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Thursday, 30 June 2005

picture perfect


Why you should never work with animals and children.



Jack and his daddy.



Monkey toes!



"GAH! Paparazzi!!"

new day


Thank you for all of your very kind words and for thinking about me. It truly means a great deal to me. I wish you all chocolate-coated love, delivered by nude firemen/showgirls (delete as appropriate or feel free to add your own).

I've been thinking about home a lot lately because of my grandpa, having just read another Kathy Reichs book, and preparing for our Canada Day festivities. Celebrating Canada Day is slightly tongue in cheek (we're not renowned for being overly patriotic), but it is important to me that Jack learns about his Canadian roots, even at this early age. Starting, of course, with an introduction to Canadian beer. I managed to get my hands on some beer via a company based in Norfolk. The only Canadian "beer" you can usually find here is Labatt Ice (ewwwwwwww) and Moosehead (slightly less ewwwwww but still not very imaginative). Although the selection was very limited, I got some Sleeman's honey brown ale, and two from Quebec: La Fin du Monde, and Maudite. It pains me to think how much this cost in Canadian dollars (I'll give you an idea: one bottle of Sleeman's was £0.99/$2.25 CDN), but it warms the cockles of my heart to see bilingual labelling and a little glass-embossed beaver on each bottle.

My friend Ruth and I were discussing Canadian food, and I always get stumped by this. Quebec has its tourtiere, pea soup, poutine, tarte au sucre, beaver tails (not real ones, stop giggling), and other such goodies, but do any other provinces have dishes they can call their own (the only thing that springs to mind are Nanaimo bars)? When we say "Canadian food" here, people think maple syrup and pancakes with bacon. Unfortunately, we are so saturated by American culture that we don't have a lot of our own, from a culinary perspective - Kraft Dinner excluded. I grew up eating burgers, hot dogs, and pizza, and going to American chain restaurants like Red Lobster. My childhood food experience was unique thanks to the Japanese side of my family including things like sushi and green tea in traditional holiday meals, but on the most part, we ate "American" food. Maybe that's what defines Canadian food - taking dishes from various cultures and incorporating them into our "traditional" meals. So many of us come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, and being a new country in the relative scheme of things, maybe that's why we haven't established many traditional dishes that are uniquely Canadian.

And so, for our barbecue, I shall present my English/Kiwi/Irish/Welsh/Italian friends with beer and maple syrup poured on something (haven't decided what yet) and we shall wave little flags around and say "eh?" all day long. Half of us will speak French (and those speaking English will have to do so at half the volume) and perhaps we will hold a referendum if things get dull (we can vote on whether or not London should be sawn off and relocated down the Thames). We can play road hockey out front, which is ideal as we live on a cul de sac. It'll be lots of very polite and orderly fun!*

*(Note to those coming over on Saturday: I'm joking about the events/activities listed here. Don't worry; we'll likely just burn something to a crisp, get a sunburn, drink too much, and I'll endure endless jokes about Celine Dion and beavers.)

Sunday, 26 June 2005

missing


My grandpa passed away this morning after having a stroke on Wednesday morning. He would have turned 88 this November, and up until recently, was always fairly healthy. However, after my grandma died in 1991 from ovarian cancer, my grandfather's mental health rapidly deteriorated. At first he was simply absentminded, forgetting a few unimportant things here and there. Over the following years, he thought his neighbours were trying to steal his house, he would drive places and forget how he got there, and eventually, he had no idea who any of us were. Despite all this, he was still in good physical health and thoroughly enjoyed seeing us, even though he hadn't a clue that we were related. The last time I saw him was at Christmas a few years ago, and he said "I have no idea who any of you people are, but it was really nice of you to invite me over." with a genuinely pleased smile on his face.

He was amongst the thousands of Japanese Canadians who lost their homes, businesses, and almost all of their possessions during World War 2. He was apart from my grandma when she was pregnant with my oldest uncle, because men and women were interned in prison camps separately. He managed to get work as a truck driver during the war, and the family were forced to relocate from British Columbia thousands of miles east to Ontario afterwards. There they became fruit pickers, and eventually he worked in the Del Monte factory until he retired. He always said that they were lucky; others were sent to work in beet fields in Alberta, which he thought was much worse. He was immensely proud of his successful children and was infinitely pleased that they fared much better than he. In this respect, he maintained that a great deal of good came out of what was a horrific experience during wartime. Never bitter, never regretful.

