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Thursday, 31 March 2005

mmmm cake


It's Ewan McGregor's birthday today. Let's all celebrate by singing:
Happy birthday to Ew!
Happy birthday to Ew!
Happy birthday you dishy lightsabre-swingin', bum revealin', motorcyclin' hunk of man,
Happy birthday to Ew!

It's also someone else's birthday today. That's right, it's my friend Gary's birthday! Ply yourself with cakes and enjoy.

Me? Today I'm being taken to Cadbury World or as I like to call it, The Land of Chocolate. If I'm not back in a week, don't try to find me.

Wednesday, 30 March 2005

in the orwellian bin


There is a programme on BBC2 in which celebrities suggest pet hates that should be banned for all eternity to a big box known as "Room 101" (Tracey Emin suggested clowns, and I wholeheartedly agree). Although I'm not famous (yet - still working on that crime spree when I get enough sleep to muster up the energy), I have a few suggestions for Room 101:
Accolades for celebrities who shed "baby weight" abnormally quickly - "Victoria Beckham was pictured for the first time this weekend since giving birth last month — and looked astonishingly slender...she has already shed the pounds she put on while pregnant." [source] I read another article recently stating that she ensured she wasn't photographed during the last weeks of pregnancy because she was mortified that she had gained 2 stone (28 lbs.). Apparently she lost 1 stone immediately following the birth, but still wouldn't appear in public until the last stone came off. Poor, poor Posh. How awful for you, especially since 14 lbs. was 45% of your pre-pregnancy body weight. It's so fantastic that you're back to being frighteningly gaunt again. I really need a sarcasm font.
Wasps - They don't produce anything tasty like honey, they sting you for no good reason, and I'm allergic to them. They serve no purpose on my planet. Until they learn a useful skill, get rid of them.
Flyers - Please stop putting them through my door. A cheap photocopy isn't going to compel me to partake of your services. I need a sign above our letterbox saying, "Our house has been double glazed recently, we don't have any trees that need to be pruned, our driveway is already paved, and I'm not interested in hearing about your religion because I'm too busy beheading chickens whilst humming along merrily to Iron Maiden."
+1 Channels - Why is that every channel now seems to have a +1 version? For example, Discovery Home and Leisure has its regular channel and Discovery Home and Leisure +1. This is exactly the same programming, running one hour behind the regular channel. So, if you happen to only catch the end of a show, you can flip to the +1 channel and watch it in its entirety an hour later. Watching TV is like Groundhog Day; I feel like I'm reliving everything on television again and again and again and again and again...
Turbulence - We can put a man on the moon but we still have turbulent flights? Why can't we construct planes using the same technology as Steadicams? That way, planes could bounce around as much as they want and we'd never feel it. Get me to the patent office, pronto.
Coulis - It's fruit you've blitzed within an inch of its life in a blender, poured into an old ketchup squeezy bottle, and squirted around a dessert that tastes horrible with raspberry. Please stop.
Anything marked "resealable" - It never is; quit trying to trick us.

Monday, 28 March 2005

bunnytime


Jack is thoroughly excited about his first Easter:



I have a similar look today, but that's due to eating my weight in chocolate. Eyelids getting heavy...must sleep...must put chocolate eggs away...

Happy Easter, everyone!

Saturday, 26 March 2005

simply the best


I know I keep saying this, but it's true: I have the best husband in the world. Not only has he been doing everything for me except breastfeeding (but I bet he would if he could), he gave me the most precious gift of all the other night - sleep. After a month of interrupted or non-existent sleep, I was starting to get a bit stressed. When I say "a bit stressed", I really mean "on the brink of insanity and prone to bursting into tears every ten minutes or so". Although everyone says to sleep when the baby sleeps, that only works if the baby actually sleeps. Jack sometime goes through bouts of feeding every 2-3 hours, taking 30 minutes to feed, and then taking another 30 minutes to an hour to settle...24 hours a day. Math has never been my strong point, but I'm pretty sure that works out to very little sleep for Lisa.

