Little Insect

Here's G coming face to face with a pig on a day out with her mum at Tatton Park today. She's dressed in her new standard wet weather attire of a ladybird coat and wellies, with a bee backpack.

The backpack has got a little lead attached to it, which means it's easy enough to let G toddle about without worrying she's going to run in front of the nearest car, which given her independent streak (she never looks round to see where I am, ever) would be inevitable sooner or later without some kind of restraint.

We went for the backpack instead of the conventional reins worn by many little ones because, well, it just looks a lot less like a harness. And besides, there's space in the backpack pocket for a few nappies but not much else, thereby teaching G an early lesson in the importance of travelling light.

Nobody's yet commented on the apparent contradiction of G wearing an outfit that suggests two different insects. But then, I'd suggest having everything co-ordinated into one ensemble should be well beyond the ability of any stay-at-home dad. If you've got the time and inclination to worry about such things, you could probably do with getting a hobby.

Warmer Waters

I took G swimming a lot when she was a little baby. But after taking her to lessons in a heated pool when we lived in Manchester, the transition to our particularly cold baths in Saddleworth proved a bit of a shock for both of us.

On Tuesday mornings for several months last year, I dutifully got us both into the water in time for the 9am start at our local pool for the weekly parent-and-baby session. G usually seemed to enjoy it, although she could never keep herself from shivering, and I always needed a good five minutes in the hot showers afterwards to feel normal again. So eventually I gave up going.

But after a tip-off from a mum at one of the groups I sometimes go to, we've taken G to the Copley pool in Stalybridge on the past couple of weekends. Not only is the water a more bearable temperature, there's also a small pool for toddlers which is very pleasant indeed. No doubt that's not just because it's heated a little bit more than most pools. But when you've got a little one yourself, that's the sort of thing that doesn't really bother you as much as it used to.

Singing To The Nation

G has been on TV before, and today she did it again, as I was called on by my old colleagues at Sky News to do an interview about the latest government plans for more flexibility regarding maternity and paternity leave.

Now that she's a bit older than she was for her previous media appearances, G can't be relied on to sit quietly while daddy discusses the finer points of employment law (or rather while daddy burbles on in the hope the reporter can find a brief bit coherent enough to use in the final report). So, the reporter and cameraman needed to get lots of shots of G playing and doing various cute baby things, to use along with the interview.

One of the cute baby things G has learned is the actions to the nursery rhyme Wind The Bobbin Up, the sort of cotton mill-based rhyme I don't imagine they sing much down south. Anyhow, with G plonked on the sofa, I sang this to get her to do the actions, and smile winningly, which she duly did. It was only when I watched the story go out on Sky later that I realised not only had they kept the sound of my singing in, but they'd put it as the very first thing in the report.

I'm not sure the nation is quite ready to hear my singing. If I'd known they were going to do that, I'd have suggested they got the presenter to read one of those warnings, like "you may find some aspects of this report distressing" or whatever. I hope the sound of my dodgy singing voice didn't put too many people off the proposal, which as a stay-at-home dad I perhaps unsurprisingly think is a good idea.

You can watch the report, singing and all, at the Sky News website here.

As shown by the picture below, G watched herself back later. She started doing the hand actions again during the singing bit, and even played peek-a-boo with herself at the end. Yes, that was as cute as it sounds.


Here are the results of a photoshoot we did with G a few weeks ago. Unlike the last time some professional pictures got taken of us, by The Sunday Times, this was arranged a bit more than a couple of hours in advance, so a bit more thought (from Mrs J, obviously) went into G's various outfits and the locations.

We took the pictures during a trip to London, and did them around Ealing where we used to live several years ago. Amazingly, the daffodils came courtesy of Ealing Council, who have certainly spruced up Ealing Common since the last time I was there.

The shoot was bought for us by G's auntie, and was with the same photographer who did her wedding last year, Catherine from Lily and Frank. Huge thanks to both!

Handbag Substitute

The weather's been getting better lately, so sometimes I take a few of G's toys into the front yard and we sit and play out there for a while.

As proved by her recent bafflement when presented with a dolly by the health visitor, I've done my best to keep G away from too much girly stuff so she doesn't grow up to be, you know, all girly and that. But it doesn't seem to be entirely working. The other day, instead of bashing her toy drum as usual, she decided to pose with it as if she were in a fancy shop and it was a fancy handbag.

This photo isn't really conclusive proof one way or the other. But perhaps some aspects of gender are innate after all.

Sitting Still

G isn't really old enough to be told to go to the naughty step when she throws a tantrum. But that's not been a problem so far. Not because she never misbehaves, but because she likes to go and sit on the bottom step of her own accord. Whether this is because she thinks it's a grown-up thing to do I'm not sure, but I reckon her ability to sit still is something worth encouraging.

So Mrs J came back from the shops the other day with a little chair for her to sit in. Today she perched herself in it and used the drumstick to bash away at the giant xylophone thing she likes to play with. The photo captures a moment when I interrupted her, and she decided to put the drumstick in her mouth and look straight at the camera. Poser.