Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Getting his own place

Jamie's preparing to move out.

Yes, just over three months after setting up his Moses basket in our room, the little man has decided he needs his own space and is readying himself for a new life in the nursery.

To be honest, the situation was pretty much forced upon him. He's already almost a quarter of the way to being ten feet tall and Moses baskets aren't really made for young men of that size.

So, over the next few days, he's going to start crashing out in his cot where there's a lot more room to grow into.

It's a big moment for the boy and a sad one for his parents.

Before too long, he'll be literally up on his own two feet. Then he'll start to talk. And not long after that, he'll start to talk back.

In the meantime, thankfully, the really cute stage will continue for a bit longer yet.

Monday, 29 September 2008

The words of a pro

My mate Rodney can be very hard to get hold of.

He's also very good at coming up with an original excuse for why he's failed to return your calls.

But the following, received on a voicemail yesterday morning after several days of me attempting in vain to track him down, is possibly his best yet.

Delivered in a simple matter-of-fact tone of voice, here's what Rodney said:

"Hi Barry, it's me.

"Sorry I haven't been about for a couple of days. I had to do that spacewalk thing.

"You know, the Chinese Government couldn't trust one of their spacemen to do it so they had to get me to do it.

"So, I'm just back."

You would never know he's a barrister.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

A special anniversary

Jamie was conceived a year ago today. (Yes, I thought that might grab your attention).

I know this because the Conservative Party Conference begins in Birmingham in a few hours. And this day last year, I was preparing to go to Blackpool for the 2007 event where I spent the next four days (without Vanessa).

According to the calculations, the moment when Mr Sperm and Miss (or Ms?) Egg got their act together was either on that Sunday or in the handful of days immediately afterwards. However, it clearly couldn't physically have happened whilst I was at the conference (I'll resist milkman references at this point).

I can also guarantee that it didn't happen in the days following my return either since I was recovering from something close to alcohol poisoning and therefore didn't have babies as a priority.

So that Sunday it was.

I actually remember quite a bit about the day in question. We made a baby, had breakfast, went into Leeds to find a new suit, I ironed my shirts (modern man, me) whilst listening to now Presidential hopeful John McCain speak at said conference which had already started and then watched Argentina hammer Ireland in the Rugby World Cup (the reason I delayed my departure to Blackpool).

Then I got on the Blackpool train, got off, got lost, found my B&B, met up with some familiar faces at a conference hotel and stayed up for most of the night "catching up on old times." All good fun.

I'm not sure how quickly these things happen but, for all I know, Jamie consisted of at least four cells by the time I finally got to bed - or maybe even eight.

Happy first birthday to them all.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Jamie Wonder

I'm sitting here, typing away, whilst listening to commentary on the mighty Coleraine FC's visit to the Linfield scumbags - the miracles of modern technology, eh? (It's nil-nil at the moment, by the way).

Today's been one of those days when I got up with so much to do yet am sadly destined to return to my scratcher with nothing done.

To be fair, I did get to the gym (still hate it) and I do hope to get the grass cut but, with the Ulster rugby team due to run out in less than an hour and three quarters (Live on Setanta Sports 2, in case you're interested) and with Vanessa then due to head out for a girlie evening shortly afterwards, time is not on my side.

Jamie's been in reasonable form for most of the day following a bad start which involved him projectile vomiting down my back, on Vanessa's pillow and all over the headboard of our bed. Good man.

I think the sun's the reason for his relative good humour, mainly because it's allowed him to wear his shades once again. They didn't come out once in Northern Ireland, which was hardly a shock. But he's making up for it today. They also seem to have a strange effect on him.

(Sorry, but I've just heard one of the Linfield fans call the ref a cheating b*****d via one of the effects mikes. Belfast scum. Still nil-nil).

Yes, Jamie's specs. He was okay with them for the first few minutes today. But then he started to rock his head from side to side in the style of Stevie Wonder which, if you think about it, is somewhat ironic given the fact he's wearing dark glasses.

