Chickenpox

A couple of weeks ago, we took Marley out to get chickenpox.

Sound harsh?

Well, yes, I suppose it is a bit….but we had actually been due to visit his chickenpox-ridden cousin anyway, even before we found out he was right in the middle of the most contagious phase.

We basically came to the conclusion that Marley – now that he is 2 and a half – is at as good an age as any to get the virus, so we took our chances.

It began about two weeks after that visit for Marley. And he was fine for the first couple of days; in good spirits and as happy as usual, no sign at all there was anything wrong except for a couple of little spots.

Monday and Tuesday were much the same, a few more spots maybe, but he was still pretty content and although he wasn’t allowed to go in to nursery he was more-or-less the same us usual.

But then there was Wednesday….

Marley was up most of the night – so WE were up most of the night.

We dabbed at his pox with calamine lotion regularly, we gave him anti-histamine to try and help with the itchiness. (One funny Marley Moment was when he made a funny face after having his medicine, so my wife asked him if he liked it and he replied: “it’s not the best!”)

We also plied him with about as much Calpol as it’s legal to give a toddler, but still he was boiling hot.

He was grumpy as hell because he was so incredibly itchy, rolling around like a dog to try and itch the pox on his back.

Basically, all night long, he was just miserable.

So in the morning, I escaped to go to work (I had a webinar I had to run and couldn’t get out of it – I promise!) but I was getting regular WhatsApp updates from home.

“He’s really uncomfortable and sad.”

“He’s miserable.”

“He didn’t eat breakfast and then he wanted porridge for lunch….and then he didn’t eat it.”

And when I got home, he was so fed up with it that he ended up just slumped over the coffee table with his head in his hands, wailing: “I’VE GOT CHICKEN POX!!

And still he itched….

We tried to find other reliefs for him. We got some gel that’s supposed to help, and we even gave him an oat bath – the aftermath of which reminded me of the end of an especially heavy night on the sauce….

Ultimately, it’s really hard to know what works and what doesn’t for chickenpox. Thankfully, by the time Thursday morning came round he had started to feel a little bit better.

The itching had relented. The pox went from being little red itchy things to larger crusty scabby ones (sorry for that little detail).

And after another oat bath – strained oats this time, after advice from friends on how to avoid a pukey-looking bath – he slowly got back to his normal self.

Chickenpox – check!

Another milestone reached for Marley….time to dance on the table.

The Great Outdoors

It doesn’t matter how old you get, there is almost nothing better than getting your hands on a new toy. 

During our recent holiday to the south of France, Marley and I were super excited to crack open a brand new Nature Explorer kit we’d been sent by Anthisan*.

We got a magnifying glass, a small beaker with a magnifying lens for looking at any beasties we might find, a mini butterfly net and a lamp/torch for exploring in the dark. 

The region of France we were staying in (The Aude) is a place we’ve been to a few times before – we actually got married there in 2015. So we already had an idea of some of the creepy-crawlies we might see on our adventures; butterflies, crickets, beetles, some small lizards and possibly – even though I’m not allowed to look for them – the occasional snake. 

On this particular visit, we were a bit worried the only thing we might see would be the thousands of Boxtree moths that had invaded the area. They were everywhere!

But we set off on our adventure anyway. 

Marley – holding his little magnifying glass and net and looking incredibly cute  – picked up a couple of wild flowers (“that’s for mummy”) and chased a butterfly around….keeping his distance whenever catching it became a realistic possibility.  

 

We found an olive tree, some fresh figs, before he really started embracing his inner Attenborough.

He found us a jumping cricket, which we chased and captured. 

It’s hilarious to watch him as he gets really close and looks inside. But then leaps back as soon as it starts to move.

I was tempted to have a look under some of the larger stones on our route, just to see what might be lurking underneath. But I thought I might get in trouble if Marley returned from our nature hunt with a snake bite, so I resisted. 

We continued along the path. Marley was at a bit of an advantage, being so close to the ground. It’s OK, I’m not competitive about it.

And suddenly…

“Daddy, look!” 

I looked. There was nothing there.

“DADDY, LOOK!!”

I looked again. Still nothing.

“DADDY, THERE!!!” He pointed at the ground, where I still  couldn’t see anything.

Until….wait, what’s that??

A praying mantis! 



It was probably the most camouflaged creature imaginable, balancing on a tiny piece of grass the exact same colour as its body. I have no idea how he spotted it. But he ran back to the house to gleefully show it off to the rest of the family. 

After a closer inspection, he was happy to release the mantis back in to the wild for it to go back to……whatever they do. Praying, I suppose.

There is definite Attenorough potential there with Marley, a  very successful hunt. And not a bite in sight!

 

_____

 

*Anthisan Bite & Sting Cream can provide symptomatic relief of skin irritation caused by insect stings, insect bites and nettle stings and has been used for over 50 years.

Anthisan Bite & Sting Cream is easy to use and contains the active ingredient Mepyramine Maleate (2%), a topical antihistamine which stops the histamine affecting your body’s cells by blocking receptor sites in your nerve endings, helping to reduce pain, swelling and skin irritation. Anthisan Bite & Sting Cream (20g) retails at £3.66 and is available from leading pharmacies and supermarkets. Suitable for the whole family including children from two years. Always read the label.

Banana bread

With no Match of the Day to stay up for last night, I actually managed to get a full eight-hour sleep! 

So I woke up feeling mega productive, and got straight to work on finding a banana bread recipe to make before we head out to the Wimbledon Common Open Day in the afternoon.

I reached out to the Twitter-sphere…..but as a fairly late adopter of Twitter, I found that my request for recipes had amounted to a solitary ‘like’ from a recipe account (who didn’t share a recipe with me…) and a retweet from a dad bloggers group (thanks @DadSquad_!)

So I decided to do what I usually do and look up a couple of different recipes, try and take the best bits from each one and make up my own version. 


Let me know what you think!

—-


Mike’s Banana Bread

What you need: 

4 ripe bananas, peeled
250g caster sugar
2 eggs
140g softened butter
230g plain flour + 20g self-raising flour*
(*it’s all we had!)
2 tsp baking powder
100g walnut piece

120g chocolate chip
1 tsp vanilla extract

Process:

1) Heat oven to 190C. Line a 900g tin with grease-proof baking paper. 

2) Mash together the bananas and sugar in a large bowl with the back of a fork. 

3) Add the eggs and continue to mix well until fully incorporated, then gradually add butter and mix for a couple more minutes.

4) Sieve in the flour and baking powder, fold together with a spatula and add the vanilla extract, walnuts and chocolate chips. 

5) Once well-mixed, spoon mixture in to the lined baking tin and cook for around an hour or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.