Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Heatwave

There is no end to it. Every day it is 30+ degrees. Today it was an unrelenting 33 degrees with no breeze. Hot! Night time temperatures are quite high (over 20 degrees) so pretty uncomfortable. I am so glad we got the air con!



The hot weather has meant plenty of trips to the park for ice cream,
swings and exploring - which we've all enjoyed!

Apparently the heatwave is here to stay. No end in sight over the next week, at least. I'm pretty certain that this has been the hottest summer since we moved to London.

It's hotter than 2003, when we were stuck in a tiny 3rd floor flat with no garden (yuk!). 2004, when we were renting a house with a big garden, we had a terrible summer with lots of rain (typical). Last year, I remember some hot weather but most of it was a blur because of the pregnancy (I still don't think it was a hot).

Next year, I'm planning to redo our front and back gardens; I'm making a mental note to ask about planting some drought resistant plants!



After a terrible weekend at work, it's been lovely to spend some time with Lauren. we've had lots of chuckles and cuddles over the past two days. She's been really active since she figured out how to stand up. She absolutely loves pulling herself up on furniture!

Jase said that over the weekend, she was sleeping in our room (with the air con) and on waking she pulled herself up into a standing position, holding onto the edge of our bed at the far side of the room. So when Jase came into the room to get her, he could see this little face peering at him from the other side of the bed! Wish I'd been there.

Of course, getting mobile does bring with it the risks of falling over.

However, she's had nothing more serious than minor bumps so far (luckily) and I'm determined not to wrap her up in cotton wool. We try not to look worried when she has minor bumps, and just give her cuddles without making a fuss for worse bumps. I don't want her to be scared to walk!



Getting mobile also means that the cheeky girl is "exploring" all our low shelves and pulling at cables and flexes. This means that when she is awake we have to be constantly aware of where she is and what she's doing!

Gone are the days when I could do other things. She will sit in her high chair for a while, but once she's bored she wants to get out and explore. She's capable of standing up in her high chair now, so I have to be careful with her.

It's great, though. I'm so proud of her achievements! Even when she gets into daddy's DVD collection! I don't have the heart to be cross; she is clearly loving the ability to explore her environment.



We've had some good fun playing over the last two days. We have sticking out tongue game; she sticks her tongue out at me, I stick my tongue out at her, she laughs and the whole cycle begins again. We still have the mountaineering game and the knocking over of blocks game as well. She's also beginning to enjoy people reading to her, even though she doesn't understand the words. And of course, she still likes me to sing songs to her.

I think that she's also beginning to watch TV; she gets excited if she sees animals or small children on the screen. She watched a cartoon this afternoon and was laughing and chuckling through it; I was quite surprised that she liked it so much (clearly a Jase trait!).

Sadly, I'm back to work tomorrow and Lauren is back to nursery. Tomorrow evening is her parents' evening where I get to chat to her carers about her progress. Just like school! I am planning to ask some of the other parents about primary schools in the area if I can; I haven't registered Lauren for any yet. I'm a little bit worried; I have heard other parents talking about enrolling their children for good schools as soon as they're born!

Scary!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Blue Sky Holiday

It's a scorching 33 degrees today in London and set to go up to 37 degrees this week. The sky is blue and there isn't a cloud to be seen. It feels like the Mediterranean!



Lauren and I have been out and about enjoying the beautiful weather. Yesterday, we went to Ravenscourt Park with Charlotte to look at ducks and enjoy the sunshine.

Lauren seemed to pay more attention to the ducks this time and got quite excited.



It was really lovely and Lauren seemed to have a really good time crawling on the grass. Her crawling is much more effective now and she can go quite a distance when she crawls. Every day, I put a rug on my wooden floor downstairs and sit her on it with her toys so that she can scrabble about.



She can also pull herself up to stand by holding onto furniture or people. She was pulling herself up on me yesterday and playing by clambering all over me ("mountaineering"). She won't keep still these days!

