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When you are: October 2009

28 October 2009

Baby's first...Day at school

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

What?

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.

aintree.gif
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.

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