Monday, March 23, 2009

Where to begin?!

Well, I have to say that the time since Blake's first birthday seems to have flown, and I can't believe how long it has been since I put fingers to keys to do a post. So much seems to have happened that I hardly know where to begin, but I guess I could sum it up in a list:
- Blake turned one, and pretty much from that day on he has not crawled much since! He seems to now think of himself like the rest of us big people, and therefore gets around on 2 feet instead of hands and knees.
- Granny Karla and Grandpa John came from the US, and we all had a good time, apart from
- all 5 of us getting a nasty gastric bug which lasted about 10 days in total. The order was Blake, Meg, Granny K, and then Matt and Grandpa rounded out the complete set of innocent people crippled by this nasty thing (probably the noravirus, what likely caused the Fat Duck restaurant to have to shut)
- On Thursday a week ago, we went off to Clark's to get Blake's first pair of real shoes. He absolutely loved being the center of attention in the middle of the shop and flirted with pretty much everyone from the salesgirl to a pair of middle-aged women who were admiring his fancy steps in the new shoes. They took a little Polaroid of him which was fun, and now he can walk outside which we're enjoying doing.
- We celebrated Mother's Day yesterday in the UK with a trip to Regent's Park and Primrose Hill. Slightly cruelly we parked the buggy on the side of the hill and left Blake to his own devices...he basically kept toppling over like a little drunk old was considerably more enjoyable than my official first Mother's Day which happened to be when Blake was 4 days old and I was desperate to get discharged from the hospital.
- I had my first "parent-teacher" meeting today at nursery - hee, hee. I learned that Blake is generally very good and doesn't cry or moan much during the day, likes the "home corner", books and pull toys, and that he really doesn't like finger painting and having his hands dirty (apart from with food, that is ok). I was very intrigued by the last point, although it could be that he will prefer impressionism or pointillism (something generally less messy) and not simply that he's unlikely to be a famous artist.
- At least once a day - sometimes much more often - I've regretted not having more time to spend on the blog, and other things that I just seem not to have any time for, notably the tidiness of the flat, attention to my ever-expanding waist, bum and rotundness of my face (I am currently courting possibly the most expensive gym membership on the planet...if you never go, it seems like a fortune), more/enough sleep, the list could go on and on...
Maybe one of these days I'll feel like I'm back in control of my life, but it doesn't seem likely anytime soon. At least writing this post will make me feel better, although by this point I would not be surprised if DwL readers have given up on checking in for updates. Stay with us and a closer-to-normal service may resume at some point soon...!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Week in review

So now I know what I should have asked for for Christmas - a machine that either slows down time or adds additional hours to the day so that I could actually get everything done that I need to (or would like to)! It has seemed busier than ever, and I've been reminded of times in my life when I just had to take a loan from the sleep bank in order to fit things in. Last weekend was pretty full-on with Blake's birthday, and finally this week we had our first "normal" start-to-finish week - with my actually working all the hours expected of me, in the right locations, and Blake's getting through 4 whole days of nursery without catching something or needing to leave early. Thursday we held the rescheduled friends' party for Blake, which was good fun; while he enjoyed demonstrating his new walking skills, I was wishing we had a bigger place as our living room felt rather small when filled with 9 toddlers!
On Saturday Diane was the guest of honor at her baby shower, of which I was the hostess. I was up late on Friday baking and then was rescued by my amazing husband on Saturday morning as he set to work creating a selection of finger sandwiches that would rival a 5-star hotel's afternoon tea menu. Granny Karla and Grandpa John arrived from the US on Saturday morning, so while they rested we went off to Woking to admire "le bump" and see the progress that Jamie and Diane have made on their house in anticipation of the arrival of Baby Cook. They look pretty ready, or as ready as they'll ever be! Blake also admired Jamie's new Sony Bravia tv by repeatedly putting his face to the screen and licking it (erm, I do hope it still works today!). I then tested Jamie's preparedness for diaper duty by melting a Mars Bar in a nappy and presenting it open to him, with the guise of asking him if where I could throw it away. Always cool under pressure, he was swift to whisk it away to the outdoor bin before we let him in on the joke.
Last night's sleep was perhaps the most welcome activity of my past two weeks; I woke up this morning feeling so refreshed. We went to check out Kensal Rise's newest eating establishment, The Diner, but our reviews were mixed. There was a point when, of the 7 or 8 occupied tables, not one of them had any food on it, so I think they are going to have to improve their turnover if they want to have a chance of surviving. On the plus side, they do have a dedicated play area for the kids, so at least Blake was relatively entertained while we waited forever for the food to show up!
We then went over to the Farmers' Market in Queen's Park, namely to browse and for me to celeb spot (didn't see anyone I recognized). After that it was back here for a lazy Sunday watching cricket and dozing. Mom and Dad went off to Elizabeth's for a few days and once they'd gone I then had a fantastic nap on the couch for about 2 hours.
And so, here it is, nearing midnight on Sunday, and I've rewritten my To-Do list in anticipation of a new week. On it are the things I think I need to do; I really might as well forget about the things I'd like to do (some of them have been on there since September!). I just watched an episode of ER on Channel 4's Catch-up tv and only have one more to watch before I am actually "caught up." I'm also trying to stay with Desperate Housewives and on Tuesday I'm looking forward to the new BBC3 sketch show with Mathew Horne and James Corden of Gavin and Stacey fame. Do I actually have time to watch tv? No, not really. Will I find a way to fit it in somehow? Probably. I guess I'll just have to hope that the sleep bank, unlike many banks in our current economic climate, still continues to lend to people like me.

