Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Film review: Knocked Up

Continuing the theme of watching pregnancy-related movies, yesterday I rented Knocked Up, with my new favorite actress Katherine Heigl and the always adorable Paul Rudd. This movie is brilliant and I highly recommend it, for those expecting and those not! Its storyline (in a little bit like Juno's) is not entirely realistic, in that Alison, beautiful and successful, has a one-night stand with Ben, a complete stoner, gets pregnant, and decides to keep the baby. Despite their differences and all the roadblocks to a happy ending, Alison and Ben work together to build a foundation for the baby, with utterly hysterical results. I laughed out loud throughout the film and particularly loved Debbie, Alison's wacky sister (Debbie's response when Alison tells her she's not going to tell her work: "Are you the lady who doesn't realize she's pregnant until she's sitting on the toilet and the kid pops out?"); the scene outside the nightclub where the bouncer tells Debbie that she and Alison can't come in because Debbie's too old and Alison is pregnant; the assistant at E!, who was brilliant in her subtlely open animosity toward Alison; and gradually I even grew to love Ben's loser friends.

Yes, Knocked Up is goofy, and vulgar at times, but it's also really sweet, the characters are perfectly cast, and the dialogue is funny. Definitely think this is a winner and recommend a viewing!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Waiting for the spark from Heaven to fall

Woke up this morning, like many mornings of the past 3 weeks, disappointed not to have any negligible pain in my back or abdominal region which would represent a sign that Simba is on his/her way into the world. Sounds weird when I put it like that, but that's just the way I've felt.
We feel ready to meet our child, and being convinced I would deliver early has made it seem like an even longer wait!
My morning routine has been to wake up with Matt and see him off to work, at which point I come to the computer to log on for news from others via email that might take my mind off the waiting. Thought I should add a post this morning to this blog, and searched for a quote on "waiting". Interestingly, one of the ones that came up forms the title of this post, "waiting for the spark from Heaven to fall". I guess that spoke to me, as I feel that we are so close to being graced with a wonderful little being, a true gift, and are just ready to have the bundle in our arms.
The interesting thing was that this line came from a pastoral poem called "The Scholar Gipsy", written by Matthew Arnold, a Victorian poet for whom Matt's secondary school in Oxford was named. In it there is a lot of description about the Oxford area/landscape and plenty of places that Matt probably recognizes, including Cumnor Hill (the first time I met Matt's mother was at their home at an address called Clover Close in Cumnor Hill). With a bit more research into Matthew Arnold (I feel like I should have done this long ago, like when I first met Matt!), I discover the title of another of his famous works, the poem "Sohrab and Rustum". This makes this short half an hour spent piddling on the Internet even more interesting, since last night I finished reading Khaled Hosseini's beautiful novel The Kite Runner for the second time, and the story of Sohrab and Rustum plays a central role in that story. (Incidentally, I started The Kite Runner in the morning and made myself finish it before going to sleep, so convinced I was that something was going to happen overnight and not wanting to leave the book unfinished!!)
And, so, I guess, this time of idle waiting isn't all bad...I've learned something new this morning, and I like making little connections in a big world. But now, it's off for my morning cup of raspberry leaf tea...
To read "The Scholar Gipsy" in full:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Nothing to report today

Avid readers of Dances with Lyons may be tempted to come here first to find out any baby news, and as of today, we can announce that there is nothing to report!
Sunday the 24th is the official due date, so it's still, theoretically, too early, however the parents-to-be are getting impatient as each day goes by.
We will, however, keep everyone posted as and when we have news...!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

B&B Review: Chez l'Estomac de Maman

Chez l'Estomac de Maman has recently been recognized by the UK and US accommodation boards as a developing Bed and Breakfast for Young ones (BaBY), and DwL caught up with the owner and current guest in this feature profile.
These days as many B&B's and guest houses aim for subtlety, Chez l'Estomac de Maman differs from its peers in that respect: this is one BaBY that is not easily missed even on a busy street!
Although it's easily seen from a distance, don't assume it's not exclusive - the proprietors, Madame Maman and Monsieur Papa, state that the standard occupancy is for only a single guest at a time, although it would not be unheard of for the B&B to accommodate two, generally smaller-sized, guests.
The current client, likely to be someone famous since the guest registry lists the name of "Simba"--surely a pseudonym--was happy to talk to us about life at Chez l'Estomac de Maman:
"Mme. Maman has been really great and I've had a fantastic stay. She always seemed aware of making sure I was comfortable and wanting to get to know me. She usually knocks once or twice a day to check to see how I was; if I give a wave, she usually then lets me be. There are also a lot of nice touches, such as after-dinner snacks and herbal and decaf teas and coffees; I've also had a fair number of bubble baths and trips to the pool for swims. The food has been superb, although it has been hard at times to get a cold beer; on special occasions the evening meal might be served with a nice glass of wine. Early on, the place was spacious but gradually I've felt I'm running out of room, so I think it may be time for me to contemplate a move sometime soon. But I've enjoyed being here so much that it's been hard to think of leaving."

The owner, Madame Maman, told us that she and her husband had been thrilled at the venture:
"We've been very lucky with our first guest but Simba is reaching the end of our maximum stay. There's a great big exciting world out there beyond our walls, and we hope that, when the time is right, a guest decides when the right moment is for him or her to make a move."

Stars (out of 5): 5
Average length of stay: 37-42 weeks
Rates: negotiable
Food: room service available 24/7
Drink: wine, beer and champagne served occasionally

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Book Review: This Book Will Save Your Life

The Northwest and South London Karate Club for Readers recently read the book, This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes, and the DwL editor, like Richard and Judy [note from ed: for the American readers of this blog, Richard and Judy are tv presenters and have a book club similar to Oprah's], would recommend this if you are looking for a good and enjoyable read. Initially I was turned off by the cover, a white canvas covered with images of colorful doughnuts and which from the outside appears to be a self-help book, but on the inside I found the writing to be funny, sadly sweet, and easy to sink my teeth into.
The novel tells the story of Richard Novak, a middle-aged divorce living in Los Angeles who has disconnected himself from the world. The story begins with his having some sort of mild attack that sends him to the emergency room and from that experience, he gradually opens up to those around him. I found the dialogue of Anhil, the foreign doughnut-shop owner with a positive attitude about everything, to be amusing, although some readers in the "karate club" thought that this portrayal of an immigrant to the US to be demeaning (Anhil: "I am not your stereotropical man who comes to America with poor ideas"; Richard: "Do you mean stereotypical?"; Anhil: "Yes, that's what I just said").
In the course of the tale, Richard's experiences skim the surreal as he goes about his life in disaster-wrought LA - one episode portrays the rescue of a horse out of a sinkhole, and there are also car chases and fires along the way. A good portion of the story involves how he reconnects with his teenage son Ben whom he had estranged years before when he moved from NY to LA. Above all to me This Book was a commentary about the need to open yourself up to life and not live in a box, but for Richard this was made easier because of the fact that money was never an issue, and I struggled with that a bit. Overall, though, a recommended read; just don't expect it to save your life and I think you'll probably enjoy it too.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Quote of the Day

Submitted by Karla, Grandmother-to-be, on a transatlantic phone call to Meg, when talking about how nice it's been for Meg to have a few days off:
"You'll be amazed, you may feel like a princess now, but when that baby comes, you'll just feel like a slave!"

The editor wishes to add that this woman, by all accounts, loves being a mother, so I think she meant it in a good way, but wanted to express the overall theme of how tiring it's going to feel initially!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Film review: Juno

The DwL editor took advantage of matinee movie prices to see Juno, the film that everyone in the US has been talking about for months and that finally opened in the UK on Friday. The best line of the film has to be when Jennifer Garner's character Vanessa is holding the new baby in the hospital nursery, and asks Bren, Juno's stepmother (Allison Janney - love her!), "How do I look?". Bren's reply: "Like a new Mom: scared shitless." Overall the film had me in simultaneous tears and laughter throughout many points along the way, and it's hard to know if that's just me being a hormonal pregnant woman identifying with the various aspects of being pregnant (feeling like a "planet"), waiting for a baby (loved the scene in the nursery about the color of the yellow paint), or if that was the reaction of many. It had been a while since I'd seen a movie in a theatre so this was a nice one to enjoy!

How I Spent My Maternity Leave...

There's an episode of Grey's Anatomy where the hospital makes a rule that the interns can't work for more than a certain number of hours per day, which leaves Meredith and co at a bit of a loss since they're so used to being at the hospital what seems like 24/7. One scene shows Meredith standing in front of a huge stack of clean clothes and saying something about having washed and dried 6 loads of laundry in this newfound free time. I feel a bit that way about how I've spent the first couple of days of my maternity leave...being able to do more than one load of laundry in a day, or period of days, is really an amazing feeling! So far I've felt my nesting instinct in relation to food and clothing, but not yet cleaning. I'm off to paint a mirror and then maybe finally I'll be ready to dust and hoover....

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Nesting instinct kicking in?

The spirits of domestic gurus Delia Smith, Martha Stewart and Betty Crocker have invaded our home, the result being a mega cook-a-thon by the DwL editor, 38 weeks pregnant on Sunday. Many of the books about getting ready for a baby advise that you should prepare and freeze things like casseroles and stews for when you return from the hospital and are too exhausted to cook. Given that I hardly ever cook under the best circumstances, I do agree that it would be unlikely for me to have the energy or motivation to do so with a several-day-old baby.

So, this week has been about going back to the basics in the kitchen, where I've made 6 dishes like pork in cider, chicken casserole in the slo-cooker, and shepherd's pie. Cooking is tiring! The challenge now will be for us to remember that we have this food, instead of just instantly reaching for the take-away menus once we're home.

After the cooking, it'll be on to the cleaning....!