Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Style Stakes


This photo is representative of how quickly Dexter seems to be changing at the moment, and how I thought he looked particularly grown-up on Tuesday in his casual hoodie/jeans combo.

I dressed the boy solely in onesies for the first five months of his life. My NCT mummy buddies used to mock me for my aversion to anything that didn't fasten with poppers. I disliked the 'riding up' issues of t-shirts and sweaters, and always put the boy in a poppered bodysuit/vest (reminiscent of the lycra horrors I favoured for myself from River Island circa 1993), under any outfit he wore.

I am still a fan of a 'baby vest', but now the boy has a range of joggers, denims, corduroys, hoodies, shirts and cardigans to layer up with, that make him look, well, less like a baby. I am resisting shoes until Dexter can actually walk. I am hoping he does not inherit his mother's (and father's) expensive footwear habit.

Onesies are now reserved only for bedtime, but I think his first birthday may mark a move towards actual pyjamas...

Monday, 30 January 2012

Mirror, mirror


I've been very slack with the blog this week. Life is generally pretty hectic, and the husband has been glued to the computer all week. I have though, been taking my #366 photos everyday. As my memory no longer functions beyond sub-goldfish level, this week's ramblings are taking a slightly more thematic slant, as recollecting actual events in finer detail is evading me. It's also quarter past ten on a Friday night; I've just grappled with the online shop (unexpected but forced switch from Ocado to Waitrose), and the husband has just poured a very nice/strong glass of banana beer for me...

So, the picture above, taken on Monday 30th January, captures the boy engaging in his new favourite hobby: checking himself out in the mirror. Whether he knows it is himself, or indeed recognises the image as a baby is debatable. Dexter does however, find his own reflection very pleasing, and has even been caught licking the glass.

The ladies at nursery have told me Dexter is inexplicably drawn to the looking glass there too.

I blame his father.

Sunday, 29 January 2012


Today marked another mini milestone in the glorious world of Dexter's NCT buddies: Arthur's birthday. Hurrah - a birthday party on a Sunday, and double hurrah - a party at the boy's old stomping ground: Gymboree!

I have blogged previously about the infamous music and soft play cavern of dreams in the Churchill Square Shopping Centre, and the whole family woke with a sense of genuine excitement this morning at the fun that lay ahead. Dexter was awake at 6.30am, unheard of for him at the weekend, and I took this to be his anticipation at the prospect of seeing his mates and a reunion with Gymbo the Clown...

The biggest disappointment was that Arthur's mummy, Stella, had been struck down by the dreaded lurgy and wasn't able to go to the party. The biggest surprise was that as Dan (Arthur's daddy - he of the Scorch the glove puppet fame) and Arthur greeted us, a normally tardy Team Wayne was first to arrive.

We got our name stickers on, shoes off and got ready for some fun as the other mums, dads and little 'uns arrived. It was actually really lovely to be back there. Gymbo and his trusty sidekick, Guy, were on fine form and we were soon joining in with the clapping, singing and general lunacy. This took a turn for the worse when Guy (Head Gymboree honcho), produced a sack of maracas with a majestic flourish and a loud baritone announcement of, "And here are the maracas'..." Cue hysterical crying from Dexter. At first it was quite amusing as it seemed to be just the initial noise that upset him. However, as the cries got louder and more plaintive, it seemed to be the case that the boy has an irrational fear of percussion instruments. We had to take him round the corner of the play gym and calm him down at the ball pool. I was a little gutted (selfishly), as the maracas routine seemed to involve some pretty nifty moves to some seventies disco classics. When this section of the activities had finished, Dexter was just about in a fit state to rejoin the celebrations. I felt the need to announce publicly that I do not beat my son with Latin American rumba shakers.

The remaining activities were a little calmer and involved some coloured scarves and elephant finger puppets amongst other things - yes, the whole experience was wonderfully surreal. At the end of all the fun, Stella and Dan had made a brilliant picnic lunch for the babies and a gorgeous cake, accompanied by a much-needed bit of booze for the grown-ups. Dexter is definitely his mother's son, and the appearance of some delicious homemade savoury muffins and flapjacks (thanks Stella and sister, Helen), calmed him down significantly as he happily tucked in. A less traumatised boy stuffing his face is the feature of today's #366 photo - birthday boy is just to the right, in the chimp sweater.