She's also learned to clap in the last few days. She now nods and claps when she's happy, as well as giving the cutest of grins.



At the weekend, we had a lovely evening meal at the Anglesea Arms, which is a local gastro pub. Jase had some amazing chargrilled beef and I had cod, which Lauren ate as well.

We like the Anglesea; good food in a relaxed atmosphere. It'll be even better when the no smoking laws come into force. I absolutely hate people smoking around me when we're eating, even if they're in a smoking section elsewhere in the room - it still wafts across. I don't mind if they're outside and we're inside or vice versa, or if we're in different rooms with a door in between. Besides, how can they possible taste what they're eating?



She's now enjoying a lot of the food that we have and loves to eat what we're eating (obviously her food is not interesting enough, unless it's a Petit Filous...). I'm now on the verge of giving her our food mushed up, rather than making her baby food. All very exciting!

She also is getting more interested in trying to feed herself. Whilst this is exciting for her, it is definitely messy for poor mama and dada!!

Despite the heat, we are sleeping well at night with the lovely air con unit. It's probably burning a hole in my electricity bill but quite frankly I don't care anymore! The heat is unbearable at night and this has definitely helped. To be quite honest, I am beginning to think that with the changing climate in SE England that maybe we should be considering air con as standard in new homes. It's now warmer here than in Spain (see this report)!

Lauren is asleep at the moment but when she wakes up we'll have lunch then head to the park again for some fun in the sunshine. Happy days!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Irony of the Situation

It's currently 2am and I am wide awake. Lauren isn't keeping me up; she is fast asleep.

Oh, the irony of it all after my last post. I have insomnia tonight.

I've come downstairs for a mug of horlicks to try to get off to sleep. I've already tried counting sheep and all that stuff but I just felt more and more frustrated and less and less sleepy.

I suspect that my insomnia has quite a lot to do with my upcoming deadline for the submission of my paper (Thursday). Although I have finished it, I am still tweaking it to get the word count down and tidy up my arguments. The more water tight it is, the less likely I will get blown away by some nasty examiner in the viva exam.

Stress, stress, stress!

To top it all, I have caught a sore throat (probably from Lauren or Jase) and every time I lie back in bed I feel as if I can't breathe and I'm being strangled.

What a nightmare! Shouldn't have spoken so soon...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Zzzzz

It's probably a very unwise thing to say at this point but we have had a really good few days with Lauren as far as sleeping is concerned.



On holiday, we had some terrible nights (and some relatively recently too)because she was teething. I don't know if you've noticed but she has teeth at the top now; see photo from previous post). Although you can only see two top teeth in the picture, she actually has four (the two alongside the central ones have come through).



It definitely wasn't because of the sleeping arrangements because she loved her little travel bed (it's like the one in this photo)!

This was clearly a painful process; those of you who remember your wisdom teeth emerging will know what I mean.

Our change in luck may also be because it has been cooler in the house. Jase bought an air conditioning unit because none of us could sleep in the hot weather; this has helped all of us enormously. It was 29-30 degrees in the bedrooms at night during the hot spell; really not funny. There was no wind so even with the windows wide open and the fans on it made no difference and none of the rooms cooled down in the night.

Lauren is also quite particular with her bed and likes a relatively soft feel to her mattress (like daddy). We recently bought a cheap single duvet to use as a matress pad because we sometimes found that she would roll over in the night, feel uncomfortable and wake herself up. However, when she was sleeping on something soft like a pillow, this didn't seem to happen as often.



So with these measures and the teeth settling, she has been sleeping really well. Last few nights she has gone to bed at a reasonable hour and then either slept right through or only woken once for a nighttime snack.

She's currently sleeping in our bedroom on her mattress next to our bed (as the air con unit is in our room). I think she also likes the fact that we're sleeping right there as well.

Anyway, shouldn't question my good fortune too much. We're just enjoying it for now!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Things to come?

I was sent this piccie this morning... What a Nightmare!

