Family life

I have now been off work (both employed and unemployed) since January 2010 with the sole purpose of being stay at home Father to Samuel and Maisie. There are certainly hard times when trying to keep them controlled and teach them new things when they don’t want to learn, but overall it has been a great experience so far.

We do a lot of things during a week, some typical and some not so typical. Playgroup is the one day of the week we know the mornings are going to be busy, fun and tiring (for them and for me). The Team at the playgroup have certainly welcomed me as a Dad amongst the other Mum’s and it makes me stand out a bit and feel special, but then it’s all about the children and getting them to play, learn and interact with others. It has helped greatly that both Clare and myself have kept in touch with the Mum’s from anti-natal so I at least have people to talk to and meet up with that we both know.
Another activity that has been introduced is a days play over at Nanny’s. This just gives me a chance to get a days worth of studying or web work done. Samuel and Maisie also love going to see Nanny and playing.
Sleeping is getting better too. They are now in their big beds. Samuel has a double futon to sleep on(!) and Maisie has my old single bed with bed guards. So far they have slept well in them and not fallen out! Getting them to stay in bed has also not been too hard. Maisie goes straight down as long as there are Sheep Bears in with her. Samuel on the other hand needs a bit more persuading. He needs drinks, blue bear, pink bear, maybe a car, and if he keeps getting up they all get taken away until we deem it necessary to give one or two of the items back. The “process” is pretty quick and he’s usually down within 30 mins.
Eating is also not much of a problem. They have a variety of foods they like and don’t like. Samuel is more of a meat man and won’t eat veggies unless persuaded. Maisie loves vegetables and savoury but not much of a meat girl. Between them we get all the food eaten.

The next challenge we are going to be taking up is … potty training!

The cutest smile

The family are doing well. Samuel and Maisie continue to grow and become so different from each other. Samuel is still in to his books and loves to investigate things, but he has now begun to show signs of tantrums and throwing things. These usually occur when he doesn’t get what he wants. It’s usually the keys to the front door, he spots me using them and then wants them and most times it’s not convenient for him to have them!
Maisie on the other hand doesn’t really have tantrums unless she is really tired, and these are just at the end of the day when Mummy is upstairs cooking dinner and Daddy is downstairs wanting some help in tidying up the toys. But Maisie has become this little girl that has the cutest faces she pulls when she wants something. I’ve been told that she will have me round her little finger in no time at all! I am sure that will be right.

They have both started to nod in a yes motion when you ask them and question and the response is a positive one. Sam has also learnt to say “No!” and uses it quite well. There are sometimes where he just repeats it over and over to all questions, even if the answer would be in his favour.

There was also another success recently where we went to stay for a week in North Hayne Farm Cottages, down in Devon. It is the greatest of places where children get to feed the animals morning and evening, there are facilities for both children and adults, and the people there are extremely friendly. The accommodation cottages are really lovely and do feel like a home away from home. And this holiday was the first we have seen from start to end and not had to come home early because of illnesses, or sleep issues, or anything else bad. We all had a fantastic time. I really loved watching Samuel and Maisie walk around in their wellies, collect the buckets of food and head off to feed the animals. They fed the rabbits, chickens, pig, alpacas, goats, and even got to go on a donkey ride after feeding. This is certainly a place we will be looking to go back to in the future.

Change in milk formula

The past few days has seen a complete change in Samuel’s behaviour in relation to sleeping and how he is generally. He has gone from a baby that moans and cries out in his sleep, constant wake ups, moaning and biting during the day, and has become a baby that has been able to sleep through two nights in a row (that’s a great achievement for him!), happy and smiley at everything, plays nicely with his sister Maisie, and goes down quicker for naps and bed. He has even gone from biting his sister to hugging and kissing her!

What has caused this change? We aren’t sure exactly but there have been a few changes all at the same time.
Samuel has stopped teething from what we can tell so all Nurofen and Calpol before bed has stopped, he now sleeps on a comfy blanket on top of his cot bed sheet, when having lunch and dinner we try to give him his water beaker after he’s finished eating so his food doesn’t sit on liquid as much, we have tried to give him dairy/milky products earlier in the day (breakfast and lunch) so that there is a longer period for his body to process them before he goes to bed, and his milk formula before bed has been changed from Cow&Gate toddler milk to SMA Lactose Free.

