Sunday, December 6, 2009

Aidan's birthday party

Just the party we needed in snowy Wisconsin

Friday, November 27, 2009

What he's up to

Aidan's getting more fun as he gets older. He's chunnering to himself, climbing steps and applauding himself at every turn. We even think he has his first word. When he's grumpy and needs something he often mumbles 'ma ma ma' but this can be indiscriminate, we actually think his first word is dog. It's more of a dawwhh-g with less of a g at the end than stop but when he sees one of the family's dogs around he doesn't stop saying it.

There's quite a few other things he's up to too:

He pops up on his two feet using all sorts of levels including tables, shelves and his parents' knees.

He's not walking yet but he climbs stairs and has been up the whole flight in the house - with is mum and dad nervously right behind him.

He's dropped his afternoon nap but still goes down at 9 and 1.

He's eating his mum and dad's food. He loves cheese and anything sweet, not so keen on cauliflower.

He loves to annoy his cousin Sophie. But he loves it more when she makes him giggle when he's eating.

He plays with toys and doesn't always have to put them into his mouth straight away - a major breakthrough.

He dances to a lot of music. He likes to make 'music' by banging things around. He loves jazz, classical and doesn't stop giggling when he hears The Beatles' Come Together. Oh, and he even likes listening to Grandma.

Bathtime used to be all about lying down and splashing. Now, it's still about splashing but with ducks, bottles and precarioulsy standing.

He has three, almost 4 teeth.

The girls - older women particularly - love him. Everyday he gets a 'look at you, how cute are you?'. Or 'Aren't you a cutey'. One man walked by him and said, 'Oh, you're bright. I think you're going to be a doctor one day.'

And he gives drooling, slobbery kisses.

11 months and counting

What with getting used to life in the States, looking after Aidan, no wireless connection and job hunting there hasn't been too much time to blog recently. Here's a video we put together today to make up for that.

Tomorrow I'll let you know the daft thinks he's now getting up to.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Halloween Part 2

By night he was a caped crusader along with his mum and his cousin, the butterfly.

Halloween Part 1

Aidan was a dalmatian for part of the day...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are - Review

So, we've read the book, today we went to see the movie. I've seen a few reviews of Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers' interpretation of Maurice Sendak's classic book but here's ours.

It starts with a crashing thump on an out of focus camera. Then you see life through a ten year old's eyes. It's fun being ten. It's great to have no cares in the world. Life's a one sided snowball fight. Except when life becomes far from fun and other people's cares take over yours. And your igloo gets trampled on. You really see Eggers' influence here. The first ten minutes try to make you cry, and probably would have succeeded if it wasn't for a 9 month old blowing a raspberry as Karen O's music kicked in.

If you've seen the monsters on the trailer you'll know that they are believable both as puppets and real monsters. They act and live the way an adult imagination would want them to. I went with Aidan who was too young to judge if this worked for children. But I had his 3 year old cousin in mind and then thought of a ten year old like Max. Would he like it? Basically, the film makers could learn from good pantomine; entertaining adults who take their children to be entertained. This is a childlike film for adults who loved being children so much, even though they now pay taxes, a little piece of them wants to be running around like a maniac until the end-of-lunchtime bell goes.

It's about hope and hopelessness, family and family break-ups, building relationships and letting people down, lying and truth finding. While the adults who take their kids should be dreaming about what life could be like if it wasn't for responsibility, they will probably be worrying if their children are enjoying it.

Aidan loved the chases and fast music but there wasn't enough, for him or older children too. He entertained himself, though. He climbed the steps of the movie theater.

It's fun then serious and not at all as scary as I expected but definitely a wasted opportunity for the kids. Like me at school when I was Max's age, it could do better.

Moral of the story: If you want the best viewing, don't take the kids. Read the book to them and when they are old enough they can take themselves.

Driving home

"Oh no," I muttered.
"He's not, is he?" Erin looked worried.

We were only 40 minutes into our 5 hour trip home and This American Life was waking Aidan up at least half an hour early. We'd timed the trip home so the boy would take a nap straight away when he got in the car. That gave Erin and I some us time. We could choose what to do. We could chat. We could listen to music. We could daydream. We could discuss the finer points of life or joke around. We actually chose to listen to NPR. Wrong decision. There was a great report on Obama's health care reforms which took our interest and we settled in for the hour long program. Again, wrong decision. Aidan likes hearing people speak. He likes it so much he wakes up half an hour early to hear them.