So a couple of nights ago, with a glazed look on my face and the inability to form whole words, I sobbed and told Paul that I was finding this motherhood thing too damn hard. He sent me up to bed at 10:00 and said that he'd take care of Jack downstairs so I could get some rest. I thought that meant he'd do the next feed to give me a couple of hours rest, so you can imagine my shock and delight when I woke up and saw that it was 5:30 in the morning. Paul stayed up with Jack almost the whole night, feeding him and cuddling him while I got some much needed sleep. Keep in mind that I'm not the only sleep-deprived new parent in this house; Paul was also practically running on empty when he did this. So this is just one of the reasons why he's the best husband in the world. No contest.

On the downside, this meant waking up with incredibly full breasts due to a lack of use that night. Imagine filling your boobs with cement and then inadvertently rolling over on to your stomach. Rude awakening, that is. If I could find a way to express milk through the night without actually waking up, I'd make a fortune.

Luckily, Jack's been on a more reasonable schedule and taking far less time to settle. Of course now that I've written this, I've jinxed it and he'll be up every 15 minutes demanding milk, pizza, and a large order of fries. I better start pumping.

Thursday, 24 March 2005

food for thought


When I was a little 'un, I was always able to go home for lunch. I was lucky; we always lived close to my schools and I had a stay at home Mom who fed me decent meals, three times a day. I didn't really have to endure school dinners (or as we call it back home, "cafeteria food") and few of the schools I attended didn't even have a cafeteria until I reached high school. Admittedly, I ate a lot of crap in high school. I never ate breakfast so by midmorning I'd be starving and would go to the "caf" to buy chocolate doughnuts. Mmmm doughnuts. My Mom always sent me to school with a sandwich, but I'd either have it with a bag of chips/crisps (chips on a sandwich - heaven) or I'd pitch it in the bin and get a plate of fries/chips instead. I usually had lunch with a chocolate milk, and would sometimes buy another junky snack for the afternoon (usually Fritos or Doritos). Although I ate all of this junk, my health was undoubtedly spared by the fact that any meals I ate at home were nutritious. We never ate prepared foods (okay, we ate fish sticks every now and then), my Mom never had junk food in the house, and a meal out was a real treat for special occasions. I can't ever remember being fed fast food unless it was at some kid's birthday party or until I could purchase it myself as a teen.

Recently, Jamie Oliver did a series about the state of school dinners in Britain. Kids are being fed prepackaged, processed junk food because schools claim that they can't afford anything else and it's "what the kids want". Children as young as 7 are eating nothing but a plate of chips for lunch, or preformed breaded mystery meat. While this might not be too serious for children who, like me, were fed well at home this is the main meal of the day for a lot of kids. School dinners are free for some children, to ensure that they have at least one substantial meal a day when it is likely that they won't get fed much at home. So when their one meal a day consists of a frozen potato product and something covered in custard, this is not a good thing. There is a petition on the Feed Me Better web site, dedicated to providing healthy food for school children. Oliver proved that schools could provide decent meals, even on the 35-45p limit per child. As I mentioned in my NHS food rant a month ago, good food can be done on a budget.

You can sign the petition here, and please sign soon. The petition closes on Monday at midnight.

Wednesday, 23 March 2005

"la-sers"


"Are those frickin sharks with frickin lasers on their heads?"*



*(with apologies to anyone who hasn't seen any of the Austen Powers films and thinks I've gone totally insane.)

i've come to fix the fridge


Darkness falls, the warmth of spring slowly creeps through the rustling grass. She sees his eyes glistening in the moonlight. He is drawn to the soft glow of her radiant skin. He makes a low grunting sound and edges towards her slowly. She waits, her deep breaths filling her voluminous chest. She is curvaceous, nearly twice his size, but he manages to climb on top of her. Carefully, methodically, and with purpose, their bodies entwine.

Suddenly, from out of the shadows appears a man bearing a digital camera. The flash doesn't deter the couple; they carry on oblivious.

Click here to see the photograph of this sordid scene.

