Sitting In Daddy's Chair

Here's photographic proof, if any were needed, of who is really in charge of our household these days. G has already taken my chair. Soon CBeebies will be on the telly every day, and the only book I'll be allowed to read will be The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Obviously I'm used to having one female telling me what to do, but I now realise that will increase to two before I know it.

As for the constant puking, it seems to have stopped for the time being after Mrs J started giving G drops along with her feeds. Not before a particularly epic sick-up earlier today though, in which G showed off the latest thing she's learned - projectile vomiting. Another reason why wooden floors are better than carpets.

Baby Vomit

I'm sure there was a time when I didn't constantly reek of baby vomit. But between you and me, I'm struggling to remember exactly when that was. Baby G has been puking up very regularly over the last couple of weeks, which has come as a bit of a surprise because she only rarely did so when she was very young. But she's more than making up for it now.

The picture was taken during our recent stay in Wales, after a particularly bad series of sick-ups caused us to give G an impromptu bath in the sink. Curiously, she doesn't seem at all bothered by all the vomiting. The only clue she's even doing it is a bit of a gulp and, a second or two later, yet another stream of white liquid dribbling out of her mouth and down either myself or Mrs J (if we're unlucky) or onto a muslin cloth (on the rare occasions we're quick enough to anticipate it). The vomit itself kind of resembles salad cream and, I imagine, tastes like it too.

We don't know why G has started being sick so often, although seeing as she's not in any distress it can't be anything too serious. The Internet offers us lots of possible reasons, but it's almost not worth bothering trying to find out exactly what's going on because, let's face it, all babies throw up. It's just what they do.

Although it's usually easy to clean the vomit up, the smell is much harder to shift. Currently we're trying to show off our flat to would-be tenants, an activity that traditionally involves the baking of fresh bread to give off a welcoming aroma. All we can manage is freshly-spewed baby sick. Not quite sure whether an estate agent would be able to put a convincing positive spin on that.

It's Your First Christmas, Baby

G enjoyed her first Christmas. Or at least she seemed to enjoy most of it, the inevitable bits of crying notwithstanding. The crying may have been down to early teething, a lack of sleep brought on by too much noise and excitement, or just sheer disappointment at the outcome of the Christmas chart battle. Yes, G (or, in a more real sense, I) was particularly upset that both this lovely seasonal song by Laura Marling and this very apt one by Boyracer failed to make any impact on the contest between Rage Against The Machine and the guy from X Factor. Ah well, there's always next year.

The photo above shows a bit of daddy-daughter playtime. This is my favourite game, and judging by her usual reaction, G gets a kick out of it too. I like to tell her she's flying and that this is all good training for her future career as an astronaut, but the best I ever get in return is a silly grin. I've been playing this game for her for two months without any problems, but literally seconds after this picture was taken all the excitement got a bit much for G and she was sick on my face. I'll still keep playing the astronaut game with her, although maybe I should start calling it 'vomit roulette' or something.

On Christmas morning Mrs J put G in a seasonal outfit and helped her with her presents. Predictably enough, G had a mountain of pressies that piled together was far bigger than her entire body. Also predictably, the shiny paper and tearing sounds held just as much interest for her as any of her new toys. In fact, as this picture below clearly demonstrates, she was actually more interested in one of the presents her daddy received:

Later on it was time for Christmas dinner, or Christmas lunch if you're a posh southerner (G is neither of these things). If she's awake when people are eating at the table, she usually starts whining until Mrs J picks G up and puts her on her lap so she can see what's going on. This isn't normally much of a problem, but Christmas dinner is a bit tricky to eat with just a fork, so I did my best to distract G with the hat from one of the crackers, to her obvious delight:

Inevitably, shortly after this picture was taken G started making her 'I'm bored down here' noises and I had to cut Mrs J's turkey and roasties into bite-sized pieces for her. But other than that and a bit of her typical evening crying, G was pretty well-behaved throughout Christmas. She even slept happily through the night every night, allowing the rest of us to get on with the serious business of cracking open the Christmas booze, eating too many chocolates and staring in a daze at the telly. Something tells me that G won't be quite so accommodating and easygoing next year. Or any of the dozen years after that.

