Tuesday, September 25, 2018

29/52 2018

Week 29
16 - 22 July

A slightly bittersweet week. Jamie loves to "help" with vehicles of any kind and Steve includes him with the regular maintenance jobs like checking tyre pressure, topping up the washer bottle, and as pictured here, checking the oil levels. He stands patiently with the kitchen roll, and squints at the dipstick with intense concentration.

Motorbike maintenance

But in this picture, Steve and Jamie are checking the oil on Steve's beloved motorbike... and the following evening, after more than twenty years riding, Steve had his first crash.

Thankfully, Steve is a great believer in wearing All The Gear, All The Time, heatwave or otherwise. Helmet, jacket, body armour, Kevlar trousers, proper boots and gloves, meant he was able to walk onto the ambulance unaided with nothing worse than a broken collarbone and some spectacular bruises. The bike... it's obviously damaged, but until Steve is recovered enough to heave it up onto the centre stand (bearing in mind the handlebars were smashed) and inspect it properly, we don't know if it's reasonably repairable or not.

Jamie is doing better than we have any right to expect of him, when it comes to being gentle and careful and only having cuddles on one side of his daddy.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

28/52 2018

Week 28
9 - 15 July


Here we are again, at a local park, having a good clamber around. This elephant bench is because of a local circus in the 19th century which included elephants who used to be taken to this part of the river to wash.

It occurs to me that maybe I should mention that yes, England did have a heatwave this summer, and no, I am not stupid or cruel to put Jamie in a long-sleeved hoodie and long trousers and socks. Our response to the heatwave was to move the daily routine forward to start earlier in the morning, so we could go out and do things, gradually shedding layers as the day warmed up. Then after lunch the Mama And Jamie Vest And Pants Club could have a good long nap through the hottest part of the day.

27/52 2018

Week 27
2 - 8 July

Tree climbing

If there was ever a tree that grew for toddlers to climb, it is this one.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

26/52 2018

Week 26
25 June - 1 July

Evening climbing

A lot of new housing has gone up around our area recently, and with it, new playgrounds. Access is bobbins and parking non-existent, so I've only seen this one on drive-bys. But Steve made a point of taking Jamie up there as many summer evenings as possible, and they always had a brilliant time.

25/52 2018

Week 25
18 - 24 June


And from inside the cone, a small voice announced with delight and wonder:

"I am orange!"

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

24/52 2018

Week 24
11 - 17 June


We've always taken Jamie to cafes and restaurants with us, and he usually behaves himself extremely well. He doesn't really need a high chair any more, but we give him the choice and sometimes he prefers to have one, possibly because on a normal dining chair he has to keep switching between sitting and kneeling to comfortably reach his food and drink. The novelty of outdoor tables was a source of endless fascination to him this summer. He also rediscovered a love of veggie sticks which has to get me at least fifty Smug Mummy points - he went off them for a while once he no longer needed them as teething aids.

23/52 2018

Week 23
4 - 10 June


Daddy had just got home. Jamie scampered to the door to greet him and then lay on the doormat grinning at him.

22/52 2018

Week 22
28 May - 3 June

Blippi fan

No chronicle of Jamie's toddlerhood would be complete without mentioning Blippi. We don't watch any television at all, but we do have a few YouTube favourites and Blippi has held the undisputed top spot for the best part of a year now. The gateway was his explainer videos about various large vehicles (bin lorries, excavators, fire engines) but with a four year head start on us there's a LOT of back catalogue. Amongst other things, Blippi is at least 50% responsible for Jamie's grasp of the alphabet, he's demonstrated what to do at a trampoline park, he's shown us how apples are processed from tree to supermarket, and he's driven home rules like always wearing seatbelts. In this picture, Jamie is wearing his Blippi t-shirt and playing with his Blippi action figure (in a skid steer, which is a very Blippi thing to do).

Jamie can recognise his own name written down, but I won't be surprised when the first word he spells is Blippi.

21/52 2018

Week 21
21 - 27 May


Jamie is good at climbing and is steadily gaining confidence. He's also good at recognising and testing his limits - going a little bit higher, then checking he can get back down, then a little higher again. Meanwhile I am getting better at a kind of meditation where I tell myself to give him space, and that if he does fall he will most likely just bruise and learn, and if he does need to go to hospital at any point, social services do not swoop down with child protection orders for parentally supervised kids falling off council-maintained play equipment.

