Monday, August 30, 2010

30.8.10 ~ 200 word diary (now & zen)

As we walked to the train station for our Bank Holiday outing, I started to feel The Dread come over me. Despite it being warmer than I expected, I could feel the Dread of inevitability. Of summer coming to an end, of our Bank Holiday Monday with Paul coming to an end, Dread of going back to the same old routine of taking Jake to underwhelming playgroups and playgrounds and Sainsbury’s.

Then this thought landed in my mind: Each day is a new day, each moment is a new moment. It might look the same as before, but it isn’t. I’d read something like that in a book on Zen Buddhism years ago, but it was so true and clear to me at that moment that I had to stop and write it down. Paul stopped pushing Jake’s buggy and looked at me quizzically. So I said it out loud:

“Each day is a new day, each moment a new moment. It might look the same as before, but it isn’t.”

I waited for this pearl of zen wisdom to hit him the way it hit me.

“Didn’t you say that yesterday?”

That, dear readers, is why I love him.

Good role models...

...are so hard to find.  Luckily, Jake has one in the form of my fab friend M.

The day after Jake snaps photos of M making faces,
he starts pulling some of his own when
the camera is pointed at him.

(Yes, Jake took those photos of M!
Quite the budding photographer...)
Photo taken by M

"Say Cheese!"
Yup, he actually said this.
I have no idea where he got it from,
I didn't teach him that!

Photo taken by M

Sunday, August 29, 2010

29.8.10 ~ not many words today, mainly images...

I finally finished the bleedin' tissue paper drawing.  It didn't turn out like I expected,
i.e. it looks and feels like a botched job.  But I learned some things along the way.

So I took a photo of the collage / drawing and edited in Picnik and
rather like the way the bastardised versions turned out.
(The original is in the top left hand corner)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

28.8.10 ~ 200 word diary (pleading pays off...)

Yesterday Jake signed and asked for chocolate cake. I told him we didn’t have any. (We really didn’t have any.) He signed and asked for it again. I told him we didn’t have any. “Just one”, he said, holding up one finger. I told him we really didn’t have any. “Just one, just one, chocate cake, chocate cake!” I hugged him and told him we didn’t have any. Then he mimed eating and went, “hmmmm, nom, nom, nom, cake!” I laughed, hugged him and said, “I know what you mean Jake, but we really don’t have any, I’m sorry darling.” Luckily he was happy to be distracted with hugs and kisses. But right now, there are vegan chocolate fudge and blueberry brownies cooling in the kitchen. I hope they turn out okay because I made them by taking two different recipes and cobbling together the bits I thought sounded good. Smells good, looks good. Just have to see if they’re nom nom nom.

And here are photos of Jake & I playing House. A game of Jake’s invention, it involves getting under a blanket and making silly faces at each other. The introduction of a camera made it extra interesting!

P.S. For those of you who aren’t aware, there’s a fab website called Picnik where you can upload your photos and apply all kinds of fancy effects at the click of a button. You can also make collages like the one above. It is SO easy and totally free. They aren’t paying me to endorse them or anything, I just love them.

Friday, August 27, 2010

27.8.10 ~ 100 word diary

Today I finally tackled the mounds of excess that were my clothes and filled 3 black bags to give away. Clothes I haven’t worn for years, clothes I love but which REALLY don’t fit anymore and clothes I no longer like. I was pleased to rediscover things I’d forgotten about, and especially pleased to consolidate everything I own (including maternity & breastfeeding stuff) into one wardrobe that is no longer jammed pack. I now vow not to buy any clothes or shoes for at least a year. I want to change my spending habits. I have more than enough already.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

26.8.10 ~ 100ish word diary (happy now)

I didn’t want to take Jake to nursery today. I wanted him home with me. So he stayed. I don’t know what’s right with me lately but despite the rain and having a tiring, stinking cold, I’m deeply happy. Even dropping cat food all over the floor just before giving Jakey his insulin shot didn’t upset me. And I’ve been so “in the zone” Mummy-wise. Being in the moment with Jake, not worrying about anything, just going with the flow and enjoying his company, his Jakeness. He’s had so many kisses and cuddles today. Whatever’s right, long may it continue.