He loved the Yankees (they were simply a much better team than the Blue Jays), Swiss Chalet, growing vegetables in his garden, beer and tomato juice, his baseball caps, and most of all, my grandma. He was my last living grandparent and it breaks my heart to know that Jack won't meet him. At the very least, I will make sure Jack knows all about his great grandparents on both sides, so that they will still be around in some way.

Being a grown up really, really sucks sometimes.

Friday, 24 June 2005

let's hear it for the boy


Much joy and congratulations to the lovely Ms. Tilly Mint on the birth of Kendal Oliver Hands (pictures on her site - go see!). Tch, I've gone all weepy. Not broody, mind you - just weepy. He's just so adorable. *sniffle*

Wednesday, 22 June 2005

soon he'll be borrowing my car keys




Jack Jack (which has been his nickname since we saw "The Incredibles") is four months old today! He is currently celebrating this exciting milestone by sprawling on his back and snoring. Par-tay!

Attention UK mums: I got some fantastic deals on baby clothes at Sainsburys yesterday, but I'm not sure if this is specific to our shop or if it's a chain-wide sale. I got 7 short-sleeved sleepsuits for £4.50 and two pairs of shorts for £2.50. What's more, the sleepsuits aren't all blue! It's always a thrill when I find non-blue boy clothes - out of 7 sleepsuits, only one is blue. The rest are white, green, or multicoloured stripes with various prints on them.

Tuesday, 21 June 2005

a bit o' this, a bit o' that


When pregnancy books mentioned that your hair may fall out after you have a baby, I thought they meant in the first few weeks after giving birth, not four months later. Seriously, I'm turning into Kojak here. Little tumbleweeds of black hair drift around the house, and every day I pull long black hairs out of the clenched fists of my son. On the plus side, molting for the summer helps keep my head cool.

I ordered a high chair for Jack yesterday so that he can get used to sitting in it and can join us at mealtimes. It can adjust to any height and the seat has three reclining positions with a safety harness, so it'll be good for him. Most highchairs are positioned too far upright for little ones who are still a bit wobbly when sitting. At the moment, the only places we can leave Jack are either low on the floor or in his cot, so he's not able to see much when we eat. He peers up at us with his big brown eyes, wondering what's happening on top the big flat thing that's high up off the ground. It'll be nice to give him an alternative view for a change.

His latest development is clutching on to things with his legs and feet, like a little monkey. He's been kicking at his toys for the past couple of weeks, but now he also grasps on to me with his legs and wraps his feet around my arm when I stroke his tummy. When I greet him in the mornings and rub his belly, his hands grasp mine and his legs wrap around my arm while he giggles like a loon. I never liked mornings until I had moments like this to look forward to.

Newsflash: Jack has just rolled over completely on to his tummy! Whee!

spaced


Enough with the heat, already. I am not built for hot weather - I have black hair, I can't wear skimpy clothing, and my skin recoils in horror from the sun and turns an angry shade of red after 10 minutes (then fades back to its usual bluish-white hue). The ants have returned, along with a million different species of spiders, gigantic houseflies that can't comprehend that large open windows provide a means of escape and smacking your tiny little body into a closed window repeatedly is not accomplishing anything, and some sort of large spindly insect that looks like a Mayfly. Maybe they are Mayflies, I have no idea, but they are big and keep landing on me. A huge bumblebee trundled through the living room yesterday (but at least bees are clever and can find their way out an open window), there was a beetle in the bathroom this morning, and there's something sticky on my basil plant that is undoubtedly caused by one of the several varieties of wildlife currently taking over our house. At night, I'm half expecting to hear a tiny little insecty voice say to me "Shove over - you're taking all the covers."

We ventured out into the heat on Sunday for a family Father's Day outing at the National Space Centre. Every time we drove up the M1 and saw the sign for this place, we always wondered what it contained. Mystery solved; it's full of kid-friendly information about space and it was quite fun. Pictures of our day out can be seen here. Apologies for the picture quality, but I used my old digital camera and it was fairly dark in most of the building.

Monday, 20 June 2005

show-off


This weekend, Jack showed us that he can...

...hold his head up high when he's lying on his tummy...


...and roll over!


What a clever little man he is. Unfortunately, he has problems rolling on to his back so once he's rolled forward, much crying ensues. It's a bit like a turtle on its back, but in reverse. Bless him.

On his very first Father's Day, Paul got lots of cards, a mug we made with Heather and Rebecca at Glaze to Amaze that has Jack's footprints (and one handprint) on it, a picture of Jack being very cute for daddy's desk at work, and we had a fun family day out at the National Space Centre. We ended the day at the White Hart for supper, which was yummy but they really need to invest in air conditioning.

The health visitor came to see us today which was, as usual, not terribly useful although she is a nice lady. Jack now weighs 15 lbs. 2 oz. and I don't have Post Natal Depression, according to the 10 question survey I filled out. Which is nice. She said not to start him on solids until 17 weeks, I said I was going to wait a bit longer, and she was very supportive about that. Instead of going by the number of weeks to start him on solids (which is either 17 or 24, depending on who you ask), I'll go by signs that he's ready such as being able to hold his head steady, showing an interest in food, and being able to sit upright without being too wobbly. At the moment, I don't feel like he's ready. I think the day will come soon, though - he stares at me intently when I eat in front of him. So now I've got the dog and the baby staring at me when I eat, lucky me.

You can see pictures of our first family outing here.

Friday, 17 June 2005

i'm melllllltiiiiinnnnggg


You'd think that swimming classes would be a welcome relief when it's hot outside, however the pool we go to is very warm to accommodate little newborn bodies. This makes the entire pool area like a sauna; it hits you like a wall when you open the door. It was actually more of a relief to leave the building, and of course driving around with the air conditioning on full blast helps. We arrived early and the instructor helped me practice floating with Jack. At first he wasn't too keen on having water in his ears, but he soon relaxed and started smiling and babbling. The instructor gently held the back of Jack's head, while he floated peacefully on the water. Jack went underwater this class, which was met with mixed reactions: surprise, spluttering, and crying. I think that he's still unsure about the whole thing and vacillates between curiosity and grumpyness. On the plus side, the swimming mums were far friendlier than last time. The group was much smaller (I suppose the class was recently divided more equally between sessions) and some of the mums instigated conversations with me! My faith in mumkind is restored.

Right, and now for the week in summary (for those of you who care, which is likely only my mother).

On Tuesday, Jack had round 3 of his immunisations and I did it sans Paul. A bit scary, but it turned out fine - Jack gave an almighty scream when the shot went in, but was perfectly fine afterwards. Later, Jack got entertained by the osteopath while I got stuck with a bazillion needles. In the afternoon, we met up with the "celebrant" who will be doing our baby naming ceremony. She was really nice and I'm so looking forward to the ceremony.

On Wednesday, I met up with Heather in Cambridge for lunch and to pick up Paul's secret Father's Day present. Later, I went out to dinner with Heather, Melanie, Susan, and Julie for an evening of giggles and really great Chinese food. I love these girly nights - they keep me sane.

On Thursday, we swam and cried a little. Then daddy gave Jack a bath and all was right with the world.

Today, we went shopping and I got very sweaty. Jack spent the day being very grumpy (but still very, very cute).

Tomorrow, I've got an aromatherapy massage with the lovely lady who massaged me just before Jack was born. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

On Sunday, we're doing secret Father's Day things after I give Paul his secret Father's Day presents. Shhhh.

sitting in an inflatable pool filled with frozen peas


Man, it's hot today. It's only around 25C (that's approx. 80F to my American friends), but I think I've lost my tolerance for hot weather since moving to the UK. I took Jack to Tesco today to do some grocery shopping, and I lingered in the chilled food aisles. When I say "lingered", I mean I stood for several minutes staring at different varieties of cheese when I had absolutely no intention of buying any, just to keep cool. I dove to the bottom of the ice cream freezer although I could have just plucked a carton from the top. I took the scenic route home so that we could enjoy the air conditioning in the car for a few minutes longer.