The day's loveliness continued as a number of us continued the party with some lunch at a nearby pub. The boy had a snooze and woke up a little grumpy. Fortunately, my very organised friend, Hannah, seems to carry a small mobile pharmacy with her and one sachet of teething granules and a shot of Calpol later, saw Dexter a little more content.

I don't know whether the boy can't cope with loud noises, organised fun, or it's just that his teeth are bothering him - which seems most likely. Perhaps that 6.30am wake-up call wasn't sheer unadulterated excitement after all. Let's hope we're in for a peaceful night...

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Babies who lunch


It was a beautifully bright and crisp winter's day today. Dexter and I meandered into town with a dear friend. We spent two and a half hours in Marks & Spencer's; we have officially turned into our mothers.

Just as our mothers would, we had our lunch in the M&S caff. I got very excited about the fact that the husband (who joined us fresh from the hairdressers) bought Dexter his own little kid's cheese sandwich (£1.95!), having spent months trogging around with flasks filled with Karmel mush. Dexter shared in this excitement by sucking on a small amount of over-priced bread and cheese and dropping the rest of it on the floor.

Embarrassed by the carnage created at the foot of the little wooden high-chair, husband and I picked up the majority of the discarded picnic. To the badly hummed theme tune of the 1980s classic gameshow, 'Bullseye', we piled the crusty remnants onto M&S's finest porcelain and showed the boy 'what he could've eaten'. He promptly filled his nappy and fell asleep.

Friday, 27 January 2012

I'm late... I'm late


Before I got together with my husband, I was never late for anything. However, as a couple, Team Wayne quickly gained a reputation for never being on time. I blame my husband's faffing gene he has inherited from his father (sorry John), and it seems to take an age to leave the house. Chuck a baby into the equation, and as a unit, we are always running about half an hour late for every occasion. The working week doesn't really allow for this, but I do seem to spend Monday to Friday rushing around. And that was exactly how Friday started.

If Thursday morning I was Mr Bean (see previous post), Friday morning I was Tom Cruise in 'Mission Impossible'. I left the house, 'sans child' but loaded down with bags, at five to seven to run to the next road along where I had parked the car after the previous night's late return home from work. I then drove my car two roads in the opposite direction to retrieve the carseat from the husband's car. I then drove back to our house to collect Dexter and finally picked up a friend at ten past seven. A fairly hectic but typical start to the day.

After a day at work, the rushing continued as my mission impossible was to get Dexter back to Brighton in time for his buddy Lenny's first birthday party. Lenny is the first of my brilliant NCT ladies' babies to turn one, so it seemed even more important that Dexter should be part of the celebrations.

The party was due to finish at five. By about quarter past four, Dexter and I were on a very busy Brighton seafront, desperately trying to squeeze the car into an impossibly small space, whilst creating a huge line of traffic. Three failed attempts later, I aborted the mission and managed to park in a side street off the main street in Kemptown. Being Brighton, you have to pay to park anywhere. The ticket machine on that road wasn't working, so I spent a further ten minutes lugging the boy up and down several side streets in order to get a ticket. Eventually, we rocked up at the party venue; all our buddies had gone, we'd missed the 'Baby Boogie' and everything was being cleared away in bin liners.

I was devastated. The guilt that Dexter had missed out because I was at work, was immense. I even had a little cry on the way home. He wasn't remotely bothered. The party venue had a large flat-screen television in the corner. The boy sat sucking on a tuna sandwich, glued to 'Octonauts'.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

It never rains, but it most definitely pours...

Ah, Thursday: what a day. At seven o'clock in the morning, as I was strapping the boy into his carseat in the pouring rain, I realised I had left the passenger door window open all night in the torrential rain. This set the tone for the rest of the day.
An hour and a half later - epic journey into school completed, nursery drop-off done - I was registering my lovely tutor group when I noticed a strong foodie/slightly sweaty smell. It soon emerged that the plastic tub of Waitrose's finest 'Lemon Rasan' (a sort of curried soup) I had brought in for lunch, had leaked in my school bag, all over my work stuff. When I had a moment, I rinsed the whole lot off and popped it on my classroom radiator to dry.
Unfortunately, a quick rinse of my bag and pencil case was not enough to rid them of the pungent smell of curry/body odour, and my class started complaining about the stench in the room. I was not phased by this as I had to hand a 'Good Scents' lemon and grapefruit fragranced room spray. My smugness was short-lived as I did not check which way the nozzle was pointing and promptly sprayed a pump-full of the stuff directly into my eyes.The kids thought it was hilarious: cue several jokes about patches and golden retrievers. I had to have my eyes washed out at Welfare, rendering me a little bleary-eyed and mascara streaked and ten minutes late for a meeting with the headteacher...
My day was finished off with a three hour parents' evening and I finally walked back through my front door at 9pm. The photo represents the quality time I had with my boy that day.
Sometimes being a working mummy sucks.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Child Labour