P.S. Chatting on FB with my brother about potential baby names, we came up with Animal Armpits and Arse Bandit for twin boys. The latter because Paul is rather fond of the word Arse, and Animal Armpits in case we want to raise a wrestler. Naturally.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

25.8.10 ~ 200 word diary (on cheeky buggeriness & charm)

For the last few months, Jake’s hated having his nappy changed. Sometimes, he tells us he’s done a poo then happily gets his changing mat and lies down on it, waiting to be changed. But more often than not, it takes pleading and persuasion (i.e. bribery) – lots of it. Today, he excelled himself. He told me he did a poo then refused for an hour to let me change him. He even flung the wipes and new nappy across the room several times. I said No to TV and requests to help him move the cat off his train tracks until he would let me change him. Eventually he relinquished but we couldn’t find the wipes and nappy he’d thrown. I asked him where they were and after pretending to find them in various places, he thought a bit and finally said, “It’s up there, in the sky!” Cheeky bugger.

After we retrieved the nappy and wipes and he let me change him, he said, “Mummy happy now?” I told him I was and he asked for cuggles. I held him and we spent a good five minutes with our heads together, giggling and kissing each other’s noses. Little charmer.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

24.8.10 ~ 205 word diary (a day out in King's Cross!)

Met up with M for her birthday. Went to the excellent Picasso exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery. It was the sort of exhibition that made me want to get my sketch book out and draw for hours. Unfortunately I had to rush through it because Jake didn’t want to stay very long. And Jake and I had to wait in the rain for M, because the gallery people wouldn’t let us wait inside with the pram. Once the rain cleared and the sun came out, the light was beautiful and I got some nice photos.

Then we had a delicious lunch at Acorn House restaurant where, thanks to M’s Taste London card, we affordably enjoyed three small starters (crispy spring greens, roasted tomatoes with basil, buffalo mozzarella) and gorgeous meals (mushroom ravioli with sage butter and lemon sole with fennel, borlotti beans and spinach with a caper sauce) and even Jake willingly ate some cabbage.

Then we wandered up to the gem of Camley Street Natural Park where Jake enjoyed running around and taking pictures (preceded with commands of “say cheese!”). Even after many years of living in London, it’s great to still be able to discover parts of it that we hadn’t known before.

23.8.10 ~ 100 word diary

It was one of those days when I felt like I was wading through quicksand. It took me ages to get anything done. At noon I realised I was still wearing my pyjamas. I didn’t manage to get us organised to get out of the house until 3pm and I only did it because Jake was tired and needed to be walked around in his pushchair to get him to fall asleep, which he did. In the evening, met my friend I for Undertow, a beautiful film about love set in a Peruvian fishing village, followed by dinner at Strada.

Monday, August 23, 2010

22.8.10 ~ 235 word diary (on important decisions)

Two important decisions made this morning:

1) To have a fry-up for breakfast

2) To start trying for another child

Now we just have to get down to it, which hasn’t been easy for us for all sorts of reasons. And that’s probably as much as I want to say here. I do hope that although I’ve “announced” that we’re trying to conceive, people will refrain from asking every other week whether I’m pregnant yet.

Up until recently, even though we theoretically wanted another child, we weren’t at all sure we could cope. It still scares us, going through the whole exhausting experience of new babyhood all over again, this time with a toddler to look after, but it feels right now.

I blame my friend I, who’s visiting at the moment. After hearing her (an only child and Mum of two) tell us that we should have another, things seemed to fall into place and we woke up the next day feeling the same way. Oh well, at least I have someone to curse when we’re wading through newborn green poo and I’m waking up to feed through the night. It’s true what they say though. The days are long when they’re tiny, but the years go so fast.

Besides, we asked Jake if he'd like to have a baby brother or sister. 
His reply?  "Yes!" 
You can't get a better vote than that.

21.8.10 ~ 100 word diary (on being happy)

The joys of co-sleeping

This is what happened last night as the three of us were falling asleep together.
Jake chats and asks me to “sing songs”. It’s our nightly ritual.

Me to Paul: Jake speaks so well now. He’s just turned two and he speaks so well.

Jake: Yes!

(A pause)

Jake: Shawame me. Beeg. Outside. Shawalowose. Trees. All day.

