Tuesday, September 26, 2006

... meanwhile in Acton!

OK... Some photos for Serena to make her feel a bit happier.

Step 1 - Lauren poses in her "I miss you" face!

Mama Away 006

Step 2 - Cute Smile!

Mama Away 007

Step 3 - Mama want Octopus for Hug?

Mama Away 014

Step 4 - OK, I want to get out now!

Mama Away 022

Step 5 - Ryder Cup Highlights! YAY!

Mama Away 001

Monday, September 25, 2006

From an Office in London

As Rena states below she is off in Middlesborough and Maggie is round looking after Lauren and me.

Yesterday's dinner was Squid, Roast Duck and Ung Choi and was rather nice, especially when washed down with a resounding Ryder Cup victory.

Lauren didn't sleep much during the day after we dropped Mama off at Kings Cross, so she had no problems going to sleep at 7 pm.

Unfortunately this didn't last and at 2.30 this morning my darling girl was wide awake. I changed her nappy and gave her a bit more milk, but it took at good 30 mins of quality hugging to get her back to sleep. She then repeated this at 3.30 and 4.00 and so I lost 2 hours of my much needed beauty sleep!

Alarm time at 6.30 this morning was not popular and so I turned my alarm off and rolled over. Maggie woke me up at 8.45 and I strolled into the office looking a bit shaggy around 10 am!

Tonight Maggie gets the baby monitor and I get to fret!

From a hotel in Middlesbrough...

I am sitting in my hotel room in Middlesbrough tonight, glad to have finally worked out how to get online. I am here for 5 days on a revision course in the run up to my exam.



The journey up was pretty good, until I got to Darlington and had to change onto what must have been the oldest train I've ever seen to get to Middlesbrough. It was dirty and cramped; not nice at all compared to the lovely GNER train I'd just got off!

I am in the Holiday Inn here in Middlesbrough, as it is close to the venue where the course is being held. It's basic but clean and will be OK for the next 5 days.



The food is terrible though. I have sampled the delights of the Toby Carvery tonight (wall-to-wall roasts, soggy vegetables and stodgy food) and am not sure I can survive another 5 nights of this! Problem is I don't know if there are other better places to eat nearby, and I don't have the car.



I am missing Jase and Lauren loads. They are having gourmet Chinese food cooked for them by mum over the next week. I've just had Jase gloating on the phone about the gorgeous meal they've just had, whilst my dinner is sitting like a large rock in my stomach. I was greatly cheered by the pictures of Lauren that Jase sent me this afternoon, when they visited the Wing Yip Chinese supermarket in London.



This is the first time I've been away from the baby girl, and I miss not being able to give her hugs and kisses. I hope she won't be too sad without her Mama! I'm sure she'll get lots of hugs from Grandma, Grandpa and Daddy whilst I'm away.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Return of the Lurgy (or the Lurgy Strikes Back)

Last night, Lauren developed a sniffle and woke up around midnight. For quite some time, she would not go back to sleep. Every time we thought we had succeeded, a plaintive cry would come from her room.

We tried everything. We put decongestant up her nose and gave her calpol. We gave her a bit more milk. I cuddled her until she felt sleepy. None of this worked last night.

So we gave in and moved her bed into our room and put it down the side of our bed. I know she sleeps better in our room when she's not feeling well. I think she knows we're there and she feels comforted by it. About five minutes later, she was fast asleep with no stirring until this morning.

This morning, I was woken by a little face peering over the side of my bed and smiling. Strangely, she was absolutely fine this morning, apart from a minor sniffle and a bit of a cough (also minor). She was in the process of rearranging the contents of my bedside table onto the floor, and was pretty happy with herself.

I took her to nursery and mentioned the sniffle to her carers. They told me that all the children have it at the moment.

So that was that mystery solved. I should have realised that Lauren would be source of the lurgy as all the schools have restarted from the summer holidays, and many of the children at nursery have older brothers and sisters. Children are great breeding grounds for all sorts of exciting germs.