The Early Stages Of Teething

One of the favourite parlour games of new parents is to look at various illnesses and problems which affect babies, and compare the typical symptoms to whatever your little one is doing that day. We've had a busy time of it recently, with a wedding in Nottingham, a 30th birthday party in rural Shropshire, and now we're back in Mrs J's hometown of Monmouth for Christmas (the picture shows G out in her pram enjoying some of the icy Welsh weather). And during these last few days G has given us plenty of material for this parlour game, with a lot of evening crying, excessive drooling, chewing on anything that goes near her mouth, and a pair of very rosy cheeks. The Internet (and it's a fool who doubts what they read on the Internet) says this is probably the early stages of teething.

It can't be real teething, the bit where the teeth actually start poking through the gums. That's not supposed to start for a while yet. And looking carefully into little G's mouth (as I often do, usually when mopping up her latest post-feed vomit), there certainly aren't any teeth in there. But apparently things do move around inside her gob well ahead of time, so this could be what's causing G to be so difficult.

But to be honest, it doesn't really matter what amateur diagnosis we come up with for G, the solution is always the same. Dose her up with Calpol and hope for the best. See, being a doctor can't be that hard.

We Have Learned To Suck Our Thumb

The title of this post pretty much sums it up. For a while G tried putting most of her fingers in her mouth at the same time, but she's now worked out that a thumb is all she needs. Must remember to wean her off it before her 18th birthday.

You'll notice that she's wearing blue. I suppose this means she looks like a boy, but seeing as all kinds of people have mistaken her for a boy even when she's been wearing a dress, I don't think it matters all that much what colour clothes she wears. Except I don't like putting her in pink.

I'd decided I wanted to try to keep the amount of pink clothes, toys and other stuff in G's life to a minimum long before she was born. This is partly because I don't want my daughter to look like all the other little girls that seem to spend their entire lives clad head-to-toe in pink, but mostly because I'm worried that if she grows up wearing pink all the time she might end up thinking that she's a girl and can only do 'girl' things.

I've since found out that these people feel so strongly about exactly this issue, they've set up a whole campaign about it. Don't get me wrong, I'd be delighted if G grew up to be a nurse or a teacher or whatever. But secretly I really want her to be an astronaut. And whoever heard of an astronaut with a pink spacesuit?

Cloth Nappies

We're taking it back to the old school. A load of cloth nappies arrived in the post yesterday and from now on we're going to put G in them most of the time, relegating disposables to the bench. We'll still use disposables when it's convenient, such as when we're out with G for an extended period of time or something, but generally it's going to be cloth all the way from here on in.

I'd always assumed the reason people used cloth nappies nowadays was that it's better for the environment, because you're not constantly sending off bagfuls of stuff to the nearest landfill site. Then when we started trying the odd one out a few weeks back, it occurred to me that this can't be the reason. You see, you have to put cloth nappies in the washing machine all the time, which doesn't really strike me as any better for the health of polar bears than using disposables. No, the real reason why we're going to use cloth nappies is that they're cheaper. A lot cheaper. Which leaves us with lots of extra money to spend on more important things, like chocolate (Mrs J) and whisky (me).

We've already discovered one problem though. Cloth nappies are a lot bigger than disposables, so now G looks like a baby Michelin girl. This also means that most of her 0-3 months clothes no longer fit properly, so we're having to switch to bigger sizes. Even from an early age, girls can come up with any excuse to go shopping.


We're going to move soon. Currently we live in a third floor flat on Oldham Street in Manchester's Northern Quarter. Hanging out in the middle of town is fine for the time being, but one day fairly soon little G is going to start toddling and the amount of space we need is suddenly going to increase.