Vanessa reckons he was simply trying to shake them off but, for my money, it was clearly a deliberate - and convincing - attempt at a Stevie impression. The boy's pool of talent and wit appears bottomless. Kind of.

(Nil-nil at half-time. Come on the Stripes).

Friday, 26 September 2008

Return of the Jac(qui)

A tough old day at work today but one I will remember fondly for a long time after a very old friend found me on Facebook.

Jacqui is a couple of years younger than me which, when at school, is almost an eternity. She went to Coleraine High School (which is girls only) and I went to Coleraine Inst (which is all boys - I appreciate people from the area will be aware of these things but stick with me).

Thinking back all those years - 18 to be precise - I always regarded Jacqui as one of life's "good" people. There was nothing not to like although she had a tongue which could cut tin if the need arose!

One of the last times I spoke to her was in my early days at university when a few friends and I embarked on a series of wind-ups involving people we knew. Jacqui was at the centre of one of these after I asked one of my hallmates in Newcastle - Steve Chee his name was - to pretend to be Peter Hooton (pictured below, lead singer of The Farm with their one hit) and invite Jacqui to appear in their next video.

As a result of an incredibly convincing performance from Steve, the poor girl fell for it hook, line and sinker. So much so that I felt bad telling her the truth at the end. Typically, though, she took it in very good heart.

Now with two girls of her own and a co-partner in her own very successful interior design business in Coleraine, Jacqui's done good.

She also ensured I came home to start my weekend with a smile - and I haven't even prised open my beer fridge yet. (Needless to say, that's where I'm heading off now).

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Down the gym

A bad old start to the day after Jamie woke up with a bit of a fever.

The poor little bloke had his second set of jabs yesterday and, according to Vanessa, yelped when the needles went in but was otherwise fine.

However, last night he started to get unsettled so we pumped him full of Calpol. And then this morning, he was burning up so we pumped him again.

He's now snuggled down in his cosy sleep bag on the sofa and all seems calm. For a little while at least.

Meanwhile, I'm just back from my first proper session in the gym at Pudsey Leisure Centre and, whilst the facilities there are good, I was very quickly reminded of why I've always hated the gym so much.

I must've been a member of about eight different gyms down the years. And whilst I do tend to go after joining, I just get so bored.

You set there on a machine and you lift a weight 10 or 15 times. Then you stop. Then you do it again. Boooorrrriiiinnnnngggggg.

Or you run on the treadmill for however many minutes and don't actually get anywhere (it's worse when you're facing the window). Same thing on the rowing machine. Dull, dull, dull, dull, DULL!

Unfortunately, after all the running I've been doing over the last year or so, both my knees are weak so drastic action was needed i.e. come off the roads for a while and try to stay fit some other way. And whilst I HATE the gym (have I mentioned that?) I see no alternative at present.

On the up side, earlier today I bought five new tee-shirts and a new pair of shorts in a conscious attempt to raise my enthusiasm. But, whilst I undoubtedly looked the part, I ended up feeling somewhat on the warm side.

Perhaps I'll just wear the one tee-shirt when I go back to the gym on Saturday.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Amongst friends

Last week, I was proud to show Jamie off to anyone remotely interested. But two stop-offs last Friday teatime gave me special pleasure.

First was a short drop-by with the Fitzpatricks. Regular readers have met Sean and Melanie before - he the Police Detective Inspector who likes to dress up as a fairy; she his long-suffering wife and sometime leprechaun.

Vanessa and I had been out with the pair of them the previous night. Indeed, my head still hasn't fully recovered from the experience - but Guinness definitely is better back home.

Sean doesn't do babies - as his body language above clearly and deliberately demonstrates - but it doesn't stop him looking like a giant one himself.

And, pictured below, is Geoff and Karen Walls together with their gorgeous five-year-old daughter Ellen.

Like Sean, Geoff and I first met at school almost exactly 25 years ago. Until he met the lovely Karen, Geoff needed a bit of taming - and she was certainly the girl for this.