There is a second picture for this week, because it was our wedding anniversary:


I am so happy that we have kept up with the anniversary picture-within-picture thing. We have prints of the current year plus the original wedding picture stuck to our fridge.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

20/52 2018

Week 20
14 - 20 May


Jamie's imaginative play is really starting to develop. Sometimes it's these pirates tangled up in the rigging of their ship, sometimes it's soft toys, sometimes it's vehicles... He narrates little scenes with them, and while I can only decipher about half of what he says, the gist is there. Sometimes I recognise it as an interpretation of a thing that really happened, or a scenario from a book or one of his videos, other times I have no idea where it's sprung from. It is both adorable and deeply encouraging to watch.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

19/52 2018

Week 19
7 - 13 May

First bike

This is Jamie's first go on his first bike. It's a balance bike, which means no pedals - the idea is that the rider can scoot themselves along with their feet and get used to the balance and steering of a bike, without having to manage pedals as well.

Jamie particularly loves this bike because he got to help build it. By which we mean, the store we bought it from are happy to get it out of the box, put the wheels on, get it all adjusted, pump the tyres, etc, and Jamie got to be right up close while that was going on.

I do know the helmet isn't quite properly adjusted. Jamie is patient by two year old standards but he has his limits. It took another few tries before it was right.

18/52 2018

Week 18
30 April - 6 May

Back yard

There's a lot going on in this picture, but it's a pretty accurate depiction of most of our summer mornings. Jamie doing experiments with water, mostly to do with how differently water behaves compared to the sand that's usually in that play set. The camper van tent, a prize for sustained achievement on the potty training front. The picnic blanket that became the preferred location for eating meals for the summer. The scooter, the red car, the orange dump truck, the pavement chalk... I think we took full advantage of having outdoor space this summer.

17/52 2018

Week 17
23 - 29 April

Morning snooze

This is Jamie asleep in our bed, having got up but then dozed off again during his morning mama milk. I'm so proud of him as he grows up, but it's also lovely to still get these glimpses of the baby, in these moments of pure contentment.

16/52 2018

Week 16
16 - 22 April

The weather having drastically improved, we're spending a lot more time out in the back yard again, with toys including the Little Tikes car and some big sticks of chalk. Jamie is really getting to grips with the alphabet and we were playing a game where I would write whatever letters he asked, wherever he wanted. Entirely unprompted, he asked for the letters "O", "D" and "D" on his car door, and then, satisfied, clambered in.


15/52 2018

Week 15
9 - 15 April

Following on from our visit to Fortress Recycling, this week we visited their neighbours on the industrial estate - Dennis Eagle, the factory where they make bin lorries.

Poor Jamie got a little bit panicked as we drove past several bin lorries on the way to the reception office car park, shouting "please! Stop! Look! Bin lorries!" but thankfully he trusted us that we were going to see even more.

He's probably the youngest visitor they've had, but they do give tours for school groups, so they had safety specs that were almost small enough. Jamie wasn't too sure about wearing them, but eventually understood it as the price of getting to go and look at bin lorries.

Safety first at Dennis Eagle

Steve carried him, partly for safety and partly so that he could see. The factory is laid out in stages with a vehicle on each "footprint" at any given time, so we literally got to see the whole build process from chassis to hydraulic lines to engine to paintwork.

The employee who showed us round was called Charlie, and he did an excellent job. He's more used to the school groups or representatives from councils/companies looking to buy bin lorries, so a serious-faced two year old with his parents was outside the norm. One good thing about me being so behind on my updates is that I confirm, five months on, as Jamie gains more language and ability to express himself in ways adults can understand, that he really did grasp a surprising amount of what he was taught that day and still enjoys telling us about it every time he sees one of "Charlie's bin lorries".

The best moment for me was probably when we got back to reception. Jamie went straight to the receptionist and started excitedly squeaking at her about how she had to come and see all these amazing bin lorries that she'd missed out on. It was extremely cute, and I think it confirmed to everyone that the Serious Face was concentration rather than boredom and he was in fact very impressed.

Friday, September 07, 2018

14/52 2018

Week 14
2 - 8 April

Stool, table, who cares

The small wooden table by his elbow has long been "his" table where his snacks and drinks are kept, out of the way of the main play area but accessible to him without him needing to ask. But for some reason, he occasionally likes to be formal, which means setting up his own "table" and chair.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

13/52 2018

Week 13
26 March - 1 April


We went to visit family back in Lowestoft for Easter, and although it wasn't perfect beach weather, Jamie (the little orange dot in the picture) had a great time running around on the sand with his cousin.

