Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Noah crawls!

Video to come, but it's official! Here are a few photos from some attempts last week:

This photo gives the impression he ought to be in the gym more, but he doesn't usually look this chubby!

A post for Granny Bishy

Back when I was on Facebook, I remember a friend of mine posting this phrase: Mothers of boys work from son up to son down, and well, I couldn't agree more - apart to add that the work doesn't usually end when the sons are down! And needless to say, that friend was a mother of boys, 3 of them...

Anyway, there was one day last week when all the Lyons boys were enjoying each others' company and I thought that Granny Bishy might enjoy seeing one of her two boy with these two boys. I still derive endless pleasure from seeing Blake and Noah interact - Blake can be quite rough with Noah, which is slightly worrying, but Noah seems to just giggle with delight whenever Blake pays him any attention.

In the last photo you'll notice that Noah is fixated on some object in the distance, and unfortunately that object is tv! While Blake had absolutely no interest in tv until he was about 18 months old, the magic box has definitely cast its spell on Noah. And, as I try to do about all things related to motherhood, I'm going to hope that it's all going to be ok, and remind myself that I myself watched tv (I don't remember Sesame Street, although I do remember Dallas, Dynasty, and Benny Hill), and feel that, generally, I turned out ok. Incidentally, one of Blake's pre-school staff told me that he'd finally made the realization about Blake Carrington of Dynasty and now greets Blake in the morning with "Blakington!" I have to laugh.
As I always like to have happen with my writing, things come full circle, so we wish Granny Bishy a happy trip to Dallas tomorrow. If you see JR, or even better, pool boy Christopher Atkins, tell him hi from one of his biggest fans!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Not much blogging of late

It's been a busy couple of weeks at DwL headquarters. Granny Karla and Grandpa John are safely back at home after a 2.5 week visit. Thank you for all the early-morning entertaining, dish-washing, meal-buying, babysitting, etc.

Sleep is still something we wish for more of. Two nights ago Noah completely surprised me by sleeping from 7:30 pm-2:30 am. When he woke at 2:30 I felt so rested I considered just starting my day, but I went back to sleep, as did he, until about 5:00 am. This was a RGN!! (Really Good Night). Last night I think I was up out of my bed about 8 times, trying to avoid night feeds and generally failing. Our next door neighbors are away this coming week and I'm wondering if we should do controlled crying. Do we have the strength?!

I had loads of posts floating around in my head these past few weeks but I've forgotten some of them now so I'm just going to hope to be a bit more regular with posting. Noah is really really close to crawling so I might try to post a video of that this week. Hope you're doing well wherever you are, and thanks as always for reading!

Ernesto's postcard project

Our good friend and poet Ernesto is doing a postcard project on which our refrigerator features here. Check it out if you are interested in expanding your cultural reach. He is mailing out poems on postcards to people and then geo-mapping and tracking them (my summary, not his). We were happy to get on the map!

Noah gets baptised!

We had a lovely baptism service for Noah last Sunday at our new church, All Saints. He was really quite good for the service - as were all the kiddos there - and looked sweet in the gown that Blake wore which was made by our Hickory friend Nancy Linker. Afterwards we had cake and wine at the church, before arriving at the pub to find that the room I'd booked 3 months earlier had been given away! I tried to remain philosophical about it, and I think that everyone had a good lunch in the end anyway.
The day before I was feeling a great sense of relief that I'm the mother of boys, as I was having a fashion crisis of the highest order. I was glad that I hope they'll never have to go through the type of frenzied shopping I often have to do before an event, if gender stereotypes hold true and they're not too concerned about fashion and "finding the right thing to wear" means choosing one color tie over another. Meanwhile, Blake told me he wants to be a ballerina for Halloween, so maybe him not caring about fashion isn't a given. I managed to find something at 5:00 pm on Saturday, and I felt happy in it, but man, this second baby business is a whole different kettle of fish in terms of losing the baby weight! I am not at all in a good place with regards to my weight! I was jealous that Noah had his "dress" all ready to go, and he did look beautiful in it.

Handsome boys...
With Godparents Chris and Anna, and thinking of Godparents Lela and LT in the US...

Lyons family kind of all looking in the same direction...

This one makes me smile...Blake was ready for his piece of cake!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Libraries - good or bad?

Earlier this summer, I was in a newly-renewed, loving relationship with my local library. I was amazed at the fact that all those books, cds, newspapers, computers, and movies were there to be borrowed, for free, and that the facility was available for the underprivileged, spoiled, young, old, educated, uneducated. They're an amazing concept, really, when you think about it.

I have enjoyed reading several books over the past couple of months - I got into the Twilight series and became wrapped up with the teenage vampire tales, and after two of those I decided to switch to the Sookie Stackhouse novels, inspiration for the True Blood tv series. I have to say that these didn't grab me as much, or perhaps I started reading them at a point when my free time was at a low, but all of a sudden I feel as if my relationship with the library has changed. The reason for this is that on Monday I have two books due, and their due date feels more like a reminder to me that I accomplish very little these days (besides looking after the boys). I'm about 50 pages into one book, and several pages into the introduction of Romeo and Juliet, which I started reading after seeing a reference in Twilight that I didn't quite understand...I decided I'd better get educated. I'm debating whether I should renew them again - I've done this once already - or just return them and let it be a sign that I don't have time to do any leisure reading.

Anyway, there was a point to this post, but I can't remember it anymore (I started it a week ago!). Maybe it had to do with wondering if someone could invent a library that lent time, as opposed to books. If only...I'm sure I would be overdue for returning that too, though!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

DwL - technical crisis looming

We have run out of space on our computer, so I have to figure out a new plan for photo storage! Bear with me as I resolve this possible issue - it means I might have to spend my computer time moving things around as opposed to writing, but I will endeavor to keep the posts up. When I don't blog in a while, as you can see, I tend to write a lot, and I know it's more time-consuming to read a longer "brain dump" than a concise post! So thanks for reading and I'll be back soon.

Bye bye baby, hello hummous

It could be said that the introduction of solids to a baby is the start of their independence away from his mother, although in honesty this probably starts sooner than this milestone. We gave Noah his first taste of food on Saturday the 25th, although it didn't go very well on day 1! One of the nice things about having a second child with a pretty small age gap is that in theory we already have much of the equipment so don't need to go out and spend another fortune on baby "stuff". On the day that we wanted to try solids with Noah, however, we couldn't find some key fixture to the high chair which converted it back from a toddler chair to an infant's high chair, so it was all a bit stressful in the run-up to actually giving him the food. Turns out we didn't lose the bolt, or whatever it was, but it was hiding in the folds of a plastic bag and I just didn't see it the first time around, much to Matt's annoyance.

Although baby rice is often the first food that many parents try for their babies, for some reason I decided to go with mashed bananas, and they weren't met with much pleasure!

The next day, Sunday, I decided we would do a "take 2" on the whole weaning thing, and it went a bit better - the high chair was fixed and I prepared some "fruity porridge" instead. In actual fact, he just liked the spoon, but I felt this was a more positive start than the day before.

In the two weeks since this, though, I have adopted a more "baby-led" approach to weaning, based on having read the book that Raina recommended (and also not being able to be asked to do all the puree-ing and spoon-feeding that I did with Blake). Noah really just seems to want to imitate what we're doing, and I think it's going pretty well. I still find it somewhat stressful, because he's only in the 25th centile for weight and I'm not entirely reassured that he's not going to waste away if he doesn't get some food down him (not to mention, of course, that I would love for food to keep him filled up longer in the night!). But he loves bringing the food to his mouth and sucking on it - and I think that based on what I've given him so far he will not be lacking in exposure to different tastes (toast, carrots, broccoli, avocado, cheese, melon, apples, meatballs, pork, breadsticks, pears, which are the definite fave so far, and oopsie, today - an ice cream cone!).

The theory is that you keep feeding the baby as much milk as they've been used to having, and "mealtimes" are still about exploring and having them learn about textures, tastes, how their jaws work, etc. Gradually they'll begin to swallow more when they're ready, but they're always in control of how much they eat and what. I'm trying to trust him and my instincts that he's getting enough, and although he's not a big baby he's definitely strong and agile (I am not sure I could do this given my current state of fitness!):

There are some definite downsides, like it's messy and you can't actually see that the baby is consuming anything, but I think I'll stick with it and have also been occasionally doing some additional feeding of cereal just so I know that something is going in him (which is technically, against the Baby-Led Weaning rules...oh well). Watch this space for more on how the food goes down!

Subject: the Scream

If you live in London, or perhaps even anywhere in the UK or even the East Coast of the US, you may have heard last night what can only be classed as Blake's Worst Tantrum Ever! My goodnesss, my ears are still ringing...
Matt and I alternate on who does Blake's bedtime, and last night it was my night. I don't mind doing Blake's bedtime, although it can depend on the books he chooses for his bedtime stories. We recently returned a Richard Scarrey book to the library, which has vastly improved the nighttime routine; the book was about a very busy town and took forever to read. He knew it all so you couldn't skip any pages!

For some reason last night he decided to insist that he wanted Matt to do stories, but Matt was sticking firm that it was Mommy's turn. If there is such a thing as children having a reserve in their voice for when they really want to make the neighbors think there is a problem, Blake used his last night. He went mental! I finally got him calmed down but I did wonder how far away the cries could be heard.

As for Blake, when he's not flipping a gasket, he is awfully entertaining. Some of the things he says are just so funny, like when he looks at the London street atlas and starts saying things like, "And then you turn here, and go down this street, and through the park..." and on and on. He also has somewhere along the way confused these two word combinations: "coffee and tea" and "cup of tea" so he often asks if anyone would like a "coffa tea". This morning he came in to wake me up and kindly told me that I "look smelly". When we were returning to the car this afternoon from the park, we were admiring all the Sunday art sellers' work on the wall of Hyde Park and we spent a long time in front of an artist's work where the scenes were of London in the evening - Blake kept saying, "Do we live in London in the dark?" Funny boy. Although not when he's screaming his head off.

Just remember to keep breathing

There are times in my life when the days fill up with things to do - and it's all really fun and nice - but at some point I realize that I am definitely exhausted. The past few weeks qualify as one of these times...

As I mentioned on this blog, the return from our holiday wasn't the oh-I'm-feeling-so-rested-and-relaxed kind, and to be honest it just kind of continued on from there. Two weeks ago tomorrow, I went over to our neighbor's across the street to have a glance at a curtain rail they'd had installed, to see if it looked like the guy had done a good job. Since we replaced our windows several weeks - maybe 2 months? - ago, we haven't had curtains in our living room, and we really need to put some up, to be honest (as I keep reminding myself at 8:30 a.m. when lots of put-together mothers are walking by our house taking their kids to the very posh private school at the end of our road, and I'm traipsing around in various states of undress trying to mop up spilled Cheerios, or spit-up, or both). Anyway, I had a look at our neighbor's curtain rail and as I was leaving, Kate - the woman - asked me if I wouldn't mind giving her my number to use in case of emergency. The "emergency" in question was related to the fact that she was due on October 7th, with baby #2, and her mother was arriving from Russia that Sunday. Someone had asked her what she would do with her daughter (2.5 yrs) if she went into labor before her mother arrived, and she said she didn't know. I was happy to volunteer to help out - thinking it unlikely that anything would actually happen before her mother arrived in less than a week, and gave her my number.

That day Noah and I headed off to meet Diane sans William (he was at nursery), Anna and Joseph, and an extended-stay Raina and Scarlet at Kew Gardens. The weather wasn't very nice but we enjoyed lunch at the cafe and a lot of wandering around. From very far away, we might have appeared to look like the Sex and the City girls and a few strollers hitting a botanical garden in London. From up close I think the resemblances would have been pretty hard to imagine!

Anyway, traveling in and around London is always a pretty exhausting event, so arriving home that afternoon I was pretty tired. Lo and behold, at 10:00 p.m. that night I got a text from the neighbor to say her water had broken! And at 3:00 a.m. they phoned to say they probably needed to go to the hospital, so I headed across the street (with Noah in tow, leaving Blake and Matt sleeping) while they set off! I kept wondering to myself what I would say to Elza (the 2.5 year old) if she woke up, since she doesn't really know me very well and I'd been told not to say anything about the baby (somehow "Your Mum and Dad have" didn't seem like it would fly very well!). Fortunately the new baby obliged and popped out at about 5:00 a.m., and the Dad was home by 6:00 when the little girl woke up, but that was a pretty emotionally charged night that seemed to knock me back a bit that week.

The next day Laura and Arthur came for a visit, along with Raina and Scarlet and Anna and Joseph (they had a pretty itinerant week too!). All good fun to catch up with Laura whom we hadn't seen in a while. Matt had a rare business trip on Wednesday, and Raina and Scarlet came on Thursday night for a sleepover. We had a nice trip to the park, managed to prepare a cottage pie, and all was going well until bedtime, when at the exact same time, all three kids started screaming their heads off. Raina and I could only laugh and fortunately we managed to quell the riot. It made me realize how important it was in France that the adults outnumbered the kids!

Scarlet and Ninja-hands Noah:

Lunch date:Friday we woke up and were determined to try a recipe for the "perfect brownies" that Raina had discovered, so we got out the measuring cups while again being outnumbered by the kids, since a friend of mine had dropped her 6-month-old daughter off for me to look after her for a few hours. Expert multi-tasking in action. But nobody ever said multi-tasking with kids was easy.
In the meantime I was trying to paint our dining room for the upcoming arrival of Granny Karla and Grandpa John - with some creative thinking and being able to throw a lot of junk in the loft/attic, K and J have their own "bedroom" downstairs, and they only have to share it with us during meal times...since it is, in fact, the dining room! Anyway, I managed to get it all spruced up with a lick of white paint so that was a positive accomplishment. On Saturday I helped volunteer at the NCT Nearly New Sale, and baked a carrot cake that didn't rise (our oven got too hot and burned our "perfect brownies" so I was worried and turned the temperature down for the cake - turns out if the oven is too cool a cake won't rise!) K and J arrived safely on Sunday morning despite being delayed from New York. It was kind of a strange week in that our home phone hardly ever rings, and it rang twice in the middle of the night that week, the second time Mom calling to tell us they were delayed. Blake and I set off on Sunday to pick them up at Heathrow, and you can imagine the delight for both parties when they walked through the door at Arrivals. Blake was so excited he did this funny little breakdance. Very amusing.

It's been great to have Mom and Dad here, although it's been busy since they arrived. Matt and I got to celebrate belatedly our anniversary with dinner in Crystal Palace - Noah woke once while we were gone but Mom put the pacifier back in and he went back to sleep! On Thursday we headed back up to our old neighborhood for lunch at Gracelands with team JARS - Raina and Scarlet headed back to Australia yesterday but we tried not to be too sad to see them go.
It's not easy getting 7 people to look good for a photo...!
Mom and Dad then set off for a tour of Scottish castles leaving us to our weekend, which included lunch with Blake's best friend from nursery and her parents, a visit from Dr Doug and Annlou (and bump) who were in the area, and a trip for the boys and me into London today to hand over our beloved Mamas and Papas Pliko pram to Bianca who is due at the beginning of December. A neighbor had helped me extract one pram from the trunk of the car yesterday and I was pleased to report to her that we had now downsized from 3 strollers to 2!

We met Bianca, James and Luke at the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens - scene of Blake coveting an older child's scooter back in 2009. It was absolutely gorgeous in London today and the playground was packed! Blake ran straight for the enormous pirate ship and I was doing my best to keep up with him as well as having Noah strapped on to me in the Baby Bjorn. At some point I could see that within the bowels of the ship, Blake was crying so I heaved myself up some rope bridge to see what was the matter. In the meantime my ballet flats were so filled up with sand that my feet were unable to fit in them so I had to take them off. I reached Blake who was crying because some boy had thrown sand in his face, so I took off his hat to see if I could have a look. A few minutes later he was fine, and off again, so I followed him. It is clear that if Diana had had any involvement in the planning of this playground, it was only with Prince William in mind and without any thought of what she would have had to be doing if she'd had Harry in tow (of course she probably didn't have anything to do with it, of course, not knowing that she would have a memorial playground in her honor when she would have been only 49 years old, and, by the way, anytime I am in a tunnel in a car I do think of her and Dodi's fated trip).

Back to our story - I've got Noah strapped to me, Blake is scrambling down some rope "plank" of the ship and the only way I can see for me to get down given I'm wearing a baby is to follow him down the rope plank. Although it was precarious, I made it, but when I got down I had managed to lose one of my shoes out of my hand. I looked around and didn't see it in the sand, but I could not fathom where it could be, since I just had it in my hand! Meanwhile Blake is nearly out of my field of visibility so I run after him and promise promise promise him that we'll return to this next set of equipment, once I find my shoe! We head back to the pirate ship and I am looking all around in the sand for my shoe, thinking where on earth could it have gone?! Then I hear a little boy say, "Mummy, what's this shoe doing here?" and I look up to see that my black flat is hanging on some piece of rope of the plank - I really don't know if I ever would have found it, and I got the impression that the Kensington mothers wouldn't have had much empathy for me if I hadn't!

The next few minutes are ones that I'm not very proud of, but after recovering my shoe, we headed back to a piece of equipment as I'd promised Blake we would do. Unfortunately there were lots of bigger kids on this one and it seemed for a moment that Blake was going to be trampled in their game of tag, so I lost my cool somewhat and started shouting at one of them - oh dear, I'm sure this is a real playground faux pas. I quickly bribed Blake with promises of ice cream to avoid a possible confrontation if this small child went off to tell his mother that he'd been verbally assaulted by a barefoot American lady.

We did get the ice cream, and I managed to get Blake back in the car to arrive back home around 5:00 pm.
All in all, a pretty exhausting two weeks. But I probably wouldn't change a thing if I could, apart from getting more sleep in the mix! I have hardly done any cooking, any cleaning, and as you'll know, no blogging, but hopefully - hopefully - things might get a bit quieter 'round these parts and I can do a bit more writing. That is, if I remember to keep breathing.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The sleep post

Six months ago, I had hoped that a post about Noah's sleep would be different than the one I'm about to write. I'll always remember his early days and the (what seems now to have been teasing!) way in which he would really sleep for - really, I believe - 20 hours a day. I remember telling Anna that Noah, after Blake and all his sleep antics, just made me realize that a baby being a "good" or "bad" sleeper depended on the baby and his/her temperament, as opposed to anything that a mother or parent could actually do.

There was a time back around the weeks of the 19th and 26th of July when I actually had thought of drafting a post that would have proclaimed "Noah sleeps through the night!" He did, in these weeks, occasionally go from when we put him down at about 7:00 or 7:30 pm until 5:00 am, which in most every book you read about children's sleep is considered "through the night" (despite the fact that 5:00 am is actually one of the most God-awful times of day to be waking up). I was feeling so happy, so pleased to be on the brink of not having to deal with the emotionally torturous business of "crying it out", but also amazed that I hadn't had to do anything in particular to get this result. Not every night was good, but the signs were there that Noah was going to be sleeping through consistently, with little fuss and effort on our part.

He's 6 months today - in that he arrived 26 weeks ago - and, well, he ain't sleeping through the night! He's not even coming close! In fact, he's worse than Blake was at this age, I think! Aaah, where did it all go wrong?! Here is my analysis:

- At about 3 and a half months, just about the time where he might have contentedly slept through the night, Noah started to roll over. This was ok in the daytime, but in the night it seemed to elicit a Whoa, what's going on and where is the ceiling and why is my face all squashed into the mattress?! kind of response that needed a parental intervention. Enter Mommy stage right, and oh, well, I might as well feed him while I'm at it.

- Sometime soon after or alongside this milestone, maybe around 3.5 or 4 months, he got a cold. As I know, colds often accompany teething, so the issue was, of course, that perhaps if he was teething, then surely it was painful. He's waking because he's in pain. And he can't breathe because of the cold. Enter Mommy stage right. If he's in pain from teething, maybe milk will make him feel better.

- To do or not to do the dream feed, that is the question. The "dream feed", where you very gently take the baby from the cot in order to feed them at around 10:30 or 11:00 pm, just before you go to sleep yourself. Always an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, he's sleeping sooo peacefully, and has been for the last 3 hours, that it's hard to imagine that he could possibly wake up anytime soon, so why in the world would I think of disturbing him and possibly waking him up with a feed that he doesn't want or need. On the other hand, if we don't give him a dream feed, he'll wake up 5 minutes after my head hits the pillow and need feeding. Plus, if he has the feed, this could just be the night that he then sleeps for the next 5-6, maybe even 8 hours! We do the dream feed.

- He's awake - the dream feed didn't work! Damn the dream feed, not doing that again. So now what's the issue?! Maybe his stomach hurts because I didn't burp him after the dream feed. But I wasn't going to burp him when he was asleep, was I? Oh well, why don't I just feed him a bit more and he'll go back to sleep, and now he'll be full and he'll definitely not need a feed in the next 5-6, maybe even 8 hours.

- He's awake. But he's on his stomach so he probably feels like stuck like a bug on his back. Or is it that his teeth hurt? Maybe he needs Calpol (infant painkiller). Maybe we should have put that in his bottle. In the dream feed. Or maybe we just shouldn't have done the dream feed.

- In the meantime, is it cold in here? I think it feels cold. Maybe we need to get our boiler serviced and see if we can get some better temperature controls in all the rooms. Since he's cold, I'll just bring him in our bed and that way he'll feel all nice and cozy. Ooh, he likes that. Despite my lying on about 2 inches of our queen-sized bed and getting pins and needles all up and down my body, I do get a few hours of sleep which is bliss. Or at least it seems like bliss at the time, but not so much when I have strange pains all around my shoulders and neck for most of the morning after we wake up.

- Sometime around the 4 months age, because he really could probably go through the night, we contemplate - or we tell ourselves that we contemplate - controlled crying. But we can't really do it because what if Noah's crying wakes Blake up? That would be Bad. So Mommy enters stage right to deal with nighttime crying, usually resolved by a quick feed. Mommy can then exit stage right to go back to bed.

- What about the pacifier? Maybe that should go now, early, before he gets too dependent on it. Besides, he's pretty good about finding his thumb to suck. Why doesn't he find his thumb in the night?! Here, Noah, here's your thumb! No, you don't want it? Yes, it is Mommy's understudy. You don't want it? Ok, maybe that means you're hungry. Or maybe if you just come in our bed our breathing will help calm you down and you'll sleep. And Mommy will enjoy her sliver of mattress because despite the fact that you're only as long as a pillow is wide, you take up a lot of room in the bed.

- So now we're into about the 5 month range, and then of course the s word starts to come up - that's right, solids. Of course he's waking, he's hungry, because he's ready for solids! Now we need to break the habit of bringing him into the bed, before he gets too used to that.

Enter Mommy stage right. Mommy exits stage right. And again, several hours later, Mommy enters stage right. And again, exits stage right.

Daddy mentions the baby whisperer and wonders if we should use her. Mommy thinks that surely we can handle it on our own this time. Surely?

- What's that smell?! Oh no, he's done a poo. Well, of course he's not going to want to sleep with a big smelly nappy. But it's so much effort to change him and I'd need the light on - and that would surely wake him up - so I'll just bring him in our bed. It's nice and cozy there and our duvet is nice and thick so that will hide the smell. Oh no, we were supposed to be breaking this habit! Oh well, tomorrow night I won't bring him in.

- Suddenly, he's 6 months old. How did that happen?! He still has no teeth. He still doesn't really seem to like being on his tummy in his cot. Fortunately he doesn't wake Blake up very often (although Blake does still sometimes like waking up at 5:17 am). And he's waking every 2 hours! Teething, hunger, colds, temperature, habit, diaper absorbency....goodness knows how much any of these, or all of these, have to do with the waking. I'm as confused as I was the first time around with Blake!

As in acting, however, it's all about waiting for the next big break. A good night's sleep could be just a few hours away. It could be, it really could be... let me just refer to my script again...yes, got it - stage right is definitely my entrance.