Monday 29 December 2008

a little more good stuff

Forgot to mention that I asked The Mysterious Mr Lim (some readers may remember him from my adventures in hospital before the birth of Jack) if he could see the position of my placenta at the NT scan. I'm pleased to say that it's posterior, which hopefully means no back labour this time (because man, that SUCKED) and no worries about the placenta growing into my scar. Yippie! Also, he let us hear the heartbeat during the scan, which is the first time I've heard my baby's heartbeat on anything other than a Sonicaid antenatally. It was so much clearer and very, very cool indeed.

I told Mia today that I have a baby in my belly. She looked at me like this:


and kept pointing at my belly. I said "Baby!" each time and without fail, I got that look.

I kinda know how she feels, frankly.

Saturday 27 December 2008

fresh air

It's so nice to be out of the pregnancy closet. Now people will understand why I've been moody, confused, and increasingly rotund. They probably suspected pregnancy or early menopause anyway, but there you go. I "popped" big time, pretty much as soon as I hit 12 weeks. It's like my uterus not only found its way above my pubic bone, it moved into a spacious penthouse just above my bellybutton. I am mother, see me waddle.

Hey, did I mention that I've given away every stitch of Jack and Mia's baby clothing (apart from a few very special pieces)? I have no girl clothes prior to 9 months, and no boy clothes prior to one year. Mmmyes. Thankfully, I'm still fully stocked in terms of baby equipment (co-sleeper, slings, toys, etc.) but severely lacking in the clothing department. Which is probably a good thing for all those people wondering what the hell you get someone who is not only having a third child, but already has one of each sex.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my two week Festival of Eating Everything Because I'm Pregnant. (Healthy eating and possible extra movement maybe involving yoga and other such delicate lady exercises to commence after the holidays.)

Thursday 25 December 2008

third time lucky

So there I was, telling everyone who asked that there was NO WAY we were having any more kids! NO! Three, and you're outnumbered! I'd have to buy a new car! The child would have to sleep in a drawer! No, no, a thousand times, NO.

Yeah, it's not too tricky to guess where this is heading.

Although we didn't plan to have another, I am now finding myself with child #3. And I'm happy and remarkably calm about it. Hormones do strange things to you. They can make you throw heavy objects at loved ones for no good reason, but they can also make you feel entirely at peace with something that one month ago would have given you a mild heart attack. We had a little "oops" a couple of months ago with a slight condom malfunction, and I literally woke up for days afterwards in a complete panic about being pregnant. This time, very shortly after we figured out that I was indeed fertile during that night of frivolity and red wine, I felt okay. Out of nowhere, a thought popped into my head: another child would be absolutely fine. And then I knew that I was pregnant. Well, I didn't know know because obviously that doesn't happen until you wee on a bit of plastic and you squint at lines for an hour in variable lighting. But I knew. And it made me smile.

I've promised myself to enjoy every single second of this pregnancy. I deeply regret spending the majority of my pregnancy with Mia in a state of panic and fear; I was newly grieving a missed miscarriage and incapable of feeling joy for this new life growing inside me until I was well into the second trimester. For months, I didn't want to plan anything "just in case", I didn't allow myself to simply feel happy, I stayed away from pregnancy web sites, I wouldn't dream of things to come, I didn't want to know her sex because I didn't want to get too attached if I lost the baby again. I refuse to do that this time.

Whether this lasts for another day or until the birth, I will cherish every moment. I didn't think I'd get to experience this again, and I'm elated to have the honour.

So, here we go...again.

0-4 Weeks
I've got every symptom in the book, and then some. I don't remember feeling this rough so early on - I haven't even missed my period yet. Everything hurts, I've got heartburn, nausea, headaches, shortness of breath, cramps, comedy boobs, and enough bloat to make my clothes snug. It doesn't help that I've got a cold, but's all hitting me hard.

Spoke to a GP about getting an early scan but this isn't the done thing now that I've had a successful pregnancy - apparently Mia has cancelled all of my "risk" out and I'm no longer deserving of an extra scan. It took every ounce of strength to not lean over and go, "Look bud. It's just one damn scan. I'm paying for the 12 week one myself and I'm birthing at home with an independent midwife again, saving the NHS hundreds of pounds. Give. Me. The. Feckin. Scan." Surprisingly, I am actually pretty much okay with not getting the scan. I'm not as scared this time (thank the gods) and I can wait until the NT scan. It would have been nice to get an early peek just for my peace of mind and to be able to tell some friends and family. He said he'd look into it and get back to me, so who knows. Otherwise, it means I can make a Christmas announcement which would be lovely, too.

On Friday, while I was driving along and thinking of baby things, a nickname suddenly popped into my head - Junior Mint. No clue why and you can't even get the silly things in this country, but it made me giggle. I told Paul, who gave me that funny look I tend to get from a lot of Brits on a regular basis. I think he's okay with Minty as a nickname. Paul and I talked about names today (Oct 26) and we have picked a boy and a girl name. How easy was that? Go us! As is the tradition, when we have difficulty coming up with a name for a particular sex, this means we're having the opposite. Today, the boy name was easy and we had quite a few contenders - the girls were harder. We've decided not to find out the sex before the birth, so that we have that nice element of surprise. I really needed to know with Jack and Mia but maybe because we've got our "pigeon pair", we're prepared for either sex this time.

I asked Jack, "What would be a good name for a girl?" and he said "CUCKOO MONKEYHEAD!" and fell over laughing. Well. There certainly wouldn't be another one of those in school.

I'm sad that I gave away/donated all of my maternity clothes. I was just looking back at photos when I was pregnant with Mia, and there are some pieces that were really lovely; some of them had been around since I was pregnant with Jack. And how annoyed am I that we just left the land of inexpensive and plentiful maternity wear (AKA The US of A)?! Grrrr.

Just about to enter week 5 and I'm not feeling nearly as hideous as last week. Which is good.

5-9 Weeks
I'm now in week 5, and I'm starting to worry about Bad Things happening. I'm very tempted to get an 8 week scan done privately, but is it worth £95 just because I'm impatient? And will it matter? When I got the early scan with Mia, I was slightly relieved but I still worried right through to the 20 week scan. Would an early scan actually make a difference? At the moment, my fears are about miscarrying or having an ectopic pregnancy...which are exactly the same fears I had when I was pregnant with Jack, and I managed to make it to 12 weeks without having a meltdown. Argh. Just don't know what to do.

YES! Lovely Scan Lady called and my scan has been scheduled for Nov. 25th! But - I'm on jury duty the week before and I have no idea if I'll be free that day. Gaaaaaaaaaaaah. *stress stress stress* Need to ring the jury duty people and ask if I can be excused on that morning, if need be. In other news, I'm feeling very pregnant. Some may say this is a good thing, but I'm not really enjoying the moment. Nausea, heartburn, cramps, extreme fatigue, and a cold that just won't go away. I'm a real bucket of fun right now.

The baby likes: meat (the redder the better), cheese, eggs, spicy foods, sweet foods.
The baby doesn't like: pasta (only sometimes), asparagus (unless it's grilled), the smells that come out of the kitchen at the office.

Just passed week 6 and oh, the nausea. I'm almost phobic about throwing up, so I am spending every waking hour concentrating on not vomiting. Seriously, seriously not a happy bunny. On the plus side, all I had to do was send an email to the jury duty people explaining my delicate state, and I've been excused from service. Phew.

7 weeks, 2 days and I'm scared. Found a bit of bright red blood when I went to the toilet this morning, so the 8 week scan has been moved up to tomorrow. God, I hate this.

All went well, baby measuring on time, with a little heart flickering away. Phew. Well, sort of phew. Glad to be over this hurdle but annoyed that I didn't hold out for 8 weeks (because the baby I lost stopped growing at 7 weeks 5 days, so a 7 week scan may have shown a healthy baby.) It did alleviate a few of my's in the right place, it's fine right now, there's only one. That sort of thing. Apparently the bleeding was probably from straining, which makes sense as I've been constipated for days now. Lovely.

