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When you are: 2009

30 December 2009

[2] Changing of minds

What has been funny over Christmas is the changing of minds from the two Grandmothers. Before seeing the 4D scan one was "it's a girl" and the other "it's a boy", now both have changed their minds having seen the facial features from the scan.

Only one is currently correct, but both will claim victory as they had correctly identified the sex at some point.

All will be revealed in March...

28 December 2009

A cracking Christmas!

The wee fella has had a cracking Christmas. But nowhere near as cracking as either Grandpa or Grandma, who both ended up in A&E.

It all started on Christmas Eve. The usual night before Christmas, the house was quiet, nothing was stirring, not even Daddy's mouse, although he was working at home. The professional that I am I missed the arrival of Granda and Grandma, so popped down a little later to say hi. And I was greeted with a pale looking Grandma. OK, what have I missed? What I missed was Grandma (wearing boots for style rather than function) go down like a sack of spuds in the snow (inches from the clear path under the garage eaves). What I missed was her bounce off the Focus (which we're trying to sell) on the way down. What I didn't miss was the trip to A&E through some pretty awful driving conditions. I was expecting a scene from Fairytale of New York - a drunk, a punk and an old slut on junk. but it wasn't to be, just one fracture after another being patched up and sent home. I guess that's what happens when we forget what to wear and how to walk in ice and snow. Maybe the drunks will be along later, eh?

Back home in time to do a proper Christmas. Last year was really good for the smallest person in the house, the first time he really knew what was going on with presents, eyes lighting up at the sight of them. This year, with all the hype from nursery and school, was the first time he really knew the association with the presents and Santa. Shall we leave Santa something to eat? Yes. What? A biscuit. OK. Daddy brought in two biscuits, and promptly got told off - "just one, Daddy". Can we leave two out for Santa - oh, no, just the one. And to drink? Coffee. Eh? That's right, we had to make a coffee for Santa. Reindeer dust and a carrot for Rudolph, lovely for him, not so great for Santa. No drink-sleighing around Scotland then, the police are not going to breathalyse him after leaving our house!

Christmas morning, and we head downstairs. There, in front of the fireplace, is an almost empty bowl with some oats left and the end of a carrot. Next to it is a plate with a few crumbs of biscuit. The coffee cup - just a dribble left. But what's that? Snow? Big snowy footprints leading from the fireplace to the tree. And what's under the.... eh, where's he gone? A minute later our own Maggie returns with a wipe and is down on his knees trying to clean up the snow off the carpet. Only when he was down there did he notice the big pile of paper under the tree. We still had to clean up the snow first, we were not getting away with that!

And as we're opening present number 14 of 2,345 we get a phone call from Granny - she's in A&E with Grandpa's cracked ribs. Another sack of spuds, but doing the indoor slalom down the staircase instead. I was just glad we had a turkey crown, no bones (broken or otherwise) to be found in there!

And daddy's Christmas? Well, I woke up to find Cheryl Cole in my stocking. It would have been great the other way round!

16 December 2009

Season of goodwill - commuting hell!

We've had our third annual trip to Bo'Ness for the long journey on the Santa Special calling only at Birkhill and the North Pole. It started out like a regular commute hell, but rapidly changed.

We were there in plenty of time. Having set off from home with enough time to get through any traffic, and hopefully have a cuppa before departure, we arrived with time enough to warm through. Everything went like clockwork, even if the dense fog slowed us down a bit. Successful toilet stop, no strops in the shop, no wriggling in the cafe. Just a well behaved Daddy. And our Santa hunter was good too.

Having left MOTS to finish up, the boys headed to the train. Coach C, so that's three down from where we stood at coach F, just into the fog. It was really atmospheric with the fog shrouding the train, with steam coming up from under each coach from the heating and more so from the passing engines - two engines to haul this many presents! As we boarded so did a family of 4 right behind us. As it happened, both of our tickets were on the same table. Hmm, 7 cramped around one table? This isn't good, not when given all the kids ages they should all have seats. As MOTS boarded she noticed on the table behind and across, there was Granny for the table behind sitting on her own, with only one ticket for 1 on the table. 5 seats over 2 tables, 7 seats on one table? Surely not. After a brief nod from one of the volunteers (almost wrote staff, not the case) we moved. Shortly after which MOTS sort of nodded down to me to look at the ticket. And there in the bottom right was a code "7N". Same as on Granny's. Funny that, 'cos the seats opposite had "7S". And the table we just left had "6S". The tables in front and behind of where we were now? "6N" and "8N". Ahh, sussed it. Table numbers 1-8, S (South side) and N (North side). Hmm, we're on the right table now. No wonder Granny wasn't happy at us moving there, these were our seats with hers. One can only surmise that as the family of 5 wanted to spread out that our ticket was shoved on the table behind. It's like GNER NXEC East Coast on a good day! Season of goodwill? RAMMIT!

The wheels on the train
go round and round...
And we get the off...

On our way out of the station we were soon in Greenland on our way to the North Pole. The trees were all completely white with a heavy frost that made it look Christmas card perfect, and the fog added to the atmosphere. Pictures are on the online album now, even the one showing MOTS struggling to fasten her antlers!

Santa came for a visit on the way to the North Pole. Now we have to realise that our little fella never asks for anything, so the concept of getting specific things for Christmas is at the moment a bit alien to him, as are advent calendars but that's another story. He was sat opposite me, so I knew when Santa was coming because the eyes lit up, enough to power a small Scottish village for a decade*. (*Official ONS figures). And if that wasn't enough, then "Here's Santa" at 127 decibels confirmed it.

The big man: "What do you want for Christmas"
Little fella: "Blue one"

That was it - "Blue one". A blue what? "A blue one". OK, here's Santa's present (appropriate for gender and age, as always). And it's opening, and it's a car, and it's BLUE! Hey, Santa's good, isn't he. And that was something else, the big man pulled through, he knows, he's been watching all year and he knows. What a guy!

On the way back we never got told to stop singing (a first) and even junior started to join in (another first). A generation missed on singing nursery rhymes, and we get him going with Jingle Bells. I'll try it on Christmas morning, see what carnage I can create...

07 December 2009

[2] The final trimester

The final trimester has begun. And what, exactly, have we done to prepare for number 2's arrival?


Apathy isn't the word, nothing has been done yet. The pram is still in the garage as a pushchair gathering dust, the car seats are still in bits in the garage gathering dust, the nursery is still missing bits of border where number one has torn them off and has additional wall decorations where Daddy wasn't quick enough behind him and a handful of crayons.

Purchases to date: None. Purchases due: A new bath mat and a new changing mat. Beyond that, maybe some SMA and perhaps some Infacol. And maybe some more earplugs.

06 December 2009

Now, the end is near, as I drive my final coupe

The hunt for a new car is still on, and since the last update things have changed a bit, thanks in part to the test drives, magazines (including the odd car magazine) and visits to showrooms.

The movers and shakers from last time are:

Toyota Verso. A new entry in the race, it's a Toyota so should still be going when the cockroaches are the only things left on earth. But... our local dealers don't seem to want to sell any. With 3 branches of the same dealer, two were tried and despite me being in and out of the car in the showroom I wasn't asked if I need help at all. In the other a wait at reception brought nothing, but eventually (on visit number 3) got a salesman to take my details and arrange a test drive for this morning. In terms of what we want for anything behind the front two seats it seems to tick more boxes than we had, so surely it's a winner? Well, not on the face of it - for the same price (and slightly less) you get more for your money from the Qashqai. Ride? I have no idea if it was standard on this car or unique to the vehicle we took out, but when we hit 63(ish) there was a horrible flapping noise - starting like a caught bag, but certainly wasn't. The noise was awful, loud, and certainly not drivable for any distance. Worst part was the salesman said nothing, and tried to make light of it. Below 60 - nothing. Above 60 - needs a powerful stereo or a fire engine at the side of you to drown it out. If it was a general fault then it shouldn't be in production, if there's something wrong with that one car then at 1,100 miles on the clock it needs looking at. And not a good advert. So what was the noise? Even Junior asked. That, my son, is the sound of a sale floating away. Current verdict: The candle, my friend

Seat Altea XL. First test drive, first opportunity of a good deal on a 1 year old with 5 grand off the price (that was almost 1 grand for every mile on the clock). But with having to go top spec and top engine to get the C02 down and mpg up and electric windows in the back (reason number 1 for a change) then it will lose faster. I don't buy top spec, I don't buy bottom spec. Mr Average, that's me. Flexibility has worked its way up our wishlist, which the XL doesn't have. It has a massive boot, but the flexibility isn't there. The ride was fine, and I loved the wipers being hidden so they reduce the wind noise - not that I listen to wipers being buffeted at 70 anyway, but it's a nice touch. Current verdict: The embers are still glowing for our first love, but they are dying back.

Mazda 6 Estate, Mazda 5 The Mazda 6 seems to be loved, by Top Gear, by What Car?, by anyone. So what did we think? Well, we couldn't get near the 6 in the showroom so looked at the 5 first. Bit of a bus, but other than that OK. One thing on our essentials list was missing - a power socket in the back. How will we power the kids DVD players? Running a cable from the front socket. But then I can't power the Tomtom. So here we have a 20 grand car missing a 5 quid power socket. Oh, look, the 6 is free now! Having seen and ruled the 5 out I made a direct approach for the rear door. In we go, and.... nothing. Fantastic, this is penny pinching at its best. Since we looked I have had a few calls from Mazda to see if I had everything I needed. In terms of chasing sales leads they are the only ones to do this (both dealer and head office have called), so credit where it is due. And I did offer the feedback that if they have stuff like this missing then I won't be buying, the product just isn't right for us. Test drive? No point, mate... Which is a shame, by doing the homework it flagged up a car that we hadn't considered and yet in the brochure looked good at ticking a lot of boxes. But for a family car the family need to be occupied on the longer journeys, and that's why we bought DVD players that we can't plug in. Current verdict: Tighter than a Yorkshireman in Scotland

Cafe Latte, Nissan style
Nissan Qashqai. A hassle-free drive (apart from rearranging twice due to icy conditions and an awkward school system that has afternoon kids present on Friday mornings). Excellent ride height, great presence, a list of standard equipment to knock the spots off equally priced rivals, but those rear seats don't have the flexibility of the Verso's. And the rear power socket is in the back of the middle seat, so that has to be down as an armrest to get to it. Hmm. But it was the better ride, it was better built (the Verso's Turkish kebabs versus Sunderland's finest Vaux) and the overall feel was one of quality and comfort. Ruled out a while ago, back in, and after driving it it's at the top. But here's the snag. Well, both of them really.

