Snot. And more snot.

(sniff) Millie’s not very well again. She’s (sniff) got a real (sniff) snot overproduction problem going on (sniff) and a (sniff) bit of a temperature.

And (sniff), of course, she’s given it to (sniff) us.

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Aimless waffle, part 254

That new James Bond film’s quite good, isn’t it?

I’ve not been a Bond fan since Timothy Dalton left the franchise, but Daniel Craig gives good Bond!

The Lovely Melanie is worrying about Millie today, as the girl was sick all over everyone at nursery this morning. She’s gotten terribly paranoid about the girl’s health since the Great Vomituous Fortnight (although, I also think Millie’s entrance into the world, traumatic as it was, quite profoundly affects the way the Lovely Melanie thinks about her health and hardiness).

I’ve been trying to convince her that, honestly, this is just what babies do – they vomit. Obviously, you don’t want them vomiting all the time, but they do vomit a lot more than the rest of us.

If you start worrying every time a baby is sick then it’s a one-way ticket to the neurosis factory for you, and probably them, too!

Oddly enough – and I’m just thinking aloud about it now – Millie doesn’t throw up very often when she’s with me. I’m not saying that as any kind of boast, just wondering in a purely scientific fashion “why” (and, for that matter, “if” – we don’t have any actual statistics on this) Millie is sick more often with her mam than with “pops”.

What do I do differently to the Lovely Melanie when feeding Millie?

am a bit more “rough and tumble” with her: throwing her about, pretending to drop her, tossing her over my shoulder, etc., but you’d think that would make her more liable to vent her guts upon me, not less.

Hmm… (wanders off, scratching feverishly on a notepad with a pencil).

I know I always say this – and I’m sure I’d be feeling bored and underutilised (like I do at work) if it was any other way – but, blimey, have I got a backlog of stuff to get done.

The regular Christmas cards have still be finished in Photoshop, and then put into production; I’ve got a review of a very large book to write, another (double!) book review almost ready to be written; then Thursday I’m going to an event at the Dana Centre (which I always think sounds like some kind of sinister Scientology HQ), about which I’ve got to write an article and get a few photos of.

And this is all before we go away to Swindon for four days on Friday.

I know I make it look so easy on here, but believe me, blood and ink are sweated behind the scenes!

And no, there are still no new photos up. Did you not read the last paragraph?

Finally, do you own an mp3 player (you know, an iPod or similar)?

If you do then I’m afraid you’re a thieving, no-good, evil criminal lowlife.

Every single one of you.

“That’s a bit strong, Stu,” you say. “Easy now, fellah!” Hey, don’t shoot the messenger, guys, I’m just telling you what the head of Universal Music, Doug Morris told me. In fact, he told everybody:

These devices are just repositories for stolen music, and they (people who own mp3 players) all know it.

What a nightmare, eh? Here’s me been spending hundreds of pounds buying CDs which I then “rip” and listen to on my mp3 player, and I may as well have been mugging shivering, helpless pensioners and blowing the proceeds on drink, drugs and porn!

Travelling light

I’d rather like to stay at home for a bit now, I think.

Saturday, we took Millie to deepest, darkest west London, round to the flat of Balraj, an old friend of mine from university, and his wife, Lois. Also there were a whole bunch of other people I see more or less often, all from London, and all ex- of Wolverhampton University (although, it was just a polytechnic when we all started there).

So a long, long journey there, although fairly straightforward; Millie stayed awake for all of it – unsurprisingly, since she’d had an extra couple of hours sleep that morning, in preparation.

She made a hell of a mess out of a cheese sandwich on the brand-new train from Waterloo. Those two teeth mean she now tears into food, ripping great chunks out of it…only to hit a bit of a bottleneck on the chewing and swallowing front, since she has just two incisors and no molars at all.

Hence, lots of cheese sandwich on the floor of the shiny, clean train.

But we had a lovely time at “Uncle” Bal’s, plenty of food and a bit of catching up (god help us, we even played Screamadelica for that extra bit of nostalgia…).

Then at 6.30, already tired, we left to go to Hatfield, traipsing most of the length of the Piccadilly Line – not our capital’s fastest tube line – to be picked up by car at Cockfoster’s and whisked the short distance to the Lovely Melanie’s parents. Millie straight to bed, her parents not long after.

And all this because next day was Grandma Fisher’s 60th birthday!

All the family went for a delicious lunch at an old manor house near somewhere called Ware. Kristine, the Lovely Melanie’s sister, is in charge there, so we were very well taken care of.

We were a bit shocked to bump into my parents there, too, especially since they live in Swindon! But they’d been invited, and decided to travel across for the event – surely not because their one and only granddaughter would also be there…? 😉

I took loads of photos and will put some up when I have a spare moment (so don’t hold your breath…)

We were glad to finally stagger back through our own front door at about 7.30, and tried not to think that we were heading off again – this time to Swindon – in just five days.

Still, the journey home was made a lot more fun by Millie been miraculously wide-awake and chattering the whole way home. Just chatter chatter chatter chatter chatter.

ometimes out loud, sometimes under her breath, sometime to one of us, sometimes to thin air: just streams and stream of nonsense syllables, but sounding oh-so close to actual coherent talk, not least because there was a lot of intonation in them: questions, requests, answers, explanations – it really sounded as though we could have had a proper conversation, if only we understood “Millays” – the dialect of Millie.