For some reason, I've got a snowstorm happening in my uterus:

Just passed week 8, and all seems well. I've booked the midwives (they work as a team of two), and I'm looking forward to my first appointment. I'm hoping that they will try to hear the heartbeat at around 10 weeks, just so I don't go totally nuts by the time I have the NT scan (Dec 22.) Pregnancy-wise, I'm feeling fine. Not nearly as nauseous in general, although I had to use all of my concentration not to throw up during dinner with my in-laws last weekend. That might have been tricky to explain. I've had a cold for a few weeks it's hard to tell what's pregnancy-related and what's due to the virus. I've got a noticeable belly, but it's probably at that stage where people are unsure if it's a baby or from the 4 dozen oatmeal cookies I made this afternoon. I'm still happy and excited, but a bit "oh, shit" about everything at the same time. It's just very surreal. I can't imagine having a newborn in the house again.

10-12 Weeks
Just starting week 10, and all is (I assume) well. I've decided to change midwives, not because of any major catastrophe and I'm probably just being hormonal, but because my gut wasn't feeling right about certain things. I've contacted Jane, who delivered Mia, and I truly hope she's available. Why I didn't just go with her in the first place is beyond me. Seriously. I have no explanation except temporary pregnancy insanity. So, I have no idea when I'll finally see a midwife and if I'll hear the heartbeat before my scan. Feh. I'm still feeling pretty rough: exhausted, nauseous, headachey, and just sorta fuzzy in the brain. I feel like I can barely do my job and I'm sure most of what I'm writing at work is fairly incoherent. I just want to sleep. And eat.

10 weeks, 5 days and I've found a bit of pink on the toilet paper. Shit. Cramping again like crazy and I'm very worried. Hate this. Again.

11 weeks, 2 days and I am all sorts of happy right now. Lovely Jane was available and is now our midwife, and I'm so glad. I met her today for my first appointment and immediately felt at ease and knew she was exactly right for me. She's now Jasper's BFF, which is nice. We went through all the details, chatted a lot about everything, and at the very end, she offered to search for Minty's heartbeat - and there it was, choo-chooing away, easily found. A beautiful, beautiful sound. She held the Sonicaid on my belly for ages, letting me relish the thump thumps. It's over 160 bpm, so old wives say girl for now. I'm just so relieved. Roll on Monday for the NT scan.

11 weeks, 4 days and I'm probably going insane, but I swear I felt the baby today. I was leaning forward on a table at a meal out with the girls, and I felt the "thud" I only ever feel when I'm pregnant. Sort of a twinge/spasm/sharp prod kind of thing, far enough down to have been Minty. How very, very cool.

12 weeks, 2 days and we had our NT scan. Now I know that I'm not going insane, because when I see the baby move on the screen, I can feel it at the same time. Hugely relieved to say not only was baby wriggling and well (literally doing somersaults), but my chances of Down's are low for an old broad like me. I've got the same risk as a 32-year-old, which prompted my husband to say, "Woo hoo! I've got a younger wife!"

Here is Minty, in all his/her glory. A Merry Christmas indeed. And now, time to publish this post.


Monday 15 December 2008

if everyone just listened to me, stuff like this wouldn't happen

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding do not have to avoid peanuts, even if there is a family history of allergy, food safety experts have said.

Current advice says where there are allergies on either the mother's or father's side, women may wish to avoid peanuts in pregnancy.

But the Food Standards Agency says recent studies show no evidence of increased allergy risk in this group. [source]

Oh, this vexes me so. As if the list of Naughty Things in pregnancy and breastfeeding isn't long enough, they're telling us to avoid things that aren't even harmful. I never bought into the avoiding peanuts thing (as evidenced by my massive consumption of peanut butter in all of my pregnancies) because it just didn't make sense to me. See! I told you so! Hmph.

I eagerly await a forthcoming "Sorry, Yes - You CAN Actually Eat Sushi During Pregnancy" study.

Monday 8 December 2008

better than an alarm clock

The last few mornings, we've been woken up by the following tune emanating from our son's bedroom:
"We wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year."
[Pause. Volume increases.]
[Repeat until someone goes into his room or shouts out "Okay Jack, thank you!"]

Sunday 30 November 2008

now i've seen everything

Just came across a recipe for cookies that are supposed to induce labour. And you know, they worked for Betty and Susan, so they must really induce labour!

*rolls eyes*

Thursday 27 November 2008

can't argue with that

The other day, Jack announced to everyone at nursery, "I was in mummy's belly when mummy and daddy were on honeymoon!" Very true, and thankfully I'm not really embarrassed by it. These are modern times, you know.

In other news, Jack no longer wants a Fire Bike (TM) but now only wants a Dinoco Lightning McQueen car. It's blue and shoots little plastic rockets, which apparently makes it super cool. He wants nothing else, just the car. I was informed that the Fire Bike (TM) was too dangerous for him because he's too little. I asked him what Mia would like for Christmas, and he informed me that she should also get a Dinoco Lightning McQueen car. Probably so that she doesn't use his.

Jack's an innkeeper in this year's Christmas play at nursery, and he has a line: "I have no room." We really need to watch ourselves because we keep joking around with him and telling him to say things like "We have no room - try the Travelodge!"

In Mia news, she has been saying lots of new things like "gone" (while holding her hands up), "look" (while pointing at random things), "Jack's socks" or "Jack's shoes", and her current favourite "uh oh." Annoyingly, I am still "daddy" and every animal is "dog WOOF!"

Thank you, that is all.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

tales of the road

The Department for Transport is launching a new campaign for road safety entitled "Tales of the Road." It's a much-needed update to the Green Cross Man (which I missed, having grown up in Canada, but got to see in those retro clips they love to show on Channel 4) and is aimed at school children.

The animation is modern, suitably creepy for the seriousness of the moral (very "A Series of Unfortunate Events"), and should be effective when it airs on television. It's memorable, which is the point of campaigns like this. The site is a clever combination of information for parents and teachers, and games for the kids. I'm not entirely convinced that the games will appeal to all children, and suspect that slightly older children (e.g. age 10 and up) will find them a bit naff. Call me sexist, but I can see younger boys really loving the game and responding well to it. An animated boy attempts to cross the road, but when he doesn't stop, look, or listen, he gets hit by a car, his body flies down the road, and an illustration labelling his potential injuries appears at the end. Not too gross or traumatic for the little ones and it gets the message across, but would an older child be as affected by it? Would it appeal to girls or would they dismiss it as a bit "gross"?

The fact that the site has a competition to win a bike every month will definitely generate a lot of traffic (no pun intended.) I think that over all it's well done, but the proof will be in how our children see it and what kind of difference it makes.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

how funny is thaaaaat?

I love the Barefoot Contessa, AKA Ina Garten. She's like the bigger, older, American version of Nigella, who cooks with fat and sugar with wild abandon. She's the One Fat Lady, if you like. A friend of mine attended her book signing yesterday in Illinois, and brought with her a stick of butter for Ina to sign. Hilarious and brilliant, and appreciated by the Contessa herself. Jen is my hero.

Tuesday 4 November 2008

it's beginning to taste a lot like christmas

And just to be different, I shan't write about the US elections in this post. And you can't make me.

Inspired by Caroline's pumpkin bake-o-thon, I decided to put together some pumpkiny goodies using the extra tin of pumpkin puree that was lurking in my cupboard. (It was for Canadian Thanksgiving but, ironically, we were in the States at the time.) I have a very loud and persistent sweet tooth at the moment, but I need to try and keep eating as healthily as I can. You know, so I can stuff my face for two solid weeks at Christmas. (Mental note: ensure Christmas outfit has an elasticated waist.)

First up were Starbucks Pumpkin Scones, which are normally slathered in icing, but I was a very good girl and refrained. I used wholemeal flour instead of white, Splenda instead of sugar, and didn't need to add the half and half because the dough was wet enough (in the UK, you could use single cream or whole milk.) They emerged from the oven smelling spicy and Autumnal, and were remarkably light and not overly sweet. I can see why you'd want to add the icing (as you'd find at Starbucks) because they aren't as sweet as a cake or muffin, but I was quite happy to polish one off without the extra sugar rush. I think these would be lovely with some honey for breakfast. The recipe tells you to divide the dough into 6, but I made 12 scones that are a very decent size. 6 is just stupid big.

The second recipe was for Pumpkin Muffins, and again, I substituted wholemeal flour for white, Splenda for sugar, rapeseed oil for the applesauce (because unsweetened applesauce doesn't seem to exist in this country), and omitted the walnuts. I reduced the quantities to make 12 muffins only, so this used up the remaining pumpkin in the tin very nicely. They smell like Christmas, and taste like little cakes. The raisins make the muffins beautifully sweet, and the pumpkin makes them satisfyingly filling.