  1. To get any versatility in the rear seats and any decent increase in boot space over what we have it'll have to be the +2.
  2. The new facelift is due in March, and there's only 1 unsold stock car available. So there will either be the £900 hike (plus VAT rise, plus depreciation, plus low chance of any discount) or trying like nothing else to get a nearly new, again with low stocks

With this, the salesman didn't try and sell me one. Which is a shame, because if he had then we might just have bought one on Friday, and avoided the ear drumming we got from the Verso today. Current verdict: Preferred bidder status.

The end is in sight, it's just the wrong side of the VAT increase. And possibly the wrong side of a new model introduction. Unless, of course, someone is so desperate for the new model they trade in their old model with only a few miles on the clock...

26 November 2009

Unwinding the undone

What's the difference between a pregnant woman and a lightbulb?

You can unscrew a lightbulb.

And undoing 3 years of use of a single blog in a MT installation that has just been applied on top of previous versions, well it's just not going to work at some point is it? And that point is now. I can't publish pages, God alone knows why, but if I create a new blog in the same installation then no problem. No errors, all there in the database, just no files created. Can I find wayward directory permissions, or a setting anywhere? Can I chuff. Can I do it in a vanilla blog? Oh yes.

That's me...
So all the style additions I had to make manually in the early days that were added in a different form in later version of MT, well I'm having to unwind them all and undo them, or so I fear.

I think I'll use the ability to have two blogs, one for testing and a possible migration over at some point, in the meantime I still can't get my head around how difficult MT can be sometimes for the really simple stuff.

If only there was an "unscrew it up" button. I've done something at some point I shouldn't have... Just wish I could figure out what so I can undo it or change it.

14 November 2009

Baby's first...Theeaytor trip

Spiffing, dahhling
Spiffing, dahhling, vunderbar, encore! Actually there wasn't an encore, not unless you count the dodging of the swampies on the way out, protesting about something or other.

Our first theatre trip, with the Gents, went surprisingly well.

We booked it months ago, and never really hyped it up. It was a balancing act as "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" was the book of choice for a while, but we knew the shine would wear off by the time we got to see the stage show. A balancing act we managed to do well, ease off, ramp it back up just before going.

I was amazed to find the book is 20 years old this year. So old, yet I wish I was only 20 again!

Sorry, slight distraction there. Boy wonder has been finishing off the lines for ages, more recently telling you when you've missed bits, especially in the quick chase back home. Oh dear, you're in for a telling if you don't go back downstairs to close the door. Not unlike at home, he's obsessed with closing doors.

Dress circle, row A. Not quite in the Gods, but on the front row upstairs. Hmm, that ledge is ripe for looking over. No worries though, sat down, legs crossed, and never budged an inch. Even when Daddy sat him on his knee to see over the ledge at one point with closer action he soon sat back down in his own seat, legs crossed, and got back into it. Applause was given at the end of each scene or song, lines were finished off, and a lot of "not scared" moments along the way.

After going through the grass (swishy, swashy), the river (splosh, splash), the mud (squelch, squerch), and every other hazard known to man, we found the bear. A cuddly teddy bear, not a big scary one. But you can't have a theatre packed with 3-year-olds trying to comfort their parents when it scares them silly, can you...?

11 November 2009

Old Wives Tales

I'm hoping this post becomes quite interactive…. So get posting comments. Please...

Closing date:
3rd March

There are a lot of old wives tales out there about working out the gender of a baby. Even the wackiest ones have a good 50/50 chance of being right. But even Grandma has her ideas, based on nothing more than the fact she's making observations that are clearly putting her in the "Old Wife" camp. So without trying to list every single on here, what I'd like to do is get some comments on the go, maybe some questions back & forth, and have a poll running from now until March to see what the general opinion is. All will be vindicated or discredited in March of course!

So, what observations have you made about our number 2, MOTS, what do you need to know to make an assessment, and which OWT are we basing that on? In case you suspect to be discredited, real names can be disguised when posting your comment!

Is MOTS carrying at the front, as she got a preference for sweet over sour food, was it a full moon at conception, does my wedding ring spin clockwise when I fall over in a drunken stupor (I'll give an update to this on Friday night)?

Happy to answer question to help the answers for any particular OWT, just make sure you post the OWT and the result here, and remember to vote:

What I'm hoping for in the comments is a description of the OWT and the prediction of Wotsit's gender based on that OWT. Kudos to the correct OWTs, and hoping the failures are correct with number 3!

06 November 2009

[2] What's the sex?

Looking back to one of the very early posts about gender and whether or not we should know in advance, we have a slightly different dilemma this time.

Firstly, it's not just us to consider. "Baby in Mummy's tummy" is becoming a common phrase at home. I'm not sure he knows exactly what it means, but having a listen when Wotsit is active is helping.

Walking from the train station to nursery in a morning usually involves a question:

"Do you want to walk or go on Daddy's shoulders?"
"Daddy's shoulders."


"Do you want to go on Daddy's shoulders or walk?"

It usually follows that the answer is the last option presented. We're trying this theory out with toilet training, and when it comes to sister or brother.

"Do you want a baby brother or a baby sister?"
"Baby sister"

So far, so good.

"Do you want a baby sister or a baby brother?"
"Baby sister"


Even when quizzed "Do you want a baby sister like Melissa or a baby brother like Daniel?" he'll respond "sister, Melissa". Well, that's that then.

The second point is the results that landed on the doormat. After the amniocentesis come the chromosome test results. And XX or XY is in there, no ultrasound scan doubts, no "it might not be guaranteed", this one is absolutely known. When MOTS got the phonecall for the verbal results she was asked - "Do you want to know?". And the negative response was respected. What we didn't expect was to be sent them anyway.

So there they sit, in an envelope marked "Do not open if you do not want to know the sex of your baby". Sealed. The contents known by the lab and the midwife who called. And there it sits.

Only last night I caught MOTS sat in the dark in the dining room looking at how to get into it without making it look like it had been opened. After a rebuff I took it, opened it, scrunched up some new sellotape and sealed it in a manner where it was obvious it had been opened, but would never be clear whether or not it has been looked at.

The temptation is there, and we have been told someone opened theirs on Christmas day. I just fancy leaving until until next March...

28 October 2009

Baby's first...Day at school

Today is a monumentous day. It is the first day of ante-pre-school.


Don't get me started, yes I know as well as anybody else does that "ante" means "pre", "before". As in ante-natal (before birth), ante-meridian (aka AM, aka morning, aka before noon). So what on earth is this pre-pre-school business? It's the Scottish Government's pledge for all 3 year olds to have 12.5 hours of informal education, something before formal nursery (just one pre in pre-school) starts.

And that day has come...

Will MOTS crumble at the school gate? Will we get a "please see me" note coming home tonight? I'm guessing no on both counts today, but at some point both will come. From the meet & greet session we had at the start of the month we're expecting developmental crosses on his file.

Jigsaws. Hmm, that went well. As one of the staff tried to get him involved in doing a jigsaw and got a confused look, there was clearly a negative response. The piece was looked at. I was looked at. The piece was put down. The staff tried to tell him it made the picture on the box. He left. The pieces were bigger than he's used to, and he doesn't use the pictures. It was beneath him, and he wasn't for doing it. But that's the first indicator that he doesn't fit in a tick-box.

Some things he's way ahead on, some things he's OK, some things he's behind. I hope school doesn't turn out to be a leveller, I hope he's encouraged with the things he's ahead on and helped with the things he's
behind on. Either way, it's an exciting day, with exciting times ahead.

26 October 2009

[2] It's a steeplechase

Right from the word go having kids is like going into a warzone. Sure, the terrible twos are an "experience", but we're not there yet - not with Wotsit at least, and with number 1 we're past it, if only in age. No, everything is geared up so that's it's a miracle that a pregnancy starts, never mind goes all the way through. And then you start thinking about post-birth illnesses, accidents etc, and wonder how on earth as a nation we are getting older.

As Wotsit's first major sporting event will the the Grand National I've taken a look at how closely a pregnancy can mirror the course at Aintree, and found some striking similarities with the hurdles that have to be cleared...

Like horses at the Grand National (aka the 4:15 at Aintree) not all make it the full distance. So what have we got in the way of hurdles?

# 1 - 4'6" fence
Find yourself a partner first. Can take years. Can take minutes round the back of a chip shop in Essex if you're that way inclined.

#2 - 4'7" fence
Actually talk about it.

#3 - Open ditch, 4'10" fence and 6' ditch
I hadn't exactly considered the possibility of the course at Aintree accurately describing what it's like that much. Probably the fence you look forward to the most.

#4 - 4'10" fence
Actually getting there. As the little swimmers go off to do theirs jobs we have to remember that jobs is plural. There are searchers and blockers. Some of those almost 400 million are not designed to make it, they will hold back to let the searchers seek, while playing a defensive role in case of any foreign searchers being present.

#5 - 5' fence
The man from Clear Blue, he says "positive". Doesn't have a marketing charm really, does it. Stick with Del Monte for that one. And after an average of 6 months trying, we're facing straight at fence number 6.

#6 - Becher's Brook
A 5' fence (we climb to the highs of doing the test) followed by a 7' drop (when reality strikes and you realise that next summer's round the UK camping tour is off).

#7 - Foinavon - 4'6" fence
After the first turn it's time to get to grips with the NHS. No longer is your world your own, it's all into tests and monitoring.

If only you could map out
pregnancy this easily
#8 - Canal Turn - 5' fence
The corner that sorts them out. We have a few fallers here, with test results not coming back favourably. Ours didn't this time, but we hung on to the next fence.

#9 - Valentine's - 5' fence and 5'6" brook
Amniocentesis. Read anything about it and fill yourself with fear. Almost half way round the course now, and you should know whether or not you can stay the distance. But Valetine's is a big one - it's almost the biggest fence but there's a water hazard at the other side. You have to clear both, but once launched over the fence there's nothing you can do but wait for the landing. Which is why the 48 hours after the procedure can be a worrying time. We're going to clear that brook, or just go splash right into it. We could have a trailing leg caught in the ditch causing us to fall. And we've just cleared it with the front legs, what about the rest?

#10 - 5' fence
Just seems like a regular fence now, the hurdles have got more complex, so how does this one pan out? Well, the rest of the amnio results come back, and we're on our way to the open ditch that is fence 11.

#11 - Open ditch. 5' fence and 6' ditch
Potential for failure here, but in reality you're not likely to fall off. Half way down the second straight there's more likelihood of wobbles and fatigue setting in than an outright refusal. The 20 week anomaly scan. Yes, we've seen 5' fences before, but the ditch is new. In Lothian things have joined the vast majority of the UK in checking for anomalies. A long test, but we're fully into #12 before we know it.

#12 - 5' fence and 5'6" ditch
MOTS is well past this hurdle having now moved into her 5' (wide) trousers for the rest of the race. The other side of moving into clown pants is the ditching of normal clothes for the immediate future.

