Daddy’s birthday

The Vernal Equinox marks not only the day that there is equal day and night; that an egg can be balanced on its end, (apparently) but more importantly my birthday!  However at least one of those statements is untrue, and after 30-odd years of believing that equinox (which derives from the Latin equal, night) meant that the day and the night were equal I find out that is a lie.  The equinox is more accurately defined as the point at which the centre of the sun crosses the celestial equator, and as such is a defined point in time.  Due to the fact that the sun is not a point in the sky and there is a defined amount of time for the sun to dip below the horizon (not to mention the refraction of sunlight through the atmosphere adding to amount of ‘day’) the day (in the UK) of the Vernal Equinox was actually 12 hours 10 minutes long.  Now the day that the ‘day’ and ‘night’ was equal was actually a couple of days before the equinox on 18th March (in the UK) this year.  This is more accurately known as the Equilux (equal, light).  Now for the pedants among you who want to include the effects of twilight (civil twilight that is, not your nautical or astronomical twilight) then the equilux was around the 1st March.  That was quite interesting wasn’t it?

As I mentioned in the ramble above (I know, I lost you) Sunday marked my birthday.  My first as a father of two (pas de deux? – bad joke I know!) and first since Éowyn has really been able to comprehend, though not necessarily what a birthday is but at least that it is a special day.  She even sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me.  It was a real step forward in her development because although she has already accepted having a birthday herself, the fact that other people can have birthdays too is a big step.

Fortunately my birthday fell in the middle of a set of three ‘off’ days and therefore I could spend a bit of time with the family and to make it extra special Nanny Fran and Aunties Mary and Liz came down on Saturday for a flying visit too.  Éowyn was so excited about seeing the Bagnall side of the family (for she only regular sees them via Skype) and was constantly asking where Nanny Fran was.  Unfortunately Nanny Fran was stuck on the M40 which was temporarily closed due to an accident and instead of the 2 hour journey it took over 5 hours!  It was good to see Nanny Fran as it has been nearly a year since she last came down due to her knee injury.  Although her leg is still not 100% she can now drive and has been in a phased return to work (after 45 weeks of being on the box – as we say in the Black Country) for the past month or so.

Nanny Fran certainly noticed the difference in both Éowyn and Amélie and in return Éowyn loves seeing her Nanny Fran and Aunties.  So much so that she asked if she could go back with Nanny Fran.  That was quite a turn up for the books, and with Amélie now sleeping through the night, there is a strong possibility that could happen – Nanny Fran willing!

Amélie is also still sleeping through the night.  She has seemingly reached the weight or size where she can keep enough food in her body to last the seven hours or so.  It is amazing how much better you feel for night’s worth of uninterrupted sleep.  Although before children I would not consider six to seven hours of sleep a full night’s sleep.  How quickly what is accepted as the norm changes when you become a parent.

You will be pleased to know that Amélie’s eye injury is healing nicely.  It has faded to a faint line and I thoroughly expect it to disappear in the next few days.  It is amazing how quickly little ones heal, I suppose their bodies are in overdrive and hence cellar repair is happening at an advanced rate as they grow and mature.   She is putting on weight nicely too.  She currently weighs in a 7.37kgs (16lbs 3.5oz) and is sitting comfortably on the 50th centile.  As you may recall she started out on the 75th and dropped to just below the 25th so it is good news that is is back up to the 50th!  Her length is 67cm which places her on the 75th centile, she is going to be a tall one like her sister.  She has also started to giggle out loud.  It is still my favourite noise.  Yes, I like it when they learn to say ‘Daddy‘ and ‘Mommy‘ and ‘I love you‘ but for me there is no better sound than a child laughing uncontrollably.

This week we also saw real joy on Éowyn’s face, probably for the first time.  You may recall that we had promised her a Gruffalo (for remembering to say her pleases and thank-yous) and a mouse (for ten wees on the potty).  This week we decided that she has earned them and so gave them to her.  The joy on her face was astounding, probably because it was the first time that she has had to earn something and had been looking forward to it for nigh on a month (which is a long time when you are only 2! – the equivalent of six months for a twelve year old;  a year for a 24 year old; etc.).  She is very proud of them (possessive too!) and we gladly tell you that she earned them for the reasons above.  So as you can surmise the potty training is going well.  Although Lucinda tried a day without a nappy on Sunday and it wasn’t too successful but the carpet needs replacing anyway!

As I was putting Éowyn to bed one night she asked me if we could see a tiger.  I said that we can go to the zoo and see a tiger.  Again she upped the ante, ‘And a giraffe?‘ And a giraffe I agreed.  So it is a trip to the zoo for us one day – brilliant.  I enjoy a trip to the zoo even though I am in two minds as to whether they should exist (although on balance I think they do more good than harm).  Hey, I have even been a zoo-keeper for the day!  It was a fantastic experience and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in animals!  I think tigers may be Éowyn’s favourite animal at the moment.

