Sleep Toy

Here's G in her typical early afternoon position, fast asleep in her cot. Her dummy, which she's only allowed when she's going down for a nap, has popped out. And under her left arm is her little sleep toy.

We started giving her the toy to help her get off to sleep when she had a couple of disturbed nights a while back. We kept it in our bed for a couple of nights to make it smell of us (parenthood does strange things to your bedroom habits) before giving it to G, and she's had it with her every night since. Now when she goes down for a snooze, she always opens her mouth for her dummy and lifts up her arm for her toy. And off she drifts, for anything up to 14 hours at a time.

Having such a well-established sleeping procedure really only presents one problem. What happens if we lose the toy? Will G never be able to sleep again? Actually I'm not sure she'd be all that bothered, but babies are nothing if not fickle. Best make sure we buy a cupboard full of them, then.

Elfun Safety

For a while now G has been down to two bottles of milk a day, from the five she used to get when Mrs J went back to work and had to stop breastfeeding her. G has one just before bed, so she only has one bottle during the day. I often take it with us when we're out and about, and give it to her while I have a coffee. Or a cheeky lunchtime pint, if I'm sure nobody from social services is watching.

I usually can't be bothered taking a flask of hot water around with me, so normally ask the person behind the counter in the coffee shop to give me some water along with my coffee so I can warm G's feed up. This never used to be a problem. But recently, more and more coffee shop people (I suppose I should call them baristas, but that's a bit too pretentious, even for me) have told me I'm not allowed any hot water. "It's elfun safety," they say, apologetically.

I've tried asking a few of them what exactly is wrong with giving me a jug of hot water, when most coffee shops and pubs will do it without thinking twice. Nobody seems to know. "It's just elfun safety," they say. They're all happy to put the bottle in a jug of hot water on the counter for me, they just won't actually give me the water.

Why giving me hot water could possibly be considered dangerous when they're also selling me a mug of hot coffee isn't exactly clear. Once, a coffee shop worker muttered something about how that was different, because I was buying the coffee, and they were just giving me the water. I offered to buy the water for 1p. Apparently I couldn't do that either, because the water was free. When I said I didn't really understand why it was all so complicated, the shop worker looked blank: "It's elfun safety, you see," she said. Of course, how silly of me.

Not that any of this bothers G. She's only a month away from her first birthday now, and that's when she's supposed to switch from formula to proper cow's milk. Given that it tastes a lot better than the powdered stuff, I'm sure she won't mind having it cold.

Her First Festival

So, the three of us made it through G's first music festival, the Green Man Festival in south Wales. As this picture suggests, G actually seemed to enjoy it a lot.

She certainly enjoyed it a whole lot more than seemed possible when we turned up on the Friday in the middle of a Biblical downpour. They always say that rain is the enemy of revolutions, but that's equally true for festivals. With mud all over the site and toddlers amsuing themselves by jumping around in alarmingly deep puddles, the early signs for keeping G amused didn't look good. But being the lazy, greedy baby she is, once we'd loaded her up on food and the rain had stopped, she was happy enough to snooze away in the pram while we watched the bands.
On the second night, while the Flaming Lips headlined, G started stirring and woke up. I thought we'd have to take her back to the tent, but instead she was happy to stay and watch, laughing and smiling at all the lights even though it was way past her bedtime. She probably would have preferred it if they'd played something off The Soft Bulletin, but I suppose G has to learn that you can't have everything.
In the end, the rain cleared away and Sunday was a beautiful, sunny day. This gave G the opportunity to crawl about and practice her improving walking skills. She now only needs to have you hold one of her hands at a time while she's walking, which means that by next year's festival she'll be able to go off and watch the bands she wants to. Or she could just splash around in the puddles, whichever she prefers.

Festival Fashion

It's often said that after you have a baby, you can't do all the things you used to. I'd refine that a little bit to say that while you can still do anything you like if you really want to, you can't do those things as often and you can't do them in the same way. One of the things me and Mrs J used to enjoy doing every summer was going to a music festival or two. Following a year off when Mrs J was heavily pregnant, we're getting back into it next week with a visit to the Green Man Festival in south Wales. G is coming too.

That bit about not doing things in quite the same way will definitely hold true. For a start we're going to what should be a much more low-key event than our more regular festivals of years gone by, such as Reading, Leeds and Glastonbury. And we can't really get away with drinking industrial quantities of cider all day, interspersed with regular naps, because we've got a little person to take care of. G, of course, is allowed naps, although the cider is still a few years off.

I'm not sure how camping with the wee one at a music festival is really going to work. It might all be a bit of a nightmare, especially if it rains and she can't sleep properly. But there's not much we can do about that until next weekend. In the meantime, we're amusing ourselves by getting G kitted out for her first festival experience. The photo above shows her in her new waterproof suit. We've also got some pink ear-defenders for her. She just needs some wellies, and she'll be good to go.

Water Baby

Here's another picture from our recent trip to a wedding in Aberdeen. It was taken at the open air pool in Stonehaven, just down the coast, and shows G enjoying the heated saltwater. It was never heated when I was young, but then if I remember rightly back then 1p sweets actually cost 1p, and you could still play football in the street without risking being run over.

Mrs J came swimming too, and said because she always takes longer to get ready than me, I should get G changed as well. I've got getting her ready for swimming down to a fine art at our local pool, where there's not one but two proper baby-changing cubicles in the men's changing rooms. I'm possibly the only person that ever uses them, but even so, top marks to Oldham Council for that.

A more traditional pool like Stonehaven isn't quite blessed with the same facilities. On entering the changing room, I realised I was going to have to make do with the bench-type area in the middle. With no strap to keep G tied down, she insisted on crawling about as I struggled to get her out of her clothes and into her fetching new blue cossie.

Much worse was to follow when, after finally getting her into the pool, she took about 3.7 seconds to fill her swim nappy. I trudged back to the changing room with both of us damp, cold and crying. Actually, the last one was just G, but after a good ten minutes trying to get her out of her wet swimsuit and dirty nappy, dried off, and into a clean nappy and her soggy cossie, all to the backdrop of high-decibel screaming, I felt pretty miserable too.

Thankfully it was all forgotten about once we got back into the warm water, and G enjoyed swimming up and down, with a bit of help from me. Next time I go to a different swimming pool I'm going to make sure I scout out the baby changing situation first though. Or I suppose I could just fashion some kind of portable baby restrainer. Possibly out of pipecleaners and chewing gum, like in MacGyver.

On The Dancefloor

Here's another picture from the wedding we were at last weekend. On the left the bride is dancing with her father, on the right the groom is dancing with his new mother-in-law, and in the middle it's me and G. It was well into the evening by this point, so G had swapped her dress for her pyjamas before going to bed.

As you might imagine, I thoroughly enjoyed dancing with my little girl. Presumably I'll do it again one day at her wedding. No doubt she'll be all grown up by then. Hopefully she'll be in a slightly less multi-coloured outfit, too.

My Best Friend's Wedding

The three of us spent the weekend at my best friend's wedding, near Aberdeen. I was the best man, but there's no doubt G attracted much more attention than I did, much to her obvious delight. As this sequence of photos shows, G is never happier than when she realises a camera's pointing at her.