#13 - 4'7" fence
It's a really long stretch between jumps 12 and 13. And that is where we are just now, having cleared jump 12 the next fence seems so far away. We turn into the third straight up ahead. This is where hurdles are forgotten, and we sit back, relax, and enjoy the long ride ahead. As Wotsit has just cleared jump 12, we have to look back at Big Brother for the rest of them. Jump 13 was the breaking of the waters at some ungodly hour. 4'7" is a small fence, so it is nothing major, we've done 4'7" fences before. Just a few short distances to go now.

#14 - 4'6" fence
Daddy's patience is put to the test with a weekend of backwards and forwards to the hospital. Mainly because of the outrageous car parking charges!

#15 - The Chair. Open ditch, 5'2" fence, 6' ditch
The big one. The labour, that has to be cleared. Once started, it's a jump that just has to go on the correct trajectory. I'm in the chair and we've already said we're not speaking of open ditches in the same way again. The fence itself has to be cleared, one way or another that baby is coming out. At the other side the ditch is a bad spelling - needle and thread out, it's time for some patchwork quilting.

#16 - The Water Jump
Time to think about jumping alright. Jumping for joy, junior's out, Daddy is thinking about some "water" based alcoholic beverage just as we steam past the Grandstand and the winning post!

Hang on there's something wrong. Isn't the Grand National 2 laps? You mean we have to do this all over again? You've got to be bloody joking...

23 October 2009

[2] Half way!

Today we're halfway there - 20 weeks down and 20 to go! And in a twist of fate we are dining out tonight (for Grandma's 70th) at the same place we had dinner the last night of our ignorance.

Hunt for Red Octavia

The new car quest continues, with apologies to Messrs Connery & Baldwin. If that means nothing to you then ask Mr Filmstalker, he'll put you in the picture.

We had a short-list of cars, and having flicked through What Car? magazine we added some that were never considered, and took some off. All in all we have not changed the requirements of the car, nor the idea of the level of comfort and trim level it should have, and nor have we compromised on fuel economy or the amount of gunk that comes out of the exhaust, but we have changed the ideas about what the car we'd buy will be.

With the smallest passenger in tow we had a look at a few one weekend. The first ones being the Qashqai + 2 and the Grand Scenic. Both of these have the additional 2 seats in the boot space, so he loved sitting in them. Which made it difficult looking at cars without them, as he wanted to "sit in the back seats".

The movers and shakers so far are listed here with only the main reason for consideration, not a comprehensive list of reasons at all!

Volvo V50 / V70. The old saying about Volvos being indestructible lives on even if they are just Fords now. They look good enough on paper, but the V70 is out on price, the V50 is a Focus Estate with a Volvo badge and a hefty extra price tag. Current verdict: Mutton and lamb.

Nissan Qashqai. Back on the agenda, the fuel economy has improved with the next generation of engines, so what was a certain no based only on fuel has now become a "possibility". Current verdict: The hokey-cokey car.

New Scenic. Not really considered at first, we had the first Scenic when it was still part of the Megane family. It has improved, but the engines are sluggish for the size. Behind the Nissan for now. Current verdict: An improved old friend, but have we grown too far apart?

Honda CRV. Cost. You are having a giraffe. Current verdict: Chubby Brown.

Toyota RAV4. This has gone butch over the years, and the new model is biggest and best. It is superb, it looks to tick all the right boxes. Fuel fine, CO2 fine, NCAP ratings fine. Price? Hmm, what was an affordable car has entered the "might as well buy another Beamer" bracket. It was very hard to rule it out, but I'm not saddling us with debt we can't afford to service just to have one. Current verdict: The one that got away. Gutted.

Skoda Yeti or Octavia. Yeti: New, funky name, how about the car? Brochure request never arrived, a visit to the showroom was a disaster - the salesman tried to get us to sit down THREE times while he printed an Octavia brochure. Why can't we look at the two cars? And what did he talk about? How many cars he had waiting to be picked up compared to his colleagues. Not interested. I want to see the inside of the cars, see what safety features they have, see if they have enough power points. "Take a seat...". Yeti: Ruled out, boot too small and oddly shaped, and top of the range has a cheap flimsy parcel shelf, not befitting the £22K price tag. Octavia: Was wery high on the list of possibilities. Acres of boot space (it has been likened to an aircraft carrier's deck) but lacking in the power socket department, safety feature department (who has ABS and ESP as an "option" these days?), and certainly didn't gel with sales. Maybe it was just the ciggie breath. Now ruled out on trim and safety alone, but sales....Current verdict: Has stopped smoking.

Peugeot xxx SW. I'm no fan of Peugeots, probably down to the boy racers in the past going for the old 205s. But, I'm open on it. However, the dealer had neither a brochure or a car for the 30-whatever it-is-now, but had 2 207s in. Still open, but need to see it. Passed the new 3008 outside, wow! Hmm, now then.... Current verdict: Invisibility cloak works well!

Seat Altea XL. Never considered at first, saw it in What Car?, sent for the brochure (never arrived), tried to call in twice (2nd time lucky). Ticks the right boxes, cheap, fully kitted, MOTS is almost in love with it straight away. From rank outsider catapulted to top of the leader board. The salesman was with us a good 45 minutes, gelled with us, and never suggested a drive or valuation of a trade-in. No pushing, just answering. Current verdict: Take a seat.

Sadly, the Hunt for Red Octavia is at an end. Like Ramius, we have defected.

13 October 2009

Baby's first...flight

With the alarms set for oh my god o'clock on Saturday morning, how did Junior take to the rude awkening and the first time at 37,000 feet?

Friday night. An "early" night ended up nearly 10pm, after setting the alarms:

  • Alarm 1 on my alarm, for 03:30
  • Alarm 2 on my alarm, for 03:35, just in case I hit the off button instead of snooze or get up
  • The TV to come on circa 03:30
  • The iPod alarm to go off at 03:30

All was quiet in the deep dark wood. We live surrounded by them. Mummy and Daddy saw the bed and the bed looked good. Unfortunately it wasn't going to be, we had to leave around 4ish. Not a Gruffalo in sight, but something far more scary - the tiny one we had to wake up. There we were, two grown adults, both scared stiff at the prospect of opening the bedroom door at that time in the morning. 03:50... here we go...

Not a whine, not a cry, nothing. Just over the shoulder, straight into the car, wrapped up and belted up. Front door locked, and off down the road. We got a good running commentary for most of the drive in, with only a short snooze. Oh, we'll pay for this later then, probably in security.

Right, the bus. Oh, we're excited about the bus from the car park to the airport. "Thank you man" as we get off. All this chat and it's only just gone 5am. Well, security wasn't the hell hole it can be, but still very busy. At that time on a Saturday morning with next to no business travel I was surprised at just how busy it was. So while we sat staring at the screens I guessed at them having to get someone through security every 6 seconds to get the planes out that were scheduled. Not bad going really.

And there it is, at Gate 3, the Orange plane. Obviously been there a while and possibly on the first flight of the day, given it was all dark and there very early. Unlike the 25 minute turnaround at Luton and arriving back home.... And now we're getting excited. "Want to go on plane". Just as well. Which one? "Purple one". Whizz air isn't going to Luton, son, we're stuck with the orange one. "Hmm, orange plane". Yes, that's right.

Stelios' crowd
No sign of Stelios...
And right after the speedy boarders we get on, finding a row right behind the wing with a good view of the flaps. And a view of the sidewall, that row in front has a better window position, so switched before group B got on.

Pushback came at the right time, avoiding the impending boredom tantrum. As did the engines revving up...

V1.... "fast"
Rotate... Here we go, son...
V2... "plane in the sky"

And were off, next stop, Lorraine Chase's territory.

29 September 2009

Potentially offline for a while

I'm changing domain registrar so may be offline while the transfer takes place. If there is an outage hopefully it won't be for long. And I hope I don't miss the email from eBuyer saying I've won a new car!!

23 September 2009

Advice taken (to the letter of the law)

Well stated, my favourite read is Marcus Berkmann's Fatherhood: The Truth. He knows this, the blog has seen traffic from his house. So I'll go out on a limb and say that there is one piece of advice he gives that I have recently mentioned again, but have taken quite literally over the last couple of nights. And that is not to make any jokes about pie eating.

BUT, and here's the crucial part, he does not mention that the older sibling can't say anything about our pastry topped cuisine. So when I ask number one who ate all the pies...


And that absolves me, and Marcus, of any responsibility.

14 September 2009

[2] Looking for a new car - groundhog day has started

It had to happen, and it's happened now. We're having to revisit the old task of looking for a replacement vehicle due to the expanding family.

When MOTS said goodbye to her Bug in favour of an American piece of gutless scrap we didn't consider the possibility of a second. Which meant our requirements were OK with the hatchback. But now, with a boot full to the brim last month for camping and the very real event of needing additional space for number 2's gear, we are not going to manage to travel with just the hatch or the saloon. We are entering a new world, that of the ESTATE.

Next I'll be wearing cord patches on my elbows. An ESTATE? Me? Oh no, what have I become? Never before in a car brochure have I read how many litres of fresh air is in the boot, but it's now target number 1. Oh, how things change!! And with a tighter budget for a bigger car this is going to be a big challenge.

11 September 2009

[2] The clue's in the title...

I have posts, unpublished and never to be, dating back to May 2008 on this particular topic. So what I'm trying to do is look back at them, summarise, and post in one go. I expect it won't be a short one, so here we go.

And as it say's "the clue's in the title"!

Just so we're clear, the title holds the clue!

Before the onslaught of the economic disaster that was the latter part of 2008, we had re-evaluated our pension plans and realised that our existing plans were not going to come to fruition. Besides, all it was doing was fuelling the already overheating property market. And with a couple of close calls we decided to stick the sensible hat on and concentrate on paying one mortgage off before taking on another. To cut to the chase, we started overpaying our existing mortgage and gave up on the idea of going into buy to let.

After doing the sums we got to the point of realising that the amount we pay on nursery fees, more than our mortgage overpayments, could be going on reducing our mortgage even further. In fact we are actually paying 3 mortgages just now anyway - our own, the overpayment, and nursery fees. But what if we didn't overpay? We'd still be debt free in under 15 years. What if we reduced the mortgage amount but kept the original term, rather than reducing it? Extra monthly cash, that's for sure.

And then I had a brainwave.

If we reduce the mortgage amount, but keep the same term, the reduced payments will cover Junior #2's childcare, until Junior #1 goes to school at least.

Whoooaaaaa, that came from left field. And within an evening we've gone from having had no discussion on the subject whatsoever to us writing on bits of paper what our thoughts are about having another sproglet, so we can simultaneously show the other whether this was an option or not for each of us.

Now when we started off the first time round, we almost did the "yes / no" on a bit of paper thing, but didn't need to as we were on the same page with it. This time we did, and initial non-committal-food-for-thought-only thoughts were:

Me: Whatever (I sneaked a third option on the inside of the paper, much to MOTS' annoyance!)

