Parental Leave: Back to work

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Despite the title of this post, I didn’t go back to work on Monday morning. I had booked Monday and Tuesday off work as annual leave, due to Owen’s birthday being on the Tuesday and wanting to wait until after his birthday to return to work. This because the parental leave allocation is 52 weeks, rather than a full year. I was determined to go for a drive in the MR2 on our last day off together, even if it was raining. We drove down to Chipping Norton, with the roof up, to see my Mum and Dad. Owen had a huge lunch, then a long nap, fortunately we’d left his travel cot there from his sleepover last week. He really seems to feel at home at my Mum and Dad’s house, crawling everywhere like he owns the place! I didn’t get the roof down blast in the MR2 I’d hoped for, but we both had a good day out.

Tuesday was Owen’s birthday, I’m not sure he knew exactly what was going on, but did seem to like all the presents – he is a very lucky little boy! Later in the morning we met my Mum and Dad at the Transport Museum. I’m not sure that Owen was as interested in the old cars as I was though. We all had a big lunch at home with Jen’s Mum and sister too, then Owen’s birthday cake. After the cake my family left and more of Jen’s family arrived – with more presents (and cake). It was a busy day, but Owen seemed to enjoy himself, which is the main thing.

Wednesday was also a big day – Owen had his first full day at nursery and I was back to work. Owen had obviously recognised the nursery from his settling in session last week, as he started crying as soon as we walked through the door. Probably realising that we were going to abandon him. It was hard leaving him, especialy as he was so upset, but I had to get to work. Sitting back at my desk felt natural – I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. The only indication that I had been off for two months was a bulging inbox, which I spent most of the day sorting through. When Jen picked Owen up from nursery we were told that he’d been fine most of the day, and had enjoyed playing with the sit in toy car they have there. Hopefully over the next few Wednesdays he will begin to realise that nursery is actually a fun place and not get quite so upset when we drop him off.

I was back at work on Thursday, but it was Jen’s day off to look after Owen. They went swimming, then to buggy workout – which sounded better than being stuck in an office all day! In the new regime Fridays are my day off to look after Owen, so at least I only had two days in the office this week. Our day wasn’t as exciting as Thursday – I think Owen must have picked up a cold at nursery, he had a runny nose and didn’t seem to be his usual cheeky self. So we mostly hung out at home, playing with Owen’s birthday presents. We did have one trip out, to the supermarket where Owen was his usual cute self, gaining even more admirers.

We had a relativly quiet weekend, as none of us were feeling 100% – I guess this is how things will be now that Owen is going to nursery. Jen still felt well enough to do Parkrun, so Owen and I went to the park to cheer her on and have a play in the sandpit. We spent the rest of the morning in town, grabbing lunch at the food festival. Owen had a taste of my chimichanga and Jen’s paneer wrap, seeming to like both. Sunday was another important day in Owen’s childhood – his first trip to a racetrack! We went to the British GT/Formula 3 meeting at Silverstone, as part of the Pistonhead Sunday Service. Owen did have a look at all the cars, but equally enjoyed having breakfast in the paddock cafe and crawling around on the grass banking on the inside of Copse corner. We spent the afternoon back at home in the garden, Jen cracked on with jobs, whilst I played with Owen. Even though we had brought his toys out with us, Owen was most interested in playing with the fresh topsoil I’d put down, mostly trying to eat it. He was filthy when we finished, but he’d had a fun afternoon!

As my parental leave has finished and I’m now back at work, I will bring this series of blogs to an end. I feel like I have gained a lot from spending all of this quality time with Owen. I certainly feel much more in tune with him than in week 1 – when I was impressed that he could go from his belly to sitting up. Now he is trying to climb anything that he can reach and crawls behind me when I move from room to room. Hopefully Owen has benefitted from having his Dad around, I can tell that he has enjoyed it. I did miss Owen the two days I was back in the office, so I am glad that I will be having Fridays off to look after him, which I am sure will be the highlight of my week.

Owen’s First Birthday

Owen on his first birthday

Today was Owen’s first birthday. We have spent a lovely day celebrating with family – Owen has recieved loads of presents, eaten lots of cake and done loads of cute giggling. So I’ll class that as a success.

I find it hard to believe that a year has passed since this cheeky monkey surprised us by arriving six weeks early. It has been amazing seeing him grow from a tiny little baby in an incubator to a strong little boy who knows what he wants and can crawl around the house to get it! Spending the last year with him has been great, especially the last few months whilst I have been on parental leave.

The downside to Owen being one is that I am back off to work tomorrow and Owen is off to nursery.

