Well, here we are. The final day of my epic daddy daycare adventures. Emily was obviously keen to make the most of it because she kindly woke me up at 1:11. I arrived at her cot to find her wrestling two soft toys. It wasn’t obvious who was winning but I thought it best to break up the scuffle and settle her back down. Unfortunately this took the best part of an hour, but I do recall thinking that this might give us a bit of a late start in the morning. Of course, that wasn’t the case. It was Sarah’s turn but I was aware enough to see that the first number on the clock was a 5. She settled down for a short time but was soon calling out again so she came in with us for a few minutes before Sarah had to get up. As is often the case in a morning, Emily wants her mummy and so one Sarah got up for a shower she became grouchy. Fortunately though, she spotted her shadow on the wall and seemed to be quite happy waving at it for a while. In time we were all up and having breakfast. Emily opted for Ready Brek and had a decent sized portion after her toast to set herself up nicely for our final day of fun. Big sisters arrive home at 7:30, just in time for mummy to do their hair for school before she headed off to work. Big sisters and Emily had time for a bit of play together, which was very pleasing for all three after being apart for the weekend, before it was time for us to head out. The last task before we left was to brush teeth, and big sisters took great pleasure in seeing Emily brush hers at the same time as theirs. The walk to school was chilly but without incident and including an impromptu visit to Grandma & Grandad W’s on the way past; big sisters were insistent on knocking on the door because the garage door was open and they wanted to make sure they knew. After our brief stop we rendezvoused with the usual suspects and headed down to school, taking a slight detour to the doctors for a prescription and the chemist for lip balms for big sisters. Both bought one each last week but within two days they had both lost them. I didn’t hold out much hope for the replacements lasting much longer. We had a bit of an emotional final drop off with big sisters and I had to peel big sister 1 off me to go into class when the bell went. The final school run completed, something else I’ll really miss doing. Emily and I headed home, and after sleeping all the way to school was full of beans & smiles on the return leg. We cracked straight on with the morning bottle then had a little play before making our final walk down to Guiseley. As if planned, who should we cross paths with on the way down but jaunty hat man who we haven’t heard from since much earlier in my diary. The first thing I noticed was his hat. Not quite so jaunty on this occasion but definitely not right, in fact it was pulled down so low it was almost over his nose. He was walking with his head tipped back to see where he was going, and was carrying his trusty carrier bag. As he passed, I glanced at the contents, expecting to see some cans of beer and perhaps being offered one as on the previous occasion. Today though, he was obviously thinking more about food as he had 3 or 4 tins of Spam. Nothing else that I could see, just Spam. Mrs jaunty hat is a lucky lady. The remainder of the walk to Guiseley presented nothing of note, and we headed straight to Next for a final foray into Costa. Emily had dropped off to sleep so I enjoyed a coffee and breakfast bloomer in peace before heading downstairs to collect a parcel that was waiting for Sarah. Mission complete, we did the rounds of the other shops, picking up a few birthday bits for big sisters along the way. Emily stirred but remained on good form, so we got the shopping done and headed home before she started demanding lunch. Slightly behind schedule we got back to base and Emily tucked straight into some finger food snacks whilst I warmed up some cheesy thing for her lunch. She wolfed both down and enjoyed a banana petits filous for dessert. We followed lunch with a brisk walk to Morrisons for some tea ingredients and followed that up with some play in the lounge. Emily was on great form and we had some good giggles before we had a visit from our next door neighbour. At first Emily was a bit shy but was soon showing off her standing up skills. Tea came around quickly and I started her off with a jam sandwich for a bit of variety. She was very suspicious of it at first, then alternated between tasting it and playing with it. She favoured playing with it in the end so I moved on and gave her the remainder of the cheese –based pouch from lunchtime and followed that up with a fruit pouch. Everything was devoured with gusto. With dinner a success, I popped Emily into her playpen whilst I prepared some tea for myself. With Sofia the First on the TV she was more than happy, and mixed watching with playing as I cooked and ate my tea and then ran her bath. With big sisters at their final Rainbows session and mummy picking them up from there, we followed the bath with some more lounge play and the evening mini-bottle as I tried to keep her cheery for when the rest of the family came home. She was flagging but just in the nick of time the car pulled up. Emily was excited to see them all and there were cuddles all round. Before long it was time for bed. Mummy settled Emily down and we were both able to settle big sisters down for the night. So far so good, with no disturbances.
So that’s it. 3 months of Shared Parental Leave, 2 of which have been on my own with Emily. It’s been a challenge, but great fun too. Without a doubt we have created a strong bond with the time we’ve spent together and I’m under no illusions as to how lucky I am to have been able to have this time with her. Would I recommend it to others? Of course. The challenge, I imagine, is convincing the mother to go back to work earlier than she might otherwise do. I have learned to appreciate just how hard it to do some otherwise simple tasks when travelling with a baby, either on foot or in the car. It’s given me a greater appreciation of how efficient a parent Sarah is, and to think she did all this with twins the first time around is pretty amazing. I’ve also enjoyed the spin-off opportunity to walk to school with big sisters so often. We’ve had fun along the way and they have had the extended opportunity to bond with Emily as they walk down, push her along the school path, etc. They are clearly so proud to show off their little sister and I’ve been lucky enough to watch that unfold. Of course there are also times when I have craved some adult company. Balamory and the like are good to a point but you start to go a bit crazy after a while. To say I’m looking forward to returning to work in the morning is probably pushing things a bit far, but I am looking forward to balancing out my child time with adult time a bit more.
Hopefully this has been an enjoyable read. It’s evolved as I’ve progressed through the period of leave, and some days have been more entertaining than others. If I had to choose the most entertaining day it would probably be the events surrounding Mavis’ visit to the vet, and it’s possibly fair to say that was where this diary peaked. Every day can’t be entertaining though. I’ve tried to keep it light-hearted and hopefully it is something Emily will enjoy reading when she’s older.
If you’re still reading this, thanks very much for following my exploits!
My penultimate day started well. Other than a couple of little stirs that needed no parental intervention, Emily slept through until exactly 6:18 again. Whilst neither of us are foolish enough to think this could be the formula for the future, it felt good to see daylight through the blinds when getting up to start the day. Breakfast was uneventful, and with plenty of time to kill before setting off for school, I sat at the table with big sisters for them to do some school work. Both were really good and we cracked on, getting it all done in good time. Then followed the usual mysterious disappearing time episode which led us into a manic few minutes to get out of the door and make haste for our morning rendezvous. After a good nights’ sleep, Emily was wide awake all the way to school, but took the opportunity to grab a little nap on the way home once big sisters had been dropped off. She timed up her wake up perfectly for the morning bottle and guzzled it down, setting herself up nicely for an energy-filled play in the lounge. Her play has changed in recent times and she is now more than happy roaming around her makeshift play pen (with walls made of coffee tables & big toys) and selecting her own toys to play with from the toy box. She intermingled that with much standing up and looking proud of herself, with the occasional tumble thrown in for good measure. She tired herself out before lunch and we just managed to squeeze the meal in before she started to fall asleep in the highchair, so I popped her in the pushchair where she dozed off immediately. She continued to sleep whilst we headed up to Morrisons and remained that way all the way home, giving me chance to crack on with a few chores at home before the afternoon bottle, now weighing in at 240 ml, which was downed in quick time. Full of milk, it was time for play again. The toys of choice this afternoon were two maraca-style rattles which became almost stuck, one in each hand. She kept hold of them regardless of what she was doing for at least an hour and in the end I had to take them off her to go for tea. With mummy still at work and big sisters away for the weekend we let tea settle and then had a bath together before getting mummy’s tea ready for when she got in from work. That gave us all time for a final play alongside the small bottle before bedtime. Sarah took Emily to bed, and after the expected crying to start with she was soon fast asleep. By the time we went to bed she had stirred a couple of times but I’d managed to settle her back to sleep without much trouble. Hopefully she’ll treat us to some decent lie-in’s over the weekend too. Yeah, whatever!
We were woken this morning by the alarm. Not the burglar alarm. Not the smoke alarm. The actual waking up alarm. That hasn’t happened for quite some time. 13 minutes later, at 6:18 (not that I was staring incredulously at the clock or anything) Emily woke up, and less than a minute after that the sound of footsteps from big sisters room could be heard. We were almost too stunned to get up. Emily was, unsurprisingly after another solid sleep, full of beans as was big sister 2. Big sister 1 took a little more encouragement to get out of bed but did so eventually. The calm was shattered when it came to getting dressed. Big sister 1 wanted to wear a blouse that didn’t exist, then one that was big sister 2’s. Much drama followed and eventually she got the one she wanted. This was worn for around 15 minutes before it got covered in jam and so had to go in the wash without seeing the light of day. Expecting more drama, I was a bit surprised to see her calmly put on the one she fought against a short time ago as if nothing had gone before. Emily was not engaging in all this nonsense, and calmly went about her morning routine, tucking into toast and Ready Brek then having a roll around in the playpen with Sofia the First in the background. We managed to get out of the door in time for the school run, heading on a pre-defined route chosen by big sisters the night before, and met up with the childminder for the bulk of the journey. Emily was all smiles for the outbound leg, and only fell asleep towards the back end of the return leg. Thinking she might sleep a bit longer when we got home, I only had myself to blame when I was a bit too rough removing one of her gloves and her eyes pinged open. No amount of rocking the pushchair was going to get her back to sleep again, so we went straight into the morning bottle routine. Almost all the bottle went in, after which Emily went into play mode in the lounge for a while, concentrating for quite some time on a book about Noah’s Ark. On closer inspection, I found that it had a piece missing and the soggy end suggested that Emily was to blame. She proved to be a tough nut to crack though, and wasn’t giving anything away under interrogation. With the sun shining, we decided to head out to the streets of Guiseley, primarily to buy big sisters some new school blouses. With not much time to spare before lunch we took the car and parked in one retail park (the one without draconian parking management) where we had a successful blouse shopping trip to Asda, then headed over on foot to the other retail park where we browsed in a couple of shops, coming away with some gloves and dinner ingredients. Back to the car, we loaded up and headed home. Lunch consisted of chicken dinner and mixed fruits, all of which were gobbled down, and after that had settled we went back into the lounge for some more play. I was lying on the floor with Emily for a while but kept almost dropping off to sleep. She noticed this a couple of times. On one occasion I opened my eyes to see her right in front of me, just staring at me, and the second time she started trying to grab my eyelids and pull them open. I think I prefer the alarm clock. In the end, I sat up to prevent a proper sleep session creeping up on me, and we had a fab play until almost 2:30 when it was time to head out on the school run again. Big sisters were pleased to see Emily as usual (and me, I like to think) and as ever tested the strength of the pushchair frame with their enthusiastic cuddling and entertaining of her. I was in the bad books for forgetting to bring snacks down to school too. Just to make things worse, it had been Chinese food day at school so they had not eaten much lunch either. Some whingeing was endured on the way home but my promises of snacks on arrival kept them going. It was all systems go from the point of entering the front door; bottle in the warmer for Emily and snacks for two hungry 6 year olds. Big sister 1 wanted beetroot and cheese, but big sister 2 was playing silly games and told me about 4 different things. In the end, she opted for toast with marmite and a piece of cheese. Thankfully Emily didn’t have a choice, but was clearly happy with the offer of milk as she drank the lot. A mere half an hour later it was time for Emily’s tea. Frozen cauliflower, broccoli and carrot mixed with a fruit smoothie went down a storm, with the remainder of the smoothie for dessert. Emily then spent a bit of time in the playpen whilst I prepared tea for big sisters and myself; chicken goujons, mash & peas for them and an M&S steak & ale pie with mixed veg for me. Emily was good as gold throughout and we were actually able to sit down at the table and eat whilst she played happily at the side of us. With tea out of the way, big sister 2 had a quick change into her Little Ninja’s outfit and was whisked away by Grandma S for her weekly session, whilst I took Emily upstairs for her bath. Big sister 1 jumped in with her and had a good play and then just as we had finished up we had a visit from Uncle Mark and cousins, Beth & Daniel. They all played really nicely together and were joined by big sister 2 when she got back from Little Ninja’s, and Emily seemed to enjoy the extra company too until she started to get tired. Working to our new routine, I kept her going with a small 3 ounce bottle until she seemed to be getting grouchy then took her upstairs to bed. The crying started as soon as the sleeping bag came out, and didn’t stop when I started telling the story of a puppy called Bobble, but I could see her eyes were closing so I stopped the story and tried lying her down. She was asleep within minutes. Success again. This allowed me to get big sisters to bed pretty much on time, just as mummy arrived home from work. Snuggles all round to send big sisters off to sleep, and just as we were closing their bedroom door Emily piped up. Same pattern as the previous two nights, so I went in and settled her down. It took probably the best part of ten minutes but she went back to sleep and hasn’t stirred since. If this carries on I’ll be putting my ‘Best Daddy Ever’ socks back on.
Well slap my arse and call me Sally… If the little cherub didn’t sleep through until 6:15 this morning! Unfortunately big sister 2visited a couple of times to ensure that we didn’t get to sleep until the morning alarm call but that was by far the most successful night for quite some time. Breakfast was therefore quite a smooth event too, other than the occasional outburst from one or the other big sister over hair, uniform or some other minor drama. Right on schedule we left the house on the school run and for the majority all 3 girls were on good form. Emily was full of smiles and big sisters played with their school run pals on the way and continued to burn up their energy on the playground before the bell went. With big sisters successfully deposited, Emily and I headed home. Despite her long overnight sleep she took the opportunity to grab some z’s, which continued for almost an hour after we got home. She woke up just as I was warming the morning bottle and so was able to tuck straight into it. She had clearly worked up an appetite during her sleep because the whole 7 ounces disappeared in quick time. Full of milk, it was time for play. I constructed a makeshift pen in the lounge out of coffee tables and toys so she could roam with an element of freedom and she happily played for almost an hour, with only the occasional breakout to deal with. Lunchtime soon arrived and she had the remainder of yesterday’s chicken dinner, followed by apricot petits filous whilst watching Sofia the First. With lunch ticked off as a success, we loaded up into the pushchair and headed out for some fresh air and a little bit of food shopping. In glorious sunshine we took in a lap of Yeadon Tarn, although Emily decided to fall asleep on the way and so missed out on the lovely views. She didn’t even wake up for the excitement of Morrisons and continued to sleep when we got back home, which let me get a few chores done. Afternoon milk time came & went and in the end I had to wake her up at about 3:15 so she didn’t miss out. Even though half asleep the bottle was welcomed with open arms and for the second time today she guzzled the whole bottle down. There was time for another good play before it was time to go and collect big sisters from the childminder, after their usual Wednesday night sleepover was cancelled. Emily got really excited to see them and the three of them had a good giggle together before we set off home. Once home, Emily tried a new tea of vegetables with cumin, which was rejected quite firmly so we opted for the fall back option of Ella’s Kitchen mixed fruits. Mummy was home in time for bath time, so whilst she did that with Emily I got tea ready for everyone; emergency pasta for big sisters and fishcakes/Quorn with vegetables for the grown-ups. It was then time for the new bedtime routine, which initially consists of not going to bed. Emily played whilst we did some reading with big sisters, and messed about with the bedtime bottle which could well be dropping off the menu judging by last night and tonight. Shortly before big sisters bedtime, Sarah took Emily up to bed. Things seemed quiet at first, but wittering became crying and soon developed into screaming. Similar to last night, but mummy’s first experience of it. We stuck to our guns and tried to let her settle herself down as we got big sisters to bed. Unfortunately she seemed to be getting herself more & more worked up despite the occasional reassurance visit from one or the other of us and in the end I went in to try to settle her down. I must have the golden touch at the moment because it took me less than five minutes for her to calm down and soon after fall asleep. Just over an hour has passed since, and no noise so far. Is it too early to say we’ve cracked it?