It's pondography out there. Frogs are sprouting dodgy moustaches and I keep hearing strains of cheesy electronic music through the night. If anyone would like some tadpoles in another couple of weeks, give us a shout.

Tuesday, 22 March 2005

and finally...


It's only taken me a month, but I've put up a couple of photos from Jack's birth day. You can see Jack shortly after the birth, Paul with a J Cloth on his head, and me in my fetching NHS gown here.

time flies


Jack is one month old today - holy macaroni. I cannot believe how quickly this month has gone by. On the other hand, being pregnant feels like a lifetime ago and my week in hospital is a distant memory (thankfully). I'm still writing my birth story, but it's close to completion and should be posted soon. We are feeling a bit more adept at this parenting thing and, touch wood, I am starting to feel like it's getting slightly easier. I think I've even got the hang of breastfeeding now (this is on my list of "Baby Things Nobody Tells You About" - breastfeeding is NOT an easy feat for everyone by any stretch of the imagination). We're not really used to the lack of sleep, but at least Jack hasn't screamed his way through the wee hours for a couple of weeks now. We've ventured out of the house a few times and I'm feeling more human by the day. I'm still a bit feeble (oh how I wish I could drive) but much more mobile than before. Dare I say it, life is starting to feel normal again.

Now if you'll excuse me, I am going to listen to a piece of advice almost every mother has passed along to me: sleep while the baby sleeps. Mmmmm afternoon catnaps.

birthday boy


Hello, I'm Jack and I am one month old today. I enjoy long naps during the day, partying all night long, and peeing on health visitors. My hobbies include drinking milk, filling nappies (particularly immediately after a new one has been put on me), sneezing, and making alarmingly loud farty noises. I have acquired the following skills over the past four weeks: holding my head up, making lots of Mogwai-like noises to amuse myself, staring intently at faces, and today my Mummy swears that I gave her a huge gummy grin that wasn't at all related to gas.



Who loves ya, baby?

Sunday, 20 March 2005

it pays to have a web site


On Friday, my mother in law handed me a big box of chocolates and said, "I read your blog - happy Commonwealth Day!" How fabulous is that? You'll never hear any disparaging mother in law jokes from me, no siree.

According to my calendar, today is the "Journee internationale de la francophonie" (International Speakers of French Day). May I just take this opportunity to say that I speak French and that I'm pretty sure this event also involves a gift of chocolate. I don't have any proof of that at hand right now, but give me enough time and I'll find a link to speaking French and chocolate gifts.

On a totally unrelated subject, I am getting really bored with what I eat for breakfast. I usually have an egg with toast, or a bagel and cheese, or cereal, or once in a blue moon (usually when we've had overnight guests) we go all out and cooks us a full English breakfast. Any ideas for interesting and yummy things to eat for breakfast? I'm not a huge fan of sweet things first thing in the morning, so please, no mention of Pop Tarts or toaster struedel. Thanks.

Saturday, 19 March 2005

the many faces of jack


Ranging from "I'm gassy" to "Stop taking my picture, Mummy", here's a sample of Jack's many faces:

Wednesday, 16 March 2005

soul food


The lovely and Commonwealthy Jack and Heather came to visit us on Friday, not only bearing their cutie pie daughter Rebecca, but a bag full of home cooking. I am telling you, there is no greater gift to new parents than a bunch of food. Okay, maybe sleep - sleep would be the best gift of all, but that's asking a bit much, really. I have been thoroughly enjoying their homebaked raisin bread for breakfast, tucked into some lentil stew for lunch, and sampled a big slice of lasagna (just to be polite, of course). Oh my, but it was good. So from the bottom of our stomachs, I thank you both for your thoughtful treats.

The sharing of food is of great significance to me. In my family, you don't leave the house without food. My grandmother would always send us home with old margarine containers stuffed full of leftovers (she always deliberately cooked "too much") and my mother will insist that you take home some food before she'll let you out the door. I'm now 3,000 miles from home and she still sends me food. Since we're big eaters, we rarely have leftovers to offer our guests (and some of our friends have healthy appetites too, you know) but I do try to bring food when visiting others and have been known to send Paul's family home with aluminum foil-wrapped extras. I love cooking for people because I think that there's something uniquely satisfying in feeding others. You are providing nourishment and enjoyment, fulfilling a basic but hugely important human need. I fret about not having enough food for guests, we were anxious when Jasper wasn't eating when he was a puppy, and one of my main goals for each day is making sure Jack is feeding enough. If you leave our house happy with a full belly, it does us proud.

