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


We have a smiler!

Another update, another month, although a little later than I had planned, 2013 is definitely speeding by.  The first couple of months seemingly dragged as a combination of cold weather and the anticipation of Ezra’s arrival apparently dilated the passage of time, somewhat like the week before Christmas when you are a child.  However since his birth, time has flown and amazingly he is now eight weeks old!  Eight weeks old and 12lbs 12oz (5.78kg).

Thus, as you can guess Ezra is putting on weight nicely and sitting happily on the 75th centile.  The health visitors are very happy with his progress and it appears he has missed the genetic lottery and cow’s milk protein intolerance.  As a coincidence we also weighed Amélie and Éowyn to compare them with their brother’s 12lb 12oz.  Amélie weighed 2 stone 2 pounds (13.6kg /30 pounds) while Éowyn tipped the scales at 3 stone 3 pounds ( 20.4kg /45 pounds); a nice symmetry to their results (in imperial measurements).

You are not here for weight updates though, are you?  You want to know what has been happening in the world of the Bagnalls.  Fortunately we have been blessed with some seasonal weather of late (although looking out of the window at the moment you wouldn’t believe it) and so we have been able to leave the confines of chez Bagnall and take full advantage.  Unfortunately I have not been on all those those adventures (work does get in the way), but there are plenty of photos to give you all (and me) the flavour of those adventures.

We have also managed to complete the adventure that is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Both girls thoroughly enjoyed the book even though it took us best part of a fortnight to read it and they kept up with the story remembering (with a little help from the voice-over guy type: ‘previously on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory‘) all the names and what was going on.  I have now said that since they know the story they can watch the film.  Neither of them have shown too much interest in the sequel Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator though and to be honest neither have I, it doesn’t quite have the charm of the original, it is no Empire Strikes Back.

As I mentioned above Éowyn and Amélie have been taking advantage of the good weather playing in our garden, in Nanny and Granddad’s garden and down the local park, fully sunblocked up (Lucinda and I both have delicate celtic skin that burns easily, even in the poor weather we have had so the kids have no chance) with matching sunhats (the only item of clothing that they will wear that is the same).  The local park (Lammas recreation ground) has, in addition to the usual adventure playground a splash park.  Great fun for little ones (and the little one in adults), water jets squirt large arcs of water over anyone in area and the girls love it.  Fantastic fun on a warm day, so not that often this year.

However the weather doesn’t have to be warm for a Bagnall to go on an adventure, although if it is dry it is a bonus.  The girls have been on a couple of adventures since the last update.  The first was to the Great Cockcrow Railway in Lyne.  It is a miniature steam railway maintained and operated by volunteers and I am a little bit jealous that I wasn’t able to go (that work thing!).  Éowyn thoroughly enjoyed the trains but Amélie, being a little younger, was a initially scared of the tunnel but nevertheless when she was asked if she wanted to go on it again and seeing that her older sister was so keen to go again insisted that she went too.  The Great Cockcrow Railway is only open from May through to October and so if Daddy is going to go it will have to be over the next couple of months.

Daddy did manage to go on the second adventure though a trip around Saville Garden and Virginia Water with Éowyn’s best friend Raine.  It was a little insight into how live will be with three ‘mobile’ children, you really need to have eyes in the back of your head.  For although both Lucinda and I were there, there were occasions when all three would run in different directions and with large bodies of water and people walking dogs you have to be one step ahead all the time.  Not relaxing!  Thankfully there were all well behaved so that when we told them to stop or come back they did and so thoroughly deserved their ice-creams at the end of the walk.

Ezra accompanied the girls on their adventures but obviously was very much a passenger.  However his development is accelerating and he is far more alert now and will sit watching his sisters or mommy and daddy.  However the biggest and most pleasing development is that he has begun to smile and even giggle.  He will sit on your lap looking into your eyes and give you the biggest smile cooing gently at you.  When I come home from work the girls usually run to the door to give me a kiss to welcome me home and now, in addition to that attention Ezra will turn his head and look at me and give me his cutie smile.