Jeez, more illness. I think that might be enough now

So…we’re going to rather have to skim across the surface of recent weeks.

Suffice to say that a grand time was not had by all; that Millie was ill for so long that even I, the perennial optimist and practical chap, began to be a little bit worried. But three different doctors told us that babies can be ill for weeks with diseases that you or I would cast off in a day or two (as I did, as the Lovely Melanie did). And Millie is completely recovered now.

And what a recovery! It’s as though her two weeks of unwellitude (I just made that word up) were a kind of gathering of forces, a pause before a great leap forward.

To put it perhaps another way: she’d been developing all that time, but didn’t have the energy or the disposition to to do anything about it.

Now that she’s back with us, it’s almost as though we have a different baby.

For a start, there’s the tantrums.

Well…not really “tantrums” properly yet – Millie now knows what she does and doesn’t want, and her growing realisation that she’s an independent person and can affect the course of events around her, coupled with a complete and utter lack of any patience whatsoever, means that she can get a bit hard to handle at times.

Only very briefly – she still seems to have little real concept of time, and can go from a screaming whirlwind to a giggling mess in just seconds – but you try to explain to a 17-month-old that if she is quiet for five seconds while you put a nappy on then she can go and play, whereas if she carries on kicking and screaming the putting-on-nappy experience is going to last a l-o-t longer.

There’s also a lot of giggling now, especially since we discovered gravity.

Did you know that if you push something – a toy, say – over the edge of a table or a high-chair, then it disappears? Did you?

Millie’s in the final stages of some exhaustive scientific tests on this phenomena, but it appears to be a universal law that objects pushed over the edge of a table will always disappear in a downwards direction.

Although, as I say, we haven’t finished every single possible test of this yet.

An unforeseen side-effect of this phenomenon is that it appears to induce uncontrollable mirth in human children of approximately 17 months.

What else?

Well, Millie’s discovered how objects can fit inside other objects (e.g. boxes), that some objects will fit together in various ways, and also that you can pass objects to other people and they will hold them or pass them back to you.

When not engaged in her gravity experiments Dr Millie is endlessly experimenting with putting stuff in containers, then taking them out again, then putting them back in again.

There’s also speech.

Millie can definitely communicate “No” or dislike; “no” is “nying-nying-nying” (repeated until you get the message), and there’s also some other communication which is kind of hard to explain, a mixture of pointing, noises and just…familiarity with her personality.

And it is a personality now.

Looking at younger babies, I’m quite startled at how unexpressive and passive they now seem. It makes me wonder, if we ever had another baby would he/she seem rather dull compared to the blossoming Millie we now have?

And she’s still got her natural rhythm – oh, yes – whenever some music is played, whether on a toy, on the radio, on the computer, or even sung by her faithful research assistants, Dr Daddy and Dr Mummy, you’ll find Millie, er, wobbling back and forth a bit.

A busy couple of weeks coming up for us now, what with Grandma’s 60th birthday party this weekend, a wedding next weekend (to which Millie’s invited) and a long weekend in Swindon to catch up with all the friends and relatives there.

Quite how I’m going to find the time to update this site, write a couple of reviews, apply for ever more jobs, design and make this year’s Christmas cards, see my friends and spend some time with my family I don’t really know.

Perhaps I just won’t sleep.

The Great Stomach Flu Epidemic of 2006

That was rather a long break, wasn’t it?

Don’t panic, we’re all still alive and well – at least, we are now. One or other of us has been constantly ill for the best part of two weeks, but finally the Family Carter appear to be over the Great Stomach Flu Epidemic of 2006.

More to follow as we get back to normal.

Illy Millie

Poor Millie, she’s not very well at the moment.

Sure, she’s had a runny nose and a cough for a week or two, but now she’s got a stomach bug and she’s not her usual little happy self. We haven’t heard her laugh at all for a few days, and we miss it.

She spends most of her time at the moment either fast asleep, snuffling with myself and the Lovely Melanie, or just sat forlornly on the floor with a serene but slightly bereft expression on her face. The occasional sad smile only makes the situation even more heart-rending.

She’s being sick a lot – after every meal, pretty much. The Lovely Melanie took her to the doctors yesterday, and they were very good. We were told not to worry too much about the vomiting, just to make sure Millie gets plenty of fluids – fluids all the time, morning, noon and night – as small children can dehydrate with astonishng speed. In the morning they can be a bit under the weather; by evening, in hospital.

Which is important to know, I suppose, but not very reassuring.

So poor Millie’s just moping slowly around the house, too poorly even to get interested in her usual toys or the BIG spider that has the Lovely Melanie in fear of her sanity/life in the living room (I captured its smaller mate in a glass jar the other night, put the lid on the jar and had to leave it on the floor while I saw to Millie.

Later, when the Lovely Melanie got home and saw the jar, she picked it up with a sigh and said, “What’s this in here for?” “There’s a spider in it–” was all I managed to say before – CRASH! – the jar very nearly smashed on the floor).

Come back to us, Millie – much as we love getting so many cuddles, we want the old Millie back, the shouting, banging, scampering, mischievous, smiling, laughing bundle of fun that we love…

A second tooth is announced

No doubt this sort of thing will soon no longer merit any mention here, but for now myself and the Lovely Melanie are very pleased to announce the arrival of a second tooth for Millie.

It’s almost directly above the first one, too, so beware when putting fingers near Millie’s mouth, as she now has “bite” capability!