Come along for the ride!!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Belated wishes

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear MMMMmmmmmmmmm
Happy birthday to you

37 years old yesterday and looking as beautiful as the first day I saw her, which, for those of you who could care less, was the afternoon of August 15th, 1994.

That was then. Today however, we both had the day off and the children were at nursery. It's weird though. You both look forward to your time off together, browse some shops, somewhere nice for lunch; basically take it easy without worrying about the children.

Do you know what happens? You end up talking about them! You wonder how their day is going, reminding yourself how smashing they are!!

When you're at work, you don't really have time to sit and contemplate things at length so they remain largely at the back of your mind.

Not on your day off though! "Joseph this" or "Annabel that" - how funny.

Anyway, happy birthday to the best Mummy and Wife in the whole world - from Poops, Missy and me.

We all love you very much.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Am I bovvered?

Joseph's graduation (or as he insists on calling it, his "gradulation"), went off smoothly yesterday afternoon. By smoothly, I mean he couldn't really have cared any less about the whole thing!

To be fair he - and his friends - looked very tired and they hadn't been given any tea. Tired and hungry is not a great combination for young children.

Come to think of it, it's not a great combination for adult males in their late 30's either!

Anyhow, he waited patiently for his name to be called and duly went up to collect his certificate. He stood there, looking bashful but beautiful in his graduation gown and mortar board which the staff had made for them all, while his key worker read out a (very) short summary of what J contributed to the nursery. It included the following line;

"It is always a pleasure to see Joseph come through the nursery door in the morning, with a big smile and a bag of fruit to share with all his friends".

I think that sums him up rather nicely.

When all the children then burst into the song that he'd been practising all week at home, he looked bored, like he didn't want to be there.

Bless him! He actually doesn't like the spotlight being on him and I can't hold that against him.

I'm not too keen on it myself!

Enjoy your last couple of weeks at nursery Poops. Things are about to change big time!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Perspective anyone?

The main reason I started writing this blog (read it here) was to try and get some perspective in my life.

Ok, I also wanted an online diary of watching my children growing up and to record my thoughts and feelings about being a Dad.

But perspective was the required end result and Lord knows, I need perspective and often! I got fed up with becoming upset over the unimportant, silly things that happen in one's everyday life. The things that sent me into a rage or pushed my "self pity" button when, on reflection, they really weren't that big a deal. I needed reminding of everything I have to feel lucky about in my life; my wife, my children, my home, my security and so on.

More than all of this however, is to remember to be grateful for my health and the health of my family.

I hate to sound pious but if you have your health, nothing, absolutely nothing else matters. It doesn't matter how many cars, houses, boats or horses you accumulate, if you're sick or unable to enjoy these things, what good are they?

It doesn't even have to be a luxury like a longed for Ferrari or a million pounds.

Imagine never being able to see the sun? Imagine wondering what that warmth on your skin was but never seeing it? Would it be the same if someone had to explain to you what it was?

Imagine wanting to pick up and cuddle your new born child/grandchild but not being able to move for whatever reason, through sickness or disability?

A friend of ours has just another child, a much longed for boy, and there are some things which aren't as you would hope for your newborn child with their life stretched out in front of them.

I saw her yesterday and her news hit me like a ton of bricks.

Take a look around you. If you have your health and your family have theirs, offer up a prayer to whichever God it is that you pray to and give thanks.



Tuesday, August 22, 2006

All change please, all change!

September approaches, and M and I are preparing for the big changes about to take place in our household.

First and foremost, Joseph leaves nursery! This is truly monumentous - he has been in the same nursery since he was 6 months old, moving from the baby room, to Little Learners and finally to the Learning Centre where he has forged close friendships and ties with his peers and staff alike.

I know we all like to think of our own children as "special" - I'm no different I suppose, but I do think that the staff hold J' in very high regard. He is friendly, happy and polite - basically, they report that it's a pleasure to be in his company. That may just mean he's less rude than the others but I like to think that's not the reason!!

While we feel that he is more than ready to move on, he is nevertheless leaving the relative safety of nursery forever, and with it, all that he is familiar with and has come to know over the last 3 and a half years. The staff, the mealtimes, the marvellous cook (I'll be giving a special mention to the staff at a later date!), his friends (who have grown up alongside him), where to find his toothbrush after lunch, the route to and from nursery and so on

Tomorrow is his "graduation day". Apparently the staff have been busy making graduation gowns and caps for a leaving ceremony that promises to be an emotional afternoon (for the parents I hasten to add!!).