Multi-tasking, Blake style

Here he is, walking, laughing, and now with ball tricks...

Can I get this as my ringtone?

This has to be one of my favorite sounds ever....

Walking man

"A hypothetical destination
Say, who is this walking man?" - JT

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Working life

By 9:00 am this morning, I was ready for the day to be over and to be back on the sofa for the evening. It seems these days I just have to pack so much into a single day that I feel constantly pressed for time. Here's the breakdown of the past 24 hours or so for me...
10:00 pm - 1:30 am: Miscellaneous computer work - downloading Blake's birthday photos, finally replying to emails which have been sitting in my inbox for several days now, short blog, reinstalling Skype after various failed attempts to have a video call with Will and Raina (we could see them, but they saw a black box for us!). I have a new phone, which has a feature that, when you set an alarm, tells you the time until the alarm goes off. I've found it to be rather depressing because it generally does not add up to enough hours of sleep!
6:15 am - alarm goes off. Guess I must have hit snooze because it wasn't until 6:45 that I actually got out of bed.
Panic about what to wear, followed by relief when I remember a shirt which I ironed last week; although not very stylish, will do just fine for the office.
Quickly slap a bit of makeup on and go to heat water for bottle. This part of the morning should now be better as we're hopefully going to move Blake off of formula and onto regular milk, meaning that there should be less "waiting for the boiled water to cool" in the morning.
7:12: Bottle to Blake. Realization that I will not have time for breakfast despite the time-saving from not having to iron.
7:18-7:25: Attempt to dress wriggling Blake; make mental note to change the heating settings as after all this exertion I am sweating profusely. Quick spray of perfume. Finally manage to get both of us ready with a few minutes to spare, although we still don't manage to leave the flat until 7:32
7:32: Where is the stroller?! Remember it's in the car...
7:33: Greet next-door neighbour on the way out. Should I ask if she thinks we're quieter since the sleep improvement plan? No, maybe not...
7:35: Start walking toward bus stop. Smile as I remember finding "Squirrel" as we pass by #29.
7:40: Electronic board for the bus says it will be 3 minutes until the #52 bus. Not too bad a wait.
7:46: 52 bus finally comes; fortunately no other strollers on board already so on we go.
7:52: Stuck in traffic on Kensal Rise. Blake making it very clear to everyone on the bus that he is not happy to be stuck in his stroller, on a bus stuck in traffic. I look around the bus trying to earn sympathy and do mental calculations once again about whether we could afford to go down to one salary. The rest of the bottle helps calm him down. Ponder how in the world will we ever move him off the bottle, and decide to save that thought for now.
7:56: Finally moving down Ladbroke Grove, have annoying feeling that I didn't brush my teeth. Remember doing it, so that's good, but am grateful to have mints in my purse.
8:00: Arrive at nursery; no surprise, we're the first ones there! B starts wailing as I leave, as he seems to do every day. Return to mental calculations and wonder if I could start my own school or something.
8:05: Back on bus, scope area for a place to pick up something quick for breakfast
8:10: Get scone for 48p at Tregesers and am amazed as the same scone would cost over £1.00 at Liverpool Street station.
8:12: Enter Ladbroke Grove station. Decide not to get free Metro paper as all the news is too depressing. See loads of people exiting the station and sigh as I realize they're all coming from an eastbound train. Even though the announcement proclaims a "good service", this will mean at least a 5-minute wait.
8:18: Man on platform reminds me of Nicole Kidman's country singer husband but I can't recall his name. It's not him, anyway. Scoff scone and wish I'd had cereal at home instead. Wonder what I'm going to do to get rid of the very obvious spare tire which has crept on to my waist. Realise that I am one of those people who has a gym membership but doesn't use it.
8:20: Train finally comes; I don't get a seat but am happy to have a good book I'm currently reading - The Outcast by kind-of local author Sadie Jones.
8:21: Strong smell of mothballs. It's not me, though, I'm pretty sure.
8:52: Arrive at Aldgate station
8:55: Take stairs up in order to work on exercising when I can. By floor 2 I am breathing really heavily. By floor 4 I am ready to collapse.
9:00: Laptop slowly comes to life. Regret not being in a little bit earlier as it's 9:15 by the time I get some water and a cup of tea.
9:15-1:00 pm: Pretty much nonstop emails, calls and meetings; I need a break from the office so I go to Pret to get a sandwich. I wanted sushi but decided Pret's offering was too expensive at £5.25 a box. Sandwich not all that much better at £3.50.
1:12 pm: Take the stairs again. This time I count them; there are over 100! Arriving at the landing, Emma from HR is waiting for the lift and tells me that she heard the steps getting slower and slower and wondered if she was going to have to go rescue someone!
1:20: Sandwich consumed, it's back to more emails, calls and meetings til 4:30
4:28: Check TFL website for service updates. A good service running on all lines - for now!
4:35: Out the door - taking the stairs down is much easier. Wonder how much longer I would have stayed if I didn't have to leave.
4:38: Miss Metropolitan Line by a second but fortunately Circle Line is waiting and ready to leave.
5:15: Arrive Ladbroke Grove and catch bus for a few stops to nursery
5:20: Get Blake, who's barefoot and surprisingly wearing the same clothes I left him in this morning. He greets me with a lick (which he thinks is a kiss). He's had a pretty good day, they tell me, although he didn't eat much and has just had diarrhea. Great.
5:30: 52 bus comes, although it's packed and the driver tells me I can't get on with the stroller. I tell her I'll fold it and this takes forever while half the bus gives me dirty looks and the other half seems to take pity and try to offer me their seats.
5:42: The area for the strollers has cleared so now the driver wants me to move. A kind man (who agrees that the bus driver is not making life easy for me) tries to help me by moving the stroller but by this point my thoughts are only on how in the world I could possibly avoid this part of the day. Blake is flirting with a young woman who must remind him of the waitresses at the William IV pub, by whom he is always mesmerized. He then decides, however, to try to grab my glasses off my face which makes standing up on the lurching bus with him in my arms and keeping the glasses on my face very difficult. Resolve to think a bit more about contacts.
5:56: We finally get home. Blake has a banana, an avocado, and a yogurt, but he's clearly exhausted so I then try to get him into the bath as quickly as possible.
6:20: Sound in the hallway - hooray, Matt is home!
6:45: Blake's had bottle and rubbing eyes, so he's the lucky one who gets to go to bed first!
Til now, various Internet activities - including researching various out-of-the-way places for Mom and Dad's upcoming trip to the UK and a trip to Scotland for us in September. I am utterly exhausted.