If I can figure out how to make a healthy pumpkin latte, I'll let you know.

Speed Racer for president

While watching television yesterday evening, Barack Obama appeared on the screen. Jack asked, "Is that Lewis Hamilton?"

If presidential candidates drove racing cars, that would be very, very cool indeed. In fact, next election I think they should have an automotive race of some sort to determine the winner. Either that, or roller derby.

Sunday 26 October 2008

not sure if toys r us will carry this

Me: [Holding Mia's toy telephone] I'm talking to Santa Claus. What would you like for Christmas?
Jack: A Spiderman bike! With fire - so it can go REALLY REALLY FAST! Fire coming out of the engine!!
Me: Okaaaay. What if Santa can't build you a fire bike? What else do you want?
Jack: [Puts a finger up to his chin and ponders] Hmmm...I think I need a new pet because Jasper is getting old. I want a black Labrador.
Me: What will you call it?
Jack: Hugo Monkeyhead!! [Bursts into hysterical laughter] Um...Charlotte.
Me: What else would you like?
Jack: A new football game so I can shout out GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!
Me: Right, okay. What should Santa bring for Mia?
Jack: Not a fire bike because she's too little. A regular bike.
Me: And for Daddy?
Jack: A fire bike!
Me: What about Nanna?
Jack: I think she'd like a new toy. I think she'd like...A FIRE BIKE!
Me: And Grandad?
Jack: FIRE BIKE!!!!!!!! [Jumps up and down]
Me: And for me?
Jack: You can have a fire bike, too! A red one!
Me: Okay, Santa - did you get all that? Five fire bikes, a football game, and a new dog.

Tuesday 7 October 2008

wish we were there

Jack looking less terrified this time We're back from two glorious weeks soaking up the sunshine and frolicking on the beaches of southern California. And we're none too pleased about that. I arrived at LAX in a summery flippy skirt and sleeveless top, went to the bathroom and changed into jeans, long sleeves, and a cardigan for the plane journey home. On board, the pilot announced that it was 10C in London. It took a lot of self restraint to not stand up and shout "TURN THIS PLANE AROUND!!!", but here we are. Jet lagged, slightly tanned, and the kids now have a fabulous autumnal wardrobe.

I won't bore everyone with lengthy holiday details, so here are some quick points for those with busy lives:
-I want to open up a chain of Whole Foods supermarkets here. Specifically, I would like to open one within 5 miles of my house.
-the peanut butter pie at Rainforest Cafe is insanely good. And probably lethal in high doses.
-the "credit crunch" meant that Disney was pretty quiet; we waited around 5 minutes for each ride. Recession, shmecession - no queues means happy Lisa.
-Gymboree now has all of my money.
-Saw "Ironman" on the plane, loved it.
-I think the hypnotherapy has worked because I felt absolutely fine about flying both times, and wasn't too fussed about the bit of turbulence we had.
-We stayed down the road from Oprah.
-didn't work out, ate like a pig, didn't gain any weight. Oh yes.

Photos can be found here.

Wednesday 17 September 2008

Citrix Summer Party

This has got to be one of my fave pics ever. Emily in the foreground, and my kid being a nut in the background. (Taken at our company summer party last week.)

Tuesday 16 September 2008

last one before we go

Some random bits I need to write about (i.e. before they get lost in my foggy mommy brain forever) before we set off on holiday. California, in case you're wondering. Yes. AGAIN. We like it there. It has sunshine.

Random Thing #1

So I accidentally jogged for 4 miles last Friday. I did my lunchtime run at work for a change, and set off to do my usual 2 miles. Paul gave me somewhat vague directions (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) on a good 2 mile circuit I could do around the office. I followed the trail, realised I'd followed it too far and doubled back on myself, found myself at a fork in the trail and went the wrong way. I ended up in suburban hell; aimlessly plodding around cul de sacs that all looked identical. There are few landmarks in this village, and I couldn't see any of them. As I jogged along, turning my head in every direction to find something I recognised, I sang "I don't know where the fuck I ammmmm" repeatedly. As an added bonus, I didn't take my mobile with me because I thought I wasn't going far and the trail looked pretty easy to follow. Eventually, I popped out by one of the local schools and thankfully found my way back. "Here," I said to Paul. "Take your GPS thingy, plug it into your computer and have a good laugh and see where I've been."

On the plus side, it means that I can very easily run 5k at the moment and didn't feel (much) pain the next day. When I did the Race for Life, I couldn't walk or climb stairs for three days. So that's nice.

Random Thing #2

I have a stealthmobile. I just got a Toyota Prius, and I'm feeling all green and smug. It's a fantastic car but best of all, you can sneak up on people in it. The electric motor kicks in when you're going slowly, so it moves soundlessly. I scared the life out of the Waitrose car park attendant yesterday as my car silently crept up to his kiosk. Ninja hybrid!

Random Thing #3

Jack decided to pack his own suitcase this morning, which mostly involved emptying the contents of his drawers into a big heap on top of the suitcase. Apparently he needs to take all of his jeans (no underwear or tops, though), three books, five stuffed animals, four toy cars, and several assorted toys for Mia, including a rather large Fisher Price airplane. He stated that he needed his slippers and coat because "It's very cold in the airport." When asked where we're going on holiday he announced, "To the moon!" When asked what he expected to find on the moon, his eyes lit up and he said "Aliens!"

So there you have it. We're off to the moon to visit the aliens. See you in October!

Tuesday 9 September 2008

gettin' knitty wit' it

Can you knit? Do you enjoy knitting tiny little hats for smoothie bottles? If you answered yes to both (or one) of these questions, then join The Big Knit! The people at Innocent Drinks are adding handmade hats to their smoothie bottles, and for every one sold, they will donate 50p to Age Concern. You don't have to live in the UK to participate, but obviously you'll need to take shipping costs/time into account if you're going to send your hats in.

I think this is a fab way to use up those scraps of yarn, and for a very good cause. I'll try to cobble some together before we go on holiday and will probably do some while we're away. What? Well, what else are you going to do when you're jet lagged and awake at 3am?!

clever bunny

I love this age. I remember it with Jack; suddenly there's an explosion of discovery and milestones and they keep on coming. Mia can now point at body parts when asked, although if you ask her "Where's Mia's nose?" she will shove a finger right up there and grin like a loon. She waves hello and goodbye, claps her hands, and points. At everything. She can say dog, mummy/mama, daddy/dada, Jack, nana (for "banana"), dirty (repeating me when I was telling her not to go rummaging through the dirty nappy bag), no, and mine. The other day, Jack went to play with a toy she had and she shouted out "MAMA! NO! MINE!" Ahhh sweet. I can see where this is heading over the next months and years.

She tries to put her own clothes on, and she does have a general idea of where everything goes. If I ask her if she's done eating, she puts her cup on her plate and hands it over to me. She understands "Give Jack/Jasper his toy back", but doesn't always obey. She understands "Go find your toys" and "Let's go up to Mia's room." If she does something naughty like hit Jack, she will go over and give him a hug if you tell her to say sorry. She's growing up fast, my little bunny.

Little green tractor

i'll soon be borrowing clothes from posh

I've been on the weight loss train for two months now, which for me, is a huge milestone. I love food. I love making food. I love eating food. I love it when other people make me food and when I eat it. I love watching programmes about food. I love going out with friends to eat food, or having people over for food. And wine. Got to have the wine. So yeah, two months of healthy eating and training is nothing short of a miracle.

I've been following the GI Diet, which is really just a sensible eating plan. I avoid anything with added sugar, eat lots of wholegrains and lean proteins, and lower sugar fruits and veggies. My diet hasn't really changed much from before; I'm simply eating a lot less food. I run three times a week, and I'm proud to say that I'm actually clipping along at a somewhat respectable pace. Well, respectable for me - I'm now going faster than the old ladies on scooters who also travel along the sidewalks when I run. I'm doing something called Turbulence Training three times a week, which is a combination of resistance training using body weight (and a bit of free weights) and high intensity cardio intervals. The sessions are quick but incredibly intense. Put it this way, I used to do an hour of cardio at the gym several times a week and never really felt sore afterwards. One TT session had me walking like a cowboy with piles for three days. I love it because most of it can be done at home and you can break it up into 20 minute sessions.