Continuing in the grand theme of change, Annabel will be going to nursery an extra day per week. M's mother has been looking after her for 2 days per week for the past 9 months and I think she is quite looking forward to having that reduced by 50%. Annabel is very mobile, very active and very quick on her feet - a day with her is fun but darn tough!!

From a financial point of view, the pressure will be off paying the double nursery fees , what with J' leaving which is the reason we will be able to let A' go for another day.

Still, if Annabel turns out to be as happy, polite and friendly a child as Joseph, it'll be well worth the same exorbitant sum all over again!

Sorry, did I say exorbitant? I meant

Monday, August 21, 2006

Monday feeling!

Boy oh boy, the difference a couple of days make!

Before I go off at too much of a tangent, let me make one thing clear - we had a great weekend!

As you might recall, Joseph had friends over on Friday afternoon and, as I suspected, the place was in a fair old state when I got in from work at half past three.

As promised, J and I went to the cinema on Saturday morning armed with a bag of popcorn, a packet of sweets (sugar free naturally), raisins and apple juice. We watched "Cars" with the lead role played by an animated racing car called "Lightning McQueen" or as Joseph pronounced, "like me the queen"! It was great fun and as expected J really enjoyed it - the experience in general as well as the film I think.

Extended family visiting on Saturday afternoon and then home to get the children to bed, late and exhausted.

Sunday saw J complaining of stomach ache (again) and culminated in a night of vomit and runny poo (hey, you want the full story or not??). We think food poisoning from somewhere as he was ok this morning. I was knackered, he was fine!

And here we are, Monday morning.

I got in late, its raining, I had to pay a £50 parking ticket (after I had bought £7.20's worth of parking permit - thanks for nothing Westminster council!) but I am sure the week will get better.

Here's hoping!


ps - Just a quick note to say many congratulations to my cousin Francois on the safe arrival of her second baby boy (sleeping peacefully throughout all the fuss on Saturday), who has been wonderfully named "Joseph".

Great name Fran' - I'm sure our Joseph will be very proud in years to come!

Bo selecta!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday feeling!

In what M and I refer to as "our past lives" (or 'pre-marriage & pre-parenthood'), we would come home from work in a great mood, ready for the weekend and it usually all kicked off with a nice strong Bloody Mary before sauntering out to spend pretty much the entire evening in our favourite restaurant San Gennaro's in Battersea - the best pizza outside Naples (I always ordered the Classica pizza but with olives as an extra topping - crazy!).

How Friday's have changed!
For M in particular!
She stopped working Friday's when J was born and loved working a 4 day week. Then Missy came along and now her Friday is ........ busy, shall we say! Today looks like being particularly hectic as 3 of Joseph's nursery friends (and their younger siblings and mothers) are coming over for "tea and biscuits".

Of course, this is just code for "causing utter mayhem" and adopting a "search and destroy" attitude to our personal belongings and the house in general.

The mums all take it in turns on a rota system and the last time it was M's turn to host, I arrived home in the afternoon and literally waded through the chaos on the ground floor of the house, through to the back garden where they were all playing.

Poor M - both children wreaking havoc all morning, make them lunch, wrestle them into bed for a nap and then, tidy her hair, splash some cold water on her face before ......... opening the front door with a smile on her face, allowing a further 9 individuals in, all requiring "tea and biscuits".

She asked me to pray for sunshine so at least the boys will be able to play out in the garden.

Actually, as I write I've realised that Annabel will be the only girl amongst them.

Luckily for her (or unluckily for them) she is a tough little cookie and will happily wade in where others fear to tread.

That's my girl!


Tuesday, August 15, 2006


It was just about to turn 7 o' clock this morning and still no noise from Joseph's OR Annabel's room.

I was running the water in the basin for a shave when I hear J's door open. I poke my head round the door of the bathroom just as his door swings open and there he is, my smashing son in his little blue pyjamas with his ruffled hair and a "I just woke up" look on his handsome face, his eyes squinting in the morning light on the landing.

"Is it time to wake up?" he asks. "Yes", I reply.
"Did I wake you up?" he enquires. "No my love, you didn't wake us up, thank you". Not waking us up at the crack of dawn earns J a smiley face for his chart. At the end of the week, more smiley faces equals more treats and, since the introduction of the
Thunderbirds chart one week ago today, he has earned himself not a single black cross! The chart is littered with smiley faces.
What do points make? Yep, prizes!
J has been banging on about going to the cinema for weeks now so Saturday morning, that's where we'll be going.

