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It's snowing! The perfect day to stay inside under the doona.

On our way to a wedding ceremony without a dummy

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Would you trust this face?

Dad skills: Embarrassing your child with song

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Me: I feel bad leaving Elliot in front of the telly when I'm really busy.
Tom: Don't worry, do you think babies in the olden days were entertained all day? I'm sure baby Charles Darwin was left to amuse himself at some point.

So I thought to myself, 'What would Charles Darwin's mum do?' and Elliot watched his first episode of Countdown.

Elliot does some quick arithmatic

The Madonna and child and Guiness

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Mum skills: Doctors and nurses

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It seems that medical dramas relating to babies usually come in forms resembling Pantones 576C through to 617C. The dirty greens. For the last few weeks our lives have revolved around this palette. The official measurement for eye goo is a Pantone reference, while poo also needs a textural reference, so curry is the official gauge. It's not unusual to hear the sentance "Looks like tarka dahl, darl!" hailed over the baby monitor. Poor little Elliot has been in the wars a bit but seems to be just fine now, as his chicken korma nappy this morning would attest and through my many calls to NHS Direct I've learned some essential mum skills along the way...

This came from nowhere, the poor little chap woke up in the middle of the night with his eyes literally glued shut with slimey green goo like a stray kitten. It would be scary enough to wake up and not be able to open your eyes, but imagine how terrifying it would be if you were 8 weeks old and had no concept that this was ever going to end.

Conjunctivitis comes in three versions, irritant, allergic and infective. Irritant and allergic conjunctivitis make your eyes pink, itchy and sore from things like chlorine and pollen. Infective conjunctivitis is much more gross and includes green snotty mucas as a symptom. It's caused by a bacterial infection of the tear ducts, kids often get it from cats and dogs. I have a feeling our little monster must have rubbed his eyes with dirty little fingers from his change mat. In adults it usually clears up in 2 weeks but in newborn babies it can cause permanent eye damage if it isn't treated.

The remedy: Firstly the eyes need to be cleaned with sterile liquid, so water that has been freshly boiled and cooled down or breast milk! (thanks Georgia for that tip). If you're breast feeding, breast milk is the easiest sterile liquid you can get your hands on, it also contains millions of infection-fighting white blood cells and natural antibacterial substances. And, it's kinder to sensitive little eyes than prescription drugs.

Because he's so young Elliot also got some antibiotic eye-drops from the doctor which had to be applied 4 times a day. After applying those for a week, we had worked our way to a creamy yellow colour (Pantone 615C) but he still had sticky eyes. The doctor thought the infection had gone but he now just had blocked tear ducts. He suggested 'lid cleaning'. This is where you take the boiled, cooled down water and add some 'no more tears' baby shampoo. Dip in a cotton ear-bud and clean along the rim of the eyelid. After a few days he was back to normal.

It's really difficult to discern whether a breast-fed baby has a tummy bug because their poo is always so runny. The main give away is the colour, but even when Elliot had gone from reasonably normal tarka dahl, to bright green palaak paneer, the doctor didn't seem phased. The conversation went something like this;
Me: "My baby's poo has gone bright green" (Pantone 576C for those following at home)
Dr: "Sometimes their poo goes a bit green, I wouldn't worry"
Me: "Here's a sample" I pull out a nappy to show him
Dr: "Oh wow, that's really green, I've never seen baby poo like that before, I'm going to look it up on the internet"
Me: ...concerned look, particularly regarding the second half of that sentance.
Dr: "Oh I should tell you, this isn't my office," (points to the pictures of babies on the wall behind him) "those aren't my kids, I don't know much about babies"
Me: ...concerned look continues
Dr: "How 'bout I call one of my colleagues?"
Turns out the colleagues weren't bothered either, although they weren't given the Pantone reference.

A week of green poo later and the little man is grumpy, really grumpy. Like, still crying after walking back and forth humming TV theme tunes for 2 hours grumpy. His poo was more watery and more explosive than ever. The crowning moment was when Tom was changing his nappy and got caught off guard by an explosion which reached Tom,  Les The Rabbit, the baby wipes, the monitor and the wall 1 meter away where it created a sort of tribal hand print / atomic shadow effect.

Les The Rabbit, unimpressed
 Then just as Tom walked out the door for his 'Dad night out' came the vomit... and boy, was there vomit. And that's when I thought, surely there's a difference between a baby with green poo who occasionally has a spew and a baby with a sore tummy. I spoke to a midwife on NHS Direct who told me how to tell the difference;
What's normal:
Up to 5 runny poos each day
Slightly green poo (Pantone 605C)
Big bum explosions
Possets - small amounts of milk coming back up gently after feeding, sometimes with a slightly cheesey texture. (Noice!) Not to be confused with this posset which sounds like a medieval version of baby vomit for adult consumption.