So after month two, I'm very pleased to say that I've now lost just over one stone (14 lbs.) I can now fit into my I'm Not Throwing These Out Because Dammit, They WILL Fit Me One Day jeans and a few other outfits. I feel better...I still have a long way to go, but that's one big chunk down.

Just got to survive the two week holiday in California without succombing to the call of huge American portions. Hellllllp.

Saturday 23 August 2008


"What's the matter, mummy?"
"I've got a little tummy bug, Jack."
"I'll go get my doctor's kit!"
[listens to my heart, looks in my ears and mouth] "Your belly is hurting because your daughter was in your belly. I need to put a bandage on it so it doesn't 'splode."

And so my belly didn't 'splode, and I felt much better after a couple of days.

[Fast forward one week, arriving at my in-laws', Jack announces...]

Well. So much for doctor/patient confidentiality.

Wednesday 20 August 2008

my colourful girl

I came across a term recently that I'd never heard before: Rainbow Baby. Apparently, this is used to describe a baby born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or death of a child. (Because they "bring colour into your life" after a loss.)

I got pregnant with Mia exactly 19 days after finding out Squeak had died. Immediately after I got a positive pregnancy test, I looked out the window and saw this double rainbow:


I always felt that Squeak and Mia were connected somehow, and the double rainbow always signified this to me. Both Squeak and Mia are rainbow babies because I got pregnant with Squeak immediately following a very early loss before the 5 week mark. My double rainbow babies. I like that.

i don't feel so bad about that duck now

Cake Wrecks - when cakes go wrong.

Sunday 17 August 2008

Friday 15 August 2008

Thursday 14 August 2008

Yearbook Yourself!

Thanks to JenC for the inspiration! This is from a site called Yearbook Yourself, and I cannot stop giggling. You upload a pic of yourself and it places your face in various yearbook poses from years gone by.

Top, from the left: 1952 (looking scarily like Joan Crawford), 1960, 1966 (that hair ain't going nowhere)
Bottom, from left: 1978 (digging my 'fro), 1994 (I actually had a perm like that in the early 90s), 2000 (hey, it's Diane from "Cheers"!)

Click on the photo for a larger image.

Wednesday 13 August 2008

waving two flags from the sofa

It's that time again - Olympic Fever has struck the Durbin household, and the TV's on the Eurosport channel permanently (with short breaks to flip to CBeebies, of course.)

And what about Michael Phelps? He'll never make it through aiport security with all of those medals, and you can't put them in one of those trays because some wacko will nick 'em. Surely he won't check them in with his regular luggage because they'll probably end up taking a round trip to Samoa before arriving months later, battered and empty, in a disused airport in Iowa. It's a stumper.

Thursday 7 August 2008

Tripp Trapp highchair

Oh yes. Put this on the list of 500 Things I Keep Forgetting To Blog About. We recently purchased a Tripp Trapp highchair, and my word. It rocks. I was never happy with Mia sitting so far from the family table (due to the enormous tray on the old highchair) and wanted something that could be pulled up right to the table. The Tripp Trapp not only takes up far less room, it can be adjusted for use right up to adulthood. You buy the waist bar/harness and seat insert separately, then you just need to remove them and lower the seat as the child grows. I love it...and wish we'd discovered it 3 1/2 years ago. Along with cloth nappies, slings, co-sleepers, and the other million things I purchased several years too late. Doh.

Wednesday 6 August 2008

feel the love

I hate grocery shopping. Hate it. I would rather chew off both of my own arms than go to Tesco on a weekend or evening, so we've been doing all of our shopping online with Ocado (Waitrose.) On the most part, it's been fine. Sometimes they give you stuff that's due to go off in 2-3 days, but no biggie - it can go in the freezer. Recently, we've had a few little niggles and an incident last night prompted me to give their customer service department a ring. It went thusly.

Me: Hello, I have a problem with my order today. I ordered English muffins and they were substituted with bagels.
Customer Service Girl (CSG): Yes...
Me: Well. Erm. That's not really a great substitution, especially considering that the bagels were already on my list. Now I have two packages of bagels.
CSG: Okay, let me explain our substitution policy, because you're obviously too retarded to understand how this all works. [Lisa's note: I might be making up that last bit.] Rather than sending you nothing, we send you a substitute.
Me: Yes, but bagels for muffins was a bit odd.
CSG: What you need to do is give the item back to the driver immediately. I'll give you a refund on it this time, but that's what you should do.

So a) I should have known better and b) she doesn't really give a rat's arse. And for this I pay an extra £3 per delivery. I also complained about our groceries arriving soaking wet the last three times because of condensation in the delivery van (as explained to us by the drivers), and CSG informed me that if it happened again, I should call because it would then be considered an ongoing problem. I reiterated that it was the 3rd time this had happened, so it was ongoing. CSG said she would investigate.

When a customer complains (reasonably), all you really need to do is listen, agree, apologise, and make it right. For example: "You're right, bagels for muffins is a bit rubbish. I'll refund your £1.79 right away. And hey, have you lost some weight? You look GREAT." Sorted. Not difficult.

Tuesday 29 July 2008

on the treadmill, everyone can hear you scream

I had the best intentions. I was all set to train, train, train and run that 5k at the beginning of this month. Run it, not half walk/half jog. I went back to the gym and then I stopped. I had no time; my maternity leave was coming to a very hasty end and I didn't want to spend the last remaining moments alongside sweaty people. I wasn't feeling well; it was winter and there were all sorts of nasty bugs afloat.'t have anything to wear. I stopped going to the gym for a lot of really, really good reasons. Really.

So I did the 5k, and although I was hugely pleased and relieved to jog most of it, I knew it was time to get my wobbly arse back to the gym. I can't keep calling it "baby weight" forever (or can I?) and the pounds just aren't falling off like all of those breastfeeding infomercials told me it would. Seriously, am I the only woman on the planet who didn't shed weight whilst breastfeeding? How come I didn't end up being one of those "I eat 2 birthday cakes, a box of Krispey Kremes, and a bucket of lard every single day and gosh! I just can't seem to keep the weight ON!" types of breastfeeding mums? It surely can't be because I'm old and eat a lot. No, definitely not. It's obviously genetic.

I've been diligently, albeit not always enthusiastically, working out six days a week for the past three weeks and eating very healthy food. I run 3k during lunchtimes twice a week, hit the gym three times a week for around an hour each session (weights and cardio), do pilates on Friday mornings, and swim with the kids on Sunday mornings. I don't normally count calories because I know what "eating sensibly" means for me, but I did tally some of my menus up just to make sure I was eating enough/not too much. No drinking, no treats, no fun at all for three weeks.

I've lost a grand total of 6 and 3/4 lbs.

What. The. Hell. Yes, yes, I know that the scale isn't the best way to measure fat loss and I will be taking my measurements next week to see if they've changed in the past month, but COME ON! 6 and 3/4 stinking pounds! That's fine if I only had a few to lose, but I've got many to lose. Many, many, many. Whoever's been secretly feeding me chocolate sauce and pork scratchings in my sleep, stop it right now.

Dieting is not for the impatient or for those who love food a little too much. Feh.

Monday 28 July 2008

birth, short version

Idea taken from a mummy site, my births in 6 words.

Jack: PIH, induction, failed, c-section, infection, exhaustion.
Squeak: Spotting, heartbreak, pain, bleeding, birth, empty.
Mia: Pre-labour, posterior, backache!!, water, birth, elation.

Please add yours.

Thursday 24 July 2008

that's my name, don't wear it out

This morning, Mia said "mummy." Paul and I sort of laughed it off, thinking it was a fluke. Then a minute later, another "mummy".

That's my girl.

Wednesday 23 July 2008

i wish

Jack: "What are you doing?"
Me: "I'm writing something up for work."
Jack: "What is it?"
Me: "It's my self evaluation."
Jack: [huge hopeful grin] "Is it a birthday card?"

Monday 21 July 2008

movies and soundbites

Some recent Jack gems:

"Did I come from the shops?"

(After I finished the Race for Life) "Did you win?"

(Talking about a toy car) Me: "Does it go vrrrrooom?"
Jack: "No. It goes left or right."