Interestingly, no sooner had J opened his bedroom door, then Missy stirs and starts chatting to herself, gobbledeegook at first but escalating to "mama, mama", proving what we already thought - that she will sleep in until she is disturbed by noise on the landing.

So, J sleeping in later means more sleep for everyone!

If you haven't tried your own behaviour chart yet, I highly recommend one!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Thar he blows!


Another weekend, another bout of sickness.

It started on Friday when I had taken the day off from work in order to do some shopping for Saturday's lunch when we were expecting 6 friends and their children - we were all looking forward to it.

In a nutshell, M had a migraine, Missy was covered in a very dubious looking rash and J had a nasty tummy bug which left him either sat on the toilet or kneeling in front of it!

This spilt over into Saturday leaving us no choice but to cancel lunch and the entire weekend just kind of spluttered by, not helped of course by the stinking weather.

The incredible rain and thunderstorm yesterday afternoon got us all going though. By "going" I mean, J leaping up off the floor at the first clap of very loud thunder and sprinting across the room into my arms - that was pretty funny! He thought so too, thankfully.

J and I opened the front door and stood watching the torrents of water literally flooding down our street, the drains overflowing, the car tyres 6 inches deep in rainwater.

Another flash of lightning and then a huge boom of thunder. Again, J clapped his hands over his ears but laughing now, braver as I was holding him. He was scared though - I have to admit, the storm was right overhead.
I then taught him how to tell if a storm was getting closer or moving away. Watch for the flash of lightning then count, 1 ...... 2 ...... 3 ........ boom, crash of thunder, watch for the next flash then count again and if you can count to a higher number than last time, the storm is moving away. If it's less, the storm is getting closer.

I explained all this with a smile on my face. My brother and I watched Poltergeist repeatedly when we were younger and the father in the film explains the same thing to his son (just before a tree branch reaches in and drags the terrified youngster through the window and tries to eat him!!!!). Nothing like that in SW London I'm happy to report!

Thankfully, between the flashes of lightning and the huge claps of thunder (as in Poltergeist), we counted upwards. We stayed put so J could see this theory proved right.

Then, amazingly, the storm and rain stopped - as suddenly as it appeared - but only after having breathed fresh life into all that desperately needed it. The grass in the back garden, burnt brown over recent months, looked instantly revived, almost willing itself back to green.

I then uttered that immortal line, "well, the garden needed that!".

Jeez, I hate it when I say that!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Always thoughtful

I've said it from when he was just a very little baby - Joseph has a very kind heart; he's a very kind boy.

Just a little thing happened yesterday but it reminded me that I was right in this early assumption.

When collecting both children from the nursery, you have to go prepared; with snacks! Missy likes water and a rice cake and Poops likes water, fruit and nuts or raisins. Well yesterday I was in a bit of a rush and grabbed water and two fruit bars.

Upon arrival, M had already collected Missy and was sat with J and his friends. I gave a fruit bar to Missy with her water and a fruit bar to J.

BIG mistake, HUGE!

All his friends gathered round, gawping at this delicious looking treat and, as kids do, asked "can I have some?". J broke a piece off and offered it to one of them and made to move away. Not a chance. They closed ranks and held out their hands persistently.

He broke off another piece and another and another until he was left with the smallest stub of fruit bar.

His shoulders dropped slightly, looking down at what remained of his earlier prize. He said nothing though, just bravely walked from the room, waving good bye to the staff.

My heart thumped in admiration (I could no more hide my frustration now, never mind as a nearly 4 year old!). Thankfully, Missy only ever has a small piece of her bar and so I offered him the entire remainder of hers.

His back straightened, shoulders back, smile returning and a whispered "thank you" just escaping his slightly wobbly lower lip.

He might not have wanted to be left with nothing but he wouldn't have let on to his friends.

A small boy with a big, big heart - we love you so much Poops!


Thursday, August 10, 2006

All quiet on the western front - nearly.

It's funny how day-to-day events affect the smooth running of your lives.

For example, nothing very monumental has happened this week. I say "nothing much" because there is something which happened that I'd rather forget about but I'll come to that.

My point is this; Missy has been almost running around this week, never mind walking; tearing past, screaming with laughter as she goes. She seems to be growing up frighteningly quickly.

Similarly, J's vocabulary is getting better every day and he has had a very good behaviour week - this may have something to do with the new Thunderbirds behaviour chart we have introduced due to the somewhat rotten behaviour of last week however. More smiley faces than black crosses equals more treats.

It's all very Supernanny I know but hey, it works and when faced with a four year old about to lose his mind and freak out on you, you have to do something! By something I mean the choice of smiley faces (the "treat" route) or black crosses (the "not a hope in hells chance" of a treat route).