I am now a weather wimp - anything around 5C is too chilly and anything over 20C is uncomfortably warm. I have forgotten what -38C winters feel like, standing in the bitter cold, waiting for a bus that may or may not arrive. I do remember one typical summer night when it was still 40C at midnight and none of us had air conditioning. We hopped in my friend's car and drove around, in search of places with air conditioning that were open 24 hours a day. We wandered around pharmacies, supermarkets, and video stores, until we got fed up and went back to our tropical apartments. Being too hot is the worst; at least when you're cold, you can build up layers of clothing to get warmer. When you're hot and devoid of air conditioning, you cannot go beyond being naked with a fan blowing warm air on your sticky flesh.

Where the hell is the ice cream man when you need him?

Tuesday, 14 June 2005

age of enlightenment



"Hello, what's this?"



"I have found my purpose in life. The remote is mine! MINE!! Muhahahahaha!"

anniversary


One year ago today, I took my third First Response Early pregnancy test is as many days. The first day, the line was so faint, I was sure I was imagining it. The second day, it was still a faint shadow but there was definitely something there. Then by the third day (11 DPO for you ttc enthusiasts), the test looked like this:



After work that day, I hauled out the Big Gun. To my extreme delight and joy, it read:



How strange and fantastic to be able to remember that moment so vividly while having the end result of those pregnancy tests by my side. This has been, without a doubt, the best year of my life.

Monday, 13 June 2005

a song for canada


Well, whaddya know - I had more Canadian music in my possession than I thought. I forgot about Tal Bachman and Manitoba (recommended if you're a Lemon Jelly fan). So far I've got one hour's worth of CanCon. Thanks for the suggestions so far...keep 'em coming!

Merci merci merci Martine pour toute la musique! Martine sent me 8 songs which I am now putting on to my iPod to listen to later. Bisous!

canada aid


Hello, my lovely (and undoubtedly sexy) readers. If I may be so bold, I would like your assistance on two matters.

First, I will be doing a 5k waddle (what I do these days can't count as walking) for Cancer Research UK on Sunday, July 3. Please sponsor me using the link in the blurb above, and I will love you forever. But not in that kind of way, sorry. I'm spoken for.

Second, we are having a Canada Day BBQ to introduce our son to an important part of his cultural heritage: eating grilled meat and drinking beer. In trying to keep up as much CanCon as possible, I need suggestions for good Canadian music to play at the party. Conditions: no Celine/Avril/Bryan/Barenaked Ladies, preferably something from this decade (before PaulG suggests Loverboy, Platinum Blonde, or the Spoons), and it can be either in French or English. So far, I've mustered up a few songs from my collection from Bran Van 3000, Our Lady Peace, Tragically Hip, and Sloan, but I'm severely lacking in Canuck music. Song suggestions or, better yet, songs sent to me (or let me know where I can download them) in mp3 format would be greatly appreciated. I've been out of the Canadian music loop too long and have no idea what's out there anymore. Please leave suggestions in the comments here, or email me at broad[at]wittydomainname[dot]com.

Thank you!

Sunday, 12 June 2005

Friday, 10 June 2005

okay, you're all not that bad


We had a lovely afternoon with the NCT girls and babes, and I must admit that they are nothing like the snooty pool mums I was talking about yesterday. When I got out of hospital a couple of weeks before I was induced, they made me promise to tell them if I went in again so that they could bring me trashy magazines and keep me company. Unfortunately, when I went back in, most of them had either just given birth (and had more important priorities than entertaining me) or were coming in just as I was leaving - and to be honest, I wasn't really up to visitors anyway. But still, I know they would have popped by to cheer me up if they could.

I love seeing our babies together and being amazed by how similar they are. Little Lucy (who Jack was holding hands with...shhhh don't tell Silvia) just started swimming classes and blowing raspberries yesterday, too. I'm sure the two events aren't related. Lauren sounds exactly like Jack when she cries, and Hannah is almost exactly the same weight and length as Jack. Oh yes, and I should mention that Jack was the only boy in a room full of beautiful little girls, the lucky lad.

And finally, Sign You Are Turning Into a Lunatic Mother #247: When I made Jack's bottle this morning, I actually found myself singing "shake your bottle" to the tune of KC and the Sunshine Band's "shake your booty". And did this while shaking his bottle and dancing around. Help me.

