Monday, May 31, 2010

Star award of the weekend

Fortunately for us, Noah is continuing to be an "easy" baby, and his good nature was on display pretty much throughout the whole of the weekend, so he wins my Star award of the 3 days. Matt came home around 5:00 - aaahh, I think I know what the starting pitcher in a baseball game must feel when the relief pitcher comes on. It was hard at times but we did it, and generally I think we all did great. Matt made it to the top of Mt Snowdon, and Blake, Noah and I all stayed fed, watered, dry, and breathing - my success criteria. I also managed two showers and baked a birthday cake for Matt, so I felt very pleased with it all.

Alas, just when you think you have everything under control, you can't find the specific USB cable that you need to connect your phone to the computer to download the pictures snapped over the weekend. I'll keep looking and try to get those posted.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 2 in the Big Brother + Little Brother house

We survived Day 2. I am too exhausted to write more but I have no idea how single parents cope. My heart goes out to them...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy birthday, Matt!

Happy birthday to the best husband and Daddy in the world! We look forward to celebrating with you on Monday when you're back from your climb...

With Noah this week:

Worshipping at the temple of Phil and Ted

I made what felt like a big decision two weeks ago to buy a double buggy, big in that the one I picked came with a pretty big pricetag. Matt had received a belated cash gift for Noah from work so we put it toward the buggy, and it has definitely paid off already. I had been doing way too much driving to and from the park, and it has been great for me to use my legs instead of our wheels.

The one I picked is a brand called phil&ted's and is designed to transform itself in various ways to accommodate the baby and the toddler, and eventually the two toddlers. Here is Blake last weekend in it(Noah is lying flat behind him), although he doesn't look too pleased in this shot.

He actually seems to like it pretty well since I tell him that he gets to drive Noah around - I read in a review about someone else telling their older child that he was getting to "drive", and it does seem to work, for now at least.

After taking the buggy out this morning and again this afternoon, I was feeling very happy with my choice. It's easy to push and steer, and I appreciated its slimness when we popped into Tesco to get some Cheerios after we'd been to the park in the late afternoon. In fact the only criticism I might have about this buggy is that it gave me a false sense of potential accomplishment: I was feeling so positive about how I'd handled the day that while waiting to check out, I decided to buy the paper...and frankly that was just slightly on the ambitious side! But it did fit nicely in the basket underneath, and given that I have only the vaguest sense of what's happening in terms of current affairs, whether I read it today or in a week's time kind of makes no difference.

phil&ted's brand slogan is "Adapt and Survive", and I'd like to thank them for allowing me to do just that.

The power of the "If/After/When" clause

Matt turns 35 tomorrow and has gone away for the weekend to climb Mt Snowdon in Wales, with his brother, Tom, and good friend, Matt Johnson. I got through Day 1 of having both the boys just fine, and in fact at any point when I was feeling like I had it bad, I encountered someone who made me realize that actually, my job was easy!

The weather today wasn't great, so by about 10:00 we headed over to the Horniman Museum and aquarium in Forest Hill. Anyone in Southeast London who has children has no doubt been to this fantastic place - it's the perfect destination when it's raining (as it often is), since it's not only great for kids, but it's inexpensive and dry. While we were admiring the crabs in the aquarium and wondering whether the blue lobster was going to make an appearance, I saw a colleague who has 3 boys under the age of 3 and a half, including one who was born about a month before Noah. She was there on her own while her husband studied for an exam, and man, if I thought looking after two was hard, well, what she was doing was incredible! It was really great to see her and we got to chat in that way I have to do now which is to talk while not looking at the person I'm talking to since I'll have both eyes on that little rascal Blake.

We then came home for some lunch and a nap. All of us napped which was wonderful, and Blake woke up with the statement which he loves: "I did great napping, Mommy." You can tell what earns my praise!

After a bit of tv (unavoidable), we went off to the local Bel Air Park, and while there I got chatting to a Dad who was on his own for the weekend with his nearly 3-year-old son. He said he was already exhausted, and although he only had the one kid to look after, I think if you're not in the habit of looking after a little one, it surely feels hard. Yet another instance where I thought that my job was a breeze.

Blake did need some cajoling to get into his buggy, and I started to realize how often I had started sentences today with clauses beginning with "If", "When" or "After". "If you get in the buggy, you can have a biscuit." "When you get dressed, we can go out." "After you give Noah back his dummy, you can watch Chuggington." Thank goodness for that powerful language tool, the dependent clause.

Blake and I had some dinner and I managed to get him to sleep about 9:00. Noah was pretty soon after by about 9:30, and I did the dishes and tried to get a few things organized for tomorrow. I enjoyed a cup of decaf coffee and a cup of decaf tea (wine was tempting, but I decided not to bother - the thought of doing what I did today with a hangover made me shudder, not that I've had that much to drink in so long I could even remember what it feels like).

And now, bring on Day 2, after some sleep of course...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Postnatally yours

Last Thursday I had my 6-week postnatal check-up, with a very nice nurse at our local doctor's office, "Nurse Patsy". There were a few things about the visit that have made me laugh so I thought I'd share them. Nurse Patsy is a grandmother herself, a very kind lady who was very warm and easy to talk to. She also managed to get away with saying this without making me feel too bad, although I have laughed about it several times: "I am guessing by looking at you that you're breastfeeding."