As soon as we noticed, the radio volume was rapidly turned down. I don't actually remember the next 20 minutes of driving except knowing that the only time I looked in the rear view mirror was to check out whether or not there were two little eyes open or closed. They were always open. He may have been letting out the noise of going back to sleep but showed no bodily signs.

Why worry? You might wonder. Well, he's usually fine for a couple of hours in the car but the tailend of trips can be harrowing. At least if he gets an hour of sleep we know the terror of the end of the journey can be managed.

We know the end can be bad which makes for anxiety in the middle as you worry if he's just going to break down.

Thankfully as he's becoming more used to travelling in a car he's getting better. Sunday's trip home was rather fun. Erin popped in to the back seat and entertained him with toys, food, snapping the hood of his car seat up and down and just generally making him giggle until we had a pit stop for both the car and us.

Next came a big test for me. Erin said she'd drive the rest if the way. I'd never been in control of the back seat at the end of the journey before and was petrified. This was made worse by the goal of keeping him awake as well as not crying.

Luckily we found a new game. Those who believe that adults carry millions of germs in their mouths will not like it but we had fun. Aidan would pass his dummy from his mouth by his hands to my mouth. I'd then suck away, which he found hilarious, then give him back. That passed on a good fifteen minutes. Then with the radio as our backing music Erin and I sang to him and got him home, got him in bed and that was the end of a succesful trip home.

We could finally relax to the state we originally felt when we first put the radio on.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Eugsters Farm

Last weekend we did the fall pumpkin pick. With hot apple cider in our bellies on the coldest sunny day I have encountered we went on a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch. Brrr.

I want this one.

We need to get Ade his own gloves.

After the pumpkin pick Erin took Aidan off me. While I sat next to them silently thinking I was dying a cold painful death, Aidan was flirting like a crazy fool. He was next to two girls who were around 8 and 10 and they gave him the attention and giggles he needed to keep himself warm and smiling. I do wonder what he's going to be like as a teenager.

The pumpkin has the top two, he has the bottom two.

All aboard the pumpkin train

Will we ever get a good photo with S and A?

We think Aidan and Sophie are the cutest cousins. But they just can't take a photo together.


Sophie looks great on her own.

And with her dad.

But at least one of them squirms when they're together in front of a camera. Not even Great-grandma Jane can control them.

Sitting on the dock of a lake

At grandma's in late September

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sleepclimbing 2

Yesterday I cheated and he went to sleep in the car. But today we were back battling the climbing. He got to 8 times and only took 20 minutes but that's 15 longer than when he wasn't so stubbornly adventurous.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Aidan's now crawling and climbing everywhere. It's cute and fun but some things are getting a bit worrying. The first worry is when he's on a bed or raised surface. We have to be on Constant lookout for him. Then there's the corners of tables and shelves where he might bang his head if he falls while climbing on them - he's even taken to taking off the corner guards we have on the television unit. But our biggest worry at the moment is his nap time climbing.

He's not sleepclimbing but when we put him down for his lunchtime nap he immediately gets up. This might have been worsened by me reading to him - The BFG - recently while he plays before he sleeps. But the time between being put down and actually sleeping is increasing.

We've now decided to keep going to him when he gets up and put him back down. The theory is that in a few days he'll know not to climb up while sleeping- thank you Baby Whisperer. I put him down, walk out of the room and wait for him to rise.

Here's how today has gone.

1st 4 times - Up straight away.

7 th - Gives me a cheeky grin. This is fun, apparently.

10th - Still fun.

12th - Cries when he's put down.

15th - He's slowing down.

16th - Takes a while to get up and his blanket is on his head.

18th - He's tiring but very dedicated to the cause.

18 and a half - the battling is being won by dad.

The gap between 19 and 24 takes ten minutes and he's half trying to get to sleep and half climbing.

Then there's ten more trips in (20 more minutes) to put his dummy in and calm him as he cries uncontrollably.

After just over an hour he's asleep. At the opposite end of the bed from where I last placed him.

In the Baby Whisperer the first time she did this for a family it took 240 times to get the little tyke to sleep. Then it was reduced quite quickly. Ours is a tenth of that figure and seems like a lot. Exhausting.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Aidan and I met up with another dad (C) and his daughter (M) at Lazy Jane's cafe today. It was another chance to chat to someone with knowledge of both Madison and bringing up kids. I thought it would be a good chance to talk about Madison, anyway. It wasn't. Babies take over. You get halfway into an answer and then Aidan is putting a crayon in his mouth or M would be climbing on a toy giraffe.

M is around 16 months and chats like an old lady. I'm sure it's down to several reasons but her dad used sign language a lot before she became verbal and now constantly commentates to her.