What's not normal:
More than 5 runny poos in a day (Elliot had 10)
Poo that is watery
Poo that is very green like pesto (Pantone 576C)
Projectile vomit where his whole body spasms to throw up
Vomit in clearly digested chunks that smells like regular vomit (Surprisingly I found this hard to distinguish because up until now my experience of vomit has mainly been vodka infused).

The remedy: Babies with upset tummies don't need any medical assistance unless it lasts for a long time and they become dehydrated. The main thing to look out for is if the fontanel - the soft spot on the top of his head - becomes sunken in. If this is the case, he may need to go on a drip.

After the exorcist episode and a good night's sleep Elliot seemed fine and we're back up the other end of the curry menu. The main thing I've learned is always go to a midwife first.

This is an ailment I wasn't expecting. He got bitten on his little head by some bug! There we were having a lying down feed in bed with his head against the sheets when he suddenly shrieked and cried uncontrollably for about 5 minutes. After he calmed down I pulled him away from my chest and noticed a bloody great bite on his head. The creature must have been under our sheets. I have no idea what it was that bit him. Perhaps a spider? A bee? An earwig? Do earwigs bite? Aren't they from the olden days? I don't know, but once again, NHS Direct assured me that if he stopped crying and the bite went away he was ok. I took all our sheets to be boiled at the laundromat just in case.

Photographic evidence

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Evidence that child safety has always been of utmost importance to me. Here I am with Elliot's Auntie Georgia testing out the safety features of a travel cot back in 1997. Babies are basically very small drunk people so I think we were testing it to safegaurd against babies escaping.

I was more than a little surprised to find this photo in the communal mail downstairs, amoungst the take away menus! Dominique posted it from Berlin to remind me what an excellent parent I'll be. Georgia and I now have 3 kids between us and thanks to our excellent research, none of them have escaped from a cot yet.

... Next time I see Georgia we'll continue with our research.
Thanks Dom!
Schoolies Week 1997, Georgia and I, 18 years old, guzzling bottles of Carlton Cold in a travel cot. Classy ladies.

Elliot the doonasaur

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Winter is well and truly here. Time to dress like a bed.

Oh the horror!

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Elliot has a new skill, rolling over! He did it for the first time today. Instead of doing it the way we had practiced on the playmat or the bed he used his famous comic timing to great effect and chose the moment I got up to make a cup of tea to flip himself over off the couch and onto the floor on his head!

He seems fine after about 10 min of crying and some boobie. I think I was more upset than him. Our cleaner was here and she calmed me down. She told me her son fell on his head when he was 5 days old and now he's over six feet tall, very handsome and goes to university... at least I think that's what she meant. If I spoke Bulgarian I'd have the full story.

He hasn't been able to roll over at all up until now and he was fast asleep. He must have woken up and flipped over in the time it took me to walk to the kitchen! Good thing he's got his dad's nice thick skull. I feel like such an idiot!

Tom's response: "So are we even now for the time I dropped your laptop?"

Elliot seems to be ok but something tells me he's trying to say 'Told you so"...

Exclusive interview with Elliot Neish - 2 months old

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Elliot tells us what he thinks of his hairstyle in true Elliot style.

Grandblods' Grand Tour 2010

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 Poor old Grandblods is back in Lilli Pilli nursing some sore bronchi (that's where you get bronchitis) after his whirlwind tour of London and beyond. We can now go back to our usual consumption levels of Polish lager, sugar and rum. His tendency to call anyone with a slightly Russian accent a 'meerkat' may have stuck though. (See comparethemeerkat.com).

We caught up with our cousin Emily who lives near Andover in Upper Clatford, Hampshire where we met some old dead rellies, Elliot's great great great grandfather Alfred Child and his great great great great grandfather Thomas Child are buried in the church yard there because they were both the church vicars. It was quite spooky walking around the graveyard thinking of our family back in Victorian times, probably all wearing lacy bonnets and fob watches and having people call them "m' lady" and such.

View Larger Map
On the village high street there was this red postbox set into a wall. You can tell how old a Royal Mail postbox is by the royal crest on it. Most of them have ER on them, occasionally you might see a GR but this one was a VR so it had been there since Queen Vic and the old rellies. I put my hand in it just for fun. Imagine the letters the rellies sent through that box...

"Dearest Thomas,  I fear this winter may be my last as the frost has set into my bronchi. With a spot of luck Edward shot a jolly great pheasant this morning. I shall have the between maid make up a broth which should spare me another day..."

On the way back we spotted some breaking local news...
Breaking News in Andover
Other highlights of Grandblods trip include...

- A boat ride through Little Venice in North London to Camden Lock - This has made its way onto the list of Quaint Things To Do When Entertaining Foreigners in London. I had no idea London had so many canals let alone barges full of drunk looking women and men dressed like circus folk.