I'm writing this on Saturday 28th January. I still haven't cheated on the #366 photos yet, but I've got some catching up to do with the written posts. Given that it's Saturday evening and I've mis-timed the Ocado shop, there seems to be a brief void in which I can update on what's been a fairly hectic latter half of the week. So much so, that I can't even remember the daytime of Wednesday 25th January.
This photo was taken when we had got in from work/nursery. Husband had been working from home, hence his laptop was set up in the study. This was of great fascination to Dexter - obviously, as it's an electronic device - and he sat with daddy 'working' for a good ten minutes on a complicated-looking spreadsheet. I observed them from the doorway of the study and listened as husband ran through the various technical ins and outs of the (previously saved) spreadsheet with the boy, whilst Dexter's tiny fingers tapped away on the laptop keyboard.
On closer inspection of said spreadsheet, we concluded that the boy writes in fluent Swedish.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

P*ss up

Some of you may be pleased to know that my 'ramblings' are likely to become increasingly pithy and concise. The #366 photos are increasingly tricky to catch too, primarily because the boy is usually on the move and because I find the 'Hipstamatic' app a touch temperamental. I say this may result in a shorter post, but equally it could just lead to more random themes and subject matter.
Back at work/nursery today, still not feeling on top form, but that's how brave we are... Dexter not being quite 100% resulted in another unpleasant package for me to deal with (I really didn't want this to morph into 'The Nappy Diaries', but hey-ho), which meant it was easier to give him an early bath.
I caught this photo as the boy was showing a complete and utter fascination with the filling of the tub. He was completely starkers.
Moments after this photo was taken, he peed up the side of the bath. Lovely.

Monday, 23 January 2012


Today's picture sums up two facts: one, Dexter is not always wonderfully jolly or photogenic; two, the whole family has been in bug-induced lockdown today. Team Wayne has been well and truly knocked off its feet. There's been a lot of sleeping and toilet action. I am at a loss as to how to make this amusing, entertaining or informative. I'm currently aspiring to keeping a cup of tea down...

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Sunday Sickness

A somewhat strange #366 picture for Sunday. It basically sums up my view of Dexter for the entire day as I lay on the sofa feeling like death. The lurgy spread. I slept for two hours in the afternoon, then made very close acquaintance with the loo for seven hours.
Grim. Give me labour anyday.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Baby Bug

This is Dexter on Saturday morning on his prison diet of dry toast and water. This was by no means a punishment, but as a result of a pretty violent sickness bug that struck Wayne Towers on Friday night. I was called at the pub just after nine o'clock, two sips in to a much-needed white wine spritzer (wild). Husband phoned to tell me that the boy had projectile vomitted, everywhere. I promptly rushed home to find the boy in the bath and the washing machine on.
It was a strangely uniting and grown-up experience. Suddenly, husband and I felt very grown-up and more responsible for a tiny person's welfare than ever. Our 'pet baby' (which is how we sometimes think of him), was really quite poorly, and it was up to us to 'Keep Calm and Do Some Parenting'. This obviously meant phoning my mum and sister for the sagacious words of old-hands in the mummy department. Keep him hydrated, keep him warm and only get really concerned if he is listless or lethargic inbetween bouts of vomming.
Seven Exorcist-type pukes later and the boy was in bed, as were his exhausted parents.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Brighton Boy

Today's (badly shot and over-exposed) photo was taken on Friday afternoon. I'm blogging on Monday afternoon - more on that later. This is a very familiar pose for Dexter, all strapped up in his car seat, although granted, not always looking so jolly. The boy spends a lot of time in his car seat because I spend a lot of time ferrying him to and from nursery whilst I go to work.
The school I work at is miles away - a good forty-five minutes to an hour in the car. I like working there, but I also like living in Brighton. It's really special to me that Dexter was born in Brighton, and we'd like him to live here for as long as possible.