It was pretty inspiring for me. I often zone out and daydream while Aidan plays. He'll be climbing up on the sofa and I'll be thinking about him reaching the summit of Everest.

With sign language you repeat words constantly while emphasizing the sign. The words must be sinking in, even if the sign isn't. Aidan doesn't look at me most of the time and it becomes a histrionic struggle. Even if it isn't helping Aidan's development, it stops me dreaming about scoring winning FA Cup Final goals.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Socks appeal

Aidan's been in a bit of a grump this morning but on the way to the library he gave out the cheekiest of grins. He'd been quietly trying to pull his sock off. I heard a few grunts here and there but he was doing it mainly in silent concentration. After a while I looked at the rear view mirror and he'd got it. He stretched it out as far as he could with both his hands and with half closed eyes and a tweak of the nose he just beemed. It was to no-one in particular except his proud, cunning self.

I think you can see the sock if you squint. And yes, I was stationary.

The informant

Aidan and went to a parent and baby movie session at Star Theatre in Madison today. Matt Damon's new flick was a quirky, funny drama and one to recommend. I'd even recommend seeing it with a 9 month old. The dialogue scenes didn't get the attention Stephen Soderberg would have wanted but whoever chose the music got Aidan's vote. The bar-room-middle-of-the-road-jazz worked a treat and even got him conducting and singing along a few times.

But the best thing was at the end. Apparently, yesterday was the wettest September day in Madison on record. The movie theatre staff saw that it was throwing it down so got umbrellas ready for all the parents. Better still after chatting with the manager she asked me if Aidan would stay with her while I got the car. He did, and stayed dry, and I got the car.

The only way this could have been topped was if she had asked for my keys and brought my car round herself.

Can you imagine this ever happening in the UK? Actually though, if they did, with all the rain we get, it would be the only thing they did some days.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Here's the first evidence of him getting around.

Obviously something had to go in his mouth in the end too.

Friday, September 18, 2009


There are three music videos I can think of which show people walking down a street - Unfinished Sympathy, Bittersweet Symphony, and most recently, Matt and Kim's Lesson's Learned.

It felt like I was in one of my own this afternoon. One of our own, actually. Aidan and I went to see downtown Milwaukee while Erin sat an exam. There was no barging or nakedness in our non-video though, just smiles. Aidan was looking at everyone and smiling as they passed us on Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee. It was contagious. Women would gasp and tell me how cute he was and men, yes the sex that usually ignores such things, would smile and nod at me and even commented once in a while.

Unfortunately he didn't show quite as much enthusiasm for me when I poked the camera in from of him.

On the way to meet back up with Erin, who passed with flying colours, the boy got a bit cranky. He was bored and hungry in the traffic jam on Highway 94. I gave him a few bits of biscuits but he needed a bread stick or something to keep him going, and I didn't have one. However, I did have children's cherry chews. But they only lasted 30 seconds before he demanded another. I tried to keep feeding him but kept getting his eyes instead of his mouth. Eventually, I resorted to contorting my arm over the passenger seat in a position which is probably illegal in 15 States with a handful of the chews until we reached Erin.

I now need a back rub.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

1-2-3 dunk

Yesterday we went splashing of a different sort from Sunday at Kittleson Swimming Centre. Apart from getting a bit lost on the way it was all good fun.

There weren't many people in the pool except for two young women with a baby around the same age as Aidan. One of the lifeguards was a friends of theirs and told them how to submerge their little one without them being too shocked or, more to the point, not swallowing any water. They didn't do it in the end as they said they were a bit too nervous.

As they left the pool Aidan and I had a go. She basically said that you need to get eye contact with your baby say 1-2-3 while bouncing them in the water and on 3 blow near their mouth. Your mouth action looks like it's closing, which they mimic, and the air makes them close it too. It worked a treat and Aidan seemed to enjoy the experience. He loved it when he got praise from the lifeguard.

What he didn't love was when dad's hand slipped a little meaning he went face first without any 1-2-3 blowing warning, but we won't dwell on that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sunny Sunday splashing

After the Sunday road trip back from Wausau we got the paddling pool out and cooled down.

Independence day

He's now definitely crawling.

The kitchen sink

On Friday Aidan got a bit mucky during his evening meal so we decided to wash him along with his bottle, spoon and dishes.

Smartest girl in Madison

I think I live with the smartest 3 year old in Madison. I don't know too many 3 year olds and haven't known many since I was, well, er, about 3 myself but they've either got a lot smarter or this one is extra special.