I dropped Éowyn off at Jo’s the other morning, and her little friend James greeted her at the door as he does most times.  This time he was carrying two toy animals.  ‘Dinosaur‘ he said holding the toy dinosaur up (no, he is not Peppa Pig’s brother!) ‘Lion‘ he said holding the tiger in his other hand.

No, James.Éowyn said, ‘It’s a tiger!

Lion.‘  He replied.  Éowyn re-iterated the fact it was a tiger and again he insisted: ‘Lion‘.

No, tiger.  Stripes!‘  She said dismissively and pointing out the main (no pun intended) difference between the two.  James looked at me and if to say, back me up.  Unfortunately I had to confirm my daughter’s observations!

I left them waving me off on the doorstep.  Éowyn said ‘Bye Daddy‘ and James repeated the phrase.  ‘No, it’s my daddy!‘ she argued as I walked out of ear-shot.  They are like a little married couple at times.

I will now leave you with the latest crop of photos and see you all in April!

Peace and love


Sleeping through the night

I was sorely tempted to use the same pun I used for the first March post on this site in 2009.  For the year is certainly ‘marching on’ with great aplomb, it doesn’t seem five minutes since it was Christmas and we were taking Éowyn to Playbox for the first time.  Now we have experienced our first half-term and have one eye on Easter!

Éowyn is beginning to enjoy Playbox and is apparently coming out of her shell more while she is there.  It must be quite daunting for her as most of the other children are at least a year old than her, which at her tender age is 50% (!) while the oldest are twice her age.  She can, however, hold her own in the intelligence stakes and is not literally dwarfed by the others either, well she does have me as a father!  After a little wobble in behaviour she has begun to turn it around and ‘Pleases’ and ‘Thank-yous’ are back in vogue.  I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I promised her a Gruffalo (there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo) for Easter if she was a good girl.  She even won a star at pre-school for ‘Great Sitting and Listening at Circle Time’. Not sure exactly what ‘Circle Time’ is but very proud of her nevertheless.

Éowyn is great entertainment.  She thoroughly enjoys being read to and will read to you too.  A number of her books that we have read to her regularly she knows the storyline to and can recite great swathes of the story word for word.  If you didn’t know better you would swear that she was reading it.  She even puts the same intonation into the recital as I do.  In fact her ‘reading’ is coming along too.  She now has 31 Flash Cards at her Nanny and Granddad’s, hand made by Lucinda’s mum from cereal packages, and can reel them off without error.  You sometimes forget that she is only 2!  She is also a bit of a practical joker, hiding balls under my pillow seems to be a favourite at the moment.  She also will do impressions occasionally of Lucinda but more commonly of me: she puts on a deep voice and says, “I’ve been at work all day!”

As I have already mentioned last week was our first half term, but it was also half term for Éowyn and Amélie’s cousins.  This is where grandparents that live close by are very handy.  Lucinda’s parents were looking after the older cousins and so Lucinda took Éowyn and Amélie round so that Éowyn could play with her cousins and the cousins could see AmélieÉowyn took her Elefun game round and all enjoyed catching the paper butterflies, although Lucinda did have to remind the older ones that Éowyn is only 2 and they should not crowd her out, even though Éowyn seemed nonplussed about the jostling.  She really loves playing with her older cousins and all four of them are brilliant with her.  Hopefully it will be the same when Amélie reaches a similar age.

Amélie has been making strides of her own in her development.  It is hard not to compare Amélie’s development with that of Éowyn but with a site like this it is hard not to keep having a quick peak to see what Éowyn was doing at the same age.  I will not refer to it in these write ups but if curiosity is a particular weakness of the reader then the Archive section at the side will take you easily to each month.

Apart from two previously described incidents (neither of which Lucinda or I saw), Amélie has not begun to roll, however she does turn herself around if left alone and she is doing all the right things:  lifting her legs up 90° and rolling to her side.  She just doesn’t roll all the way over on to her front.  Still there is plenty of time for that.

After a slow start Amélie is taking to weaning and down thoroughly enjoys her baby rice and her new taste sensation puréed pears.  Whether it is the weaning or just that time in her development but she has begun teething.  Can’t feel anything at the moment when you rub your fingers over her gums but her cheeks are red and anything in her reach is grabbed in a vice-like grip and dragged into her mouth to be gnawed.  Unfortunately this included Éowyn’s little pot of grated cheddar.  If Amélie had been any other baby probably wouldn’t have reacted with quite the vigour I did.  I leapt out of my chair and fished all the little shards of cheese out of her mouth before she could swallow.  It is something that will happen, especially when Amélie becomes mobile but something that we want to be under our control so we can monitor her when she eats her next foodstuff that contains milk protein.

The teething though has had its benefits.  Since birth Amélie has only slept through the night once or twice.  She is usually crying to be fed every3 hours but because she was in pain with her teeth we rubbed Bonjela into her gums and gave her Calpol before putting her to sleep in her cot (she has now out-grown the moses basket).  The combination must have knocked her out because she slept for 7 hours.  Unfortunately, Lucinda and I didn’t fully appreciate that because we were half expected to be woke so still had a restless night.  Amazingly though, now she has realised that she can sleep through the night it has become a habit and she has carried this on for the last week or so.  Long may it continue.

Amélie’s reflux though has not really changed lately.  It is definitely better than it was for the first couple of months of her life however she still can completely soak you through and you have to change her a least a half dozen times a day.  As part of the ongoing investigation Amélie had an ultrasound at Ashford hospital on Wednesday.  Amélie was very good allowing the doctor to examine her.  They had a good look at her stomach and then asked us to feed her so that they could see it all working.  As per the Law of Murphy Amélie quite happily polished off her bottle and refused to throw up.  No reflux at all.  In the words of the mighty Alf Stewart you stand there like a great Galah! The good news was that there was nothing physical they could see and a couple of conditions they were looking for can be eliminated.  It is just one of those things that we have to live with and hope that she grows out of.  The sooner the better for the environment (the amount of electricity and water we are using must be incredible) as well as our sanity.

I will leave you now to look at the photos (click on them to view them full size) and write to you all soon

Peace and Love

The clocks go back

The last Sunday of October always heralds the advent of winter, the annual flip back to Greenwich Mean Time and darker nights.  It can be no later than it was this year, Halloween, but it still doesn’t sweeten the fact that end of another year is hurtling into view.   The end of British Summer Time usually means an extra hour in bed, but as anyone with small children will confirm the juvenile circadian rhythm is oblivious to the precepts of the human construct of hours, minutes and seconds, especially for anyone under the age of 13!.

Quite possibly, some of you may have noticed that October 2010 contained 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays and you may have received an e-mail or a well-meaning associate may have informed you that this combination only occurs once in 823 years.  If you still have it, take a peek at your 2004 calendar or indeed wait until you receive your 2021 calendar you will find that the Octobers of those years also have 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays.  Indeed any month that has 31 days has three consecutive days that occur five times that month.  Don’t believe me?  Check your calendar out.  ‘Ah!’ I hear you cry, ‘But not Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays!’  Look at January 2010 I cry back!  It is not as rare as you think.  Coincidentally October 2004 was the month that Lucinda and I met, but enough of these temporal tidbits and horometrical hypothesizing and back to the matter in hand.

I have now been back at work for a fortnight and although it is difficult spending all day at work then coming back home and helping look after the kids and the house, I think that Lucinda has had the harder task. Looking after two small children on your own is not easy and work, though manic, is not in the same league as looking after two small children.  At least I get to have adult conversations (most of the time) and don’t have think and do everything for others, OK at least I don’t have to feed them!

Michaelmas half term, is traditionally the time of the great Puncknowle family holiday and this year was no different, except that the Bagnalls were not there.  Unfortunately as I have only just returned to work and the latest addition is not a month old we decided not to go (at least there would be another bedroom available for others).  However this meant that there was no close family support for Lucinda, something that did concern me.

A solution did present itself though.  My sister had already taken the week of half term off as holiday and with my mom still not back at work a trip to Nanny Fran for my girls beckoned.  This meant that Lucinda had some support, my mom and sister got to spend some time with the kids and I could spend a week concentrating on work trying to catch up with thousands of e-mails I had received whilst off on paternity leave.  I think that it all helped and by both of us recharging our batteries (in different ways) it makes the challenge of raising two children seem a little easier.

It helps too that Amélie, is increasingly sleeping between feeds, especially at night.  Not every feed and not every night but enough for us (and by that I mainly mean Lucinda) to be able to grab 2 to 3 hours of sleep between feeds.  Hopefully this can only get better.

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, this last weekend was Halloween.  Éowyn, being the popular child that she is, was invited to two Halloween parties.  Hence she needed an outfit, please see below for her Pumpkin outfit!  Amélie had to have one too, but I think she is a little young to appreciate it!

Éowyn’s speech is extremely well-developed, she strings quite complex sentences together and apes whatever she hears.  You have to be conscious of this, especially if cursing but with any colloquialisms, because Éowyn will repeat it a couple of days later, much to your horror.  She is also very adept at reading.  OK, I say reading she recognises some words (17 on her flash cards – and a number in books) but she will pick up books and point to the words and read them out.  Whether this is reading, or just excellent recall is debatable but nevertheless she will pick books up, point at the words she knows and read them aloud.  She will turn the pages, and either recall the story that you have previously read to her, or make one up using the pictures.  Sometimes the story that she retells is completely different to that in the book, but they always make sense and with regards to some of the ‘In the Night Garden’ books her stories are quite often far better.

OK, it has been a while so I will stop there and let you enjoy the photos.

Peace and love