I want Dexter to be a Brighton boy for many reasons. I want him to learn acceptance, tolerance and liberal thinking. Whilst he is not being raised on a diet of mung beans and I will never condone dreadlocks, I want the boy to be accepting of people from all backgrounds, colour and sexuality. I don't want him to blush at the sight of couples holding hands, regardless of their gender, or be freaked out by 'ladies' called Trevor with deep voices and suspiciously big hands. I want him to embrace the vibrant cultural and arts scene here: maybe one day he'll be involved in the Festival.
There are of course downsides to raising a child anywhere, and Brighton is no exception. 'Dexters' are ten-a-penny; I hated bottle-feeding him in public when he was tiny for fear of being lynched by the Brighton 'Breast-apo'; I will probably never find anywhere decent to get him his first haircut as it seems to be mandatory here for little boys to sport androgynous locks until the age of nineteen. If he spends his adult life here, there is of course the fact that his sole mode of transport will be the skateboard and his occupation of choice will be DJ/photographer/interpretative dancer/puppeteer. Ah well, as ever, whatever makes the boy happy.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

RIP Poppy

Today's post is pet-focused. We have two cats. One is clinically obese: they are both clinically insane. For a long time, Dexter took absolutely no notice of either Noo Noo or Mike (he's the one scowling in the photograph), and Team Wayne, including its four-legged members, lived in happy harmony.
At about nine months old however, Dexter discovered the moggies. This coincided with an increase in Dexter's mobility due to him mastering the art of crawling. Thus ensued some comical scenes of startled creatures racing round the flat being hotly pursued by a baby on a mission. To be fair to the pets, they are very tolerant of Dexter's 'stroking' (grabbing of huge clumps of fur and generally pulling it out) and 'chatting' (squawking with excitement at a pitch to rival a car alarm), and only once has Noo Noo (the older, grumpier, fatter one) raised a cautionary paw accompanied by a swan-like hiss.
I think it's really good for children to grow up with animals (I don't mean in a raised-by-wolves way), as it teaches them responsibility, compassion and respect.
At the risk of this blog turning into a commemorative site for deceased animals, today's post is dedicated to a magnificent and much-loved pet, who was a loving companion to two very special children. Poppy Dog, my sister's ten year old pooch was put to sleep yesterday. Poppy, a rottweiler, defied the sensationalised media stereotypes of this much-maligned breed and instead was a treasured family pet. She grew up with both of my sister's young girls: took treats gently from their hands; slept by their cots; and obediently trotted beside their prams. A true gentle-giant and a legend in her own lifetime. Poppy, I know you would have been as lovely with my boy, as you were so placid around him when he was a tiny baby. Sweet doggy dreams to you now. xxx

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Robot Nanny

This is Dexter with his second favourite household appliance (second to the television of course): the washing machine. He loves to watch it go round and round, and is never disappointed by a lack of motion due to the sheer amount of washing a little 'un creates.
I guess his love of the goggle-box and the washer, combined with his addiction to the baby-friendly apps on my phone, technically means that when Dexter is not at nursery, he is being raised by a collection of electrical goods. He's only one step away from having a robot nanny. I'm yet to decide if this is negligence or incredibly progressive...

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

My name is...

Today's post is the inspiration for some discussion of the boy's name. The photo features Dexter rolling around on his sofa, which is covered by a quilt that his 'Nana Vron' (Veronica) made. It features some brilliantly Watership Down style hares (I know - in the book/film it's rabbits), and his name across the bottom. It's made from husband's old duvet cover, so I like to think it's a vintage family 'hare-loom' - boom, boom!
Dexter has quite a few personalised things, including some ridiculously over-priced letters on his wall that I shelled out for during an hormonally-induced spending spree. I like to see his name on things; I like to think it stamps his identity on the world even at a tender age.
Choosing his name was a little tricky. Although we found out that he was a 'he', we had far more girls' names we favoured. Being a teacher also makes choosing a name a little tricky as associations with slightly less charming members of the teenage species can be very strong. I also knew I wanted something a bit different: a name that wouldn't feature on the same class register four times. I could probably have been assured of this with my top choices of Atticus, Paddington and Lysander. Husband quickly vetoed all three on the basis that the young Master Wayne may be subject to some playground beatings at some point in the future. It was the husband therefore who came up with Dexter.
I have never yet taught a Dexter, and only really knew of Dexter Fletcher and Charlotte Church's son. I like to think it's a little quirky and cool and I think it really suits him. I was a little upset to see that it has entered the top 100 list of boys' names this year - er, couldn't spot a Paddington in there. Plus, a little like certain makes of car or particular brands of pushchair, now that I've got my very own, I seem to come across them everywhere. I am starting to get over this and have realised that for my boy's name to be absolutely unique, it would probably have to be pretty bloomin' ridiculous.
Besides, as husband is a huge fan of quality American TV dramas, when Dexter and his buddies do start to take an interest in their names, he probably will be pretty unique in his claim of being named after a (fictional) serial killer. At which point we will explain to him, that it was that, or a duffle-coated, marmalade-munching, stowaway bear.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Miserable Monday