And then some deeper discussion took place and an hour later we did the paper thing again, this time with a more serious undertaking. And MOTS took my paper so I didn't have "Whatever". But I did write on hers "DEFER", and also on mine, meaning defer decision for sleeping on and consideration.

Me: Whatever

Eh? I managed to sneak another "Whatever" on this slip of paper too! Bastard, me, apparently.

Try again. Not expecting MOTS to change her defer, I wasn't disappointed. My "whatever" lost 5 characters, work that out for yourselves!

24 hours later and MOTS is clearly a yes but without the guts to admit it. ASDA didn't have any pre-natal pills in, so she's obviously looking. We're MOTS is thinking about time-scales and when to go to HMBARNS next year*, and could we change it if plans had to change, we'll have to ditch the two cars and get an estate... She's a yes but too scared to admit it.

Oh, the blog. Hmm, that's going to be a tricky one. Obviously I can't post as we go as we'll give the game away. This first part was all written up originally in May of 2008, so has gone unpublished for a while.

The interim has been with its little dramas, but we're finally there. One weekend in July of 2009 we get blue lines all over the little white stick. As luck would have it it was our wedding anniversary, so poor MOTS was dry when we went out. The sacrifices... and the test hadn't even been done at that point! But a great morning after when it was!!

So quite a gap there. A few moments, but those are for after dinner conversations.

Yes, here we are, we're having another. Are we mad? Certified. We have someone to blame - one of the nursery staff said it would be good for the first, to give him something to focus on, to look after. And with that if it all goes horribly wrong it'll be Gayle's fault!

Bedtime reading: Berkmann. Surprised?

* When this first section was written we had already booked 2009's visit to HMBARNS. By the time we got blue lines we'd been, so needn't have worried. This time, however, we're looking at having a very very very young one just before we go, so WILL have to change dates. Sorry, Vicki....



The clue's in the title.... it's also been a clue in the category list for a while too. As I've been writing posts but leaving them unpublished MT has picked up the new category and added it to the index, with no posts viewable under it. Did anybody ask? No. Did anybody wonder? Hmm...... did anyone notice?

Right now MOTS is feeling ever more tired, having left me and the boy to our own devices in a museum yesterday to go and sit in the car for a bit of a timeout.

I'm not immune - currently on call for work one week in two, plus I seem to have a deluge of extended family PC related issues to be on the case for too, so I never seem to be getting to grips with the impending arrival - and I've only known [for certain] for 8 days. I can't say anything though, just hope I get no more hassle so I can start thinking about what the bedrooms are going to look like in a few months time.

We're planning some changes, the odd wall out here and there to get rid of some useless built-in wardrobes, and to get the first born's new bed in what is currently the guest bedroom (that's the end of an era, can't afford the luxury of that space any more). So that's the bed having to go, and any guests having to doss down on the futon in my office - Hmm, nice. We can recommend some nice local hotels though...

Yes, it's all change. We know what to expect, so it's more relaxed this time so far. But then again we have no idea what to expect. We will know the practicals, like which end of the nappy is which (seriously, we had a long hard look at them when MOTS was up the duff the first time, wondering whether that flimsy seam was really meant to split when you put it on). But we have no idea about some of the others, like dropping off time at nursery and school, fights, where the third one's going to sleep (I'm not losing the office).



9 days to go to the first scan at just under 9 weeks. And we finally have a nickname that has sort of stuck. Nicknames, pet names, they tend to be my domain in terms of ideas, getting ratified by the fat lady (to be). But this time it was all her doing. And the name? Well, it's the combination of an anagram and an acronym. The two components are:

TWO - the clue's in the title
ITS - as I wind the fat lady (to be) up about the possibility of twins, and as our financial ruin would be impending for any number of girls, we go for Iain's Twin Sisters.

Jumble all that up to get an all time favourite snack, the Wotsit.

Having ratified the fat lady (to be)'s idea of Wotsit, I sit here giggling at the prospect of getting a good slap on the train tonight when I present her with a bag of them. Will it hurt? Yes. Will it be worth it? Certainly. My only regret is not buying a multi-pack, but I suppose bags of crisps are really the only thing cheaper in sixes - our very own Wotsit certainly won't be!



Yesterday the fat lady (to be) had an appointment near where I work, so I walked along with her. As she approached my work her gate was noticeably different. Was it the hand in the pocket? Or something else?

I have been saying that this time around it will all appear a bit quicker. Citing every other local mum who has changed sooner with #2 there's always been some excuse - yeah but Alison is smaller to start with, Brenda is on number 3, Cathy is blonde. So tonight, at just under 8 weeks, when she came home and said her trousers were feeling a little tighter I had to offer my words of wisdom. That it was because, either:

  1. I was right, she's changing earlier
  2. She ate all the pies

Either way I was on a hiding for it. But if she has to go out and spend money earlier, then so be it - I just hope she enjoys doing so. While she can.

8 days to first scan... I don't think we need it, it's just a confirmation of what we already know. But, it will be of use because I for one am in denial. Not in the same way I was the first time around, I'm more relaxed, but until I see on that screen a little heartbeat I won't believe that there will be four of us. I'm really looking forward to it, but still with some level of anxiety just because of history. Overall I'm looking at it as a stage to tell Grandparents. And I have ideas of how to break the news, although that ball will ultimately be in MOTS' court.



Swimming today for the first time in ages. MOTS ducked out on this one as she's been feeling very tired over the last 3 weeks, with an increasing level of nausea. Our local council considers it bad form for any form of pizza (pavement or otherwise) to be left in the pool.

Me and my boy enjoyed it though, and I know we'll have a lot more time as just the two of us as time goes on. That's why we bought a 2 man tent as well as a family tent - so the two of us can head off for a night or two. I'm looking forward to that, when he's a little older (not too much) and can help, get involved more, and really enjoy himself. And once he can erect the tent himself then I can sit back and relax with Auntie Stella...



With baited breath we have been looking forward to today. A little apprehensively, but at the same time with excitement. Or so it was on my part. On both parts there was denial, but on MOTS' part there was a defence mechanism in place that would not let any excitement in.

So what has today been?

Our 8-and-a-half week scan. Given history we have the opportunity for a check-up to make sure everything is going well, so having taken it with boy wonder we have taken it again. And given the number of rooms for scans we were surprised to be in the same room yet again - fourth time in the same room. It was only last week I was describing the layout to MOTS, and was not far off 100% accuracy. So it felt familiar, comfortable (apart from for MOTS who was bursting for a pee given the necessity for a full bladder).

There she laid. There I sat. And on went the scanning head. Right, there's the bladder, very full. And there's a another black void - ahh, that'll be the bits we're interested in.

With boy wonder we got straight there, cut to the chase, found him first go, with a heart beating. No such luck this time. No sign of anything. So my hand got grabbed tightly. And then we got the commentary:

"There's the yolk". Seen that before years ago. Still nothing else.
"And there's baby". Hand being squeezed still, no sign of movement.
"And there..." we can see it, thank fuck for that, "... is the heartbeat"

Denial over. Panic over. Apprehension over. Measuring starts. 18mm. 18mm of thing making Mummy very tired and feeling pukey all the time. Diced carrots, anyone?

More to the point, MOTS can calm down now after winding herself up ahead of this afternoon. And I can lay off being so supportive, it's tiring sometimes. Not that I would ever shirk that responsibility - more relish it. The only thing is I can't wind her up about the possibility of twins any more. GUTTED.

Oh, and no pictures printed, DOUBLE GUTTED. Which throws my plans for how to tell grandparents right out of the window. Oh well, we're going to make that call in a few minutes*, wish us luck! We're not sure what the reaction will be like or who will be most surprised by it.

*Actually typed up on the 6th, we had "our little secret" for a night!



And that's grandparents told. Over Skype, and under the pretence of talking about PCs. Now who would buy that sort of line??????

It IS twins, by the way.

Oh look, ANOTHER sucker......



Careful times ahead, with the annual birthday BBQ coming up very soon, and it being ahead of the "normal" let the news be told stage, MOTS is fearing being rumbled. Oh well, if she is it'll only be a couple of weeks until the news is out for real. Literally, only 2 weeks - from BBQ to scan we're looking at 13 days. Talk about bad timing!



Vicki has very kindly let us rearrange our trip to HMBarns next year - very much appreciated! I think we owe Vicki & Steve two lunches now (actually three if you use my accounting methods). In her last email she's asked how boy wonder is taking the news.

And that starts raising interesting questions that we'll need to consider later on, some of which we've thought about already, some of which we hadn't. Big post due on that one later, but highlights here. As of yet all I've asked, much to MOTS' annoyance, is whether he'd like a baby sister. "Hmm." Baby brother? "Yeah". Well, that seals the deal then. Above that no proper talks, it's too far away to be building his excitement up just now, but we will explain as the fat lady turns up. In the interim that leaves one question to be thought about when it comes to gender - do we tell him, do we find out at all, or do we wait for the big day like we did the first time around? Big day for me... 100%.

And thanks due to Grandpa for the useful tip about big toy from baby sibling to older sibling - taken on board. Hmm, on board - sounds like a boat to me, I'm thinking about 60' long, 43hp Beta Marine engine, moored up near Skipton.



The dating scan. Could be descriptive of the act of browsing some match-making lonely-hearts website if it wasn't for a context around it - the dating scan was this afternoon. Vital statistics were on the report afterwards:

  • Measurements: 52.4mm (up from 18.9mm in 3 weeks and 2 days)
  • Gestation: 11 weeks 6 days
  • Count: 2 - yes, it's twins
  • Cardiac pulsation seen: Yes (why they just can't write "heartbeat" I'll never know)
  • Activity: Yes
  • Official due date: 13 March 2010
  • Daddy joking: Yes - there's only a count of 1 in there
  • Picture count: 3 (up from 0 in 3 weeks and 2 days)

We had the first son and heir in with us, and with a few "moments" of wanting to go back to see the trucks in the main waiting room he cooled down and was as good as gold in the scanning room. Having a second screen which the two of us got to stand by was a bonus - a new addition since we were in there first time around - a less than satisfying experience back then. No, this time was great. Apart from he thought it was him as a baby, mainly because we have the video of his scan on the iPod Touch and he plays it between screenings of Wall.E, Cars and Finding Nemo. At some point he'll realise that he's going to have a baby brother or sister, and that it is NOT going to be a figment of John Lasseter's imagination!

New album created, the URL for which, along with username and password, should be passed on accordingly. If you haven't got them, email me!



The news is slowly starting to break out. Not long to go now before it's absolute common knowledge. We haven't really planned an order of service, so with a couple of folk told already for specific reasons, then it'll be a press release soon. The sooner the better I say, this post is getting far too big!

05 September 2009

Baby's first...foul language

It had to happen at some point. Armed with soap and water, the mouth now needs a good clean-out.