Me to Paul: I have no idea what he just said.

(A pause)

Jake: Mummy happy?

Me: Yes, I’m happy darling.

Jake: Daddy happy?

Paul: Yes, Daddy’s happy.

Jake: Mummy Daddy happy. Mummy Jake happy.

That I understood.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

On the luxury of Lifestyle Choices

I love my yoga teacher. I think she’s a wonderful teacher and a wonderful person. Recently I discovered she has a blog, which I’ve found thoughtful, authentic and heartening. Then I read her recent post on Inspiration. Logically, I can see where she’s coming from and I’m very happy that she took the path she did and that it’s making her happy, and I still think she’s a great teacher and a cool person. But at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel irritated as I read.

Paul and I don’t know how to drive. We don’t own cars. We take public transport everywhere, or Paul cycles. We don’t own credit cards, never have. We only have one TV. It’s not a flat screen and it makes a high-pitched squeak when it’s turned on. We consider getting an Indian takeaway on a Saturday night a treat. And we don’t have a mortgage. Honestly, we can’t afford to have one. Even if I was still working I’m not sure we could afford to have one.

But I gave up work to be at home with Jake and have no income except for child benefit and some money Paul gives me every month. I also sponsor a little girl in Burkina Faso. And I donate what I can when the DEC makes an appeal.  And we’re debt free.  You could say we're living simply, but we've never looked at it that way.  We’re not living like this to fulfil a manifesto or because we felt like making a Lifestyle Choice. It’s just the way we live. Whether or not it makes us happy doesn't come into it.  We didn't choose to live this way for happiness.  Personally I have other measures for happiness.  This is simply how we live.  And we're not the only ones. 

There are countless people out there living this way without the need to shout about it and who won't be written about in the NY Times.  Like my friends N & M in Italy who work as hard as hell to live in a stone house in the countryside and grow all their own veg.  Never mind a TV, they don't even own a fridge. Or how about my friend Emily who's living off the land in Wales.  And there are countless more people living a lot more simply than they would wish because it's all they can afford to do. 

Up until now I’ve never felt the need to shout about it, but reading that blog post made me feel like shouting. It’s great that Tammy Strobel and her husband are no longer $30,000 in debt. But seriously. Correct me if I’m wrong, but only people with a lot of money, and obviously more money than sense, can get into that much debt.

I don’t want to live under the mentality that my life is owned by a bank that doesn’t care about me either (and that’s not the only attitude to have towards owning a home), but at the same time, knowing that we can’t afford to have a mortgage, I wonder how it will affect Jake, not having a home to pass on to him when he’s older. I know that on the list of priorities in life, owning a house is no great shakes, but I’m a mother and I care about his future. So it would be nice actually, to be able to afford a mortgage, to be able to have something to pass on to him. And as much as it pains me to say it, not everyone who has a mortgage or who has money is soulless and dead. And not everyone who can (or can’t) afford to make such Lifestyle Choices as Living Simply is a paragon of peace or joy.

Whatever our circumstances in life, I’m pretty sure we all want the same thing. We all want to be happy. We all want love in our lives, we all want peace of mind. We just have different ways of seeing those things, different ways of trying to achieve those aims. Some people are more aware than others of the things that are destructive. Some people have had better teachers, have been shown more compassion, have experienced more love and forgiveness and understanding. Some haven’t been as fortunate.

Yes, money and greed can trap you. But so can emptiness. So can loneliness. So can manifestos. So can judgemental, simplistic attitudes. If you’re rich you’ll never be happy. I’m better than you because I cycle and don’t own a car. So can pride.

So please.  Go beyond Trendy Lifestyle Choices. Tear up pretentious Manifestos. Get real. Look inside your heart. Be honest. Get messy. Dig deeper than the pretty face of tranquil inspiration. Live with your heart open because you have no other choice.

Friday, August 20, 2010

20.8.10 ~ 100 word diary

Jake woke up with a homemade fringe and he’s cute again. Poor bubba struggled all morning trying to poo. Even 3 sachets of Movicol had little effect. Am hoping things will work themselves out naturally so he won’t have to endure an enema. Once he perked up we went shopping. He stayed in his pram for an hour and a half and only complained a little. We got groceries and 2nd birthday presents. Jake came home with a Thomas balloon and I found some bleeding tissue paper! Hurrah! Poundland. 20 sheets in multiple colours for only £1. Take that Paperchase.