I don't think we're ready to condemn ourselves to cul-de-sac suburbia quite yet, so we've been spending our weekends visiting little towns and villages trying to find somewhere that's still close enough to Manchester for Mrs J to easily commute from, but also bustling enough to make sure I don't go insane when I'm at home every day with G. Other essentials are decent pubs (that's my idea) and a school with a good Ofsted rating (Mrs J insists on this). After applying these stringent criteria, we've pretty much decided we'd like to live somewhere in Saddleworth.

So we went out there today to take a look at a few properties. We're going to keep hold of our flat in Manchester and let it out, so we're trying to find somewhere to rent ourselves. One thing I've realised just from today is how househunting changes once you've got a baby to consider. Those cool-looking stone steps which an estate agent will tell you "adds character" instead start to look like a nuisance. Old houses split over several floors no longer seem like they'll be fun to live in. I suspect finding somewhere that fits all our new requirements will be harder than it first appeared.

Not that we're in any particular rush, though. And if G behaves as beautifully as she did today then we can go househunting every week as far as I'm concerned (it may come to this, perhaps I should be careful what I wish for). I took the photo at the top as we stopped in for some lunch in Uppermill. She seemed fascinated by the little packet of brown sauce, but hasn't yet worked out how to reach out to something with her hands. So she just stared at it. Such simple things won't keep her amused for much longer though, I fear.

Going To Sleep In Her Own Room

Baby G is ten weeks old today. It's already hard to imagine what we actually did with our lives before she turned up. Ten weeks doesn't seem like a lot, but I now understand that when you're a new parent and fitting in all of the new things you have to get done every day, ten weeks feels closer to about ten years. I also now understand that those people who say that time flies by and babies grow up before you even realise it are liars. Liars! I mean look at our baby, she's still a tiny baby! She can't crawl or stand up or explain the offside rule (as a girl, she may never be able to do this) or anything!

Anyhow, I'll grant you that she has grown up a little bit since she was born. Enough in fact for us to decide to put her in her own room at night from now on. G has actually been sleeping through the night reasonably happily for a while, so this measure is possibly more for the benefit of Mrs J, who usually finds herself being woken by G's every gurgle and movement even though the little one is doing it all in her sleep. So, the cot is now in the spare room, and G is currently in it, as the picture above (taken in the dark with a flash) shows.

Our new routine calls for her to be in her room from after her mid-evening bath and feed (about 7ish) onwards. Tonight, during the time between that and her usual late feed at 10:30pm, she kept waking up. This meant both me and Mrs J trooped in and out of the room all evening making increasingly useless attempts to settle her down by cooing at her, turning her mobile on (it's amazing how irritating that tinkly sound becomes after, oh, let's say the second time), putting her dummy back in, or just staring at her blankly in the hope she might stop crying (this was me). However, we didn't give in, and at no time did we remove her from the room. This, apparently, is important, and, also apparently, we will be grateful for it later.

After the late feed Mrs J went to bed and I tried to get G back off to sleep. Mrs J manages this by cradling her and softly whispering in the classic motherly style. Alas, when I attempt that, G cries and fidgets and tries to grab on to the collar of my t-shirt and, if that's successful, a clump of my exposed chest hair, to surprisingly painful effect. For the last couple of weeks, the only way I've been able to get her to sleep is on my knees, with her facing away from me. I like to call it the Superbaby position. Here's G demonstrating it a short time ago:

There are two things to notice about this photo. The first is that baldness is obviously hereditary. The second is that it doesn't look very comfortable. But G seems to like it, and that's all that matters. Another thing about being a new parent is that getting baby to sleep is of paramount importance, so if baby develops a taste for drifting off in the airing cupboard or tumble dryer (note - don't try this at home) you'd probably let her do it. Right now, the baby monitor gadget in front of me tells me that G is indeed fast asleep. So it's time I got some sleep too.

Christmas Party

We took G to her first Christmas party last night. The three of us went over to Leeds where a couple of our friends were laying on their annual festive feast, which has grown over the years to be so big there were 20 people packed into their living room for a share of this turkey and an array of other treats.