I am full of the cold this morning and my head feels twice the size it did yesterday. However, I don't mind paying this small price as long as I can still get lots of sloppy kisses from my little girl!

Typical!

It never rains but it pours. There is so much going on just now that my head is spinning.

The first part of my exam is a fortnight tomorrow.

Jase has been made redundant and he finishes his notice period in the New Year. We cannot survive on my part-time rubbish salary alone.

The place where I initially wanted to apply for a job after my exam has run into problems with their funding for the post. So although they wanted me to apply and I would like to go there, I'm not sure it's a possibility anymore. I have no idea now where I want to apply for work post-exam.

Hubert, my youngest brother, is about to emigrate to the US to live with his fiancée. Obviously, whilst we're excited for them both, we're also going to miss him.

Now I think I'm coming down with a cold. What a bummer! I had a bit of a sore throat this lunchtime, followed now by that horrible, swollen / heavy feeling in the sinuses. I have no idea from whom I caught the bug, as Lauren hasn't got anything at the moment and I haven't knowingly spent time with anyone obviously ill (not even at work, bizarrely, despite working in a hospital!).

I think that it's probably the stress. It's weakened my immune system at an unfortunate moment. I'm not sure what I'm going to do if I'm fuzzy headed for the upcoming exam.

Failure is not an option...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Autumn sunshine

Lauren has been demanding all of my attention over the last two days, meaning that revision has been impossible. So, I decided to take advantage of this fact and go out to the park with her to enjoy the last (probably) of the autumn sunshine.



She had a good time. She enjoyed the swings, she enjoyed looking at the other children there and she enjoyed playing on the grass with mama afterwards. We took biscuits and apple juice for rations and came home when the dark clouds rolled in.



It was sunny (as you can see from the photos) but there's now a distinct chill in the air that wasn't there before. I guess we have been really lucky with the weather this year; we've had an amazing summer and bright sunny days into the autumn. It's still pretty warm considering it's now mid September. Back in Edinburgh, I would have expected rain, fog, cloudy days and be expecting frost in the next few weeks.



We also went to see our Paediatrician today, for Lauren's check up. Lauren is growing well, so it's been all good news. She's now 8.22kgs (or for the non-metric out there, that's 18lbs) and 71cm tall (28 inches). Lauren is now growing consistently up the 9th centile (having recovered after her long bout of viral illnesses), so our specialist was not concerned.

We had an interesting chat about Lauren's recent behaviour. Two interesting things came out of that conversation. Firstly, she told me that it's quite common for children who are really sociable to enjoy nursery and be bored at home if they don't have brothers or sisters. She recommended finding a local parent and toddler group, a baby music group or a toddler gym to get Lauren (and us) out and about and interacting with other children. I'm going to get Jase to have a look around Chiswick to see what is available in our area.

Secondly, the mardiness we've been seeing is apparently a manifestation of the "Terrible Twos". Clearly, someone lied there. I was told that bright, sociable children often reach this stage before they reach two - and I was told to expect more of the lying on the floor wailing business (she told me that next Lauren will do this in the supermarket...). All this is quite normal and nothing to worry about.

OK, Tesco deliver to home, don't they?

Monday, September 18, 2006

More weekend fun

Whilst I've been revising today, Daddy and Lauren have been having some fun and enjoying the autumn sunshine.



Jase apparently bought some ice cream earlier in the week (funny because I can't remember when this was). Lauren loves eating ice cream with some homemade fruit purée.



They had some ice cream together (Daddy claims Lauren ate most of the tub but I'm not so sure) this afternoon. You can see Lauren scraping the last of it from the carton in these photos!

I wasn't offered any, despite studying hard...



Later, they went out to Wendell Park. Lauren was a bit sleepy according to Jase, and wasn't her normal lively self. She did enjoy herself, but was a bit grumpy at times! She enjoyed watching the other children play.

Recently, I've noticed that she does get a bit grumpy at the weekends. She seems to love nursery (she has started smiling when she sees we've got to the nursery in the mornings) and maybe it's because she likes interacting with the other children there. I'm beginning to think that she misses the extra company at the weekends, especially mama is no fun at the moment through studying.



She certainly seems to be happier when there are more people in the house (for example when the grandparents come to visit).

I think this may be a sutble hint that she doesn't want to be an only child (fortunately, this was not our plan either!).

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Fun and Games

After the fun we had last weekend with the walking video, Jase and I decided to post another short video today.

He was playing with Lauren earlier today, and she seemed to have fun (though I think she was a bit bemused with daddy's antics).

Press the Play button in the lower left corner to see what they've been up to!



The whole family also went out shopping for Lauren today (these days mama and dada don't get to spend money on themselves!) in Hammersmith. Lauren came home with some new clothes, some shoes and a new car seat. The shoe situation was getting desperate as she's almost walking and we had no suitable shoes for her. Her feet have grown a lot since the summer holidays and her old shoes were too small anyway!

Similarly, because she has grown a lot in the last few months, her old car seat is now too small. Her feet were way over the edge and her head was beginning to get to the top of the seat. As well as outgrowing the seat, she was beginning to dislike sitting in it because she was facing backwards and couldn't see anything. We've bought two new car seats (one a week ago and one today) for our two cars. They're both forward facing and she seemed to like this much more.

Hilariously though, the clothes we bought today (some of which are 12-18 month size) are absolutely enormous! When we got home and measured them against her, I could not believe how big the clothes were.

Or maybe my darling girl is just still small (but perfectly formed, of course)!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Last day in the baby room

Today was Lauren's last day in the baby room at nursery. From next week, she moves up to the toddler room. How quickly the time has past! Her carers all said how much they'll miss her. She's spent the last few weeks settling into the toddler room and getting used to the new carers and the other children. She already knows some of them as they moved up from the baby room a few months before her.



She has been walking a bit at nursery as well, according to her carers, but I think she still prefers crawling. At home, she has been walking a bit but mostly crawls. Yesterday, she was playing peek-a-boo with me by crawling in and out of her bedroom at high speed. She loved this game and giggled the whole time.



We've also noticed a massive improvement in her sleeping. She comes home from nursery, eats dinner, goes for a bath and is in bed between 7 and 8pm. This leaves mama and dada with a bit of time to themselves in the evening. She manages to sleep through most nights until the morning, which is usually about 10 to 12 hours. It's fab!

The two photos of Lauren (both of which I love) are from the day we took the video. I've uploaded more from Lauren's standing and walking adventures onto the family photo album for all of you to see. I especially like the second photo of her which probably comes with the caption "Woah, this walking lark is hard work..."!

On a more serious note, poor Jase is looking for a new job. See his posts here and here explaining all. Stressful times.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Crispy

I have had an awful two days. It has been deeply unpleasant.

I have been on a revision course for my consultant's exam and been grilled by scary, aggressive examiners for the last two days. Of course, I expected this would happen. After all, it's the last professional exam I will ever sit and they have to raise the bar.

Despite the intense grilling (I'm crispy both sides now) I've come out with my sanity intact and with a clearer vision of my goals for the next two parts of the exam. Despite initially being disheartened by the criticisms, I realised that despite them I did enough to pass each component of the exam during the course testing. I guess it has been good to get challenged and stressed; better feel awful now than in the actual exam. The consultants teaching us did seem to enjoy (perhaps a little to much) watching us squirm under pressure though!

I only felt better when I went to pick up Lauren from nursery. She had a lovely smile for me when she saw me and immediately gave me a big, sloppy kiss.

And with that, life was worth living again. She is my darling little girl!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

And for my next trick...




Again, this is a Video - you can click on the button to watch, then wait a minute or so for it to load.

Enjoy!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Mystery Benefactor

Yesterday, Lauren received a letter addressed to her. Being her parents (and we have no secrets from each other...yet!) we opened her mail. We were surprised and delighted to find a Gift Card from the Early Learning Centre for her.