This is what I want the bleeding tissue paper for.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

19.8.10 ~ I'm so sorry my love

I didn’t think it would be possible to diminish Jake’s cuteness. But somehow we’ve managed it. Before today, Jake was cute. He had normal, long toddler hair and he was cute. Yes, it got in his eyes and it’s been driving him nuts, but he was cute. Today, we meddled. Today we chopped his hair with blunt craft scissors and gave him an uneven fringe. Now he looks weird. We made our child look weird. When he fell asleep Paul got the same blunt scissors and decided to even out my handiwork. Paul thinks it looks better. I’m not convinced.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

18.8.10 ~ Handle with care (650 word diary)

At the end of my session, my counsellor said, “Make sure you do something nice for yourself today.” It’s the first time she’s said it and it might give you some clue as to how things went.

She’s really good. Very good. Even with my knowledge of how important this process is to me, even with my relative trust in her, I still go in with my defences up and every time she gently knocks them down, it surprises me. That she sees me. And I cry. Sometimes I cry very hard. And I leave thinking – what more can there be? And there’s always more. I cried very very hard today. Then I had to go pick Jake up from nursery. I always feel like I have to take time to compose myself before I do, but really, I shouldn’t worry, because as soon as I see him, he takes me to another place.

Today, he ran up the High Street, going in and out of shops that had their doors open and pressing his face up against the window pane and making faces. I tried to tell him to stop but it’s hard to be convincing when you’re laughing so much. Then we went into my the Portugese restaurant and I ordered myself some cod fishcakes to go. Their cod fishcakes are divine. The best I’ve ever tasted. This was treat number one for me. While we waited for them, Jake and I shared a smoothie as he bounced up and down on my lap, grinning like a cheeky monkey. Then we went into Sainsbury’s where I bought grapes, sausages, and cakes. A slice of New York Cheesecake, a lemon cupcake and a chocolate cupcake. Doctor’s orders!! Then we went to the playground and sang our own versions of Row Row Row your boat before I persuaded him it was time to go home because I was knackered.

None of us slept very well last night. Jake kept waking up and crying and the air was just spiky. And I still have my headache. I felt raw and needed a rest. He came happily. I put Show Me, Show Me on for him while I went to sort out the bathroom rug that had come out of the wash sopping wet despite several spins. I wrung as much water out as I could but knew I had to dry it on the line outside. Jake saw me going down the stairs to the garden and I asked him to stay put. Those stairs are scary even for me. So I asked him to stay.

I got to the bottom, opened the door and within seconds, I heard him scream. I turned and saw him fall. I saw him topple and hit several steps. His back was to me and he landed on his bum and stopped. I screamed his name and ran towards him. His fall had been stopped by a cardboard box near the bottom of the stairs. If it hadn’t been there and he’d fallen all the way to the bottom, he would have hit concrete.

He was fine. He was shocked, crying and shaking, but otherwise fine. I held him as he cried and told him it was okay but also never to do that again. I’m not sure who was more shaken, him or me. After, we sat on the sofa together, eating biscuits, holding each other. And then he fell asleep in my arms.

All I want to do now is sleep for a few days. Sleep and eat cake. My heart’s been ripped out of my chest a few times too many today. And yet. And yet. I notice that I’m feeling a little less numb than yesterday. Just a little bit.

I have to go now. Jake is calling me to sit down and blow bubbles with him into his water cup.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

17.8.10 ~ a rant

We’ve had a good day. Jake and I went to the Hayward with some friends and we enjoyed ourselves. Jake requested grapes for lunch and while we ate together I rediscovered (as I do every day) what good company my son is. Then he fell asleep on the way home and had a 3 hour nap. That’s good.

And now I have a headache and the smell of cat pee is permeating my nostrils and Jake’s decided it’s fun to try almost-hitting the cat with lego and Paul’s still at work and he’s had a horrid day and I wish I was living a movie life. The kind of life that has a clear arc, with a climax and resolutions. Where there’s a resounding, inspiring, isn’t-life-amazing-despite-all-the-shit-the-script-conjures-up-for-us soundtrack and people’s lives change after one revelation in therapy, a revelation that always revolves around one specific event and once uncovered and understood magically renders everything worthy of said sappy soundtrack.