And a recent Mia gem, her wobbly steps:

Friday 11 July 2008

playing the spoons

I haven't really talked much about BLW (baby led weaning), mostly because there wasn't much to delve into. I gave Mia finger foods instead of purees and avoided baby rice completely (her first foods were slices of avocado, banana, sweet potato, green beans, and other assorted fruits and veg), waited until she was developmentally ready to start (she didn't really eat in earnest until around 9 months, for those curious), and gave her a spoon to "play with" during mealtimes. She gagged, threw up, and made alarming choking noises whenever she ate for quite a while. I know it had nothing to do with the texture, because I gave her a bit of yoghurt once and she had exactly the same reaction. Unlike my son - who devoured everything I gave him from day one - Mia took time to understand that food was for swallowing. I made sure she ate with at least one of us so that she could watch and learn. Sometimes I loaded a spoon up for her, and gave it to her to feed herself. She actually dislikes being spoon fed, and is much happier holding it herself...even if 70% never makes it close to her mouth.

So, at one year, she can use a spoon and is happily grabbing and gnawing on things she can hold. I'm also pleased that we pretty much avoided bottles (I think Mia got expressed milk maybe 5 or 6 times at most?), so we didn't need to transition her from bottle to sippy cup. One less battle is always good in my books.

I took some clips of Mia using a spoon. I'm not kidding myself, I do know that most times there is no food on her spoon. I'm just tickled to see her moving it from the bowl or whatever to her mouth, it's so cute. It's also slightly alarming because it's making my little baby girl look that much more grown up. *big sigh*

Wednesday 9 July 2008

fun on a rainy day

Spotted on Emma's blog.

Here's how you play:
  • Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr search
    using only the first page. Choose an image.
  • Copy and paste each of the URLs into the mosaic maker at FD's image maker.

The questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favourite food?
3. What high school did you attend?
4. What is your favourite colour?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favourite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favourite dessert?
9. What do you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your Flickr name.

Main Blog Fun

Sunday 6 July 2008

Race For Life 2008

Yep, it's that time of year again - I did the 5k Race for Life this afternoon in Cambridge with a couple of friends and 1,000 other lovely ladies. And just as in previous years, I planned to do lots of training and run the whole thing, whooshing smugly past everyone with such ease that I could give myself a pedicure at the same time. I ended up doing no training whatsoever (and had a couple of physical hindrances today that I won't go into because it'll make you go EWWWW) and it was raining to boot. Amazingly, I managed to jog/walk most of it and finished the course in 36 minutes...a personal best! Oh, but I ache right now. Next year, I will - honest truly promise - train and run the whole thing.

I love taking part in this event. Last year, I was hugely disappointed that I couldn't do the walk because despite being 2 weeks post partum, I felt up to it on the day. I didn't want to sign up for it in advance (a necessity) because I had no idea if Mia would be late, how I would be feeling, etc. I could have done it with Mia in a sling and that would have been pretty cool. That would have made two Race for Lifes whilst carrying my children (1 in utero.)

Every race, I read the dedications on everyone's backs and choke back tears. At the finish line, people shouted encouragement and applauded everyone who passed. One older man in particular caught my eye, clapping enthusiastically and shouted at me "Well done!" If I wasn't about to pass out from pushing myself to run the last kilometer, I would have burst into tears. I did get quite teary, actually. I do this every year for my grandma and every time I cross the finish line, I'd like to think I did her proud.

If you would like to make a donation, you can still do so on my sponsorship page for the next couple of weeks here.

Race For Life 2008

Yep, it's that time of year again - I did the 5k Race for Life this afternoon in Cambridge with a couple of friends and 1,000 other lovely ladies. And just as in previous years, I planned to do lots of training and run the whole thing, whooshing smugly past everyone with such ease that I could give myself a pedicure at the same time. I ended up doing no training whatsoever (and had a couple of physical hindrances today that I won't go into because it'll make you go EWWWW) and it was raining to boot. Amazingly, I managed to jog/walk most of it and finished the course in 36 minutes...a personal best! Oh, but I ache right now. Next year, I will - honest truly promise - train and run the whole thing.

I love taking part in this event. Last year, I was hugely disappointed that I couldn't do the walk because despite being 2 weeks post partum, I felt up to it on the day. I didn't want to sign up for it in advance (a necessity) because I had no idea if Mia would be late, how I would be feeling, etc. I could have done it with Mia in a sling and that would have been pretty cool. That would have made two Race for Lifes whilst carrying my children (1 in utero.)

Every race, I read the dedications on everyone's backs and choke back tears. At the finish line, people shouted encouragement and applauded everyone who passed. One older man in particular caught my eye, clapping enthusiastically and shouted at me "Well done!" If I wasn't about to pass out from pushing myself to run the last kilometer, I would have burst into tears. I did get quite teary, actually. I do this every year for my grandma and every time I cross the finish line, I'd like to think I did her proud.

If you would like to make a donation, you can still do so on my sponsorship page for the next couple of weeks here.

Friday 4 July 2008

two small steps for girlykind

Yesterday, my beautiful and incredibly clever baby girl took her very first steps from her daddy to me. She's getting braver by the day, tentatively standing on her own until she wibblewobbles back down bum first. She can toddle along for quite a few steps when she's holding on to one of my hands, so I'm sure solo walking isn't far off at all.

Baby needs new walking shoes.

Thursday 3 July 2008

back to school

Last Saturday, I took an Indian cooking course at Angela Malik's cookery school, which was a Christmas present from my fabulous husband. I did ask him for it, I hasten to add - it wasn't one of those "'Ere. Go and learn how to make me something edible, woman!" kind of things. I was somewhat hesitant about taking the course on my own and feeling a bit awkward, as I imagined it would be mostly friends and couples attending together. There ended up being another lone lady in the class, but in the end, it didn't really matter at all.

The school is in a beautiful Georgian country mansion roughly 10 miles from where we live. It was a fantastic day. I learned quite a bit about combining flavours and picked up a few tips on how to make the perfect (authentic) curry, and the food we made was absolutely delicious. We had spicy deep fried paneer (Indian cheese), crushed aubergines, a creamy coconut salmon curry, and vegetable pakoras, all washed down with some rose Zinfandel. Gorgeous. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed, and the people who attended the class were great fun. Most of them were self-professed "foodies" (not the pretentious variety) who were deeply passionate about cooking...and eating. We were encouraged to go around and taste everyone else's curries to get a sense of how different the same dish could turn out, depending on individual taste. We all left with big smiles and full bellies, which to me is always the formula for a very good day.

Ice cream cone cupcakes On Sunday, we held our annual Canada Day BBQ, which again involved lots of smiles and bellies full to bursting. In honour of our beautiful girl's first birthday, I made these ice cream cone cupcakes, which were incredibly easy to make. That is, once you've done at least one test run. The original recipe was from the Betty Crocker site, which stated that you needed to put the cake batter in muffin tins and stick the cone in on top. The problem with that method is that the cone topples over as the batter cooks and rises. What's worse is that I used a mix for that test run, so I couldn't even eat the mistakes as the cake tasted so horrible. For the final run, I made my own sponge using Nigella's Victoria sponge recipe (food processor method) and it worked really well. My faith in Nigella has been restored after the buttermilk cake fiasco (seriously, avoid that one at all costs unless you like your cakes 1" thick and as dense as a steamed suet pudding.)

For the Canadian Content, I made butter tarts and Nanaimo bars. As with all North American desserts I serve to my friends, they were deemed yummy but incredibly sweet. I think there is a Victorian psyche in every British person that makes them outwardly denounce American puddings for their terribly uncouth decadence, but they secretly enjoy them. Put a New York cheesecake in front of a Brit and they'll claim it's "too rich" but leave them alone with it, and they'll be naked and rolling in it, giggling like schoolgirls. It's the only thing that explains why every British television chef has to apologise or make a comment about ingredients such as cream and sugar in recipes. "This isn't for the faint-hearted", "This isn't a diet dish", etc. Just make it, for crying out loud! We know that clotted cream will kill you, but at least we'll all die happy!

So anyway, yes. The desserts must have been enjoyed because all that was left was one lone cupcake. Paul made some gorgeous salmon, trout, ribs, and pulled chicken in the smoker and grilled up burgers and sausages on the BBQ. I made coleslaw and Greek salad to go with the meat fest, along with my newly-acquired aubergine recipe from the day before. The crowd must have been hungry that day because even the salads were gone by the end of it. We had a fabulous time; the dances to the weather gods were heeded.