All these combination of changes seem to have resulted in a child that now sleeps peacefully at night. Now that I’ve blogged all this I’ve probably jinxed it all 🙂

The cute and the annoying

Children can certainly be cute, like just now, Maisie was walking in and out of the room and as she came back in she would pull a lovely grin and crinkle up her nose and then walk out again. The same with Samuel, he will laugh and laugh and laugh at the silly things his Daddy does until his laughs become fits of histerior, making everyone around him laugh even harder.

And then there is the annoying side. Samuel will continue to wake up during the night and scream! And when you get to him and pick him up, sit him in front of an episode of Peppa Pig then there is nothing but silence. The moment you try to put him back down to sleep in his cot the screams come back and even louder! Maisie can also be annoying in that when she’s woken up from Samuel’s screams she takes a few hours to go back to sleep. And during these few hours she is acting sleepy so we persist in the rocking and shushing, but it’s all in vein.

At the moment there seems to be much of the cuteness from them both, and at night it is nothing but annoying! Not very helpful since it’s at night time that us parents are supposed to recover our energies to make it through the next day.

Today, Clare was so tired she set off for work and managed to clip the front tyre on the kerb and cause it to puncture. Luckily it was just down the road so turning the car around and getting it home wasn’t a problem. All these troubles caused by two 15 month children (no longer are they babies since they are all toddling around now and understanding a lot more than we credit them for!). All these troubles could be solved by just having them sleep properly.

Escape Adventure

Seeing my little ones grow up first hand being a Dad at home all day is great. The latest adventures involved Samuel. He is now walking and enjoying doing so. So much that he wants to walk anywhere and everywhere. The last few days have been nice weathered sunny ones, so we have ventured out in to the garden where Samuel and Maisie get to play and adventure. The state of the garden is great, the flowers are beginning to grow and blossom, and everything has been cleaned and glistens in the sunlight. The fence on the other hand has suffered damage from the past bad weather, and the gate doesn’t stay shut because the post wobbles and undoes the gate bolts. Samuel waited and took the opportune moment to head out of the house, in to the garden, then through the opened gate and down the alley. I managed to capture his adventures on video since we had been filming other things that morning.

Other videos of Samuel and Maisie can be found at the Rayment Family website.

Dead Mouse

The first piece of technology has seen its demise at the hand of my children. Samuel and Maisie are now very much mobile and getting around the house with great ease. Samuel walks/toddles nearly everywhere, and Maisie crawls at great speed and agility. As a result they now leave the play room, down the hallway to the study in record time. I often keep an ear out to hear what they are doing. Most often they go and bash the keyboards to hear the beeps of anguish.
But today the end has come to my Logitech MX Revolution mouse. It has suffered permanent damage. I found it lying on the study floor face down! It had been pushed off its resident perch of the desk slidey keyboard tray to its doom!
I picked it up and placed it back in the usual location and started to check some websites. It soon became apparent that the internal workings were not functioning at optimal potential when the mouse scroll wheel didn’t scroll as it should. Somehow the children have broken the workings inside that hold the scroll wheel in place. No longer can I scroll up and down webpages with the simple flick of a finger. Either the PageUp and PageDown keys will be needed, or manually scroll with the scroll bars! How my life has become much more demanding since the demise of the simple scroll wheel!

But there is hope. I can now look in to getting a new mouse for my gaming PC. Initial thoughts were along the lines of the Razer Mamba, but it is quite pricey, or the Razer DeathAdder which is about half the price. But I’m going to do a little more investigation before I decide on which one to get to replace my dead scroll wheel Logitech MX Revolution.

If anyone has any recommendations then please reply and let me know.

I wonder how many more electrical gadgets will die at the hands of my uneducated children. I better get teaching them the principles of technology and how delicate yet powerful it can be.

Family Life

I’ve not blogged much about my family life so far. It’s mainly been about my course and games. So here is an update on me as a father, husband, and how things are generally working out.

When the babies Samuel and Maisie were first born it was the best feeling in the world. Going from a couple enjoying time together, to a family was a big change. The energy levels dropped and still continue to remain low as the children require constant care. No matter how much sleep, rest, or timeout time I get the feeling of being able to do anything you wanted during a day seems to have gone never to return. But this is just a small price to pay when you look and see what great children we actually have. And I’m sure this goes for many other parents out there also.