And I’m jittery. Because I’m going back to counselling tomorrow and I need, I want that god-damned revelation. I’m sick to death of my memories, my past, my “story” and the pain that’s supposed to be explored and released. I’m sick of talking about it, of writing about it, of not talking about it, of not writing about it, of reliving all of it and still waking up feeling the same numbed wall every single day.

I’ve been watching a lot of Grey’s Anatomy. I don’t know if anyone’s noticed, but they perform a lot of miraculous surgeries in Grey’s Anatomy. They're very busy despite all being incredibly attractive and having the time to play out such intense personal dramas at work.  Very busy and very talented.  I could do with a miraculous surgery right now. Just cut it out of me already. Maybe then I’ll wake up a brand new woman with a brand new fucking soundtrack and all the ability in the world to be happy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

16.8.10 ~ 500 word diary (forget dread, just let it pass over you)

When I woke up this morning I was hit by dread. It was the opposite of what I’d felt yesterday. While cooking dinner, I'd looked out the window at the sky and was hit by an odd feeling – a mixture of excitement and sadness – as I realised that things won’t always be this way. We won’t always be living in this flat, I won’t always be standing in this kitchen, Jake won’t always be a toddler, we won’t always be doing what we’re doing right now. Then today, this dread. It was cold and cloudy and plans to meet with a Mummy friend in the park were cancelled. I couldn’t think what to do with Jake. As much as I love him all I could see at that point was the dread of “nothing happening” in my life, of life passing me by while other people get on with careers or arts projects or house buying or writing their novels or whatever. Then it passed.

Teaching the cat about trains

I watched Jake as he wandered round the flat aiming my camera at everything, everything a delight, taking the occasional snapshot. Then I watched him teach the cat, using his memory cards game, about cats, dogs and trains. And while trying to put his train set together and having some problems, Jake watched me and repeatedly reassured me that “It’s okay.” Then, while trying to bribe him to let me change his nappy and struggling once again with my worries about when to start potty training and how, I decided to bite the bullet and just do it. We’d been explaining to Jake what the potty is for anyway, so I did it again today. I left him without a nappy, put his big boy pants on and told him what to do. While we were in the bathroom standing around the potty, he had a crouch down over it, then stood up and lo and behold, there was wee! He hadn’t pulled down his pants first but he did his first pee on the potty!!

Later, he asked to go out so I put him back in his nappy and we did a few chores. I think we’ll start by having him in a nappy while out and about and while sleeping, and in pants at home and at nursery. On our way home and after he’d had a mini-milk ice cream, he said he was hungry so we went to Daisy’s cafĂ© on Hoe Street. We haven’t been to Daisy’s since he was 10 months old. We’d tried a few times but it was always packed. This time it was empty and we had the whole children’s area for ourselves. Jake had fun playing with trucks and helicopters and cars and didn’t object when I asked him to help me put everything away when we had to leave. By this point, the sun had come out so he asked to go to the park. But then he fell asleep on the way there.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

15.8.10 ~ 180 words on the two Jakes

After nearly a year of being looked after by a friend from when Jake went into hospital last August, we finally got Jakey-cat back today. He may be staying with us, or he may be going to another friend who’s willing to take him permanently. It all depends how the two Jakes get along. Before he went away, Jakey wasn’t great with toddlers, having scratched both of Paul’s nephews on two different occasions. They had bothered him, but not severely so and not all cats would have scratched in those situations. Jake however loves Jakey. He may not be so keen on all the new “Don’ts” he’s hearing in relation to the cat, but he does love him. He’s been following him around, calling him Cat, imitating him and trying to order him around. “Come here cat,” “Sit down cat”, “Go out cat”, “Look, Thomas bag”, “Look trains”. Bless him. I don’t know how long it will be before he realises cats don’t take orders. Jakey is mostly nonplussed with only occasional looks of terror / irritation. Fingers are crossed.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

14.8.10 ~ a new start

I’ve been living apologetically. Trying not to move about too much, take up too much space, make too much noise, laugh too loudly, voice my own opinions. Keeping my elbows tucked in, out of people’s way, being polite, being good, being right, not being wrong. Saying what I should be saying, doing what’s expected of me. Adapting. Fitting in. Flattening my awkward conspicuousness, suppressing, hiding, smiling, in order to belong. Even editing my own thoughts and desires. Burying myself so deep, I don’t even remember who I am. Because surviving was most important. The first task at hand.