So getting back to our Kiwi mates, it's Rebecca's first birthday today. It's strange to think that a year ago we were in Ft. Lauderdale on business, not even engaged yet and Jack was just a twinkle in our eyes. How much we've all grown in a year. Happy birthday, Becca!

Tuesday, 15 March 2005

typing one handed


Who knew that women would need to master the skill of typing one handed? That's what happens when you've got a sleeping baby on one arm and you need to update your blog. Quit looking at me funny, what else could I have been talking about? Weirdos.

So apparently yesterday was Commonwealth Day. By my reckoning, this means that you British people should have bought me a present of some sort. Remember, I'm easily pleased and even a small gift of chocolate is greatly appreciated. I thank yew.

I had a cunning plan. I joined the Blockbuster's home DVD delivery service thingy, which had a free trial for one month. This entitled me to one month of free, unlimited DVD rentals posted directly to the house, after which point I was going to cancel. Hurrah! But then one week after signing up, I was admitted to hospital and gave birth a few days later - and apparently my free trial has ended and my credit card has just been debited the fee for the following month. And I only got around to watching one DVD. Doh. Lesson learned: try not to stick it to the man when you're very close to your due date.

And that sums up all the non-baby topics I could think of to cover last week. I'm sorry, I'll try to get out of the house soon.

lookit me, i'm three (weeks old)


My name is Jack, and I'm half Canadian!

Monday, 14 March 2005

it's a learning experience


I have learned so much about newborns and my boobs recently. Truly, it's been fascinating. For example, I never knew that newborns don't quite have the knack of using both eyes in unison. I thought Jack had lazy eye or that I was hallucinating from the sleep deprivation. Also, none of my pregnancy books ever mentioned that the "letting down" feeling you get when your milk comes in could hurt. Most described it as a "tingle" or a "trickle", so I had no idea what was going on when I was experiencing very uncomfortable pins and needles. I finally saw it described as such in a book I got on breastfeeding, and apparently this should go away after a few weeks. Plus, did you know that newborns tend to make alarming gasping breathing noises and sometimes stop breathing altogether just to give their parents a cardiac arrest? It's a fact! Oh yes, and all those books that say breastfed babies don't have smelly nappies? They lie.

I am so glad that I'm a voracious reader/researcher, because I would otherwise be in a state of panic. You figure that newborns basically just eat, generate dirty nappies, sleep, and perhaps stare at you in wonderment and disbelief ("I cannot believe you removed me from that nice watery warm place and forced me into this strange world"), but they do a whole host of strange and wonderful things that no one tells you about.

Now if you'll excuse me, Jack is now doing one of those strange things I've just learned about - crying hysterically for no apparent reason. Ah, motherhood.

Friday, 11 March 2005

week deux


I think I know why newborns have a fairly limited repertoire - it's to give new parents a chance to get the hang of things more easily. Our days tend to be as follows: give Jack an early morning feed, burp him, let him sleep, change/"top and tail" him, feed again approximately 3-4 hours later, burp him, let him sleep, change him, feed 3-4 hours later, and repeat until the following morning. Of course there is also lots of cuddling, singing, talking, playing in his new bouncy chair, and other stuff in between, but mostly it's about the feeding, burping, sleeping, and changing. Once you have these skills down pat, your confidence grows and you feel like you can handle this whole baby thing like a pro. We are becoming skilled at avoiding pee spraying during nappy changes and baths, we know which cry means "Feed me!" or "I'm bored, entertain me!" or "Get me out of this dirty nappy!", we have identified facial expressions that indicate the filling of nappies, and we have discovered that Jack enjoys being marched around the house while his Daddy hums various tunes. We have now fallen into a routine. Most couples dread the "r" word in other circumstances, but when it comes to babies, it's a welcome development. Until your baby learns a new skill or decides to create an entirely different eating and sleeping pattern, that is.

