Monday, 16 June 2008

Grace - On her travels


Grace has been abroad to France and Spain. So she has already been to half as many countries as me and she is not even 6 months old. Airports and babies are not much fun. Grace was good as gold, she licked the sleeves of the people in front of us in the queue, tried to pull their hair and generally grinned like mad the whole time, I on the other hand was awful. I don't like busy packed places with few exit spots at the best of times, but having Grace there made me even more anxious, I don't know what I was scared of, that someone would grab her from me and leg it onto a waiting plane heading far far away perhaps (how far can you fly from Stansted?) but I was in pieces, eating handfuls of rescue remedy pastilles (rubbish - they are alcohol free now) and pretending to look for things in my bag whilst secretly taking deep breaths and willing my panic attack to pass. Once we were on the plane we were fine though. No one wanted to sit with us as babies and planes are another poor combination (at least I think that was why they all looked so crestfallen as we approached) but Grace was excellent, she looked about a bit and then fell asleep. I was so proud of her, especially when an elderly couple stopped to tell us that they had never known such a well behaved child. Old people don't normally like me. I have a habit of offending them without meaning to.

My mum and dad loved having her to stay. They had bought some wonderful toys, a bouncy chair and play mat etc, obviously her favourite thing was the 50 pence luminous rattle not at all suitable for babies. We could not go into the pool sadly as the weather was awful, but we did blow up her "pool patrol" boat float (with built in horn) and sat her in it looking at out the pool (more or less the same thing.) On the 2 occasions the sun came out briefly from being a cloud James heroically dived in. He claims to have done lengths but I never saw them.

We drove to North Spain for a day, Dad assured us we would not need passports as the border control booth was never used. We went to a place near Lerida and crammed the car full with wine(and cakes), so of course the police were waiting at the border on the way back. Luckily we had a hire car with foreign plates, so we just tried to look very French as we drove past and they pulled over my parents instead (whose car was even more rammed with 'booty'). My mum must have talked her way out of it with her excellent command of the French language (a few years back whilst we were visiting we stopped at a bar for a light snack, which mum ordered and out came a three course meal, including the biggest omelet ever seen. It was like eating a mattress, followed by beef pasta, slimy lettuce and peach pavlova).

Anyway, we had a lovely time. Me and my dad beat James at darts AND table football, mum made fantastic dinners and did all my washing. The downside was that Grace got so used to attention from people ALL time and now thinks that life is one long holiday where everyone is around solely to pick her up and bounce her on their knee all day long. She screams if she is put down and left alone for a single second. I am due back at work 4 days a week from the beginning of July so we have been desperately trying to get her to sleep through the night. The first time we left her to cry when we got back from France she screamed from 1am - 6am, James and I ended up shutting her in the bedroom and laying on the living room floor with pillows over our heads. She has gotten much better though and has slept from 8pm - 6.30am for the last 3 nights, heaven!!

She is more or less sitting up on her own now, but you can't leave her or she capsizes and eats carpet, or anything else she can get in her mouth. She is in to absolutely everything. She has learnt to grab my hair when I lay her down for a nap, a very annoying and effective trick indeed. She has a vice like grip and very sharp little nails, which need trimming all the time but if you dare try she howls and acts like you are trying to cut her fingers off, a similar reaction to having her nose wiped, for some reason she thinks you are trying to kill her and goes into survival mode - thrashing her head from side to side, kicking her feet and clawing you with the aforementioned nail spikes. It seems Grace is destined to be a snotty child with great yellow talons and will have to sleep on a perch.

I get kicked out my Monday mum and baby group next week as Grace will be too old for it, interestingly I have just stopped feeling the need to go anymore. I finally believe she is putting on weight without having it confirmed by the heath care visitors' scales. The group was a life jacket to me and Grace in the first few months, but now I finally think we can keep afloat on our own.

Our next challenge is introducing more foods. Grace her been on a medley of fruit and vegetables for the last 2 months, but as of next week we can start to introduce all sorts of things. It's sort of scary because for so long I was told 'nothing but milk, nothing but milk' and now suddenly she can eat anything. I think she will have a sweet tooth. We went out for dinner the other day and were sitting chatting when all of a sudden Grace broke free from James' hold and launched herself across the table at my blueberry ice-cream, sinking her face into it and getting it all up her nose. She spent the rest of the day on a sugar rush, manically bouncing up and down in her special chair making gurgling noises.

All these things show she is not a tiny baby anymore, she is a little girl. Crawling is imminent, she can already stand herself up holding on to things. She can find her dummy amongst all her toys, (and my mobile phone). Seeing her delighted face each time she achieves a new goal makes my heart actually ache with pride.

New photos, including James and Grace at their Fathers Day Breakfast, note the size of Grace's shoes....