We're living with Matt and Liz and their daughter Sophie at the moment and this afternoon we were in the garden playing catch near Aidan. Aidan got a little grumpy and Sophie instinctively looked at him and started bleh-bler-bleh-bler-ing at hit. He instantly started smiling. Then giggled.

She then caught him getting sulky him before I did. One bleh-bler-bleh-bler and he was happy again. It even worked during bath-time.

I tried it. But don't have the technique. More Blurry than Bleh-bler-y.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Road trip

Aidan and I set off for Wausau yesterday morning. As Erin was at home studying, it was the first big trip on our own in the big country: Highway 90 to 32. Right at Rib Mountain Drive then right after the bridge and right before the gas station. We took this road last week but I was surprised and impressed with myself for not getting lost, even if no-one else would is. And my chief navigator was fast asleep in the back for the first hour and complaining most of the time after it.

Here's the breakdown:

8:40 - Set off
Until 9:30 - Listen to Radio 1 on Sirius.
9:30 - Get a call from Erin to see if Aidan's
9:31 - Tell Erin all is well and he's asleep.
9:31 - He awakes.
9:32 - Put the phone down and give him his first toy.
9:45 - He's getting grumpy so give him his his toy phone
9:55 - Stop off at a gas station to give him a break. It's a mistake as he's sitting happily with his phone.
10:10 - Back on the road.
10:15 - Getting grumpy Give him some Graham Crackers.
10:25 - Grumpy again so give him more.
10:35 - Give him a toy.
10:45 - More Crackers.
10: 50 - Erin calls. He's not so happy. She can tell and is worried.
11 - The Crackers run out.
11:10 - Arrive at Roby and Pats. And he gives Pat the biggest grin in the world.

All suncreamed up.

Ice cream? Thanks Grandma.

This is the life.

No this is.

The weekend was packed with an art fair, book sales, swimming and falling asleep on the swing with grandma. I thought it would be a tough time without Erin. But I forgot I wasn't on my own at all. He had Uncle Pat to grin at, Aunt Alissa to feed him (and change him - sorry), Aunt Roby to cuddle (and change him - again, sorry) and Grandma to give him Blue Moon ice cream - what could be nicer?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The library and the dads

Yesterday Aidan and I set off a little late to the Toddler Time Storytime at Monona Library (I know Aidan's not a toddler yet but the nice librarian at the library noticed I had an out of town accent and took pity on me when I asked if there were any sessions for a baby Aidan's age, which there aren't).

We were late because he took a little longer than usual over his nap and the toddlers were coming to the end of their book, 1-2 Buckle My Shoe. They then learned the chicken dance (Black Lace fans will know this as the birdie song). It was then on to counting up to four with bottles and cups. Then it finished. Both Aidan and I looked at each other in amazement that it was on for 20 only minutes, 10 of which we'd missed.

On our way out, we did chat with a few other parents and got some tips on gyms in the area that have rooms for open drop in centres for children, especially during the Winter. So all wasn't lost but I was expecting it to last a bit longer, not quite enough to get through a Salman Rushdie but a couple of chapters of Meg and Mog at least.

Today's visit was much better. I met up with some dads at Mad City Dad's group. When I turned up there was only one other dad there rocking an 8 week old and watching his 2 year old run around. He started telling me about the group when another bloke turned up with his 18 month old daughter. We got into what I was doing in Wisconsin when in came another new guy with his 10 month old son.

The session was supposed to be for an hour but we nearly made it two chatting about our kids, the experience of it all, what to do with them in Madison, parks to go to, jobs that are being applied for, other mutual friends and what sports we're into. Two of them started talking about a sport, soccer, which I think I can get into. It sounds an awful lot like football.

In the mix of the dads talking the kids played with each other, snatched things, and didn't quite learn the art of sharing. The highlight was near the end when we had to stop chatting as one of the little ones started arh-ing to a beat, which the others then joined in. When one chatted they all wanted to answer.

Labour Day Weekend

We had a great time last weekend. It started on Thursday night with a trip up to Wausau to stay with Pat and Roby then up to Amery to see Grandma Char and Pappa Bud. Pat and Roby joined us again on Sunday.

Grandma's garden is a big old adventure for the wee lad. And with this weekend's addition it will be even better in the future. Grandma decided she wanted to make a little ampitheatre for the kids - and probably the big kids - to show off in one day. We have the makings of it done - well a stage concocted from the old boat dock of theirs. She has great ambitions for it. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


You might think that libraries are just for books. Not for Aidan, he goes to play with the toys. And eat them. Although he is going to the library's story telling hour tomorrow. We'll see what he makes of that.