First Solid Food

We gave G her first solid food the other day. She's almost five months old, and she's started to wake up a bit earlier in the mornings, which implies that just milk on its own won't be enough for her for too much longer. So Mrs J put G in her high chair and broke out some baby rice.

As you can see, I'm not sure how much of it actually made it into her mouth. Actually she seemed more interested in chewing on the spoon, although the two little front teeth poking through her gums mean she's chewing on more or less everything these days, so that wasn't too surprising.

I'm sure she'll be seeing these photos when she's older though. 16th birthday? 18th? 21st? Wedding day? I'm certain you're not supposed to look on these important events in your baby's life purely as a way to embarrass them in later life. But I can't help myself.


Yesterday was the end of G's swimming lessons, and we took her to a pool in Bolton so she could get her photo taken underwater. This was a professional sort of job, so we don't actually get to see these pictures for another couple of weeks. But Mrs J came along and took some other snaps of me and the little one. Not sure which one of us was showing off more though.

Curry And Raspberries

Here's a rarity for this blog, a picture of G with me in it as well. I took her to Leeds today so we could have lunch with a friend, and she suggested a curry, which as you can see went down well with G. It won't be long now until she's on solids, and judging by the way she was eyeing up my plate, that can't come soon enough.

I took G over to Leeds on the train, and on the way she suddenly discovered how to blow raspberries. She seemed to be delighted by the loud noises she was making, and they were accompanied by drooling and the odd big smile. A delay in the journey somewhere near Batley gave the rest of the carriage the opportunity to hear G's new-found ability too. Being a proud dad blind to my own daughter's annoyances, I thought she was being very clever. Not sure the other passengers agreed, but I don't care.

Half Term

G is as miserable as a wet day in, well, Saddleworth. Her first couple of teeth are now poking through the gum at the bottom of her mouth. I'd show you a picture, but she spends most of her time running her tongue over the area in a mixture of confusion and distress. Last night's crying was pretty bad, but it's probably no worse than the kind of whingeing I produce whenever I've got toothache. And her little mouth does look very sore.

It's half term this week, which means a lot of the parent-and-baby activities I've been taking her to aren't running. By lunchtime, and already fed up of being in the house, I pushed G into Uppermill during a break in the almost relentless drizzle (an essential part of half-term just like when I was young, it's good to see things remaining the same in such a fast-changing world). The village was full of miserable and bored looking kids getting soaked and wondering what to do with themselves. As I started to walk back home the rain returned, but at least G didn't get wet, as the picture above shows. But no matter how snug she looked, I wouldn't swap places with her if it meant inheriting her toothache.

A Cold Day

Here's G looking singularly unimpressed by a duck waddling past. I took this by the side of the River Colne in Marsden, after deciding it would be a good idea to drive over the top for a walk around the village. It's been one of those lovely winter days, mostly clear and sunny skies with a sprinkling of snow on the ground. We've had the odd mini-blizzard during the day, but we managed to get to Marsden and back without getting stranded.

Even though it's only a short distance away, Marsden seems to be much higher up than Dobcross, and it certainly seemed a lot colder today. Pushing G around I quickly found my hands going red and then numb, and she wasn't looking particularly warm either, so I called an early halt and stopped in at a coffee shop for a brew. It was selling some homemade ice cream, which seemed like an especially bold business decision in the middle of winter. I didn't try any.

Earlier, I went to the parent and baby group in the church hall in Dobcross. For the second week running I turned up with some homebaking to dish out in the form of millionaire's shortbread. This prompted some general discussion among the other mums along the lines of how I was putting them to shame. I can tell that if I keep bringing sweet treats every week, instead of becoming more popular (as you'd expect in, say, an office) it might actually have the opposite effect. Such are the paradoxes faced by the stay-at-home dad.

The group finishes with a little singsong for the kids (most of them are toddlers). Among the nursery rhymes I sang today, for the first time in at least 20 years, were Jack and Jill, The Grand Old Duke of York and Hickory Dickory Dock. G isn't old enough to join in yet, but when she is I hope she'll prefer something a bit trendier.