Today, according to a Guardian article that I gave no more than a cursory glance to on my Twitter feed, is supposed to be really depressing, or something. I suspect The Guardian's finest journalists expressed this in a slightly more lucid and articulate way, but nonetheless, it got me thinking about today's post and inspired today's #366 picture.
How was your day? Granted, it's Monday, which is inherently miserable. Monday: the portentous beast that signals a return to the nine-to-five daily grind. It was also bloomin' cold: the various flashing lights and beeping noises emanating from the dash board of my trusty old Fiesta informed me that: 'It's Arctic out there. Stay in bed' - or words to that effect. Dexter is full of snot and sea lion-esque coughing. I had an unexpected cover lesson; taught a few of my own; had an hour-long meeting after school; spent fifteen minutes trying to find somewhere to park on arriving back in Brighton; had to lug the boy and all our stuff from three streets away. I've also caught up on some phonecalls and batch cooked lamb casserole and turkey bolognese (a Karmel special - surprisingly tasty).
In between all of this, Dexter's loving Monday gift to me was a revolting nappy, of the type I don't normally have to deal with in the week as that is nursery's job. I really don't want to get all scatalogical here (I am already hugely alarmed by the fact that spawning a small person immediately makes one think it is socially acceptable to discuss poo, anytime, any place, anywhere), but changing said nappy allowed me to capture the above photo.
If there's anthing that is going to make you smile on 'Miserable Monday' and remind you of the sheer unfettered joy of being eleven months old, untouched by the polite restraints of social convention, then it's a little naked bottom. And no, I am not going to wheel such pictures out when Dexter is eighteen to embarrass him in front of friends. My students have told me enough tales over the years about the teenage male of the species and their collective penchant for getting naked - so I will assume he will be capable of creating his own embarrassment.
If you really have had a rubbish day, then take the baby's lead: bums to the world! Failing that, take the mummy's lead and indulge in a very chilled, much needed glass of white: cheers!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

By the book

I don't really like pictures of Dexter with a dummy in; if I'm honest, it's because I think people will judge me. The boy has loved his dummy from quite a young age. I'm vaguely fascinated by how much babies are soothed by their sucking reflex. Dexter has to have one when he goes to sleep (along with a knotted muslin and Trumpo the Elephant - it's quite a party in his cot). I have not made any attempt to wean him off his dummy, and I think he is one of the few of his baby buddies who still can rival Maggie Simpson in the 'plugged-in' stakes. To be honest, I'm relying on nursery sorting it out for me when the time comes. Yet again, I am exposing my questionable parenting 'skills'.
I have sometimes wondered whether I should write a parenting guide for benighted newbies - a sort of antidote to the vast number I have browsed/read/that simply adorn my shelves. I like to think I could offer some pragmatic words of (non) wisdom to counter the matronly brusqueness of Gina Ford or the gentle psychology of 'The Baby Whisperer'. In reality, I doubt that 'Katy's Guide to Complete Chaos and Questionable Child Rearing' would be a number one smash.
My boy was: bottle-fed exclusively from two weeks; in his own room at eight weeks; reliant on a dummy quite quickly; addicted to Cbeebies at an early age; in full-time childcare at the age of seven months. He is however: a brilliant and adventurous eater; a super-sleeper; able to self-soothe with a little help from the afore-mentioned 'holy trinity'; happy in his own company; content to go to and be left with people he doesn't know very well. Above all, he's hugely and massively loved - more than I thought my heart was capable of giving without actually bursting.
I guess that when it comes to parenting, it's horses for courses and different strokes for different folks. A happy, well-adjusted and well-loved little person is the main and obvious priority.
I'm still not sure though that I'll be holding out for that publishing deal...

