First day at nursery

I knew this day was approaching but as it grew nearer the feeling of apprehension grew stronger and stronger. The first day of nursery, I just knew deep down that it  wasn’t something I was going to handle well. I knew I would be upset at leaving my little boy in the arms of a stranger. What would I do if he started to cry? How would I be able to bring myself to just walk away at that moment?

For my little man this wasn’t a new experience. He had been going to his nursery for a couple of weeks for some orientation time. It started off with an hour with his mum, then 2 hours with his carer until he spent close to a full day there yesterday. All this time however it was his mum who was taking him. I for my part have been anxious and wondering how he is doing but for the large part my day had not changed, I went to work like I normally did.

I know that he has been enjoying it and all of the reports his mum brings back about his carer and everything he is doing in a day is all positive. I have been to see the nursery myself and it looks great, big rooms, lots to do and even a huge play area with ball pools and Jungle Jim type activities.

All of this however, just would not appease my mind that only wanted to focus on the fact that today, I was going to be taking him and leaving him at nursery and it was going to be all day. I was up early, ready far too early and had the little man ready 25 minutes before I had to leave. For anyone that knows me that is a minor miracle but it also made it a bit harder as I was now sat waiting and thinking.

When it was time to leave we gave his mum a kiss goodbye and I put him in his car seat. I looked back to the house where the door was still open, his mum with tears rolling down her cheeks. This wasn’t an easy time for either of us. For her it was truly the end of a big part of her life and the start of something new for our son. It took me a further attempt after lots of hugs with his mum before I managed to get in the car and get on my way. Our son thankfully oblivious to the emotional wrecks this was making of his parents.

Five minutes later we arrived at nursery. The people there really are lovely and for anyone reading this do take some time in finding the right nursery for you and your children, despite all of this it does make a world of difference. By the time I got to his room I had been greeted by 4 members of staff all bouncy, cheerful and taking great delight at saying good morning to my little man. I passed him over to his carer and instantly he burst into tears, my heart sank. I knew I had to go, I really didn’t want to. Leaving my sobbing boy in the arms of someone I had met once is honestly the hardest thing I have ever done. Outside it was my turn to burst into tears which isn’t me to be so open with my feelings. It took every ounce of will power to refrain from peering in the windows or worse still running back in to give him a big hug.

To say it has been a long day would be an understatement. I did manage to keep busy and I did resist the urge to be ringing nursery every 5 minutes to ensure he was OK, I have to trust in them. I collected him at 5.30 and he burst into tears again as soon as he saw me, but came scampering over to me non the less. He was fine, I was relieved and so happy to see him. His carer gave me a quick run down on his day, told me how well he settling in and how great his laugh is, which was nice to hear as it does mean he is enjoying it and laughing.

Getting home it took a little while for him to warm up, almost felt like he was ignoring us or giving us a cold shoulder for leaving him. He did warm and what happened next blew me away. He likes to stand but always holding on to something. His free-standing is what you would expect of a 10 month old. Tonight however, something had changed. He stood there all on his own, for what felt like an eternity. Then out of the blue a tiny miracle as he took that one first solitary step. It was amazing to see, made me so proud as his dad to see my little boy take his first step.

It has been a difficult and emotional day but to see his first step at the end of it made it so special as well. Going to nursery tomorrow will still be hard but made all the easier by knowing that it his helping him develop, he enjoys it and well it’s day number two and it has to get easier with time…. I hope.

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Is taking part all that matters?

We are well into the Olympics and have seen some monumental performances form some of our sports men and women. Bradley Wiggins epitomizes what a winning mentality can bring you. Fresh off the back of winning the world’s toughest bike race the Tour de France, he put in a hard shift in the mens road race and then blitzed to victory in the mens time trial.

For every great performance with 10 medals at the time of writing there does seem to be an equal number of athletes who’s aims are much lower. Athletes who seem content with getting to a final and are not disappointed, even to the point of being pleased about finishing 7th or 8th in that final.

So I ask the question is the taking part in the Olympics all that matters? Is this the lesson we should be teaching our children?

Our rowers leave everything on the water. Blood, sweat and tears, you can see at the end there is nothing left to give, everything is put into winning a medal or in some cases striving for the ultimate gold medal. The men’s lightweight four were disappointed with Silver, they wanted gold. Likewise our mens eight felt bronze wasn’t enough for them. Bradley Wiggins stated in interview that he came for gold and that any other colour didn’t matter to him. Is it in the coaching, are our cyclists and rowers taught to win and that is what is most important, but in other sports such as swimming, just being in the olympics is achievement enough?