Unfortunately, with happiness, came adversity when, just hours before baby Ellen was born in 2003, Karen was found to have a very large malignant tumour in her bowel. She was taken immediately into theatre to have this removed, returning again within hours for a second procedure which led to Ellen's premature birth.

As Geoff said to me afterwards, "at one point I thought I was going to lose both my girls."

Due to the determination and incredible bravery of both Karen and Geoff, things began to look up and a wedding date was set - only for everything to go back on hold when a secondary tumour was found on Karen's liver.

But, typical of the pair, they battled on and beat that too.

Last week, Karen was at home recuperating after the reversal operation on her bowel a few days earlier. And, as you can see, the three of them are looking good (Geoff will tell you he always looks good) and ready to finally move on with their lives.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Water baby

Having had a few days to reflect back on Jamie's first trip to Ireland, it occurred to me what a large part water played in proceedings (and not just because he peed on me a couple of times).

First, there were the ferry trips across the Irish Sea and back.

He wasn't particularly impressed by the sight of Liverpool from his cabin window (as you may notice above) but thankfully cheered up a bit once he got out on deck later in the day.

Our trip to Donegal involved another return ferry trip, this time across Lough Foyle. He seemed a little happier with that (left), principally because the journey time was only 13 minutes as opposed to eight hours on board the "big boat."

Then there were the occasions he took to the water himself, first in Granda' White's sink for a bath (below). And then in the children's pool of our Buncrana hotel were he grizzled a little but didn't properly kick off (at least until I tried to extract him from his swimming nappy). Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to take a pic of this in case I was a closet paedophile (which thankfully I'm not).

And, of course, throughout out trip, we were always a stone's throw from the most beautiful coastline in the world and, with it, the North Atlantic.

I was forever chucked into that particular ocean during my own childhood but thought it best to give Jamie a few more tries in warmer waters first before introducing him to the experience. Next time, he's going in (with Vanessa - I'd better mention it to her).

Monday, 22 September 2008

Up with the kids

Still more than a little under the weather which is why earlier tonight Vanessa and I did the obvious thing - and joined the gym. More of that another time.

But with regard to our holiday, it was - as ever when we cross the Irish Sea - very hectic and not in the least bit restful.

That is not in any way meant as a slight on anyone we met up with. Far from it. But there were just so many people to see or, to put it another way, just so many people who wanted to see Jamie (Mummy and Daddy now know their lowly place).

Top of the list were his new cousins Katie and Sebastian, pictured with him above.

The two of them have been very keen to hear all about our little man since his recent arrival and it was therefore a pleasure to do the introductions the Saturday before last.

One of the highlights of our trip was Sebastian's agreement, shortly before we departed for home, to be one of Jamie's two Godfathers.

Anyone who read my London Marathon blog from earlier this year will know all about Sebastian's bravery after he was diagnosed with congenital heart disease shortly after birth.

We've no doubt he will prove to be an excellent role model for Jamie (which is welcome, given the opposite effect my mate John, his other intended Godfather, is likely to have on him).

I'll tell you a bit more about our trip tomorrow. In the meantime, have you ever noticed how much Coronation Street's Liz McDonald now resembles Big Bird from Sesame Street?

I did tonight and, as Roy Walker used to beseech contestants to do on Catchphrase, "say what you see." So I have.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Back home

We're back from our week in Ireland - North and South as it turned out - and we're wrecked.

My poor physical state, coupled with the fact that the Ryder Cup singles are about to tee off, means I'm going to wait until next week before telling you more about the first White family holiday. No doubt you'll cope.

However, to hopefully keep you interested, I thought you might like to see a pic of Jamie doing his Father Jack impersonation on a Donegal beach. Pretty convincing I'm sure you'll agree.

Now then - come on Europe!

Friday, 12 September 2008

Off on holiday!

Yes, the Whites are about to set off on their first family holiday - to Northern Ireland.

The ship sails from Liverpool at 10.30 tomorrow morning, arriving in Belfast eight hours later. And we've even got a cabin!

Jamie is clearly a little nervous at the prospect of meeting his new Ulster aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who talk funny. But he's also very excited.

