Although you wouldn’t know it from today, or yesterday for that matter, it’s been warm again. We equipped the nursery with a Gro Egg, which is a handy visual device that allows you to easily determine the temperature of a room. I don’t know why it is called a Gro Egg because as well as the digital temperature read out, it glows different colours; it should have been called a Glo Egg. If it is blue, the room it is too cold. If it is yellow, it is about right. If it is orange, it is also about right. If it is red, then the temperature might be considered by some to be too warm. If it is red with an upside down smiley face, then after two hours your baby will be perfectly cooked and ready to eat. We bought two, second hand from one of the local selling pages, because they came as a job lot from somewhere. However, they both read different temperatures, so obviously an independent calibration was needed. Fortunately the baby monitor we had also displayed temperature. Unfortunately it displays different temperatures to the ones on the Gro Eggs, so I was no further forward. I decided to do some research into ideal temperatures for nurseries as it appears whatever you do it potentially kills your baby. I remembered the Mantra “Google is your friend…”
It isn’t really. The first few results of a Google search were all different posts on Mumsnet. We don’t go there anymore. I thought I had figured out all the codes and abbreviations, but they must sense when a man is lurking and they start throwing new ones in to veer you away from the truth that’s out there. Right down at the bottom of the page I spotted one I didn’t recognise: Isis Parenting. I don’t think it has anything to do with Islamic State, or at least I didn’t until I clicked on the link without thinking, upon which my computer went into high alert mode, warning me that visiting this website might harm my computer. Every time there has been a knock on the door since I keep expecting it to be MI5 either wanting a word with me about my surfing activity or code-cracking abilities. I’m not sure which yet.
So we are bereft of baby advice for a while. We have one potential source though; Eileen. Eileen is an elderly neighbour who lives in sheltered accommodation that backs onto the path that leads away from our front door that gives access to the back gardens of the houses on the street opposite. Well, it used to be sheltered accommodation; now they just chuck anyone in these bungalows, because the latest neighbour we have backing onto our garden in the end one proudly announced to me that she had been moved there from a larger property because of the bedroom tax. (It is not a f**king tax). We think Eileen may be a little deaf because when Heartbeat or the Antiques Roadshow is on, people on the other side of town are treated to it courtesy of her telly. Eileen’s bungalow is the only one with patio doors, a fact she likes to demonstrate by leaving them open for most of the year so that the rest of the town can listen in on Home and Away. We see her quite often and we know when she wants to speak to us directly as she summons us with a “Yoohoo, I say…”
Eileen is a mine of useful advice though. And help. A few months ago I fitted a security light to the front of our house. At first I thought Eileen must have seen me fitting it, but then I realised this thing is brighter than the sun and since fitting it have had to downsize the bulb and angle it in so it only shines directly in front of the building, because the same people on the other side of the town that were listening to Eileen’s telly could also see our security light. It must have illuminated the whole of Eileen’s bungalow every time a hedgehog wandered by. And heated it too in all probability. A few days after fitting it, “Yoohoo, I say…” Eileen leaned over her fence “I’ve got something for you” and handed me a security light and sensor. “I had this fitted at my last place, but the dogs kept setting it off, so I haven’t bothered here. And now you’ve fitted yours, I don’t need to”. Erm, sorry about that Eileen. I am in the process of adjusting it. After much head scratching I did want to ask why she was giving me this after I had already fitted one, but I thought better of it and just thanked her.
I can’t fault her advice though. When we brought the twins home she told me “If you ever want me to look after them just say – I may be getting on but I can still do a bit”. She didn’t specify what that bit was. But only the other day, in the sultry heat of the summer, concerned about the wellbeing of the twins she leaned over “Yoohoo, I say… There’s a thunder storm coming. You want to protect those little ones. Make sure your windows are open”. Surely I want my windows closed, Eileen? “Oh no, if a bolt of lightning comes down your chimney, it needs some way of getting out, so you should leave your windows open. You don’t want anything happening to those little ones – who knows what might happen if that lightning can’t escape”. However, I did overhear her talking to Bedroom Tax neighbour (it’s not a f**king tax) a little later, telling her that there was a storm coming and that she should shut her car windows. I don’t want to think what might have happened if a lightning bolt went through the sunroof in that situation, but I thought better of asking.
When I started writing about this, and throughout, I maintained that I didn’t believe what other parents were warning about tiredness. I have outlined the way we go to bed early to get a couple of extra hours of sleep in. We were doing pretty well, I thought; managing rather than coping. And then last weekend I went away with some mates for the weekend. It was a weekend that we had all pre-organised last year and I offered to cancel, but Mrs Aitchworld insisted. I’ve spent one night away because of work and found I was still waking at regular intervals throughout the night. I was determined to get in some extra sleep on this weekend. Even though Mrs Aitchworld rang me at 4am on the first night because both twins had been howling for hours and she was struggling, and then waking several times through the night because, despite being in a sleeping bag that was designed for a British summer, no one had told Wales about what season it was and the temperatures dipped below its 12°C comfort rating, I managed a lie in. I didn’t get up until 7am on the Saturday morning! On the Sunday morning, additionally prepared for the cold conditions with extra blankets and a fleece jumper hastily bought from an outdoors shop in Portmadog, I made it through to 8am.
Catching up on a bit of sleep should have benefitted me. It should have been a refreshing experience, but both these extra sleeps have completely knackered my body clock. This week Arthur in particular has his body clock set to 5am. Mine is somewhere around 7am. The two times haven’t been compatible and I am walking around in a daze. The other morning I even put my underpants on back to front. I know it’s supposed to be unlucky to change them to normal but I can’t sit in a car all day with the buttons on the flies digging into my arse crack. Maybe it was this unlucky aspect that meant I didn’t get any orders that day, but I hardly think my best selling technique would be to sit in a meeting discussing business while reaching behind me to pull buttons out of my hole.
The boys then… I suppose I ought to give them a mention. They are nineteen weeks old now and coming on nicely, growing quickly and advancing rapidly. They have learnt to talk – Arthur can say Aggoo, Aggee, Aggaaah and so can Henry. In addition Henry can make a noise that sounds like static on a short wave radio, complete with a screech that sounds like the whistling you get. Sometimes he hits a note so high, only dogs can hear him. It’s his new thing. Arthur has learnt how to blow bubbles from his saliva. I heard an interesting fact today that cows produce one hundred litres of saliva a day. I think Arthur could teach them a thing or two in this respect as they’ve got nothing on him. He can sog up an entire top in minutes. If his baby-grow is ever wet I don’t know it it’s from a leaky nappy or excessive bubblage.
Henry in particular has grown so much that he is mostly in 6-9 month old clothes and size 4 nappies. Arthur isn’t too far behind; just as tall but a little less rotund, so he doesn’t fill a baby-grow quite the same. I had all but dismissed the services of a friendly chiropractor, but in the last couple of months I have had to go back several times for corrective manipulation, or painful torture as I prefer to term it. My back is killing me. My Chiropractor advises that I use lots of ice on it. Luckily we have one of those fridges that automatically produces ice-cubes – the poor thing must think we are having some sort of party; I’m scared I’m going to wear it out.
I thought I was ever so clever in teaching myself new dexterity in learning how to pick things up with my feet like an amputee whilst I am carrying a baby, but the contortions and twists it creates in my back can’t be doing me any favours. And seeing as the only safe place to put them is on a play mat on the floor, because anything else they will just wriggle off it, means there is a lot of bending and picking up of heavy things. I do sometimes wonder, as we are walking away from them to fetch milk or the like while they are on the mat, whether they think they are watching the closing credits to The Bill.