On Tuesday night MOTS had to take her car in for an MOT test the following day, so I followed her to the garage with boy wonder in tow. On the High Street there was the usual double-parking, and as usual chaotic due to it being a Co-Op delivery wagon right next to a mini-roundabout.

MOTS gave way to the oncoming traffic that had right of way over her, I was two cars behind at this stage watching to see if there was a gap big enough for the three cars to get through. I was also aware of the pink Punto with pink flower stickers* on the side waiting to get out of a side street opposite the truck.

Then the gap opened up.

And out in front of MOTS darted the Punto. "Cheeky bastard" said Rich at work when I told him this. "And those are EXACTLY the same two word I used". Closely followed by the same words being repeated in the back seat. With a Scottish twang, of course - more like "Cheeky basta".

It was always going to be me. It was always going to be in the car. The only surprise is that it took so long.

* Note: This very girlie colouring was being driven by some big bald headed bloke who looked a bit of a hard-case. Seriously. Maybe that's why he wanted out, so nobody saw him driving his bird's car.

30 August 2009

Come fly with me. No, with me. NO, with ME.

I promised that our next flight would be with BMI Baby after their flight crew waved at the little guy from the cockpit (promise made in this post). But, alas, it won't happen. We have booked flights to go and see the Leathams so we're handing the cash over to Stelios' orange squad instead.

Not flying BMI Baby. Boooo........

Seeing the Leathams. Yeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaa.................

Leaving the house at 4am for the flight. Great idea. We've got a few weeks to get used to the idea. And make sure every alarm in the house is set to go off.

An Ode to Babs Windsor

Babs Windsor's best Carry On moment was probably the pinging bra in Carry On Camping. We had our own Carry On start to the week. No pinging bras (unfortunately), but a couple of nights camping.

"Welcome to Hell" the sign read as we entered the campsite. Or it may well have done. That's wholly unfair, the site was great, and not far from the beach either. Well within comfortable walking distance (for 30-something year old legs, not too sure for 3 year old legs), and good facilities on site. The hell was restricted to within our own four walls. Four? Hmm, more like a dome of four panels, a tunnel of three, a footprint of six sides, so what sort of shape does that make?

Night 1: Over 2 hours past normal bedtime, despite the fresh air and running around. Oh, and cold. Bloody cold. If only we had the duvet as well as the sleeping bags.

Night 2: Better for us, giving in to how to use a sleeping bag properly worked a treat. Being woken every half hour for snoring did not work a treat, however. MOTS played a particular card, I played the "I'm driving tomorrow" card. I won.

Day 3: Packing up in the pouring rain. Hmm, brill.

But all in all we had a good time. An expensive one-off or an investment in the tent? "Investment" was the reply from MOTS, so she's happy with it. "Fun in the tent" from boy wonder, so he's happy too. He was happy anyway on the swings at the site, the beach, the water features at Alnwick Garden, the outdoor cooked tea and breakfast (BTW those were the best bacon rolls I've had in a long time - Wiltshire Cure bacon fried in Extra Virgin olive oil [it's all we had in to decant into an empty Gordon's Gin miniature bottle to take with us], delish).

It was weird seeing the lad homesick - he asked a couple of times to come home and see his moggies, despite the lounge now officially having been beamed into Toys R Us since his birthday, the things he missed most were the cats. Secretly I think they missed him too, and since we got back the skinny one has been sleeping on the new bed when she gets the chance. The sign of things to come I think, she's my cat just now (or rather I'm her pink blob), but we think I'll lose her to the little guy.

22 August 2009

Helping Daddy building.

I had hoped for a little bit of help building the new bed, and I got some. Not as much as I hoped for, mainly because I was busy dismantling the double bed and building the new one as soon as visitors left and both MOTS and birthday boy went back to bed.

But it was nice to have some help in tightening screws up, making sure I had done my job right. And it was fantastic seeing the birthday boy taking to the new bed like a duck to water. Straight off went the socks, heading straight for the ladder, and up and bouncing on the top. We got the ultimate rubber-stamp - he went off to get Puppy to show him the new bed. Closely followed by the blankets, Elephant, and more animals. The bed's ready, the bedroom isn't. The boy certainly is.

A hat-trick of birthdays

Happy third birthday, son!

Three already? If Victor was here I'm sure he'd being saying "I don't belieeeeeeeeve it........"

17 August 2009

And so to bed

It's here! The big bed c'est arrive. In 47,235 boxes, with 47,236 parts we're going to have fun putting this one together. And I guess there will be some more "French" spoken as we do so.

But will it look like this when it's finished?
The intention is that we try and do it together. That alone may be a challenge, but I'm willing to try. Not least because if he gets involved in building his own bed he might just remember doing it, be willing to help his old man out doing other things, look after it, look forward to getting to sleep in it, any of or all of the above. Grandma & Grandad will be the last to have a night's board in the "guest room" this week, after that it's slumming in the "junk room".

The rebuilding plans have taken a new twist. MOTS wanted to call in at Sliderobes for a brochure (they didn't send one out when she filled in the request online, we assume due to lack of phone number and email address given - ie no contact for the hard sell), which we did when passing at the weekend. Ballpark figures? Midrange doors, with interiors? For a 1.5m length and a 2m length, £2,250 - £2,500 respectively. Yes, respectively - that's EACH. I nearly choked when I heard it. Someone is having a giraffe, and it wasn't me.

"Shall I arrange for a designer to come out?". Shall you fuck.

The little guy's new bedroom has the smaller wardrobe space just now, when the walls are removed it will give us approx 142cm of space - not enough for 150cm of IKEA kit as it would block the door from opening fully, and too much waste of space for 100cm of units. So when MOTS picked up a B&Q brochure that gives us an option of 135cm of units, and slightly taller into the bargain, we're back on for ripping out the built in stuff and going modular. Just need a joiner now to do the stud work and a plasterer to make good the scars left behind. Then get the units, which I guess will come in somewhere nearly a zero off the end of Sliderobbers. Then carpets, then redecorate, then new curtains as they won't go any more... Why are we doing this?

We're doing this for better use of space, that's the whole reason for juggling around in the first place, and for the boys of the house to build something big together. Our first joint DIY project. I'm really looking forward to it. So much so I might well be turfing Grandad out of bed on Saturday morning so I can get dismantling!

21 July 2009

Sleeping arrangements to change

It's going to be all change on the sleeping arrangement front very shortly. Which has some far reaching consequences, some of which will impact beyond the immediate family.

We're talking about the arrival of the big boy's bed!

At almost 3 and still in a cot we have to wonder why that is, and look no further than the mirror. Well, I have to look in the mirror, MOTS only has to look at me. When boy wonder first learned to climb out of his cot (silently at that) he got the appropriate response - put back in bed so MOTS and I could enjoy our Sunday lunch soup. That was the softly-softly warning. By the third climb out the rapid response unit was deployed to rush upstairs and sort out the potential flashpoint. The fourth climb out resulted in the SWAT team being sent up. The fear of the SWAT team has meant he's never climbed out again without his parole officer sanctioning it first! Now all he does is climb in to the cot, usually when it's used as a time-out area.

So is he ready for a big bed?

He has no trouble at all sleeping in his ready-bed when we are away. So in the containment sense, no worries there. He was a very still sleeper for a short time (a couple of months) but has regressed to being a wriggler, usually ending up in some positions from an advanced Yoga class.

We have had our eye on a Stompa setup for over a year now, but their prices have shot up some 50% in that time. We have found a very similar alternative for the original ball-park price, so have ordered his new bed. A mid-sleeper suitable for ages 6 upwards (or 5, depending on which retailer and specific model you look at). so here we are, making the jump from cot direct to big bed. BIG bed. No junior size in the middle, which defeats the purpose of getting a cotbed in the first place, but we think he's going to love his new one. Or so we hope.

And onto the alternative arrangements...

The built-in wardrobes are as much use as a second hand Pampers, so they are going. Which means some wall removals, joinery, plastering, more joinery, painting, carpets - all to get some better free-standing garment hangers from IKEA. The ideal would be to fit out the first bedroom, move boy wonder in there, then do the other. Tight timescales means that won't happen in the desired order, but the room changes are going to happen. Don't know where, don't know when, but I know they'll change again.

Which ultimately means a juggle of rooms. What is currently a guest room will be boy wonder's bedroom, what is currently a nursery will become the multi-purpose room with futon moved in (bye-bye full sized bed) along with the ever-increasing number of toys. The sacrifice has been the dedicated guest room, a luxury of space that can't be justified any more for the little use it gets. It must be made to work for us, not visitors.

There will be sleepless nights again, that's a certainty. But on the flip-side I am looking forward to not having to get him up, and to the early morning visits that we should already be having.

08 July 2009

Baby's first...full dressing

There's always been a little help in the dressing department, well "always" feels like it but it's not really. We've had help with putting clothes on, more success at taking them off, but tonight was a first full bedtime dressing on his own!

There's always been a little help in the dressing department, well "always" feels like it but it's not really. We've had help with putting clothes on, more success at taking them off, but tonight was a first full bedtime dressing on his own!

It certainly beats chaisng him into soft play areas searching for missing socks! Honestly, they get removed nearly every opportunity. When others are doing it we're on a losing battle (I'm amazed by how many parents let their kids in with no socks on, not even wearing them to the place...), but if he's the only one we can normally contain it. And by contain I mean one of two things:

  1. he carries them with him
  2. he leaves them at the bottom of a slide

And there is the clue. He removes them to walk back up the slide - extra grip you see. Now that he worked out all on his own. And something I wish he hadn't.

So when the time came that both PJ top and PJ bottoms were put on without any help from MOTS or myself, it was a special moment, one where I could look back and reflect on the removals of the past (have I mentioned the almost nakedness in soft play cafes before??) and realise he can help as well an hinder.

And on the same night we expand our knowledge of the book "We're Going on a Bear Hunt". It's great, it's all about repetition. It's great, it's all about repetition. So when the words come from him as we read it (careful not to miss anything now...) we know full well it's being taken in. Which makes us think his first theatre trip will be a success - to see the stage version of this classic book, with the Gents for company.

Watch out JG, he ends up under the covers at the end!!

22 June 2009

Budding Jimmy B Fan?

Who's funeral is this?
I think we have a budding Jimmy B fan living with us. Personally I'm a bigger fan of the older Bonds rather than the newer ones having lost my way with Pierce Brosnan's era. OK, I'm like a lot of Bond "fans", whereby the best bond is the one they grew up with. For me that was Roger Moore, but I do prefer the previous, even if I don't agree with Sir Sean's politics.

So what has Roger Moore's influence got that can tie in:

  1. Father's Day
  2. Gene Hunt
  3. Wings
  4. Jimmy B
  5. Mike Myers

Now there's a list of things to fry your noodle. But our boy managed the association!

Father's Day

Yesterday was Father's Day (so a happy father's day to dads out there). The timing of the incident was rooted into the reason it came about in the first place. It is all tied in with the Father's Day present I got from my boy.

