Sunday, October 10, 2010

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.

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