I personally want to win or be the best at everything I do. Second best is not something I have ever aspired to be. Whilst in adult life I have learnt to at least accept second as long as I know I have given 100%,  it is still not something I am ever proud of. In my teens I represented my county at cross-country, my town in football and had county trials in cricket yet it’s only the wins I ever really remember. Some may suggest reaching county level is a great achievement and in some respects they are right, but to me, in reality, it means I wasn’t good enough to reach the top.

My son is only 10 months old but as he grows and develops both me and his mum will guide him in what we expect of him and what he should expect of himself. We both take a view that he should strive to be the very best at what he does. I would rather see him take the Bradley Wiggins, or our rowers approach and aim for gold. By aiming high we have seen all of these perform to a level they should be proud of because they know, they have given absolutely everything to try to achieve their goals. If my son can say that in everything he does, then I know he will be a success in what ever it is he hopes to accomplish in life.

Boobs

I am sure some, if not all of you reading this are going to be bitterly disappointed with the content, especially the lack of visual aids to help you digest it. However I make no apologies. This after all is my rant and as the subject really surrounds my lack of boob contact, I figure you can do without.

It’s safe to say I’m a fan of boobs, I am trying hard to ensure this doesn’t sound too perverse in any way but it’s true. I like boobs and I especially love my fiancée’s, or from what I can remember of them. You see 18 months ago my OH fell pregnant and as you would expect she became beautifully round, but the transformation to her boobs was simply stunning. They were never small by any standards but now they were jaw dropping. I loved the thought of having these new improved assets around for a while but it wasn’t to be. I had to say farewell to them; my son was born.

The instant my little man was born, those boobs I had loved for years went on loan and I haven’t seen them since. My OH has stuck to her plan of breast feeding religiously and I can only commend her for it. It has been incredibly difficult at times; who wouldn’t find it hard feeding the hungry monster 22 times in 24 hours. Night after night of getting up anywhere between 2 and 5 times to feed him, where I can only look on and watch her struggle. I know it’s done him the world of good, he has never been ill where all around him have dropped like flies. His weight, whilst he is small,  has been steadily following the same trajectory and has been no cause for concern.

As a father at times however I have almost pleaded with my OH to switch to formula, let me take on some of that pressure and workload. It is extremely difficult watching as someone you love gets more and more tired. Yes I know it’s better for him but I have 2 people to care for and have to try and consider what is better for all concerned. My pleas however always fell on deaf ears as she rebuffed my overtures to switch and as we near the end of the breast feeding all together I am glad she did.

It’s fair to say I have missed those boobs but we have one healthy, growing and developing little boy. Much of that is down to the time, effort and patience my OH has put in and for it she deserves a medal. As we do draw close to the day the loan period finishes I look forward to welcoming them back and reforging my relationship with them. It’s just a pity I won’t get to spend any time with them in their improved form.

Out of sight out of mind

As a working dad I have never had as much time with my son and fiancée as I would have liked, but this last week has been even more difficult. In fact I would go as far to say it was heart wrenching at times.

It started at the weekend which I spent away from my family at the Open golf championships in Lytham. Don’t get me wrong it was a fantastic two days, sun was shining, the golf was excellent, but I missed them terribly. Unfortunately the weekend came and went and my working week has not helped. Two long meetings at the wrong end of the day saw me getting home late, either side of a game of golf that also resulted in a late finish. All of this together has meant I have seen very little of my son this week.

That is bad enough in itself but it has also effected our interaction. I used to come home and would come scurrying over to me with a big grin and we would sit and play. This week he still comes scurrying over but as soon as I go in for my cuddle he shifts and starts to look for his mum. If she had left the room he starts to get anxious. God forbid she leaves the house, we had to sit on a wall on the drive while he watched every car come past in the hope his mum was returning. It is the first and only time he has cried when I have been on my own with him, not a happy time for either of us.

Is this his way of punishing me for not be around to spend time with him as much as I should? Has his bond with his mum become that strong in the last week that me, his dad cannot break it and make him feel comfortable in just my company? I will be honest it has hurt, I know it isn’t his fault or my OH’s. It isn’t in fact really my fault, the golf was a gift, the meeting unavoidable yet I do feel guilty.

There is as always a silver lining and this morning after a good sleep he woke a very happy and chirpy boy with the biggest smile when he saw me. Tonight I will race home and hope he has remembered who I really am.