Now I didn't question her on it but I'm assuming that she based that on the fact that I looked tired and like I hadn't had a full night's sleep in a while (a quick look down reassured me that I didn't have a boob hanging out in the open). Anyway, she was, of course, right, but it has just made me laugh several times since. If Matt had said that, for instance, I think my reaction would have been slightly different! Nurse Patsy and I were actually talking about whether I should be on iron supplements, and I'm waiting on the bloodwork to see if I am a bit low.

One of the things that happens in this check-up is that the new mother has to complete the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale questionnaire. This is a set of questions about how you've been feeling in the past 7 days that is supposed to give an indication about whether you might be suffering from postnatal depression. Fortunately I was within the normal range , although my scores for the questions about feeling anxious and worried and scared and panicky were on the higher side (this was when I was having all my mother-duck-looking-after-ducklings anxieties being released, including my anxiety dream about leaving Noah at a bus stop while chasing Blake into a laundromat). Since then I feel a lot better about these things and know that I don't need to put myself in situations where Blake can easily run off leaving me to run after him and therefore abandoning Noah.

At any rate the first question on the Edinburgh scale is this: "I have been able to laugh and see the funny side of things." To which I answered, "As much as I always could." And I have a case in point! On Wednesday I went off to the Dulwich post office to mail Henry Thompson a 2nd birthday gift, which was actually the Christmas present for all 4 Thompson kids which I never managed to mail to them. On the way back through the park, I walked past some sort of construction site on my left. It was a sunny day, and I was enjoying the greenness of the park, watching birds fly by and didn't actually notice the site much, apart from noting that some work was going on. As I passed by, I heard the first notes of the Righteous Brothers' You've Lost that Loving Feeling start to waft through the spring air, and I had this sudden feeling that I was about to be serenaded a la Goose and Maverick in Top Gun - kind of a musically-assisted form of cat-calling.

As a breastfeeding mother, I am still in the mindset of thinking I need to consume additional calories (usually in the form of chocolate cookies), but in fact I'm probably consuming many more than needed. Needless to say, I'm not exactly at my most svelte. So I thought to myself, well, this is kind of nice, to be serenaded/cat-called, even if it just some builders and they probably do this all day. I turned to acknowledge them, and what did I see but two fifty-something men, who happen to have the radio on, enjoying their cups of tea, looking the complete opposite direction to me! My optimism definitely made me laugh, although in thinking about it, it could be seen as slightly delusional! As with a lot of things these days, I'm just going to blame sleep deprivation...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

DwL to undergo upgrade

Every now and then I click on the "Next Blog" link at the top of mine, to peruse what others write and post about. It made me realize that DwL was a little bland in terms of "look and feel", so I'm going to try to take advantage of some of the things that are available by Blogger. You may see some changes - and hopefully you'll like them - but rest assured that the content will remain the same. And presumably if you're reading this, you want it to stay roughly the same?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fun fair not so fun

I have always felt pretty confident in my judgment - sure, I often seek a second opinion for certainty - but when both your husband and your mother tell you that you did the wrong thing, you kind of have to realize that they're probably right.

There has been a lot happening around here lately: on Thursday Blake for the first time did correctly what he was supposed to do in his potty (#1). I don't necessarily think it marks the true start of toilet training as I think he himself was a bit surprised to see something in the bottom of his new plastic Thomas the Tank Engine potty, but it was something and I was very excited! Probably more for myself than for him, since changing two sets of diapers is a slight drag.

We had glorious sunshine over the weekend and on Sunday we went to Dulwich Park to check out the fun fair which was taking place. At first I thought that the rides were all a bit too big for Blake, but then we found a little set of cars and vehicles that went around and around, much to the fascination of the children. Blake agreed to go on it and settled himself in a pink VW Beetle emblazoned with a logo and picture of Barbie; for the first circuit of the ride he looked slightly terrified but once he knew where we were he smiled and seemed to like it. So far, so fun at the fun fair.

After the ride ended and Blake was mulling over events, he happened to see that the vehicle two behind the Barbie car was a fire engine, and proceeded to throw a massive tantrum about wanting to "go on the fire engine." I was of the opinion that one time around was enough, and that he needed to accept that he might not always get his way (nb: we had already conceded to the ice cream that had begun to be asked for as soon as we set off for the park). Well, he REALLY turned on the tears and the screaming, but I told Matt that even if he went on the fire engine, he would probably then just ask to go again, either again on the fire engine or on one of the "motorbycles" - as he calls them - as soon as he got off, and we'd have to deal with his unhappiness at our saying no eventually. I wanted to stick to my guns, and it was a pretty miserable walk through the park, with the tears streaming down Blake's bright red face, first my trying to wrestle him away and then Matt achieving what I wasn't strong enough to do. Blake really wanted to go on the fire engine. I mean really wanted to go on it.

Eventually we ended up on a path where we got to admire some insects and greenery and he calmed down, but later that night just as we were going to sleep, Matt said that he wished we'd let him have his way. We talked a little about why I thought he shouldn't have, and that he won't remember and that there will be years of these types of fairs ahead, but hearing Matt's remorse at the decision made me really sad. And of course Granny Karla said she would have let him go on the ride, so that made 2 of them.

Looking back on it, I too wish I'd agreed to it; I guess I just picked the wrong event to try to exercise some control over, in a series of events that I often can't direct or steer in the way I think they should go because of the way that a 2-year-old's brain works. When I think about what I want both for my boys and from them, it would be to teach them to respect others, an awareness about the need to share, to be kind and generous, to say "please" and "thank you" (unprompted). Certainly not to be spoiled, oh no! In hindsight, I do see that acquiescing to one £2 ride on an fun fair fire engine would not be spoiling Blake, and that regretting the event is for me by far worse than any worry I would have had about spoiling him by giving in. Of course above all I want the boys to be happy, and in this case, happiness was a ride on the fire engine. I wish I hadn't denied a sweet boy that simple pleasure.

The Barbie car turned out not to be the wheels of choice on the day (fire engine in the background)...

In the garden with a chocolate biscuit and a little brother...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Reflections mid-weekend

Earlier in the week I was watching a program about a nature-enthusiast family and their tracking of the wild world on their doorstep. I usually don't really get along with documentary type shows, but I tried to persevere with this one since Blake was still awake and I was seeking a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse/Chuggington alternative. At any rate, I did enjoy it, despite being at times slightly annoyed by how idyllic it all seemed (I wasn't alone in that thought). The segment that struck me the most was the part about a mother duck who was venturing out with her ducklings - 10 of them! - and trying to keep them safe. At one point they headed off down the river and everyone went over this pretty large waterfall apart from one little duckling who seemed too scared of the height. It seemed uncertain about whether to go over the edge and the camera cut to the mother who seemed to be encouraging the duckling from afar. Finally he did join up with the family and the mother succeeded at keeping her entire set of ducklings safe and within her reach. I was thinking about my worries of how to handle 2 (one of whom isn't even mobile!) and how hard it must be to keep 10 little ones within reach, but as I commented about this to Matt, he made the observation that for the most part, the little ducks actually followed their mother - unlike Blake who seems dead set on just heading in the opposite direction to me! It just reminded me of how natural the mother's protective instinct is.

On Friday Noah and I spent some time "playing" on his blanket. This meant him flailing all around, punching the air, kicking his little legs, and emitting these sweet gurgles and coos. I thought to myself that I would love to keep him at this age forever, but then realized how a) that's not possible and b) that's not really what I want - I of course want to see him start to become his own person, master new skills and experience more of the world than from his back in his moses basket, pram, or in our arms. Even though it is soooo wonderful to have him just look at me with his sweet eyes that seem to say, "Hey Mom, this is nice. Life is good."

We had some nice sunshine today so we went to the park, debuting the double buggy which seemed to work pretty well for all involved. Blake has really fallen in love with ice cream, or at least has fallen in love with the idea of asking for an ice cream and generally doing so on a day where his request is honored. My friend Bianca let me in on a good "white lie" if I need, which is the one about when the ice cream van plays music, that means he's all out of ice cream. I can see that one coming in handy!!
Although today we couldn't locate an ice cream van, we stopped at Tesco and got him a Malteasers ice cream. He hasn't quite understood the concept that unless eaten fairly quickly, by nature the cream will cease to become frozen, so he set about giving it a few dainty licks before a lot of it ended up all over the straps of the buggy (so whether we love the double buggy or not, we're keeping it!).

Here are a few pics, of tummy time, being a "dude", and a depiction of how Blake expresses his love (yes, it does look like wrestling and yes, we are doing our best to make sure he's being gentle!).

Here is Noah practicing to be a bouncer at a country/western honky tonk bar. And he does have a neck! Just not in this photo...

Do his eyes say "Help!"?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Make new friends but keep the old

I did the entry year of Girl Scouts before deciding it wasn't for me, but in that one year of Brownies the one thing I remember is singing a song with the line "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold."

On Monday we headed up to Kensal Rise to meet up with the old NW6/NW10 crowd, and man, did it make me realise how much I miss all of Blake's little mates and their mothers! We had a nice time in Queen's Park and I enjoyed getting to see some of the 2nd generation, as well as gather a few tips on how to cope with the baby and the toddler from the other mums who are on to #2.

Anna and Joseph came and met us and then we headed back to theirs, the trip to which made me decide wholeheartedly that I probably need to invest in a double buggy. The idea has been going around in my head for a few weeks now, as on the days when I have both Blake and Noah I tend to do a lot of driving, which is not only bad for the environment but is definitely not good for trying to burn baby fat. We thus far had invested in a buggy board which is a platform that clips on to the back of the pram, that Blake then stands on while I push Noah. It's great for the short distance to nursery, for instance, but the trip from QP to Chris and Anna's was just that little bit too long for a tired Blake, and he wanted to sit on it and drag his feet and just kept falling off.

Yesterday I therefore headed over to Mothercare and took the plunge to buy a Phil and Ted's tandem, and will let you know how it goes once it arrives.

In the meantime, here were the thoughts of the three of us on Tuesday morning from about 6:30-8:30:

Meg: What, where am I? (the answer: bed)
Noah: Get me out of this basket, I'm hungry.
Blake: How come he gets all the attention?! "Look at me, Mommy, look at me! I've done a poo poo - isn't that great?"
Meg: "Yes, Blake, that's great. Let's go change you. Are you sure you don't want to learn to use the potty?"
Noah: Hey, remember me? I don't ask for much, just feed me please.
Blake: How come he gets all the attention? "Mommy, I want to watch Chuggington."
Meg: Have I had my coffee yet?!
Noah: No, I don't want that plastic thing. I am not that easily fooled, lady.
Blake: "MOMMY, want to watch Chuggington!"
Meg: Forget coffee, did I finish my glass of wine last night?'s probably around here somewhere.
Noah: How come he gets all the attention?
Blake: "Why is Noah crying, Mommy?"
Meg: "I don't know, sweetie, he's probably hungry."
Noah: Hey buddy, get your paws off my head please.
Blake: "Noah. Eat this [plastic tractor]."
Meg: "Oh, Blake, he doesn't want that tractor in his mouth." Did I just feel a hair turn grey?
Noah: Not the tractor, no, but I am hungry!
Blake: How come he gets all the attention?
Noah: How come he gets all the attention?
Meg: Is it time for Daddy to come home yet?

Friday, May 14, 2010

A few footnotes to Thursday post

I was thinking about the post describing Thursday's day, and I realized that the idea of envying the kids with stay-at-home mothers growing up could imply that I thought their mothers did a better job raising their children, which is of course not the case. My mother (and father) did a great job with me, and in actual fact I'm not actually sure I did envy those kids, but my editor is on vacation and I didn't really sensitivity-proof the text all that well. Hopefully my mother knows what an amazing job she did with me, as, by the way, did Matt's mother, who also worked outside the home.

After a decent night's sleep (only one wake-up by Noah before 5:00 am and Blake sleeping til 6:15 - good boys!), I have a newfound resolve to, in the week ahead, ditch some things - first off, I'm going to ditch the guilt! What good does it do to feel guilty?! I'm also going to ditch the computer in the daytime and get outside and enjoy the sunshine and try to meet some new people in the neighborhood. And in getting out, I hope I may be able to ditch some baby weight!

Hope you are enjoying the weekend wherever you are.

Friday photo

My friend Mel is very good about passing on useful tidbits related to motherhood and its joys and challenges. She passed on a good article a while ago about the struggle to have it all - read it here if you are interested.

I realized after my last post that in describing all those attributes of that mother who is not currently me, I do in fact probably have time for some of those things, I just choose not to do them and blog about wanting them instead! Just in case I sounded like I was complaining that I don't have the time to do those things, I thought I should clarify that the blog (or "my writing" as I may start calling it!) is where my free time (what time I can call my own) goes...

And on taking photos of cute children (am I allowed to call them cute?), even if they do have baby acne. And also wondering how it is that a baby can be the exact same crookedness-of-nose as his mother...

Some new rules for Thursdays

I am currently waiting on an appointment for Noah to have a newborn hearing test. It's something that is usually done at the hospital just after the baby is born, but because of our speedy departure, he'll have it done elsewhere. The good news is that I'm not concerned that he can't hear - he clearly demonstrates the startle reflex, generally when his 2-year-old brother comes screaming into the room where Noah is sleeping, or when Mommy has to raise her voice to remind said 2-year-old brother about why it is not a good thing to press his head so firmly to Noah's face.

Yesterday was Thursday, the day when I have Blake and Noah. I realize it's a complete luxury to have some time with Noah to myself, which at the moment kind of relates to "me time" since he is still doing a lot of sleeping. By about 8:30 yesterday morning we were in the park, Noah in his pram and Blake on the swings. Although it was cold, the sun was shining and Blake was making me laugh with various commentaries on things going on around us, and I started to enter into this reverie which I sometimes have about my not going back to work when my maternity leave is up. I always envied the kids growing up who had stay-at-home mothers, and now when I see parents picking up their children from school when it's getting out (around 3:30 pm) I think to myself, I sure would like to do that for my boys. I also realize that this stage in their lives is going to pass by so quickly, and I wonder whether I will regret not taking the time to spend it with them.

Of course this daydream also involves a couple of other things that make this scenario highly unlikely: the fact that when I think of being a stay-at-home mom it somehow isn't me who is playing the role - it's some other woman who can actually cook up homemade meals for 4 people, and who pulls out the arts and crafts when the toddler gets ratty, instead of offering up another episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and in those rare moments of downtime, manages to clean the bathroom, and quickly order some new clothes online so that when she's out and about she looks totally put together instead of what I currently look like these days, which is the total opposite (light t-shirts hide spit up, I've learned that so far). There are also the financial considerations of not going back to work, and that generally halts all possible dialogue about this notion, as well as the fact that I do think I would miss if not my entire job all of the time, then at least parts of it some of the time.

Anyway, after about half an hour in the park, Blake got bored, as he is prone to do these days, so I asked him whether he would like to go to the library or to Sainsbury's.
New Rule #1 - do not ask the 2-year-old what he wants to do, as there is no logic to his choice and he does not know what is best for him!
Blake chose Sainsbury's, so given that the fridge was pretty empty, I thought we could get that done, and perhaps check out the afternoon version of the library's rhyme time session instead of the morning one. I'm going to skip the detailed events at the store and just go straight into Rule #2 - do not attempt to go to the grocery store with both boys. It just isn't fun for anyone.

We made it home and we decided to do some coloring. While Blake colored at the table I thought I could continue a little work on his baby book which is ever-so-close to nearing completion. I showed him a few pictures, which he thought were of Noah, before (accidentally or intentionally, I'm not sure) knocking the book on to the floor and climbing out of his chair and leaving the room. As I picked everything up, all the while wondering where he'd gone, I stumbled upon Rule # 3 - do not let the toddler near the baby unsupervised. Now I knew this one already, so this was my fault, but at any rate, after a minute or so, Blake had left some lovely toothmarks on Noah's forehead, and Blake learned just how loudly I can shout. Looking back at least the only thing good about this incident is that I did not say I was angry at Blake, I just said I was VERY ANGRY. Of course, again, I realized that the person I was angry at was myself for being so irresponsible to bother picking up the book instead of following Blake out of the room. Hello, Lady Guilt, I forgot you were there for a minute. Anyway, to reiterate, Rule #3 is never ever leave the baby alone for a second with the toddler, at least for a few months.

At this point I enforced my new nap routine, which Blake conceded to. When he woke up he woke up on the wrong side of the cot so the afternoon wasn't that much more fun, to be honest. I had hoped sleep might be restorative. We played in his sandpit outside before a disagreement about the outside toys staying outside invoked a 4-alarm tantrum, and then we went to a different park where Blake rode his scooter and had an ice cream and I accidentally called a little boy a "she" on the slide in the playground. Having been mistaken for a boy on various occasions in my youth, I know this is traumatic, so I slunk away from him and his mother because I was so embarrassed at my error. To be fair, the little boy's eyes were very big and his hair was very long and curly, but Rule #4 is to refer to the "little kid" when in doubt. Around 5:30 we headed home where I defrosted some bolognaise sauce and Blake enjoyed spaghetti, one thing I cook which he usually does wolf down. Matt blessedly came home by 6:30, and strangely it was at that point that Blake decided that coloring would be fun, so while Matt and Noah sat in the living room Blake and I colored for about 20 minutes. Lady Guilt, is that you again? Yes, I thought to myself, if I had just been more creative at times during the day, maybe we would have avoided some of the arguments and tantrums. Rule #5 - when the going gets tough, get out the arts and crafts and actually do something with them.

At any rate, it was a long day, and I had long since discarded my notion of being a stay-at-home mother. Of course I am one at least for a little while longer, so in the meantime I'm going to heed my new rules and hope for the best. And while I hope that Noah's hearing test appointment letter comes through soon, if his brother is any indication, just because he can hear, certainly does not mean he will listen.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My newfound interest in politics

I am stuck on the couch with a sleeping baby in my lap, and although I'd like to go get my camera from across the room to download some photos (not to mention the fact that I'd like to take a shower), I'm going to just let him sleep while I give my interpretation of the past 5 days related to the UK election and how the political system works here.

To begin with there are three main parties - the Conservatives (the right, seem to be filled with very posh people who all went to "public school" which is private school), the Labour Party (the left, traditionally working-class), and the Liberal Democrats (I think they're somewhat in the middle but would generally be more aligned with progressive/socialist government of Labour - and this is why everything is so interesting at the moment).

When you vote in the UK, you don't vote for the leader of the party (who is elected by his/her party), you just vote for the party - in other words, I didn't really vote for Gordon Brown per se, I voted for Labour, or rather for my local Member of Parliament candidate representing Labour, Tessa Jowell.

In the election, a party needs to win 326 seats (i.e. have 326 members win their local election) in order to have a majority in Parliament. Last Thursday, no one party did this, so this resulted in what is known as a "hung Parliament". Effectively that meant that since Thursday, nobody was in control, and as a result, you could say that this situation put the UK in a kind of precarious state. The financial markets were willing to take a pretty patient stance on this indecision, but traders were not likely to let this go on forever before they freaked and sent the markets crashing.

Now, a party could have attempted to operate as a "minority government" but this could prove tricky for things like the passing of bills, so the two "big parties" - the Conservatives and Labour - had the potential to form a "coalition government" with the Lib Dems. With Lib Dem support, the Conservatives could have the majority and Labour would be considered the "opposition" (or the minority). If the Lib Dems sided with Labour, they would also have to get the support of a few other smaller parties in order to get that 326 number. The leader of the Lib Dems - a guy called Nick Clegg - found himself in the role of the "kingmaker", in that depending on which party he sided with, he would be effectively giving that side the power of the majority. In the end, he has "got into bed with" the Conservatives and in doing so has ended up as second in command in a way.

Over the past 5 days there has been a circus-like atmosphere around Westminster, with skycopters in the skies and scrums of media anxious to hear what has been going on behind closed doors. I have been glued to the tv at times watching fancy cars drive politicians here and there - this has been kind of strange considering I didn't even really know what was going on in the UK political landscape 2 weeks ago!

At any rate, the outcome is that yesterday, Gordon Brown - who has proved unpopular as a leader of the Labour Party - resigned. He gave a very moving speech over which I got a bit teary-eyed, and then was driven in a fancy car to Buckingham Palace, where he gave his resignation to Her Majesty. I wonder if she offered him a cup of tea?

Minutes after Brown left Buckingham Palace, David Cameron, the chubby-cheeked leader of the Conservatives, was driven in another fancy car to be "asked by the Queen" if he would lead the new government, an offer which he accepted. Somehow I can't imagine him saying "no"! He then made a speech in front of #10 Downing Street which is the home of the Prime Minister. There had been running commentary throughout the day about the spotting of bags (presumably Gordon Brown's possessions), being packed and leaving the back entrances of #10, and as David Cameron and his wife Samantha ("Sam Cam") entered the front door last night, I did wonder if they quickly got a cleaning service in before the new occupants set up house.

So Gordon Brown resigned and goes home to Scotland, David and Samantha Cameron are the new Prime Minister and First Lady, and Nick Clegg - whom nobody ever had even really heard of before the ground-breaking television debates a few weeks ago - is kind of the equivalent of the vice-president (even though it's not a presidential system!). Whether this government is actually going to be successful is still another question - in that a week ago Nick and David were at each other's throats and the parties have some major policy differences. I for one am going to miss the OJ-like-car-following coverage by the skycopters, but at least now we know who is in charge of the UK. Unfortunately he wasn't my choice!

And I guess to bring this all back to what's most important, I also can't stop thinking that Noah resembles the new Foreign Secretary, William Hague. I think it's just the baldness.

That concludes my summary of the political situation - no doubt it was rife with misconceptions and errors, but that's been my take on it!

This is more like what I expected

One of the things that has been on my To-Do list for at least a year - if not longer - is to finish Blake's baby book. I just never seem to find the time to concentrate on it, because it in some fashion involves consulting this blog to try to identify dates of certain milestones such as crawling, eating solids, sleeping through the night (ha, ha, that's a good one!).

Yesterday I took a break from political tv news updates to get to work on it, and it was interesting to read things I wrote 2 years ago about the hardships of being a mother. I thought to myself, "Oh wow, yes, at some stage I'm going to have to go through these challenges with Noah!" Lest I get lulled into thinking that being a 2nd-time mom is a "doddle", yesterday evening and this morning have shaken that thought right out of me!

I let Matt meet up with Matt Lowe and Chris last night for beers, so I had to do bedtime on my own, which was kind of fine apart from Noah absolutely screaming his head off while I read Cat in the Hat to Blake, who just kind of kept looking at his little brother with utter exasperation but resignation. Fortunately I think Blake was tired and ready for sleep, or else he might have protested more vehemently that he couldn't hear over Noah's cries (as he often does when something interesting is on tv). Re-reading the line about "letting Matt go out" - not to say I could deny him a social life, but certain things are definitely still easier with two of us around, and Blake's bedtime is one of those. At any rate, we managed, and it made me appreciate how generally tolerant Blake has been about the new arrival.

Monday night I had been rewarded (for something, not sure what) by going to bed at about 11:00 and only being woken at 3:00 am and then again at 6:00. Easy peasy! Well, again, just to remind me that just when you think it's easy, it isn't, last night I was up for feeds at 1:00, 3:00 and then 5:00. The 5:00 one is hard because it's clearly light out and I try to keep crying to a minimum for fear Blake will wake up - as he did today at 5:20. I got a few more winks but at about 6:50 Matt headed off to work and so it was me and a cranky Blake and a poopy Noah until the nursery run at 8:30. No shower today...

I took Noah to the baby clinic, where he weighed in at 10 lbs, 2 oz, weight gain being the continual prize for the breastfeeding mother who is wondering what's in it for her. From there we headed to Superdrug, where I took advantage of a 3 for 2 offer on skincare products before Noah had an absolute meltdown (my 3 products: some sort of regenerative "anti-tired" night cream, Bio Oil to tackle the stretch marks, and some face cleansing wipes - genius, why hadn't I thought of getting these earlier?!). And so, as I stood in line to pay, rocking Noah who was still howling, and getting looks from people who were also waiting (the looks, if I read them correctly, ranged from "God, I'm glad I'm not you" to "Can you not do anything to make him be quiet?" and "Are you sure you don't need to buy some hair dye, love?"), I thought to myself that for the most part, the second baby is easier, but there are times when he isn't! Once we were on the move, he dozed off, and is currently having a snooze on the pillow on my lap. Now, where is Blake's baby book again...?

Hanging out with Joseph P

We headed up to Kilburn on Friday to see Joseph and Anna - here is a photo of the boys (looking very interested in each other!). It is going to be fun to watch them grow up over the years together.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Meeting Dartmouth Auntie Hae-Seon!

On Saturday we had a visit from Hae-Seon, who was over doing work for Samsung and the 2o12 Olympics...sounded very exciting to me!

She ventured down to see us and it was lovely to catch up. She is also the first Dartmouth Auntie to meet Noah...who is next?

Bathtime for the boys

Noah finally got an actual bath on Monday, which he seemed if not to enjoy, then at least not to mind. Here he is afterwards...

And Blake still likes his bath - although is sometimes reluctant to get in initially - and I had some fun tonight playing with his hair...

My country 'tis of thee

Thursday and Friday were two important days for the Lyons family in terms of civic duties and patriotism. As you'll probably have heard, there was an election in the UK - a strange one, currently without a result, but an election nonetheless - and I was able, for the first time in my 9.5 years here, to cast my vote since I now have my citizenship.

I was very excited and headed out with both Blake and Noah to our closest polling station, the local Baptist church, at around 6:00 pm. I was curious about the electoral process in the UK and excited to witness it firsthand. As it was, it was pretty anti-climactic: there was no queue to get in, I didn't have to show any identification, and all in all, it felt very old-fashioned. Here is Blake outside the polling station looking distinctly unenthusiastic after I dragged him away from a riveting episode of Chuggington:

After confirming my name and address, I was handed two slips of paper (one for the general election and one for the local council election) and then headed to a rickety voting stand. With a pencil I just had to check who I was voting for - and although I asked - there was apparently no specific way that I had to mark my choice. I think I could have even drawn a smiley face and it would have been ok! It took about 2 minutes from start to finish, maybe a bit longer with my announcement to the volunteers that I was a "first timer" (I think I was hoping they would make more of a fuss over me, but no...!). The polls closed at 10:00 pm, and as we know, the result is currently kind of a no-result, in that no one party claimed a majority of seats of Parliament. Locally I can at least say that the person I voted for won, but as for whether the government will be run by the Tories, the Labour Party, or the Liberal Democrats, like the rest of the country and much of the world, I am still waiting to find out.

Going back to my roots, on Friday we had to register Noah's birth at the US Embassy so that he can get a passport and a Social Security number. Although it wasn't intentional, he was wearing red, white and blue for the appointment. There were A LOT of other babies being registered, so all indications are that there are a lot of babies being born at the moment. Baby acne has hit Noah hard this week, but fortunately I had his passport photos taken before the worst of it!

Despite spending about 2 hours waiting for the application to be processed, it is nice to think that he and Blake will have options available to them in terms of where they want to live and work when they get older. Maybe they'll even be Prime Minister or President, although they may get a distinct lack of political interest from their mother. At the very least, they'll be able to vote in both countries!

I saw the sign...

We did a lot of driving last week - down to Southampton for Bishy's 70th birthday party, and then to Kilburn and back to celebrate with Chris. One thing I noticed and had to write about is my newfound interpretation of a common sign, the "Baby on Board" placard that adorns many back windshields of cars on the roads. Now, presumably the original intention of this sign was to alert the drivers - possibly non-parents - of other cars that there was a very precious passenger on board the car sporting the sign, and that because of that delicate and treasured baby-passenger, drivers should be extra careful. I have also just found in my research that it's also important in case of an accident for the emergency services to know that a child is in the car. Although this is of course no laughing matter, my new revelation is that the sign is actually a warning to other passengers that they should beware the movements of the car with the sign, and here is why:

- "Baby on board" implies in most cases that there is also a parent on board. A sleep-deprived parent. A mother who has been having interrupted nights, or a father who hasn't had his quota of winks, or even worse, possibly both. In that sleep deprivation affects your responses and ability to concentrate as much as alcohol or drugs, other drivers beware!

- Because time at home often revolves around dealing with one or more children's food, play, bathtime, or bedtime, this leaves little time for the sleep-deprived parents to talk. What better time to talk - uninterrupted - than when the baby or babies are asleep in the backseat?! Of course, talking can sometimes be stressful and lead to squabbling - again, not all that conducive to good driving!

- There is also the possibility that rather than sleeping peacefully in the cozy chariot, the bundle of joy is misbehaving in the backseat, shrieking madly for milk or moaning about being hungry, creating yet another scenario for the driver to lose focus on the road.

In conclusion, the "Baby on Board" sign was surely actually invented by someone without children, who wanted to devise a way to know when to keep clear of a car toting a toddler. With that, I think we should stick to public transportation for a while...

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

There's a hole in my...

Blake really loves a cd which was given to him for his first birthday, with lots of common nursery rhymes and songs. He's a bit confused about several terms, and calls the cd his "cdd" (we think he's confusing this with CBeebies, the BBC's children's channel, or a dvd).
One of the tracks is a song which Matt described as "really just a domestic argument," called "There's a Hole in my Bucket". You can see the lyrics here. Basically the man starts off by saying that he has a hole in his bucket, the measures to fix it actually arrive back at the fact that he needs to carry water to mend the hole, but because the bucket has a hole, he can't. A vicious circle, you might say.

Over the past 4 days, I have become very aware of the fact that we have a problem in our house. Well, we have many problems, of course, but the one that has taken pole position in my consciousness is that we have a problems with moths. I had noticed a few of the adults on the walls around dusk for some time, I think probably since we moved in, but something has kind of clicked in me that rather than just letting these pests eat up and ruin all our wools and silks, I had better act. Matt did not seem overly bothered about this, but I would say over the past 4 days, moths have taken more of my "worry energy" than either of my two babies have. So I'm kind of worried...

After the usual Google searches in order to determine what to do, I now understand that it's going to take some work, which is probably what I knew deep down earlier, and probably why I haven't done anything about it yet. I am aware that I need to be careful about what sort of product we get because of the chemicals and the two little people in the house. I think cedar and lavendar oil are going to need to be purchased, but what I'm more worried about is that I think it may be a big deal to completely resolve the issue, because of the "old" nature of the house. The upstairs bedrooms all have what are probably original floorboards. Kind of a lovely concept initially, but upon closer look, original floorboards with large cracks between them and massive gaps between the walls and the floorboards. God knows how much dirt and crud is in them, and I have a feeling that these "friends" of ours could be feeding on wool, fiber, and dirt in these cracks and gaps. Did you just hear a very loud and exhausted sigh? That's the noise I just made thinking about this.

Matt is working from home today, and about an hour ago he went upstairs to put on a jumper because we don't usually have the heat on in the day and the beautiful weather we had in April has been replaced by low 60's - so it's kind of chilly. I was in the living room when I heard him say from upstairs, "There's a hole in my jumper." He said it just like that, just a single sentence that then hung in the space between us. Cue my sinking heart. I was, though, reminded of the bucket tune and about how we could probably re-invent the song using jumper instead of bucket. ("With what shall I mend it, dear Meg, dear Meg, well you can't, dear Matt, because it's been eaten, been eaten")

At the moment I'm sitting in my bedroom, while Noah naps in his Moses Basket. I have started to pull out some sweaters from our wardrobe and the news is not good. While I ponder what equipment I need to approach this mission - plastic clothes storage bags, cedar blocks, lavendar oil (this article was a good one, I thought) - I decided to blog about it first, as somehow writing about it makes it more of an event as opposed to just a very annoying and challenging household problem. The good news is that although I keep imagining a Birds-like assault by hundreds of these moths when I open a wardrobe, or waking to find either Blake or Noah wrapped in a fiber cocoon woven overnight, the good news is that at least these moths aren't particularly dangerous. Let's just hope that we can work on a plan to beat them, and that the plan doesn't have any holes in it...

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Observations on brothers

It has been inevitable over the past 3 weeks to make comparisons between Blake and Noah, in terms of their behavior, looks and general fitting into our lives! Here are a few observations:

- we definitely do not remember Blake sleeping as much as Noah has. Noah had an absolutely horrible night last night - and hence, I had a horrible night - but it was the first one that really didn't go "well", or the way in which "well" is defined for a breastfeeding mother in the first few months. I am hoping this general tendency to like sleep will continue.

- spitting up: Noah spits up, a lot. We don't think Blake ever did, but as one book says, spitting up is a "laundry problem, not a medical one".

- noses: Noah may have my nose, which turns up more than Blake's and is also wonky in that the two sides aren't the same.

And, I'm afraid, that's all I have the energy to remember at the moment! Here is a shot of that turned-up nose...


I spent a few of my allotted text messaging allowance this week checking in with a few people regarding the "Power of Madonna" episode of Glee (shown in the UK this week). Of course I absolutely loved it and it reminded me of how much I do love Madge. Sue Sylvester in the Vogue video remake was brilliant and the Cheerios' "Ray of Light" number - amazing! According to Wikipedia, Madonna herself called the episode "brilliant on every level". I also of course found it fitting that the final number was my all-time favorite song, "Like a Prayer", although I think there are a few moves I could have taught the group - ha!
If you are not yet tuned in to Glee, do yourself a favor and start watching it. I think it's what Madonna would do...

My handsome grown-up boy

Noah is still sleeping a lot, so Blake is providing more entertainment and the better photo opportunities. Here is he yesterday at Bishy's party. He and Emma had a grand time playing in the garden despite the wet weather.

Birthday bonanza!

This weekend marks the birthdays of various close friends and relatives - all milestone ones!

In ascending age order...
1 - Saturday was Scarlet's first birthday - it is so hard to believe that it is one year ago that we got the news of her birth, and Raina's wonderful birth story. I have also just realized that Scarlet's birthday was her "Golden" birthday, where you turn your age on your date, e.g. she is one on the 1st. Thanks to Amy Feldmann for sharing the notion of the golden birthday some years ago; incidentally I met Matt the weekend of my golden birthday, so I agree that it is a special concept.

35 - Today is Chris's bday - we celebrated at the Westbury in Kilburn and it was great to see CP, Anna and Joseph who has grown loads since we met him a few weeks ago. Halfway to 70 and Chris still looks as youthful as a one-year-old, with a grown man's beard.

70 - And finally, yesterday was also Bishy's 70th birthday, so we headed down to Southampton where Uncle David hosted a family party. All the cousins enjoyed being together again and although the weather wasn't great, we did manage to spend some time in the garden. Happy birthday, Bishy!