Are you hanging up a stocking on your wall?

Ten points in the Christmas pop trivia quiz for anyone that knows which Christmas ditty the title is from.  Well done, treat yourself to a mince pie and a nip of your favourite Christmas tipple!

This is more than likely the last update before Christmas as I still have Christmas shopping to do and Christmas cards to write, although the Bagnall Christmas message will automatically appear at noon on the 23rd December 2010 and I will try to squeeze a full update in before the New Year to give you all a post-Christmas debrief.

I may still have cards to write and shopping to do, but the tree is up and decorated and Christmas dinner is organised (thanks Nan and Granddad!).  At least Amélie has something that Éowyn never had for her first Christmas: a Christmas tree.  If you cast your mind back to December 2008, we were so disorganised that by the time we came to buy our tree there were none, so poor Éowyn spent her first Christmas treeless.  It doesn’t seem to have affected her and to be fair this is the first year that she has begun to understand that there is something going on and it is likely to be favourable.

We have been trying to introduce Éowyn to the ideas of Christmas (from a secular rather than religious point of view) and as part of that she has her first chocolate advent calendar (a Peppa Pig one) and a Christmas stocking to hang on her bedpost on Christmas Eve.  She likes the Christmas Tree and the various Christmas ornaments that have made their way down from the loft and we have been reading a number of Christmas stories (although not The Christmas Story) and keep telling her that Santa will bring her presents if she is a good girl.  Next it is Christmas songs, bring out the Slade!  Not sure which of the above is the worst.

You will be pleased to know that although Toy Story 3 is still a firm favourite Éowyn will now ask for Shrek, The Lion King and Little Mermaid.  Now we have broken the Toy Story monopoly hopefully we can introduce a number of other films from my extensive collection.  Interestingly I am sure that she is starting to play with her dolls and stuffed animals more since watching Toy Story.  It is perhaps a case of fiction leading reality that somehow a film made from a childlike imagination is sparking the imagination of my child.  I quite like that.

As I mentioned in my last update, Amélie has been diagnosed with Cows Milk Protein Intolerance.  This has not been clinically proven but since we have switched to the milk powder substitute she has seemed a lot happy and will down her bottle of milk in minutes.  Confirmation that it seems to be having a positive effect came from her latest weigh-in which, although she is not creeping up the centile chart, she has at least followed the centile line that she is currently on.  In plain English, she has put on the expected amount of weight this week for the first time in a month.  It is more than likely that it will be after Christmas before we see the dietician but our greater worry is ensuring that we have enough milk powder to see us through the festive period.  We are putting pressure on the doctor to prescribe surplus so that we don’t have to keep returning to the them each week.

In light of the reduced pain that she must be in, Amélie has definitely become more alert and is smiling more often.  She likes to sit on her daddy’s lap watching the telly, like Éowyn used to (and indeed still does).  Although this does bring out the little green-eyed monster in  Éowyn who has to sit next to us on the sofa.  I have no problem with that though and it is quite nice to sit on the sofa watching a film with both daughters snuggling into their dad.  I’m just a big old softie!

Lucinda and I both find we are bonding more with Amélie, especially since we are now getting more sleep (me more that Lucinda) and the fact that the little mite is interacting more with us.  She seems to really enjoy smiling and returns a smile from you with a toothless one of her own.  How quick you forget this stage (and all of the early ones) and before you know it they are running around and causing different kinds of mischief.  Each stage is wonderful in its own way but I think that Éowyn is at a perfect age at the moment, especially coupled with her intelligence making her a joy to spend the day with.  Without wishing Amélie’s life away it will be good when they can both play together.  I imagine that Éowyn will try to mother her.

Last week I was struck down with the norovirus.  Well, Lucinda had it first and then I caught it off her.  Along with the usual symptoms I was running a temperature and my body ached, so I took myself off to bed.  Éowyn wondering where Daddy is, wanders upstairs.  I am asleep under the duvet when I am woken by a giggles and Éowyn sitting under the duvet next to my head.  ‘Shh,’ she says, ‘We’re in a camp.’  Even when you are feeling sorry for yourself that is funny!  Lucinda came upstairs looking for her and she whispers to me: ‘Shh, daddy.  We’re hiding from Mommy.’   Definitely makes you feel better.

Well those Christmas cards won’t write themselves so I will bid you adieu.  Pop by if you can for the Christmas wishes on the 23rd and I will aim to do an update around the 29th/30th.  I trust that you all have a fabulous Christmas and if I don’t see you before see you in 2011.

Love and Peace


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