Which would you choose?

Anyway, like I said it works, so if you're struggling I highly recommend the introduction of one. We would try one for Annabel but I fear she would merely eat it.

Going back to the something that happened earlier; picture the scene.

Both children have had their baths, their teeth brushed, they're calming down nicely when Joseph, completely out of the blue and in mid conversation utters a serious expletive; remember, he's not quite 4 years old yet! I knew it would happen but not for another few years at least!!!

M and I freeze; we look at each other and I can tell we are both thinking the same thing; "let's ignore it". Sometimes it's more effective if we let something like that slip by unchallenged.

10 seconds later, he says the same thing again (obviously the ignoring trick ain't gonna work here!) so I whirl around and adopting my "stern" face and demand to know where he heard that word?

Smiling (smiling if you don't mind!!), he answers by giving the name of a nursery friend (who I admit neither of us think very much of anyway - not since he trashed our house at J's 3rd birthday party and kicked me when I told him off!!).

M and I both read him the riot act, explained what a naughty word it is and he's not to use it. He gets very upset at the prospect of no treats and apologises and tearfully climbs into bed for a story.

I climb in next to him - we read side by side you see - and, as I'm about to start, he says it again!

Of all the nerve .....

I climb out of bed, put the book on the side and say goodnight, that's it, last chance gone, game over.

Tears and shouts of protest all fall on deaf ears. He must have been pretty tired though because he went straight to sleep. Funny enough, the next morning, it was like he knew he was in trouble. He stayed in bed until nearly 7 o' clock, affording us a bit of a lie in - wonderful.

We haven't mentioned it since and there's been no repeat performance.

The Thunderbird chart was introduced the next day - if it had been in existence the day before I wouldn't have needed a smiley face stamp - just a large black permanent marker!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Basics only required!

We went to a nursery on Saturday - the flower and plant type - and J absolutely loved it. I sat him in a huge 2 wheeled wire trolley and we tore up and down the narrow walkways, in and out of the greenhouses, through the Christmas tree field and he squealed pretty much the whole time.

You see?

You don't need the latest toys or gizmos to impress your children! By far and away and without a shadow of a doubt, the only things you need to give your children are your time and your attention! They'll love you for it!

As a bonus, we now have a lovely wisteria growing at the front of the house!!!

Merci ma famille - I had a lovely weekend!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Money talks!

While showering this morning, I could faintly hear Poops AND Missy yelling, screaming, crying. I sort of expect this from Missy but it was Joseph I could hear most which is unusual.

So I open the shower door and enquire if everyone's ok? No, they're not, so I rinse, grab towel and follow the noise to our bedroom.

Joseph had managed to drop a large metal money box on the very end of his big toe, splitting the nail AND the skin, it's bleeding, he's screaming and I KNOW how much this hurts!

Arnica tablets (amazing herbal remedy), arnica cream (just to make sure) and Nurofen to ease the throbbing in his toe.

Of all the mornings, we were supposed to be walking to the nursery this morning (as I am going to work on the train) but J announces, "I can't even walk on it" through the sobs.

Car, nursery, car, back home, then walk to station, miss train, get in late etc etc.

Tra la la la la, oh what fun it is to ride ..... tum de dum ....

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Platter boy!

For the past couple of warm summer months, J has been waking up either thirsty, hungry or both. We have been awarding him gold stickers for every morning he doesn't wander into our room at 5.45am to announce this and, for the most part, it's working.

Not entirely however. It got to the point where I was leaving a glass of water and what he refers to as a "platter" covered in clingfilm, out for him the night before - I'm serious!

A platter can consist of any of the following; fruit (in abundance), cheese sticks, yoghurt, fruit bars and "special drinks" (any live probiotic drink). The picture below is a picture I took this morning of his fruit platter.

Ok, technically that's not the exact picture but you get the idea - fruit and lots of it. He loves it bless him.

Here's the educational part.

J has been eating fruit from day one of moving onto solids and has liked fruit since then; it's his number one choice of snack.

Is there a lesson to be learnt here?

Well yes, actually there is. The lesson is this; if you want your child to have a healthy diet in those important, early years as well as forming healthy eating habits in the long term, then introduce all the good stuff as soon as possible. No child needs burgers and chips. No child needs sweets or coca-cola. Parents and guardians choose to give it to them - at their peril!

Whatever you give them at the start of their lives is what they will continue to eat.

So, now you know who to blame if your child is sat on the sofa watching tv stuffing pizza into their face.