More photos of the day can be seen here.

Monday 23 June 2008

Mia's Birthday Party

Thanks to everyone who left birthday wishes and lovely comments in the post below. Another wonderful thing to add to her scrapbook. You know, that scrapbook I started 9 months ago and got up to page three? My baby shower? Yeah, that one.

Mia's party was full of sunshine, good food, and lots of laughs, which is everything a good party should have. She devoured her cake, two fistfuls at a time. She sort of had the hang of opening presents, but would lose interest and crawl off to go eat a leaf. She got brave and took steps with only the gentlest of hand holds, and even stood on her own for a second (i.e. until I shouted out "OOOH!!" and startled her.) She wore a pointy party hat for ages and kept her party dress surprisingly clean. She clapped. She danced. She made everyone smile. She is so beautiful and I'm so glad we celebrated her birth accordingly.

On to the next one.

(Click the photo to see more images from the party.)

Thursday 19 June 2008


Hurrah! I can retire now! Look what just arrived in my inbox!
Your email has won $4.6M from the UK Lottery draws on 01/06/08 held in BANGKOK-THAILAND.Lucky Mr. Walter Dou ( with your official names,Nationality/resident country,address,sex,age,tell,occupation,date of draw.+447045722060.

Ohmygawd! Lucky me!

In other news, it's my beautiful baby girl's first birthday today. Happy birthday, my Mimi pixie princess bunnypants. (Soppy video montage available for viewing on the baby blog.)

one princess

Wednesday 18 June 2008

Duck Cake

Duck Cake
Originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin
It was one of those things that looked really easy but turned out to be a big headache, and it was one of those things that reminded me why I don't usually do these sorts of things.

I am NOT a domestic goddess.

I thought it would be a cute idea to take a rubber ducky cake into nursery for Mia's birthday. I found this recipe on the Betty Crocker site that looked both cute and fairly simple. Let's review what happened, shall we?

-Recipe required one 8" and one 9" pan. I only have two 9" pans. It also required something called a "custard cup", so I improvised and used a stainless steel ramekin.
-Recipe required various candies for decorations that don't exist in this country. The closest I could find were two fried egg jelly sweets for the beak and/or eyes, but decided to get royal icing and make the features myself. Why do I think I can do stuff like this? Been watching too many episodes of "Heroes" and seem to think I can acquire skills by seeing them done on TV.
-Recipe required cake mix that seems impossible to find here, but I'm going to make my own because I've seen it done on TV, goddammit.
-Followed Nigella's recipe for buttermilk birthday cake to the letter. Cake came out smelling beautiful, all golden and puffy. Left it to cool for 10 minutes, and suddenly it was 1 inch thick.
-Put one layer on a plate, globbed on a 2" layer of icing in an attempt to make the cake look a normal height. Kids like icing. It'll be fine.
-Decided to deviate from the recipe and cut the cake so it tapers towards the back. Cake now looks like a frosty yellow coffin. Add more icing to round it out. Kids like icing. It'll be fine.
-Attempt to sit head piece on top, but it keeps rolling off. May frighten small children. Skewered its head with a large bamboo stick, which I'm sure won't be at all scary.
-Add more icing to the head because it's currently shaped like a hockey puck. Kids like icing. It'll be fine.
-Fashion eyes and a beak out of royal icing, using techniques gleaned from several Play Dough sessions with Jack.
-10:30pm, cake finished. Looks a bit like my duck was too slow crossing the road on the way back to his pond. Add more icing. Kids like icing. It'll be fine.

Really, seriously, slap me the next time I embark on something like this again.

Monday 16 June 2008

one year past due

One year ago today was my due date. (I thought that) my waters had gone, and the sleepless nights of pre-labour had just begun. Mia decided to rotate to an anterior position (the little stinker), and the happy/nesting/organised phase had passed into the grumpy/irritable/exhausted phase. But it was all very, very exciting.

Reading back on entries from a year ago, I feel a sad longing in my heart because I so loved being pregnant and Mia's birth ROCKED. I don't want any more children, but I would like someone to invent a machine that allows me to go back and experience pregnancy and birth again. Apart from that big evil thing that was on my ass. We could fast forward over that bit. Maybe if I was 5 years younger and our house was 2 rooms bigger (we still need an extra room for guests), we would consider another baby in a few years' time. As things stand, it's just not in the cards, and reminiscing about this time last year will just have to do.

And yep, still breastfeeding.

Thursday 12 June 2008

maybe they taste like chicken?

Last week, Jack was bitten by a classmate in his preschool. Nothing serious; it just left a little red mark. The following day, Mia was bitten - or gummed - by a baby in her room at nursery.

Perhaps I should start dipping my children in ketchup before sending them to school.

Monday 9 June 2008

Kalila's Birthday Party

Kalila's Birthday Party
Originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin
In brief...

-Went to a lovely, sunny, outdoorsy, BBQtastic birthday party yesterday. I sampled all the desserts because it would be rude not to.
-Mia's got a new toothy peg coming in on the top. I was starting to think she was only going to have 4 teeth forever.
-Jack is learning Spanish from "Dora the Explorer."

And finally, a Jack Quote of the Week...

[Playing football with Jack in the back garden, and the ball rolls into the bushes.]
Me: Oh, no! You'll have to rescue the ball!

Thursday 5 June 2008

Thurleigh Farm

Thurleigh Farm
Originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin
Sorry ladies, Jack Durbin has been claimed by Miss Lucy Turner.

So cute, I could just cry.

Wednesday 28 May 2008

back again

Howdy do, we're back from our whirlwind holiday (details on the main blog) and no one suffered from major jet lag. I'm amazed at how our children adjusted to the time zones with no problems. By the time we got the kids to bed after we landed in Toronto, it was 1am UK time. They woke happily at their usual time (7am Toronto time), and Mia went down for her naps as normal. Fantastic; they did it on the way back as well. The night we came back to the UK, I collapsed into bed at 10, too tired to stay up for Mia's 11pm feed. I figured that she would wake as usual and I'd just wake up then. The next thing I knew, it was 8 in the morning. My boobs were about to explode but damn, it was nice to sleep for 10 full hours. I haven't done that since...hmmm...before Jack was born? Bliss.

So now we're back and this means the return to work looms over my head. Five days, to be precise. You know when you get on the computer or you start watching TV and suddenly hours have gone by and you can't figure out where the day went? That's what the past year feels like to me. It doesn't feel like I've been gone a year and I can't quite come to grips with my maternity leave ending. Mia still seems so small to me, not at all like her brother was at this age. She is still my little baby; she's not even walking or saying words yet. She doesn't have hair I can put into cute little clips or shitzu-esque bundles on the top of her head. I know it has everything to do with Mia being our last child and she looks very small next to her big brother. I've thoroughly enjoyed having this time with her and I'm incredibly sad for it to end. I'm grateful that I'm able to take one day off a week to be with her, but so bittersweet about returning to Working Mummy Land.

With Jack, I was looking forward to returning to work. I could make phone calls at my leisure, drink an entire hot cup of tea, and go to the bathroom whenever the desire strikes. I could nip out at lunch to run errands that you can only do sans baby. I could have conversations with adults - that is, as adult as you get around our office. I could use my brain again and do a job that I really love. Having this non-mummy time would make me a better, happier mother. The time spent with Jack would be "quality time" and doing something for myself would revitalise me. I was ready.

I am so not ready.

Tuesday 27 May 2008

what i did on my springtime vacation

We've just returned from Toronto and Montreal after a very busy (but good) 2 week vacation. One of those "I need a vacation to recover from my vacation" type of things. It had been over two years since I'd been home and there were lots of people to see. Lots. So most of our time was spent visiting people, eating while visiting people, shopping before visiting people, and seeing a film after we'd visited people. Jack had no shortage of little friends to play with and our suitcases returned home bulging with gifts from those we saw.