Sleep deprivation is starting to get the better of me as I cannot remember what happened with Emily this morning. I don’t recall her waking up particularly early and certainly it didn’t involve me getting up so I’m going to take a guess at her sleeping until a relatively sensible time. By the time I got downstairs breakfast was well underway so I took over for the Weetabix course as mummy disappeared for work. With my final swimming lesson with Emily coming up, the school run terminated at the childminders. I aimed to leave at 7:30, this being roughly the time I will need to set off for work next Tuesday. Things were looking promising at 7:25 with just tooth brushing and shoes & coats to put on, but 15 minutes alter we were still no nearer leaving. We did eventually get out of the door, with some mental notes made for next week. Emily fell asleep almost straightaway on the walk, which makes me think that she didn’t get enough sleep last night, and continued to sleep for the drop off, the walk home and after that too. She woke up with about 15 minutes to spare before we had to set off for swimming so we ended up in a bit of a rush for that too. For my final swimming lesson, Grandma & Grandad W were coming along too to watch and also get a feel for it for when they need to help out in April. With a decent sleep under her belt, Emily was on good form for the lesson. All smiles, even after the submerging bits, and gave a wave now & again to Grandma & Grandad when she spotted them in the viewing area. After my final rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, I said my goodbyes to our classmates and teacher and got Emily changed for the final time before handing her to Grandma W for the morning bottle. I emerged from the changing rooms shortly after to find a usually shattered madam full of beans, playing with Grandad. When it was time to go I loaded Emily up into the car and she fell asleep again within seconds. Back home she continued to sleep whilst I got a few chores done and prepared lunch for both of us. She woke up about 12:30 and tucked straight in to some finger food, followed by a new mix of peas, potato and cod. The first couple of spoonfuls went in well but then Emily seemed to pay a bit more attention to either the consistency (which I thought was a little cloggy) or the taste because all of a sudden she wasn’t having any of it. I was soon trying to mop it from her hair and the surrounding area of the highchair and took the hint to give it up as a bad job. In its place came egg custard with rice. This was welcomed with gusto and a decent amount made its way into her tummy. With lunch done & dusted we loaded up the car and headed out to visit a good friend on her birthday. Emily had a good play with a toy that was new to her and managed not to injure herself on the hard floor or the stools with a bad reputation for attacking small children. After a good chat, it was time to head home for the afternoon bottle, which she drank most of, before heading up to Yeadon to grab some essentials from Morrisons, including some tea for big sisters as I had forgotten to check if they were with us or Grandma S. I grabbed some quick cook pasta and tomato sauce, along with the other few bits, and we then headed home. Emily was ready for her tea and I mixed her up some chicken & vegetables which she wolfed down, followed by petits filous. Fortunately information came through that big sisters were having tea with Grandma, because in the meantime I had dropped the recently bought tomato sauce on the kitchen floor. It went everywhere; cupboards, oven, shoes... Whilst Emily’s tea settled we had a bit of a play in front of Sofia the First before heading upstairs for bath time. Big sisters arrived home with Grandma S just after the bath, much to Emily’s delight and in an attempt at making bedtime a little more successful than normal we tried not settling her down too early. Mummy arrived home a short time later and went straight into Emily cuddling before getting on with the evening bottle. Trying to give this to Emily without her falling asleep – part of tonight’s plan – proved difficult and she only drank a couple of ounces, getting gradually more grouchy as time moved on. Big sisters managed to get a bit of homework done before settling down to watch the new Stickman DVD whilst I tried to deal with Emily. Sarah was going out to Pilates so I tried to get Emily settled in her cot. She was having none of it, albeit she was clearly very tired. I decided to grit my teeth and leave her whilst I settled big sisters down. She cried throughout the reading of “I wish I had duck feet” but gradually got quieter, with periods of silence followed by renewed bursts of crying. By the time I had successfully snuggled big sisters to sleep, all was quiet in Emily’s room. I sneaked in to find her fast asleep. Success! With Sarah out and all three asleep, I wandered around the house for a few minutes wondering what to do with myself before doing some washing up and tidying, and eventually picked up the laptop to start writing my blog. This was clearly the cue Emily had been waiting for as she piped up as soon as I had sat down. By the time I had got upstairs she was standing up screaming, but I stuck to my guns and kept lying her back down. She got gradually quieter again and in the end I was sitting on the floor holding her hands through the bars of the cot. Within ten minutes she was asleep again. So far so good, but with only 2 ounces of her evening bottle drunk there’s a strong possibility of a night time wake up.
Nothing says welcome home better than a 4:30 alarm call curtesy of your baby daughter. Cheers Emily. Whimpering became screaming and so before long I was downstairs with her trying to calm everything down. At some point I was joined by big sister 2 who I convinced to go back to bed because it was clearly still not getting up time. It took some doing, but as Emily calmed down I took her back upstairs and into our bed. She eventually dropped off again at around 6:25, just before Sarah’s alarm went off. Brilliant. Whilst Sarah got up & started rounding up big sisters, I stayed with a now fast asleep Emily. She actually slept right through until 7:35 when mummy was about to leave, at which point she sleepily sat up and grinned at us both. Breakfast ended up being a bit of a rush given all that, but we managed to get everything ready for the school run, even remembering the clean PE kits to return to school. To my surprise, Emily didn’t fall asleep until the return leg of the school run, which I thought might mean some early time to get things done if she remained asleep once back home, but that wasn’t to be as she woke up again almost as soon as we crossed the threshold into the house. Still, that meant that she could have her morning bottle on time, which she did and then a good play was had, catching up on some quality time together after being away from her for the weekend. All the toys on offer in the lounge were out, including favourites such as the coffee table and the extension lead. We broke for lunch bang on 12, but after only a few spoonfuls of cottage pie with cinnamon, Emily hit the wall and literally fell asleep within seconds. I removed her from the high chair and strapped her into the pushchair to knock out some z’s, which she did for the next two and a half hours, only waking up in time for the afternoon bottle. With the bottle downed, we got wrapped up and headed into Yeadon for a bit of fresh air and a few bits & pieces. Putting her gloves on proved to be as challenging as ever; tiny fingers suddenly look like they could snap if you don’t quite aim correctly, and in my defence she doesn’t help much. The walk in the sunshine went without incident, and we even bumped into Grandma W outside the post office which was nice. On the way home, Emily perked up and found her voice. It was hard to tell if she was chatting, singing or telling me off. I suspect it was probably the latter as she was definitely using a raised tone at times. A sign of things to come, no doubt. We were home in time for tea – the remainder of the cottage pie and some petits filous to finish. Bath time was right on schedule, and good fun as usual, and with a bit of forward planning I was even able to get my own tea eaten before it was time for the bedtime bottle. All was going well until that point. Even the sight of the sleeping bag seems to change little madam’s mood, but in fairness to her she did settle down and drink most of the bottle before falling asleep in my arms. After 20 minutes I was sure that she was in a fairly deep sleep, but I didn’t even make it off the sofa before she woke up and started screaming. 45v minutes later, mummy arrived home with big sisters. Emily was still screaming. Throughout the evening, she alternated between screaming and smiling as if nothing is wrong, but more importantly not sleeping. We rolled out the Calpol which I managed, somehow, to squirt on the floor, the cupboards, the ceiling and even the laptop which was at the other side of the room. Tiredness makes funny things happen. As I type, Sarah has disappeared upstairs with Emily. It’s quiet, so hopefully at least one of them will be asleep if not both. The challenge of another evening taken over by childcare!
This morning we were treated to a 5 o’clock alarm call from Emily, which was nice. Just to make things even easier, big sister 2 also got up nice & early to join the party. There was certainly no danger of being treated to a lie in on the final day of half term. Big sister 1 joined us at a more reasonable time and a leisurely breakfast was had by all whilst mummy headed off to work. After breakfast we indulged in a game of Build-a-Beetle. There was possibly some cheating going on at times but the game was eventually won by big sister 2 without any drama from big sister 1 so that was a success in my book. Due to me travelling to Brussels for the weekend on a not-stag do, Emily & big sister 2 were going to the childminders mid-morning. Big sister 1, still complaining of a poorly tummy, was being looked after by Grandma S. Before then though, there was time for the morning bottle, which Emily necked in quick time before falling asleep, no doubt catching up. I managed to transfer her into the pushchair without waking, and once Grandma S arrived Emily, big sister 2 and I headed out to the childminders, after giving big sister 1 some big cuddles to see her through the weekend of course. The drop-off went fine, with Emily still asleep when it was time to say our goodbyes. I felt a pang of sadness leaving them all for the weekend, especially with Emily not being awake to give her some cuddles, but before long I was on my way to the station to meet up with travel companion Ruth, who had come very well prepared with games, a bit of booze and assorted sweets. Good lass. The journey to London and subsequently across to Brussels flew by with a few decent rounds of Scattegories, Uno and Scrabble and before long we had arrived to meet up with Jonty who was providing the accommodation and Brussels company. A weekend of no early wake-up calls beckoned, and just to prove I was throwing off the shackles we managed a whole 2 beers in the evening (although to be fair, one was a litre in size and both were quite strong) and some food before hitting the sack. Rock & roll.
With a late bedtime you’d expect Emily to have a pretty decent lie in. Compared to yesterday it was, but 5:25 really doesn’t count as a lie in in my book. She settled in with us for an hour but didn’t go back to sleep so it was another weary start to a long day. Emily opted for toast and Ready Brek for breakfast, which took me two attempts. The first load of Ready Break ended up splattered all over the microwave after a miscalculation with the timer. A busy day lay ahead of us with plans to help my Best Man-to-be build some furniture, so we headed out early doors to Morrisons to get some essentials before the manual work started. Emily fell asleep as you’d expect, but this then put everything behind schedule as she was late for her morning bottle. In the end, I woke her to put her in the car with the intention of giving her the bottle when we got there. All was going well until just as we arrived. I noticed that the pop stud on her sleep suit (she hadn’t bothered to get dressed yet) had come undone so I pushed it together again. Unfortunately I accidently nipped her skin and so the happy smiling face quickly turned into a frown, then a pout and them a full on screaming session. Not even Percy the friendly dog could win her round for quite some time. This also put her off the bottle, and so she was fairly high maintenance until the lady of the house returned and I was able to hand Emily over to her so the men could get on with the manual labour. By lunchtime, several pieces of flatpack had been located, fitted with dowels and screws, and we’d even fastened a few of them together. Lunch was well earned. Wraps for us and sweet potato, peas & something else for Emily. The morning play and lack of bottle had given her a real appetite and she scoffed that down, followed by an entire banana and apple fruit pouch for dessert. With full tummies, we went our separate ways again. Emily enjoyed a trip to the park with big sister 2 who had ended up joining us for the afternoon whilst we completed the build of a cabin bed. Pats on the back all round, and then it was time to head home for tea. Emily had understandably slept for much of the afternoon and as a result had not had her bottle. Time ran out so I aimed to fit it in when we got home. Big sister 1 was at home with mummy, and there was a quick handover as Sarah had to go out as soon as I got home. I just had time to get the grown-up tea in the oven before all three of us had to head out to my doctors for an appointment to get my ears syringed. Normally a straightforward affair, but not necessarily with the 3 amigos in tow. Big sister 2 fed Emily her bottle during the walk to the docs, as time had run out to do it any other way! To be fair to them, they were pretty well behaved and big sisters ended up convincing the nurse to check their ears out as well. Back home within half an hour, I threw together tea for all three of them and whilst they were eating I finished off tea for Sarah and me. My planning appeared to be perfect, getting Sarah’s tea on the table bang on schedule but was thwarted by a telephone call to say she’d be later back than planned. Fortunately vegetarian food is fairly straightforward to reheat so no harm done. Emily’s bath followed, and the bed time bottle. Having not really had a big gap since the last bottle, and tea, Emily only drank half and was soon screaming, clearly tiredness taking over. I did manage to settle her down after about 20 minutes and get her down in the cot. This lasted for almost half an hour before the screaming started again. Mummy, back from her appointments and with reheated tea consumed, took over after I tried and failed to calm Emily down and managed to settle her back in the cot just as big sisters were going to bed. By 7:45 all three were asleep, and so far that remains the case. Tonight will no doubt bring more fun & frolics.
Contrary to recent nights, we were treated to a decent sleep. I almost rejoiced at the sight of 4:51 on the clock when Emily woke. Unfortunately, she didn’t go back to sleep until it was time for Sarah to get up for work, at which point she fell fast asleep in our bed. Whilst mummy had to get ready & go to work, Emily ,big sister 1 and I had a bit of a lie in before getting up for some breakfast. We ended up in a bit of a rush as big sister 1 needed to be dropped off with big sister 2, but with Shreddies for Emily & Cheerios for big sister 1 devoured in quick time we set off. Now, I know for a fact that when she was standing by the door to leave, big sister 1 had her Flopsie bunnies in her hand. However, when we arrived to drop her off she said she had forgotten them. It is a mystery how they ended up not being in her hand, but somehow that was the case. Back home with Emily, we located said bunnies on the kitchen table and arranged to drop them off. Thinking that Emily needed some sleep, I decided to take her for a bit of a drive. Nowhere in particular, just an opportunity to send her off to the land of Z’s. This worked a treat, and a 20 minute drive, including a bunny drop off, was enough to send her into a sleep that lasted well into the lunch slot. When she woke she was ready for food, and tucked in to some chicken with rice, washed down with an apple & pear combo. Wit lunch done & dusted, we piled into the car again to visit the latest baby in our friendship group, along with her mummy & big sister. Emily had a great play with some of the different baby toys available to her, but also showed lots of interest in various other bits and pieces that posed varying levels of danger to her. Time flew by and before long it was time to head home for tea. In an attempt to develop her taste buds, I decided it was time to try again with tuna. The last time didn’t pan out too well but this time I mixed it with salad cream and made her up some little tuna mayo sandwiches. These were far more successful and she seemed to enjoy then. I tried to develop it further by feeding her some straight up tuna mayo mix but that was roundly rejected. Petits filous came to the rescue to wrap up dinner. Sarah and I were going out for a meal and so there was a babysitter coming round. I bathed Emily nice & early and got her bedtime bottle ready bang on time. The plan being, of course, to have her settled in bed by the time we were due to go out. Clearly this didn’t work out, and after 5 minutes of sleep she was soon in the wide awake club again. Sarah got home from work but couldn’t settle her down either, so in the end we handed her over to the babysitter with loose instructions to just let her play until she crashes. 2 hours later when we returned home, there was Emily, grinning from ear to ear and displaying no signs of tiredness. Just after 11 pm, she finally dropped off. And so did we.