Parental Leave: Week 9

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Another bank holiday Monday! I’m getting poor value on my nine weeks off, as they include so many days that I would have off anyway. Having said that, this is my last week of parental leave, the nine weeks have flown by! As is traditional on bank holidays I had to fit some DIY in, more painting on veranda bits for the garden project. However the main activity for the day was a wedding reception in the evening, which meant we had to drop Owen off with my Mum and Dad – for the night! We drove down to Chipping Norton for lunch, then stayed with Owen to make sure he was settled in, not that it was a problem, as he is used to visiting them. We snuck off whilst he was having his afternoon nap…

We both had a lie in on Tuesday! The first one in almost a year! Jen had the day off, as it was an extra holiday for civil servants and I didn’t have Owen to wake me up. We were just about up and about when the builders arrived to continue work on the garden – in our defence they did get here earlier than expected. What did we do with our new found freedom? We cleaned. We cleaned the house from top to bottom, sorted out the clothes that Owen has grown out of and, after 4 years living here, I finally hung some photos on my office walls (mainly to get them off the floor so I could vacuum). Who says that having children changes people? Owen got home late morning, having enjoyed his Cotswold mini break with his grandma, grandpa and great auntie by all accounts. I was relieved that he seemed happy to see Jen and I when he got back though. We had an indoor picnic, which Owen enjoyed, as from his little chair he could drop his food on the floor, then pick it up again (and repeat…). In the afternoon we had some errands to run, collecting the last few bits for Owen going to nursery. Jen took Owen shopping with her, which I think he found a bit boring as he did a lot of screaming. I got my bits done quickly so I could get out on my bike. As Jen was off work the evening was relaxed, we both had a good play with Owen. We had chilli for dinner and, as seems to be the way these days, Owen wanted to try it. He seemed to like it, as he kept coming back for more!

Owen woke me up at 4:30 on Wednesday morning, but I didn’t hear from him again until after Jen’s alarm clock had gone off! Naturally, Owen’s lie in coincided with him needing to be at nursery for the first of his settling in sessions at 9:00. I can tell that he will be trouble as a teenager, he seems to have inherited my sense of urgency for this sort of thing. He seemed happy to be back at nursery, until he realised that Jen and I wouldn’t be staying with him this time. He had a bit of a cry, but we were told that he was fine almost straight away. Whilst Owen was busy exploring his new surroundings, playing with toy cars and throwing balls out of the ball pit, what did I do? More cleaning, this time in the kitchen. Owen was asleep when I collected him from nursery, so he wasn’t too impressed at being woken up and had a little cry. He was happy enough by the time we got home. After his lunch I continued his Scottish food training with some Tunnocks Teacake, which went down very well! When Owen woke up after his nap, we had a frustrating afternoon, with Owen doing a lot of screaming. If he was in his high chair, I tried leaving the room for a bit and waiting for him to calm down. He seems to be getting the message, as he calms down much quicker now, but it is still frustrating. I think it will get easier when he can articulate his frustrations. When Jen got back from work we all had quick dinners, then I went climbing, at the new climbing wall in the city centre.

On Thursday morning I risked letting Owen feed himself Nutella on toast, it didn’t turn out to be the chocolate coated disaster I was kind of expecting. Owen didn’t even finish it, possibly because he’d scavenged too much of our breakfasts. There was no swimming, due to the school holidays, so I gave Owen a bath, so he could still have his Thursday morning splash. This must have tired him out, as he had a long nap, allowing me to crack on with some jobs. Jen had the afternoon off to go to buggy workout, so I took the opportunity to get out on my bike.

Owen had another settling in session at nursery on Friday morning. He obviously remembered it from Wednesday, as he realised that I was going to leave him and he had a little cry. While he was at nursery I cleaned the inside of the BMW, as it was full of mud and sand from our holiday. I had planned to clean all three of the cars, inside and out while I was on parental leave, but only managed to clean the outside of the 500 and the inside of the BMW. The guys finished the landscaping, so I sorted a few things out in the garden before collecting Owen. He was tired and grumpy when I collected him, but I was told that he’d had a good time, especially in the jumperoo. I wasn’t surprised to hear that he didn’t eat his lunch, but had eaten cake and custard for pudding! We spent the rest of the day preparing for the main event…

Saturday was Owen’s first birthday party! We started the day off with a trip to Costco to get supplies. Owen was his usual cute self and had people fussing over him. He was absolutely in his element being wheeled around the shop, especially as they were doing tastings of his two favourite foods – avocado on toast and cake! Owen seemed a bit confused when people started arriving for the party, he wasn’t used to seeing so many people at home, but he was soon crawling around seeing everyone. All the fuss must have tired him out, as he needed to have a nap – skillfully avoiding the bit of the party where both his girlfriends were there! After his nap we sang happy birthday to him, which he didn’t seem too bothered by, but certainly looked like he enjoyed the cake that Jen had made him! Towards the end of the party all of the remaining children (aged 9 months to 7 years) gathered in the tent on the lawn – it was good to see them all playing together so nicely. Some of our friends had travelled down from York with their children for the party, so we spent the rest of evening with them, visiting the city centre to catch the end of Motofest, then having a takeaway. Owen seemed much happier with a smaller group and stayed up with us well past his usual bedtime.

After a busy week and getting up at 6:00 with Owen everyday I was glad to have a Sunday lie-in! I also got out on my bike again, taking my total distance for the week over 90km! After playing with the older children at his party, Owen has gained confidence, he is exploring around the house and climbing more, this has meant a few knocks, but it is interesting to see. While he was crying after one of his falls I spotted that he’s now got a fifth tooth! As Jen had over-catered for the party, we all had party food leftovers for lunch.  I think the fact that we were all eating the same things made Owen try a few new foods, although some of them ended up on the floor. We had planned to go back into town for Motofest in the afternoon, but it was raining, so we all ended up having naps. It was good to have a day of doing nothing, it is so rare for us.

This is now my paternity leave over, I’m not quite back to work yet though, so I’ll be concluding this series of posts next week.

Parental Leave: Week 8

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It was back to normal after our week in Croyde, with Jen at work (starting in a new team) and me hanging out with Owen at home. We had a quiet morning, and Owen drank all his milk and ate all his porridge, which rarely happens. When he went for his nap, I logged on to my work PC to see if I had missed anything while we were down in Devon – I hadn’t. I haven’t really been thinking about work while I’ve been off, but I don’t want to be too out of the loop when I get back. My Mum and Dad arrived in time for lunch. They hadn’t seen Owen for two weeks and they could tell that he’d grown and put on weight, he’s also learned to wave and clap since they last saw him. I don’t really notice these gradual changes, as I see Owen everyday, but how quickly he is growing hits home when other people see him. I managed to get some jobs done around the house whilst Owen was being looked after by his grandma and grandpa – things get done much quicker when I’m not wrangling Owen at the same time as trying to do something. I dropped my MR2 off for a service at Rogue Motorsport, getting a lift back (with ice cream stop) from Dad. Whilst we were out, Mum took Owen for a walk, also with an ice cream stop. With Owen being kept occupied I was free to fire up the BBQ for dinner, something I haven’t done as much as I was expecting to during my parental leave. In the evening Jen and I made a start on a photo album we are doing of Owen’s first year – he looked tiny and so fragile in the first photos, now he is so strong and climbs all over us.

Owen woke up early on Tuesday morning, so I took him downstairs so we could catch up on the WRC highlights whilst he had his milk. After almost finishing his bottle he wasn’t too interested in the rally cars, as he had discovered a box of edible hay, which had been a nest for Easter eggs. As it was edible I thought I’d let Owen play with it, as all too often he tries to eat things he shouldn’t, then gets upset when they are taken away. This was a bad judgement call on my part, by the time Jen came downstairs the lounge was covered in edible hay – I’m still not sure how a small boy, with a small box of hay could make such a mess. Owen seemed happy with his morning’s work though, so I guess that’s the important thing. We then had an unscheduled pre-breakfast trip out to drop Jen off at the station for a work trip to London. When we got home, Owen ate pretty much all of his breakfast – Weetabix with banana and strawberry, making me think that he may be having a growth spurt soon. Either the excitement, or the early start meant that Owen had a long morning nap, allowing me to get some jobs done, including converting his buggy from winter mode to summer mode (swapping the foot muff for a sun shade). When he eventually woke up, Owen had a bath, then half his lunch. In the afternoon we went to Asda to stock up on nappies and beer. As the sun was out, it would have been an ideal errand to run in the MR2, but as it was still with the garage we had to make do with the BMW. At dinner time Owen was just eating everything I offered him, toast, a whole avocado, a yoghurt and lots of strawberries. He then tried to eat some of our dinner too.

Wednesday started off with a trip to Owen’s nursery, for Owen to meet and play with the staff and us to do some paperwork. When we sat Owen down in the nursery he seemed happy enough, although apparently he did have a little cry when he realised that we’d gone and again when he got moved from the main nursery to the food room. We’d chosen a time for our visit that suited Jen’s work schedule, but on reflection it may not have been the best idea timing our visit over Owen’s breakfast and nap times. We came away with a list of things we need to get for Owen’s nursery bag by the time he goes for his two settling in sessions next week – then the week after it will be his first full day! Being out over breakfast and nap time threw the rest of our day out, so we had a quiet few hours at home before Owen’s nanny came round to look after him for a few hours whilst I did some more veranda painting. Owen had a trip out to the supermarket and DIY shop, then a ride back on the bus. Later in the afternoon I needed some more DIY supplies, so took Owen with me, unfortunately he fell asleep in the car. As I didn’t want to wake him up, I went for a drive through McDonalds to get an ice cream, which was well needed after a long afternoon toiling in the sweltering heat! Owen must have been in a deep sleep, as he didn’t detect that there was ice cream to steal! As Jen was out for the evening with her colleagues I put Owen to bed – he must have been a sleepy boy, as he was in a deep sleep within minutes of his head hitting the pillow.

