Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Birthday, Matt!

Happy birthday to the best husband ever...I am not sure how I am going to repay the fact that you have watched the boys for 5 nights while I have been on my Girls' Weekend in the US, but I will try!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Uh oh, she wants to smell more roses

Dances with Lyons can officially report that Noah's first words seem to be "Uh oh". This phrase beats out the previous frontrunner, "Get-off-me-you-big-oaf, I-don't-care-if-you-are-my-big-brother! And, in-fact,-that-is-my-toy-that-you-won't-let-me-have!" There are some others that have been being practiced in the past few weeks, namely "Hiya" and "Dada" (along with what I can only surmise is his version of "Mom" which is "Waaaaaahhhhh" yelled at the top of his voice). But, as history will remember, yesterday he threw some morsel of delicious food (it was a grape, I think) off his highchair tray, I said, "Uh oh", and he promptly said it right back at me and then giggled!

Our little smiler seems very proud of his newfound loquaciousness, and hearing him babble and point at things with a curious tone to his voice is very sweet. It is much preferable to the utterings of his brother, who, when he doesn't like a directive from me about improving his behavior, tells me that I'm "naughty". I saw via a friend's Facebook status a term I had not heard before: "the terrifying three's" and I have to say that it does feel that they are somewhat trickier than the "terrible two's".

Summer, with all its wonderful aspects, is certainly the season during which I feel most vulnerable as a parent. With so many doors and windows open, and lots of time spent playing in the back, noise does travel in the air around our closely-connected houses. And none more loudly than that of children's and parents' interactions. As I was hanging up some laundry in the back this afternoon, I heard a wailing child and could just imagine the exasperated look on a mother's or father's face. It's probably - I hope - natural, but I was also momentarily grateful that my own children were not wailing at that very moment. It wasn't long, though, before I was having to keep my shouting to a lower volume than normal as I tried to get Blake to understand why it was not ok to push Noah around.

As for other areas open for criticism, ice cream-covered faces often garner disapproving glances from passers-by, and right now, the only pairs of shorts Blake seems to have are plaid ones, which do not exactly go with the brightly-colored vertically-striped t-shirts he insists on pairing them with.

That said, it has been lovely and sunny for the better part of the past couple of weeks, and this area is blessed with an abundance of gorgeous roses of all shades: yellow, pink, bright red, peach - they are glorious! On Saturday morning I took the boys out to get a few things at the store, and along the way I insisted that we do as the adage suggests, and we stopped and smelled the roses. I was amazed at how different some of the scents were. So for all those local homeowners who observed a middle-aged woman with two small boys stopping to sniff their plants yesterday morning, I hope you'll understand that we were just enjoying the fruit of your labor. You have some beautiful and heavenly-smelling flowers!

I have just looked at the clock, and could only think to myself, "Uh oh," so goodnight and have a great week!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Note to my little brother

Dear Noah,
When you first arrived, you didn't bother me. That's because you didn't used to do anything annoying! Now, that seems like that's all you do. One minute you're knocking down my Lego castle, the next you're trying to bite me in the leg, and then you start crying so that Mom automatically blames me since I am bigger than you. This doesn't seem fair to me. I have heard people ask her if I was jealous when you were born. I don't really know what is jealous, but Mom always used to say, "No, not really." But now, you do seem to get more attention than I do, especially in the evening when Mom gives us ice cream and raisins and puts us in the back garden. I told you not to dump your bowl of raisins on the ground, but you didn't listen. You are going to have to listen to me more as you get bigger because I know what I'm talking about. I am a big boy, you see, and you are just a baby, although really you don't seem like that much of a baby anymore. And I knew that if you dumped out your raisins, Mom would come out of the kitchen and tell you that you shouldn't have spilled the bowl. In the meantime she didn't have time to help me when I took too big a bite of my popsicle and it was freezing in my mouth and I didn't know what to do, whether to spit it out or swallow it.

Mom and Dad keep saying that I have to be friends with you, because I am your brother and because eventually you are going to be more fun to play with, so I am asking you if you could either hurry up with that, or just stop bugging me in the meantime. I have very important big boy things to do, like playing with my cash register (no, you cannot have the money because it is too small and you will eat it), and wearing my big-boy pants (you are a baby so you wear a nappy), and riding my scooter (you are too small for the scooter, it is only for big boys, I said!).

But I do really love you, Noah. Don't you know that my head-butts are a sign of affection?!
Love your brother,

I thought weekends were for resting?!