Gene Hunt

1973, a DCI in Manchester who is far from politically correct. Sam Tyler's guv'nor. Sam who had been in a car accident in 2006 and woken up in 1973. Yes, the hit BBC show Life on Mars. This was my present - the soundtrack to Life on Mars. So far so good?


At the end of each episode there was a different track played while the credits rolled, as well as tracks played in among the episode. Live and Let Die, of Paul McCartney & Wings creation, was one track.

Jimmy B

And the aforementioned track was also the title track from the Jimmy B film bearing the same name. Right, sorted. Do you see it now? So did my boy.

Mike Myers

Well, not exactly. That wasn't quite the film he associated, but it's the one I did. And he will. Until then, we get to Mike Myers how exactly?

As this track started on the car's CD player, we heard from the back:

Shrek, sad

Eh? Ahh, yes, Shrek the Third - the opening bars to Live and Let Die is used early on in the film when the King is dying. "Shrek, sad". Of course, why couldn't I link that?

Because I haven't seen "Baby Shrek" a million times over the last week, that's why!

Both MOTS and I were really impressed with the association, far more than my poor attempt at trying to link everything here. Already he's outdoing me, and I really don't mind - in fact I'm so pleased.

And that Father's Day present was priceless!

17 June 2009

He drove the fastest milk cart in the west

That sounds suspiciously like a Benny Hill track - and you'd be right for thinking that. That's Ernie, and that's the next bad lead-in to the latest news.

Not a milk cart in sight
Ernie has come up trumps and let us know yesterday. Not the milk cart driving one, but the Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment one. Yes, the fella's premium bonds have come up!

Not enough to buy that private island we had our eye on, but a small sum nonetheless. A whole £25, the new minimum prize. Still, it'll go towards his university drinking fund, hopefully by then it'll be enough to buy him a pint!

14 June 2009


We have a common saying at the moment, and that is triggered by a visual cue. That is a vapour trail, 2 or four of them depending on how many engines are producing them, resulting in the phrase

Plane in the sky!

And more recently we have been waving at the pilots, like the train drivers, but from 37,000 feet it's a bit difficult for them to see or be seen.

This has triggered us into looking for cheap flights. Where? Anywhere. But first option was to Luton to see the Leathams, but we have quickly discovered that there is no such thing as a cheap airline. I knew the "taxes" these so-called airlines add on are nothing more than reducing the headline fare by adding more in as "tax", which HM Treasury does not get, but the extent to which is unbelievable. So we are struggling to find a decent option to fly.

But that doesn't stop the aspirations. Or the waving at the pilots.

Now Daddy has his moments, and driving past EDI this afternoon was one of them. We had no time constraints, nowhere to be, nobody to see. So we pulled off the A8 and into the Royal Highland Showground's car park, right next to the perimeter fence of the airfield, alongside three other cars there for the spotting.

Our timing was fantastic. There was almost a queue building up for take-off. Within the 20 minutes or so we were there we had around 10 flights - skewed slightly towards departures than arrivals.

And we waved at every one.

None waved back. Except one. The first plane that passed us, too. On taxi towards the end of the runway both pilot and co-pilot waved back at our little plane spotter. I still haven't worked out who was most chuffed about it - any one of 3 of us I guess!

So in our quest to find a flight, we have made a decision on airline:

bmi baby.jpg
Plane on the taxi
Wave to the pilot

  • Globespan - only arriving, two non-wavers
  • BMI - only arriving, one non-waver
  • EasyJet - Both arriving and departing, all non-wavers
  • Jet2 - Miserbale Yorkshiremen wi t' monk on
  • BMI Baby - only one departing - all wavers!

So in this deep recession, where competition for any business is fierce, we hereby declare that our next flight will be with BMI Baby as their flight decks are manned by real human beings who know that their arms aren't just for pressing buttons and doing pre-flight checklists, or flicking through flight charts or calling for trolley dolly service, but for raising them up and remembering their spotting fans just at the other side of the fence.

And with no better reason than that, our boy's happy!

27 May 2009

Wheel of fortune

MOTS and I have been along to Falkirk a couple of times, we think once before parenthood and once after. Either way, it's a certainty that we've been along twice, and only on it the once. Boy wonder certainly hasn't been on it so we set off this weekend to see how his sea legs are.

For the picky ones there are two main issues:

  1. His sea legs are already proven, at Blair Drummond last summer

  2. The Forth & Clyde and Union canals are canals, not sea Ah-ha! Not according to our intrepid sailor - "Boat on the sea" is what we got on arrival. And as we know, he's never wrong!

What goes up...
...may come down
We have good memories of canals, a trip along the Leeds & Liverpool was our last holiday before we had to start thinkling about travel cots. I can't believe THIS was almost three years ago! But it was. A lot of water has passed under the bridge through the locks since then, that's for sure.

We hadn't taken lunch, we had already decided to use the cafe on site - British Waterways aren't exactly a multinational corporate greed machine, so the profit they make does go back in to keeping the waterways open, help with new projects and restorations. So I don't mind helping by using the facilities. Which was good timing, considering the next boat trip with availability was about 45 minutes away, and it was just before noon.

We had a good lunch sat watching the wheel, the loading of the boat in front of us, the disembarkation of the boat we were going on. The wee sailor was amazed by the "boat in sky". I must admit, I still don't know quite how it works, but can recite the various stages and how many kettles it takes to turn it. And, as it happens, which operating system the PC that controls it runs on. Which explains the rest of the afternoon.

About 45 minutes a trip takes, from scheduled departure, a half rotation to the upper aqueduct, through the tunnel, spin around in the basin and back down to the lower basin. No worries, we can handle that. 12:20, we board, for a 12:30 departure.

12:30 - Cast off.
In the gondola.
Gates closed.
Water levels sorted out.
Water pumped out between the gates.
Seals broken.
And with the power of 8 kettles we start to rotate.

Alison, one of the skippers, was the guide for the trip. Very informative, professional, funny, and just spot on. At the top after spinning round and coming back into the gondola for the downward journey she pointed out some geography and history to kill the time it takes for the water levels and seals breaking before we can move.

"Right, does anyone have any questions, like 'why have we stopped?'?"

I hadn't even noticed we'd started moving, but there over my left shoulder was the closed gate holding back the Union canal, just a few feet about us.

And there we sat.

And there boy wonder started getting bored. Thankfully, to his credit, his little strop was just little (in the grand scheme of things).

"Does this happen often?" Asked Alison. And apparently it does now and again, usually the mouse stops working, they have to unplug it, plug it back in, reboot the PC. Windows 98 was never that good with losing mice, and given it'll be a PS2 mouse rather than a USB mouse if iot's running '98 - whoaaaa, hang on - '98? Wasn't this a Millenium project? Surely they could have used Windows 2000, Me or a real operating system!

The crux of the problem wasn't a mouse on strike, but a dodgy level indicator showing there was an imbalance in the water levels. For the geeks that means the efficiency of the rotation is compromised as it's meant to be perfectly balanced for minimum energy use, minimum structural fatigue, and blah blah blah. So after a short interlude, we ended up back at the top, half expecting a walk down the hill. But a quick pump later and we're going the opposite direction back down to the bottom basin.

13:50 - Disembark.

Stuck 35 metres in the air on a boat defying gravity with a tired 2 year old? NOT recommened!

15 May 2009

TT Races

Unfortunately, NOT the ones on the Isle of Man. More like the race to get to the lav whilst toilet training.

First full proper day at toilet training, and we have mixed reports so far. Some good and encouraging signs, and one strop over a hand wash resulting in no start given. More to follow...

04 May 2009

A hat trick of a holiday

We've just landed back from Derbyshire, having stayed for the third time at Holestone Moor Barns, a hat trick of a holiday. To steal a line from the visitor's book we're sure we'll eventually find something about staying there that we like - until then we'll have to settle for loving it.

We had a mixed week - a good blend of new and old favourites.

Despite a series of events which has knocked both Steve and Vicki off the Sunday Times Healthiest 100 list they are still unable to slow down. Just watch what you are doing, and don't get into any more mischief!

Thanks again to both for the warm hospitality, for ordering the good weather for us (we'll not pack the raincoats next year, just watch it chuck it down all week!), and for everything else this week. Both have gone well above the call of duty, and it's all appreciated beyond and form of worldly recognition.

Looking back at our first visit and the photos associated with it has shown how much we've grown as a family. We don't notice a lot of things day to day, but having a reference point to compare against gives us some clues. Steve & Vicki will notice a change each time (more noticeably this time was the amount of yelling from Daddy) but we'll see it when looking back. With gaps of 13 & 7 months between visits it's really interesting to see.

So what have we been up to this week as a family?

Friday - arrival day.
We had a great journey down, even if we did get caught in the aftermath of a car crash in North Yorkshire. Still, it didn't dampen the spirits, or hold us up too much. We made it all the way to South Yorkshire without a stop, the furthest we've made it in one go! And just like peak oil (production starting to reduce) we'll see journey times cut as we have to stop for toilet breaks once we're out of nappies. I enjoyed it while it lasted!

After another great welcome boy wonder amazed us by heading straight for the games room. Once inside, heading directly for the stairs to go up to the toy room, pointing up at the light switch asking for it to be switched on. After a gap of 7 months he remembers what's there, where it is, and how to use it. I was impressed.

Saturday - Trains & tents
Going early spring this year has meant that some of the tourist stuff is starting to wind up, isn't fully open on summer schedules yet. Which meant we had to do the Peak Rail at the weekend. A round trip from Rowsley South to Matlock Riverside saw the excitement we expected, and that was just from Daddy. I think the boy enjoyed it too, I was just too hyper to notice! Lunch at Rowsley South gave us enough time to see the next service leave, return, and leave again. After the "broken" train was "fixed". Or in adult language the driver filled up the boiler with water. And we have picked a family tent at a camping show - no place like this part of the world for getting into the great outdoors. As I said to Vicki this week we've already got stuff lined up for us to do until the lad's about 10.

Sunday - Pottering about the shops
The regular trip to Denby paid dividends with some bowls on offer to add to the collection. Followed by a run to Derby to get some more Crocs to replace the now tightly fitting ones we got last time. Blue again, son? No, Mummy, those ones. Hmm, OK, picking your own colour now, eh? That's us told!

Monday - Easy, townie
Easy Tigers for the boy to run around (quote of the day from a Mum there with her boy of the same age: "It's nice to see we're half normal then" when quizzing us about some observed [not so good] behaviour from ours). Followed by a wander around Chesterfield, where we came across a stall on the market selling the material we spent moths looking for and eventually got in Edinburgh - MOTS dare not ask what price it was on the market, we suspect less than we paid!