Our journey (because everyone goes on a journey these days) began with our flight which went very well. In fact, it went too well to know if the hypnotherapy accomplished anything because we had no turbulence. Not that I'm complaining. Our flight was full, mostly with one 300-member extended family that apparently didn't believe in checking any luggage in. You can hardly blame them, what with all the Terminal 5 lost luggage hubbub (some of which is reportedly still somewhere in suitcase limbo), but my word...I never knew the overheard storage could contain such enormous items. Amongst the "carry on" was, I kid you not, an artificial Christmas tree. How that managed to fit in the little wire carry on example frame when you check in is beyond me. The 300-strong family laughed and waved their festive luggage at us as we stood bleary-eyed at the conveyor belt waiting for our suitcases to tumble down. Next time I may consider putting all of our possessions in Tesco carrier bags to take them on board with us. Or wearing 15 layers of clothing.

The kids were fantastic on the long flight; Jack was thrilled to have his very own television. British Airways now do a video on demand type service, which meant that Jack could watch Bob the Builder on a continuous loop for 8 hours. When we landed, he said "Oh, we're back at the airport." We explained that we were in Canada, so now he thinks that Canada is a large airport.

BBQ sauce face I have a few "must eat at" restaurants whenever I visit North America (some for the quality of the food, others for nostalgia), and The Baton Rouge is one of them. We went to one near my parents' house and were seated immediately by a chirpy hostess. And we waited...and waited...and waited until we flagged someone down to ask if they had a children's menu. It was odd that they didn't give us one when we first arrived, but surely they must have one. It's very rare that we get seated at a North American restaurant without being handed crayons, colouring-book-cum-menus, balloons, and tableside entertainment provided by a clown telling amusing knock-knock jokes. "We have a children's menu, but we don't have it written down. We just tell you what's on it and then you choose something," the waitress informed us. We chose something from The Menu That Shall Not Be Written Lest Someone Steal Our Idea Of Serving Toddlers Chicken Nuggets and ordered off the big person's menu for ourselves. As is evident by the photo, Jack thoroughly enjoyed drinking an entire pot of barbecue sauce and devoured his chicken fingers. I had a so-so plate of chicken and ribs, and Paul had a burger that was cleverly disguised as a piece of charcoal, which may have been a humorous homage to their down home grillin' theme. We think not.

Play centre We did a lot of kid-oriented stuff, which was great. Having children gives you a wonderful excuse to do fun things that would make you look more than a little bit odd if you did them on your own. We went to a fantastic place called Small Wonders Discovery Centre which had vast rooms of toys and playground equipment. One area had a huge play kitchen (depressingly slightly larger than ours at home) complete with a "grocery store" where Jack shopped for his dinner ingredients. We feasted on plastic potatoes, rolls, lettuce, and a nice cup of imaginary tea.

Toronto Zoo We visited the Toronto Zoo, a place I haven't been to since I was about 7 years old. It was a glorious day, sunny and warm. As it was a weekday during the school term it was practically deserted, save for a few foreign tourists like us. I mean, foreigners like my children and husband. I'm still Canadian because I'm too cheap and lazy to get my British citizenship.

ROM We went to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and looked at dinosaur bones. "They're not real dinosaurs," my son sagely informed me. "They're just skeletons." He gazed at the bones, watched a CGI clip about the t-rex, and touched a dinosaur tooth. The highlight for him was a small "discovery area" with plastic dinosaurs that made excellent participants in his sister-eating game.

Biodome In Montreal, we visited the Biodome, which is sort of like the Eden Project with small animals. When I told Jack we were going to Montreal he asked, "Does it have animals?" and indeed it did. Jack very likely thought that Montreal was a big farm of some sort as that's the sort of thing we tend to visit when we're in the UK, so the Biodome was right up his alley.

At Aidan's house We saw lots of friends, and met a few new little ones. We spent a day with Jen, Mark, and Aidan (pictured here with Jack) which started with a much missed and needed Canadian breakfast, followed by a trip to the fantastic Maman Bebe en Cafe (a small play area, cafe, and boutique all in one) to meet up with Susan, Patrick, and their little girl Sofia, and ending with a delicious takeaway sushi dinner. The next morning we met up with Dina and Maggie with their crew for another great breakfast.
Dim Sum, Montreal
For dinner, we met up with a huge group of old friends and their kiddies from previous jobs and university. Some I hadn't seen in over 13 years but incredibly, it was like no time had passed. We gobbled down delicious plates of steaming dim sum and side dishes at Ruby Rouge, a restaurant in the heart of Chinatown with waitresses that make a huge fuss over babies. Lovely.

When we returned to Toronto, Paul and I decided to go on a dinner date at a place called Ruth's Chris Steak House. It's a chain, but it shouldn't be something that puts you off trying it out - the price of a meal will likely do that on its own. The food was divine and the service impeccable, but paying $300 (including a generous tip) for two people to eat and have a couple of glasses of wine at a chain steak house seems a bit rich. Of course we also need to factor in the dinnertime entertainment provided by a geriatric gentleman and his 40something totty in a micro mini and stilettos. They sat on the same side of the booth and shared a steak, as we mused that they needed to share a meal so that she could cut it up and chew it for him. They ordered a very expensive bottle of wine and had the undivided attention of all the wait staff as well as servers from surrounding restaurants, hoping that a nicely folded napkin and water top up might warrant a crisp ten dollar bill.

We took advantage of our parental babysitters a second time to see a film, something that we haven't done since we snuck out to see "Casino Royale" two Christmases ago. We decided to see "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian", which was quite exciting for me as I'm a fan of the books and the first film. In retrospect, we probably should have hit the malls instead. I spent most of the film with my head in my hands either in boredom or attempting to hide my eyes. Horrifyingly cringeworthy dialogue and "jokes", terrifically awful acting, and far too many liberties with the plot that must have Lewis spinning in his grave. The four children from the first film return, spending the entire film looking as if they're on the verge of tears (understandably.) It is never a good sign when the opening credits roll and as each name passes by you wonder to yourself, "Who the hell is that?" In brief, that was two hours of my life I will never get back again.

Our visit conveniently coincided with Mother's Day (spent mostly on the sofa as I suffered from some hideous virus) and my dad's birthday (spent eating tiny sandwiches and cakes at a high tea.) We shopped and discovered that most things aren't cheaper in Canada anymore, and ate and discovered that Canadian beef tastes a million times better than what we generally get in the UK. I bought half of Loblaws grocery store and put it in Paul's suitcase, and we went on our merry way. Again, my hypnotherapy went untested as we only had a tiny bit of turbulence on the way home. The flight was uneventful, our luggage came tumbling down within minutes of arriving, and I learned that if I take one (or both) of our British children with me through passport control, I can go through the privileged EU queue rather than the Unwashed Others queue I normally stand in by myself.

Exhausted but happy, we drove along the motorway and headed home. Going in the opposite direction along the shoulder was an old lady pootling along on a motorized old lady scooter, followed shortly by a police car with lights flashing. "You did see that too, didn't you?" I asked Paul.

It's nice to be home.

Tuesday 6 May 2008

Jack's Photos
Originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin
Jack got hold of my camera and snapped quite a few shots (something like 150 in the span of 20 minutes.) Paul dug up my old camera, which has now become Jack's. I love these because you can get a sense of life from Jack's height.

Click on Mia's image to see the rest of Jack's photos, or click here. Um...not all 150 of them, though.

Saturday 3 May 2008

i should be in bed

A bit of fun 'cos I can't think of anything to blog about. Tagged by Miss Kitty:

Remove 1 question from below and add in your personal question, make it a total of 20 questions, then tag 8 people in your list, list them out at the end of this post. [Lisa's note: I don't do tagging, so if you're reading this and are thinking to yourself "Ooh. I wanna do this.", go for it.]

1. What do you really really want right now?
Sleep. Lots of it. And then perhaps a nap, followed by a doze.

2. If you can turn into anything, what do you wish you can turn into?
A baby or toddler because man, what a fantastic life. People feed you, you sleep whenever you want, and you think stuff like paper towel tubes are really, really cool. And tasty.

3. How are you feeling now?
Full of curry.

4. Where is the place that you want to go most?
Home. Oh hey, I'm going there on Thursday. Well, that's sorted then.

5. If you have one dream to come true, what would it be? I've changed this question to: If you were a Krispy Kreme doughnut, which one would you be?
Something covered in nuts with a squidgy middle.

