Welcome back…

“Where have we been?” I hear you cry. It’s been months since Mother has let me write a blog post and even when I did write them, Father was too busy to be our webmaster. But we’re back now and I can update you with everything that has been going on.

The most important thing is that I’ve now got teeth. Two teeth. Well, a bit of a tooth and an even smaller bit of tooth. But they’re there and Mother is very happy about it. The first one arrived eleven days before I turned one.

teeth2

I am also now totally a toddler and not a baby. I am terribly independent and walk most places on my own. I decide which way we go and I like to stop a lot to taste whatever’s on the ground.

We have been on our first proper holiday helping Father on his choir tour in Cornwall. It was too hot, I got a fever and didn’t see Father for a lot of the time but at least I had Mother. And Granny and Grandad were there too. My favourite part of the holiday was the bidet. I played with it for hours, splashing and putting stuff in it. I wish they’d get one at home.

bidet

Well I’d better go and do some gardening now. Father loves me helping, and I love to drink the hosepipe. What fun we have!

gardening hose2

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He is not naughty, he’s curious

toilet rollH has always been very curious about everything. Now that he can communicate what he wants, he gets to learn about pretty much everything he likes the look of. And who am I to stop him? I want to encourage his curiosity, so I help him reach, feel and see things that interest him as much as I can. Sadly though there are some things he wants to do which simply aren’t safe and these things are increasing in number all the time.
It’s difficult knowing how to deal with it without making him upset, confused or afraid though. I don’t want to use “no” and “don’t” all the time because it feels so negative and I don’t want H to be one of those toddlers who shouts “no” all the time. And I like him, so why would I want to shout at him?

He does many things that I think other parents would call “naughty”. He rips things, eats paper, eats soap (well once – that was a steep learning curve), pulls tissues put of the box in handfuls, takes jars of spices out of the cupboard and bangs them on the window… Every day is full of such antics. But he’s learning. I will not discourage it, how can I stifle such a lovely curiosity for the world?

toilet roll 2Obviously he wasn’t born knowing what is safe to explore and what’s not, so occasionally, actually more and more frequently now, he’ll try and go for something which just isn’t safe. Like sticking the plugged-in iPad charger in his mouth, or pulling a lamp off its table by the flex. Or walking dangerously close to a big old sharp pointy door. When he does this sort of hazardous act, there’s no time to explain to him why he can’t or to remove him from the offending articles and I find myself doing an “ah-ah-ah” accompanied by my best stern teacher face (you know the one – sideways look with raised eyebrows). But to my horror, his beautiful little face creases every time I do this and he gets genuinely upset, with tears and everything. Although I’m not saying “no”, I’m still making disapproving noises and looks and to a tiny person who’s never experienced this it must be scary. So I have to change my method. I’ll let you know what I come up with and what works.

Having said that though, he does seem to learn very quickly what he can do and what we don’t like him to do. He knows not to go into the kitchen without an adult – hard slate floor, hot cooker, lots of pointy things – and if he wants to go he’ll stand at the edge of the room and point at the kitchen. I wonder if he’ll have the same attitude when he’s older. “Mother, I’m just going to stand near the bar and point at it until you come with me to buy more beer. I want to ask that girl over there out but in case you disapprove, I’ll point at her until you take me to her.” I hope not.

But H is not even one yet. What’s it going to be like when he gets bigger? When he can speak and has an answer for everything? Is my letting him do what he wants as much as possible going to help him in his toddler frustrations or is it going to make it all worse? What happens if he gets a sibling and doesn’t have all the attention he’s used to? (That’s my reason for waiting a few years!) Will all this happy, gentle approach backfire? Some will say of course it will. I’d like to think it will help but all I can do is wait and see. I’m just doing what comes naturally.

In the meantime, I’ve been reading about how to approach such matters and here’s a few little linkies for anyone who’s interested.

API suggests using empathy and understanding the unmet need – I think that’s so important. There must be a reason for the child wanting to behave in a certain way (no, it’s not just “naughty”)

Some good tips to help you think about why a child wants to do behave in a certain way, how to find a way round the problem and how to be innovative in your approach. Peaceful parenting is a really interesting blog about lots of issues.

Ten principles of Unconditional Parenting – a quick overview which can help you to remember to see things from your child’s perspective.

A few tips from WebMD

More blogginess at the Parenting Passageway.

