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


Happy 2nd Birthday

A little belatedly but ‘Happy Birthday’ to my first born.  Yes, Éowyn celebrated her second birthday last Sunday, although in true style she celebrated it all weekend and hence no updates!

As my family are still primarily based in the West Midlands and since Nanny Fran is still unable to drive, we headed to West Bromwich so that Éowyn could see her Nanny and Auntie Liz.  We also took this opportunity to introduce Amélie to her Great-Grandma and to the husband of her namesake, her Great-Great Uncle Albert.  Both enjoyed extended cuddles with Amélie but Éowyn was a little subdued, although she did have excuses.  At Great-Grandma’s nursing home I think it is a little overwhelming to enter the common room and I think it freaked her out a little and hung onto Daddy’s leg for protection.  While on the way to Great-Great Uncle Albert’s she fell asleep and so we had to wake her and I don’t think that anyone is at their best when they have just been woken up.

We were only at Nanny Fran’s for a little over 24 hours but I think that Éowyn completely wore out her Nanny Fran.  Éowyn was so excited all along the motorway and couldn’t wait to get out of the car when we arrived at West Bromwich.  She bounded into the house said ‘hello’ then headed for the toy corner and made herself at home.  Nanny Fran was a star and looked after Amélie overnight so that we could have a (fairly) uninterrupted night’s sleep to try and put some hours back into the sleep bank.

We headed back home Saturday afternoon and while my 3 girls snoozed I managed to listen to another fine performance of West Bromwich Albion battling back from a two goal deficit at half time to draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford!  The first time in Premier League history that Manchester United have let a 2-0 score slip at home in the Premier League (although they did let a 3-1 score slip to Chelsea in 2000).  Amélie only knows West Bromwich Albion as a top 6 Premier League team.  Boing Boing!  (It can’t last can it?)

Sunday, (Éowyn’s birthday) we headed the couple of hundred metres up the road to Lucinda’s parents for Sunday roast with Lucinda’s immediate family and the girls’ cousins.  Éowyn loves to play with her cousins including poor Finley who will soon feel left out as the only boy in the group.  In fact he is the only great-grandchild of Granddad Badger (Lucinda’s granddad), outnumbered 10 to 1.  However, if we take into account the second cousins then the ratio becomes a little more respectable 11 to 2, still the Cathrall family name is reliant on only two males to carry the name forward.  I know the feeling.  My Grandfather Bagnall had five sons, who between them have had 5 girls and me.  It is probably the reason that I am interested in my family history but I think my girls are going to have to keep their surname for this branch of the Bagnall line to carry into the future.

I will leave the update there as this post is a little belated and as I am now back at work you will have to tune in next week to fine out how that is going.

Peace and love