However, there was nothing on the card to say who it was from. This is a terrible shame because we obviously want to thank the person who sent it to her, and no-one has (so far) given me any clue that they have sent something.

So we are hoping that the Mystery Benefactor will make themselves known to us, so that we can give them a big thank-you and a hug and a kiss from Lauren. I am sure she will enjoy picking something out from the ELC! For you, this is a picture of the cutie, standing up at the sofa this week.

And finally, just for Gareth, we took this picture.



It is proof that (for now) Lauren can drink and still be standing upright...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

New Milestone!

Over the course of the last few days, Lauren has reached another milestone.



These are pictures of Lauren playing in our living room this evening. I have been in Chelsea teaching all day and Lauren has been at nursery. It's been fabulous to come home to witness this event.



She can now pull herself up to stand from a sitting position completely unaided. Before, she was holding onto furniture and people to get into a standing position but now she just does it without any help or holding on. She managed to do this once or twice at the weekend but we were unable to capture the event on camera.

We were finally able to photograph her standing on her own tonight. She has been trying to stand up more over the last few days and today at nursery. Her carers at nursery were telling us that she laughs every time she does it. She knows she's doing something new and she's really excited by her achievements. I am sure that it won't be long before she walks now.



I am astounded by her rapid development in the last few weeks and her eagerness to learn new things. It really is a joy to behold and I am thrilled to bits by it all.

I am so proud of my little girl!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Helping to save the Planet

We've been trying hard to do our bit for the environment.

We're avid recyclers, but get frustrated that Ealing Council (our council) still does not recycle all the things we would like them to. Every week, we separate out our paper, glass, tins and food waste for separate collection.

I've also become concerned about the food we eat. I try to buy organic food whenever I can, and I am increasing disturbed to find my vegetables coming from Holland and my fruit from even further afield. That can't be good in the first place! The stuff from the supermarkets (whilst it is convenient and cheap) is also underripe and tasteless.

Even when you "ripen at home" it does not taste as it should. I'm sure that this is why fruit and veg taste so much better on the Continent. For example, when we went to the markets in France, the food was amazing. Even buying locally from the fruit and veg stalls in Chiswick, the fruit and veg is better than in the supermarkets.

Jase found the Farmers' Market in Chiswick a few weekends ago, in the playground of a local primary school. In an effort to support our local farmers, we went to shop there today.

Look what we found!

(for those who did not notice the first time, this is a video. Press the play button for more...)




These little devils are American Crayfish. They were imported sometime in the last century and now pollute our waterways, killing our native river wildlife. They have no natural preditors.

They are also very tasty. Gordon Ramsay (this recipe and this recipe) and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (this recipe) have both cooked these on TV. So we decided to do our bit for the environment and buy a few of these guys for a yummy lunch.

We weren't disappointed. After rendering them comatose by putting them in the freezer for about 30 minutes (this works for lobster as well and is the best way to kill them), we dunked them in some boling water and they were cooked after about 1 minute. It was really easy.

After they were peeled, I tossed them in a SE Asian style dressing, consisting of soy sauce, sesame oil, lime, chilli and coriander. We had this with some new potatoes and a radish salad.

Yum, yum!

Eating Out: Pacific Bar and Grill



On the subject of eating, we went out on Thursday night to the Pacific Bar and Grill in Chiswick for dinner. Jase said he was fed up of eating chicken (I had made large amounts of coq au vin and chicken curry to get us through the week and to save time) and wanted a change so suggested going out.



I had crab and apple cake for starter, which I shared with Lauren. I think she liked it too. Jase had some squid, but it was a little overdone (slightly tough). For the main, we had the most amazingly tender rare rib steak. It was fabulous. For dessert, Jase had the chocolate fondant (like a soft sponge with melted chocolate in the middle) and I had their baked cheesecake. Lauren also enjoyed both desserts!

Overall, it was a terrific meal and we would definitely go back!