Tuesday - The Jam, 1980
A couple of dodgy links here. Firstly, The Jam had their first number 1 hit in March 1980 with "Going Underground". Which is what we did on Tuesday morning. A cable-car ride up a great big hill, with Daddy's nerves about the slow bit in the middle both helped and troubled by the advance warning from Steve, and we're at the Heights of Abraham. Now, I don't like cable cars after the one at Nevis Range broke down abruptly and just started swinging. But this was OK, and I don't want MOTS to find out that I was OK with it, I want to keep the illusion of being a big girls blouse going for a while. We took pity on Sarah, the guide for the cavern as she had no takers for the 11:15 tour. With us heading over, some other people followed, and in total there were 9 of us (she takes 60+ people down there - aye right, no danger would I go down there with 60 folk). And this is where The Jam comes in - with a 45 minute tour, we went underground. Were we mad? 170+ steps, 1/4 mile ascent (yes, ascent not descent) into the hill, in cramped conditions, dark, wet, with 2 year old. CERTIFIABLE. But he just took it in his stride. Even the geology lessons which we found interesting, he will have heard nothing more than "blah blah blah, blah blah", but was looking around at every stopping point. He was carried most of it, wasn't for going down until near the end, thankfully for Popeye's left arm it was before the longest flights of steps. But he did it, no stress, no fuss, no fear, with pleasure. So proud for that.

Another Jam link - there's some in the Bakewell Tart slices we got for lunch in Bakewell - one of our old favourites. In fact we got some pies to take home, a welcome tea on Friday night. And they do mail order! MAIL ORDER!!

Wednesday - Tram to Matlock
A free trip to Crich, 12 months free entry just for Gift Aid on the last entry in September. Bonzer! Now this is worthwhile knowing, but we haven't any plans for another trip before September so we're all out of freebies now. Lunch with Steve & Vicki, the best pub fish and chips I've ever had - in fact better than most chippies I've ever had. So we'll be back there again, that's for sure. And another run into Matlock, naked as the day, in the paddling area. And, as last time, not exactly prepared for it. As a result, kicking and screaming, he came out almost blue with the cold, wanting to go back in. So what did we do to calm him down? Wrapped in his robe, chomping on an ice cream. "C-c-c-c-cold, Daddy, c-c-c-c-cold". It worked.

Thursday - Buxton to Stockport
A long drive North on the A6, a short circuit around Buxton for lunch, and on as far as Stockport. Some lovely scenery, but not much after Buxton itself. Back a slightly different and much more scenic route, calling in at Bakewell for the obligatory provisions before home.

Friday - Homeward bound with a police escort
Another good journey home, a slow start so had to make some time up. Certainly not through the northern counties, however. We did see a red Astra fly past us at one point, only for us to pass him a few miles later. He was on the hard shoulder talking to the copper who had not long since overtaken us also. Maybe he was lost and asking for directions. Or maybe he was just a young boy racer pulled over for being a pillock. Whichever, he wouldn't be alone if he was taken in for it - within the space of a mile (at 70mph that's just under a minute) we passed THREE pulled over - two on one side one on the other. Pillocks day outing. And as we settle back down after that it kicked off again. 4 white bikes with red stripes. 4 white cars with red stripes. One blue helicopter with spinning rotars. And one white van with small black windows under heavy guard. Surely this wasn't the first print run for the 2010 Premier Cottages brochure being delivered?

As this gets published we're less than 52 weeks to round 4!

16 April 2009

The Spanish Inquisition

We know that going back to see Vicki & Steve at Holestone Moor this year will be a last in some respects. Out of school holiday times may get one more shot, but we're probably on the last trip without the constant "are we nearly there yet" all the way down.

And while we've been worrying about a future event, we've taken our eye off the ball and let in others...

I rang home as usual this morning to see if everything was OK and to chat to my boy. Who, incidentally, had been driving his mother nuts this morning as he's never shut up from getting up.

We have a long list of favourite words and sentences. Some extracted from The Spanish Inquisition:

  • "Sit down, Daddy"

This is preceded by one of the following two items:

  • Puppies, please
A request to watch Oliver & Company. As I type we're onto viewing number 4 today. This can be anything from a polite request to a firm order. Sir, yes sir!
  • Milk, please
This is a nice and polite one, at the end of the day before bedtime his glass of milk arrives. Though where he gets his manners from I don't know.

And many many others. But these two have made a rapid and unexpected ascent up the charts:

  • "What you doing?"

  • "What's that?"

It's OK having one or the other, but when one is followed by the other, particularly when one is having a little "private time" on the lav, things can get a bit tricky when the questioning just continues.

Oh, it's started, prepare for the onslaught. Hopefully we will make the journey with no awkward questions. Here's being optimistic! It has to begin sometime, this is what we signed up for!

30 March 2009

Logo Recognition #2

I've talked previously about logo recognition, and this weekend we've been on a roll. And they all lead to one thing... those blasted toot-toots!

Here's the first:
This is the age...
OK, not too bad when you think on that this is in fact the old British Rail logo, still in use today for station direction signs and on tickets for the "Rail Settlement Plan", and adapted for the Train Operating Companies logo. But this is how the recognition came about, and it all started very innocently.

At Christmas he got a magic doodle pad which with the help of magnets you can draw monochrome pictures on a white board. Simple, really. Anyway, guess who drew a train while the little fella was playing with his wooden train set? Yes, the Muppet formerly known as Daddy. Why? Because now he frequently wants me to draw a train. And my forte is the profile of an HST (Intercity 125 to the people who wear jackets rather than anoraks). "Window, door", he shouts out as the image grows. "Wheels". And then the old BR logo gets drawn on the side. Puzzled. Stumped. Gotcha! Until a little later on, passing our local station's sign at the top of Station Road - "Train - Train - that way, Daddy - train". Bollocks! No Gotcha!

Next up:
Cbeebies? How do we get back to trains, I hear? Well, there's a really naff show called Chugginton. It's just not right, but on our first sit down visit to www.cbeebies.co.uk yesterday and again today a couple of clips from this show is what we like to watch. Especially the clip with the monkey (go on watch it - it's funny) - our monkey gets a little clip around the ear when the monkey clips the dog around the ear - hilarious he finds it. And he's banging on the table when the monkey bangs on the roof of the train. "Again!" I must have watched that clip a dozen times tonight (that's 24 clips around the ear - come on Social Services, there's a confession).

But how did we land there? In most modern browsers there's a neat little option called the favourite icon (favicon.ico) that displays in the browser's address bar or tab bar rather than the old folded page logo. Gives graphical identity to an otherwise bland bit of text. So when one of the Cbeebies characters, one of the little yellow traingle thingies, is used for the cbbebies website, we instantly get this pointed out. "Beebies". And then it's two clicks away from being slapped around the head purely for pleasure.

I haven't quite worked out how the "cake" logo (Starbucks, Sunday, after Socatots) works into being a train, but I'm on the look-out!

Shhh, baby sleeping

With the Stevensons up this weekend we've had different routines to juggle given the age differences. JJ being the old timer that he is, and me being the sprightly 20-something.

Eh? Oh, yeah, our boys being different ages...

So when MAS went down for his kips we had to keep our monster sedated. Shhh, baby's sleeping. And it stuck, as we known he gets told the same at nursery if he's off down the opposite end with the toddlers for a quick visit. But, the absolute defining moment was when he was playing in his bedroom, with the rest of us downstairs (poor Joe at work), and MAS asleep in the room next to his. We hear a voice... then coming round the corner of the staircase there he is... "Baby, this way". Eh? "Baby, this way". And he comes over to JJ (past me and MOTS to get to him), and leads him by the hand upstairs. Why? MAS had woken up. Enter the bedroom? No. Come down and tell us? No - he told MAS's Daddy, and took him up to see him.

Fantastic! MOTS and I were amazed at this.

A great weekend

It's been all go this weekend, with visitors up from Yorkshire. There's only one true Yorkshireman among them - one Southerner, one Manc, and one proper Yorkie who doesn't know his true and proper heritage yet - but he will when he's old enough!! With enough to keep the two young lads (and their offspring) happy all weekend it's been a great few days.

Friday - Time Twisters

Poor Joe, at work while the rest of us played. It's only our second visit to Time Twisters and I have to say it was better than last time, not saying last time was in any way a negative experience or anything, but this was just better. Now we know there's multiple exits over two levels to watch for (ie our own little Pharaoh can appear from any direction with no warning) it's manageable, after the initial shock. But they are safe, electronic doors that are permanently manned, there's no escape route. Lunch was a must given the time of the visit, and I have to say there are two things a place like this needs to get right.

  1. The play area - has to appeal to kids, be safe, be interesting, have variety, and develop multiple skills. Tick.
  2. The food - if the coffee is like sludge then Mum & Dad aren't going to relax, sit back and enjoy their time. Tick.

No instamatic rubbish here, a proper espresso machine. And an extensive menu with healthy eating awards splattered across it. Run of the mill? Nope, certainly well above average. In all areas except the price - while they will make money on it it's very reasonable. Our old haunt never got a look for lunch as it never looked that good, we tried a snack once and wasn't taken with it, so only ever had a sludge coffee and muffin (Costco's I guess), so played it safe.

On the plus side, our old haunt had a big tick in box one, until it shut down at Christmas without warning. The good news is it re-opened today under a new name with new management - Hoorah!

Swimming for the first time in a while on Saturday. While we've always seen our little fish as ahead of the game he's not having formal lessons, which Mac is and it shows. Better now than at aged 11, when I started learning.

Sunday - the play area in our development is trashed, it was never installed correctly, or builder refused to rectify it, the factor is useless, so it's going to ruin. The next one along, however, is great, and a good walk ending in there in the afternoon (after a good morning at Socatots, a strop-free quick shopping blast and lunch out).

I think it ranks as one of, if not the, best weekends we've had as a family in a long time.

03 March 2009

Aquafresh Milk Teeth Toothpaste Recall

After buying our first tubes of toothpaste (we're still using the freebies given out by the health visitor, MOTS' dentist, nursery), we are hit by a recall on the product. This is a month later, so we're not quick off the blocks here, but we only found out about it last week.


What does concern me though is how it's been handled. We saw the recall notice in the window of the store where it was purchased. Now, and this is our fault entirely, we didn't read the whole notice, just enough to read the recall, and that the two tubes we had were subject to it. So, armed with them, I went in expecting a refund. But no, there in clear black and white on the notice is a freephone number to ring. D'Oh!

OK, Saturday morning comes, so I ring the freephone number, to be greeted with an answering machine - lines open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm. OK, I'll try on Monday. At 17:54 on Monday I called, and again get the answering machine telling me lines are open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm.

Surely it would be better to deal with distributors, wholesalers and retailers than individual consumers? Especially when (eventually) they do call the line, during operational hours, to get no answer.

To cut to the chase, after trying again at 09:35 (well in the hours, to account for any late arrivals or as last night early departures) we are getting a padded envelope sent out to return them. Surely it would be better to deal with distributors, wholesalers and retailers than individual consum.. oh hang on, that point has already been made. But there are two tubes, so the point can be made twice I guess. And I did get a call back on the mobile at 09:52 as a result of the message I left on their machine last night.