Mrs J went out the night before for a 30th birthday, so we decided that she'd be designated driver yesterday and deal with G if she started playing up. This meant I could get on with the serious business of drinking beer and generally making a prat of myself. We put G in a Christmassy dress but she wasn't in much of a party mood, and managed to ignore the noisy crowd of drinkers and drift off to sleep early in the evening.

After dinner came the party games, and we split into two teams to take part in a variety of activities including electro-shocking tanks (I lost), speed mince-pie eating and Xbox karaoke (Mrs J stormed to victory). The final tiebreaker involved three people from each side trying to down up to three pints of ale out of a comedy horn which had been bought (on the Internet, of course) for the occasion. Despite having to do an extra half pint because of our poor performances in most of the earlier events, my team came within four seconds of winning, although this photo reveals that my technique may need some work.

G was upstairs and (mostly) asleep during all of this, but I'm sure when I tell her about it when she's older she'll be very proud.

Swimming Takes It Right Out Of You

I took G for her second swimming lesson today. She managed better than last week, and barely cried at all, although I think 20 minutes of the half-hour lesson is about her limit before she starts to get fed up. She's only a baby, after all. Mrs J took this photo after we got back this afternoon. It's tiring work being a dad, you know.


G's grandad is staying with us in Manchester this week, and Mrs J is helping him re-do our bathroom. So for the second day in a row I took G out for a few hours to let them get on with it, and to make sure she didn't get too disturbed by all the clattering and banging.

I decided to push her around town for a bit to get her off to sleep, and once she'd drifted off we ended up in the Wong Wong bakery in Chinatown. The picture is of my nutritious lunch, consisting of a deep fried spicy beef doughnut-type thing (interesting), a red bean and banana cake (amazing) and a cup of Hong Kong tea (dodgy). The tea tasted like English tea that had been left out to stew for a couple of hours, before being reheated in the microwave. I texted a friend who has lived in China to ask him about Chinese tea, and he replied that, although there are some good ones, in his opinion it's often pretty rubbish. I'd have thought that with so much tea coming from China, that they'd have a decent idea of how to brew it up. But apparently not. Maybe it's an acquired taste, which I haven't yet acquired.

Last night, Mrs J's dad babysat for us so we could have our first night out together since G was born. We didn't go far, just round the corner to the newly-renovated Band On The Wall to see Thea Gilmore, who's currently plugging her new Christmas album. It was a great show, and the highlight was probably the sight of Mark Radcliffe (yes, that one) shambling onto stage with a pint in his hand for a couple of duets, including a good go at Fairytale of New York. Incredibly, it's the first time I've heard it this year. No doubt I'll hear the original version plenty of times between now and the 25th, whether I like it or not.

Whitworth Art Gallery

Continuing our patronage of the Manchester arts scene, I took G down to the Whitworth Art Gallery today. Shamefully, during the whole year I studied at the university (which is basically next door) I never actually got round to going to the gallery, so thought I'd better put that right. And besides, people kept telling me the café was brilliant, which is enough reason to visit anywhere.

It's been a cold day in Manchester so I wrapped both G and myself up in plenty of layers and set off for the walk down Oxford Road. I'd arranged to meet a friend for lunch and made sure I turned up in plenty of time so I could have a quick walk around the gallery with G. When it comes to museums I usually prefer looking at stuff rather than art, but I enjoyed an interesting exhibition on American prints of the 20th century. There was also an exhibition about art as it relates to trees, and I have to say that lost me a bit. True to form, G was fast asleep throughout.

We both perked up when it was time to go to the café to meet my friend for a coffee and some food (I had a tasty Indian parsnip soup, who knew the Indians liked their parsnips?). Well I say we both perked up, I certainly did, although as you can see, G remained oblivious to everything until I got her out of her pram so my friend could have a hold. Even then G stayed snoozy, and not even the occasional groups of bored-looking students disrupted her. I tried telling my friend that G isn't always so angelic, but I don't think she believed me.