nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
( Jul. 4th, 2017 10:22 am)
We went to the pub last night to sit by the canal and enjoy some celebratory holiday pizzas. After a couple of lime and sodas, everyone got a bit silly and our (eye, not drinks) glasses got mixed up.

[Humuhumu and Keiki grinning across a wooden patio table at the pub. Humuhumu is wearing Daddy’s sunglasses and Keiki is wearing mine.]

+4 )
Humuhumu and the Christmas Jumper
[Humuhumu smiling in her mint-green glasses and green Christmas jumper, on Christmas day, in front of the fireplace in "the big room", where the Christmas tree always is.]

Christmas day this year was possibly one of the best I've ever experienced. This was entirely down to our children's reaction to it, which was purest joy and excitement, from the discovery of Christmas stockings next to bed/cot in the morning to the reunion with cousins and second round of presents before bedtime in the evening. I didn't take as many photos as I might have, since we were rather busy being in the moment, but below the cut are a few reminders of the day.

+4 )

We drank a lot of wine, we ate a lot of food and we all received presents we liked, thanks to the family tradition of exchanging lists prior to Christmas (to lower stress levels on procurement, and also because the family is big enough that it takes several hours just to open all the presents by turns). We played silly games until late in the evening.

Keiki, however, gave me the gift I shall probably treasure longest: He slept from 7:30 PM until 7:30 AM on Boxing Day morning. It is the first (and to date, only) occasion on which he has ever slept for twelve hours straight. I don't expect the feat to be repeated on a regular basis, but it was a treat to be savoured, and what timing!
To stop myself from singing the same woeful tune about single parenting (at least it's only three days this time), here are some photos from the weekend. We gardened, we ate pub lunch (twice!), we walked by the towpath and ate blackberries off the bushes, we played in the sunshine. It was good.

[Humuhumu blowing bubbles, harmonica-style.]

Cat and girl...and Dada )
When I went to pick up Humuhumu this morning, she puckered up her lips to give a kiss for the first time. It was ridiculously sweet.

All photos in this post were taken on Christmas Eve.

[Image of Humuhumu in a blue hoodie, looking at something over my shoulder.]

Humuhumu and the little doggie. )
5. Developing modes of expression so subtle it takes emotional radar as sensitive as a scanning electron microscope to detect them. You know the Eddie Izzard sketch* where he talks about the difference between British and American films? And he uses, as an example, a scene where Sebastian walks into a room where someone is arranging matches, exchanges some words and departs? In the British version, the words are few, seemingly desultory and painfully polite. In the American version, the words are many, their meanings transparent and there is a lot of arm-waving and swearing. What is perhaps not obvious is that these scenes have exactly the same emotional content.

I can illustrate with an anecdote. We had to rush Humuhumu to the hospital a couple of weeks ago**. The bloke was extremely upset and worried. Would you like to know how he expressed that? He was tapping his finger on the steering wheel and exceeding the speed limit by more than five miles an hour.

* If you don't know it, please watch here: YouTube video of the sketch, 05:34, audio NSFW.
** Nobody panic: She's fine and there won't be any long-term effects.
3. Wholeheartedly believing that there is no hardship that cannot be eased through the application of tea. Not green tea or herb tea or indeed, even loose-leaf black tea. Tea that comes in teabags, has been anointed with boiling water from the electric kettle and is served with milk. If the need for tea has befallen you abruptly then it is more likely to be served in a large mug than a delicate china tea set, but it is still the same beverage. Broken up with your partner? Failed an exam? Lost your wallet? A good cup of builder's, that'll sort you out. Been evicted? Lost a pet? Given birth ten minutes ago? Well then, love, you deserve a bit of sugar in too.

(Truthfully, I don't have to try too hard to achieve this one. When my London flat was burgled, the bloke turned up as fast as he could, accompanied by two police officers and a bunch of flowers. The first thing he did after hugging me was make me a huge mug of tea with sugar in and force me to sit down and drink it. I felt 10000 times better and I have believed in tea ever since.)