Samuel and Maisie are great. Everyone can catch up on their latest photos and videos at the Rayment Family Website. They have grown at an unexpected rate over the past year. Now on the brink of walking fully, Samuel is still the go getter of the two when at home playing. But recently has become a bit of a wuss after some jabs and an illness. No doubt he will be back up and to his usual smiley self soon. There is just one thing I want for Samuel and that is for him to learn how to sleep all the way through the night. At this point I don’t mind him having a night time bottle and a 5:30am bottle. It’s the constant randomness of his waking that I’d like him to sort out. The evenings are the only time that Clare and I get alone, and these are getting shorter and shorter as we go to bed earlier and earlier. By the time we’ve had dinner, washed up, sat down to relax there is about 1 hour left. And even that time gets interrupted by a Samuel wake up call!
If Samuel became more like Maisie with regards to sleep then I’m sure he too would wake up smiling and full of energy rather than screaming and wanting to flop to sleep again. Maisie smiles make any morning a fantastic start. She is happy, bouncy and certainly knows what she wants as she points at things and says “This!”. Sometimes it’s not clear what “this” is, but after a few goes we soon get her what she wants. And sometimes not if the “this” is dangerous or simply not for children!

Talking seems to be Maisie’s specialty. Not interested in walking so much , she rambles on about things and we hope soon to be able to decipher and understand.

Being a stay-at-home Dad I get to spend a lot of time with the children. This is certainly time I enjoy and have been very lucky to get the opportunity to do. During the day we try to stick to routines. Breakfast followed by playing and a bit of kids tv. Then naps gives me a chance to catch up on housework, laundry, and maybe a bit of computer time. Then a bit more playing before lunch. Then the afternoon is open to going out. If it’s a nice day we go play on the swings and then walk round the pond. Some days we may go out to the shops and buy a few things needed for the cupboards/kitchen. And we may also do a bit of visiting. Then at the end of the day, Clare gets home, dinner for the children, a quick play before bath and bed.

I have been a bit rubbish with the socialising bit. I really need to start arranging meet up days so Samuel and Maisie at least get a chance to play with some of their friends and not just each other and their Dad. This is going to happen over the next few weeks for sure!

When we do go out and about I feel so proud of my children as people passing look at them and then look at me and smile. Again I’m so proud of the children when we’re out and they are so well behaved. No screams at the restaurants, no tantrums while shopping. I do sympathise with them a bit when they get bored either in supermarkets or queuing in the bank or post office. But overall they are children with good behaviour and good manners.

I have been writing this while Samuel naps next to me on the bed upstairs. Looking over at him it’s hard not to love the scraggy haired long finger nailed little monster pj wearing boy breathing slowly dreaming of wonderful things. I love Maisie just as much, but she is off napping happily in another room.

Soft Play. Good Workout!

Some days the children need to get out and have fun. Since today was a day when plans had changed and we still wanted to take Samuel and Maisie out for fresh air and enjoyment. We left for lunch and ate at the local pub (De Havilland Arms) where it was great to see really friendly service and interaction with the children. Maisie had taken a shine to nearly everyone she could see. She flirted with the male staff, laughed and shy’d away from the female staff, and sat with so much enthusiasm to be out and about. Both were so well behaved and everyone knew it as they commented during conversation.

After lunch it was off to “soft play”. Clare had taken them to soft play before, but this was to be my experience with them playing now that they can stand and crawl all over the place.
We had a great time! In and out of ball pits, down slides, over/under/through all the play blocks, riding on the worm, chasing each other around and around. By the end of 50 minutes we were puffed out.

Soft play is not only great for children but certainly a lot of fun for adults too. We will be going again soon!

Happy New Year 2011

Happy New Year blog. It’s another year and it’s completely different to last. I am now a Daddy at home. No longer do I get up and go to work, I get up and feed the children and then play with them.

So what do I have planned for the year ahead? The list consists of;

  • Bring up my children first hand while Clare goes off to work
  • Continue to study and get through the Train2Game course I started in 2010
  • Fix things instead of buying new to replace the old
  • Blog more

I guess it’s a kind of new years resolution list, but I never stick to those, but hopefully this is slightly different and I will be able to achieve these a lot easier!

