Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ni Hao, 2012!

I have decided that Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, with a mere 7 nights separating them, is just a cruel joke for parents of young children.  Trying to get over-excited children to bed by any semblance of a decent bedtime is hard enough, let alone when you need to transform yourself first into Santa Claus (Christmas Eve) and a "normal adult" (NYE).  As I was lying next to a near-slumbering Blake at about 9:00pm tonight and I heard fireworks start to go off, I could only groan inwardly and despair at how this whole occasion is just not geared toward the sleep-deprived and patience-starved.

Fortunately, the fireworks didn't disturb Blake (any more than Noah's re-emergence after he'd gone to bed for the first time around 7:00....that didn't last and he was back in the living room by 7:30).  They are both extremely exhausting at the moment - Noah with his commands ("Blakeeeeey - here go!!!" = Blake, take this toy from me and play with me!..."Daddy - sit down!" = Daddy, sit down and watch me eat my Cheerio's...."Mummmmy!!!" = could mean anything from Where is my toast? to Pick me up! to Mommy, you are just so silly to chase me around trying to get me to wear that diaper!).  Blake has actually been pretty good these days but does remind me of a young puppy who just desperately needs entertaining....all - the - time.

Our special NYE dinner was cottage pie for the boys and smoked salmon and creme fraiche - and some champagne and beer - for Matt and me.  When Blake and I went to the store at around 3:00 there weren't any blinis left.  I decided I would start the year off by being more forgiving to myself and not stress about this absence in my ingredient list - I got a small baguette and grilled small slices - "crost-blini" I'll call it. 

The living room was chaos so we had a nice big some point I mentioned that it might be good if Matt and I went on an anger management class, to which Matt replied that we just need "another parent".  Thank goodness it is now less than 3 weeks til Granny Karla and Grandpa John arrive for their "extended grandparenting stay" (that's for you, Mom and Dad, lest you think you're coming for a vacation! :)

I have to say that I won't really be too sad to say goodbye to 2011.  The surreal plane flight in April seems like a lifetime ago - was it me, or did this year just feel realllly long, in an unexceptional way?  Although, in fairness, I spent some wonderful weekends with various sets of truly amazing friends: the Hickory girls in April, the Dartmouth gang in May in Rhode Island, a late-summer October weekend in Herefordshire with my Pushy Mums, and finally our weekend in the Oxfordshire barns a few weeks ago in December with the Sussex bunch.  I can wish for more sleep and more free time, but I can't wish for better friends.

And so, I say, "Ni hao, 2012!"  Why would I be saying that, you wonder...?  Well, because I'm going to learn Mandarin in 2012.  I have a great feeling about 2012....the Olympics are coming to London, we'll at least go to Clinton in June, if not hopefully elsewhere to celebrate with Mona and Dr Bob (congratulations...still excited for you, though not written the card yet!).  And, oh yes, the babysitters arrive in less than 3 weeks!

Happy New Year!  I'm not sure I'll be able to stay up for the next 45 minutes so I'll just say it now - Happy 2012!

A few Christmas pictures

I always find that the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve goes so quickly, with so little to show for it!  We've been going to bed nice and early the past few nights and now that everyone is back in his own bed, the nights have been pretty good for the boys, after some unpleasant disturbed nights in the few days after Christmas. 

I did wonder and worry the past few days if the demise of this blog was upon me - it has been so long since I have written, and even longer, I feel, since I had anything interesting to say or report beyond the fact that we've had colds since the beginning of November and have all felt really ragged in the run-up to Christmas.  The arrival of a new year, however, is always a cause for - if not celebration - then at least contemplation.  And so, the blog will carry on, even if it will be in a stuttery, not-always-interesting, way.  One of my resolutions for the new year will be to "write more" - whether that's in a journal, in the blog, or something else, I'm not sure, but I like keeping the resolution vague and leaving my options open. 

Christmas was really nice this year, with a generous visit by Santa and a few "guilty-pleasure" naps for me.  The boys were very excited with their new things and we enjoyed seeing them play with their cousins.  On the way back from Bishy's we stopped and saw Chris and Anna and Joseph at their place.  It was nice to have the Christmas fun continue for a little while longer. 

You know what they say about pictures and their superiority to words, so here are a few snapshots from Christmas Eve and Day.  It's only a week after the fact, but Merry Christmas!

Christmas 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Film Review: Alvin and the Chipmunks - Chipwrecked (DNF)

In this period between Christmas and the New Year, when we find ourselves with frosty weather and too much time on our hands, it's difficult to know what form of entertainment beyond CBeebies will work with the kids.  On Wednesday we went for a nice wholesome trip to Dulwich Park, and the boys got to ride their new bikes.  We discovered that something might be faulty with Blake's - which was making it difficult for him to ride - so we'll need to take it back to the shop and see what they can do about it.

The story of Blake's Christmas present is a somewhat convoluted one, that I should probably write down lest I forget....Blake had been asking since the beginning of the Christmas season for a bike, and Matt, in his early-bird and Internet-ordering ways had found one at Tesco Direct several weeks ago.  It had been sitting in its box in the shed until the Tuesday before Christmas, at which point Matt thought he should go ahead and try to build it.  As he was putting it together, I was reminded of the story of my Dad and uncles constructing (although now that I'm writing that, I wonder if my Mom wasn't in fact the one doing it, while the men looked on...?) a Barbie van for me one Christmas - I think it took them nearly all night and they almost didn't finish making it by the time I woke up.  Or something like that...I'll have to find out the real version of the story.