Our weekend was pretty full, fortunately full of plenty of fun things, but I'm feeling in retrospect a little bloated from all the activity!
On Friday night I'm pretty sure I fell asleep sitting up on the couch; I worked Monday-Thursday last week and had Friday off instead of my usual Wednesday, and the consequence was that I was really exhausted at the end of four days in a row! I know that sounds kind of pitiful but I guess it's just not what I'm used to...

On Saturday I went and paid custom to our newest local shop, Polished (a nail salon and wax rooms). It has gone in next to the estate agent and the convenience store, and is a lovely little touch of class to the area. I had my eyebrows waxed and felt a million times happier once they were tidied had been overdue. I raced back to help Blake wrap up the creation of a mask for a concert we were going to - the Southwark Concert Band was doing a children's concert at our church, and the reason I was interested in this was because that one of my favorite actresses, Brenda Blethyn, was going to be doing a guest story-reading appearance. The theme for the concert was Carnival (fancy dress) so I helped Blake make a mask which I was proud of, and that he loved: he hardly took it off for the rest of the day! The concert was sweet - many of the band members were dressed up in costumes, and at one point they let the kids play some percussion instruments. Brenda Blethyn read the story of Peter and the Wolf, interspersed with dramatic musical interludes, and it was a nice hour or so. It was fun to introduce Blake to the idea of a concert, even though at the beginning he was a bit scared at how loud the music was.

From there we headed off to look at some possible doors for our renovation work - that renovation work which is still proving a little slow to get off the ground, and then once back in London we were off again to meet my Uncle Bill and Aunt Sue who were visiting London at the start of a 2-week European tour. We had dinner at a pub and the boys enjoyed being out on a Saturday evening, and it was nice to catch up with Bill and Sue whom we had not seen since Christmas 2008. I fell asleep - again! - on the couch, this time during the Eurovision song contest. Apparently Azerbaijan won, although I still can't understand why most of the acts are just sooo bad.

Today was church and then a few errands to the recycling center and the charity shop, before we went down to the fair at Dulwich Park. This excursion was a bit of a redemption song for me, since I had suspected there would be rides for the kids, which proved true. Why redemption? Well, if you remember this post from about this time last year, I was hoping that we could allow Blake to have a ride on the fire engine in the little ride-on cars, the withholding of which last year led to so many tears as we traipsed across the park and subsequent guilt and regret on my part that we just didn't let him have another ride.

He got his ride on the fire engine, along with a ride on the carousel, and then his favorite: a couple fast trips down the bouncy slide. A trip to the playground and then an orange ice lolly - what more could a boy ask for?! Apparently, something went a bit awry in the ice-cream-eating, and it was either too cold or melting too quickly and he left the park sulking somewhat. Oh well, my conscience was cleared! Blake is quite good at sulking these days, so we're hoping it is just a passing phase. I'm sure, like last year's unclaimed ride on the fire engine, whatever he was upset about will soon be a distant memory. Like, now, as I wrap this up on Tuesday, does our weekend feel!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Yabba Dabba Dooo!

Here is Noah on April 29 at Bishy's, doing his impression of Fred Flintstone. It made me laugh at the time and it still makes me laugh when he gets his legs going in the right way! He also enjoys "talking to" Blake!

Friday, May 13, 2011

You are what you eat

If the adage is true, Blake and Noah are on the verge of turning into fish fingers and oven chips. To say that I've fed them this for every meal for the past week would be untrue, but to say that I've served it a little more regularly than I'd like to have would be an understatement. I keep imagining a scene where I go to pick them up at nursery and out emerges Noah, all pale and coated in bread crumbs, followed soon after by the taller, more slender Blake as a fried potato stick.
I have had a pretty exciting couple of weeks working on my self-titled project, Bringing Order to the Chaos of our Life. Namely I have been doing a lot (a lot!) of de-cluttering our house, which has made my spirits soar. I am about one load away from seeing the bottoms of all our laundry baskets, not an unremarkable feat for someone who has suffered from a lifetime inability to beat the piles of dirty laundry that just seem to be never-ending. We even achieved a minor miracle by sorting through all of Blake's and Noah's toys and taking the unused ones up to the loft (not sure what will happen next for them, but still, they're not crowding the actually-used toys).