6. Do you want more children?
Mine or other people's? No to both.

7. Do you think religion is redundant?
Religion is necessary for some people, and I respect that.

8. What cheers you up for the rest of the day?
My kids because they are damn funny. When they're not screaming and dripping snot, that is.

9. If you meet someone you love, would you confess to him/her?
Confess what? About that killing spree back in '72? No, that would definitely create a really awkward moment. I'm really in touch with this whole etiquette thing.

10. List out three good things of the person who tagged you.
a) She's one of the few people around me who appreciates the finer things in life such as Peanut Butter Cups.
b) She's an Aries. All the cool chicks are Aries.
c) She organised some kick-ass games for my baby shower, and didn't make any of us eat baby food.

11. What are the requirements that you wish of your other half?
Own teeth, own hair, has a job, doesn't live with his mother.

12. What type of person do you hate the most?
The chav a-hole who took the last parent/child parking spot at Tesco the other day.

13. What would you do if you won a million dollars?
I'd buy you lunch, and maybe even dessert too.

14. What would you wanna be remembered for after you're dead?
My tombstone should read: "She emigrated, she birthed, she made really good brownies."

15. If you have a chance, which part of your character would you like to change?
The fact that I dwell on the ridiculous for far too long.

16. What would you most want to achieve right now?
Right now? Not forgetting to pack anything important.

17. What do you think is the most important thing in your life?
Happiness - everyone's.

18. If there's one thing in your life you wanted to do but yet unable to, what would it be?
Learn a third language.

19. What do you see yourself as in the next 10 years?
Middle-aged and writing angry letters to the Daily Mail.

20. If you were an animal, what would you be?
My dog, definitely. He's awake something like 10 minutes out of the day, and that's only to eat.

Tuesday 29 April 2008

i'm going to my happy place

I keep wondering if the hypnotherapy is actually going to work. When I think about our pending holiday I feel a bit panicky, but I think that has to do with worrying about the logistics of travelling across the ocean with two small children. So to "test out" the hypnotherapy, I've been envisioning the flight and turbulence to see how I react. During quiet moments, I focus my mind on being on the plane, the hum of the engine, then the dreaded *ding* of the seat belt sign illuminating. I imagine feeling bumps and shudders, then slight drops. I breathe in deeply then exhale the tension. The calm soothing voice of the hypnotherapist plays back in my mind and I tell myself that the fear is all in my mind.

Yep, I've officially gone cuckoo caca.

Friday 25 April 2008

happiness is...

...looking down at Mia whilst breastfeeding and having her look at me and give me a little wave.

look into my eyes; not around my eyes

I really don't like flying. I like travelling and I like going to new and exciting places (especially if it involves outlet malls), but I hate having to take an airplane to get there. Actually, I'm not afraid of flying - I don't mind take off and landing, or being up in the air - I'm afraid of crashing. It's the turbulence and the anticipation of turbulence that makes me want to run away screaming. Plummeting 30,000 feet to our deaths. That sort of thing. It's not like Lost, you know.

So as my kids get older and Jack is much more aware of everything around him, I don't want them to learn to be afraid of flying from me. Plus, I'm fed up of feeling like a nutcase when I fly, particularly considering that I used to love it when I was a kid. I want to look forward to our flights and enjoy having 8-10 hours of nothing to do but reading, watching films, and spending time with the kids.

I decided to see a hypnotherapist to help me get over this fear, encouraged by the positive experience I had with hypnotherapy antenatal CDs when I was pregnant with Mia. "What a bucket of caca!", I hear you say. Well, maybe. But if it helps me overcome my fear of flying, why not? Phobias are all in the mind, so "reprogramming" your brain to respond appropriately to the situation seems a sensible solution. The hypnotherapy didn't involve a middle-aged guy with a pocket watch going "You're getting sleeeeeepyyyyy" or getting me to cluck like a chicken. I think. Hmmm. No, pretty sure that didn't happen. It involved going into a state of deep relaxation, mentally going through the process of taking a flight, and getting suggestions and coping techniques from the hypnotherapist during the times I felt anxious. It was strange and interesting; I felt incredibly relaxed but extremely aware of what was going on. It was very much like when you close your eyes to go to sleep and your brain goes through a list of things you need to do, replays scenes from the day, etc. I "woke" feeling very relaxed and energetic, and slept very well the nights after I had my sessions.

We fly to Toronto in two weeks, so we shall see if any of it worked. At the moment, thinking about flying doesn't bother me at all and I'm very much looking forward to our trip home. Whether or not this is still the case when we're above the clouds and that goddamn little seat belt light comes on is to be determined. Fingers crossed.


Sunday 20 April 2008

observations from my boy

Jack: "Oh, look! I can see a lion!"
Me: "A lion? Is he nice?"
Jack: "No. He's a little bit rude."


Jack: "I'm having a dinner party. Would you like to come?"
Me: "What are we eating?"
Jack: "Hot dogs and gravy."


Me: "Say bye-bye to Daddy - he's off to the gym."
Jack: [wagging a stern finger at Paul] "You mustn't get any time outs at the gym!"


Jack: "You need to talk to my poo. You need to tell it to go 'splash' into the water so it can have a party."


Jack, upon seeing me get out of the shower: "You have a fluffy willy!!!" [points and laughs hysterically]

Monday 14 April 2008

Maltezer Cake

Maltezer Cake
Originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin
Oh, look - here's another photo I meant to blog about months ago. Here's the Maltezer cake (I think Maltezers are the same as Milk Duds in the States) I made for Jack's birthday. It was for Jack to take into nursery, and apparently it went down really well with everyone. This one's from Nigella's "Feast", which was that book she did before she went all funny and started pretending to ride public transportation and shop at Waitrose. Remember?

I was watching that godawful programme "Market Kitchen" on UKTV Food which is presented by that godawful Irish woman whose name escapes me at the moment. Said Irish woman made the remark, "The Americans don't make anything from scratch." Apparently all of you Yanks only make things that come from Betty Crocker, you poor souls. It's no wonder you need to resort to things like Krispy Kreme wedding cakes - if only you knew how to do a fruitcake! Bless your little cotton socks. With the demise of the Easy Bake Oven, little girls just don't learn how to bake anymore.*

*(Yes, I know Americans make things from scratch. The Barefoot Contessa told me so.)

Toro! Toro!

Toro! Toro!
Originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin
What kind of a cruel mother runs to get a camera instead of delicately extracting the breakfast cereal from her daughter's nose?

That would be me.

Sunday 6 April 2008

Hey. Come here often?

Hey. Come here often?
Originally uploaded by Lisa Durbin
I have so much to say and almost every day I think to myself "Oooh! Must blog about this!" and yet here my blog sits, collecting cobwebs. Must try harder.

Mia is now pulling herself up to stand...using anything she can. Footstools, chairs, sofas, dogs, my legs (whilst digging her razor sharp nails into my shins to pull herself up), dog beds, you name it, she'll use it to stand. Today, she started crusing. This is a huge improvement over the Stand There and Scream Because I'm Very Annoyed About Not Being Able to Cruise phase. You can see how pleased she is about this development.

I've now entered "You're STILL breastfeeding?" territory, which seems to be of particular concern when people notice that Mia has four sharp teeth. She actually hasn't bitten me since she went on strike a while ago, and even then it didn't do any damage - it startled me more than anything else. I was trying to figure out the logistics of continuing to breastfeed when I return to work and have been very pleased (and relieved) to learn that I can simply drop the daytime feeds and continue to nurse whenever we're together without having to do anything special to prepare or compensate.

Jack and Mia are both taking swimming classes and it's going...swimmingly (sorry.) I'm so happy that Jack's enjoying the classes because he hasn't taken one since he was 10 months old. He's been in a pool a few times since then, but hasn't taken a proper class in a very long time. He's taken to them with no problems, and he loves having Mia and I there to watch. Mia has her class immediately following Jack's, so we sit and watch until it's our turn. Mia is fantastic in the pool. She's been underwater a few times now, and has even done some "swimming" when the instructor passed her to me under the water and let her swim to me a short distance.

I've got some great movie clips of Jack - I'll upload them to YouTube soon!

Friday 28 March 2008

now that's more like it

Excellent. I'm now getting spam from The HOF:
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One of these security measures is HOF (Halifax Online Form) to help us to keep your personal and banking data up to date.

You should complete HOF on a regular basis.

Please complete HOF using the link below: