Thursday, 24 November 2011

A bed matters

On our summer holiday we ended up testing which sleeping arrangement with a toddler works the best. In order to save money, we always took the free option, which came with the room. The hotels and B&Bs were chosen on the basis of some kind of concession for under fives.

In Volterra we could have him in the room for free using the existing bedding. I thought that Number One Son would be happy on a den placed on a floor but he ended up rolling under an armchair since like me he rolls around while sleeping. Our good night sleep was thus very fractured.

In Chiusi he had a travel cot of his own for free and this was a perfect solution, no doubt. However, the most comfortable alternative was the one in Murlo. There we could choose our own room out of the plentiful empty ones and our son ended up having a nice normal, relatively low lying bed of his own – for free. This was so convenient for all concerned. Shame only that with no air conditioning or fan our room was boiling in the morning sun.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

New approaches

This summer on our summer holiday before heading to Archaeologist Husband’s father’s house we had a small tour of a few sites in Tuscany. Unlike before we faced visiting the sites with a two-year-old. This meant a new approach to sightseeing and an acknowledgement that the days of spontaneous walks and long lunches were over. This trip was all about realistic timetabling, baby food packs and sensible accommodation.

However, it is the sites unvisited before in Italian towns that underlined the change in our circumstances and our new responsibilities. Never before have I visited intentionally a playground in Italy or paid any attention on their whereabouts. Except that new one in Trastevere next to the market – you see it when you pass it but think nothing more about it.

In Volterra the Etruscan acropolis turned out to be disappointing with no proper view across the town or landscape. Nevertheless, this public park had a play area with a climbing frame and slide. This made at least one member of our family content. The park also had public drinking water fountains and a cafeteria, so it was THE place to spend a hot afternoon even if the steps there were quite steep and we had to carry the stroller up and down.

In Murlo on the way to a minimarket we spotted a small but delightful play area next to the town hall whereas in Chiusi I Forti Park on the eastern side of the town had one. Conveniently, the large play area was next to a free car park and the view over the river valley was decent, too. Both these playgrounds were in a relative shade covered by some trees. Luxurious on a hot day!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Feline friends

Our cat Shelly, the venerable 18-year old, was a particular favourite of Number One Son. They clearly liked each other and Shelly patiently let our son stroke her even if it often happened to the wrong direction. However, the older Number One Son came the quicker Shelly started to vanish from the spot. She never used her claws against our son but there was clearly only so much she could take.

Sadly, her time came to an end in the early summer after of a period of not eating or drinking. Her near-last moments took place just before the whole family was sitting on the sofa watching ‘Dr Who’ waiting for the Number One Son to go to bed. He was gently cuddling her while she was lying in her favourite sunny spot, naturally very fragile and weak, and after he went upstairs she was gone in ten minutes.

For a couple of days Number One Son was looking for Shelly and was puzzled of her disappearance. He also kept calling other cats Shelly. Even if Archaeologist Husband is pining for a new tabby, we are waiting for a new summer. Thus, our son has to find joy in other cats. During our summer holiday he was making happy squeaks when he realized that there was a young ginger cat in one of the B&Bs we stayed in – there they also had children of his age. The joy, the joy on a hot, sunny afternoon...

On the way from nursery this very fat black and white cat sometimes lingers in front of its home. It is happy to be cuddled and eagerly places herself on her back on the pavement slabs and expects to have strokes on her exposed tummy. When Number One Son sees her he jumps up and down and makes happy high note giggles. He is excited about dogs as well but does not normally make his happy noises. Cats are truly his favourite living animals! (The fish in ‘Finding Nemo’ are a matter of another story...)

Thursday, 3 November 2011

In and out of a pool

I and Number One Son have gone swimming almost every week since he was three months old. The only longer intervals have been the two month cycle of colds he had when he started the nursery and some occasional travel and illnesses. He likes water and I feel that apart from the gentle exercise it gives him an important skill that may turn out to be lifesaving.

For a long time one had to support him, which became more straining when he grew bigger. A mother asked me recently when Number One Son learnt to hold himself in a right position with arm floats and I suddenly could not remember. This is apparently a normal feature of childrearing that you cannot pinpoint afterwards the key developments unless you write them down or memorize them actively. Any way, he definitely was moving independently last spring even if learning to use his legs took quite a while. By our summer holidays he was ready to face his grandfather’s swimming pool in Italy.

This swimming pool also turned out to be the feature that reconfirmed him that swimming is a nice idea. Just before leaving for holidays we had an incident at the swimming pool that left him clearly shaken and he did not want to enter the deeper water at all for a while. He had learnt to swim with the arm floats but did not realize that these kept him on the surface. Once when I turned away just for a couple of seconds to grab the arm floats, he had walked down the stairs to the baby pool. When I turned back, I could only see the top of his head gently bumping up and down from the water. Even if I managed to lift him up to my arms almost immediately, he was upset but continued to swim that day. However, he apparently had nightmares that night and the swimming was not the same the coming weeks.

Luckily, we headed to the Luningiana area in northern Tuscany and spent almost a week and half in extremely hot temperatures. The sunny and hot weather made the pool attractive and we spent long afternoons in the water. They were new environs and there were new water toys to play with so after two weeks in Italy – even if it started to rain for the last three days – he was won back. Now he also realizes that he cannot swim without the arm floats and shoots towards them the first thing at the pool.