When I’m 102!

Well aren’t you blessed?  Two updates within the arbitrary fortnight deadline that I set myself.  However before you get excited there will not be the 27 or so photos this time, you win some, and you lose some.

Éowyn has just finished her half-term break and pre-school beckons.  Unfortunately, I was at work for the majority of it so the onus for entertaining was entirely in Lucinda’s hands.  This was made more difficult with the meteorological spring ending in a similar vein to the previous three months (cold – indeed the coldest spring since 1962 and the fifth coldest on record, according the Met-Office or the coldest since 1891 according the Central English Temperature Series) there was not the opportunity to go out and enjoy the weather.  Nevertheless, Lucinda managed an admirable job entertaining them (as always) heading to friends’ houses to relieve the boredom of being stuck in the same house.

I may work long hours but nearly every night it is I that read the girls their bedtime stories (assuming they haven’t lost them as a punishment).  They have free range over which stories they chose and often go through phases of what is their particular favourite: any of the Julia Donaldson stories, Mr Men, Disney, ‘Traditional Fairy Stories’ or one from their big book of Princess stories.  However, Roald Dahl now finds himself added to that illustrious list.  It began a couple of months ago with me introducing Éowyn to the Candy Man by Sammy David Jnr.  That lead to reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which both girls love and once we had read the book I let them watch the Tim Burton film version.  As you may or may not know there was a follow up to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory called Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.  In my opinion, it is not as good as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (sequels rarely are – Empire Strikes Back the obvious exception).  Nevertheless I began to read it to them (we have since given up and begun to read the BFG!).

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator begins as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ends with Charlie and his entire family in the aforementioned Great Glass Elevator along with Willy Wonka heading back to the Chocolate Factory.  Now, the method of entry of the Great Glass Elevator into the Chocolate Factory involves gaining height in order to fall to the Earth with enough force to smash a hole in the roof of the factory.  (We will ignore the science behind terminal velocity, deceleration on the human body or the tensile strength of glass and just suspend our disbelief).  As all good adventure novels begin something goes wrong and Willy Wonka is distracted at the vital moment and instead of hurtling to Earth, the Great Glass Elevator and its occupants enter orbit (again ignore the science, it is a children’s book!).

As I read, Éowyn asked what ‘in orbit’ meant.  I explained it is when you go into space and circle the Earth. ‘Daddy, I would like to go into space.‘  I explained that so would I.  She then asked as to whether we could go into space.  I explained that when I was a boy we were told that we would be able to take holidays on the moon but unfortunately that hasn’t happened yet and only astronauts or very rich people can go into space at the moment, however when she was Daddy’s age then hopefully there would be affordable trips into space.

That would be great, I would be your age and you would be 102 and we could go into space together.’  She has got her sums a bit wrong but idea is wonderful and very sweet that she would want to take her daddy, so I replied that I would like that and then I made my mistake.  There are times as a parent when you say something and as soon as you say it, you realise that you shouldn’t have said it, but now it is too late and you have a long drawn out discussion ahead of you.  I made one of those mistakes.  I replied that I would like that and that I would be very happy just to live to 102.

Éowyn picked up on this immediately and began to cry.  I asked her what the matter was and she replied ‘You’re not going to die are you?  I don’t want you to die.‘  When do I go with this?  I said that everyone dies and that 102 is very old and that she would be very old (well 67) if Daddy lived to be 102.  ‘But Daddy I would miss you and wouldn’t be able to see you ever again‘  Fighting the lump in my throat and the tears in my eyes I reassured her that I wasn’t going to die any time soon (well I’m not planning on it) and that I would always be there for her.  She hugged me tight and sobbed into my shoulder, while Amélie looked on oblivious.  It is nice to know that I am still her hero, for the time being and I will have to remind her of this if she turns into a stroppy teenager wishing her parents would just leave her alone!  Better still remind her of the story in 2075 when I turn 102!

It is not like Éowyn to be so loving and emotional.  She is usually the stoic one, headstrong and determined.  Amélie on the other hand is the more loving.  While Éowyn certainly went through the terrible twos (although not as bad as some children), you would not know that Amélie has reached that stage.  Her only slight rebellion is the refusal to eat meals (but she doesn’t have the iron-will of Éowyn and folds usually by the next meal) and the fact that she will ‘swipe’ things (indeed, you may remember that when she was younger we nicknamed her Swiper after the Fox in the Dora the Explorer cartoon).  My nail-clippers disappeared for about two weeks, Lucinda’s tweezers for the same length of time both found in Amélie-type hiding places around the house.  However, we may have to forgive Amélie because it might be someone or something else, a house pest of frightening proportions.