On Thursday, once again, Owen fell asleep just before we were about to leave for his swimming lesson. I don’t know why he only seems to have a nap at that time on Thursdays, but it is frustrating. After a short cry, due to being woken up, he enjoyed swimming. We tried a few new things, including Owen resting on my chest, whilst I swam backwards. Jen had the afternoon off work and took Owen to buggy workout, while I collected my auntie from the airport. She hadn’t seen Owen since September, so he was a lot bigger this time and much more active. He liked having someone new to make a fuss of him, especially as she’d bought him some lovely presents. After I’d collected the MR2 from the garage, thankfully with only a small bill, we sat outside for a BBQ, then after Owen was in bed I got out on my bike – pretty much a perfect evening in my book.

The builders made a start on the landscaping part of the garden project on Friday morning. This was exciting for Owen, especially when they were ripping up the old patio, he sat quietly in his highchair watching them. I had to take him out for a walk so that he would have a nap, as there was too much excitement at home. Owen was helping me unload the dishwasher, handing me the cutlery etc, but then got himself into trouble by unloading cupboards and smashing one of Jen’s Royal Doulton bowls. We met Jen at KFC for lunch and then went food shopping. Owen was the star attraction, everywhere we turned in the shop there was someone fussing over Owen. I’m not sure he was too impressed with the attention as he was acting all shy. As it was such a warm day I had an ice cream Mars Bar to cool down, I offered some to Owen and, as you can tell from the photo at the top of this post, he loved it – taking after his grandpa. After Owen’s dinner we all went out for a walk to the park, as it was such a lovely evening. By the end of the day I had done over 16,000 steps.

We spent Saturday at my Mum and Dad’s house. My brother and sister in law were up from London and my auntie was down from Scotland, so the whole family was there. This was exciting for Owen as he was the centre of attention,with lots of people to fuss over him. We had a BBQ, but the weather wasn’t as warm as earlier in the week, so we ate indoors. Owen was particularly well behaved at the table, and seemed to enjoy being sat at the table with everyone else. Once the garden project is finished we will get our dining room back (it’s storing the garden chairs and DIY equipment at the moment) and make more of an effort to all eat together as a family.

Sunday was a quieter day, Owen missed his chance for a trip in to town with Jen by having a particularly long nap. I got out on my bike to ride to Warwick and back for a Flying Cows burger. When I got back I gave Owen a bath then a nap. Partho cycled over from Birmingham to see us, arriving when Owen was still asleep. When he woke up, Owen didn’t seem too sure about Partho, I’m not sure if he was grumpy because he was still sleepy, had forgotten who Partho was or simply didn’t like Partho’s lycra cycling gear, but he was a bit out of sorts. He soon warmed to Partho again, it was funny seeing Owen climbing up Partho, as it made me think back to last summer, when Owen would snuggle up on Partho’s shoulder and stay there for hours.

 

Owen seems to have come on a lot in the last few weeks. His temper seems to have calmed down – he went through a phase of having a melt down whenever he didn’t get his way. Mostly because he is trying to eat something he shouldn’t be and we take it away from him, but also if he can’t do something he is attempting, such as reaching an object which is a little bit too far away. Since he got the hang of clapping last week, he has been clapping at every opportunity and can clap on command, he looks so pleased with himself when he does it. He has now almost completely ditched his seal-like crawling and crawls everywhere in the traditional style.

Since we got Owen back from hospital I’ve had rough, dry skin on my knees from kneeling down to change Owen’s nappy, or playing with him on the floor. I have discovered that this ailment has the everso macho name of “Mummy knee”!

 

Parental Leave: Week 6

Fmily Holiday SelfieOur week started with a bit of a panic, Jen left for work and the power steering failed on her car. Fortunately I had decided to drive the MR2 this week and had already moved the car seat over, so she was able to take the BMW. As my friend Richard pointed out on Facebook – there always seems to be something wrong with one of our cars! It must have just been dodgy Italian electrics, as the car was fine when I tested it later in the day. Owen and I enjoyed being back out in the MR2, he had been really sleepy during his breakfast, so I bundled him straight into the MR2 to drive to my Mum and Dad’s house. Being in the MR2 perked him up and I had lots of smiles and giggles from the passenger seat, until he eventually drifted off to sleep. We had a lovely time with my Mum and Dad, Owen seems to have learned some new skills too – waving and drinking from his cup without any help!

On Tuesday Owen had some more firsts – I needed to do some more DIY, so Jen’s Mum came to look after Owen. They went for a walk to the park, where Owen enjoyed the playground, incuding trying the slide for the first time, then they came home on the bus – Owen’s first bus trip! When he got back Owen seemed content watching me paint – finding it funny when I was up the ladder waving down at him.