Tooth Fury

Our happy, smiling little girl has been replaced for the time being by a moodier, whinier baby. G's first tooth is coming through, and she's not all that happy about it. There's a bit of crying, and a lot of what you see in the picture above, which is poking her tongue inside the front of her mouth and drooling a lot (a bib is essential wear these days). I don't really blame her, I complain constantly when I get toothache, so all things considered she's actually dealing with it pretty well.

I suspect the main reason G isn't as miserable as she might be is Calpol. Sweet, sweet Calpol. What did parents do before it? Actually, that doesn't even bear thinking about. Suffice to say that losing the bottle of Calpol is now the single thing I fear most. By a long way.

My Baby Is Lazy And Strange

Normally we get G up for her morning feed at about 7 o'clock. But because we keep her bedtime relatively late at 8:30pm (so Mrs J has time to give her a bath and play with her a bit after getting in from work), G's often still a bit snoozy in the mornings, and usually needs a nap by about 9ish.

Anyway, this morning Mrs J had got up at stupid o'clock to go to London for work, and sometime after 7 I heard G wake up and start to gurgle to herself over the baby monitor. She seemed happy enough so I let her entertain herself for a while and went to have a shower. By the time I looked in on her (it was almost 8 by this point) she'd got herself back off to sleep again. She didn't wake up for another half an hour, either. Lazy, lazy baby. If I'd tried to pull that sort of thing when I was a child, my mum wouldn't have been impressed.

G's latest fun discovery is to lie on her back on my knees with her head hanging over the edge, looking at everything upside down. The picture above demonstrates what I mean. This strikes me as probably quite uncomfortable, but she seems to enjoy it. Here's what she looks like from the other side:

As I write this, she's still hanging off the end of my knees, occasionally laughing to herself about something. I have no idea what. Strange child.

Chubby Arms

My insistence on not dressing G in pink all the time has been causing more confusion. Yesterday morning I took her to the pool in Uppermill for a swim during the parent and toddler session. Because it's an ordinary pool (the lessons she's been having are in a specially heated one) I put her in a little wetsuit which goes over her double swimming nappy, to keep her warm. The suit is purple. You can get it in pink too, but Mrs J sensibly avoided that option when she got it.

Anyway, there was one other parent in the pool, a mum with her toddler. We exchanged pleasantries. She looked at G, and the conversation went like this:

Ignorant woman: "Doesn't he have chubby arms for such a little boy?"
Me: "Actually she's a little girl."
Ignorant woman: "Well, she's got chubby arms for a little girl then. You should dress her in pink."

As you can imagine, there were several things I wanted to say at this point, about both the chubbiness or otherwise of my little angel's arms, and my personal distaste for dressing girls in pink. But I thought better of it, smiled thinly and went back to swimming. I was probably within my rights to call her child pig ugly or something. I'll have to save that sort of top quality comeback for next time.

Big Village, Little Village

Our new house is within easy walking distance of two villages. There's the village we nominally live in, Dobcross, which is up the hill and behind where we live. Dobcross has got a pub, a Post Office and a shop, but is really only a Little Village. However, about a quarter of an hour down the main road from our house is Uppermill, which has rather more hustle and bustle about it, and is definitely a Big Village.

Today started off with a trip to the Big Village, to go to the bank, surgery, butcher and baker. G managed to scream her way through three of these. As I struggled to get her to calm down in the surgery waiting room, several old ladies shot me looks which they might have imagined were sympathetic, but which gave away their true feelings: 'Who is this idiot? And what is he doing with that poor child?' Ignoring the sceptical looks of elderly women is an occupational hazard for the stay-at-home dad.

I think G was just bored of lying in her pram, because whenever I picked her up she calmed down. Eventually on the walk back home she drifted off to sleep, so I decided to head up the hill to the Little Village, to reward myself with a bowl of soup and a half pint in the pub, as shown in the picture. I know that drinking halves is a bit half-arsed, but it's the least you can do to salvage a bit of self-respect when you're basically doorstepping a pub at 12 o'clock while in charge of a baby.

As you can see it was lovely and cosy in there with the fire, so you can imagine my alarm when I looked up from my soup to see that it had started snowing outside. Thankfully it was just a flurry, and I was able to push G back home down the hill during a break in the weather. Although if we'd got snowed in up there, I think we would have managed just fine.