After a good night's sleep at Granda' White's, a Sunday afternoon back garden barbecue is his first planned engagement. And, with the sun set to shine, he hopes he's chosen an outfit appropriate for the occasion.

Looking good, I'm sure you'll agree.

As well as the Whites, this blog is also taking a short break.

But do not fret, it shall return next Sunday (21st) with a special report detailing exactly what we got up to - hopefully accompanied by a few pics.

We'll aim to have fun 'til then and trust you will too.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Boys' night in

Vanessa went off to a "candle party" tonight which she has since best described as "a modern day Tupperware party. With candles."

I was obviously very sad to miss that one.

My huge disappointment at not receiving an invite was initially lessened by the fact that Jamie and I would have the opportunity to hold our first ever boys' night in.

But, our evening now over, I would have to say that junior could've done better.

Whilst I appreciate the fact he's not yet on to solids, I thought he could at least have tried his steak.

He wasn't interested in the rules of poker. And, perhaps worst of all, didn't touch his whiskey.

Thank goodness the stripper didn't turn up.

Tomorrow, Daddy back at work, he can return to his mother's arms.

But I cannot help but think - opportunity wasted.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Putting the record straight

About five weeks ago, I agreed to write an article on fatherhood for The Suburb, a glossy lifestyle magazine published here in West Yorkshire.

As sometimes happens with these things, the words which have just appeared in print in my name are not a wholly accurate representation of those sent across by me.

This irritates me greatly so, if you haven't seen the article or wish to read what I actually wrote, you can do so below. I think my version is better.
* * *

"I won't lie to you, fatherhood isn't easy like motherhood."

Not my words, but those of probably the world’s most famous dad, Homer Simpson.

Now, clearly, I would not possibly suggest that motherhood is in any way easy (you probably haven’t met my wife) but, as the father of a six-week-old boy, I can at least agree with Homer’s assertion that fatherhood is far from being a walk in the park.

Prior to the birth of little Jamie, I was unsure about what exactly I could offer in my impending new role.

As the youngest child of three, I’d never previously spent much time around babies and so had little experience to draw on.

And, whilst I’d been given several books to read by family and friends – Pregnancy for Blokes being one that springs to mind – I hadn’t quite found the time to actually open them.

Given that this was our first baby and therefore expected to be perhaps a week or more late, I was sure that a slot would become available before the big moment.

It was therefore a matter of some regret when, two days before the due date, I was sitting in the delivery suite at the Leeds General Infirmary wondering what was going on before me and what in goodness name I could do to help.

But, as soon as Jamie showed his face at 8.49pm that Monday night, nature sort of took its course with me just as it had done with him.

Admittedly I did get off to something of a false start after being asked to hand him back to the midwife only two minutes after holding him for the first time following fears that I would faint and drop him.

But things got better. Early next morning, I was given responsibility for pushing him down for a precautionary scan and then an x-ray on his sore right shoulder. Thankfully all was fine and I only crashed once, a glancing blow off a set of double doors.

I changed my first nappy shortly afterwards, following up with three more before I was kicked out the hospital at the end of visiting time.

Since then, I’ve done the lot – bathed him, picked out his clothes, lugged him around the supermarket in a baby carrier (something I thought I’d never do), fed him expressed milk in bottles, got up with him in the night, talked to him, even sung to him.

Now, I appreciate that none of these activities are exactly radical and should be the norm for any self-respecting father.

But the reason for me telling you is simple: I have loved every single second of playing my part, of helping our little boy start out on his journey, of protecting him, of loving him, of being a dad.

So, like Homer, I won’t lie to you either. Fatherhood certainly isn’t easy, but it’s also a joy.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Jamie: The Movie II

Regular readers of this rubbish might remember the little video clip I put up a couple of months ago which captured Jamie just a few minutes after he was born.

The other day, I used the video function on our camera to film him amusing himself - albeit with a bit of prompting from Mummy and Daddy - as he lay on top of our bed.

He's not doing a lot but, if you've got a minute spare, feel free to click on and see him in action.