An ornament had disappeared and found on the floor in the middle of the landing.  Sensing the unmistakeable signs of Swiper I said to Amélie ‘Did you take this?‘  Looking me in the eye, she sincerely replied ‘Daddy, it wasn’t me.  It was the Big Bad Wolf!‘ I think she needs to work on her lies either that or I should be slightly concerned about the house pests in this part of town.

Amélie is certainly growing up, she is potty trained during the day and now is in the process of occasionally waking up at night to use the potty, which is a huge step of a 2 year old.  In addition, her cognitive powers are certainly increasing.  If she refuses to do something or wants to do something and you ask her why she wants what she wants she will reply with the conjoiner ‘’cause‘ to buy herself some thinking time.  However, when I type ’cause it doesn’t quite do justice to the word that Amélie uses.  A close approximation to the word that Amélie uses is ‘caaaaauuuuu-uuuuuusssssssseeee’, which lasts about 2 seconds and more accurately could be described as a whine that varies in pitch, starting low, ascending with a descending dip before ascending sharply.  Have you got that?  For older (UK) readers somewhat similar to the way that Richard Briers’ character would say the word ‘Ann‘ in Ever Decreasing Circles.

Although Éowyn and Amélie are very different in temperament, both seem very forward for their respective ages.  I find it fascinating sometimes where they pick things up from and have to be careful exactly what you say, either to them or around them.  Éowyn for instance was eating her lunch and said, ‘Daddy, this is delectable!‘  Now I personally do not think that I have ever used that word (I even had to check that I had typed it correctly as I wrote this) and neither has Lucinda.  Therefore, although I am not sure where she has picked that up but kudos to her that not only did she use it but knew in what context to use it.

With the summer comes a return for me of a Monday to Friday working week.  I now get weekends off, like normal people, but the trouble is there seems to be an awful amount of people around.  However, I do now manage to go to events and this weekend saw one of the first of the summer:  Ashford on the map.  Held on the playing fields of Brooklands College in Ashford it is the ninth annual fun day.  It seems that they had booked the weather for it had turned particularly summery with bright sunshine, although there was still a chill in the air; it was probably the warmest day of the year.  There were about 100 stalls, pony rides, fairground rides, face painting and all the usual things that you would expect at such an event, including a display by the Spelthorne gymnastics club that Éowyn was a member of, and indeed the display has inspired her to go back.  Watch this space to see if she is still interested next week.

This was the first time that we have visited it and it was excellent.  The girls thoroughly enjoyed it, especially Éowyn who, in addition to getting her face painted, won a prize on ‘hook a duck’ and happily threw herself down the 10 metre high inflatable slide.  Unfortunately her parents caused the only problem.  We didn’t expect it to be so big or have so much to entertain the girls so we only paid for 2 hours of parking at the local car park thereby enforcing an artificial deadline on our fun or at least the girls’ fun.

Amélie fell asleep on the return home; it had worn her out so much.  Therefore, with Amélie asleep, Ezra snoozing between feeds and Éowyn happily amusing herself I mowed the lawns.  What a perfect picture of modern suburbia.

In other news, Ezra is still behaving himself and growing at a rapid rate of knots (am I allowed that mixed metaphor?);  Éowyn’s current favourite song is Think by Aretha Franklin and Amélie has begun to craft stories, and not only to shift blame from her direction. While the next big change in the Bagnall world, selling our house, is a slow process with no news to update you with yet.  Rest assured though you will be the first to know.

Therefore, before the length of this update (and it has to be close to taking the record for the longest update of the site) causes you to pandiculate I will bid you adieu and leave you with a few more photos.

Peace and Love


The great summer continues

The relentless pace of 2012 continues unabated and as if to prove it we have already completed the second week of July.  What has happened to the first half of the year?  More importantly what has happened the summer of 2012, there certainly will not be any Bryan Adams’ songs about this summer.  We have just experienced the wettest 2nd quarter on record (and July already has had its quota of rain – in less than an hour in some places of the UK) aided by a June that was the wettest and second dullest on record and it was also one second longer than we were expecting.  This leap second was added onto the end of June without any pomp and ceremony and they would have got away with it too if it wasn’t for the pesky servers running a number of famous websites that got all upset about it and fell over.

Nevertheless we Brits had something to cheer about this July and that was for the first time in 74 years there was Brit in the final of the men’s single final at Wimbledon. Andy Murray defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to become the last man since Bunny Austin in 1938 to grace the men’s single final at SW19.  Unfortunately Andy Murray has had the misfortune to have been born at the same time at one of the greatest tennis players of all time in Roger Federer who took this year’s Wimbledon crown (for a record equalling 7th time) and at the same time broke the record for the most number of weeks at the top of the ATP rankings (287), so although Murray took the first set, Federer proved his class taking the next three.  In this diamond jubilee year we Brits did have reason to celebrate at Wimbledon which has somewhat been overshadowed by Andy Murray’s achievement and that was for the first time in 76 years we had a winner in the men’s doubles.  Jonathan Marry (and his doubles partner Frederick Neilsen) were wildcard entries but upset many big names along the way to become Wimbledon champions.  One aside of all this was the fact that the last man to lose to a Brit in the semi-final of Wimbledon’s men’s singles competition was German Henner Henkel who subsequently died at the Battle of Stalingrad.  My favourite Wimbledon related fact.