I didn’t have to wake up and settle Emily down last night, but that is only because she stirred before my head had sunk into the pillow. Approximately one and a half episodes of Hawaii 5-0 later, and after one failed attempt, I managed to get her back down in her cot. Thankfully she stayed asleep until about 6 am so we both got a decent chunk of sleep. Sarah saw to breakfast for the girls whilst I got up & ready for the day, then I took over to finish feeding Emily her Ready Brek whilst Sarah took the girls to drop off for a couple of days with their dad. After breakfast was done & dusted I took Emily to get dressed, and inadvertently ended up making her look like a chav in some sort of pink joggers and matching top. Rather than wrestle her limbs into another outfit I stuck with it, and got her wrapped up in her leopardprint all in one for a walk to Guiseley. Another lovely, chilly morning bathed in sunshine, and Emily was soon asleep on the walk down, waking up in perfect time for her bottle in Costa. She didn’t really seem in the mood for milk though, and messed about until it was time to go, then decided she wanted to drink it after all. Whilst in Guiseley I ran an errand of buying some dodgy earrings for Sarah (part of a fancy dress costume) and on the way home called in at Homebase to spend a birthday gift card. A vice, some safety glasses and pack of hooks later, we were on our way home, but not before the obligatory visit to Morrisons. Only a short shopping list, which also including the unofficial item of Liquorice Allsorts which I seem to have developed an unhealthy taste for. Back home just in time for lunch, I warmed up a cocktail of mashed root vegetables and fruit. After not finishing the morning bottle, Emily was certainly ready for lunch and scoffed it all down, saving some room for a petits filous as well. Shortly after lunch, Grandma W arrived. With the end of my Parental Leave looming, Grandma & Grandad are starting to spend some extra time with Emily to refresh themselves on what to do, so they were having her for the afternoon, leaving me to do some chores including the pre-cleaner coming house clean. The afternoon flew by and before long a smiling Emily was arriving back home, just in time for tea. Chicken & rice, washed down with custard and before long it was already bath time. Having already had to dry my hands twice for Sarah ringing, I was slightly miffed to hear the phone ring for a third time, but figured if she was ringing again it might be important. The display showed a number I didn’t recognise, and when I answered it I was greeted by “Derek. Derek, is that you?” I informed the caller that I wasn’t Derek and after his apology we ended our brief friendship. After Emily’s bath was done, I realised that I had forgotten to get her pyjamas ready. Could I find any? Of course not! In the end, I had to settle for some reindeer ones. So what if it’s February anyway? She won’t know. With mummy waylaid on the way home from work to pick up an under the weather big sister 1, I started on the bedtime bottle with Emily. She was still awake when mummy & big sister 1 landed back home, so I handed her over for mummy cuddles whilst I prepared tea for the grown-ups. Emily treated us to some peace & quiet to eat our tea and is still fast asleep. Big sister 1 is also tucked up in bed, so for now all is well. Just to be on the safe side, though, I’m checking the TV planner for midnight & beyond.
The start of a new week came with more of the same night time turmoil which saw me adopting various positions at various locations around the house in the small hours, trying to settle a grumpy little madam down again. After much silent cursing, not so silent muttering and a little bit of sleep-deprived laughter we eventually got Emily settled down in our bed. Whilst not ideal, there comes a point when you run out of sensible options! Thrown into the mix for good measure an early get up from big sisters; clearly their body clocks recognise it’s the half term holidays and wake up earlier than on a school day. With auto-pilot in operation for both of us, Sarah and I managed to work our way through the breakfast routine before she left for work. Emily was in the mood to try something new and was having Shreddies whilst big sisters opted for bagels. We had come up with a theory that Emily doesn’t sleep as well if she doesn’t have a decent morning walk, so I decided that I would take the three of them out for an early morning stroll around Yeadon Tarn. It was a sunny but crisp morning outside, with a fine dusting of snow underfoot, so we wrapped up extra well with Emily sporting a new leopardprint all-in-one and headed out into the cold air. Things started well with big sisters opting for the steep uphill start. Big sister 2 had decided to bring her dolls pram along for the ride too which could have proved a challenge but we all made it to the top without any slips, trips or falls. It was about this point that big sister 1 started to complain about the cold. I explained that she would feel warmer once we were in the sunshine and the blood started pumping faster. This convinced her for about 5 minutes, but I stuck with the plan that some fresh air would do us all some good. Emily was already asleep by this time. Big sister 2 was happily meandering along behind us chatting to her baby. We made it to the Tarn, which was looking very picturesque in the sunshine. After a brief discussion about which way to circumnavigate it we headed anti-clockwise, pausing for a photo by one of the boat jetties. This photo probably captured big sister 1’s final smile of the morning, because her grumbles about the cold got worse, almost to the point of tears. I buckled in the end and terminated the lap, heading back the way we came to get home into the warmth. I lost count of the amount of times I had to give an answer to “how long until we’re home?” in the 10 minutes it actually took to get home, but soon enough big sister 1 was tucked up under her duvet thawing out and Emily was slurping her morning bottle. The rest of the morning was dedicated to sofa time for big sister 1, floor play for Emily and a bit of both for big sister 2, until we had to load up in the car for big sister 2’s dental appointment. Arrangements had been made for her to be met by Grandma S so I could return home with Emily. Big sister 1 decided she wanted to stay at home with us, so we dropped big sister 2 off, ran a couple of errands and then headed home for some lunch. Emily had dropped off along the way and didn’t wake for her lunch until almost 1 pm which meant big sister 1 and I could sit down together for ours. When Emily did wake, she was greeted by a bowl of chicken dinner, finely mushed of course, which she wolfed down and followed it up with a petits filous. The weather outside was still glorious sunshine and not quite so cold so I convinced big sister 1 that we needed to head out to Morrisons. She was a bit sceptical at first but soon realised that tea would be a bit dull without any food and so wrapped up even warmer than this morning and out we headed. With tea and a few extra essentials in the bag we strolled home just in time for Emily’s afternoon bottle. She necked it and was just falling asleep when big sister 2 arrived home. There ended any hope of an afternoon nap. Grandma S stayed a while and occupied the 3 of them for half an hour or so whilst I got on with a few bits around the house and before long it was time for the next meal. That is basically how my day is broken up; meal, bottle, meal, bottle, meal, bottle, bath, bed. Big sisters tucked into their hot dogs and salad whilst Emily enjoyed a new taste of egg custard, which was a great success. With dinner done & dusted, it was time to start the evening routine. Emily has developed a cold, and so I sat her in the bathroom to inhale some steam as I ran her bath, during which time big sisters seemed to have got lots of things out of various rooms and scattered them in the lounge. Attempts to get them to tidy up before mummy came home fell on deaf ears so I temporarily abandoned it to concentrate on Emily’s bath time. Bath time was the usual fun, especially since the arrival of Oliver Octopus, the latest bath toy and with Emily all wrapped up in her sleep suit we headed downstairs for the final stretch. Which was when mummy arrived home. Smiles and hugs all round before the lights were dimmed for Emily’s bed time bottle and, hopefully, sleep. As it turned out, Emily and big sister 2 both fell asleep on the sofa whilst big sister 1 took herself up to bed of her own accord. All 3 were tucked up in good time, and as things stand they are still all in the correct places. Will it last all night? I doubt it, but all least Sarah and I get some evening time to ourselves.
After yesterday evening’s promising start, Emily re-joined the party before midnight much to our delight. Whilst Sarah tried to settle her back to sleep I somehow got stuck with the theme tune to Alvin & the Chipmunks in my head. I mentioned this to Sarah and in our tired delirium we had a brief chat about which chipmunk was our favourite. We both agreed on Theodore. Sleep eventually came back for all until early morning. The breakfast routine was a fairly smooth affair. Ready Brek for Emily and a combination of cereals and breads for big sisters in preparation for the cold morning walk to school. Despite her lack of sleep, Emily stayed awake for much of the walk, just dropping off for a short sleep on the way home after waking big sisters off for the weekend. Once we got home she necked her bottle and then it was straight in to the important business of playing. With the 4th One Day International between South Africa and England not due to start until mid-morning, Emily had to make do with some old highlights packages to accompany her lounge furniture climbing exploits. Play lasted most of the morning, and at around 11:30 she started to get a bit grouchy. Thinking it was hunger, I started to prepare a slightly early lunch but with hindsight it was clear that she was just getting tired. In a slight change to lunches of late, I opted for a Spaghetti Bolognese baby mix. Although marked for 7 months +, it is quite a lumpy food and to say it wasn’t a success would be an understatement. Emily pulled some right faces as I tried to get the spoon past the fast-moving hands and into her mouth. Tiredness was starting to kick in and after about 4 spoonfuls she threw it all straight back up again. And then started screaming. With lunch a complete failure, I loaded her into her pram and she fell was gone in seconds, so we headed out for a walk whilst she caught up on some much needed sleep. Our walk took us around Yeadon Tarn and briefly via Morrisons for some essentials before heading home where Emily continued to sleep for another hour, waking up just in time for the afternoon bottle. With her tummy somewhat emptier than usual, she devoured the bottle in no time at all, which was handy because we had to be heading out again for a doc’s appointment for me at 3. With a full tummy though, she was back on good form, chatting away and giggling all the way there and throughout the brief appointment. Back home within 25 minutes, there was time for more play and this time Mittens came along for some fun too. She loves to be around Emily although has to keep her wits about her as Emily hasn’t really learned to stroke her yet and opts for grabbing a handful of fur or tail if she can. As teatime arrived, I made one more foolish attempt to get some Spag Bol into Emily’s tummy. Nope, she wasn’t having any of it so the standby option of fruit came into play instead. With tea done & dusted, there was just time to watch a bit of Sofia the First before bath time, and then hand over to mummy for the bedtime bottle. Full bottle downed, and with a bit of extra cuddling for good measure she fell fast asleep. Settled in her cot, we ordered our tea from our favourite Asian restaurant. As expected, Emily stayed fast asleep until we sat down to eat our main course. That was her cue to scream. We took turns to try to settle her down whilst the other ate, and fortunately it didn’t take too long to get her back to sleep. The remainder of the evening went peacefully, although as I am writing this the following morning I can disclose that this didn’t continue throughout, as we saw the hours of 1, 3, 5 & 6. So much for the Saturday morning lie in! The end of another week. Half term for big sisters next week, then just one more week of Parental Leave after that. Time is really flying.
Parts of last night are a little hazy. I definitely got up and fetched Emily back into our room at some point in the small hours, handing her to Sarah before trying without success to stay awake with her but any more detail such as times, duration and the like escape me. It’s as if my mind is trying to block it out. With big sisters sleeping out overnight the morning started slower than usual, which was nice because getting up was a real struggle. The crisp weather called for Ready Brek for Emily and in a crazy change I opted for an early morning visit to Morrisons. We were in there just after 8 am, so it wasn’t busy. Unfortunately I think we also beat some of the staff as well as some sections were pretty bare including the baby food aisle which looked as if I was the only parent who hadn’t been informed of the impending apocalypse. Other than baby food we got everything we needed and headed home. Emily slept for much of the trip and I had to wake her for the morning bottle, during which she fell asleep again. I managed to transfer her into the car seat for our final trip to baby sensory, waking her up on arrival. She soon came round when she saw all the play things on offer in our final session which had a Valentine’s theme. I made a silent note to myself that I had made hardly any improvements with my signing for the hello song and outwardly winged it as always. The session took on a slower pace than last weeks’ party and involved lots of cuddling your little one, and when we had to slow dance in the dark to the sounds of ‘A Thousand Years’ I must confess to filling up slightly as another aspect of my leave was coming to an end. Big softie! Fortunately I was able to pull myself together before the lights came back up, so no ‘grit in my eye’ excuses were needed. The usual free play section was lovely and then back into the organised activities which were mainly involving fibre optic lights, balloons and rose petals. I kept thinking back to how much Emily has developed in the time we have been attending these sessions. From week one where she just rolled around and smiled to where we had reached – starting to interact with the other babies, heading with purpose towards an item she wants to get her hands on and showing a range of emotions. As the session came to a close we said our goodbyes and headed home for lunch. Carrots, peas and pears were on the menu, and after her mammoth mid-morning sleep Emily was not for having another sleep, so we played in the lounge. Again I was able to just sit back and watch her exploring the room and the toys. She gets genuine enjoyment from getting up on her feet, often looking for eye contact and beaming from ear to ear as if to show me how pleased she is with her progress. The amount of time that she can occupy herself for is also growing almost daily. She is also starting to gain an understanding of where she should & shouldn’t be, and gets the giggles as soon as I start to go after her as she heads towards the power cables. The time flew by and after the afternoon bottle it was soon time to head out on the school run. Grabbing supplies for big sisters whose normal afternoon greeting is “have you got us anything to eat?” we headed out into the afternoon sunshine. With all three sisters reunited we made it home in good time for me to prep big sisters tea in time for them to eat at the same time as Emily, which they love. Chicken goujons, mash, green beans and peas for the big sisters and the remainder of the carrots, peas and pears for Emily, washed down with 3 separate desserts. As I prepped Emily’s bath, big sister 2 got herself ready for Little Ninjas. Grandma S collected big sister 2 and big sister 1 joined Emily for a splash in the bath, which they both seemed to thoroughly enjoy and then it was time for the bed time bottle. Mummy arrived home a short time later but Emily was already asleep. I was biding my time, making sure she was well gone before heading upstairs, but as things turned out I didn’t even make it off the sofa before she woke up. Cue mummy cuddles. Sarah worked her magic and managed to get her back to sleep and up into her cot. That freed us both us for big sisters bedtime, and well before 7:30 all 3 were fast asleep. So far so good too; not a peep from any little people. Yet.
Hopes of a night of unbroken sleep was dashed at 12:30 when Emily woke us up with some high decibel crying. After the previous night’s questionable success, we decided not to give her a bottle so Sarah fed her a little. We also tried Nurofen and teething powder, but in the end it was just a matter of wearing her down until she fell back to sleep. That took an hour & a half, and in the end for the sake of some sleep we kept her in with us. She did sleep through, and even big sisters gave us a relative lie in so this morning neither of us were feeling too bad, all things considered. No special treats on offer for breakfast today other than a 3 day old blueberry muffin that big sister 1 insisted on tucking into. The walk to school was lovely; chilly but bathed in sunshine. Big sisters took turns at pushing the pushchair on the way down without incident. I let the side down though, managing to lose one of big sister 2’s owl gloves along the route somewhere. I retraced my steps on the way home to no avail. Back home (with one glove) Emily devoured the morning bottle and was in the mood for play, having had a nap on the school run. Watching how her play skills are developing is wonderful, and today I just plonked her down on the lounge floor with the toy box nearby to see what she did. First thing on the to-do list was to stand up. Using everything within reach – the sofa, activity station, coffee table all got used as scaffolding to hold up a slightly wobbly girl who looked chuffed to bits with herself every time she made it upright. After a while she headed to the toy box, pulling out a couple of items before tipping the box over so she could get to everything else. As with the other day, she happily occupied herself for quite some time which was great to watch. We played together a bit too until she started to get a bit grumpy, and within about 30 seconds of being cuddled she was fast asleep on my shoulder. This allowed me to grab some lunch before she woke up and tucked in to her own; an Ella’s Kitchen chicken dinner and petits filous. After lunch, we loaded up the pram and headed round to the childminders. With the end of my Shared Parental Leave creeping ever nearer we have decided to start giving Emily a bit of time there to get used to it before the transition. She sees Sally, the childminder, most days on the school run anyway and always saves a big smile for her so there were no concerns at all as I left her for the afternoon. 3 hours with no responsibility, I busied myself at home whilst we were having some electrical work done in the garage and before long it was already time to go and collect little miss. She was just as happy when I picked her up as she had been when I dropped her off. No doubt before long she’ll be itching to get back there. Back home in time for tea, Emily had the remainder of the chicken dinner, followed by a mixed fruit pouch. With just the two of us at home, I had to do some multi-tasking so whilst running the bath I stuck some tea in the oven for myself and fired up the hob to steam the pre-prepared veg. Timed to perfection, by the time Emily was washed, dried and snuggled in her pj’s the oven was beeping. She played happily in the travel cot turned playpen in the kitchen whilst I ate and then it was time for the bedtime bottle. This is where things have started to go wrong of late, so I tried everything in the armoury; calpol, ranitidine and teething granules along with the bottle. She drank a good amount and fell fast asleep, as is the norm. After a while she appeared to be in a deep sleep so I carried her upstairs and popped her in the cot. She remained asleep for roughly 3 minutes before needing to be settled again, and so far already she has stirred another 4 times, each requiring varying levels of intervention. I am being realistic in my expectations of an undisturbed sleep tonight!