Monday, 8 September 2008

The two amigos

Here's a pic taken at Judy and Mike's last night which I thought you'd like to see: son of Daggers and Han meets son of Barry and Van.

We think it's the first time the two have been caught together on camera.

Away from the bright lights, Oliver biffed Jamie a couple of times but the boy White didn't flinch.

Daddy's very proud (and Jamie will obviously get him in later years).

Sunday, 7 September 2008

To pee or not to pee

The 2008 Leeds Half Marathon has been run and I finished it in a personal best time of 1 hour 47 minutes and 29 seconds (according to my watch). Happy with that.

The race itself was fairly uneventful. Indeed, for me, the two most memorable moments came before the gun sounded.

First was seeing my old friend and fellow Coleraine man Paul Gaile in the warm-up area. Unlike me, Paul is actually a very good runner and completed this year's London Marathon in well under three hours - a superhuman feat in my book.

Second was in the toilet area where dozens of runners has scurried off to for a final "visit" in advance of the off. There were two queues, one for "Men" and one for "Unisex" which everyone sort of assumed meant women but who can say these days.

Anyway, I didn't really need to go but decided to have a wee try (get it?!) nonetheless. However, when I got there, the "Men" queue wasn't moving too quickly so I began to wonder whether I might not be better getting back to the start line.

But, without warning, a fellow competitor suddenly appeared along the line to announce the following: "This queue seems to be for both pees and poos. There is something of a demand for the poo cubicles at the moment, but if you just need a pee then go on through."

No-one moved for a couple of seconds before a few of us began to shuffle forward towards what we were assured were several vacant urinals (true, as it turned it). Meanwhile, those who remained in what can only be described as the "number two queue" stood where they were, staring at the ground. Most bizarre and very amusing. In fact, had I not had my pee at the promised vacant urinal a few seconds later, I might've had trouble keeping it in.

I'm off for a shower shortly before Vanessa, Jamie and I head over to Grandma Judy and Grandad Mike's for Sunday tea.

The bad news is that Dagenham Dave is going to be there. He was true to form on Friday night and made my head hurt. Bless him.

The good news is that, along with baby Oliver, Auntie Hannah will be there too - fresh from her drumming gig yesterday afternoon at a home for the bewildered.

I will try to behave when I'm asking her about it but, I'll tell you now, it isn't going to be easy.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Divided loyalities

Probably around twenty years ago now, I remember watching the McDonald boys - Andy and Steve - grow up on Coronation Street.

Corrie fans will not need to be reminded, but father Jim was from Belfast and mother Liz from somewhere local to Manchester.

However, both Andy and Steve spoke with thick Mancunian accents. This was not unexpected as they both grew up there, went to school there and all the rest.

But, to this day, I can clearly recall saying to myself, "if I ever live, get married and have kids in England, I'll make sure they speak like me."

As fate would have it, I am now resident in this wonderful component part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, I have a mouthy English wife and an increasingly gobby little boy.

Having spoken to many people about this, I now accept that the chances of Jamie ending up with a Coleraine lilt to his voice are minimal, "as he'll copy kids at school and there aren't likely to be too many kids in his school from Coleraine, are there?" is a fair summary of what people have said. This is both logical and truthful, if a little disappointing.

However, all is not yet lost.

Because whilst I must perhaps admit defeat in my quest for Master While "till speak Norn Iron like," there is no reason whatever why he can't grow up first aware and later proud of his roots in "the wee country."

Vanessa and I are taking him on his first trip there this time next week.

But before then, the Northern Ireland football team has two World Cup qualification matches and I think it's only right he watches them - starting at 4.30 this afternoon when Nigel Worthington's men kick off their campaign in Slovakia.

And as luck would have it, the country of his birth begin their game away to against Andorra at 7pm, thereby ensuring the White boys can watch both matches.

Unfortunately Wednesday is more problematic as England's game in Croatia is due to kick-off just 15 minutes before Northern Ireland's home match against the Czech Republic.

