.  It was a big turnout and Éowyn got to play with her cousins (which she always enjoys) and Amélie got to meet the majority of the remainder of Lucinda’s family that she hasn’t met.  There are still a few that haven’t been introduced, but all in good time.  There was the obligatory buffet and (being so close to Bonfire night) a fire and fireworks.  Éowyn was not fazed by the fireworks (because she could see what was causing the bangs).  However she was enthralled by the fire, latent pyromania inherited from her father, something we will definitely have to watch!

Amélie is still unsettled and not sleeping for any length of time, however Tuesday saw a visit from the Health Visitor who has come up with a novel explanation.  She seems to think that Amélie’s tongue is a little on the short side.  Nothing to be worried about per se, but is probably preventing her from latching on correctly and hence she is probably not getting enough of the hind-milk and at the same time giving her wind.   It also explains why Amélie has not put as much weight on as one would expect.  She currently tips the scales at  4.68kgs (10lb 4.5oz) which means she has dropped from the 75th centile line that she had been hugging for the last 6 weeks.  Again, nothing to worry about but another good reason to switch to bottles (with breast milk or formula) and see how things develop.

The first night we gave her formula in the bottle and she slept for 7 hours.  It is too early to say anything and we are not counting our chickens but she could be on to something.  At least we know how much she is drinking and I can take on some of the feeds, freeing Lucinda from the three hourly ritual.  You will have to stay tuned to see if this is a step to a brave new world.  I am off work for a week now and so we will have some time together to attempt to force this paradigm shift.

I will now take my leave and let you look at the new crop of photos.

Peace and love