This is sounding a lot like my parental leave is just handing Owen over to grandparents to be looked after, whilst I crack on with something else – which isn’t the case. I guess the routine stuff, like battling with him eat his breakfast, changing nappies and playing peekaboo just seem normal to me now, so tend not to mention them. It isn’t all bad, as Owen does love hanging out with both his Grandma and Nanny. He always has huge smiles for them when they walk in the door and I’m sure he’s on his best behaviour when they are in charge!

Wednesday was a Daddy and Owen day, we mostly hung out at home, our only trip out was to the supermarket, taking the long way home, as it was a nice day and we were in the MR2. I still find it funny how small the MR2 looks, parked next to all the SUVs and people carriers in the parent and child spaces. On Thursday we were out in the MR2 again, to go swimming – this week we even made it on time! Owen did a lot of splashing when we got into the pool, he splashed himself, the other babies and parents, the teacher, but mostly he splashed me. After his initial excitement, he didn’t seem to enjoy the lesson as much as usual. I think that he was tired, as he didn’t have a pre-swim nap – probably why we made it to the lesson on time. He went straight to sleep when we got home, allowing me to get some jobs done, then have an uninterupted lunch with Jen! In the afternoon Jen took Owen to buggy workout, leaving me free to get out on my bike. With all the veranda painting it felt like I hadn’t had a proper ride in ages, so it was good to be out again, even if I had to do some more painting when I got home.

Whilst I was painting Jen took a phonecall that would slightly change our plans for the rest of the week – our holiday rental in Croyde would be ready for us on the Friday, rather than the Saturday. Naturally we jumped at the opportunity to have an extra night in our favourite place. Friday morning was spent packing, whilst waiting for the health visitor to come for Owen’s twelve month development check – of course Owen fell asleep just before she arrived and had to be woken up to be measure and weighed. He apears to be doing fine though, he is above the 75th centile for weight and 90th centile for length, when corrected for being born 6 weeks early. We had a few final errands to run before we could hit the road – Owen even cooperated and fell asleep in the car for the exact amount of time it took me to remove the bike carriers.

We set off at 17:30, half an hour later than planned, mostly due to Owen being fussy about eating his dinner. Jen drove the first stint through the Friday rush hour traffic on the M42 to Glocester services, where we stopped for dinner/milk and a crawl round the play area. I took over for a long second stint all the way to Croyde, by this time the traffic had cleared and we made good progress. The downside to the late arrival was missing the view across Croyde Bay when driving round Down End Point, one of my favourite views anywhere in the world. We could just about tell that the tide was in, but couldn’t see much else. We found our chalet, complete with cot already set up for Owen, so all we had to do was transfer him from his car seat to the cot. It didn’t quite go to plan though, Owen woke up, and was keen to explore his new surroundings. He slept well when he drifted back off to sleep, and had a bit of a lie in.

The fun really started when he’d had his morning milk and realised that he had the full run of the chalet – heated laminate floors and no stairs must be perfect for crawling around, as Owen looked to be enjoying himself immensly. He then found the springy door stoppers, hours of noisy fun for a little boy! Due to getting to Croyde a day early, and our early morning wake up call, Jen decided to do Parkrun in Barnstaple. It was a lovely morning, so Owen and I expolored the park whilst Jen ran. The plan had been to stop off for breakfast in Braunton on the way home, but Owen fell asleep in the car on the way, so we carried on back to Croyde and went to Blue Groove instead. This was no hardship as it is one of our favourite places to eat anywhere  in the world. We spent the afternoon walking around Croyde and seeing what had changed since our last visit, then chilling at the chalet during nap time. We visited Squires fish and chip shop in Braunton, another of our favourite haunts, for dinner and Owen had his first taste of fish and chips. He didn’t quite get the concept, as he only seemed to want the chips.

Sunday started with another lie in (we now class 7:00 as a lie in), but as this was forecast to be the last sunny day of our trip we wanted to make the most of it. We started off with a walk to the National Trust tea room at Sandleigh, which after extensive testing Jen and I have declared to do the best cream tea Devon. Pete and Gill (Owen’s Nanny and Granddad) joined us for the walk, and we had a lovely morning. After Owen’s lunch we took him down to the beach – this was his first chance to play in the sand, as last time he was only a few months old! Rather than taking the pushchair to the beach we used the baby carrier, which hadn’t been used since last summer, when Owen was a lot smaller. He went on my back and seemed to enjoy the walk down to the beach. We set up a tent to shelter us all from the wind and sun. Owen was happy to stay in the tent to start with, so I took a stroll to the sea, and by the time I got back (it was long way due to it being low tide) he had ventured out and was fearlessly crawling over the sand. I built some sandcastles, but Owen was destroying them quicker than I could build them, maybe my Dad is correct in thinking that Owen wants to become a demolition engineer…

Owen seemed to enjoy the beach and did really well with not eating sand until just as we were packed up and about to leave, when he somehow ended up with a big face full of sand and cried most of the walk back – I’ve never had such a noisy rucksack! After desanding ourselves we all went for Sunday lunch at the Manor House Inn, followed by an ice cream from the little ice cream shop, introducing Owen to more of our Croyde traditions. After Owen had gone to sleep I went back out with my camera, planning to take a photo of the sunset, however it wasn’t to be, the sun dipped below the horizon, but there wasn’t even the faintest glow of orange in the sky. It was still good to get out with my camera, as I haven’t had much of a chance to do landscape photography recently.