Last night was a tough one. Emily woke up about 10 minutes after we had gone to bed, so I mixed the night time bottle as usual in such circumstances. She drank a fair amount of it and seemed to be settling down quite well, but then started getting fidgety. Fidgeting became wriggling, and wittering became screaming. Time ticked by and she was not for settling. Midnight came & went, and as 1 am approached, I eventually left Sarah in bed whilst Emily and I headed downstairs in the hope that a change of scenery might help her get back to sleep. After 2 episodes of Gavin and Stacey, she had finally gone to sleep and with the time rapidly approaching 3 am I was able to go back to bed. The usual early start followed, leaving Sarah and I feeling almost a little drunk with tiredness. The show must go on though, and I had already promised pancakes for breakfast. True to my word, I managed to function well enough to not burn myself or the food and even Emily had a little bit of pancake. So did Mavis, seen later in the day hoovering up beneath the highchair. With full tummies, we all headed out for the shorter walk to the childminders, where big sisters were deposited, leaving Emily and me to head home in time for swimming. With just over an hour to kill before setting off for swimming, I settled Emily in her rocker to catch up on some sleep. She fought it for a good 15 minutes before finally giving in and snoring away for 45 minutes. When it was time, I woke her up to swap her into the car seat after which she went straight back to sleepy land. We took a detour to the tip on the way to swimming, just to mix things up a bit. I expected Emily to be a bit grumpy in her swimming lesson but she was actually on pretty good form. No tears or grumbles with the submerging, and some good kicking and splashing in more or less the right places. The instructor tried us with a new song again, but I was pleased to hear that no-one else in the class knew it either. Stick to the classics, I say. It hit me that I only have one more swimming lesson left, taking into account half term. I’ll miss that a lot. After swimming, Emily had her late morning bottle with Grandma S and was still wide awake when I joined them. Having seen glorious sunshine through the windows of the swimming pool, you can imagine my delight at being greeted with hailstones when it was time to head out to the car. Once back in the car, it didn’t take long at all for Emily to go back to sleep, and she stayed that way for almost 2 hours, giving me change to have lunch and do a bit of my own stuff around the house. At 1 pm I decided it was time to wake her up for lunch; butternut squash and prune, followed by custard. I was quite pleased with myself in that for one of the first times I didn’t need to change her outfit after lunch. I had been watching the latest action from the South Africa – England cricket tour whilst Emily slept, so I brought her up to speed with the goings on and then we headed out to the health centre for a weigh in. Little madam now weighs in at a decent 18lb, and much to mummy’s delight her head is a pretty normal size (despite Sarah thinking it looks big). With the weigh in complete we headed into Morrisons to get a few bits for tea and took in a bit of fresh air around Yeadon before heading home for some play and the afternoon bottle. For the second day running, she spent some time happily playing by herself, and has now worked out how to get her toys out of the toy basket. It was soon time for a bit of tea, which was the remainder of the butternut squash with petits filous for dessert, and then we headed out to collect big sisters from the childminders. They were all on good form when they were reunited, with smiles all round on the walk home. All 3 were bathed and ready for bed by the time mummy got home from work, and Emily was pretty much asleep, having consumed most of the evening bottle. No fear of mummy not getting cuddles though, as the now regular pattern of waking up after 5 minutes of being down continued again tonight. With her fix of mummy cuddles done, she went back down and as I type she is still fast asleep. It remains to be seen how long that continues overnight…
After a weekend of fun and more sleep deprivation we were back into the weekly routine again this morning. There was a little extra help on hand for the morning routine in the shape of Auntie Carrie who started off with the honour of receiving big sisters from their early morning wake up. No complaints from me! She was also allocated Emily for the breakfast jamboree which greatly helped mummy leave for work on time. If anything we ran the risk of having too much time to get ready but as ever big sisters managed to fill enough time doing who knows what and before long we were wrapped up and ready for the school run. Emily was snuggled under her blanket and rain cover and so was blissfully unaware of the wind & rain that whipped around us. Big sisters had opted for wellies. Good choice. The two important jobs on the way to school were posting Christmas thank you cards – much earlier than we normally manage – and dropping off some hand drawn pictures with Grandma & Grandad W. The weather was actually relatively kind to us on the way to school, but hit harder on the way back, leaving me with that uncomfortable wet jeans feeling. Back home in the warmth we dried off. Emily was a little sleepy and so gave me time to take out the washing and hunt down some radiator space – a rare commodity – before the morning bottle, which she gulped down. The weather had deteriorated even more and so any plans to head back outside again were scrubbed. The best we could find on TV was either Henry Hugglemonster or some highlights from the most recent One Day International between New Zealand and Australia. Emily chose the latter, so who was I to argue? We mixed that up with some play in the lounge and at one point she quite happily occupied herself with some toys for a good 25 minutes. Watching her explore and play without any help was amazing. Mittens then came in to see what was going on, and that was enough to break Emily’s concentration. She reverted to chasing the cat, heading for the fireplace, climbing up coffee tables and the usual other dangerous activities she seems to thrive on. Lunch crept up on us so I quickly warmed up some cauliflower cheese. Emily seemed quite quiet whilst waiting in her highchair, and it was soon clear why. The poor thing was shattered and barely keeping her eyes open. I managed to get a few spoonfuls of food down her but she could hardly keep her eyes open, so I loaded her back into the travel system to have a nap. I glimpsed what appeared to be a break in the rain, so quickly grabbed my coat and we headed out in the general direction of Morrisons. The break in the rain didn’t last long, in fact it returned with some real attitude, soaking me through for the second time today. After a little shop (just the one bag for life, which I remembered to take with me this time) for big sister’s tea request; “that thing with chicken and the other bits that we make ourselves and eat with our fingers”, known to grown-ups by the much shorter title of fajitas. Having not really dried out much in the short visit to Morrisons, we got drenched again on the way home. It was a fairly short turnaround before part 2 of the school run so coat, hat, scarf, rain cover, etc. were draped as near to the clothes filled radiators as I could manage. We had about another half hour of play and then it was time to go out on the school run. The weather Gods were having a moment of kindness, but I was still a bit unsure whether to take waterproofs or sunglasses. I opted for waterproofs but should have chosen sunglasses. No rain in sight so Emily could finally get some proper fresh air. We collected big sisters and headed home, briefly calling in to see Grandma & Grandad W on the way back. After a quick hello, it was back home to get tea on the go for big sisters, after the mid-afternoon bottle for Emily. She quickly guzzled every drop, followed by an impressive burp, which allowed me to let her rest in front of Sofia the First whilst I cracked on with the fajitas. Whilst big sisters tucked in, Emily had the remainder of her cauliflower cheese and a petits filous. Towards the back end of tea, Grandma S arrived to take big sisters to Rainbows, and had time to listen to them read as well which was a bonus. Mummy was also back home a short time later, in time to give Emily her bath and bedtime bottle, leaving me to collect big sisters from Rainbows. Bedtime was particularly straightforward. Big sisters are always shattered on a Monday night anyway, but so far Emily has been pretty settled too. Only a couple of stirs, but nothing that required any more than a rub on her back to settle her down again. I have realised two things today; rain makes for a boring day, and my Shared Parental Leave is flying by far too fast. In 3 weeks’ time I will be preparing to go back to work the next day. This makes me feel a little bit sad. Hopefully the weather will allow Emily and me to get out and about more, and make some more fun memories.
Once again, the previous evening had seen Emily suffering with her teeth and so Friday arrived with more sleep deprivation, not helped by big sister 2 making more regular early morning visits to us. After being sent home from school yesterday, big sister 2 was not going to school today but would be accompanying us on the school run. Mummy was working from home and so we could do the run en masse. No drama over breakfast and almost without incident we were ready for off. Emily took the opportunity on the way down to school to catch up on some sleep; alright for some. Big sisters were both full of beans, with big sister 2 once more demonstrating that she doesn’t do poorly very well. We dropped big sister 1 off, by which time big sister 2 was starting to feel the effects of her early wake up and was wanting to go back to sleep so the walk home involved some shoulder carrying on my part. When we got home the first task was to allow mummy the peace & quiet to work; not an easy task when the ‘poorly’ one is bouncing around contrary to the instructions to rest up. Emily had the morning bottle but unsurprisingly didn’t have her post-bottle sleep with the excitement of sharing some time with big sister 2, and I had my hands full occupying them both in the house. With luck more than judgement, we reached lunchtime. With no time or free hands to defrost anything, I relied on Ella’s Kitchen to provide the menu. Butternut squash was the order of the day, which Emily wolfed down with only small quantities in her hair. Trying to convince big sister 2 that she wasn’t ready for proper food yet proved a challenge. At times we could have done with Ban Ki-moon to help with negotiations but we got there in the end. I even had time to warm myself some soup (Heinz cream of chicken) which was a bonus. With lunch out of the way, and mummy finishing work for the day, I was able to share the load of childcare. Big sister 2 was climbing up the walls with cabin fever and so we headed out on a family trip to see the sights of Morrisons. Mummy, with the help of big sister 2, had decided to bring the wheeled shopping trolley along, perhaps to fit in with the other oldies doing the afternoon shop?? Big sister 2, Emily and I went on ahead when mummy had to make a last minute work ‘phone call, and when we almost reached Morrisons I realised I had not brought my wallet. Fortunately I had remembered my ‘phone so sent word back for mummy to bring it along with her. The 3 of us slowly meandered around the shop until mummy arrived and we were able to pay for the goods, loading it all straight into the owl shopping trolley. I declined the opportunity to pull the shopping trolley home, pointing out that I was still sub-40 years old. After unloading the shopping there was some time for family play in the lounge but before long big sister 2 was wanting her tea. Spaghetti Shapes on toast were on offer and she hungrily snaffled them up, leaving me to prepare tea for the rest of the family. Emily tucked in to some mixed fruit. Big sister 1 returned home a little later, having been collected from school by grandma S and taken to her swimming lesson. With tea done & dusted nice & early, Emily had bath time with mummy before we all settled down for a relaxing evening and the run up to bed time. Things started off well with Emily, but as has proved the case all week she woke up again within a short time, with those little teeth up to their mischief. Bedtime for big sisters fell to me whilst mummy settled Emily back down. Big sister 2 was a little livewire, turning herself upside down and all sorts of non-sleepy activities, but as is often the case with her she was suddenly snoring away. With just one sister left to listen to my tales of Tinker Bell, I wrapped the story up and dimmed the lights. Will all quiet, I sneaked away just as mummy had finished settling Emily down again. Unbelievably, Emily stayed down and we actually had some evening to ourselves. A week full of poorliness & disruption had come to an end, with hopefully all the bugs now on the way out. Another week gone, another week closer to this adventure coming to an end. Lots more fun to be had first though, starting with the weekend.
Another disturbed night, with Emily joining us at half 3. Poor thing is struggling with her gradually emerging teeth at the moment. Still, with big sister 2 sleeping out there was no further early morning wake up calls so some broken sleep was achieved. Sarah was aiming for an early departure for work but everyone was struggling to get up and so ended up rushing around, just having time to big sister 1’s hair. She has far too much of it and is too demanding to settle for my basic ponytail option. Big sister 1 was much better and ready for a return to school, so after some breakfast all round we headed out to drop her off at the childminder. On the way, there was a problem with the dog poo radar and the rear offside wheel required a clean. She was reunited with big sister 2 and after kisses for Emily we left them to head to school. To my astonishment, I managed to connect with the same dog poo on the way home. With just over an hour to go until baby sensory, we returned home for a bit of a play and the morning bottle. Highlights of the 2005 Ashes Series provided the perfect accompaniment, and before long it was time to head down to baby sensory. This week was a party theme. I took a gamble and didn’t take any glow sticks. After the usual opening, we were soon into the party games. Well, a round of “if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands” and a kneeling down version of musical statues. We them moved on to some basic present opening skills development and a brief exercise involving glove puppets. Free play followed during which time Emily found delight in playing with what appeared to be a large space blanket. At times, she was completely enveloped in rustling silver, but kept emerging with a smile on her face. After free play we returned to the games, and when the lights were turned down I cursed my decision not to bring glow sticks. Glow balls were soon being bounced around a stretched cloth though, which made up for it. Balloons were thrown into the mix, then out came the rattles, ribbons and pom poms as the rave got into full swing. We ended up dancing around the room to a Disney parade song that I haven’t heard since circa 2000. This was by far the most energetic session we’d been to and Emily was fast asleep soon after we were back in the car. Her sleep lasted almost 2 hours, allowing me to have lunch and tick a few jobs off around the house. When she finally woke up she was greeted with a strange brown coloured lunch consisting of butternut squash, mixed green veg and prunes. In something of a prunefest, she had pure prunes for pudding. We followed lunch with a long overdue visit to Morrisons. It must be a couple of days at least since we last called in there. I imagine they were relieved to see us back. By the time we had unloaded the shopping it was time to set off for the return school run. Just big sister 1 to collect, and on the way home we stopped by to see Grandma W and Emily’s cousins. Emily enjoyed her afternoon bottle there whilst big sister 1 played with the cousins before we headed home for tea and the evening routine. All went well. Ish. As is the current pattern, after the evening bottle Emily well fast asleep and was transferred to her cot. Within about 4 minutes she was wide awake and complaining rather loudly. This seems to be the worst time for her teething troubles. Mummy settled her down again and all was well. Until now. It’s 9:30 and she is wide awake in the lounge with us, showing no signs of wanting to go back to sleep just yet. Magic wand, anyone?