Saturday, 14 January 2012


Today's picture was taken against the arty backdrop of the Ocado delivery. Since having Dexter, Saturday nights no longer consist of spontaneous visits to sushi restaurants, over-priced wine in Hotel Du Vin, or the occasional bout of clubbing with my girlfriends. Who am I kidding? These things haven't happened for a long time. Instead, Saturday evening heralds the arrival of the weekly online groceries delivery.
Doing the weekly shop online is another aspect of convenience living I have embraced wholeheartedly. I fear it is also a sign of my impending middle-age. The most terrifying part is that once I have added all of the 'baby stuff' to the virtual shopping basket, there's about £30 left of our budget to shop for us. This is probably just symbolic of the way finances work (or don't) with a small person in your life.

Worth every penny.

Friday, 13 January 2012


I'm writing this on 14th January, but I haven't cheated yet, and (true to the spirit of #366), I took this post's picture yesterday teatime. It was Friday yesterday, and Friday means a slightly earlier pick-up from nursery and tea at home with mummy.

Despite one of my earlier posts, the boy actually cried and reached his arms out to me this morning as I left him. Cue tears from me and quite a fetching Alice Cooper-esque look to start my five lesson day with. The terrifying red eyes and streaky make-up didn't even prove to be a particularly effective behaviour management strategy (normally a little madness goes a long way), but that's another story.
Weaning Dexter has been great fun, and so far, pretty successful. One of the ways I attempt to assuage my working mummy-guilt is by making the large majority of Dexter's food myself. I do not judge anyone who feeds their baby from pre-prepared jars/pouches, but it was simply a choice I made. Unfortunately, as well as being guilty mummy, I am also 'wimpy-mummy', and I didn't have the nerve to attempt 'baby-led' weaning like a number of my mum chums. Baby-led weaning (basically cutting out the purees to allow your bub greater independence), makes total sense, but my fear of Dexter choking on a carrot baton has made me a slave to the food processor. Whilst, Dexter's tiny buddies have been merrily chomping away on chicken legs and pasta spirals, I have opted for the Annabel Karmel school of mush.
If you have seen any of her books, there is something a touch Stepford about Ms Karmel, with her 80s power-hair and Cath Kidston aprons. However, she does seem to know what little 'uns like to eat, and so far, Dexter has munched(well, slurped and sucked as he's only just got a couple of teeth) his way through such culinary delights as Special Steak, Creamy Chicken with Winter Vegetables and a very garlicky Spinach, Sweet Potato and Pea puree. Meanwhile, husband and I have worked our way through numerous ready-made pizzas, pre-prepared vegetables and salads and frozen fish pies.
The other advantage to the puree route is that it really suits batch-cooking and freezing en masse, which means that a number of school holidays since the boy was born have been spent knee deep in vegetable peelings and ice cube trays for days on end.
I am starting to slack off a little on the preparing in advance, and Dexter is moving towards greater independence with food, so there's more cheese on toast, chicken balls (balls made of chicken, not the reproductive parts of poultry), and home-made muffins. The only disadvantage of this is the huge increase in mess. Having just spent the best part of half an hour, sweeping up crumbs of apple and oat muffins from the kitchen floor/my hair/the cat, I'm beginning to think there are perhaps some advantages to Dexter dining out at childcare...

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Jump around!

Dexter loves his 'Jump-a-roo'. It is a bizarre combination of hula hoop/discotheque/hovercraft/mother ship. It makes him bounce up and down like a crazy-thing and squeal with delight. It is one of the few places to put him - to leave him momentarily unattended - that he will not attempt to roll off, crawl off, or generally escape from.
It is mental.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Horse Heaven

Despite my musings in my last post about not wanting

to force a particular career aspiration on the boy, I do

however really really hope that Dexter will share one of my

true loves: horses.

I bought his little wooden rocking horse at the afore-

mentioned ‘nearly new’ sale for the bargainous price of

£12. As I was leaving the sale venue with it, I

was nearly rugby-tackled to the ground by the lady who

was selling it, who was desperate for me to know what a

well-loved and much-used toy it had been – this obviously

only added to the appeal of the affordable price tag.

Dexter has a number of stuffed toy horses, which include

Coco (an Easter gift from his grandma), and Derek Trotter, a

wonderful scarlet beast who makes genuine neighing and

‘clippety-cloppety’ sounds when he is tipped up, or when

the washing machine is on.