We have got more of the same planned for next week, although the weather forecast doesn’t look as nice. Whatever we get up to it is nice to spend a decent amount of time together as a family and hopefully Owen will benefit from it.

Parental Leave: Week 5

IMG_3082Another bank holiday! The excitement for me being that Jen is at home, rather than not going to work. However, as Jen had been away on Saturday, it felt like the weekend had just been shifted back a day. The day started off with more bank holiday DIY in prepatation for the garden project kicking off. Then, in the afternoon, we went for our first family bike ride at Kingsbury Waterpark. Owen didn’t seem too bothered by being sat on the back of my bike, I can’t say he seemed to enjoy it either though. I can see that a front mounted bike seat would make it easier to interact with him whilst riding along, but as my seat was free, I can’t complain! Hopefully with more rides Owen will start to enjoy it more, as I have a few longer rides I would like to do as a family.

On Tuesday the guys arrived to start the first phase of the garden project, so my morning was split between making cups of tea for the builders and baby wrangling. My Mum and Dad arrived at lunchtime, so I was able to run some errands whilst they played with Owen. Wednesday was a day at home for Owen and I, whilst the builders made progress on the veranda. Owen managed to climb into the coffee table in search of Jen’s iPad – nothing seems to be safe in this house!

Thursday was a much busier day! Like last week, Owen decided to take a nap just before we were meant to leave for swimming. Fortunately he didn’t seem too upset when I woke him up and we were only a few minutes late. Owen really enjoyed himself at swimming, with lots of splashing and squealing. Jen was on a half day and took Owen out after lunch, which was when the plumbing disaster mentioned in the new veranda post happened. After that panic was sorted I detailed Jen’s car – my plan is to detail all three cars whilst I’m on parental leave, so I thought I’d better get a move on! I started with Jen’s car as I’d borrowed it for ten months and returned it filthy. I didn’t feel too guilty though, as Jen returned my BMW in limp home mode and requiring an expensive trip to the garage.

On Friday Owen wasn’t keen to eat his breakfast, but made up for it by stealing some of my chips when we met Jen for lunch at McDonalds – this was after he’d eaten his own lunch! He was also on top form when we went round Sainsbury’s, chattering to staff and customers and enjoying a sample of samosa from the deli counter. After all that food and excitement Owen had a long afternoon nap, only waking up as Jen arrived home – at that point the trouble started. I think it was Owen’s way of showing he’d missed his mummy. I was able to escape out to run some errands in the MR2, which hasn’t been getting much use these last few weeks.

Saturday was a DIY day, Jen was away on a hen do, so my Mum came up to look after Owen, whilst I was perched up a ladder painting the veranda. I actually managed to get a fair bit done, despite the weather conspiring against me. Owen had a good sleep, not waking up until 7:15 on Sunday, and behaved well in the morning, which I was thankful for as Jen didn’t arrive back until early afternoon. Owen was adament that he didn’t want to go to sleep when I put him in his cot for his morning nap, but after sitting up and voicing his displeasure to me for a few minutes, he fell asleep, sitting up with his face resting on the bars of his cot. When Jen got home I got back up my ladder for more painting, at least today the weather was much nicer – I had to change into shorts, it was so warm! I’m now about halfway through the painting, so hopefully I’ll have it all done before we go to Croyde next weekend.

Parental Leave: Week 4

Owen and LewisThe week started off quietly with a visit from my Mum and Dad. We all went in to the city centre to IKEA and the market – to get Lorne sausage. With my parents looking after Owen, I was able to get some jobs done, including a sub-15 minute bottom bracket service on my bike. Followed by an amazing dinner – Lorne sausage with sweet potato macaroni cheese, one of my favourites! We had another vistor on Tuesday, my old school friend Stevo. We went to Hickory’s Smokehouse for a meaty lunch and a good catch up.

After eating well the previous few days, I needed to get out on my bike on Wednesday. So, I put the bike on top of the BMW and drove to my parents’ house in the Cotswolds. After a tasty lunch of cheese scones, I went for a 36Km bike ride to the east of Chipping Norton. It was hard going, with probably 30 of the 36Km being off road, but the scenery was much nicer than cycling around Coventry! Owen enjoyed his time with grandma and grandpa, so we both returned home tired and happy.