Overnight, we were left in relative peace & quiet by Emily and poorly big sister 1. Big sister 2, on the other hand, treated us to 8 visits during the course of the night. It’s lovely to be wanted, just not always at all hours! The positive to take from the night is that there was no vomit. Emily slept well, and big sister 2 was full of beans. Big sister 1 was still under the weather but managed a bit of toast for breakfast. With mummy off to work, Emily, big sister 1 and I took big sister 2 to school in the car. In all the excitement of a change of routine, it was only when we got to school that I realised that big sister 2 had forgotten her school bag. A further trip to school was therefore required. Granda S had kindly offered to look after Emily & big sister 1 for a couple of hours to allow me to crack on with some jobs, including dropping my suit off at the dry cleaners after Emily used it as target practice for some projectile vomit over the weekend. Jobs done, I collected the pair of them from Grandma’s and headed home for lunch. Defrosted green matter and prunes for Emily with Petits Filous for dessert. Not much for big sister 1, still letting her tummy get better. I was aware of some live cricket on TV, and did try to watch it for a while, but big sister 1 was in TV takeover mode. She did helpfully suggest that she would find something that I would enjoy just as much, but in all honesty Disney Channel’s “Sonny with a chance” just didn’t cut the mustard. Over time, the kindle took over for big sister so I grabbed the remote and Emily & I were able to enjoy England giving the South African bowling attack a good thrashing. Mummy arrived just in time to bathe Emily then the four of us had a nice tea together. After sofa snuggles, big sister 1 was soon tucked up in bed asleep, but the little monkey was up to her usual games again. She eventually settled shortly after 8 pm, hopefully for the rest of the night…
Today started just after 2 am. Nothing to do with Emily this time though, as it was big sister 1 who came rushing into our bedroom, hand over mouth, clearly about to be sick. Mummy reacted first, leaping out of bed like a salmon heading back to its spawning ground, and quickly ushered her into the bathroom where from where the familiar sound of vomiting could soon be heard. I did the honourable thing and got up too. Another bout of vomiting followed soon after, and so commenced a restless remainder of the night. Musical beds followed. First big sister came in with us, then I left to sleep in her bed. Then Emily stirred and ended up in our bed so big sister returned to her bed with me. Everything had settled down nicely by about half 5, at which time big sister 2 woke up saying she felt sick. Urgh. I literally had to drag myself out of a deep sleep to take her to the bathroom and even had the foresight to tie her hair back. But thankfully no sick came. As we headed back to bed, big sister 2 stirred to go to the toilet. And so the normal day came to life, with a 3rd episode of vomiting by big sister just for good measure. Big sister 1 was definitely off school for 48 hours and big sister 2 wasn’t on great form either so the telephone call went in to school. Daddy Daycare was now x3. With Emily due for her swimming lesson at 10, Grandma S came round to provide back-up. As I was getting the swimming things ready, big sister 2 was becoming more & more fidgety. Not being allowed to play when off poorly wasn’t much fun. Shortly after 9 am, she decided she wanted to go to school. Quickly getting dressed, having a bit of breakfast and allowing me to do the most basic ponytail we set off for school, with the clock ticking for the swimming lesson. Walking was out of the question, so the car it was. I returned home just in time to scoop up Emily and zip off for the swimming lesson, leaving big sister 1 in the care of Grandma. Emily slept on the way there so was a bit groggy on arrival. She was quiet as a mouse getting changed and I was a bit concerned she might not be too happy in the water. That concern came to nothing though, and she did really well. I’m getting used to some of the regular songs now, but blow be if the instructor didn’t throw in a low baller in the shape of Doctor Foster. I know he went to Gloucester, but to be frank I am clueless as to what happened after that. I felt wholly inadequate and even confided in the mother next to me that I didn’t was proverbially drowning. As it turns out, she was a clueless as me so we mumbled our way through it together. Who knew there were so many children’s songs & rhymes? Anyway, we got through the lesson. Due to the extenuating circumstances I was unable to hand Emily over to Grandma so we had to get changed together. After considering the best way to do it at length, in the end I sacrificed my shower. I just couldn’t fathom out how to make it all work! We settled for the morning bottle upstairs and then headed home to return to nursing duties. Big sister 1 was doing a great job of being poorly, snuggling up under a duvet on the sofa and demanding very little. Emily had lunch of a chicken dinner – the 6 month old child version – and then had a decent sleep. Big sister slept too, giving me a good hour to crack on with household duties. The remainder of the afternoon involved play with Emily and the occasional call for service by big sister 1. Big sister 2 returned home with Grandma S after school but decided that she would go home with her for tea, returning at bedtime. Mummy returned home from work in good time so I was able to hand Emily over to her for bath time whilst I rustled up a bit of tea – bubble & squeak with poached egg on top, with a steak on the side for me. Bottle & bedtime went as planned, more or less, although as I headed out for an evening meeting Sarah was responding to the sounds of crying. In the end, though, Emily settled fairly quickly, hopefully for the remainder of the night.
The weekend proved to be a challenge, with Emily suffering from a bit of a tummy upset. As a result there was also some sleep deprivation for a number of our household. Sunday night didn’t start well, but thankfully once we eventually got Emily off to sleep she remained that way until after 6 am, giving Sarah some much needed sleep before work. We were also starting to get dodgy tummies, but carrying on regardless. Emily was up to some breakfast but we kept her away from milk, just in case, before embarking on the school run. Big sisters were on good form and the walk was a pleasant one despite the windy weather. Emily took the opportunity to catch up on a bit more sleep, still suffering from the weekend’s disruption. After handing the girls over into the safe hands of the school, Emily and I headed home for a steady morning. We were staying in anyway to await the arrival of the garage door repair man and so took the opportunity to rest up a little. She guzzled most of the morning bottle and fell promptly asleep, a sleep that lasted almost an hour and a half. There was a lack of live cricket on TV, but I did manage to catch some classic match highlights replays. Emily would have loved a couple of them but I’m sure she wouldn’t have minded me letting her sleep instead. By the time she woke it was time to start thinking about lunch. Seeing as she’d kept her milk down I took a chance with a fruit & veg pouch containing butternut squash and blueberries amongst other things. It looked brown and unappetising, but she wolfed it down. With lunch out of the way and still no sign of the garage door man, we had a bit of play in the lounge. She was happy rolling around and climbing up anything in reach, but got grumpy if I strayed too far away from her; perhaps still feeling slightly under the weather and wanting reassurance. Not long into our play session the garage door man arrived, and whilst showing him the damage I noticed that one of the large glass candle holders in the garden had blown over and smashed. Glass all over the artificial grass. Great. With the garage door repaired, we cracked on with the afternoon bottle, having still not left the house since the school run. Emily fell asleep midway through it, unfortunately leaving me out of reach of the TV remote. As a result, I spent the next hour watching a crappy Western about a female bounty hunter called Hannah. Shortly after she woke up again we were visited by Grandad W, back from recent holidays. Bearing gifts for the girls, he also proved useful in holding Emily whilst I picked up the glass from the garden and vacuumed the grass. It was then time for Emily’s next meal; dinner. She had mushed banana but no pudding in case her tummy still wasn’t quite right, then it was time to head upstairs for a bath. As I picked her out of the highchair I felt damp on my arm. I was hoping it was water from her bottle, but a quick glance at her tights confirmed the worst - a hugely impressive poo had burst through the sides of her nappy. Juggling her like a hot potato, I managed to remove the soiled clothing without any further cross-contamination and get her in the bath. Right on schedule, we settled down for the bedtime bottle and Emily fell asleep as planned. I settled her down in the cot, but didn’t even get out of the bedroom before she started wittering. Unable to settle her down, she ended up back with me on the sofa. By this time, big sisters had returned home from Rainbows curtesy of Grandma S and were very well behaved in getting themselves ready for bed. I managed to get Emily settled again in time to read big sisters their bedtime story, but just as I was drawing The Princess & The Pea to a close, she awoke again. It is now 9:45 pm and she is still awake. At least mummy has had some bonus cuddles with her, but not quite in the right circumstances. Could be a difficult night.
My first glimpse of today started at 03:20, which was nice. I was also lucky enough to see the hours of 4, 5, 6 and 7 before getting up for the day. In between times Emily and I spent some time in the lounge trying to find something half decent to watch on TV. It’s fair to say that Sarah and I were fairly tired. Still, the show must go on so we worked our way through the usual breakfast routine. With Sarah working from home we were all heading out on the school run, so we wrapped up well to brave the windy elements. And very windy it was too. Emily’s rain cover needed to be lashed down to prevent it blowing away, and big sister 2 looked very snug in her snowsuit. Big sister 1 had chosen a leopardprint coat. Whilst mummy no doubt approved visually it wasn’t really the right thing for the conditions, but since when has that mattered to the female of the species? With big sisters dropped off, we headed back home for mummy to continue working whilst Emily tucked into the morning bottle. To her delight we found some live international T20 cricket from Australia to enjoy. Later in the morning, Emily and I headed out to pay a visit to some of my colleagues. She was on good form and entertained a few people with her enigmatic smile before it was time to head home for lunch. The remainder of yesterday’s Spaghetti Bolognese was on the menu, and went down well. Emily washed it down with custard before we retired to the lounge for afternoon play & giggles with mummy too, who finished work at lunchtime. Happy days. Before long it was time to head back out for the return leg of the school run. With the girls collected we set off home. There was just time to loiter awkwardly to disrupt the manoeuvre of a non-disabled driver who was parked in the sole disabled bay of the school car park on the way home, and also make big sister 1 actually leap in the air in shock by surprising her at the end of a path – the sort of jump that I thought only happened in cartoons. A quick turnaround at home was called for as mummy was taking big sisters to their swimming lesson, leaving Emily and me home alone for tea. Emily had a light snack of Petits Filous and then we had a bit more play whilst waiting for mummy to return. Big sisters were staying out for the weekend, so mummy was able to bath Emily and give her the bedtime bottle in peace & quiet. The end of another fun but tiring week, along with the realisation that I am about to enter my final month of parental leave. Lots more fun to be had in the meantime though.
The nights where Emily slept through are becoming a distant memory. Fortunately for me, she woke at 4 am which is too late for the night bottle so it’s over to mummy. It did, of course, impact me as we had a wittery baby with us for the remainder of the ‘night’. Sarah struggled to get out of bed and without big sisters to sort out she grabbed herself a few extra bonus minutes. Work waits for no woman though, and so she was out by 7 leaving Emily and me to do breakfast. I decided to mix thing up a bit today with Ready Brek instead of Weetabix, and went even crazier with a dollop of jam mixed in for good measure. It went down a storm and will definitely be repeated. During breakfast we watched an episode of Postman Pat. There was to be an open air film night in Greendale and Pat was responsible for delivering all the equipment. Would you believe it, the whole event was suddenly hanging in the balance when the projector bulb went? Even more unbelievable, some chap casually informed Pat that Mrs Goggins sells them in her village shop. Now really, does that reflect the stock of the average village shop? I doubt it. Anyway, she did indeed have a spare projector bulb and all was well. We followed breakfast with some early play, and rolled out Emily’s favourite film (Sophia the First: Once Upon a Princess) to occupy her whilst I sorted bottles, etc. out for the day. By lunchtime, it was only half past 8. Rather than kick our heels in the house, with the sun shining we decided to head down to Guiseley and pay a visit to Costa before Baby Sensory. It was a nice brisk walk in the chilly morning air, and Emily took the opportunity to catch up on a bit of sleep. With a skinny decaf latte down my neck and a bottle for Emily, we headed on to Baby Sensory. The first shock of the session was that I wasn’t token dad… There was another man there. As it turns out, he was accompanying his partner so I’m not sure that counts properly. I was slightly better with the words to the hello song, but have given up on the signing. Emily doesn’t even watch me anyway, she’s far more interested in everything else going on in the room so I’m sure that I would be wasting my time. Things took a further positive turn when we did a song that I actually know. Row Row Row Your Boat. A classic. That said, their version doesn’t mention a crocodile like mine does. Mine is better. As usual, Emily was soon fast asleep again after Baby Sensory which allowed me to detour into Morrisons on the way home for ingredients for big sisters tea. Tonight’s offerings were to be turkey breasts, veg and homemade Yorkshire puddings. Back home for lunch – Spaghetti Bolognese pouch followed by Petits Filous – then afternoon play in the lounge. The coffee table and a Morrisons bag for life were today’s favourite toys, naturally. Time ticked by and before long it was time to head out to collect big sisters from school, via the chemist for Emily’s repeat prescription of Gaviscon Infant. As is always the case after a night away, all three were delighted to see each other and we had a lovely walk back home. Big sisters had an early bath whilst I prepared tea with Emily, and the three of us sat down to a meal as planned whilst Emily tucked into a pot of custard. It was then time for big sister 2 to get ready for her Little Ninja’s class. Mummy had plans for a work night out so Grandma S came round to help with transport. Big sister 1 went as well to watch, which left Emily and me in peace once again for bedtime. She guzzled her bottle and crashed as planned, but it still took a bit of gentle manoeuvring to get her upstairs without waking. She’s already stirred twice but currently all three are fast asleep. With the house to myself, I’m drinking tea and eating ice cream.
Sarah and I dared to comment out loud on how well Emily had done at sleeping through the previous two nights. We even discussed not preparing the night time bottle. It was therefore a given that Emily would buck the trend. Maybe she just wanted to be the first to wish me a happy birthday, because at half 12 Sarah was pushing me out of bed to go and collect said crying one. Fortunately she also troubled mummy at 4 am to even things up. We wearily got up at normal time for breakfast. No birthday cake but nice cuddles and kisses from all the ladies of the house. There was excitement for jog to school day, although the howling wind and pouring rain was of some concern. Nevertheless, we donned our running gear and coats for literal school run. The big sisters may only have little legs but it was still hard to keep up with them whilst pushing a pram laden like a pack horse. The girls did pretty well actually, jogging most of the time. At one point we had to take care to pass a particularly large puddle in the road without getting splashed. Mummy, with work to get to, drove down to school and met us there. The reward for jogging to school was breakfast in the hall. Melon & fruit juice is all good & well but where was the bacon and black pudding? Disappointing does not satisfactorily describe how I felt. Anyhow, mission complete and with the girls on their way to class Emily and I headed home. Traffic was much lighter on the road and it was only when we were halfway past the previously described large puddle that I became wary of our relative proximity. Sure enough, of all the vehicles to come by at that moment was a white van. White van drivers are not generally known as intelligent sorts but this one fell below even those low standards and ploughed through said puddle. Fortunately, although it had stopped raining I had kept the rain cover over Emily to protect her from the wind. As things turned out, it also protected her from the tsunami that engulfed us both. I made sure I didn’t give the eejit the pleasure of seeing any reaction as the water penetrated my lower layers but I was secretly annoyed that his van was too stereotypically dirty for me to read the registration mark. We squelched home for a full outfit change and a play in the lounge and hope that the weather might clear. Sure enough there were signs of the sun at around 11 am so we headed out to the post office to collect a parcel. The sunshine didn’t last long and we were once more exposed to the wind & rain. Emily, snuggled under her blanket and rain cover, was oblivious. I wasn’t. The trip was worthwhile though, as it was a birthday pressie for me. We returned home via Morrisons for a quick lunch of sandwiches for me and a chicken dinner pouch for Emily, followed by custard. With lunch done & dusted, we headed out in the car for a wedding related meeting with a friend at their soft play centre. Whilst there, Emily took the opportunity to do some climbing and roll around in the ball pool which she seemed to really enjoy. We finished off with the afternoon bottle then headed home. It was a quick turnaround before the next afternoon engagement, but as it happened our paths crossed with Uncle Mark who was dropping off my birthday pressie, which was nice. There was just time for a little nap for Emily before we were back in the car. Our next meeting was with a good friend who had just completed a course of radiotherapy and was going out for a bit of a celebratory meal. Emily enjoyed the extra cuddles and some play with 3 year old William who seemed to have brought most of his toy collection out with him, and before long it was time to head home for bath & bed. Mummy arrived home just after us and so was able to enjoy bath time with Emily, and as I type she is giving her the bedtime bottle. We’re going out for a birthday meal tonight so hopefully Emily will settle well and be good for Grandma S…
With another good nights’ sleep behind us, it was all smiles at breakfast. There was also an element of excitement as big sisters were on their school trip to the National Mining Museum. There were no surprises in store on the breakfast menu, other than an additional travel sick tablet course. I was expecting some disappointment after being unable to locate big sister 2’s packed lunch yoghurt request in the supermarket the previous evening. Fortunately, she was happy with the Frozen themed alternative. Good recovery. A little earlier than usual we all set off for the drop off at the child minders, packed lunches (in disposable carrier bags – no fun themed lunch boxes allowed these days) in hand and wrapped up for the cold of the mine. Before long, it was just Emily and me again. Back home for some cricket before swimming. With just over an hour to kill we thought we’d see England dig in for a while and try to grind out a draw, but to Emily’s disgust the wickets tumbled at regular intervals. At one point she even started to show more interest in her shape sorting red bus than the cricket, which is saying something. With a little time to spare the test match was all over so we got ourselves ready for swimming. The first unexpected challenge on arrival was to hunt down the changing mats. Usually found by the changing room door, for some reason they were now all located by the showers. Practical joker at play or a change made by staff? Who knows, but we’ll see where they can be found next week. Fully expecting a range of new songs again I had made no effort to learn any from last week. My lack of preparation proved to be correct when we launched into Horsey Horsey. I thought I knew more of that song that I actually do, so most of my words were mumbled fairly quietly. Emily rumbled me but kept quiet. She had a good lesson in general, doing really well at holding on to the side without any physical help from me. A couple of new exercises were thrown in today; swimming with her on my back, which she really enjoyed, and then the more adventurous partner activity where we had to push our babies to each other underwater. Fortunately at the end of the exercise we all emerged with a baby and as far as I could tell everyone got reunited with their own child. Emily then tucked in to her post-swimming bottle with grandma before we headed off for the rest of the day. First stop was to deliver some critical items to the family with the newest little arrival in our friendship group. Emily slept throughout the visit, which gave me an opportunity to have a cuddle with the teeny little girl. We headed home before either of the babies started crying, and for some well-earned lunch. I chose Emily a slightly different shade of frozen green to mix with the frozen orange today, just to mix things up a bit. Whatever vegetables they were seemed fine with Emily, and were washed down with custard. With full tummies we decided to get some fresh air (and rack up some more Fitbit steps) despite the howling wind and rain. Both wrapped up warm we headed out to the docs to get a repeat prescription for Emily. Before long I had to batten down the hatches on the travel system, using the Velcro straps to make sure the rain cover didn’t blow away. I didn’t fancy the idea of chasing it across roads or gardens. All the way I kept wondering what sort of damage was being caused to all those garden trampolines. We survived the elements and made it home in one piece, so with a couple of hours to kill until Emily’s tea time we rolled out the play mat for some fun. Emily was on great form and we had loads of giggles before snuggling up on the sofa for a little sleep. 2 days running she’s had a sleep on my chest in the afternoon; it’s a lovely feeling and hopefully something we can share regularly before I go back to work. Tea time arrived and Emily selected mango yoghurt. Nice choice. She didn’t quite finish it so I polished off the remainder. Bath time followed and then I had the challenge of keeping her occupied whilst I had my tea as mummy was running late. I think I lost some skin from the roof of my mouth in trying to eat my tea as quickly as I could, but it was worth it as she managed to occupy herself with some soft toys for long enough. With a bit of multi-tasking, I had got her bedtime bottle ready during my tea so we went straight into the bedtime routine. Bottle downed, and eyes closed just before mummy got home. She was almost ready for her cot when big sisters arrived home. 7 year old’s and quiet don’t really go too well together, so unfortunately Emily was suddenly wide awake again. Scowls and apologies all round, but it only took a few more minutes to settle her down again. All 3 are now snoring away which is good as they’ll need their energy for jog to school day tomorrow.
After a weekend during which Emily treated us to the delights of sleep deprivation, it was with great relief that she slept through last night, not waking until after 6 am. Sarah had an early start for work so I was on the breakfast duty for all 3. Emily was full of beans from her solid nights’ sleep and wolfed down her toast with marmite and Weetabix whilst the girls had their usual mix of cereals and wraps. After various confiscations over the weekend, big sisters were reunited with their Kindles as they were unusually ready for school in good time. More strangely, they also put them away again at the first time of asking. The walk to school was pleasant in the unusually mild weather, only interrupted by a silly driver who chose a junction to drop off their passenger and say their goodbyes whilst we were waiting to cross. I put on my best ‘disappointed in you’ expression and shook my head, to which the female driver pulled a somewhat childish expression back at me. I don’t think this did her any favours, and I walked away feeling I held the high ground. Or was a becoming a grumpy school run dad?? With the school run complete, Emily and I settled down to watch some cricket whilst she had her morning bottle. Her attention was lacking a little, presumably because England had already won the Test Series, and she was soon snoring away leaving me to watch the cricket in relative peace whilst doing a few chores around the house. She woke again just in time for lunch, which consisted of something orange and something green from the freezer. They were both vegetable based I’m sure of that, and went down pretty well, followed up with a mixed fruit pouch. With lunch done and dusted we treated ourselves to a walk up to Yeadon including our regular trip to Morrisons for important items such as the packed lunch contents for big sisters school trip tomorrow. On the way home I caught sight of a garden trampoline I’ve never spotted before. This got me thinking. When people buy their children these things, do they stop to think that in a year or so, thanks to a combination of over-exuberant use and exposure to the elements they start to look like abandoned scaffolding? Torn netting a rusting posts don’t make for attractive garden accessories. Anyhow, we arrived back home to continue watching the live cricket from South Africa whilst having some great fun playing with Emily’s various toys in the lounge. She is becoming more & more active, and wanting to climb up everything. This is quite tiring for her, and after an hour or so she was snoring her head off on my chest. She slept like this for over an hour, which is probably one of the nicest things to share with your child. By the time she woke up England were in a spot of bother so I brought her up to speed with proceedings over the afternoon bottle. She digested both but didn’t really react too much to the cricket situation. I suspect she has already turned her attention to the forthcoming One Day Internationals. With big sisters having tea out, Emily had a peaceful tea of mushed banana and rice pudding. Whilst she let that settle I managed to get some tea myself and then we headed upstairs for bath time. Interrupted by a pre-arranged visitor (who I’d forgotten about) Emily went from smiling to screaming in the blinking of an eye. Ten minutes of screaming followed until I was able to get her into the bath as planned. Fun splashing with a bit of screaming thrown in for good measure when she slipped and almost went under but otherwise without incident. Time for PJ’s and the night time bottle, then tucked in a sleeping by 6:30. I managed to keep to her usual routine all day and this seemed to have paid off as she is still sleeping soundly. Big sisters are also tucked up in bed, no doubt excited for their school trip tomorrow.
Emily’s sleeping through progress continues to develop. Not a peep until 5 am. The downside of that was that was, of course, that 5 am was the start of our waking hours. Urgh. The soft toy banana (Emily’s not mine or Sarah’s) could only occupy her for some long so first Sarah, then I, dragged ourselves out of bed for another day. Big sisters returned home from their overnighter at half 7, by which time we were all breakfasted up. Ready Brek for Emily today, just to mix things up a bit. Being a creature of habit, I stuck with the usual combo of Weetabix, granola and Special K. Today’s weather treat for the walk to school was rain, so Emily got herself all wrapped up under her rain cover whilst we were exposed to the elements. Light rain gradually got heavier. Big sisters had Frozen and In The Night Garden umbrellas, with number 2 even opting for her full snow suit just in case. The walk home from school brought even heavier rain, so much so that Sarah and I had to get changed when we got home. Emily was fast asleep, and remained that way until almost 11 o’clock. This was a bonus for me as I was able to fully engross myself in day 1 of the final test match from South Africa. By the time she woke for her bottle, South Africa were in the driver’s seat, partly due to some sloppy fielding behind the stumps from the England lads. Whether Emily waking was the catalyst or not will never be known, but it was only when she was watching that the wickets started to fall. At her request, we even flicked over to watch some Big Bash League from down under during the lunch break. Who am I to argue? It’s not as if I’m really into Balamory or anything. Honest. With the weather showing no signs of improving, we stayed in until lunchtime and even pushed the boat out, lighting up the fire in the living room. Emily’s first sight of flames, so clearly she headed straight for them. Time to put a fireguard on the shopping list. Lunch consisted of cheese salad sandwiches for me and a mixed vegetable pouch for Emily, followed up with a mango Greek yoghurt. With full tummies, we returned to the cricket in the lounge to await mummy, who works a half day on Fridays. By the time she got home the sun had come out to play so we all headed out for a Fitbit-worthy trek down to Guiseley. On today’s shopping list was towels and a gift for a new baby. Fortunately, with Sarah on hand I didn’t have to make any key decisions, just nod in agreement when called upon. Big sisters were collected from school by Grandma S for their swimming lessons, so with the darkness falling upon us we just had time for an obligatory Costa before heading home to greet the little swimmers and feed them. Four separate meals on the menu, but the big news was that big sister 1 had ordered omelette. This is huge news for us as neither will eat any form of egg under normal circumstances. Fully expecting a “this isn’t like the school one” comment, I was delighted to watch her eagerly devour the whole thing. Big sister 2, on the other hand, wasn’t happy that some of her chicken wasn’t quite the right shade of white and so didn’t trust it. With Sarah and I due to go out to the local pantomime, grandma & grandad W were babysitting. Naturally this meant that when they arrived Emily was not asleep as normal. Quite awake in fact. With no time to spare we had to hand her over and hope for the best. Big sisters were under strict instructions to follow their normal bedtime routine. By the interval, work came back that all 3 were sound asleep. Shortly after the end of the pantomime, further word came back that Emily was wide awake and screaming. Excellent. We headed home to find her almost inconsolable in grandma’s arms. However, within a couple of seconds of being back with me and then mummy, she was happy as Larry, waving and smiling at her grandparents as if nothing had ever happened. If she can play us all like this already it does not bode well for the future! It’s now almost midnight. Emily is shattered but still blowing raspberries, grabbing ears and declining the option of sleep. Fingers crossed that she’ll make up for it with a lie in…
Emily treated us to unbroken sleep for even longer last night. Unfortunately though, that only lasted until 4 am when she woke for a feed. The bottle was cold by that time so Sarah had to take over. Emily’s cold was causing her problems with feeding however, so she snuffled her way through for a while and was then generally restless for the remainder of the night. Two tired grown-ups managed to get up when morning came and the breakfast marathon began once more. No surprises on the menu which was nice as Sarah had an early start for work. Emily had an impressive poo before we left and whilst I was sorting her out, big sister 2 popped to the loo. This turned out to be a nasty affair, and whilst I won’t go into too much detail it involved unblocking the toilet and get the mopping the floor. Jack Frost had made a solid appearance overnight so we wrapped up extra warm, with double mittens for Emily, for the walk to the child minders. Getting the first pair on is a feat in itself – those little hands don’t half squirm a lot. With big sisters dropped off, Emily and I returned home for a bottle before Baby Sensory. I must admit, I had made no effort at all to learn the Hello Song but was confident that the hapless dad card would continue to work for some time. No fancy dress for either of us this week. No time to walk to Guiseley so we defrosted the car and drove down. After winging it through the Hello Song we progressed on to one I knew – Heads, Shoulders, Knees & Toes. Emily also knows this, as big sister is fond of performing the number in front of her, usually going through all the verses where you start missing words out too. We did a version of Round & Round the Garden with a piece of material and then free play. Emily had great fun on an airbed with a furry cover, grabbing animal hand puppets. It finished off with some play with a parachute activity with balloons; Emily even managed to get her hands on a balloon and successfully hold on. We then loaded up in the car for the short drive home, and she was asleep within seconds. I left her in the car seat and carried the whole thing into the house so she could continue to sleep, and by heck she did. Almost two hours of unbroken sleep, which allowed me to crack on around the house and also treat myself to a lunch of fish finger sandwiches. When she eventually woke she was more than ready for a lunch of carrot and mixed fruits. It was then time to head out again to collect the girls from school, via Morrisons for milk powder and wipes. With the girls collected, we headed straight home for an early tea – chicken fajitas. By the time I put it on the table, big sister 1 had got changed 4 times, including a princess outfit (with flamenco shoes) and a teacher outfit (?!). The girls love making their own wraps, probably more than eating them to be honest. Emily settled for some finger food and custard. Grandma S arrived a little later to take big sister 2 to her karate class. Big sister 1 went too as they were being picked up for a sleepover straight from there, leaving me along with Emily for bath & bedtime. With the house peaceful, I took the opportunity to have a bath with Emily – the first time I’ve done it. We had some giggles splashing around before getting our PJ’s on. 30 minutes later, with a full bottle downed, she is snoring away in bed and I have sole control of the remote. Happy days.
Emily treated us to another night of almost unbroken sleep. Apart from the 2 am feed. Urgh. Still, she was only up for half an hour and settled down for the remainder of the night. Sarah and I shared breakfast duty this morning, so I was able to rustle up a special 8 fruit smoothie, including a couple of exotic flavours of persimmon and passion fruit. Obviously big sisters didn’t have any because “it’s got bits in”. Emily had petits filous and toast, with various cereals and breads devoured by the rest of the family. Sarah was driving to work but made time to drive to school then meet us during the walk. Big sister 2 decided she wanted to go with mummy so just Emily, big sister 1 and I headed out into the fog. By the time we met up with our school walk buddies, big sister 1 was already deeply involved in casting a new show. It was untitled but so far had a song about icicles and another about blue chairs that were very pretty. I was to do a duet with her at some point yet to be decided. By the time we got to school the show had evolved. There were princesses and dancers, and apparently I was going to be wearing a crown and a nice blue outfit. Sounds like I was in line to be the king. Result. With the drop off at school complete, it was time to head home. It was cleaning day, so we kept out of the way in the already tidy living room whilst our friendly cleaner tackled the rest of the house. Emily had a marathon session in the activity station, whilst keeping one eye on the One Day International between Australia and India which just happened to be on TV. She frowned on the batting collapse of the Indians, it must be said. With the cricket done & dusted, we headed out to Morrisons for a few bits & pieces, then back home for lunch. Feeling adventurous, I cracked open a tin of tuna for Emily, mixed in with some mayo. Her initial reaction was as if I had fed her some sewage but she warmed to it, slightly. 5 spoons was all she managed, but that was a pretty good effort for something new. After lunch we loaded up the car for a trip to Guiseley. Just for a change mummy had a parcel to collect from Next and there were also a few other little errands to see to. Emily slept throughout most of it so to kill some time I did the honourable thing and grabbed a quick Costa. She got a bit grumpy when being transferred from pushchair to car, but we needed to get home for the afternoon bottle so I bundled her and off we went. Not much bottle got consumed, probably due to the lingering cold, so she just chilled in front of her favourite film (Sofia the First – Once Upon a Princess) whilst I prepared dinner for big sisters. Chicken pie and veg. Big sisters were both tired when we collected them from the child minder, big sister 2 in particular. Their reaction to the dinner menu left a lot to be desired, even though I have it on good authority that they eat chicken pie at school. “Yes, but that’s different to your chicken pie”. Hmm. As expected, they both tried it and turned their noses up so it was a dinner of mashed potato & veg. Could be worse I suppose. Before long it was bath time for all 3.. Two out of three ain’t bad, said Meatloaf, and the same applied to bath time today. Big sister 2 wasn’t having any of this hair washing malarkey so there’s a Kindle confiscation hanging over her head now. Tiredness to blame, undoubtedly. Anyway, by half 7 all three were snoring away, hopefully for another relatively peaceful night.
Other than a midnight feed, Emily blessed us with an uninterrupted night’s sleep. With the girls sleeping out, this meant a peaceful start to the day by our standards, although by no means a lie in! Emily was looking a lot more perky than at the weekend, other than a chesty cough, and so went back to her standard breakfast of toast and Weetabix. With no school run to contend with it was a pretty relaxing post-breakfast session before heading off to swimming. By this point, I’ve come to accept that there are just too many children’s songs out there to memorise them all so I was pretty relaxed about the lesson. In any case, I could always play the ‘doing my best’ dad card if all else fails. Changing for swimming went pretty smoothly although I did have a slight panic when I couldn’t find my shorts. How things can hide so well in a bag never ceases to amaze me. The lesson itself went pretty well although Emily wasn’t too keen on the submerging, probably due to her cold. Amongst other things we sang about everyone’s favourite farmer, Old McDonald. However, he’s been developing his plot since I last crossed paths with him as he now has a pond. And on that pond he has some ducks. E-I-E-I-O. He also has fish and, randomly, a snake. It was all almost too much for Emily but she did manage to stay awake in the end, and necked her post-swim bottle before falling asleep. It was a sleep that lasted for the journey home, via the docs, and back home where she snored happily for another hour. With some better prep than yesterday, I defrosted something orange from the freezer for Emily and made a heady cocktail with a mixed fruit pouch. After her long sleep she was more than ready for her lunch and wolfed it all down. It had been a bad morning for the Fitbit so with lunch down our necks we got wrapped up and headed out for a stroll around Yeadon Tarn. Emily showed great interest in the wildlife, and I think at one point she was wondering if the ducks were wild or Old McDonald’s. We passed a couple of old blokes sailing their model boats – I always want to see one of the frustrated skippers having to wade out to retrieve a broken down clipper – but nothing else of particular interest before making our way down to Morrisons. In a smart move on my part, I decided to dispense with the basket and use my bag for life as I traversed the aisles. I may have looked like a rubbish shoplifter but it did the job. Maybe it’ll catch on? For the record, I did actually pay for everything. It was then back home for a spot of play before big sister 2 arrived home, having opted to come back early to see Emily rather than have tea with Grandma S. Big sister 1 stuck with the original plan. Born ready, immediately leapt into action with an emergency tea of fish fingers, chips & beans for big sister 2 whilst Emily had an interesting mix of a Dairylea main course and custard dessert. Bath time was a delight as always and then all that was left was to try to keep her awake until mummy arrived home from work. Fortunately we managed, just, and so Sarah was able to have a few minutes of smiles before feeding her and settling her down for the night. All quiet from upstairs so far… Fingers crossed for another good night.