I also like to think that Dexter is genetically predisposed to

being a jockey, unless he bucks his parents’ genes

and becomes a giant. Or perhaps, with a name like

Dexter Rye Wayne, his obvious fate is to become a real-life


Although I took today's #366 photo on 11th Jan to ensure I

have a photo for everyday this year, I am writing these

words on 12th January. I found out this afternoon that

Douglas, a very special pony in my life, sadly, has been put

to sleep. Dougie, you were a fabulous boy, a real four-

legged legend and I had really hoped that you would be

a part of Dexter's life too. Unfortunately, this was not meant

to be, but I'm dedicating this post to you, buddy.

Rest in peace in horsey heaven. x

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Simple Pleasures


Dexter's absolute favourite toy is his 'beads on some wire attached to a piece of wood thing'. Granted, it doesn't trip off the tongue like, say, a memorably alliterative 'Thomas the Tank'. Nor does it have the flashing lights of a seedy seafront night club establisment. Perhaps most pleasingly, it absolutely doesn't have the gratingly tinny, pseudo xylophone, ear-worm inducing 'tunes' of many toys for young children.

I bought it from an NCT 'nearly new' sale for about three quid. This was months ago, and I obviously felt quite chuffed to have snaffled a bargain that has become a well-loved posession. This did become slightly galling though as on Dexter's first Christmas morning, despite a gargantuan haul of lovingly chosen, bought and gift-wrapped gifts, Dexter steadfastly played with the beads and nothing else.

In classic first-time mummy/I've read too much waffle on child-rearing (more on that at a later date), I have attempted to 'read into' his fixation with the object in question. I have come to the conclusion that Dexter is bound to become a genius scientist, heavily involved in some ground-breaking, life-changing research into DNA. Failing that, he will be perfectly content working on a production line that requires the constant repetition of a straightforward menial task.

Hand on heart, I can honestly say, I don't mind either way. I want my boy to be happy, polite, and capable of conversation. If he fancies a bit of jewellery-making on the side, well, that can only be a bonus.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Never wake a sleeping baby...

Today marked Dexter's return to nursery after a rather luxurious three weeks off. The photo captures him at 6.30am, and in fact, it was only a combination of the lamp going on and the slightly accusatory camera flash that woke him up. At the risk of jinxing it/sounding like 'smug mum' (not how I want my blog to appear at all), my boy likes his sleep. Left to his own devices, he'd probably snooze until 8.30am, so he gets Monday morning blues just like the rest of us.

The fact that I have to commit the ultimate mummy sin of waking a sleeping baby is a small part of the inevitable guilt I sometimes feel about the fact that Dexter is in full-time childcare, nine hours a day, five days a week. However, along with avoiding 'smug mum' syndrome, I also want to avoid being self-pitying and miserable. Besides, once he has been woken up, he has his morning milk, clean bum and is shuttled off in my car (where he has another snooze), to be dropped off at the mythical-sounding Huffle Nursery. Here, he is immediately fed his breakfast and placed straight back into bed for a gentle two hour nap. Frankly, if you were to: replace the milk with a grande chai latte; (leave me to my own devices regarding toilet-action); chauffeur me to work; give me a two course breakfast; and then let me go back to bed for a kip - the whole process taking place whilst I'm still in my pyjamas - I wouldn't feel too hard done by of a morning.

Besides, as Dexter has never yet cried when I drop him off, has only recently started giving me a vague flicker of recognition when I collect him and, most importantly, gets the majority of his pooping done in the day, I feel that he is at heart, quite happy with the arrangement.

A seemingly innocuous 'photo of the day' seems to have prompted a number of issues I'd like to witter about, but I think I'll save sleep, childcare and being a working mummy for another day.

Sunday, 8 January 2012



Today, we visited Family Knight, some lovely friends we met through NCT classes. When we arrived, young Arthur Knight was sound asleep, so Dexter was able to have his lunch in Arthur's luxury highchair, and (more exciting for Dexter), play with Arthur's toys. Arthur is a lucky little man, and has a plethora of cool and stylish wooden toys which Dexter enjoyed investigating. However, the hit of the afternoon was the introduction of 'Scorch' - an unidentifiable glove puppet creature, ably operated by Dan, Arthur's daddy. Scorch was the catalyst for much giggling, and for about five minutes, an uncharacteristically grumpy Dexter exuded the endearing chuckles of a generic baby from a generic fabric conditioner/formula milk advert.