The guilt of discipline

My little man is fast approaching ten months and is now at that stage in his development where is starting to test the boundaries. We as his parents are embarking on that wonderful challenge that is teaching him right from wrong and discipline.

This can’t be so hard can it? I like to think my own upbringing was a good one, I know the difference between right and wrong. I am polite, I’m not rude, I treat people with respect so all I have to do is instil these values on to my son. What I didn’t take into account was the reaction my son would have and the effect this would have on me.

As a family we take all meals together, we eat at the table with the little man in his high chair. From six months old we have gone down a baby led weaning route, so he eats all his own meals by hand that we place in front of him. One of the little things he started to do, is once he has had enough food, he holds what ever remains over the edge of his tray. We know this is him testing the boundaries because not only do we tell him “NO” but just before he drops it on to the floor he looks at one of us with a sort of look. You know the look, it’s that I hear you say no but lets see what happens anyway.

The first time he decided to drop his food on the floor I put on my best, stern, parenting voice and firmly said his name “Henry no, that’s naughty”. He promptly cocked his head to one side and gave the biggest smile, to which I burst out laughing. Epic discipline fail.

Then just this week, the same incident. As the food landed on the floor both me and his mum in unison “Henry no” and he burst into to tears. I had to leave the room as a feeling of guilt ebbed over me. I had just somehow made my little baby burst into tears, I just wanted to pick him up and tell him I was sorry.

I think it was a realisation for him that he had been told off and that we weren’t happy with him which prompted the tears. I also know that we did the right thing, we cannot and will not just allow things to slide. Yet that feeling when his expression changed and the tears came was not one I will enjoy.

Maybe this discipline side of parenting will not be so easy after all.

My week that was

So today I returned to work after nine glorious days in the company of my favourite 2 people in the world, my son and wife to be. Not since my paternity leave have we had so much uninterrupted time as a family. Not since my paternity leave have I been so knackered. It was an amazing week where we got out of the house, doing things as a family. It was also a reminder of how hard my OH has worked over the last 9 months and how easy I sometimes have it.

The week was a mix of days out and some quality father-son bonding time. We paid a visit to Chester Zoo where our little man took a big liking to the baby elephants. The Blue Planet Aquarium where he took a liking to watching all the school children on their day trip. I think he may have missed the concept of this particular trip out. At soft play he roamed about with his new-found crawling skills and mum and dad were able to relax, happy in the knowledge he was in a child friendly zone.

At home we started to clear and plan out his play room, which is to be his birthday present. Mum had some meetings to attend in preparation for returning to work so it was left to dad to entertain for a couple of days. I cannot begin to describe how much I enjoy just a few hours the two of us get to spend together, or the tiredness that envelopes me once his mum comes home. Especially as he is now at the age where he wants to be on the move non stop. Crawling, cruising, climbing over mostly me but anything that seems to get in his path. It’s tiring yet thoroughly rewarding, but also reminds me that his mum does this day in day out and what an amazing job she does.

So now I am back at work, it’s almost like I was never off, being thrust straight into staff problems and excuses. It wasn’t half as tiring, yet I still missed that afternoon nap I took on occasion. It certainly was nowhere near as rewarding or enjoyable, but such is life. It just makes you enjoy that precious time off when it does come around again. So here’s to September when another week combines with the little mans 1st birthday.

Hip Hip Hooray

Silent Sunday 15/7/2012

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Opi Malbec 2011

  • Name : Opi Malbec
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Grape: Malbec
  • Vineyard: Rodolfo Sadler

My first wine review and it would be remiss of me to not review a Malbec given this is my favourite grape. I have always favoured big reds and wines from smaller wine makers, against the major vineyards form around the world. So it really was a pleasure to drink and share with you this stunning bottle from award-winning wine make Rodolfo Sadler.

First thing to note is the fragrance which had a smoky edge to it. Now the wine has been oak aged for 6 months but the smoky aroma giving off when first opened was unusual. The blurb suggests and aroma of Cassis fruit but as this is an unknown fruit to me I can’t really comment. Pouring the wine you are left with a dark red and as the smoky fragrance evaporates you are left with that more traditional oak smell.

The reason I love Malbec grapes so much is the sense of the big red you are drinking yet with such a smooth finish. This one didn’t disappoint, such a smooth wine that makes a mockery of the 14% alcohol content. A hint of blackberry’s and that oak aged taste that wasn’t over powering but enough to be sure it had been sat in barrels. I would suggest Rodolfo has got his ageing absolutely perfect for his wine.