With Jamie as yet unable to operate a remote control, I reckon a "compromise solution" will be reached where we'll concentrate on Northern Ireland but flick over during breaks in play to see how David Beckham's latest hairstyle is coping in the wind.

But the years ahead could prove more challenging for me as I seek to remind my boy of his Ulster roots - and the need to turn over to Sky Sports 2.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Sitting Daggers

Jamie's bath over - before which our loving son peed all over my clean jeans - you would think the Whites' childly duties would be drawing to a close this fine day.

Hell no.

For, in a few minutes from now, we're heading off to babysit a 42-year-old (and his lovely little son Oliver, but he's easy).

For those of you who don't know him (and I envy you all), Dagenham Dave is my brother-in-law. He's also what can most politely be described as a divvy.

Actually from Guildford (but Dagenham goes better with Dave which is why Dagenham it is), Dave is married to Vanessa's long-suffering sister Hannah.

Today's his birthday and, because Hannah's heading out to drum for an hour later this evening (don't start me), we've been invited to keep Daggers entertained whilst she's away. We'll then be rewarded with tea.

This is a very kind gesture and I look forward to it immensely, principally because Dave might be starting to run out of words by then.

A "cheeky chappy" in the traditional style, old Daggers talks absolute, complete and utter b*lls at all times. Yes, it does tend to be extremely amusing but BOY can he talk.

And, being my brother-in-law, I'm stuck with him until one of us dies. What a thought.

Dagenham Dave is the telly on the right of the picture taken at a "black and white" party two years ago. Beside him is Hannah (dressed as a domino - obviously), her brother Jonathan (as the Phantom of the Opera) and me (as a priest).

But just look at Dave. What an idiot.

They say the camera never lies and it's true, for Daggers truly is wired up. If I had my way, he'd be wired to something very different. And sharp.

OK, time to go - bring on the fool..!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

A timing issue

What do you think of my new watch? Yep, pretty dull isn’t it?

After my life-threatening leg problem was suddenly cured by miracle forces and therefore my last possible excuse for not running Sunday’s Leeds Half Marathon taken away, I needed a new watch.

The strap on my old one snapped a few weeks ago and, after going to see the man at the Kirkgate Centre in Bradford, was told that, unlike my serious leg disease, this problem was indeed terminal. This left me without a watch and you sort of need one to run things like half marathons so off to the shops I went at lunchtime today.

I do dither over these things but, having spent the guts of 40 minutes looking at the contents of one shop window, I marched inside to advise the shop assistant of my choice. She returned a couple of minutes later, holding my intended purchase, with a sheepish verging on embarrassed look on her face.

“I’m afraid this is a kiddie watch, sir,” she whispered. “Perhaps you might want to have a look at our gentlemen’s range.” I coughed a bit, smiled crookedly and rushed out the door in the direction of Argos.

15 minutes later I was £19.99 down but a watch up – and made it back to work before the end of my dinner hour. Even if the watch is a bit dull.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Back to Boots

It's incredible what you can buy for babies these days.

Vanessa sent me back to Boots at lunchtime today for two things - a packet of swim pants and a bottle of Infacol. Unfortunately I came out without the Infacol (which, if you don't know and I obviously didn't until ten weeks ago, helps with "baby wind").

However, the swim pants are great. Again, something I didn't previously know you could buy (until yesterday), you simply put these on your Jamie and then you can take him to the swimming pool. Fantastic!

"Boots disposable swim pants pull on easily and help to contain poo while swimming or playing in water," boasts the packet. "The absorbent core protects from small accidents before getting into the water, but does not swell up like a normal nappy once in the water." So now you (and I) know.

The plan is to take him swimming when we go to Northern Ireland in a couple of weeks' time, so more of that then. But, needless to say, I'm rather amused at the prospect.

The reason I forgot the Infacol was because I got distracted by the many other exciting items you can see above - after I bought them.

At the top centre is a pair of baby nail clippers. We already have a pair of baby scissors but we're not having a lot of success with them in terms of cutting his nails so why not try the clippers? No reason at all, thought I, so they went in the basket.