So what has been happening in the World of the Bagnalls?  To be frank it has been relatively sedate with the School holidays rapidly approaching and life continuing in its usual form.  However Éowyn is once again feeling that end of term blues that she seems to suffer.  Not sure why she suffers such but as the term approaches its end she seems to tire more easily and gets, let’s be nice here, grumpy.  The teachers at her pre-school may not be so generous, if asked they may say downright naughty.  She will not suffer fools gladly and will refuse to do things that she does not want to do, which includes listening to her teachers.  She also comes home feeling very tired and often falls asleep on the sofa when she gets home.

The term time for her gymnastics class is also drawing to a close. Éowyn has a love/hate relationship with the gymnastics class.  She really enjoys the class and will happily talk about it and quite happily walk to the gym and get changed into her shorts and t-shirt but as the students line up to enter the hall she begin to freak out and crying that she does want to go to gym.  This is one of the times that you have to be strong as a parent and basically lead her into the hall and hand over to the teacher before quickly closing the door. Apparently the crying doesn’t last long and she quite happily joins in the class and is very happy afterwards it is just the 3o seconds or so before she goes in.

Not sure if this tiredness is adding to the general mood of both our daughters but the last couple of weeks has seen an increase in feistiness between them.  They seem to be winding each other (and thus us) up a treat.  I think it is probably a combination of Éowyn’s tiredness and Amélie’s growing awareness and generally finding her own personality and no longer playing second fiddle to her older sibling.  Éowyn is having to come to terms with the fact that Amélie will not just do the things that Éowyn wants her to do and that Amélie is not one of her dolls and has her own wants and desires and Éowyn is not going to tell her what to do.

Amélie is rapidly catching up with her elder sister.  She confidently counts up to 10 (and on occasion 15!), knows her colours (sometimes) and recites her alphabet (in the form of the alphabet song).  Her vocabulary is increasing by the day and repeats words without hesitation including more colourful language that her sister tells her to say.  Some things will probably never change.  Amélie is much more polite than her big sister and will always say ‘thank-you‘ and ‘please‘.  She also drinks like a fish and will easily drink over half a dozen cups a day. She will down her cup and then walk over to your with her cup in one hand demanding ‘drink!‘ somewhat reminiscent of Father Jack from the sitcom Father Ted.  As long as she doesn’t repeat some of his more colourful phrases!

Amélie is also becoming a bit of a climber and you have to keep an eye on her because she still doesn’t have the balance to get herself out of the trouble she keeps finding herself in.  She will also wander off and come back dressed in Éowyn’s, Lucinda’s or my shoes and a hat before waving at you and saying ‘Good-bye‘. All the time she smiles at you with that cheeky smile of her’s and somehow gets away with it.  She is also still a little swiper.  Things will go missing and you know that Amélie has taken it somewhere, but she will not tell you where it is.  Again, she looks at you with those eyes and gives you that smile and you have lost!

Éowyn has always sucked her thumb.  When she was a baby this was an advantage for she never had a dummy and so we never suffered  from lost dummy syndrome in the middle of the night.  We learned about this when Amélie took to a dummy, probably because of the pain she was suffering from her Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance.  Amélie however spontaneously gave up her dummy at about the age of nine months and hasn’t looked back.  Éowyn however has never stopped sucking her thumb.  We have attempted reward charts and encouragement and even telling her off but to no avail.  Therefore we have resorted to chemical means.  We have started coating her thumb in a foul tasting chemical that is usually used to stop people biting their nails.  It is beginning to work but we are allowing her suck her thumb at night and we have forgotten on a couple of occasions to coat her thumb and she absent-mindedly will revert to sucking her thumb.  It is a habit and it is hard to break so we have to get into the habit of stopping it.  The battle has begun, let us see how long it takes to win.

Éowyn has one other habit that at some point will need to be broken but we are more relaxed about this one.  She is afraid to sleep at night without a light on.  She has a night light and it is on every night, however as all lights are won’t to do, occasionally the bulbs blow.  This happened the other night and a terrified Éowyn awoke screaming ‘I can’t see, I can’t see!‘  To be awoke in the middle of the night for any reason is disturbing enough; when it is your little child crying it is very disturbing and when it is because she has gone blind it is terrifying.  However as the reason side of the brain kicks in you realise what has happened and five minutes later normality has returned and all is well with the world.

I will leave you there as I have waffled enough and there are 27 photos for you to enjoy (although many of them are of a 2012 Summer walk, i.e. with raincoats and welly boots!).