'Ebra

Lauren has mastered her first word other than "mama" (mama), "mmuhmuhmama" (mama milk-milk) and "baba" (daddy; also sometimes "abba" - clearly she's figured him out!).



About three weeks ago, Lauren and I were playing with Stripey (her zebra; see the photo. I gave Lauren Stripey to hold and out of the blue she said "'Ebra". I thought I had misheard but she was giggling and I couldn't get her to say it again.

Then, during the holiday, Jase and Lauren were playing with Stripey and again, when Jase gave Stripey to Lauren she said "Ebra". Jase (of course) didn't believe me when I told him that she had said "zebra" previously and thought that it must be a fluke.

This week, she has said (mostly appropriately) "Ebra" again when we've been playing with her and Stripey, so I am proud to declare that my daughter's first word other than the family stuff is "zebra"!



At the same time as this has been happening, I've realised that Lauren is finally noticing animals. We took her to the park to see ducks and geese previously but she wasn't really all that impressed. However, on holiday, she showed a distinct interest in birds and dogs in particular. We went to the aquariaum in St Malo and she loved looking at the fish, turtles and sharks!

She's been watching the Big Cat Diary on BBC this week with Jase and has been really excited when the animals come on TV. Yesterday, she was babbling and laughing excitedly at the pictures of the lions and cheetahs. However, when excited she called them all "Ebra"!

I don't think Stripey will be too impressed with that, you know...



We've been to see the Paediatricians today. Lauren is putting on weight and is making excellent progress now. The Consultant was really pleased and said that everything was coming along nicely. She was pleased that Lauren has been eating better and wants to see her one more time to make sure that Lauren continues to grow. One (final, I hope) set of blood tests were done today to make sure the iron deficiency anaemia is getting better.

She's alseep just now as she's tired from her day of travelling about but here are some pictures of her from earlier in the day when she was playing with me after her breakfast. It's great to see her looking healthier!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Engagement Celebrations

When we got back from St Malo, we had a lovely engagement dinner to celebrate Jase and Charlotte's engagment. We went to Mandarin Kitchen in Bayswater and had a wonderful seafood banquet with nine courses (this is traditional for special dinners and symbolises "everlasting" in Chinese culture).



Our cousins, Amy and Antony were also there. I am constantly amazed that they always look the same, no matter how many months or years have passed since I last saw them. Here's a picture of them enjoying the meal with my parents.



Jase and Charlotte looked very happy and we all got to see the big ring (a diamond solitaire on a white gold band with smaller diamonds on the shoulders - very nice!!). Everyone ate loads and had a good time.



Lauren was very good throughout the meal and had some quality time with Uncle Jase. Recently, his job has taken him away from the UK a lot and so Lauren hadn't seen him for about 2 months. When she saw him on our return from the holiday, she didn't recognise him and looked scared when he said hello to her. My poor brother was totally gutted!



However, a bit of quality time together and all was right as rain again!



Here's the happy couple with my parents. The big day is all set for 2nd June 2007 and the venue has been booked. They are very excited about the whole thing, as are we - we are keeping our fingers crossed that all the preparations run smoothly until then.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Holiday in St Malo

OK, it's about time I told you about our lovely holiday in St Malo. I'm taking this opportunity whilst Lauren is asleep because she doesn't sleep much during the day now and when she's up she wants attention. This means that it's quite hard to do anything during that time (certainly nothing that requires attention or is time consuming).



St Malo is a really pretty seaside town on the northern coast of France, not far from the Channel Islands. We stayed in the old walled town of St Malo where there were lots of lovely restaurants, caf├ęs and shops. We had a lot of fun just exploring the streets and stopping for the occasional ice cream or cake (see Jase's post re. cake here.

As Jase reported, the first week was mixed weather but the second week the sun came out and was pretty spectacular.



This is a photo of us walking around the sea walls and building up an appetite for some crepes! Speaking of food, the food was fabulous. There was some fantastic seafood (fish, crab, lobster, shellfish and the most amazing plates of Fruits de Mer that you have ever seen. Breton desserts were enormous and quite heavy (even for Jase and mum, the dessert fiends).