A day in the life of H…

I haven’t been feeling too good this week. I’ve had this mysterious illness for four days now, and it’s getting in the way of my playing. I can’t quite describe what it is that feels unwell, and I know this must be frustrating for Mother as she can’t make it go away if she doesn’t know what it is. But cuddles are definitely helping a great deal. As are my new toys. The washing machine, tumble dryer and vacuum cleaner.

Previously I’d been a bit wary of the vacuum cleaner (which is called George in our house. It’s a Dyson. I think it’s a musicians’ joke) because of its great size and noise, but now I love it and demand to play with it as much as possible. It’s just lovely. It’s yellow and has a tube and even a wonderful long wire! I like to shake the wire about, put my finger in all the little holes and scratch the ridgy tube so it makes a nice sound. I accidentally pressed the button for it yesterday and then I needed some of the aforementioned cuddles.

dyson

And the washing machine and dryer, well, what better toys could anyone ask for? There are doors to open and shut, buttons to press, lights to look at and if that’s not enough, sometimes they go round and round too! Spectacular. Mother’s not too keen on playing with them for too long – something about my fingers and the doors, and her knees on the hard kitchen floor. I don’t know. But I only go in the kitchen when Mother holds my hand, otherwise I wait for her patiently because once I fell on the hard nasty floor. As good as my walking is, socks and uncarpeted floor suddenly make me unable to walk any more.

So back to my illness. I think it’s my mouth that hurts, because it doesn’t hurt so much when I’m chewing on things, and I sometimes even forget about it when I’m having milk. But everyone will insist on poking their fingers in my mouth and knowingly saying something about teeth, it’s the worst thing about it so I hope it goes away soon. I think it’s upsetting Mother rather a lot.

A day in the life of H…

Mother says she’s not too keen on the sun shining but I have decided I love it. I don’t have to have all the same opinions as her, do I? Maybe I can persuade her summer is good. It is, after all, my Birthday Season.

sunglasses
Some things that make summer more fun than the winter:

When we go in the car (yuck, hate those car journeys), the window is open and I can see out better and have a lovely draft on my head.

We eat all our meals in the garden. So I get to drop things on the floor and later watch the birds eat my leftovers. Although when I drop food on the cloth that’s on the kitchen floor I sometimes get it back, and they don’t give me food that’s been on the floor outside. Don’t know why.

There’s a rake outside. I love rakes. I love anything with handles or poles. This one has a yellow pole and I rake up the gravel with it and chew the handle.

rake
There are wires above the garden. I love wires. I shriek at them a lot.

There’s a lovely tap attached to the wall. We have a game where I point to things and Mother runs me to them. It always involves the tap, and sometimes the wheelbarrow, or bench, or flowers. It’s hilarious. Today I laughed so much while playing it that I started coughing!

I can practise my walking on the gravel. It’s grippy on my feet and makes such a lovely sound. It’s not great when I fall on my bottom but luckily I have quite a lot of padding.

I get to do one of my favourite hobbies – gardening. I pull leaves off plants, throw soil around and put twigs in my mouth. I know Father loves me helping him with gardening, as he sometimes says he doesn’t have enough time for it so my help is really appreciated.

hose
We go to the playground much more. Mother takes me down the slide when nobody is watching, and that is just the most hilarious thing ever. Today I thought I wasn’t ever going to stop laughing. And sometimes I like the swings too, but only when I feel like bending my legs to get in it. The best thing about the playground is the yellow and green railings.

And finally, the best thing about all this warm weather is my amazing hat collection. I know I look good in a hat because Mother told me.

sunglasses2

Who’d have thought

H steals my food

H steals my food

Before having H I was quite tidy, a bit squeamish about sick, snot and toilet stuff and I had some pride in my appearance. I always knew having a baby would change my life but I didn’t really think about these aspects of my life. Don’t read on if you’re squeamish or pregnant…

I go to bed in the evenings leaving the dishes in the sink (or worse – on the table), clothes in piles all over the house and books and toys strewn across the living room. Sometimes I don’t even know where my slippers are. And I can still sleep.

Our latest way of encouraging H to sleep when he’s tired is a stroll around the village in the sling, followed by some milk while still in the sling which usually sends him to sleep (I’m sure that’ll change soon though). Because I don’t take him out of the sling till he’s asleep, and then I go to bed with him, I have to have my pyjamas on. So every evening I put my pyjama top on before our walk. I change my trousers once he’s asleep – that’s something I have perfected quite well – but I go out in my pyjamas. Under a jacket. And we walk past the same houses every evening. I just hope people don’t sit by their windows looking out at that time.