Thursday, 9 June 2005

water baby


We had our first swimming class today and I absolutely loved it - and so did Jack, eventually. As I started getting into the pool, the guy leading the class came over to say hello. Jack took one look at him and started screaming, and spent the first couple of minutes of the class with his lower lip firmly jutting out (but no longer screaming, thankfully). As soon as the class started, Jack became quite interested in this new watery world, staring intently at the surface. He even became very interested in the formerly scary man leading the class and when he was supposed to be looking at mummy wriggling her fingers and making the water look fun, he was staring at the teacher doing it instead. We sang songs (you English sing "Rock a Bye Baby" to some other tune I've never heard of and you sing alternative lyrics to "Frere Jacques" that were new to me), swayed our babies back and forth, swam backwards with our babies in front of us, sang more songs, and some of the more "experienced" babies were dunked under the water. Apparently us newbies are doing that next week, which should be fun (or it'll end in tears).

One thing that I found disappointing was the complete disinterest of most of the mums in being sociable. This isn't to say that they were all calling me names and throwing things at me; most of them simply didn't respond to my attempts at being friendly. We were one of the last to get in the pool, so I greeted everyone with a smile and hello. Some smiled weakly, most ignored us. During the class, I was smiling and chatting to the other babies as their mums gave me a tight polite smile and kept to themselves. In the changing room afterwards I bade a cheerful goodbye to the ladies, and only got a reaction from one slightly startled looking woman (who didn't seem quite sure who I was talking to) who said "Oh! Bye." But at least she smiled. I understand that the English aren't big on chitchat and the "have a nice day" kind of mentality, which is fair enough - but man, how do you people make friends? Do you quietly ignore each other for a year and then send a written invitation to attend a luncheon? I am being facetious (I know many English women who were warm and friendly with me from the moment we met), but I do find there is a lack of the North American tendency to strike up a conversation with anyone, which I'm sure most Brits find annoying anyway. I'll just have to keep trying, I guess.

Regardless, it was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to next week. In unrelated news, Jack has just started blowing raspberries today. It's slobbery and adorable.

Wednesday, 8 June 2005

doesn't anyone ask for a cup of sugar anymore?


The doorbell rang a few minutes ago. It was two women asking if I knew sign language or knew anyone in the area who did. I thought about it for a second (all I know is the alphabet and two rude words taught to me by a friend with a deaf boyfriend), but I couldn't think of anyone I could recommend. They thanked me and went on their way. It's only just struck me to ask them why they needed someone who can sign. Now I'll never know.

Truly, life gets a lot more surreal when you're not in an office all day.

someone take my camera away from me


I don't know why, but my heart melts whenever Jack folds his legs up like this:



Maybe it's because that's how his legs were when he was tucked up inside my womb, but it makes me smile. Another thing that makes me smile is when Jack does this:



I'm sure this makes me a mean ol' mother, but his pouty face makes me giggle like a loon.

My poor child is going to get a complex, isn't he?

Tuesday, 7 June 2005

that's right, i have no life


I feel it's my duty to provide the general public with my guide to this year's Big Brother contestants. Well that and I've run out of things to blog about, so bear with me. Apologies in advance to those of you outside the UK, or who are in the UK and don't give a rat's tuckus about Big Brother.