Not only is Ezra ingratiating himself with his cute smile and cooing noises he is also giving us as much sleep as one could expect from an eight week old.  He goes to bed as we go to bed and will wake once in the night (as much as seven hours later) but only cries to wake us, has his feed and then goes back to sleep quite quickly.  He was even good the night he had his first set of inoculations.  Obviously he cried and got upset when he had them and was quite disturbed throughout the day and we were prepared for a bad night but as soon as the lights went out and he was lain in his moses basket he went to sleep for six hours. Can we ask for any more?  But now that I have told you have I put the collybosh on it?  We will wait and see.

Work is building to the end of season crescendo so afterwards worklife should calm down a little and hopefully their will be more time for me to take part in the Bagnall family adventures and you dear readers will hear all about it on these pages.  I will leave you now with a good selection of photos below and over 200 new ones on our Flickr (broken link now fixed) pages (I have been busy with the camera), feel free to pop by and check them out.

Peace and love


You can even eat the dishes

We are over half way through April and so it is only right and fitting that I update you with the activities of the Bagnall household.  It has been a week or so of getting into routine.  Éowyn is back at pre-school the first week since I have returned from paternity leave and so a new regime is in place.  As Ezra is still only young (not even 6 weeks yet) and not sleeping through the night (more of that later) it seems completely unfair for Lucinda to attempt to get three children ready and loaded into the car to drop Éowyn off at school.  Thankfully my working day is a little flexible so it is not an issue (most of the time) for me to head in for 09:30/ 10:00 and so we are taking full advantage of this.  So we concentrate on getting Éowyn washed, dressed and fed and then I take her to pre-school before heading off to work.  So far it is working and it means that should we have a bad night then Lucinda doesn’t have to struggle half asleep to herd three children into the car and ensure that Éowyn has everything that she needs, especially if Ezra has decided that 0830 is the time that he wants to go to sleep.

So how likely is it that Ezra will have a ‘bad night’?  Not the easiest of questions to answer as it seems to be entirely random.  It is not normally night after night but it can be two or three nights in a row followed by a good night.  So what is the definition of a good night and likewise a bad night.  Before children a good night’s sleep would be in the region of 10 hours, since children 8 hours would be a miracle, since the birth of Ezra 5 hours is unheard of.  In fairness to Ezra he is probably a better sleeper than either Éowyn and Amélie.  So the current definition of a good night would be Ezra sleeping for 3 to 4 hours, waking up crying, feeding then going back to sleep and both girls oblivious to his cries.  A bad night (and we have had a few lately) would be Ezra not sleeping at all, crying for the majority of the night and his cries waking Amélie (and it is usually Amélie first – Éowyn sleeps through his cries).  Amélie then gets upset and starts crying and because she is in the same room as Éowyn, Éowyn will wake up.  Just what one needs before a full day during a busy period at work all three kids crying in the middle of the night!

This week it hasn’t just be the little ones that have been getting up in the middle of the night.  Last Friday we decided to treat ourselves to an Indian takeaway, unfortunately it did not agree with Lucinda’s digestion.  Now whether it was food poisoning, norovirus or just her body rejecting the spicy food the symptoms lasted best part of a week.  Now obviously, our first concern was Lucinda but, of course as she is the only food source for Ezra out thoughts quickly turned to him.   Can she pass the symptoms to him?  Should she continue breastfeeding while ill?  Should she be cuddling him?  So what do we do in the early years of the 21st century when we don’t know something?  That’s right we google it.  There is very little these days that is ungoogleable (or ogooglebar as the Swedish aren’t allowed to say) and this was no different.

So, ‘should one continue breastfeeding when ill?‘  The overwhelming answer was ‘Yes!’  There are but a handful of conditions that can be passed from mother to child through breastmilk (HIV and HTLV-1 are the only infectious diseases that should prevent breastfeeding).  Indeed on the contrary since the mother is fighting an infection her antibodies are in overdrive and these antibodies are passed through the milk to the child giving them a head start in any future fight they may have with a similar infection.  It is just important to take care not to pass the infection on through the normal modes of infection, so avoiding coughing, sneezing over the little one and ensuring that hands are washed thoroughly before holding them are vitally important.  Obviously one would do that anyway but it was comforting to know that Lucinda should still breastfeed and so she did and Ezra was fine.

So with a poorly mother it was left to Daddy to become primary carer on his two days off.  It is always good to have some Daddy time and this was no different.  The girls love the Disney programme Jake and the Neverland Pirates and so we played that, with yours truly playing the part of Captain Hook.  Amélie took the game to heart (she was Jake) and for the last week she has no longer been calling me Daddy but Captain Hook and keeps trying to steal my treasure.  Didn’t realise that my acting skills were that developed! ‘Blast those puny pirates!

I also begun to try and widen their taste in music it started off badly, however David Bowie, The Beach Boys and Bob Marley were definite hits but then we found a favourite that eclipsed the others: Sammy David Jnr’s version of Candy Man.  I think we listened to it seven times in a row before I decided that enough was enough, I think it was the line ‘You can even eat the dishes‘ that caught Éowyn’s imagination.  I told her that it was a cover of a song from a film called ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and gave her a précis of the story and told her that I had the book and if she would like I would read it to her.  However because it is a big book it would take over a week to read it.  This is the first time that I have read a book to them that is going to take more that a single night, indeed I normally read three short stories to them before bed.  I wasn’t sure how they would take to it and whether they would have the attention span to last, no need to worry Éowyn is completely into it and even Amélie looks forward to it however being a little younger Amélie’s attention does wane a little and she has even fallen asleep before the night’s reading has finished.  The girls are not the only one enjoying a little Roald Dahl, Daddy is enjoying it too!

The big news of this update is that Éowyn has been accepted at her first choice primary school:  Town Farm.  It was a difficult choice as Town Farm hasn’t got the best reputation in the area however it’s latest Ofsted report was by far the best in the area and when we toured around the schools it was the most impressive, with great facilities including plenty of computers, a well stocked library and good sporting facilities.  Lucinda needed the most convincing for as she has been brought up in the area she is aware of the school’s reputation however the visit and the Ofsted report changed her opinion.  There is still a nagging doubt in the back of her mind but we will soon find out whether we have made the correct decision.

However it is probably not the school we have to worry about influencing Éowyn but Éowyn influencing the other children.  Éowyn is not only relatively clever but physically larger than the her peers and when she gets frustrated with her friends she can use both to get to own way.  Her best friend Raine, however is more than a match for her both physically and cerebrally and they are usually as thick as thieves.  If there is something going on those two are usually there or thereabouts, encouraging each other and their peers.  Last Friday was an example.

Raine’s mum had offered to bring Éowyn home as Lucinda was still feeling a little tender and as she dropped her off she said that she had been called into Playbox by the teachers.  Éowyn and Raine had somehow got hold of a pair of scissors and Éowyn had cut an inch off Raine’s hair.  Lucinda apologised but as Raine’s mum said, she wasn’t upset with Éowyn (or Raine for that matter who had encouraged Éowyn to do it) but with the teachers who had left scissors unaided.  It could have been worse, at least Raine’s hair will grow back.  Just before Easter then had both come home from pre-school with their faces covered in felt-tip pen which took a couple of days to wash off and fade completely.  It is never boring around at Chez Bagnall.

So after a winter that seems to have dragged which ended with the coldest March for 50 years the weather has finally turned warm (21ºC and counting!).  The girls have their summer dress and their sunscreen on it so it must be time to turn the computer off and play in the garden.

Peace and love