First Steps

G finally took her first steps last night. At nearly 14 months she's a bit later than most babies in learning how to put one foot in front of the other. I think it's partly because she has got so good at crawling. She first managed to do that a full six months ago, so by now she's able to zip around the floor quite quickly on all fours. I suppose the desire to walk takes a little longer to kick in when you're already quite mobile.

I wasn't able to catch the actual moment of her first steps for posterity. But at least for me, grabbing a camera isn't the first thing I tend to think of when something magical like that happens. I did get the camera a bit later, but by then G had done enough walking for one day. In this picture she seems to be pondering what to do next. Maybe it'll be running. Or, if I'm really lucky, shovelling the snow off the drive. That's the kind of skill she really needs to learn.

Afternoon Tea

G interrupted a tea party the other day. The Pensions Minister was in our area to speak to local old folks and do a spot of political campaigning, so I went along to interview him for Saddleworth News. G came too, but was less interested in meeting a senior politician, and much more intent on stealing a biscuit or two from the spread which everyone had been enjoying.

Seeing as she was being so good, I let her have this Bourbon and then a Custard Cream, which at least helped keep her quiet during the interview too. As the photo shows, she seemed to really savour the Bourbon in particular, which suggests she might have inherited Mrs J's love of chocolate.

I probably should have saved the treat for yesterday. It was time for G to get another couple of injections, including the MMR jab. Even though the controversy about the MMR's purported link to autism has now faded away, it's still fairly notorious for leaving little ones feeling under the weather for a while. I had the Calpol at the ready, but I didn't need it, because after just a few seconds of post-jab tears G had forgotten all about the injections, and has been fine ever since.

She even managed a smile and a wave at the nurse before we left the surgery. G is definitely daddy's little soldier.

37 To One

I felt a bit outnumbered at G's singalong group this lunchtime. There were 38 babies, 37 mums and me. Usually there are one or two dads around, but not today.

I've clearly gone native since becoming a stay-at-home dad, as I took in some chocolate brownies to share around. The fact that none of the 37 mums had done any homebaking only made me stand out even more. I think this was probably in a good way, because everyone who had a piece said it tasted great. "It's all about substituting half the caster sugar for some soft dark brown sugar," I heard myself saying. At that moment, as I looked around the room, it occurred to me that I'd never really expected my life to turn out quite like this.

After the singing, G was playing on the floor with a boy of about her age. The boy had been stroking G's hair, but then picked up a drum and accidentally hit G in the face with it. This led to lots of tears. I tried to explain to G that the only way to deal with boys who do that sort of thing is to punch them back, but to no avail. Maybe that's a skill we can work on for the future.

Turning Cold

Things have turned decidedly cold around here in the last few weeks. You wouldn't know it from this picture of G attempting to climb onto my lap in our lovely warm home, but all the going out in the wintry Saddleworth weather has taken it out on both of us. Either I've give her a cold or she's given me one. The end result is the same though, and when it comes to looking after G, we're suddenly spending a lot more on baby wipes and those plug-in things which give off a sinus-clearing vapour.

G is clearly not bothered by the fact we still live in a political vacuum and are without an MP, while Phil Woolas continues to try to regain his seat. Everyone else expects there to be a by-election soon though, including the Liberal Democrats. I walked G along into the next village the other day to interview that party's new President, Tim Farron. It was a bit chilly out though, and he was running a bit late, so G was getting a bit miserable by the time I got to speak to him. The Lib Dem candidate did his bit by pulling faces at G to keep her quiet during the interview. I didn't get either of them to kiss her though, that would have been a cliche too far.

The Thick Of It

G found herself in the midst of political history on Friday. She was there with me as I covered the verdict in the Phil Woolas election court case for one of my other websites, Saddleworth News.
The picture shows G enjoying her milk from a cup as we all waited for Mr Woolas to give a news conference, just after the judges had announced they were declaring his election victory void because he'd used campaign leaflets to spread lies about one of his opponents. The journalists in the room, many of whom were from the big national news organisations, were both amused and surprised to see a baby there with them. I don't think little ones are usually allowed into Downing Street or the High Court. One of the security staff even asked if I was covering it for CBeebies. Obviously that was impossible, because the BBC were on strike on Friday.
The verdict itself had proved to be a bit of a balancing act. Obviously I couldn't go in the main hall where the action was because I was looking after G, but the council press team generously let me into a side room so I could hear what was happening. As the judges delivered their historic verdict, I was trying to peek through a gap in the door, listen to what they were saying, write updates for the Saddleworth News Twitter feed, and keep G quiet with the help of a toy car all at the same time. Who says dads can't multi-task eh?
In the past I've often criticised Sky, where I used to work, for generally buggering up important live events for viewers and listeners by having their news helicopter hovering overhead, making it impossible to hear what the person is actually saying. I now take it all back, because my daughter managed to gurgle away during the statements by Mr Woolas and his solicitor, which they delivered shortly after this photo was taken. I didn't actually notice at the time (I was crouched down at the front taking photos), but when I heard it back on the news later, there was an unmistakeable "gagagaga" in the background. Sorry, everyone.
It actually got worse a bit later, when the candidate who brought the legal challenge, Elwyn Watkins, emerged to give his own address to the media. As he began his speech by talking about what a historic moment it was, there was that "gagagaga" again. Oh dear. If you want to hear the evidence for yourself, check out this video report of the day.
G didn't just settle for making an audio contribution to these dramatic events though. She was visible on all the main news bulletins that night, sitting contentedly in her pram as Mr Woolas walked past her at the end of his news conference, to the sound of journalists shouting, "Are you a cheat Mr Woolas?" and suchlike. Next time, maybe it'll be G asking the questions. It might be a bit early to think about career choices, but she's already had plenty of media training.

Still Teething

G started getting teeth around last Christmas when she was still just three months old. Ever since, she's often looked much as she does in the photo above, with a stream of drool trickling slowly down onto a soggy bib. Given that I took this picture today, you can see that she's quite clearly still teething. The ever-reliable Wikipedia tells us that teething normally takes place over a timeframe of six to nine months. G has now been at it for ten, and there's no sign of her stopping yet.

Teething involves teeth actually forcing their way through a baby's gums, and it looks very painful indeed. I'm actually amazed that, beyond the odd grumble treated with a dose of Calpol, G has managed to put up with it so far without crying. Thinking back to how I managed the last time I had trouble with my teeth, I'd have spent most of the last ten months on the sofa weeping bitter tears if I'd had to go through the same thing.

G can't have long to go now though. She doesn't actually let me anywhere near her mouth if she can help it, so I can only check on the progress of her teeth by dangling her upside down over my knees and peering into her gob. As best I can tell, all her teeth are now either fully formed or about to poke through. One day soon, I'll be able to actually show off all of the tops G has to wear, without having to cover them up with slobber-catchers.