At least their answering machine works!!

13 February 2009

Throw me an Olive Branch

MOTS and I have been trying to meet up for lunch once a week for some time, so ensure tow things happen - firstly that we get away from our desks at least once a week, and secondly to snatch a bit of us time for ourselves.

We don't always make it, but when we do the various conversations tend to end up with one inevitable question.

It's a couple of weeks ago now, but we had lunch at The Olive Branch Bistro, extended into a half day off work and a lazy afternoon, again something we're going to try and do every once in a while.

So for these longer lunches MOTS looks at 5pm.co.uk to try and get a good deal, and thanks to the recommendation from Mr FilmFoodstalker. And the last one, as I said, was at the Olive Branch.

So over a lovely lunch, and a nice glass of white, the conversation was turned inevitably, as it always does, by MOTS...

I wonder how our boy's getting on, I hope he's OK

So during the only real "us" time we get this always crops up. Now I'm no sensitive soul, but I had to ask the question anyway.
So when we're having the only "us" time we can get, how come you always wonder how he's doing? Do I bore you that much...?

Clearly the answer is yes, but I was really taken with the answer.
Because when I look at you I see him

I was totally shot down in flames. Even now I'm moved by that. It wasn't just on the appearance this was conveyed, so it really threw me.

When there was the slightest hint of frustration I was thrown an olive branch. Appropriate for where we were!

11 February 2009


Beckham? Gazza? Or just plain old Shilton?

Whoever your England star of choice is, era is, or position is, then it's just not going to happen with the boy. He's a Jock (no labrador / poodle quips from the Stevensons) so he's not likely to grace a white shirt. More blue.

The point is, he's started football training.

We're four weeks in now, and our Socatots sessions are starting to go just fine. I was warned by MOTS that until he'd settled in there would be some difficult times, and she was right, as usual (just don't admit that to her).

Week 1

A venture into the unknown. So let's weight this up, shall we? He's the only one there without an official kit, because all the other kids had done the previous classes, and we get ours at the end of the session. Not bothered by that, but we do seemed bothered by the size of the hall. A little tearful and clingy at times, and shouting for Mummy a lot (she was outside in the cafe waiting for us). But, with the parachute at the end, a familiar friend from Tumbletots, he ended on a high. So that's the difficult one over with then, it gets easier. I hope.

Week 1

Back into the lions den. Fully kitted out this week, and feeling part of a team. Fantastic! Much better at running about, and about half way through the 45 minute session I gave up on trying to follow the instructor's directions and just let the boy do his own thing - as long as it vaguely resembled what we were supposed to be doing. The main problem this week was just starting to get across what we should be doing in time to stop. Once I had realised this was sending a mixed message and stopped him enjoying doing related things, then we had a much better time. And then he went and lead the charge with the parachute at the end!!

Week 3

An early bath. He wasn't in a good frame of mind this morning, a bit peaky and off colour. So 10 minutes in I realised it just wasn't going to happen. I'm not sure if it was the "want water - don't want it" or the lying down at the back of the hall face down, but an early bath sorted it out. Dreading next week, hope this isn't a "not keen on this game".

Week 3

Cup final replay. Or so it felt, given last week. But... not one episode of being clingy, no tears, and constantly on teh go. Mostly kicking cones over that were being used by other kids, but on the go. Fully enjoyed the whole session, including the clearing up. Can't wait to be back next week! And a very well deserved coffee in Starbucks to follow, the remainder of the day was great too! I had the best day so far with him, it was magic!

Four very different weeks, I'm not sure I can cope with the inconsistency. But if we tend towards last Sunday, that will do me just fine!

06 February 2009

The Three Cs

It's normally the three Rs at school, but we're not at school yet so we're working on the three Cs.

Each C has been of some significance this week or two, with differing levels of pride, or embarrassment!

C1: Colours

Our first C came last week, with colours. The boy has some plastic crockery and cutlery from IKEA, which comes in 6 of everything, and 6 different colours. Each set of plate, bowl, cup, knife, fork and spoon can be colour coordinated. We never have.

One evening last week, however, we realised it had to start. With a blue plate and a green fork not being acceptable the boy climbed down from the table (now unable to see the plate) and headed to the cupboard where his things are kept. Out came most things during a mini-strop, and he returned carrying his blue fork, leaving his frustration behind. So not only was he not happy at the colours being different, he remembers which one he had, and what item he was replacing.

Since then we have gone from offering two colours of something (eg blue and red cup with teh blue plate) and we've always been told he wants to coordinate. So that's us then, colour coordinating it must be. Laura Ashley wallpaper next, then?

C2: Counting

This one came a bit from left-field, but it shouldn't have been a surprise really given I nearly always count the stairs on the way up them - even from him being a tiny baby. But, the other evening while messing about on our bed, "one-two-three" with rough & tumbles following, for some reason I paused after two, possibly to get some sort of reaction. I don't know what reaction I was expecting, but I got "three". Surprised, I looked at MOTS who was looking back at me, both saying the same thing without any verbal communication. "Did he just say three?" While this silent conversation took place, another verbal one started: "Vun, toooo". OK, I was impressed on two counts (no pun intended) - firstly the counting, its the first time he's done anything other than a single number, and secondly the hidden message in there, the "get on with it Daddy" given I had stopped due to being in awe at the first "three".

C3: Clothing

We had a head dropping moment one evening last week when picking him up from nursery. "I only turned around for two minutes" it started. Oh, what now? "And there was two of them with just their t-shirts on, trousers and nappies off". The exhibitionism starts - Mr Filmstalker will be proud!

And it continued... On Friday in the local soft play cafe, he emerged with nappy in one hand and trousers in the other. "We've all seen it before" reassured one mum sat just behind me. "He's not mine" I declared, "because if he was his t-shirt would be off too, in his left arm and being swung around his head!"

It was repeated on Sunday in the same place, but we saw it was a direct copy of a much older boy having done it. And way too old to be doing that, but with no parental supervision to keep it in check. Anyway, ours started the copying, fingers in the side of the trousers, looking out and smiling cheekily waiting for that "OK" from us. "NO". So off he went a little deeper in. And that looking for approval, not getting it, and stepping back continued until he gave up. Then, 5 minutes later, he emerged with nappy in one hand and trousers in the other. But he was smiling so cheekily...

17 January 2009

X-Ray vision? Nah, Zurg Vision

I was starting to wonder this evening if the boy had X-ray vision. Since we got the new fridge we've been really careful to make sure we always put the child lock on after getting water or ice, and when it's tea-time we stand between him and the machine so he can't see what's happening.

So when he got a glass, shouted "water" and pressed both levers with it, realised nothing was coming out, and started pressing buttons to unlock the child lock I started to think he could see through me.

"You make a better door then a window"
A phrase I used to hear often when I found myself stood in the line of sight of my mother and the latest episode of Emmerdale Farm (as it was then). Or other phrases too dodgy to publish on the internet. No matter when there's x-ray vision on the go.

Or could there be an alternate explanation????

Buzz is his favourite pal at the moment. Somewhere slightly ahead of Sully, way ahead of Wallace, and a gazillion miles ahead of Daddy. As there's no such thing as a gazillion you can ignore that last bit. Unless any retired maths teachers out there want to correct me, that is.

The opening sequence of Toy Story 2 stars Buzz trying to infiltrate Zurg's lair in a quest to find the source of Zurg's power. And this scene is well known by our little observer.

In a tunnel, Buzz is chased by a spiked wall. Just before the spikes start, we watch the tag race between sofas as the wee fella imitates what is about to happen. Then the spiked wall starts to chase buzz, and we see a jump - again, just before Buzz jumps through the closing door at the end.

The floating discs bridge. As Buzz approaches: Jump, jump, jump, jump-jump. Closely followed by Buzz doing the same. And so it goes, "uh-oh" just before Buzz falls as the bridge collapses, right arm up just before Buzz switches on the anti-gravity belt yelling "To infinity, and beyond" with his left arm out - AH-HA! - Got you, wrong arm!!!

And thus, the boy does NOT know the entire scene at all. Only 99% of it!

Observant? Learns? Remembers? Not at all....

Actually, that reminds me of my GCSE maths teacher spending 3 nights with her husband going through my mock GCSE paper looking for a mistake because she refused to give me 100% - she found one, right enough... 99%

And if you are wondering what Zurg vision is, I suggest you watch the film!

13 January 2009

Happy New Mid January!

It's belated but here's wishing you a happy second half of January!

The start of the year was a little slow, but also busy, and a bit of a non-event for us all.

With my suspected glandular fever finally easing at Christmas, MOTS and the boy got colds that pogressed quite badly into an increasingly annoying cough for MOTS. The boy soon got over his though, and I picked it up from him just in time to get back to work on the 2nd. Thanks, son!

And then the real fun begins. With a slow re-introduction to work after the break (the sarcasm there has to be pointed out) there's little energy left at the end of the day or week. Which causes conflict when you have no fridge, have to work around it by using the beer fridge instead, and get generally upset by not having pipe flexible enough to do the job you need to do.

Thankfully, at 9pm on Sunday, the new fridge was finally in. It was delivered on Wednesday, by two chaps who were not helpful in the slightest, who were rather rude and were insisting on being jobsworths. Of course that was far from the truth, but they went so far above and beyond the call of duty when they delivered it that what they did didn't happen, I didn't see anything, and I can't name them for fear their employer might bring about reprimands for excellent customer service.

With help from Ali (a lot of help) we're plumbed in and gradually filling the bucket with ice. Which is where the nightmare was supposed to begin...

On Wednesday night the boy found the new appliance sat in the kitchen. He wasted no time in pushing the two levers, one for the water and one for the ice. This is going to cause problems, when he gets cold and wet with the rush of our finest tap water spilling out all over the floor. It's got a child lock, but that just locks out the control panel and leaves the water and ice functional, according to the manual. Thankfully the manual is wrong, and the water and ice is turned off when the child lock is on. But what it does do is play a two-tone tune when they are pressed, thus encouraging the little one to push the levers. Well, better to have music than a wet floor I guess.

During our use of the beer fridge we have seen an interesting development. The odd Muller Corner has vanished from the fridge. Hmm, where could they be? We didn't need Sherlock Holmes to work it out, MOTS herself was witness to the "thief".

The boy was getting used to opening the fridge, getting a "Dori" (the Finding Nemo branded tubes of yogurt) to eat, but took it further with our Mullers. He helped himself, went to his cutlery drawer to get a spoon, and took his "swag" to the lounge where he opened his new found snack and devoured the lot. MOTS managed to catch some of it on camera for future prosecution purposes!

So is 2009 to be the year of independence? Or the "get it yourself" year? Or just the year he turns into a food monster, which he does when he's coming out of a cold...

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