The studying is still going well. My plan to study on Monday, Thursday and Fridays is working out ok so far. I’ve got through to half way of the study material, but there is still projects to complete that will add to my overall portfolio. I’ve got a few ideas, but they seem to change all the time.
I saw a great game the other day from the PlayStation Network. It was based on Pong, but the graphics were improved, the game play ideas were enhanced, power ups included and boss levels as you progress. I was pretty impressed with it and gave me something to aim for with my ideas … but after playing it for a few days it has turned in to something that appears to be a little bit repetitive. The levels don’t really differ any apart from the types of blocks, and there isn’t really any increase in difficulty in the first 3 world levels. But still it’s made me think about a lot.

Samuel and Maisie are certainly making progress. As I write this Maisie is napping in the other room while Samuel is climbing all over me wanting to get at the keyboard. In their first year they have amazed and given us great joy to have brought them in to this world. They can be so cute when they want to be, and again they can be a nightmare also! Samuel is still not sleeping properly through the nights and it’s now come down to me and Samuel sleeping on the ground level while Clare and Maisie sleep up on the uppermost top floor. Maisie has had her share of wake ups through the night, but nothing like Samuel. I’m starting to think Samuel has got this sleeping thing round the wrong way… to see how many times he can wake up instead of seeing how many times he can’t wake up.
But the year ahead certainly looks a lot like fun!

I will post more on other areas later on, but for now I will stop here and feel great that I am doing my part as a parent at home 🙂

Bouncing Babies

Parenting is so hard! There are loads of things you are expected to know and act upon when you become a parent. Unless you have had a baby before and experience in bringing them up then there is no real training you can have that prepares you. The smallest of mistakes can lead to disastrous outcomes.

The latest in the adventures of Samuel is a fall down the stairs. When I say it, or read it, the impact is still rather big and makes my heart sink knowing that what happened is a major thing, but the truth behind it is that it is common and happens to a lot of babies.
The story behind this post goes like this….

Evening time, 18:00, and the babies have finished their dinner, played for a few moments and it’s now time to head upstairs for a story and a bath before bed. I take both babies, one in each arm, and up the stairs I go while Clare heads downstairs to get the night time bottles ready. At the top of the stairs I go through the already open gate, look at it and remind myself that I will need to close it if Samuel and Maisie are going to be crawling around. I head in to the main bedroom, turn the light on, go over to the window and draw down the blind. I now need to put the babies down so I go back towards the door and put them on the floor. Maisie isn’t too happy so I start to undress her from the dungarees that she is wearing, and just as I go to lift her out of them I hear a noise that makes me stop dead in my tracks…
“Waahhhh”, BUMP, BUMP, THUMP, BUMP, “Waaaahh”, Bump, Bump, “Waaaahh”.
I put Maisie down and rush back to the landing and the stairs shouting “Oh My God, Oh My God!” and look down to find Samuel laying at the bottom screaming his head off. I rush downstairs, this time making sure to shut the gate so Maisie can’t do the same thing, and pick Samuel up. He is still awake and conscious, none of his limbs appear broken, there is no blood anywhere. At the same time as I was coming down to do this Clare was coming to see that her thoughts and concerns were true. At this point I felt so bad that my small action of not closing a simple stair gate had caused my son to fall 12 steps. Clare took Samuel from my arms and took him in to the Dining room where she continued to calm him down and examine him while trying to find out what had happened. All I could do was walk backwards and forwards not really knowing what to do. I was apologising, I was wondering whether to call an Ambulance, should I go back and get Maisie, should I try to examine Samuel again … so much going through my head and really unsure of what to do. I felt so horrible inside.
After a few minutes though it was clear that Samuel was alright, just a bit shaken up from the tumble. He had a few red marks and a bump on his head. Clare had experience from her friends on what happens in these types of incidents. If taken to the Hospital A&E department, Samuel would be kept there for a few hours to be monitored and then let home with further monitoring. As a result we decided to keep him in his familiar surroundings and let him continue with his bath, feed and then bed with close monitoring throughout the night.

Come the next morning Samuel had a typical nights sleep (moving and turning and waking) and after breakfast he was back playing as normal. Just a quick experience for him, but something that will linger with me for weeks, months, years, knowing that I can stop these things from happening by just applying a little brain power, taking that extra bit of time to check things before the babies are left to go and adventure and play.

It’s now a few days on from the incident and Samuel is very much normal. I have heard that other people were dropped down the stairs as babies, or fallen off tables and beds, or done it to their children also. Stories like this don’t have much value until the horrible event happens to you. Parenting by doing!

Sorry Samuel