Six loooooooooong weeks to go now but Auntie Dorothy has demanded that I write again, so write again I must. The boy has now learnt to crawl. He’s eating food with lumps in. He’s learning to feed himself – hence the bits of dead rice cake and cheese chunks all over our house. He has two teeth. He’s also discovered the twangy bits at the bottom of my trousers are great fun to play with so I have permanently bruised ankles. He’s only 6 months old. I think he’s an alien. Does anyone remember that US comedy called Soap? The bit when Bert was abducted by aliens and cloned and both Berts were sent back to Earth and then Bert’s wife got pregnant but the father was alien Bert, not real Bert, and the baby was drawing fractals at a few months old? I think I’ve got one like that. He’s already reaching for the computer books. I’m officially back at work but I’m not at work because my employer is being less than flexible about the hours they will let me work (despite letting one of the male employees work these hours). Anyway I’m on unpaid leave at present while Adrian and myself assess the legal position but I may well get back from this trip and have to start looking for a new job. It’s all very messy. Itinerary wise, I’ve been banned from Intercot so that meet is off the agenda. We have all our tickets now. Omar came through with the Universal tickets – stupid postal strike in London delayed them but Omar promised they’d get here – and they did. The traveller’s checks and currency have been bought and have been put on to a high shelf after the boy tried to make a soggy lump out of them. The Christmas shopping has been done. I kid you not – everything bar the food has been bought and stashed away. I’m not coming back on 13th December and starting present shopping – so it’s done; except for the stuff we buy at Disney. And Sainsbury’s will deliver the food after we get home. And – just in case this gets me bonus points – I’ve already got the Trick or Treat sweets in for Halloween. Be interesting to see if they last the next week and a bit. Steven is pretty much packed and ready to go. At his current rate of growth he will reach the 9-12 month size clothes around holiday time so I’ve already bought and packed these ready to go. A variety of things to cover all weather options. The shorts and t-shirts were mostly bought from ebay for a fraction of the cost of buying from the store, and anyway, where can you buy shorts for a baby boy in the UK in October? He’s got a jar of Marmite packed too. If all other feeding options fail – he loves a Marmite sandwich. Adrian and myself are not packed yet. Adrian is a lousy packer. I will have to scrutinise his choices before they go into the bags. I’ll have to say “get 6 t-shirts, 2 pairs of shorts”, or whatever he needs and get him to lay them on the bed so I can check them. Last trip he manage to pack one of his “decorating” t-shirts, complete with paint stains. Virgin Atlantic have advised me that they do not allow pipe cleaners in their aircraft cabins because they have a wire running through them. Any thoughts of having the kids while away 9 hours happily making pipe cleaner giraffes have been quashed. Anyone who needs to clean a pipe will be stuffed too. We toyed briefly with the idea of taking some modelling balloons on board but 3 things scuppered this idea. Firstly, you actually need a lot of space to do this. Secondly, a balloon going bang halfway across the Atlantic may have a detrimental effect on the health of any nervous passengers. Thirdly and most important, I refuse to be shown up in public by my 5 year old niece. This kid can whip up a balloon mouse in a couple of minutes then will sit back and giggle as she watches as once again Auntie Dawn’s balloon bursts while trying to shape the elephant’s ear. Has anyone ever tried to take a baby bouncer on board a plane and rig it up to one of the overhead luggage bins? If that’s not possible then Steven’s on board amusement will consist of: a wooden spoon, a yellow plastic bowl, a drinks coaster, a leather bookmark, a rubber door wedge and Brian the bedtime bunny. Our house looks like Toys r Us and he’d still rather play with these. The other two get the usual books and stuff. They may get a go on my Gameboy Advance too. Taking into consideration the advice given here and my total ineptitude at computer games, I have equipped my GBA with the following games: Tetris, The Powerpuff Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Disney’s Magical Quest, and Toy Story Racer. I’ve been trying for weeks and still can’t figure out how to get Buffy to pick up the stake, so I’ve yet to get on to the slaying bit , but I’m sure it’s very satisfying. Been to Tesco to check on the latest menswear lines so I know what to look for when I go Keith spotting. And if I see a lady in green scrubs then I will rush up and say hello as it surely must be Catherine, as all midwives I’ve ever seen have been wearing green scrubs. Or was it blue? Anyway that’s the state of play with 5 weeks and 6 days to go. Look out for the next instalment in around 5 weeks and 5 days.