[Image of the bloke, who is a doctor, stepping into a police box at the Avoncroft Museum near our house, which features a fabulous collection of old telephone boxes. Humuhumu also featuring as his tiny assistant in her purple snow suit and stripey hat.]

Camera phone image of Humuhumu napping on a bed, being petted by the heads of the American branch of her fan club.
The grandparents are completely enamoured.

Proper dSLR image of Humuhumu being beguiling in the bath as Daddy washes her.
So is Daddy.

Next: global conquest?

(PS Seasonal Giving has been tallied & will be given when I next have 10 minutes to spend on the internet!)
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
( Dec. 1st, 2012 06:18 pm)
A day on which my daughter sits on my cat, who sits on my boyfriend, thus illustrating visually the hierarchy of the household.

I never would've guessed that one of the endless reruns of Top Gear on Dave would be the trigger that broke my waters. It turns out, however, that the episode featuring Helen Mirren as the star in a reasonably priced car can do exactly that. Pregnant ladies, you have been warned: beware of Jeremy Clarkson's face on your telly. Actually, that warning should probably apply to everyone.

I went to bed after phoning the hospital to let them know we'd be in sometime in the next twelve hours. Well, first we finished watching Top Gear & eating dinner (takeaway fish & chips, mmm). Then I had a paracetamol and a warm bath.

At 2 am, the contractions woke me. I began breathing through them. The bloke helped me time them as I walked up and down. They intensified, each one pushing my pain threshold to new & previously unexplored places. By the time we left for hospital 5.5 hours later, I was convinced I must be nearly ready for the birth.

Boy was I wrong.

The night shift midwives booked us into the pool room because I wanted to try labouring in water. (I never got to try it as my first wee had protein in it so I had to wear a foetal heartbeat monitor.) We waited for the day shift midwives as I walked up and down, leaning against walls to breathe through the ever-intensifying contractions. Two slim, efficient women came in while I was in the middle of one. One was young, blonde and had impossibly long eyelashes (they were real). The other, slightly older midwife had dark hair and very professional demeanour. Somehow they coaxed me onto the bed for an examination. 'You're 3 cm,' they said. 'Still in the first stage.'

I was in no state to contradict them, but I did wish I could have explained that this level of pain could not possibly be exceeded.

Boy was I wrong.

The bloke was absolutely brilliant throughout, telling me how well I was doing and only gently stroking my back when I was between contractions. I remember thinking I had to be absolutely clear about what I needed from everyone with what little energy I had to spare, and I'm rather proud to say I managed it. I didn't swear once or lash out at anyone.

My wordless screaming, on the other hand, was apparently pretty epic, even with the gas & air. I would have bitten through the mouthpiece if I could.

Around noon, the midwives coaxed me to turn over so they could see how far I'd progressed. 'Eight centimetres,' I heard one say quietly as I flipped onto my front again. 'Feel sick,' I said. A bowl appeared in front of me and I promptly filled it.

'This is quite common,' a midwife explained.
'That seems really unfair, considering everything else that's going on,' the bloke replied. I wanted to laugh, but I was too busy screaming.

A little later, a midwife said, 'I want you to take that energy you're putting into screaming and put it into pushing down as hard as you can. Can you do that for me?' I nodded into the pillow. When the next contraction came, I took a big gulp of gas & air and bore down. Over and over I did this while everyone said encouraging things. 'I'm so tired,'I said at one point. The midwives offered me further pain relief, but I shook my head. I'd given up on the gas and air for the pushing stage and just waited between contractions, almost falling asleep between them because I was so tired.

A third midwife came in to relieve the first two so they could have some very late lunch. The bloke tells me she was middle aged and business-like. I can't remember this at all, but I do remember her chatting to the bloke and telling me, 'Let's get this baby out, shall we?' I could feel Humuhumu's head pushing eagerly against my cervix and it seemed like she was so, so close to popping out. I flipped onto my back and really went for it. It took a few more goes, but the two younger midwives came hurrying back in just before Humuhumu popped out, covered in vernix and looking a bit weird and alien. They placed her on my chest and clamped the umbilical cord, which the bloke proudly cut. 'Hello,' I said to Humuhumu, who replied by diving for my left nipple as the midwives draped her in a towel.