- An evening out to see The Railway Children performed at Waterloo Station with a real steam train! (Turn the sound down if you click that link or your colleagues will think you've become a train spotter) Yes... a real steam train live on stage! It was pretty impressive and made up for the overacting adults playing children... which is always an awkward leap of imagination in the flesh.

-  Grandblod's revelation that the hanky is extinct...

Grandblods: Here's a tip, if you don't have time to iron your handkerchiefs you can lay them on a mirror to dry then peel them off." 

Me: "You iron your hankies?" 

Grandblods: "Don't you?" 

Me: "I don't know anyone who uses hankies" 

Grandblods: "What?!!"

We miss you Grandblods!

Grandblods always shops at Louis Vuitton

Grandblods finds a shop on Brick Lane as bright as his shirt

Shoreditch record cat

Grandblods is the same height as Hitler and Margaret Thatcher... great company!

Anne Geddes eat your heart out

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Here are a few more snaps from the NCT group halloween party. As you can see, a good time was had by all. "Now, we've all come here to have a nice time..."
From left to right in order of appearance: Spencer the stripey bandit, Aurelia the dinosaur, Sophia the witch, Joe the...African??, Jessica the pumpkin, BAT-BABY! and Macy the pumpkin.

Steam Punks

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Here are a few more 'firsts' for Elliot...
1st visit to a steam powered vintage fairground
1st time on a carousel
1st time being strapped to someone using an air rifle


All this fun was had at Carter's Steam Fair in Battersea Park.

Storm trooper baby uses the force

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Stormtrooper baby wears: top by Jess & Jada, white baby-gro from Auntie Em, socks and hat from Grandma Poss.

So I'm not the only one...

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This person has dressed their baby as Kim Jong-Ill (via The Daily Wh.at). Nice work.
....off to find David Cameron outfit.

Super smiles!

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We've been especially busy this week as it's Grandblods last week here and the boy got conjunctivitis :( so I'm a bit behind on the updates. There are lots of photos of our latest adventures coming soon including, a boat ride, a fairground, slimey green eyeballs and a visit to some really old dead relatives! Stay tuned....

Here are some smiles in the mean time.

Nananananananana Nananananananana Bat Baby!

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Happy Halloween folks! Last week I made Elliot's first ever Halloween costume which he wore to our NCT group reunion - more photos to follow. He looked stylish in all black with a batwing sleeve and sleek bonnet. It was super easy to make...

Black baby-gro from H&M (or dye one black, for best results use 100% cotton because synthetic fabrics don't take on dye. Also, the thread used on the stitching will probably stay the same colour, even if it's a 100% cotton suit because thread is generally synthetic so buy a plain, dark suit to start with if you can.)
Black leggings (from the baby girls section)
Some of old black adult leggings for the wing and cap fabric

Cut the old leggings into four triangles all the same size (save some fabric for the cap). One side of the triangle needs to be the length of the arm of the babygro, the next side needs to be the length of the body (from armpit to hip). The third side needs to be cut into little arcs to form the bat wing shape.

Take the triangles in pairs and sew them together around the sides but leave a small gap so you can turn it inside out (like making a cushion). Turn it inside out so the edges are neat and iron it into shape. Now sew the straight sides onto the corresponding parts of the suit along the arms and body.

For the cap: Take a baby beanie and place it on the remaining fabric to get the right size. Cut around it with a 1cm extra on all sides. Make 4 pieces like this, you should end up with a semi-circle style shape.

Take 2 pieces and sew around the edges 1cm from the edge leaving a small gap to turn it inside out (like making a cushion) then turn it inside out and iron. Take the other 2 pieces and cut an arc into the straight side along the bottom, but give it a peak in the middle of the forehead for a bat/devil hairline. Do the same with these pieces, sew around the edges, leaving a gap and turn it inside out and iron. Now sew the two pieces together and add some long thin strips to the sides to tie around the chin.

Voila! Now fly my pretty, fly!!!!!!!!!

Recommended Halloween Reading

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Having a baby opens up a wonderful new world of literature, I've always loved kids' books and now I have a proper reason to buy them other than "it's a tax deduction, I'm a book designer!". Luckily Elliot is yet to understand the actual words and themes so I can read him things that include senseless violence and horror like this...

'Ten Little Zombies: A Love Story' by Andy Rash

Most of you know that I'm a big fan of zombies and you're never too young to learn the formula of a good zombie story... An unlikely hero, a series of near escapes, romance in a time of desperation and of course a good helping of brains. You'll get your fill of brAINSS! with this book which is based on the old nursery rhyme 'Ten Little Indians' with a delightful zombie twist. Each zombie is killed with ingenuity and flair, with the splattered illustrations adding to the drama. I'm a big fan, Elliot seemed to like it, the high contrast images with red splatters are perfect for new little eyes to focus on, and until he understands words like 'hand-grenade' I don't think it's too scary.

4 out of 5 brains
Thanks to Mike and Ruth for the book! Stay tuned for more book reviews in the future!