With my improved mood, I have been settling into my new job, Chief Peacekeeper of the SouthEast London branch of the United Nations. Blake and Noah love each other one minute, and seemingly despise each other the next, so I've done a lot of separating them before someone gets legitimately hurt. It has been rather tiring. And has, subsequently, not left me a lot of time for creative and healthy menu-planning. If you should see a mini fish finger and a not-much-bigger french fry strolling the streets, could you send them home please? It's past their dinnertime.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Warm weather's here and with ice cream, it's easy

I had a revelation today, and it was that motherhood has a real seasonal element to it. Although I love the boys dearly, I have actually enjoyed being back in my paying job. Something about the "balance of me" was off while I was at home full-time, and going back to work (outside the home) has helped restore that to a point where I feel pretty content with what I'm giving to the boys and Matt and what I'm giving to my colleagues. In turn I feel that I re-claimed some sense of my own identity and am generally feeling like I fit the role of "working mother" better than the other option. In 20 years I may think, what in the hell was I thinking?! but for now, that's the way it is.

There are definitely certain times of the day which are trickier than others, those being the morning departure time where I'm trying to corral everyone out of the house (Blake, have you brushed your teeth? Noah, where are your shoes? Blake, do you want your scooter? All right, Noah, we're going now! Blake, you can't take your bling pimp-my-ride-wheel-lights-flashing plastic car to pre-school because it will start a fight. Noah, shush, I know you don't like being strapped in but we're going now! Blake, let's go, now!). Less difficult, but occurring at a time when I have a lot less energy, is the moment when we walk in the door in the afternoon and I'm treated to this onslaught: Can I have some pink milk, Mom? Can I watch something? Aaaaaaah, get me out of this stroller [my interpretation of what Noah is trying to say through his screeching], Mom, let's play dinosaurs! Mom, Mom, looook, Noah wants to get out of the buggy!)

For this reason, the advent of warm weather has afforded me the perfect antitode to this frenzied 5:30 "unhappy hour": ice cream. Unlike the well-known slogan, the good news is that in our back yard, when I proffer the sacred Mini Milks (flavors are: "chocolate, vanilla and pink"), the screaming stops! It's bliss. They sit out there, Blake actually eating his, Noah more manhandling his so that within a few minutes it's fallen to the ground about half a dozen times and collected various pieces of grass, earth and sand - excellent, it's also organic! The calm that descends allows me to take a deep breath, stare slightly less vacantly into the fridge as I explore the limited possibilities of what I'll serve them for dinner, and be ever so thankful that for at least a moment, there is peace on earth. A few minutes later I'll regret the ice cream, as neither of them will actually have any appetite to eat the dinner I've so diligently scrapped together, but for those moments, I just think, what's the harm in a little ice cream? Warm-weather mothering...'tis the season to stock the freezer.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Historic evidence of kindly elder brothers

Speaking of old photos, I have been meaning to post these since March when the ones of Blake and Noah were taken. Unfortunately Noah is not in focus in the one which reminds me so much of Matt giving Tom a bottle back in 1978. It was a touching couple of minutes as Blake wanted to be so helpful!

"The Tongue of Concentration" in action...!

Happy Mother's Day!

Last week, we didn't have internet access at home for about 5 days, maybe even 6. Which is why I feel somewhat like one of those satellites that goes missing in space and then manages to re-enter the atmosphere; hopefully my re-appearance in the blogosphere will be a smooth one without any spontaneous combustion, detached part(iciple)s, etc!

In the depths of my drafts, I have - in an incomplete form - what was supposed to be my latest post: my take on the Royal Wedding. But my, doesn't the world move quickly these days? Just as I was planning to post my reaction on their delaying their honeymoon (the BIG NEWS just one week ago), what should come through the airwaves but the news of Osama Bin Laden's death. And now, even that is hardly making the front page here anymore because of the UK elections held on Thursday. Timeliness and time-sensitivity have never really been my strong suits, perhaps yet another reason why I didn't explore a career in journalism.

Instead, I'll give you something that is timely, but also timeless. I don't know when this was taken but it sure is sweet in the way that old photos are just somehow so special in comparison to their technologically superior modern-day equivalents. Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful Mom - for 34+ years you have been truly the best mother a girl could hope for. Now that I know just how much hard work is involved, I hope that you are enjoying a restful day on the couch.
I hope all the mothers out there celebrating today are being spoiled; the UK celebrated its Mothering Sunday back in April so today was nothing out of the ordinary here - special as always, but not extra-special!

I have also been enjoying this poem by Tina Fey - although I don't have a daughter, I feel I can relate anyway to many of the points!

The Mother’s Prayer for Its Daughter: Hilarious excerpt from Tina Fey's book Bossy Pants

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her
When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.

“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.