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


Welcome to 2010

I suppose you could say that is a little late, but what’s two weeks between friends!  Christmas is over and it is back to the business of getting ‘back to normal’ for although Christmas does not mean a break from work for either Lucinda or myself, our jobs are different over the festive period due to the fact that the majority of office based jobs and schools are on a break and it does make the journey into work a lot easier as the traffic is considerably lighter.

I can not go further without mentioning the weather.  The coldest start to a January in my lifetime, with snow falling in some part of the UK every day for the last 4 weeks and a return to the kind of winters I remember as a child.  My inner child has been delighted.  Unfortunately as a country we are not prepared for this kind of weather event and many parts of the country grind to a halt to the bewilderment of those from countries that would consider our snowfall ‘a dusting’.  Disappointingly the temperature is set to rise over the next few days and so the snow that is lingering in the sheltered corners of gardens will no doubt disappear, however the long range forecast is for a return to the colder weather.  A little more snow in my corner of the world would be gratefully received.  Not too much mind you, just enough to make everywhere look pretty.  Thank you.

For the first time in a while neither Lucinda or I saw the New Year (decade) in.  I had been working all day and Lucinda had to get up at 0400 on New Year’s day to work at the airport.  So the thought of staying up just to watch the arbitrary turn of a man made concept seemed to lack appeal.  It is not as if it has any basis on any observations (like the ancients’ notion of basing the year on solstices and equinoxes), for our society one measures a circle, beginning anywhere.  Seemingly the reason that the beginning of January marked the turn of the year is lost in the midsts of time (unless anyone can tell me otherwise) although it possibly dates from 153BC and the Roman Late Republic (and hence it’s spread throughout Europe).  Interestingly 1st January was not adopted as New Year’s Day in England until 1752 with the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar, until then we celebrated New Year’s Day on 25th March (the Feast of the Annunciation).  See that was Quite Interesting.

Therefore New Year’s day morning it was just Éowyn and me, but she was very kind to her old father and stayed asleep until 7.30, much to Lucinda’s disgust as she had been up with our little one the previous few nights and had been made to get up early on her days off.  How times have changed that we think that 7.30 is a lay in!  We were kindly invited to Lucinda’s brother’s for New Year’s Day afternoon along with Lucinda’s parents and Uncle Bill and Auntie Sally.  After an initial few minutes of shyness, Éowyn was soon enjoying herself with her cousins and chasing their cat around trying to stroke her.

So although New Year’s Eve was a a non-event, the 2nd January was very different.  My good friend Sanjiv’s brother, Jay, was getting married to his long term girlfriend Emma at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane opposite Hyde Park in London.  It was a black tie affair and with the grandeur of the setting it all added to make  it a fabulous wedding and we felt privileged to have been invited.  There had obviously been a lot of work behind the scenes to make all the little details (and the big ones) seamlessly meld together.  It was great to meet up with Sanjiv and with Si and Stef to whose wedding we’ll be going to in the summer.  To take full advantage of the day we decided to stay the night at the hotel so that we didn’t have the worry of trying to get back home.  This obviously meant that we needed baby sitting cover for the night.  Again, Nanny Fran (and Auntie Liz) came to the rescue.  So a big thank to Mom for looking after Éowyn so soon after Christmas weekend.

With a return to the usual routine comes a return for Éowyn to go to Jo’s (her childminder).  I’m not sure who missed who the most.  Éowyn certainly enjoys herself at Jo’s, and is now quite happy to go and wave us off but I think that Jo genuinely enjoys looking after Éowyn, which is a huge bonus for us.

Éowyn really enjoys interacting with adults and other children.  She especially likes singing and quickly picks up the actions to the songs.  Perhaps that’s why her great-great uncle David and great great auntie Sally bought her a musical instrument collection consisting of a xylophone, tambourine, hand bells and a pair of maracas.  Needless to say she really enjoys that present and makes sure that we all have an instrument to join in.  Recently she has begun to make towers out of her Duplo bricks (like we would for her) and then knock them down.  As they crash to the floor she holds her hands to her month in mock surprise and horror before doing it all again.  But her favourite ‘toys’ are still her books and she will quite often choose one and bring it to you for you to read it to her.

So last week saw the decorations return to their boxes for another year.  Éowyn tried to help (she has recently begun to help to tidy, including put things in the bin – whether they need to go there or not! -and putting her toys away if you ask her nicely) and was quite sweet with one of Lucinda’s many snowman ornaments (see photos below).  And so with the Christmas decorations down (doesn’t it make rooms look bare? – I think that is partly why there is such a dearth of photos from which I could choose for this update) and the snow and ice making way for leaden skies and drizzle the new decade begins and we look forward to the many surprises and opportunities that it brings.  May the road rise up to meet you.  May the wind be always at you back.

Peace and Love