I no longer moisturise. I’ve never been the sort to spend hours in the bathroom getting ready every day but I always moisturised after a shower. Now my showers are two minutes long and I get dressed while still damp. Yuck. It’s not helping the massive patches of dry, rough skin I have on my knees and tops of my feet from crawling after H all day.

I examine nappy contents.

Yes, I do. I get quite excited by it and I’ll describe it to anyone who’ll listen. Which means P or Granny. P doesn’t like it. Granny is a bit better at listening to my descriptions. I didn’t think I’d ever be interested in that stuff. And at the moment, as it’s only happening every few days, I am over the moon when it happens. I think that’s enough detail on that one.

I remove dried bogeys from H’s nose with my bare fingers. Yucky. I’ve always hated snot-related things and here I am pulling them out as if they were just crumbs down his front. And, of course, they get examined. Vile.

I sometimes go out without brushing my hair. Or even looking in the mirror. Mirrors are there so I can admire my beautiful son. I just have to hope that all other people are too busy looking at H to notice me.

I have to drink in secret. If I’m really thirsty there’s no point in having a drink with H watching me, he’ll just grab it and share it. When Granny comes round or P comes home I can safely disappear into the kitchen for a nice big glug of water. And I might even sneak a quick bite of a snack while I’m there.

I can go all day without going to the loo. Bad, I know. But at least being a teacher trained me for that. And it’s only going to get worse. The few times I do go with H in tow, he pulls himself up by the toilet seat and attempts to put his hands down the bowl. Needless to say, cleaning the toilets is one thing that does get done here.

I am always covered in scratches and bruises. Partially because I’m so bad at cutting his nails, partially because he’s so strong. I get a dead arm at least once a day and once a night from H lying on it. And I can’t move it as he wakes up.

Nothing is my own. All my food gets taken from me, and then he offers it me as if he’s the one sharing. I love it, but it makes eating difficult. My bed space, bath time and shower time are no longer my own. My body certainly isn’t my own as now he just pulls down my top when he feels like a drink. I’m not complaining. I love it all. I love all the little scratches, the thirst, the frightful state I look and the house I can’t invite anyone into. They are all the little hallmarks of my H, and I wouldn’t change any of them.

perfect2

A weekend in the life of H

We’ve had a week of fun this week. Mother AND Father all to myself. They have been at my beck and call all week and it has been fabulous. And we’ve had lots of cake too.

We stayed at home, my favourite place, most of the time and although I had to entertain the Parents pretty much constantly it wasn’t too awful. Some people think it’s hard work and exhausting having two such demanding parents but when you think about the outcome – two very content and calm parents who hardly ever cry – it’s worth the effort.

Yesterday we went to a new place. The Peach. I don’t know why it’s named after a fruit but I thought if it’s as nice as the fruit I’ll enjoy going. We had to spend ages in the car (10 minutes) but when we got there it was a weird enormous place and there were lots of dogs there. “Dog” is one of my words from my Old Macdonald book so I was really excited to see so many real ones there.

The Parents took me to a small area near some rocks where it wasn’t so windy and they put me on the floor. What was I supposed to do now? There were no toys, nothing to play with or eat, so I stood and held onto Mother’s legs for a bit. Then Father produced my bucket, rake and spade. The ones I use to do the gardening at home. It was nice to see my own things in an unfamiliar place. Mother started to put some of the floor into my bucket. It was like the soil in the garden, only a different colour. But then came the magic. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a small tower was formed. Out of the special soil. It was brilliant. Mother called it a castle, although it didn’t look anything like the knights’ castle in my book.

castle

I tried some of the soil (Father called it “sand”) but, just like the soil at home, it didn’t feel too good in my mouth. So I didn’t have any more.

After tidying up some of the towers by raking them, I had a bit of a stand, walked a few steps and crawled for miles.

castle2

After an exhausting but fun time, the Parents took my socks and trousers off (so undignified!) and we endured the long journey home. It was definitely as nice as the other Peach, although it didn’t taste as good.

Today we went to Old Macdonald’s farm. It was almost the same as in my book but there were no cows (they’re the ones that say moo).

It was brilliant, we saw all of the words I know in my book (I can point at the right pictures when Mother says the names):
a donkey, a horse, pigs, sheep, ducks, a dog, a wheel, a tree and a tractor.

donkey

pigAnd to round off a really fun weekend, Mother let me play with the outside tap for ages. Bliss.