The encounter with the glove puppet took me back to my days of maternity leave and my weekly jaunts to 'Gymboree' - a music and play facility in the salubrious location of right next-door to the loos, deep in the bowels of Churchill Square Shopping Centre. Every Thursday morning, I would trot dutifully into town to endure 40 minutes of 'educational' music and play with the boy. I took Dexter from being a tiny five week old and he spent the first few months sleeping through the entire experience. I would still be expected to sing along maniacally to 'Incy Wincy Spider', albeit to a miniature, snoring newborn. When Dexter finally did start staying awake for such japes, he was a particular fan of 'Gymbo' (I haven't mis-spelt it - spot the cynical marketing ploy). Gymbo was a terrifying clown glove puppet - the mascot of Gymboree - who in my opinion, bore more than a passing resemblance to a (marginally) more child-friendly version of Chucky the doll. However, Dexter loved the 'Gymbo' song (largely revolving around Gymbo being waved around infront of his barely-focused eyes), and a 'kiss' goodbye from the wool-haired entertainer was guaranteed to raise a smile.

Dexter has been invited to a birthday party at Gymboree in a couple of weeks. Watch this space for what will hopefully be an emotional reunion...

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Beach Baby


It was a beautifully sunny Saturday today, so a wintery walk along the seafront was in order. I love Brighton on clear, crisp days. The sky was amazing, and the beach uncrowded and uncluttered.

I carried Dexter down to the actual sea, which he loved. We sat him on the infamous Brighton pebbles (he's not been on the beach since he was a tiny baby). He didn't really quite know what to do with this unfamiliar surface and so resorted to default mode and put some pebbles in his mouth.

A slightly panicky and frenzied moment later, I had extracted the offending items from Dexter's jaws. For a while afterwards, I had to push from my mind the list of colourful characters/dogs who frequent Brighton's 'welcome to all' beaches. I'm sure it's good for the immune system.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Time for a bath?


Dexter indulging in another of his preferred pastimes: having a bath. Primarily, bath time is daddy's job. Bath time with daddy in charge is heaps of fun: lots of splashing and playing; 'engine' and generic vehicle noises that only dads seem to be capable of making; and most importantly, a gentle and considerate approach to hair-washing.

Bath time with mummy at the helm however, is a somewhat more perfunctory (and some might say punitive) experience. If I am in charge, it is generally because daddy is late home from work. Given that I have been at work all day too and probably have a gigantic mountain of marking to tackle, I just need to get it done.

Bath time with mummy in charge generally involves: the stripping off of clothes with scant regard for eyes, ears, limbs; being 'dunked' and 'sloshed', whilst only being allowed to play with one of a vast selection of bath toys; and no consideration for gentleness with hair washing, which generally involves Dexter crying when he sees the 'jug of doom' looming towards his head.

I like to see it as character building.

Thursday, 5 January 2012



It is only in the last few weeks, that Dexter has started pulling himself up to his feet and attempting a mini shuffle around. I believe this is referred to as 'cruising' - something which conjures up images of George Michael videos, circa 1998. He is a particular fan of the stairs, as this is often the best vantage point for viewing the cats fleeing in terror from him as he pursues them with grabbing hands and loud Pterodactyl noises. We really must invest in some stair gates...

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Box


Ah, Dexter engaging in what has to be his favourite activity: watching television. Like his mum, Dexter has had an unhealthy relationship with the tv from a very early age. I don't feel bad about this for three reasons. Firstly, I loved television as a child (and still do), but was always a voracious reader (and still am, particularly now I have joined the Kindle club). Secondly, my boy goes to nursery full-time, where there is no tv, but in its place, a lively and stimulating 'curriculum' (really), which ensures that Dexter is involved in all sorts of creative/messy play which I would never do with him at home. Thirdly, I am a slack mum.

Current favourite programmes are 'Waybuloo' and 'In the Night Garden'. Worryingly, he has also developed a love of Bruce Forsyth (he does not feature in either), and television coverage of motor racing, fuelling daddy's vicarious ambition that Dexter will one day be a champion Formula One driver. Daddy is obviously hoping for a life of luxury, hanging out on expensive yachts and associating with Pussy Cat Dolls. Hmmm.