I’ve given this wine a 3.5 out of 5, which some may think is rather harsh given my rave review. It doesn’t particularly lack anything, it is a great wine perfect for accompanying food or just to drink on a Saturday evening. At £7.99 a bottle it’s reasonable in price for the quality of wine you are getting. However it isn’t a wine that will blow you away or get the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end. I do believe this is what a Malbec brings you, a very enjoyable wine that will want you coming back for more, yet at the same time a very safe wine. There are bigger and better bottles to be sampled, but I will certainly be drinking this one again.

Lions and Tiger and Bears….or Elephants?

What a week, 5 amazing days off work, spent with the little man and his mum. We have spent the time enjoying days out and one of those days was spent at Chester Zoo. Now me and my OH love the zoo and albeit he wasn’t quite of this world yet the little man has been before. When his mum was 8 months pregnant was the last time we were there, although I am hoping the sounds he remembers are not my screams as I ran out of the bat cave like a scared little girl.

We were really looking forward to this visit as it would be his first and we felt he may be just about old enough to get something out of the day. We arrived and my usual rule of thumb is hot foot it over to the Tigers. I love Tigers, my favourite animal and I love to see them whilst they are awake and to do that you have to see them first. So we shot past everything and made it to the Tiger enclosure. Perfect timing 2 cubs playing about, toy fighting, chasing each other. Dad prowling about, protecting his family and mum taking in some sun. Tempted to throw in a lazy mum joke here but thought better of it and we will just say she deserved the downtime.

I shot a few photographs and looked over to see if my son was sharing my own excitement at these wonderful animals. Not a flicker, in fact I am not even sure they registered on his radar. I wonder what will?

Lions and leopards came and went with much the same result. Our little man seemed more interested in all of the people around him, nosey boy that he is. Bears up next and they were just being fed. A big old bear eating his lunch and a cub whom we watched sniff his out, grab it and run off. Still no real sign of acknowledgement.

After lunch we were essentially at the start and the big elephant compound (we by-passed first time around to get to the tigers). They were all congregated at one end feeding. As we stood there watching he started to get animated. His babbling increased ten to the dozen, then the most amazing thing. As one of the baby elephants wandered off from the rest he started to watch, smiling. The young elephant started playing and splashing in a pool and he was squealing and laughing with excitement. Was this something he could relate to, he himself loves splashing around in water. We spent 10-15 minutes or so watching this baby elephant and not once did his eyes divert away. In fact whilst he was infatuated with this scene he himself had become the centre of attention of those around him, as they laughed at his excitement.

Butterflies also had some impact on him, all those colours in a small environment. Much like the bat cave however I will not go anywhere near. Beyond all those pretty colours lurks a rather sinister looking creature, do not be deceived. However, I apparently cannot teach that to the little man, so he went in with his mum.

So it’s not Lions or tigers or bears. It’s not the orangutans that his mum loves to watch. He has found his very first love of something that is different from his mum and dad. Our little man likes elephants, I wonder if it will last?

Boys night in

I love spending time as a family but it is sometimes just nice to get some father and son time. Last night my fiancée went out for the evening for a much deserved meal with a friend, leaving me and the little man home alone.

I must admit there was a small amount of trepidation. Not because I was on my own with him, but because it had been a difficult day for his mum and he was in a bit of a clingy mood. I needn’t have worried, it’s as if he wanted our boys night in as much as I did. As soon as I got home from work his mood seemed to change, much to his mums disgust, but she was off on a night out so I didn’t feel so bad.

It’s not so much that we did anything different with the evening but it felt special it being just the 2 of us. I cooked him his tea and we ate together, some fish, couscous and roasted peppers and parsnips. We are baby wed weaning so he eats what we eat and loves his food. He had some yoghurt for desert which he insisted on having the spoon himself. Needless to say the yoghurt was most places other than his mouth but he had fun non the less.

We played, we read, he trotted about on his walker then came back for hugs. He fell over (only on the carpet) and burst into tears. which of course was only cured with a magic cuddle and rub of the head, all was well.

He got tired his normal 7 o’clock so I fed him a bottle and then it was in the bath. Now the next part is always a bit tricky because we have weaned him away from falling asleep with his last feed and instead trying to read a story before bed. Because of this change his mum was the only one successful in getting the story part done. He would always fall asleep for me after a few whines but the story was never possible. How different last night was, 5 pages of Winnie the Pooh, the little man’s head was settled against my chest as he listened, contented. I eventually put him down kissed him good night and turned the light off. That was the last murmur I heard until 6 in the morning.

It wasn’t long or different in terms of what we did but father and son time will always be a little bit special.

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