Not quite as planned

Helping with the barbecue

Helping with the barbecue

So far this half term we have:

  1. Gone to the supermarket twice.
  2. Gone to the corner shop three times.
  3. Gone to my parents’ once.
  4. Gone for between two and six walks round the village every day to look for telegraph wires and cats (to get H to sleep).
  5. Gone to the library once.
  6. Run out of money.
  7. Had three barbecues (at home, just the three of us).
  8. Experimented with five vegan cakes of varying quality.
  9. Played with H non-stop.

So far this half term we have not:

  1. Gone for nature walks in the woods.
  2. Gone to the beach.
  3. Gone for picnics with gingham-lined baskets.
  4. Gone to the children’s farm.
  5. Gone anywhere further than five minutes’ drive away.
Cat spotting

Cat spotting

I didn’t actually think I could be so wrong in my predictions of a blissful week of family togetherness.

But looking back on our week – and I’m not just trying to make myself feel better about it – it’s actually been pretty lovely just doing “nothing” at home. Spending any time with the most active child on the planet can hardly be called nothing, but we haven’t gone out of our way to do anything special, and yet we had a special time. Just being together as a family is what matters, not where it is or what you do. And for H, going on wire-spotting walks around the village is more fun than any beach or children’s farm or picnic. And his reactions to everything he sees are more entertaining for us than a nature walk or trip to the zoo or trip on the ferry. We can do all that in the summer holidays.

A week in the life of H…

Monday
I have discovered that wires are my favourite things. Any wire. The wire that makes the vacuum cleaner work, the wire that the phone gets plugged into, and most of all the big wires that come off tall poles outside. When we go for walks I look for them all the time. I always spot them before Mother, so I squeal and laugh very loudly in her face to let her know. It’s a brilliant game, wires are so lovely and exciting.

Tuesday
I threw a mug on the floor today, it was amazing how it all changed from a mug into lots of differently shaped pieces. I wasn’t allowed to pick them up though. Today I wanted to see it happen again so I took Mother’s mug when she wasn’t looking and did it again. It makes a lovely tinkle tinkle noise, you should try it. Mother said something about having to use plastic mugs, I hope they do the same thing.

Wednesday
Today I discovered how interesting waste paper baskets are. I take everything out as it often seems a bit messy and needs sorting, and I usually find something to eat in there. A crusty tissue, an envelope, a rubber band. Although the parents seem to be using it less and less recently, I do hope they put more goodies in it soon.

Thursday
Mother really likes her purse. She always takes it to the shops and cafés and she gets quite upset when she can’t find it. And I also like it. A lot. It feels really nice on my gums when I bite it. Yes yes, I am ten months old with no teeth, save your comments as I’ve heard them all before. Anyway, I never want Mother to lose her lovely purse so when she leaves it on the sofa, I helpfully put it in the ball pit. That way, she’ll always know where to look for it and it’s safe there. Only the first time I put it there she didn’t understand me so spent a very long time looking for it. Another reason why I can’t wait for her to start understanding me.

balls

Friday
It wasn’t raining today and Mother wanted to play in the garden. So I let her put the playmat and several toys outside and I kept her amused for a while. Then I was doing some important gardening with my red spade when I came across a noodle in the soil. A very strange place for a noodle, I thought. So I picked it up and it moved! Noodles don’t usually move. I thought about eating it anyway, but Mother wanted it more than I did so I let her have it. I’m always thinking of others. But it’s good to know that if I’m outside and feeling a bit peckish all I need to do is look in the soil.

garden

Saturday
I gave my car a service as the steering wasn’t working very well. I found the problem in the axle and fixed it, then went for a celebratory spin round the kitchen. It’s always a good idea to learn how to service your car yourself – saves a fortune in the long run.

axle

Sunday
I fell asleep just before we were supposed to go to church so we didn’t go, which was a bit unfortunate as there’s nothing I like more than loudly joining in with the hymns. And crawling on the pews, especially when we have a whole pew to ourselves. But it also meant that I got to stay up till nine o’clock because all my sleeps were later. So we went out for four walks this evening. Wire-spotting walks. I have spent so much time looking up I almost have a crick in my neck. But it’s definitely worth it to see the beautiful wires. Mmm wires, dreaming about wires…

"Wires!"

“Wires!”

Half term happiness

gravelThis week is half term. I look forward to school holidays with much more anticipation than a school pupil. We have P to ourselves for a whole week which means H gets more quality time with daddy, I get longer showers without company, and we have the opportunity for family days out.