We weren't the only ones who ate well. Lauren clearly loved the sea air and ate like a small horse (!). We didn't have any baby food with us (and anyway she refused to eat the jar stuff, being clearly a connoisseur of finer mama-made foods) so we mainly made some small portions of food for her, which I then ground up for her. She also loved etaing stuff from our plates in restaurants (fish, chicken, veg, fruit, bread and of course, puddings) . Jase and I weighed her yesterday and were astonished (but delighted) that she had put on 1.1kg since going on holiday. She now weighs (according to my bathroom scales) 7.4kg which is 16.3 pounds.



My Mum and Dad also had a great time and they really loved spending time with Lauren. Lauren and her grandpa had a great time looking at seagulls on the beach and fish at the fantastic aquarium (which had all kinds of fish, sharks, turtles and so on).

Lauren also had lots of cuddles and kisses with her grandma, whilst grandpa and daddy were watching the football with the friendly locals in the nearby bar.



Lauren really loved the beach. This picture was taken at a fabulous beach which we loved, on the caostal road between St Malo and Pointe De Grouin. She liked playing in the sand and was fascinated by the texture. She played with pebbles and shells she found on the beach (and found them quite tasty!). Whilst we were away, four of her top teeth just suddenly emerged so she was putting everything in her mouth to chew. Initially, she was a bit apprehensive with the waves at the shoreline, but soon was sitting in the surf and having a great time.



We visited some of the nearby towns aong the coast when we got the hire car and also drove to see some of the local beauty spots. A good time was had by all, with great food and some Breton cider being consumed along the way. This photo was taken at our favourite restaurant of the holiday called "Le Brick" in St Malo, after Jase has sampled some of the good French wine on offer! It was a fantastic place for a family holiday and I would definitely go again.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

One year on

It's scary to realise that one year has past since the July 7th bombings in London. It feels more recent than that somehow, perhaps because it's been so much in the media.

Today, the whole city stopped to remember those who were unfortunate enough to lose their lives a year ago. It was a scary day; nobody knew where anyone else was as all the phone networks got jammed. The fact that it hit commuter rush hour made it much worse.

I vividly remember standing for hours in the Resuscitation Room at the hosiptal where I was working in central London, waiting for casualties to arrive and fearing the worst. We were lucky because by the end of the day we had only seen three minor walking wounded. On the other hand, we all did feel a lot of frustration because we were ready to help and nobody was brought our way. It did seem daft at the time that there were probably about 60-100 highly trained doctors and nurses, standing by to receive patients, who ended up doing nothing when another London hospital received over 200 wounded patients.

Politicians have been on TV today saying that they expect that it will happen again. Maybe not in the same way, but terrorist acts will always be with us and so the threat remains unchanged.

It's sad to say that I agree with them that it's only a matter of time, but we will be prepared.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Home

We got back from France last night. We had an absolutely amazing holiday in Brittany; it was relaxing, the beaches were wonderful and the food was fabulous. No internet access though. Internet cafes were surprisingly scarce and expensive. We resorted to using Jase's mobile phone as a very slow modem (I am not looking forward to seeing the bill for this!).

Lauren has thrived on holiday and has put on lots of weight with the good food and sea air. She's now crawling! Fortunately, she's not very fast yet so I can still catch her. She's also been talking lots of baby talk, laughing, waving and nodding her head when she likes something. We've been constantly entertained by her antics!

Was quite disturbed by this article on the Beeb. I know babies are taking longer to crawl these days, but they do all catch up in the end. Surely it's better to be a bit slower to develop but have less babies dying from cot death! Why must we all constantly push our babies to develop at a breakneck pace? Don't they grow up too fast these days anyway?

It's great to be home to my high speed broadband. More news and pictures later once I have bashed my review paper into shape a bit more.

Meantime, enjoy this. Might go down there myself later this week if I have withdrawal symptoms from my holiday!!