And I bet tomorrow will be much of the same....!

Happy birthday, Anna!

Blake has the esteemed privilege of sharing a birthday with our wonderful friend Anna, so DwL would like to wish her a happy birthday for Saturday as well! With Granny Lyons in town to babysit, Matt and I were able to help Anna celebrate with a throng of folks at Meson Bilbao in Maida Vale, where the sangria was very tasty and it was good to catch up with many of the gang. As I was running out the door to go to the restaurant I realized that I forgot my camera, so I have no photos to commemorate the evening. But a good time was had by all and we hope Anna enjoyed her celebrations.

The big 0-1!

I am now writing as the proud mother of a one-year-old! How crazy it seems that it was only 366 days ago that we were experiencing our first day home from the hospital with this little being who, at the time, was such a complete mystery to us. Now he really does just seem to be a miniature person, as opposed to a baby, and he enjoyed his birthday celebrations on Saturday; he got lots of fantastic presents and enjoyed playing with his cousin Emma (although "playing" might be generous as he generally just tried to take whatever she was holding out of her hands...we are going to have to work on manners, I think!). As you'll see, his "cake" was a collection of cupcakes since I didn't want to waste what I'd baked to take to nursery and for the little party which was cancelled- as it was, he wasn't much impressed with my efforts and didn't eat any of it!! I was honestly too busy and stressed to get too emotional about its being his actual birthday, but it certainly was a milestone. It's just so crazy to think how much things have changed in one year...for Blake, for me, for Matt, for us as a family. He also picked his birthday to really start to put some steps together. I would post the video but the technology genius that I am, I thought I was recording this long walking sequence only to find that I hadn't pressed the right button! Hopefully we'll get some clips up soon. In the meantime, here are a few photos from the special day!