Emily has been under the weather over the weekend and so everyone had to prise themselves out of bed. Big sisters had been sleeping out but returned home at breakfast time. It’s always lovely to see the three of them with big smiles on their faces when they see each other after some time away and this morning was no exception. Whilst big sisters got ready for school, Emily had a breakfast of petits filous accompanied with toast topped with marmite, both of which went down well and before long it was time for the school run, minus big sister 1’s school shoes which were nowhere to be seen. Most of the snow had melted but that didn’t stop big sisters from trying to collect as much as they could along the way to give the one friend or another. Obviously none of the snow actually made it as far as school. The big news from the school run was the discovery of big sister 1’s missing school shoes; emergency trip to Clarks avoided. We headed home via Grandma and Grandad W’s house for a cuppa and a cuddle (Emily, not me) and it was after that visit I decided to break some news to Emily. Whist she certainly enjoyed a good cricket match, she doesn’t know all the rules just yet. She thoroughly enjoyed Stuart Broad’s antics with the ball on Friday and celebrated along with the rest of the household (well, me) when England won the series in South Africa, but what she didn’t realise is that it meant there would be no international cricket this morning. Tears almost flowed but fortunately it was time for the morning bottle and nap, which allowed me to get a few bits & pieces done. Emily slept for a good hour or more and was ready for play when she woke up, so plenty of rolling around and bashing toys and daddy followed. This took us to lunchtime – mixed vegetable pouch for Emily and soup for me – and then it was time to get wrapped up again for an afternoon stroll to Guiseley. Primary task – visit Boots for a complimentary Bounty pack. Midway through the walk, who should we cross paths with my jaunty hat man (see Day 10) only this time he had no bag for life and, presumably, no beer. Whatever he did have, he wasn’t for sharing as he walked straight past us without any sort of acknowledgement of our previous yet brief friendship. Perhaps I had burnt my bridges with my refusal? Who knows? The rest of the journey was uneventful, as were the visits to the various establishments. Almost disappointing really. The journey home featured nothing more interesting than my Fitbit buzzing to acknowledge me reaching my step goal for the day and we arrived back home in time for the afternoon bottle. A quick squirt up the nose with nasal spray before the bottle caused a little upset but helped Emily neck the full 7 oz and whilst she was letting that settle I got about the business of dinner. This turned into a bit of a failure as the mixed root vegetables refused to soften in the steamer, during which I allowed the pan to boil dry. Veg straight in the bin and a black pan to sort out later. So, when dinner time arrived the emergency fruit pouch was called for. I hadn’t told Emily about the veg so she was none the wiser. Bath followed dinner, then some chill out time before the bedtime bottle. As I type, she is still settled in bed; a first for the last few nights. Swimming lesson tomorrow so I’m off to learn my song lines now.
After the last minute discovery that I had been wearing one black & one blue sock all day last night, I was determined to do better this morning. How such a situation came about where these two cousins at best were bundled together I do not know – this sort of thing never happened when I lived alone. With socks all in order, it was a whole family affair for breakfast with mummy starting work late to accommodate the school run. Emily went wild and had Ready Brek for a change but other than that it was as you would imagine. The school run was a chilly affair, so much so that even I had upgraded to a heavyweight scarf, and it was nice to get back home into the warmth. Emily was slightly annoyed that in the course of the walk we had missed 3 wickets in the latest test match but she soon settled when we sat down with a bottle in time to see England start the first innings run chase. The day got even better by mid-morning when the postman delivered a jiffy bag with my name on it. Well blow me down if it wasn’t the replacement crotch pad. Our travel system was now complete again. Sarah was working from home in the morning so Emily & I occupied ourselves in the lounge, alternating between the cricket and the activity station. I was guilty on a couple of occasions of watching the cricket when I should have been making something rattle or moo, but I’m pretty sure I also caught Emily admiring the footwork and timing of Joe Root at times. Lunchtime arrived and we tried something a bit different. Emily was to have some Bolognese sauce with mashed potato, homemade of course. It looked ok, and definitely smelt like it should, but she wasn’t having any of it. We resorted to the back-up option of a Dairylea slice and mango yoghurt which went down a storm. Scrambled eggs for me. After lunch, and with Sarah having finished work for the day, we loaded Emily into her romper suit and headed out to Guiseley. Sunglasses were required, along with hat, scarf & gloves in the lovely, crisp afternoon sun. Emily slept all the way and so missed today’s comedy encounter. Midway towards Guiseley, we spotted a middle-aged chap heading towards us with a walking stick and shopping bag. As he got nearer, the jaunty angle of his hat suggested that all was perhaps not as it should be and this was proved to be the case. Opening his Morrisons bag for life, he rather proudly announced to us, “I’ve just bought some beer from the shop. Do you want one?” Unfortunately for me it was Carling I could see in there so I politely declined and we all went our separate ways. Had it been a nice bottle of Saltaire Blonde I’d have been tempted to join him, jaunty hat and all. First stop in Guiseley was, of course, Costa. On entering, it resembled a scene from the return of the Prodigal Son as staff and customers spotted Sarah. I’m pretty sure I heard one gossip merchant mutter “see, I told you she wasn’t dead” as the once regular order went in. Skinny decaf (AKA “no fun”) latte’s for us and the afternoon bottle for Emily, then there was just time to collect a parcel from Next – Sarah’s, obviously – before heading home. With big sister 1 going swimming with Grandma S after school and big sister 2 feeling pretty shattered from the week at school, we had a bit of time to sort out tea for all in relative peace and quiet before the day ended with some sleepy snuggles on the couch. Early night for all three girls and cider for the grown-ups.
Another early start to enable the worker to leave early, and with just one big sister to manage breakfast was a fairly straightforward affair. Feeling much better after a day of rest, big sister 1 was fit and ready for school and so after breakfast we headed out to meet the child minder and reunite with big sister 2. Hugs all round and big smiles from Emily on seeing big sister 2 again. I had to cut the school run short this morning as Emily and I were embarking on a new adventure at 10 am – Baby Sensory. Goodbyes were exchanged before Emily & I powerwalked home for a quick turnaround that Jet2 would be proud of. In theory. Actually, things went pretty well. Bottle warmed and car loaded up whilst Emily slept, then there was just time for her to neck a full 210 ml before it was time to head off. Neither of us knew much about what we were heading into, but the work I’d been given was that this week was a jungle theme and so fancy dress was encouraged. I assumed that this meant me, but sadly my Tarzan outfit was in the wash and so we had to make do with Emily’s Tigger pyjamas. On arrival, as expected I was the token dad in the room but they seemed a friendly bunch. I was a bit concerned at first by the prayer mats on the floor, but as the session began my worries were allayed when it became clear that they were just for the babies to lie on. We opened up with a song. Great. As if I didn’t have enough to contend with learning the swimming songs, I now had the ‘hello song’ which not only has words but also sign language accompaniment. I tried my best to keep up but was exposed as an absolute beginner. We then moved on to the jungle theme with some pop-up animals including a polar bear who was clearly hopelessly lost. The next song has already gone from my mind but I do remember having to turn around and lift Emily in the air a few times before mopping up a bit of sick. Hers, not mine. Free play in the jungle themed area was next. Emily enjoyed bouncing on the leopardprint airbed – no doubt Sarah will be jealous – and chewing on a large plastic frog the best. Before long it was time to reunite on the prayer mats for the final part of the session. More songs, and some interactive play involving large cloths and oversized plastic frogs. There was also a song about a frisky frog. A bit saucy for the target age group, I thought. Anyway, the mood of that particular frog seemed to go over the head of Emily so there were no awkward questions to answer. Soon it was time for the ‘goodbye song’ which wasn’t as difficult as the ‘hello song’ but I still struggled at times. No-one preps you for the amount of song lyrics you need to learn when looking after a little one! So, Baby Sensory done and on to the next task. Not content will sending me on tights errands, I had been upgraded to make-up purchaser by Sarah. Dual Bronzer and Lift & Luminate were on the shopping list. What makes the bronzer dual action, I do not know but it clearly ups the price. As for the lift & luminate, I was specifically looking for one in ‘warm beige’. Now, it should be noted that most blokes see a range of colours – the normal ones. Black, white, green, yellow, red, blue, etc. Not stupid names acceptable in the worlds of make-up and paints. For example, what the chuff is Vanilla Scoop or First Dawn? Give us a chance! I gathered that I was basically looking for a light brown make-up. Fortunately I was earmarked early on in my Boots visit as a novice and so an assistant was at my side very quickly. He was soon able to assist me in selecting the correct items and take the exorbitant amount of money for such small items from me at the till. Shopping errands done, we headed home for lunch. No worries over food labels today – a cheating lunch of Ella’s Kitchen butternut squash, apple, prune and something else which went down a storm, followed by the now standard dessert of Petits Filous. Time for a quick nappy change then we were loading up into the car again for a trip to Mothercare to be reunited with our now repaired travel system. The handover went smoothly and I was informed that in addition to the repair they had also serviced it. Can’t grumble with that sort of service. The handle had even been covered with plastic to prevent oily hands greasing it up. We were soon on our way home, again for a fairly quick turnaround before heading down to school to pick up big sisters. I decided to remove the plastic from the handle of the travel system. Well, what a farce that was. It was like peeling skin off, only less bloody. 20 minutes later, I had most of it off but a very sticky handle. A disappointing end to otherwise excellent customer service. We were still running to time for the school run, just. I wrestled Emily into her winter romper suit but just as we were about to leave, she showed me her poo face. A quick sniff confirmed that this was no false alarm so I peeled her out again for a rapid pit stop. Getting her back into the romper suit was even more difficult the second time – she locks her legs straight with some incredible strength – but we got there in the end. Walking with good pace we made it to school comfortably before the bell went. With all 3 in tow, we headed home in the crisp afternoon sunshine for tea and milk. Mummy didn’t quite make it home for bath time but still had time for Emily cuddles and the bedtime bottle then stories for big sisters. All 3 tucked up and snoring away, done for another day.
The day started early with the usual bed increasingly filling up with the sisters, one after another. Big sister 1 was feeling unwell and an early decision was made for her to have the day off to recharge her batteries (“I don’t have batteries, silly”) and try to shake off her cold a little. With Sarah having an early start for work the breakfast duties fell to me again. The system seems to be working as we were all pretty much done & dusted 45 minutes before it was time to leave for the school run. This posed a new challenge; how to occupy them without any chaos being caused. One way or another I managed it and we were all adorned in hats, coats, scarves & gloves for the chilly morning air at the allotted time. There was, of course, some debate as to who owned which scarf but we got there without too much of a fall-out. It turned out to be the first proper frosty morning for our walk to school and we soon encountered our first icy pavement. As I’m sure plenty of mothers know, negotiating ice with a pram is no easy feat. When you slip, do you keep hold of the pram and risk flipping it over or let go and hope it comes to rest somewhere safe? This, along with the repeated head-count, kept me occupied until we met up with our walking buddies. Fortunately, apart from a few minor slides, no genuine “You’ve been framed” incidents occurred on the outbound journey. The school playground did prove to be a good spot for watching children fall over though. I do genuinely find it one of the most funny things but as I’m still not entirely sure which child belongs to which parent I kept my laughs to myself rather than feel the wrath of a mother or father who doesn’t see the funny side of little Johnny going thingy over breakfast time. After depositing big sister 2 at school safely, Emily, big sister 1 and I headed home. Full of confidence after the walk down, I even braved a downhill snicket (or ginnel – that’s a debate for another day) with nothing more than a double-footed slide occurring. Back home, all intact, big sister went to snuggle down on the sofa and I went into the garden to feed Bobo and Jacob Bobbins, our rabbits. Having survived all the icy paths, you can imagine my disappointment when I went crashing to the ground after slipping on an icy patch of decking. Fortunately the rabbits didn’t see the fall so I pretty much got away with it other than a slight stain on my jeans. With the outside duties done, Emily had her morning bottle and with no sleep following we had a good old play whilst big sister 1 watched 101 Dalmatians. Despite all the toys on offer, the most entertaining thing today seemed to be my rather bald head. Simply shaking it near her face brought on a bout of giggles time & time again. I don’t think there is a better sound than hearing your child laugh, other than perhaps the sound of the ball clattering into the stumps when you’re bowling (non-cricketers may not understand or appreciate this). We played and watched some TV until lunchtime. Emily tucked into something orange, possibly butternut squash, mixed with either apple or pear. Perhaps we need to label our frozen food a little better. Big sister, her appetite not dented by the poorliness, had a bowl of baked beans, sweetcorn & cheese. After lunch, we all wrapped up again and headed out to Morrisons complete with bag for life. The fresh air will have done us all some good, and it was no surprise that on our return home big sister 1 crashed on the couch for what turned out to be a two and a half hour sleep. With Emily still asleep in the pram as well, I took the opportunity to do a bit of paperwork on the kitchen table. Mavis wasn’t having any of that though, and as soon as my back was turned chose my papers as the perfect spot for a sleep. Once discovered, she certainly left the table quicker than she got on it! Emily woke up with a little paperwork still to do so I stuck on CBeebies for her. We were met with 3 characters called Ruff-Ruff, Tweet and Dave who seemed to be getting asked questions by a talking bear in a straw boater. Kids TV is bizarre. Still, it occupied Emily for a while until I was able to give her all my attention again. The pair of us did a few little jobs around the house whilst and big sister 1 slept and before long light was falling. Emily had a small tea of peas and then it was bath time. She loves her bath and never grumbles when water goes in or around her eyes; a proper little water baby. Bath done & dusted, we headed downstairs and I started to warm her bedtime bottle. At this point, I rechecked the time and realised that I was an hour ahead of myself! Time to backtrack with the bottle and try to explain to an 8 month old that it wasn’t sleepy time just yet. We got away with it and bedtime was a pretty smooth process. Sadly for mummy, this meant that by the time she got home Emily was already tucked up in bed, but I’m sure she’ll get to make up for it in the small hours. Mavis had the final word on the day though; a nice little gift of some sick on our duvet. My side too, the little madam.
As I alluded to yesterday, today is a SPLIT day for me. Mothers might know this as a KIT day (Keeping In Touch) but in the brave new world of Shared Parental Leave SPLIT is the new KIT. So, for the first time since November I had to dig out my work clothes. By prior arrangement with my boss, I had agreed that I could take my lunch break to coincide with Emily’s swimming lesson, but other than that I was to be without my little sidekick for the day. First trip of the day was to walk big sisters around to the child minder, following which Emily and I headed home for breakfast – Weetabix as standard. There was then time for a little play in the farmyard activity station before Grandma S arrived to do the pre-swimming lesson stint with Emily. With the handover complete it was time for me to head off to work. It was soon time for the swimming lesson and in line with a plan Hannibal Smith would have been proud of I met Emily poolside a few minutes before the start. Following on from last weeks’ lesson, I had spent a bit of time learning my song lyrics, especially the motor boat song that I had never heard of before. Oozing with confidence we commenced the lesson. Advanced as she is, her lesson now includes underwater as well as surface swimming. As I discovered though, it’s important that, at the end of a submergence, she is lifted out of the water sufficiently to breathe – that, apparently, includes her mouth and nose, not just her forehead! Coughing & spluttering followed but we were soon smiling thanks to a rousing group rendition of Incy Wincey Spider. The remainder of the lesson went without incident and as it drew to a close I loosened my vocal chords in anticipation of the motor boat song. Well, stone the crows, if the instructor didn’t throw a low-baller in. “Let’s sing the Big Red Tractor”. Huh? It wasn’t that difficult to pick up in all honesty. By all accounts the Big Red Tractor just pootles around the fields all day gathering hay, sometimes bouncing, other times splashing. The field must be boggy with all the recent flooding. I even had the dance sussed by the end of it. Lesson over, it was time to hand Emily back over to Grandma for a well-earned bottle whilst I headed off for the remainder of the day at work. Emily then spent the rest of the day at the child minder, which, by the giddiness of her on her return home, she loved. It was a strange feeling walking around without my little sidekick and all her paraphernalia; if I’m honest I missed it. What it will feel like come 1st March I do not know. Still, lots more fun to be had before then. Back to full-time day care again tomorrow.
After a nice family weekend it was back to the stay-at-home dad grindstone today. After a small hours feed I was granted the bonus of a slight lie-in (other than being jumped on by 2 children and 2 cats) whilst the others had breakfast downstairs. I was still up & about in plenty of time to see Sarah off to work before setting off on the school run. Fitbit had suffered over the weekend, in part due to the rubbish weather, so I was keen to get the step rate back up again. Big sisters needed additional bags to take extra stuff into school so I went into the cupboard under the stairs. Historically it would have been a case of grabbing carrier bags from the stuff sack but they are so off-trend these days the stuff sack was bare. Instead I had to choose from the various bags for life on offer. I think the idea is that you get a few and re-use them. We haven't quite got the hang of that yet though, and repeatedly forget to take them out with us. To that end, we now have a cupboard overflowing with various bags for life of all shapes & sizes, mainly big, which is almost unmanageable. Still, we managed to choose 2 (both the same, obviously) and off we went, meeting up with the usual walking buddies along the way. After dropping big sisters off it was back home for a bottle (Emily, not me) and a telephone call to the Doc’s to see about her acid reflux issues. Unlike my doctor, they were actually able to offer an appointment not only in the same month, but actually on the same day! Hopefully Jeremy Hunt won’t hear of this or he’ll be demanding answers. As a post-bottle sleep appeared to be out of the question we headed upstairs for the clothes selection process. Mummy had ‘suggested’ an outfit but I decided I could do better myself. First of all I chose a pink chequered dress type thing, so looked for pink ancillaries to go with it, i.e. vest thing and leggings. With all three in hand, I soon found myself in a 50 shades of pink quandary. None were quite the same but I was clueless as to whether it was acceptable or not. Yes was the easiest answer so that’s what I went with. With a list of jobs to try to get done and no sign of sleep from Emily, I put the call in to Grandma W to see it they wanted to spend a bit of time with Emily. Of course they were delighted to have her and so arrangements were made to drop her off after lunch. Lunch consisted of Lancashire Hotpot, which to be honest didn’t go down too well. I’m fairly sure that this was down to the name of it rather than the taste though, and I can’t really argue with that sort of judgement. After lunch, we set off to Grandma and Grandad’s house. Emily was asleep before we’d even left the garden, and remained that way when we arrived. Just as I was about to leave her in their safe hands she woke with a start and began screaming. This seemed as good a time as any to get out of there so off I sloped with a cheery wave. I didn’t leave empty-handed though. It seems my mother is forever wanting me to move items of my childhood (and, to be fair, early adulthood) from their house so I was accompanied on the walk home by a 2 foot high Tigger. After a quick visit to the tip I called in to Next to collect some pyjamas for big sisters. Whilst waiting for the parcel to be collected, a lady went to a till a bit further along with a couple of bras. There was another bloke at the till next to her who decided to strike up a conversation with this lady. His opening gambit was “do you know that in German they are called Büstenhalters?” The lady did not really seem too willing to engage this bearded stranger in a conversation about her underwear so offered the “every day’s a school day” response whilst carefully avoiding eye contact. She left before me but he remained, so I was very careful to make sure he didn’t lay his eyes on my parcel of Despicable Me pyjamas as I left. Who knows what words of wisdom he may have imparted? Weirdo. The remainder of the day went pretty smoothly, probably due to the fact that Emily wasn’t returned to me until after 4 pm, by which time I’d cooked a chicken and covered off the rest of my chores. There was just time for a prune tea (for Emily; I can’t stand the things) before the doctor’s visit, then back home for bottle & bed. As I type, she has been asleep all evening, the first time in over a week. The Gaviscon Infant might be doing the trick. Hopefully the second part of the night (the bit where the grown up’s sleep as well) goes just as smoothly. 4 days to go until the weekend, and with a SPLIT* day tomorrow I’ll soon be at the halfway point.
*see tomorrow’s blog for an explanation.
A turbulent evening with Emily meant that she eventually settled down to sleep pretty much at our bedtime. At 03:20 I woke up wondering why I had not been woken up. Normally it would take a combination of Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks and The Ultimate Warrior to drag me out of bed at that time but curiosity got the better of me so I feigned a toilet trip to stick my head into her room to check that all was well. Naturally she was snoring her head off without a care in the world. Morning started early with a visit from big sister 2, shortly followed by big sister 1. Emily was already in our bed by that time but mummy had been blessed with almost 8 hours’ solid sleep. Whilst Sarah showered, I had some lovely snuggles with the three of them. Friday means casual dress day for Sarah but before long she was standing in front of the wardrobe in a bit of a state, apparently unable to select a top to wear. After watching several emerge from the wardrobe only to be returned moments later I chipped in with a helpful “just pick a damn top” which for reasons unknown didn’t go down too well. Eventually the getting dressed stage of the day was complete and we all headed downstairs for breakfast. Mummy had an early start for work so left the rest of us to it. Weetabix was the order of the day for me, Emily and big sister 2, whilst big sister 1 opted for a more continental approach with honey wraps. Teeth were brushed, boots were donned and there was even time for a meltdown over umbrella choices before we headed out into the damp Friday morning for the walk to school. 100 yards into the walk we were all heading back to the house to collect gloves and hats which had gone from being on to somehow being off again. Still, we made it to school on time and after our goodbyes it was time for Emily and me to head home. To Emily’s delight there was a return of the Antipodean T20 cricket, the Big Bash League, to the screen so whilst I missed out on the sequel to the gripping Waybuloo episode she was quite content watching a slightly one-sided affair between Adelaide Strikers and Brisbane Heat. Whether I ever get to find out if Nok Tok and Yojojo settle their differences or not remains to be seen. With Emily engrossed in the cricket, I made a quick call to the company who manufacture our travel system to order a replacement crotch pad. You’d think they would come up with a slightly better name that that for it, but there you go. The conversation, in brief, went like this: “I’d like to order a replacement pad for the strap that goes between their legs, please.” “You mean the crotch pad?” “Yes, I suppose I do.” “What colour would you like?” “Jade Green please” (that being the colour of the travel system). “I’m sorry, we only do it in black.” Is it me? Still, they are sending a replacement free of charge so all in all I was happy with the outcome. Crotch pad ordered, and the T20 cricket all over, we retired to the lounge for some play. Today’s favourite was peekaboo. I’m unsure if you can win at peekaboo, but either way I reckon I did pretty well. Every time I asked where Emily had gone, I found her almost immediately. She’s rubbish at hiding, in fact I’m not sure she was even taking it that seriously. Lunchtime arrived and Emily tucked into an M&S pea, broccoli and something else ready meal which didn’t look anywhere near as nice as my beef salad sandwich. As time passed the weather improved so we ventured out. We both wrapped up well with Emily sporting her now generic pudding hat (it was a Christmas pudding hat, but time has elapsed and that hat still fits) and headed off into Yeadon for our daily visit to Morrisons. It was only a hand basket visit for pasta bake ingredients, not that Emily would have known as she slept for the whole time, and we were soon on our way home in time to meet mummy who finishes early on a Friday. Emily slept for long enough for me to do some dinner prep before Sarah arrived home. It was soon time to head back down to school to collect big sisters. After the school run, big sisters went off with Grandma S for swimming lessons and I was back into the kitchen, rustling up a ham & leek pasta bake for me and a broccoli & leek pasta bake for the awkward one. Both came out better than I expected with enough left over to freeze for another day. As I type, big sisters are tucked up in bed but Emily is up to her usual tricks again, destroying our evening plans (which, to be fair, were not massively exciting anyway). Fingers crossed she repeats last night’s performance and sleeps through once she eventually settles. As for me, I’ve completed my first week going solo and I think I’ve done pretty well. Even Mavis seems to have forgotten about yesterday’s antics, although perhaps the pieces of ham I treated her to may have helped on that front. A family weekend beckons and I’ll return with the blog on Monday. Now, somebody pass the gin…
After another fairly topsy turvy night with Emily, breakfast was a fairly relaxed affair with Sarah making an early start to work and big sisters sleeping out. Toast & Weetabix went down well but things went downhill when I broke the news to Emily that the South Africa - England test match had finished and there was no live Big Bash League cricket to fall back on. She was not pleased but made do with a fairly gripping episode of Waybuloo. Mummy had either forgotten to leave clothes out for Emily or was developing trust in me. I suspect it was the former, but either way after a bit of scrabbling around I found a couple of items that didn't appear to clash too much and got her dressed. I swear that at times she seems to have about 17 legs. Left leg in, right leg in. Oh. Left leg back in. Right leg... You get my drift. With rubbish weather outside we opted for a morning in the house before the vet trip with Mavis and had a great roll around in the lounge. Games varied between 'grab the power cable', 'head-butt the marble fireplace' and 'slap daddy on the head'. Before lunch, it was time to round up Mavis for the short trip to the vet. Walking was out of the question so after I'd rounded on Mavis ninja-style and bundling her in the cat carrier it was time for Operation Load the car up. The 15 minutes I'd given myself to leave the house and travel 300 yards was barely enough but with Mavis calling shotgun we set off. One blood test and £90 later we were out again. After a short walk back to the car in the drizzle I popped the cat carrier on the ground whilst depositing Emily in the car seat. Just as I was lowering her in I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye. "That looks a bit like Mavis", I thought, before the realisation that it actually was Mavis heading towards the fuel station hit me. My dynamic risk assessment brain cell took control and within a moment I was doing some sort comedy dad run with Emily under my left arm whilst heading for Mavis without startling her. Fortunately the combination of her epiphen-fuelled lethargy, long hair and my eagle-like reactions came together perfectly and I was able to grab enough of a handful of her to scoop her up and basically lob her into the car, glancing down at the cat carrier on the floor with door wide open. Whether the vet didn't fasten it properly or Mavis is some sort of master of escape remains to be established. With the feline drama over, I got Emily back in the car and we all headed home where Mavis went off upstairs in a proper huff. Lunch consisted of an eclectic blend of broccoli and pear or apple (they both look the same when mushed & frozen) with a bit of bubble & squeak, followed by petits filou for dessert. I treated myself to a ham salad. Following lunch there was the inevitable outfit change required. Could I manage two successful outfit selections in one day? After choosing another set of leggings and a top I discovered that Emily had been wearing her vest inside out all morning. As far as I'm concerned the blame lies solely with mummy for not turning it the right way round. With a new outfit in place, and the weather slightly improving, it was time to crank up the Fitbit step count and head to Morrisons for some veg for tea. After loading up the courtesy car with Emily and shopping bag we headed out. Just as we were doing so, controversial word came in via Grandma W that Costa had put their prices up by 10p. It became an emotionally charged walk. Morrisons was uneventful and a tired Emily finally succumbed to sleep, a sleep which lasted an hour and a half which enabled me to get a few chores done. It was then time to go and collect big sisters from school. As ever, all three were delighted to see each other and after the walk home it was time for ham joint & veg for tea before mummy arrived home. Four days in, no children lost but almost one cat. Almost a whole week survived.
After the previous 2 days' triumphs I felt more than confident in sporting my "Best Daddy Ever" socks this morning. Emily slept better overnight and had a good breakfast in the company of her sisters and mummy before the walk to school. With big sisters successfully dropped off at school and mummy on her way to work, Emily and I got on with the day. First job - arranging to get Emily's wheels repaired after an unfortunate child-related incident over the Christmas period. A trip to Mothercare beckoned... the excitement never ends. WIth a few other small jobs also on the list, reinforcements were required so the call went in to Grandma W who was of course more than happy to spend some time with her youngest grandaughter. With the travel system suitably booked in for repair and a 'courtesy car' provided for Emily, it was off to do more exciting activities; buying rabbit food and picking up some flowery boots. Disaster struck when the planned refreshment break at Costa was scuppered by flood damage so we retired to M&S cafe for well earned coffee and sandwiches for the grown ups and a brocolli / baby rice cocktail for Emily. One task remained unfulfilled... After demonstrating considerable expertise in purchasing tights yesterday I had been tasked with buying another pair. Things to remember in this instance were size, colour and denier. Denier? Why don't they just call it thickness then everyone would understand what it meant?! 3 shops & 2 journeys later, we eventually found a pair that matched the description (moreorless anyway) . Even Emily looked relieved. Not satisfied with the results so far, we even sneaked in our daily trip to Morrisons and a quick dip into the vet to arrange an appointment for our epileptic cat, Mavis, before heading home for some play and to prepare tea for mummy.
3 days in and I haven't cried once.
After seeing almost every number at the front end of the digital clock through the night, it was a groggy start for all. Emily fell asleep in her Weetabix during breakfast, and I almost did likewise, but was awoken by a particularly sharp piece of granola. A shorter walk to drop big sisters off at the childminder, then off for Emily's swimming lesson. As the token dad in the pool I was looked after, although I'm glad no-one checked Emily's attire as I have no idea if her swim nappy was on the right way round or not. Either way, we didn't have any nasty incidents in the water so no dramas on that front. Spaghetti carbonara didn't go down to well at lunchtime, so old faithful yoghurt stepped up to save the day. The afternoon brought a gentle stroll to Guiseley (there was a Fitbit Challenge ongoing) for exciting things like tights and toothpaste. The pram seemed to auto-divert into Costa, clearly thinking Sarah was at the helm. Back home for a bit of rolling around and giggling before the rest of the clan arrived. 2 days in, all limbs intact.
Nobody died. Result. Good day for Fitbit, helped by double school run and bonus steps retracing my route to find a glove, with a positive outcome. Fell out with a man who felt it was OK to park on a yellow line adjacent to a dropped kerb just where I wanted to cross with buggy (sarcasm was in free-flow mode). Managed to feed all three hungry mouths at the right time, and even squeezed in a bit of time to feed myself. Bonus points for having flowers ready for the working girl (perhaps not the best choice of words). One lost Kindle in the house somewhere seems to have been the worst that's happened all day. Promising start!