Below these are a pack of Milton Surface Wipes. These might seem a bit dull but get this: you can use them to wipe your Jamie's dummy when it falls on the floor. Brilliant - so I was having them too.

On their right is, obviously enough, a "Baby On Board" sign. Yes, I know these is a bit nerdy but there's a hidden agenda on this one. I'm about to start driving lessons again soon and this, coupled with my 'L' plates, might just encourage nasty drivers not to parp me as much as they might ordinarily do. Well worth £1.99 of anyone's money, I'd say, and certainly ours. Plus, it has "Child On Board" written on the other side so it's got longevity.

In the top left hand corner is the second best item I bought, a Floating Bath Thermometer in the shape of a whale. As it would be, clearly.

The actual thermometer bit - the black rectangular shape you can see in the pic - has three little squares, one containing a minus sign, one a tick and one a plus sign. What you do is put the whale into your Jamie's bathwater, ensuring the thermometer bit is covered. If the minus sign glows after 20 seconds, the water is too cold for him, and if the plus sign glows, it's too hot. But if it's the tick appears, you're ready to begin the splashing.

We've actually just tried it out and it works well but there also appears to be a downside. As ever, I'll explain. Vanessa got the water sorted until the tick appeared and then I plunked our little man into the water. Job's a good 'un.

What we didn't bargain for was Jamie's sudden desire to impersonate an actual whale. Just a few seconds after getting in, a fountain of water suddenly shot high into the air - in the style of Moby Dick himself - landing on Vanessa's top. Then, after a short pause, we had a repeat performance, this time all over her trousers. This has never happened before so it's obvious his inspiration came from the whale. Maybe next time we'll put him in a pair of his new swim pants.

One more thing, the eagle-eyed amongst may have spotted a Boots bag in the bottom right- hand corner of the photograph. You might also have noticed that, whilst I referred to the whale as my second favourite item bought today, I haven't yet mentioned my favourite.

Well, the Boots bag contains my absolute favourite purchase but I'm not going to show or tell you what it is until next Friday (12th), the day before we go to Northern Ireland. It's something you or I would normally expect to take on holiday, but perhaps you wouldn't expect a baby to do so.

Jamie and you are, I hope, in for a fun surprise.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

He's so coot

Jamie is now losing his hair at an ever quickening rate.

Indeed, in recent mornings, Vanessa has made a point of checking out the sheet in his Moses basket to see how many hairs he's managed to shed over the previous night. And the sad answer is normally the same: quite a few.

The way things are going, our son will soon be - as the saying goes - as bald as a coot.

Which got me thinking. Do you know what a coot looks like? I realised I had absolutely no idea. So, if you're like me, then this is your lucky day.

Above left is a picture of a baby coot. Above right is a picture of a baby Jamie.

In a week or two we might not be able to tell them apart.

Monday, 1 September 2008

It got me

I came home tonight and, after changing Jamie's nappy, put him back on to his changing mat to see if he would smile for me.

He did so without delay - and then vomited all over his best dungarees. Excellent.

Meanwhile, I fear I may be in the process of dying a horrible and prolonged death.

We were out in the garden on Saturday evening "enjoying" yet another "summer barbecue."

Vanessa looked like a Mexican bandit in her woolly poncho and Jamie was wrapped up in so many layers, he could've easily been mistaken for a giant baby onion.

However, given it was my idea to fire up the charcoal "because it's a lovely summer night, honest, it's really quite warm," I insisted on wearing shorts.

Unfortunately, not only did these make me cold, but they also provided easy access for any nasty, mysterious monsters living secretly in our garden to bite me. So one did.

And it was a clever nasty, mysterious monster this one, because it managed to carry out its evil act and then retreat to its secret hideaway with both its life and cover intact.

The result of its vicious assault was a hole in my left calf from which first blood and later oozy stuff poured out. And the oozy stuff is, unfortunately, still oozing. My calf is also itchy, sore and swollen.

Hopefully it will have settled down by tomorrow but I'm fearful the end is nigh. Maybe.