Anyway, this was still several days before Christmas - Matt is infinitely a much better planner than I am, as I would have left making the bike until Christmas Eve, I'm sure.  Good thing he is, because as he put it together, it turns out the back wheel was defective and the whole thing wasn't working properly, with the back wheel making a whining noise every time it rubbed against the brake pads.  Uh oh.  Fortunately, as mentioned, it was only Tuesday, with Christmas not until Sunday, so on Wednesday I got on the phone to a local bike store, and a bike shop near my work who had the trike I wanted to get Noah in stock.  Saved by the forces of supply and availability!  Matt picked up Blake's "Bumper FirePower" bike on Friday morning and I carried Noah's Raleigh trike home from my office on Thursday, and Santa's work was complete!

Blake got to ride his bike on Christmas Day, along with Emma who also got a bike.  But Matt thought something wasn't right with the FirePower and this was confirmed at the park on Wednesday when the ride wasn't going very well.  We'll have to take it back and hope they can fix or replace it.

In the absence of a working bike, we had to find something else to do yesterday, and that something turned out to be a trip to the movies, to see Alvin and the Chickmunks (as Blake calls them): Chipwrecked.  I was excited about this excursion, namely because I thought Blake was ready for another go at the cinema.  His previous attempt - to see Cars at the Ritzy in Brixton with Mom - had resulted in an immediate refund before the film even started because he was "scared".  I'm not sure of what, exactly, but I guess it's the "cinematic experience" - the darkness, the loud soundtracks - that which I love so much about going to the movies!  I thought it was time to try again, and we did fare better yesterday, making it about 20 minutes into Chipwrecked before Blake decided that the Duck character was scary and that he wanted to leave.  He was sitting on my lap and I told him there was nothing to be afraid of, but after another 2 or 3 requests to leave, I decided it was wrong to force him to stay if he didn't want to.  I, therefore, am unable to do a full review of Chipwrecked, apart to say that in all honesty, I wasn't too sad that I didn't get to see how things evolved for Alvin and co on the deserted island! 

I think we're in for a low-key New Year's Eve, but I may try to get one more post in before midnight so that I can best the number of posts of 2008! 

Diligent Dad building Bike #1
Blake in Dulwich Park, dressed as Batman on his Bumper FirePower

Noah and Blake enjoying a ride in the park

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

I guess it's only fitting that my first post in weeks is on Christmas Eve, when finally the chaos of "the season" has inevitably, unstoppably, mercifully, come to a close.  The best Christmas present of all is finally having my little Noah back to good health - he's had a rough ride over the past month or so with various colds and bugs that have seemed to just last and last and last.  First a cough, then a vomiting bug, and our sweet little boy was just so pitiful (on a recent weekend away, the gang nicknamed him "Tiny Tim" - and it felt so appropriate!). 
At any rate, he's all better, and full of energy and cheek.  Blake has fared pretty well and his added two years have made him generally more resilient to all the things going around. 
I myself have felt about as run-down as I can get while still managing to keep going, but tonight, it all seems a distant memory and we're looking forward to a merry Christmas tomorrow with the kids, back this year at Bishy's house but this year with Tom, Lykke and the girls, along with Uncle David.  If the traffic reports hold true, Santa is on his way shortly to deliver a bike to Blake and a cool trike to Noah - I am looking forward to seeing their faces and hope Noah is not too jealous that his ride will not be exactly the same as Blake's!
We wish we could be with Granny Karla and Grandpa John but they know that we love them, and we know they love us. 
May you have the happiest of Christmases, and if there can't be peace on the entire earth, I'm hoping for a silent night (7:00 am would be awesome, I would take 6:15...just not before 6:00 am please!)  May it also be peaceful and happy wherever you are. 

Monday, December 05, 2011

The post plan

So, how have you been enjoying my daily posts?!  Ha ha, I bet you're probably not actually surprised that I haven't stuck to the 40-day posting plan...after all, this blog is primarily about my foibles as a mother and person, and I think a post-a-day seems too OCD.  Or at least if I were doing it, I would feel even more deranged than I already do as it would mean I were getting even less sleep than I am now!

We had a hard week, there are no two ways about it.  On Monday night, Noah seemed feverish and had a really bad cough, which lasted through the week and is actually not yet completely gone.  As with all the times that these precious boys get sick, it was back to that drawing board of plan-changing and coping; on Tuesday Matt stayed home, on Wednesday we both had the day off as we had planned to go see Uncle David, but didn't end up doing that.  On Thursday I got an emergency nanny and worked from home, and on Friday I was feeling bad myself and decided that I just needed a sick day myself.  Noah and I slept for about 5 hours which was very welcome rest. 

I am up late so I won't babble on too much, but on Friday I caught these shots which make me smile. He reminds me of a little politician signing some sort of bill into fact he was just scribbling on my work papers which I had left out, but he sure looked cute, even if he did have a snotty nose and those "sick eyes" of a boy who isn't 100% himself. Here's hoping he's back to normal this week!