School holidays often end up being the time when we catch up with household jobs like spring cleaning, gardening and rearranging furniture. (Just as an aside, I have always felt compelled to rearrange the layout of rooms on a regular basis since childhood. I don’t know anyone else who does this – is it a condition?!) But P also has a lot of work to do on top of this. He has a lot of planning of lessons, chapel services and the choir tour as well as the inevitable marking, timetabling, sorting schemes of work and a million other things which would make an interesting blog if he had time to do it. But he will be strictly limited to doing these things only when H is sleeping so we can properly relax without letting work get in the way.

I am determined not to turn this week into the usual Saturdays (the only day he doesn’t work) of nagging – telling P he needs to play with H while I have my shower/sort laundry/cook dinner, then telling him he’s not talking to him enough, not reading a story right or letting him bump his head. Getting stressed because the day has a different order from weekdays and it will confuse H. And perhaps fitting in a short walk or hurried visit to the shops between sleeps.

We are going to have leisurely days of nature walks, visits to the beach or art gallery, going to the children’s farm and some nice play time at home. I am going to have very long, hot showers every day, and might even blow dry my hair once or twice while H and daddy play.

It will be a blissful week of family time, with sunshine, beautiful flowers and gingham-lined picnic baskets with butterflies fluttering around our heads and birds coming close to share our food. We will be pristine and smiling at all times and we will share playing with H equally, giving him all the attention he wants and deserves. We won’t run out money before payday and there won’t be a cross or critical word to be uttered by anyone in the R family. Watch this space.

BLW…an update

Time for an update on the baby-led weaning I think. He’s now ten months old, four or five months after many babies have started solids. He doesn’t eat three meals a day by any means, but he is swallowing some food (you don’t need details of how I know 🙂 ). Typically, his daily food intake will consist of gumming on a crust of my toast or crumpet at breakfast. Yes, gumming, that’s right. Yes, he is ten months old and still no teeth. Have I mentioned that?

For lunch, he’ll gum on a piece of breadstick dipped in hummus, or some vegetarian sausage and a tree of broccoli or a stick of cucumber. At dinner time, more often than not he’ll be too tired to entertain the idea of eating anything, but he’s beginning to enjoy eating my food. Especially if we have fajitas (my special version with no meat, cheese or salt…). He loves to gum on mine. Giving him his own is not good enough, it has to be mine. Which is fine, as in return he’ll stick it in my face and “share” it with me, which is so adorable I don’t mind giving up half my meals!

blw
Most of this food ends up on the cloth under his seat, but some of it goes in and he’s definitely exploring tastes and textures and familiarising himself with all sorts of food.

One controversial aspect of H’s diet is that he doesn’t have any meat or dairy. This is mostly because of me, but recently P has started a low-meat (only chicken occasionally) and dairy-free regime so there isn’t really much choice. It’s controversial because so many people believe that meat and dairy are the only products from which we can get protein, iron or calcium. You’ve probably gathered by now that I would never do anything to risk my precious baby’s health so rest assured I’ve looked into this very carefully. Our diet consists of many foods rich in iron, calcium and protein (pulses, nuts, leafy vegetables, fortified cereals and soya products to name a few), and, though many find it hard to believe, my own iron levels are surprisingly high considering I haven’t eaten meat or dairy for most of my life. Of course I will let H choose for himself when he is capable whether or not he wants to try meat and dairy, and I won’t have a problem with it if he does. I feel I am giving him a good start as our diet is so healthy, and though many will disapprove I can quite confidently say his food intake in his first few years will be a lot healthier than many children’s. By allowing him to explore the tastes and textures of such a variety of food I hope he’ll have a refined palate and enjoy trying new things.

H still drinks an awful lot. He usually has half of my fruit tea at breakfast, water throughout the day in his special cup-with-a-straw, any drinks for me that I try to sneak past his beady eye, and I discovered some little pouches of puréed fruit which he loves to drink. As a BLW advocate I’m not too keen on food produced specifically for babies, but these pouches have a built-in straw, perfect for H, and only contain fruit so are basically just a smoothie in a fun container. He has also been known to go for my alcohol-free wine which makes for excellent photos to show during his wedding speeches.

So even if he’s not really eating much, he’s at the table with us for every meal and drinks his own volume in water every day. On top of feeding as many times as a newborn. He’s growing in size and intelligence every day so we definitely have nothing to worry about.

drink