Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The year in review

January was about a big bump, and my driving test. I worried, but I passed. I still can't park. I stopped work, or the type of work that involves going to an office. I was seized by the "nesting instinct": I cooked, I cleaned, and I filled my days imagining what life was going to be like with a baby. I watched a lot of movies. I ate pineapple. I ate curry. I took long walks, and then my legs hurt in the evening. I wondered what contractions would feel like. I finally found out. I experienced the hardest day of my life. We had a baby, a boy. I was surprised that he wasn't a girl, but he was still beautiful, the most beautiful baby I'd ever seen. I was exhausted, but I was thankful that I hadn't died. We struggled over what to call him, and eventually decided on Blake. We've been very happy with that choice. I ached. I cried. I was happy. I was sad. I was overwhelmed. I was a mother.

We came home. Blake didn't sleep as much as the babies in the books did. We read a lot of books. I was tired. Matt was wonderful: he cooked, he cleaned, he reassured me. He was overwhelmed too. Blake met his grannies; they loved him right away. We watched Blake sleep and wished he did it more. We changed a lot of nappies. I fretted over breastfeeding; it wasn't easy. Nothing seemed easy anymore. He and I finally got the hang of it. I did a lot of rocking my baby to sleep. I dreamt of being rocked to sleep myself, not that I'd need the rocking part. I did laundry constantly. I never had anything to wear.

The clocks moved forward; spring came. I watched the leaves appear on the trees. I watched Blake's hair fall out. He looked like such an old man. I felt like such an old woman. I managed to shower most days, but makeup was off the menu. Blake got baby acne and needed makeup worse than I did. I spoke to my mother. I spoke to my mother-in-law. They told me their babies weren't easy either. I got lots of advice. I felt loved by friends and family. I did a lot of walking. I met new people and made new friends. I exercised, mildly. I looked at daycare for Blake; it seemed so long away still. We ventured to the US; we beamed at how good Blake was on the plane. Good meant that he slept for a fair portion of the trip. I got a new camera. I took too many pictures. I had been there when Matt became a father but it was fun to watch him become "Daddy". My own father, for his part, seemed to enjoy having a little grandson to chuckle at.

Summer came, but it was London, so it wasn't summer like in many parts of the world. I longed for sleep. I prayed that solids would help. They didn't, really, but they made the nappies worse. I bought the baby food cookbook and made my own baby food. I never thought I would do that. Blake learned to crawl. He didn't want to stay put. We decided to move. The credit crunch meant that nobody was buying property, so we decided to stay put. I yearned for more space, and longed to live in the middle of nowhere so that I wouldn't have to feel guilty about the neighbours hearing a screaming baby. I was thankful to live in the middle of a city where I had plenty to do. I had thought it was hard to keep an eye on Blake when he was rolling over, but it was ten times harder when he was crawling and pulling himself up. The Olympics were on, but I hardly watched any; I didn't see one second of women's gymnastics, so I can't say whether those Chinese girls were old enough or not. I don't know where the weeks went. I longed for more sleep. I longed for a day off. Saturdays and Sundays were nice, but they were never vacation days.

In the fall, we had Blake baptized. He was an angel. I tried to exercise more seriously. I realized that my body would never be the same again. We dressed Blake as a cowboy for Halloween. I watched the leaves change color. I watched America vote for a black man to replace a white cowboy in the White House. For the first time in 8 years, I voted for the person who won. The world seemed a brighter place. I watched the leaves fall off the trees. I watched my bank balance dwindle as Blake's smile got bigger and bigger. Teeth started to appear, and that caused some tears. I felt guilty for the neighbour. I felt guilty a lot of the time. I made peace offerings in the form of wine. I wondered if anyone had ever died of sleep deprivation. I started to worry about going back to work. The kind that takes place in an office. I felt thankful that at least for the moment, I have a job to go back to.
We all had colds, multiple ones that seemed to run into one another and kept us feeling ill for most of one month. All of a sudden, it was Christmas, but I hardly bought any presents. I knew we had everything we really need. I was thankful for everything I have. I thought about how nice it would be to be a grandparent, but reminded myself that grandparents had to be parents to begin with. I started to think about resolutions, which include being a better wife, and drinking more water. I always want to be better...a better friend to those who call me their friends, a better mother to my son, a better wife to my wonderful husband, a better blogger, and so on. But I do my best, I tell myself.

It's been quite a year, one I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams. I've done nothing; I've done loads. I've seen amazing transformations. I've felt joy and sadness, agony and ecstasy, sleep deprivation and...more sleep deprivation. This, as I can best recall, was my blessed, wonderful, sleep-deprived 2008.
From the editorial, managerial, and contributing teams here at DwL, we wish you a healthy, happy and joyous New Year. May 2009 be your best year ever and may all your dreams come true. I'm just hoping for sweet dreams.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

And it was so much fun I had to try the disco version!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

I couldn't resist

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

A few days at Granny Lyons' house

We just spent a few days at Granny Lyons' house where Blake discovered pianos and satsumas. There was also a whole new set of kitchen cabinets to explore; unfortunately about an hour before we left, he somehow slithered between the two of us and managed to pull out - and break - a lovely serving dish. We hope that a grandmother's love is unconditional!
We are soon headed off to North Carolina where Granny Karla and Grandpa John await (Granny Karla with bated breath, Grandpa John with trepidation about the havoc Blake is going to wreak in the house!). Not sure how postings will work but we will aim to do a DwL Christmas message, a bit like the Queen's on Christmas Day. It will be my first Christmas in Hickory since 2004 - my how much has changed since then?! Wish us luck on the flight...Blake and I are off on our own and Matt comes the week after. I'm hoping for an empty plane and/or kind and hearing-impaired passengers.

Is there a helpline for this behavior?

So, we have a slight issue on our hands, which is anytime Blake sees the gadget known as the camera make an appearance, he decides to make this ridiculous face which he no doubt thinks is exactly the face we want him to be making, but is in fact the exact opposite! Head thrown back (perfect for seeing the inside of his nose?!), eyes nearly shut, nose crinkled, and full display of his massive front tooth. Again and again and again. Matt and I are undecided as to which of us may have encouraged this. Evidence abounds from our friends' Christmas lunch held last weekend.

Boys being boys

Blake's friend Hugo came over recently to hang out. They had a grand ol' time eating what I think is basically the children's "organic" version of Cheese Puffs and some gingerbread biscuit things. You can see Blake could not contain his excitement at having a friend over, giving it his now infamous "cheeky crinkly nose totally preening look" that he thinks is cute but really isn't!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I had some Eurostar points to redeem so we headed off for a short trip to Lille for Blake's first trip to the Continent. We got the train on Monday (first time I'd travelled out of St Pancras since it all moved from Waterloo) and arrived in Lille, a place neither Matt nor I had ever been, in the early afternoon. Blake would have been happy to stay in the hotel room the whole time such was his joy at being in a new place and being able to explore all the nooks and crannies of the room. To his dismay, we went out for a walk in the cold and fog, so he expressed his boredom by napping while Matt and I had a lunch date of galettes at a little creperie. Then it was back to the hotel for a Lyons family nap!

The next day was brighter, but still cold, so we wandered all over the city and finally stopped for lunch at a family-friendly restaurant (wow, how our needs have changed - they had a high chair and bread rolls so it was perfect). It was a nice getaway and fun to explore somewhere new.

Lille in December