I'm still not feeling wonderful, thanks to a scar that isn't healing well. I'm on antibiotics, so hopefully things will improve. I suppose I lucked out in that I never did get any stretchmarks and avoided an episiotomy, but whoever thought that a c-section is somehow the "easy way out" when it comes to giving birth was hugely mistaken. Perhaps if we had staff to do everything for us I would agree with this, but speaking for myself, there is nothing glamorous about being unable to make myself a cup of tea or lift my son out of his moses basket. On a lighter note, Paul has been making Harry Potter jokes when I mention that my scar hurts ("Voldemort must be close by!"), which has been good for a giggle.

I am still amazed that Jack is ours. Making the connection between my bump and Jack is rather surreal, and I sometimes have difficulty believing that this gorgeous little boy came out of me. On the other hand, having him at home is completely natural. It's like he's always been here and my life as a pregnant lady feels like a million years ago. Now if only everything would stop hurting from between my neck and legs, life would be grand.

Monday, 7 March 2005

picture perfect


Strongman Jack flexes his biceps for the crowds:



He does have hands; his outfit has built in anti-scratch mitties. The blue thing with dogs on it is a Grobag, which is like a little sleeping bag. They are fabulous and he can't slip under it like a blanket or sheets. The only downside is that they are a bit bulky and I have to remove it before a feed, or else Jack ends up trying to suck on the Grobag instead.

Speaking of feeding, I think the wahwahwahwahwahwahwahwah noise I'm hearing means it's mealtime again. With our genes, we were guaranteed to have a kid with a healthy appetite - but can I keep up with the demand?

Sunday, 6 March 2005

blog from a mutha


I'm pleased as punch to be celebrating my first Mother's Day (don't ask me why it's in March in the UK; I just live here), and so far, I have been spoiled rotten. First, I got two cards this morning. Then, breakfast arrived:



A bit later, these were delivered to our house:



Right now, I've got a sleeping 12 day old little boy in my arms. He isn't showing much interest in my computer at the moment, but I'm sure he'll soon figure out that Daddy's credit card + Internet access = heaps of fun. It's only 11am, and it's already been a beautiful day. Now to convince Paul to do this all over again in May when it's Mother's Day in North America. We must teach our son about his cultural heritage, surely.

To all you muthas out there, have a fabulous day. If someone isn't spoiling you, feel free to come over here and I'm sure Paul will cook you a MacDurbs eggy bagel.

Friday, 4 March 2005

the scales never seem to work in my favour


So the midwife came to visit today and she brought her scale. She wasn't convinced that Jack weighed 10 lbs. at birth (in fact, every midwife who's seen him said the same thing, but thought he did look long) and decided to put him on the scales today. You can imagine our shock when he turned out to be 7 lbs. 14 ounces - hardly the hefty bairn he was supposed to be at birth. She said that at around 2 weeks babies return to their birth weight (they lose a bit during week one, then put it back on again), so she thinks this is his birth weight.

Well peachy, now what the hell do we put on the birth announcement? I am opting to leave his weight off the announcement, but it's still a bit annoying. One of the doctors questioned the scale when Jack was born (she was also convinced he wasn't 10 lbs.), but they didn't double check him on another one. So, this means there are probably a lot of babies in this region with incorrect birth weights if they were delivered by c-section. The scale in the operating theatre seems to have been a bit wonky, so now we don't really know Jack's birth weight. Good thing the midwife was canny enough to weigh him today or else the health visitor on Monday probably would have thought I was starving the poor boy.