After a two week break, Thursday swimming was back. This is usually Owen’s favourite part of the week, but he seemed to be doing everything he could to delay us getting out the house – refusing to eat his breakfast, crying, standing up in his cot then eventually falling asleep, just as he needed to get changed to get to the pool. In the end I had to wake him up and take him out in his pyjamas and got him changed for swimming at the pool. We were late for the lesson, but as soon as he was in the pool Owen was back to his happy self! After our eventful morning, I gave Owen an early lunch, which he wolfed down, because I was off to work in the afternoon for a handover meeting, as one of my colleagues is leaving. It was strange being back in the office – in some ways it felt like I’d never been away, other than the complete lack of knowledge of what had been happening. It was also a lot easier than wrangling a wriggly Owen, but I did miss him. He also seemed to have missed me, as he was all smiles when I got back home.

After a busy week, Friday was a quieter day and we had a walk down to the butchers in the morning. Later, Owen woke up screaming from his afternoon nap. I was about to start cleaning the bathroom, so was glad to have an excuse to avoid it. I gave Owen a cuddle, which cheered him up, and we spent the next hour snuggled up. Six months ago this would have been normal, but it is rare these days, as Owen would much rather be crawling round the house looking for things to climb or eat, or trying to pull my ears off/gouge my eyes out if I’m holding him.

Jen was in London on Saturday, so Owen and I had another quiet day, with a trip out to Leamington to meet my parents. Sunday started off well, with another trip to Hickory’s, for breakfast. I left early and cycled to meet Jen and Owen there, so I felt like I’d earned my breakfast. In the afternoon we did some work in the garden, in preparation for the next phase of the 119 Project, then went to Jen’s Mum and Dad’s for afternoon tea and cake.

I’m now half way through my eight weeks at home and it now feels like it is going very quickly. Going back to work, even for half a day, made me realise just how busy the days are with Owen. Very rewarding though.

Parental Leave: Week 3

Playing in the garden

Week 3 started with a bank holiday, so it was pretty much a repeat of the previous few days, with Jen at home to help with DIY and Owen wrangling. I did manage to get out on my bike though. Tuesday and Wednesday were very similar, jobs at home with a few trips out in the MR2. Once again Owen fell asleep in the MR2, so I parked up in the parent and child spaces at Asda waiting for him to wake up and had a proud moment when the little boy in the car next to us loudly exclaimed that my MR2 was “a cool car”!

Owen seemed to be in a foul mood on Thursday, which was strange, as he’d had a really good nights sleep! He seemed intent on destroying anything he could get his hands on, or crying when being prevented from destruction. He also took offence at having his nappy changed or having clothes put on. I guess it was just one of those days.

Friday was much better, Owen slept through again, but woke up happier. He had learned a new skill overnight – he can now climb! He used the bed to pull himself from his belly to standing up and now seems to be climbing anything he can reach, nothing is safe now. We met up with Jen for lunch then spent the afternoon setting up the roof bars I’d ordered for the BMW, so we can go out on some family bike rides.

Saturday started with a trip to the park to cheer Jen on at Parkrun, although Owen fell asleep and missed the action. We then tried to cram in as much DIY as possible before our friends arrived for the afternoon. When our guests arrived we spent a lovely afternoon in the garden, with Owen the centre of attention, chattering away and looking cute.

After spending most of the week looking after Owen, Sunday was my day off. I started with a bike ride, then a cross country blast in the MR2 to meet some old uni mates for a burger. It was a good day, but I was still happy to get home and have a play with Owen.

Parental Leave: Week 2

Roof down selfie

My second week of parental leave was better than the first, we seemed to have more of a routine and kept ourselves busy. Jen only being at work for four days helped too!

The week started off with another hospital visit, this time to UHCW, where Owen was born. The timing of Owen’s appointment worked well, as we were able to attend the Neonatal unit’s coffee morning. We also had time to pop up to the Neonatal unit to hand in some tiny hats that my Mum had knitted for them, and to see their photowall, which features this photo of Owen, holding a photo of himself when he was on the unit. At his appointment, Owen charmed the doctors, except when they needed to get equipment near to his face, in which case he kept trying to play with it.

On Tuesday my Mum and Dad came to visit, which meant I got to sneak out on my bike – the weather was pefect and I had an awesome ride! I also got to take the MR2 for a drive, unfortunately it was to collect my BMW from the garage, with a large bill to pay. Jen’s Mum came to visit on Wednesday afternoon, which meant I could get some jobs done whilst she looked after Owen. There was no swimming on Thursday, due to the school holidays, so Owen and I had a lazy morning, before meeting Jen for a McLunchdate. As it was only a short trip I decided to try Owen in the MR2 with the roof down, as you can see from the photo above – he loved it!

Friday was the start of the bank holiday, so DIY time. We got our jobs done fairly early on in the day, so I managed to escape for a short bike ride. Jen’s mum came over in the evening to look after Owen, so Jen & I could go out for dinner. As it was just the two of us we took the MR2 – it has been quite a while since we’ve been out in the MR2 together! Saturday was more DIY, along with a lunch trip out to see Jen’s friend Jo.