12/52 2018

Week 12
19 - 25 March

Post bath nap

Jamie is not currently a fan of having a bath, which means it's a rather exhausting process for all concerned. Luckily, being wrapped up in daddy's big bath towel makes it better and then we get to crash out for a nap.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Period Poverty

I'm seeing a lot of articles popping up in my feeds this week about period poverty. Most of them appear to be written by people who have never actually experienced it, trying to reduce the issue to whether a single tampon works out at 5p or 50p, and it is grinding my gears.

Periods are not consistent. There is no incredible One Box of sanitary products that covers one woman's needs for one period. You have heavy days, light days. You have times when it's best to use a super plus tampon and an overnight pad both at once, and you have times when either of those products would just be amazingly uncomfortable. It also wouldn't be economical - as a rule, night pads are more expensive than "regular" pads which are in turn more expensive than panty liners, but if you tried to get through a heavy day with just regular pads you'd need to use a dozen of them. To deal with one period, you need more than one product.

Whatever products you need though, even if you only need one of each, you have to buy multipacks. This is the thing really upsetting me about the pennies-per-pad calculations. The only way you can buy one pad, or one tampon, is from vending machines in ladies' loos which, last time I had cause to use one, is £1 a time (and might be more now). In the real world, we buy packs of 14. Or 12. Or 10. Or 50. A challenge for those snide writers of articles sagely declaring that the mega value bundle from UltraPoundwiseUniverse gets it down to a penny per pad: I'll punch you in the stomach a few times, put clothespins on your nipples, and fill your pants with loo roll, raw egg whites, and food dye, and then you can take your calculator on the bus and go shopping around for the best deal, yes? And don't forget, you can't do it while you're at work, and if you're unemployed you've got to fit it around doing your compulsory job applications and you have to take your kids with you.

Don't tell me we should bulk buy ahead of time, either. If you're experiencing period poverty you're likely experiencing other forms of poverty too. Your room in the b&b "temporary housing" does not have a pantry, under-stairs cupboard, loft, basement, shed, or any other storage space. Odds are you can't store anything in the shared bathroom either, even IF it's clean enough to consider doing so (mooncup evangelists, I'm looking at you as well now).

Of course, having bought your packet of 12 pads, you probably will use the remaining 11, because on average, for most people who have periods, it's something that happens almost every month for 30-35 years, for about 6 days in every 28.

But this is where tight budgeting comes in. Let's say it's day 5 of your period, it's light flow and almost over. You need three more pads. You've got two. There is £2.47 in your purse for the next two days. A packet (remember, you can only buy a whole packet!) of regular pads costs about £1.40 at the local shop (it's cheaper at the big supermarket but not if you add the bus fare). Do you (a) spend a sizeable chunk of your remaining cash on a pack of pads when you only need one, or (b) use the two you've got and then do your best with loo roll?

Period poverty isn't just about it costing £120 over the course of a year. When you're in actual poverty a year is an unthinkably long time and even a month is too far off to be planning. All of your Cope is taken up with making it through to the next payday and things that are "only" a couple of pounds might still be a couple of pounds more than you've got.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

11/52 2018

Week 11
12 - 18 March


This weekend we had a very special outing - we were invited to visit a local recycling firm so that Jamie could admire some bin lorries up close.

Inspecting bin lorry

Conditions weren't ideal - Jamie is on day 2 of a sniffle, and it was snowing - but from his safe vantage point on his daddy's shoulders he got to have a good look and he definitely did enjoy himself. He didn't quite feel confident enough to sit up in the driver's cab though!

Back of bin lorry

Big thank you to Fortress Recycling.

Friday, March 16, 2018

10/52 2018

Week 10
05 - 11 March

Halfway down the stairs

We were all rather horribly ill this week, which is probably why, instead of enthusiastically clomping or sliding down the stairs, Jamie felt it necessary to stop halfway and do his best Robin the Frog impression.

09/52 2018

Week 9
26 February - 04 March

Jamie's kitchen

This is Jamie at his play kitchen, positioned in our hallway by the door to the grown-up kitchen so that he can join in without getting underfoot. In this picture he seems to be frying a nice nutritious bottle of Early Learning Centre washing up liquid - he also has a tendency to put toy cars in his microwave - but his favourite cooking activity is to give everyone cups of tea. His teapot is usually on the hob, and generally people are given a cup with an item of play food to enjoy while he keeps everyone topped up.

Friday, March 02, 2018

08/52 2018

Week 8
19 - 25 February

Back yard

Jamie isn't quite as interested in going out in the yard as he was last year. I don't know why - it could be the weather, it could be that he has more interesting indoor toys now, it could just be that he now has the capacity to give a clear verbal refusal and tell me what he would prefer to do. But this week, we went out in the yard, and we tidied the plant pots, and we did experimenting with the ice on top of the bucket, and we pulled out the Little Tikes car.

For me, seeing him out here again really underlined how much he has grown and how much more mobile he is.

07/52 2018

Week 7
12 - 18 February


Jamie is working on his last four molars and his fingers are more or less permanently in his mouth.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

06/52 2018

Week 6
05 - 11 February

Foundry Woods

I wasn't actually present when this picture was taken. Steve took Jamie for a Daddy Outing to Foundry Wood, which is one of those rare places where I really wish I could go (it's a lovely outdoors natural environment community project with an interesting activities program), physically cannot go (there's only one entrance and that is a steep dirt track way beyond the capabilities of either wheelchair), and yet I can make my peace with the inaccessibility (natural environment, etc) as long as someone ensures that Jamie isn't missing out.

Also, not to put too fine a point on it, while I'm trying to soak up and enjoy all of Jamie's childhood it is also good for me to have a couple of hours OFF every now and again.

Anyway, Jamie and Daddy both loved it. They came home and showed me dozens of pictures of an absolutely idyllic time discovering all manner of interesting things. Choosing just one was difficult but I do love Jamie's happy little face in this one.

Monday, February 26, 2018

05/52 2018

Week 5
29 January - 04 February

Train set

Having demonstrated both love for and technical aptitude with train sets at nursery and on play dates, we took the plunge and got a Brio starter set, plus an extra bridge, a couple of wagons, and a packet of various sizes of piece for adjustments.

Admittedly adults are still required to create closed-loop tracks. Perhaps we should get some buffers instead.

04/52 2018

Week 4
22 - 28 January

Big playground

Another cold, wet playground. But. This is not the toddler frame. He is way up high, and managed to get up there by himself. I was impressed.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

03/52 2018

Week 3
15 - 21 January

Orange coat

Another cold, wet, yet cheerful morning at a park. Steve took this photo; I'm the blue and grey blur in the background. Jamie was running back and forth between the two of us laughing his head off.

02/52 2018

Week 2
08 - 14 January

Pratchett exhibition

This is Jamie at the Terry Pratchett exhibition at Salisbury Museum. Jamie does not yet have the encyclopaedic Discworld knowledge of his parents, but he does enjoy Where's My Cow and recognises the portrait of the late Sir Terry on Young Sam's bedroom wall. He behaved beautifully at the museum (and the cathedral) and while the trip was more for me and Steve than for Jamie, we feel glad that he was there too.

01/52 2018

After a lot of dithering I decided to do the 52 project again. Yes, it's February already, and a late start. Yes, my timekeeping was terrible last year. From a social media guru perspective I might as well not bother. But from a parent perspective, I really enjoy having a collection that is just one photo a week to enable me to watch him grow without a disproportionate focus on big events where dozens of pictures were taken.

If I ever *really* get my act together I might try and have each year printed up into an actual physical photo book to keep, but my imagination is tempered by low self esteem.

Week 1
01 - 07 January

As you can tell from the rain, the hood, and the colour of Jamie's nose, this was a cold wet morning at the playground. We needed it, though, and he wasn't the only one smiling.


Thursday, January 04, 2018

52/52 2017

Week 52
25 - 31 December

New toys

Jamie got no fewer than five fire engines for Christmas this year. He loves the emergency services as part of his wider affinity for all large vehicles and, although we haven't explained the nitty gritty of fires, car crashes, death, injury, criminality and so forth, he has thoroughly absorbed the concept that blue lights mean they're rushing to help people, and is happy about that. If you ask him about them he will say "help people" long before he gets to "nee-nah" which confuses outsiders.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

51/52 2017

Week 51
18 - 24 December


Jamie is always interested in what other people are doing and is almost always interested in tech. Steve doesn't want to have to shut himself away every time he's using his laptop, so as a rather neat solution, Jamie now has one of Steve's old wireless keyboards enabling them to both happily clatter away typing together.

50/52 2017

Week 50
11 - 17 December

The first day of proper snow, Jamie hated it, largely because it was still falling and getting in his face. On the second day, he was adamant that he Did Not Want to go out.

So, my PA offered a Plan. She would go outside and play right in front of the window and attract his attention. I would wait for him to get interested and then wrestle the snowsuit onto him. Then she would open the door and he'd be able to simultaneously break free from me and get a better look at what she was doing and wouldn't realise he'd gone out in the snow until he was out in the snow.


It worked like a charm and he had a great time.

Bonus video footage: