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.

Aidan updates - 8 months in

'He's now crawling, Jay,' Erin's just said to me.

He took about six movements before the lunge that he's been working on for a few weeks kicked in. He's getting quicker and quicker now and will be moving around on all fours without falling, I predict, by the end of next week.

Since I got here almost three weeks ago he's just been going from one trick to the next. The first one I noticed was while he was in his crib. In one swift movement he whipped his legs round and with his arms he pushed himself up and sat that there grinning. This has become a regular feature in Aidan's repertoire, even during the middle of the night. It's fun to put his dummy in his mouth and hold his back while he nods back to sleep and lies back down. It's not so fun if he just wants to play and doesn't go back 3am.

Feeding times are now more than just giving him milk. We feed him the food we've cooked, blended and frozen but he now likes to feed himself. Starting with cheese sticks he moved on to Cheerios, peas, carrots, apple, pears and broccoli - which he hates if it's blended. It usually ends up on his bib, the floor or between his legs in his high chair but its a start.

He's also getting more vocal with the mmm of mum forming this weekend. Does that mean I don't have to see to him when he shouts this and I'm on my own with him?

My favourite, though, is either washing his face or simply rubbing his lips up and down with our fingers. If he's in the right mood he'll sing a fun tune.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Trip to Grandma Char and Grandpa Bud's

There are many ways to entertain a little one on a four hour road trip when he's just woken up cranky. This is just one of them.

We're going to test his words-per-minute on the way back.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Simple pleasures

Aidan was a bit grumpy before we entered the grocery store this afternoon but that all changed when we got to the fruit section. Dad flicked the plastic bag open so he could put some apples in and the little lad started giggling. Then dad did it again for the pears. The giggle got louder. Dad ended up walking up and down the aisles waving a plastic bag.

I'm not sure what the other customers thought but we had a lot of fun.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Monkey magic

Aidan and I went to Madison Zoo on Wednesday. As you enter the lions are on show. The male pranced around a little then moved on the peak of the rock formation and started roaring. Aidan didn't seem all that bothered and decided he could be louder. The other visitors around were impressed, but didn't seem too intimidated.

We then moved on the the chimps and orangutans. Aidan was in his element. I think he was let down after that with the giraffes, sea lions and bears. The only thing that perked him up was a wild ostrich. Wild? It looked livid and scared both of us. As did feeding the goats. They came from nowhere and almost jumped the fence.

Enjoy the random photos from the day:

(click on link if you're American or don't remember the PG Tips advert)

Never ask a fellow zoo visitor to take a photo of you, your son and a lion. You will be disappointed.

Cheeky monkeys