On Sunday Jen looked after Owen, whilst I met my Dad at Silverstone to watch the first round of the World Endurance Championship. The LMP1 cars looked so fast and the race stayed exciting right up to the end, with the lead Porsche being caught, and overtaken by the #8 Toyota with only a handful of laps remaining.

Next week is going to start with more work on the 119 Project, but after that I haven’t got anything planned when Jen is back to work, but I’m sure Owen will find plenty to keep me busy!

Parental Leave: Week 1

My first day of parental leave started on an ominous note – Owen refused to eat his breakfast, preferring to blow raspberries at me. Normally we could just wait for him to be hungry, but we had an appointment at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, to look at the hemangiomas on his eyelid, so had to get a move on!

Jen joined us for the trip in to Birmingham; we had hoped to take Owen on his first train journey, but couldn’t get parked at the station, so drove into central Birmingham, which worked out to be quicker anyway. He will get to go on a steam train with his granddad soon enough and that will be more special as a first train journey than the London Midland train to Birmingham!

We had a bit of a wait at the hospital, but came away with some Timolol gel (usually used to treat glaucoma) to rub on Owen’s eyelid, which should speed up the healing process for the hemangiomas. We made it into the city centre in time to meet my friend Partho for a burrito – Owen seemed happy to see him, but not as pleased as he was to see a big bowl of guacamole!

As Jen was off work, I took advantage of having someone to look after Owen and took the MR2 for an MOT, which it passed!

Tuesday was our first day flying solo! We just had a quiet morning at home, Owen had a bath, then a nap, which left me time to get on with some jobs. In the afternoon we went to buy Owen a bike helmet, then watched Top Gear, whilst Owen practiced his new skill – going from lying on his belly to sitting up. I could get used to this!

Wednesday started with some complicated logistics to drop my BMW off at a garage in Warwick. This wasn’t helped by Owen doing everything possible to delay us getting out of the house, deploying both hunger strikes & dirty protests! He was fine once my Dad picked us up in Warwick, and on his best behaviour as soon as we got to Chipping Norton and he saw his grandma!

My Dad and I spend the afternoon sorting out the lawns at their house, which Owen played inside with his grandma. Then we all met Jen for dinner at the Hatton Arms. After an afternoon raking lawns I felt like I’d earned my steak pie!

Thursday is swimming day! Swimming is probably Owen’s favourite half hour of the week, he splashes, smiles and squeals with joy when he is in the pool! It also really tires him out, so I can get a lot done during his post swim nap. After the exciting morning we just hung out at home and in the garden, followed by a trip to the supermarket, where Owen seemed to be a hit with all the female staff! In the evening we strapped Owen on to the back of my bike and rode around the block a few times. I don’t think Owen was as excited by this as I was, but I’m sure he’ll get used to it.

Friday was another day where Owen didn’t want to eat breakfast, I think he’s gone off Weetabix. A similar performance followed at lunchtime, leaving me deciding between giving in (and Owen realising that he can cause trouble and get what he wants) or let him be difficult and go hungry. This hassle meant that the day went slowly, and mid afternoon – when I’d normally be finishing work and going on a bike ride, I began to question my decision to take parental leave. Fortunately Owen cheered up, which meant I cheered up!

Saturday started off well – after Owen’s breakfast we went to a small car show at Fargo Village, Coventry’s trendy market area. It was great to walk around looking at the various cars and small shops/studios. We bumped into my friend Dan with his bright green bike engined kit car, which looked awesome. Before we left we had some cake and a milkshake from Spangles American Diner, although after seeing what the next table ordered I should have gone for one of their freakshakes – a milkshake topped with a piece of cake!

In the afternoon we set up Owen’s beach tent on the lawn so that Jen and I could crack on with some gardening, we managed to get most of our jobs done, but it was hot work and I was really suffering with hayfever. Jen went out for the evening, leaving me to wrangle Owen. I think he may also have been suffering with hayfever, as he had a really rough night, alternating between crying and coughing for a few hours, only stopping about five minutes before Jen got home, then sleeping soundly until the next morning – I’m beginning to thing he is just doing it to annoy me!

Sunday started well – I had a bit of a lie in, whilst Jen sorted Owen out. Then, when she brought him through in to our room and put him on the bed next to me he said “Daddy”! We thought he may have said it before, but weren’t sure, but this time there was no mistaking it, so I’m calling that his first word – a proud Dad moment! He did follow that up by eating all of his Weetabix without any fuss for Jen, something he’d refused to do for me all week. We spent the rest of the day at my parents’ house, with my brother and his wife – Owen was once again the star of the show. We had a lovely lunch, sat outside in the sunshine.

My first week of parental leave has absolutely whizzed by, I’ll admit it is harder work than I was expecting, but I’m sure both Owen and I will get into more of a routine over the coming weeks and things will get easier. Hopefully leaving more time for bike rides and drives out in the MR2!