Hmph, he certainly felt like a ten pounder in the last couple of weeks of pregnancy, believe me. Then again, I'm relieved because apparently baby #2 tends to be heavier than the first. I had visions of being bedridden for the last two months of pregnancy the next time round.

dummies for babies


After another sleepless night filled with inconsolable shrieking (on all of our parts), we decided to haul out the big guns and used a dummy (pacifier) last night. Whenever Jack went into "I'm going to scream my lungs out and I have no idea why, but I can keep it up for at least three hours - go ahead and try to stop me" mode, we placed the dummy in his mouth. Instantly, the crying stopped and our son turned into the male version of Maggie Simpson until he happily fell back asleep and let the dummy fall out of his mouth. He woke up at midnight, 4am, and 8am with his tiny little crying voice and promptly fell back asleep again after a feed and/or nappy change. That's right, we had four hours of continuous sleep throughout the night. Oh yes.

Another great discovery yesterday was my breast pump. After a week and a half of feeding the Milk Monster, let's just say that mealtimes were becoming rather painful and tense. I got the bright idea to give myself a rest and express some milk for every other feed until my wounds healed. After fumbling around with various fiddly bits (assembling a breast pump is worse than putting together Ikea furniture, and the instructions are just as useless), I read through the instructions carefully. They stated that it could take several attempts for the milk to begin flowing, and not to worry because most women find that they need quite a few tries before it works. After a few squeezes, streams of milk came shooting out, which was both interesting and slightly alarming at the same time. I had no idea it came out like that; I imagined a slow dribble like tapping sap from a maple tree. Equally interesting/scary was the fact that my milk looks just like cow's milk, which led Paul to start calling me "Ermintrude". I did Jack's next feed au naturel, but the following one was given to him by his daddy using a bottle of my expressed milk. We both thought it was very cool that Paul could now share in this ritual, and I am very pleased to have a bit of a break to heal.

We woke up feeling drugged and a bit hungover after finally getting a decent night's sleep. A couple of hours later and I feel like a million bucks. How lovely to wake up a few times in the night without the frustration and stress - it's heartbreaking when your child is crying uncontrollably and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. It gives us the chance to simply enjoy being with Jack without the chaos of trying to comfort his frantic sobbing. Here's hoping we have another night like last night.

Wednesday, 2 March 2005

a week in review


I'm a little less shellshocked now and flashbacks to horrible hospital moments are fading fast. Although I'm still fairly useless (unless you need milk, then I'm your woman), I am starting to feel more human and I can move around a bit more each day. Jack and I have got this breastfeeding thing down pat now, but unfortunately having a 10 lb. baby means he's got quite the appetite. He's now been dubbed the "Hungry Hungry Hippo" and the "Milk Monster".

We are well and truly sleep deprived, with last night being the worst so far. Jack would cry, feed, fall asleep in my arms, and then start crying his tiny little lungs out as soon as we'd put him back in his moses basket. He continued to shriek despite Paul's countless attempts to figure out if it was gas, a dirty nappy, boredom, loneliness, or illness. Jack had very short pauses in his crying marathon (not enough so that we could actually sleep), and with each subsequent feed every couple of hours, we prayed that this time he'd conk out for at least an hour or more. He finally fell asleep at 4am and didn't stir until around 10. He woke up for a feed and has been asleep ever since - it's now 3pm. Phew. I am wondering if he's having some problems digesting because my milk came in recently. He's been filling nappies like a trooper and farting for England and Canada (seriously, I thought it was Paul trying to put blame on the baby), so maybe it was a bad night due to prevailing winds.

Despite the lack of sleep and constant parade of poopy nappies, we can't help but simply gaze at him and wonder how we managed to produce such a beautiful little person. I find myself teary-eyed, gently stroking his incredibly soft skin and telling him how much I love him. Even when he's screaming in my ear, I press his head up against my chest and cradle him, somehow still managing to feel overjoyed that this little creature is mine. His coos, chirps, gurgles, and squeaks make us smile and we call him a Gremlin. Jasper has taken to the new hairless pink puppy, and pokes his head over the side of the moses basket whenever Jack makes a sound. He stood against the side of the basket when the midwife came to visit yesterday, making a protective canine barrier between Jack and the strange lady in our house.

I feel very jet lagged; I'm never sure what time or day it is. But what a wonderful trip this has been.