Lisa's Guide to the Big Brother housemates
  • Anthony: He's a "70s dancer", which you can apparently list as a profession when you are a Big Brother contestant. I have no idea what this entails, but it strikes me as odd that someone born in the 80s can make a living as a 70s dancer.
  • Craig: He's a hairdresser, he's bitchy, he's camp, but he's not gay, thank you very much!
  • Derek: He is gay, and a Tory to boot. He's ever so posh and speaks like Dr. Seuss has written his dialogue. One morning he waxed lyrical while doing the dishes (alone), and uttered the line: "Will I sparkle and shine? Fame will be mine!"
  • Kemal: Often seen tottering around the house in black underwear and stilettos, Kemal is loud and proud. During his entrance to the house, part of his rather flamboyant outfit got caught on the stairs, leading to his best line: "Veil, don't let me down, bitch!" Enjoys taking baths in the bin.
  • Lesley: She's got the "only boobs in the village." Claims to have the biggest breasts in Huddersfield and sounds like a cross between Caroline Aherne's checkout girl and Vicki Pollard.
  • Makosi: Provided the best moments in week one when her secret mission (doled out by Big Brother because she was the "unlucky 13th contestant") was to obtain the most nominations that week. If she got the most nominations, she would be immune from the public vote, and hooooo boy, did she ever. Unfortunately she still seems to think that she's on this mission, as she continues to provoke housemates into hating her.
  • Mary: First out of the house, which is a shame. She has got to be the loopiest contestant in BB history having claimed to be a witch, psychic, abducted by aliens several times, and told housemates that BB was going to bring her dog into the house. She doesn't own a dog. Barking.
  • Maxwell: The Geezer, all round lad, aspires to have Saskia's boobs in his face. Has yet to do much of interest, so he'll be in the house until the very end.
  • Roberto: The handsome Italian who brought his own apron into the house and argues with everyone for no particular reason. He looks like he smells good, but I suspect he waxes his eyebrows.
  • Sam: She's "the horny one" (as she likes to remind us repeatedly). Has a mouth like Jack Nicholson in Batman, which is slightly unsettling. Someone hid her makeup bag which led to a hissy fit because "it's got my lip gloss in it and EVERYTHING!"
  • Saskia: Aspires to be a footballer's wife. Most likely to succeed.
  • Science: He's a bad ass rapper from the streets (of Leeds) who enjoys throwing bins at Maxwell. Um, but it just slipped out of his hands by accident, innit.
  • Vanessa: Apparently there's someone in the house called Vanessa, who claimed on her audition tape that she's "spontaneous" and "too loud". On the first occasion we actually see her speak, she spills the beans about who she is going to nominate and effectively voids the week's nominations - this week, everyone's up for eviction thanks to her. I suspect we'll never hear her speak again.

storytime


I've finally put together my birth story, although most of it is for my benefit/record and won't be of much interest to most people. I jotted down some notes during the four days I was in hospital before Jack was born, and the rest is from memory (such as it is). Bits of it probably fall into the "too much information" category, so don't read it if you're squeamish about ladies' bits.

You can read my story here. It's long, but I needed to get it all out. At least now I feel like I've finally given birth to something.

Sunday, 5 June 2005

you've come a long way, baby


I got pregnant 1 year and 2 days ago. A couple of days ago, I read through all my posts from that day until the day Jack was born. It's amazing; it feels like a lifetime ago and being pregnant is fast becoming a distant memory. This is why I'm so glad that I started this blog - there were so many things that I had completely forgotten about, even in this short span of time. Pregnancy seems to take forever but once the baby comes, time more than makes up for its previous heel dragging.

Is it possible to bank the time that drags during pregnancy and use it during the days when you need a few dozen extra hours?

Friday, 3 June 2005

you win some, you lose some


Jack finds true love...



...but alas, she turns to another.



(From today's Ladies Who Lunch at Conchita's, featuring Silvia and Indigo.)

thank heaven for not so little girls


Curvy women are more likely to live longer than their slimmer counterparts, researchers have found. [source]

And do you want to know why us curvy girls live longer? Because we don't stress ourselves by counting calories, replacing meals with rice cakes, and depriving ourselves of Green and Black's vanilla ice cream. Instead, we say "Why yes, I would like that entire tray of brownies" with a huge grin and a positive outlook on life.

Oh yes, I'm gonna live forever.

Wednesday, 1 June 2005

cuddling cellulite just isn't the same


I just realised something: I haven't rubbed my belly lately. I know it sounds strange but even a month or two after Jack was born, I still stroked my "bump" every now and then. I remember noticing all the women on the postnatal ward doing it as well, which made me feel a little less insane. I suppose it's a hard habit to break after nine months, so you continue doing it subconsciously after the birth. I wonder how many women go out with their newborns and rub their tummies, causing others to think "Good lord, that woman is having another one so soon?!"

I miss my bump. I absolutely love having Jack in the outside world where I can give him a proper kiss and cuddle, but I do miss my bump. Partially because it's just fat now and I have no excuse to be in maternity clothes. Gah.