Peace and Love



Manha, manha – Mud!

June has nearly been and gone and still no sign of summer.  Even last week’s Summer Solstice saw no let up in the unseasonably cold and wet weather indeed following the wettest April on record and a wet May this has been the wettest June on record.  Something that I am acutely aware of for last weekend I was camping on the Isle of Wight at the annual music festival.  As you may have seen in the media the heavy rain and tens of thousands of pairs of welly-clad feet churned the camping fields into a veritable mudbath.  Fortunately we avoided the traffic jams caused by the influx of visitors but need not avoid the rain while pitching our tents or the storm (45mph winds and 1 inch (25mm) of rain) that fell on the Saturday night.  So after 3 days of mud even the lure of Bruce Springsteen, The Vaccines, Noel Gallagher and other smaller acts was not enough for us to endure another 24 hours of inclement weather conditions. I was at Glastonbury in 1997 and 1998 so I have been there and done that and have no need to try and prove myself to anyone.  Lucinda and the girls were surprised but very pleased when a muddy, tired, welly-clad daddy walked through the doors just before noon on Sunday afternoon.

That was last weekend and obviously there has not been many updates this month so what else has been happening in June 2012? With the poor weather it has not been the best of months to galavant through the English countryside and indeed use our Merlin passes.  However, we are a stolid bunch with regards to the weather, being English you have to, and it did not prevent us from having a barbecue around Nanny and Granddad’s to celebrate Auntie Cristina’s 40th birthday.  We even dressed warmly and ate outside (thankfully it stayed relatively dry).

Éowyn returned to pre-school the next day with a lot of encouragement from Lucinda and me to be good.  Thankfully she has heeded this and so far this term we have had glowing reports about her behaviour.  I think because she is relatively clever, but also relatively big that she is used to getting her own way and gets frustrated when she doesn’t.  All part of growing up but still not good as a parent when you get called in because of her behaviour.  With this in mind we have enrolled her in gymnastics classes at Spelthorne gym.  Éowyn is very flexible (she will idly stuck her toes for instance) and forever pretending she is a gymnast and so we thought it would be good discipline couple with good exercise.  We asked Éowyn if she wanted to go to gymnastics and she became very animated and excited about the prospect.  The first time she went Lucinda was running late and so there was no time for Éowyn to think about what she was going to do and happily went in and thoroughly enjoyed it.  In fact all week she was excited about going again, however the next week they arrived in good time and Éowyn became nervous and didn’t want to go in and Lucinda had to end up pushing her through the door.  It seems very cruel but it was what she needed and again she thoroughly enjoyed herself and so currently our eldest is a fully paid up member of British Gymnastics.

On the weekend between Cris’s birthday barbecue and the Isle of Wight music festival we paid a visit to West Bromwich and Nanny Fran’s. Éowyn has been asking lots of questions lately about my Dad (Granddad Vic).  For those of you that don’t now my Dad died in 1987 (25 years ago!) and so not only did Éowyn never meet him neither did Lucinda, since he passed away 20 years before we were married!  Obviously Éowyn realises that Lucinda has a mum and dad and I have a mum but where is my Dad, so we have been explaining it to her as best as we can.  So part of the journey was hopefully going to go to Dad’s grave and show her where he was buried and being Father’s day it seemed apt.  Unfortunately the weather was so poor that we never managed to go, hopefully next time.

Nevertheless a good time was had at Nanny Fran’s even though it was another flying visit.  It has been a little while since Nanny Fran had seen Amélie and at the moment Amélie is going through one of those rapid development stages and so kept Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz amused for the entire weekend.  Her vocabulary is growing, almost daily and she is now stringing words together to make sentences.  Usually surrounding food, things like: ‘My daddy, breakfast please.‘ which is her usual greeting in a morning.  Both girls love their families and they gt to see a lot of Lucinda’s side because we all live relatively close but because they don’t see Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz that often they do get very excited when they pop up to West Bromwich.  That is not the usual reaction West Bromwich gets from people in Surrey.

As you may remember Éowyn first cinema visit was in February to see the Muppets movie (a particular favourite of Daddy’s too).  This month saw the release of the film on Blu Ray and DVD and so it needed to be bought.  Since we have bought it, I think Éowyn has watched it half a dozen times at least.  It has definitely stuck in her brain because she will quite often burst into verses of Manha Manha, very amusing.  There is another song that Éowyn has become fond of singing and that is ‘You are my Sunshine.’  It may be that she has inherited her father’s love of music but unfortunately at the moment it seems as if she has also inherited my singing voicing.  Poor girl at least she has her gymnastics!

In addition to a lack of major days out, there is a dearth of photos since the last write up too, hence most of the below photos are from Cristina’s birthday party.  We will try harder for the next write up.

Peace and Love