I want to stop. It’s time to stop. Apologising for my existence has no place in life. No place in living. No place in being a mother or a lover or a friend. If I even know how to be a lover anymore. If I even know how to be a true friend. If I even remember how to love. To trust. To be open. I want to be. I want to take this heavy, cast-iron fear and set it on fire. Beat it, stamp it, shape it. Transform it into something I can live with. Something I can stomach. Something nourishing. Something that can run through my veins and give me warmth. Colour. Light. Life. Love.

Friday, August 13, 2010

13.8.10 ~ 100 word diary

Rain is forecast for the next 5 days. There’s a distinct chill in the air. It’s only mid-August. I’m not ready for Autumn. Also at a loss as to what to do with Jake today. We’ve spent the morning making tunnels and laying tracks for his new trains. But it’s still only 11am. Just now we were upstairs in our attic bedroom. I hit my head, made a face and said to Jake, “I hit my head! Mummy stupid!” Jake looked at me with his big serious eyes and said, “It’s okay”, with such concern it instantly made me smile.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My 100 Days To Do List roundup

So August 9th saw the end of my 100 days To Do list project.  Most of the items I managed to complete.  These are the ones I have not:

No. 3 - Doing 10 minutes of yoga three times a week.  ~ This was harder than it should have been.  It's important to me and yet, it got forgotten too easily.

No. 9 - Select some of Jake's art work for display.  ~ I selected some then put them aside, didn't actually get round to displaying any.

No. 10 - Set up a regular plan of activities for Jake.  ~ I had such good intentions and lots of sources for ideas, but when it came down to sitting down and doing the planning, I just didn't manage it.  Not regularly anyway.  I've been trying to follow his lead when it comes to activities, and we've been outdoors a lot but I've also been aware of simply feeling too lazy / tired / resistant to trying so hard and have let him watch a lot of TV.  I'm not going to beat myself up about it though.  I don't think Jake has suffered and I don't have to have every minute of each day planned out for him.

No. 11. Keep a regular handwritten journal.  ~ Yeah right! 

No. 13. Do at least 5 drawings for my etsy shop.  ~  I managed 2.  And I intended to do more, but in true me fashion, I've now tired of the whole shop idea and don't much care for trying to sell my drawings.  After all, does it really matter if I make $8 for a drawing or not?  I don't draw for money.  So I'm thinking of giving up the shop altogether and just giving stuff away instead.

No. 14. Do at least 5 sketches for the cookbook project.  ~ MAJOR fail.  Not only have I done NO drawings, I haven't even thought of the project. 

No. 18. Complete at least two felt projects. ~ I managed one.  Perhaps I had too many things on this list.  Or perhaps my attention span does not match with my intentions.

Still, I did what I could, went at my own pace and I'm happy with what I've managed to do.  I do think I need to focus on one or two things though, not spread myself too thin.  We'll see what the future brings.

12.8.10 ~ 200 words on restlessness

Feeling restless. It’s that post-holiday but it feels like everyone else is still on holiday even though the weather is crap feeling. Yesterday I worked on staying with my sadness. And I did. But I’ve had enough. I’m bored of that already. I want something to do. I want something to start. When I was younger, I hated my summer holidays. I was always separated from my friends and forced to do “worthwhile” things with my family. Plus I was a freak who loved school and looked forward to September. But now that I’ve taken voluntary redundancy, I don’t even have a job to go back to anymore. It’s what I want, but it still scares me. Plus I want to do more creating. There’s been a lot of writing and photography on this blog lately, but not very much “art”. I want to do more art. Yesterday I started making a papier-mache cat. Jake saw it and said, “Oh! Baby cat!” It’s not finished yet. But I want more. I want to make papier-mache everything. Papier-mache people, replicas of everyone in my life, past and present. I don’t really know how to do things in moderation. Can you tell?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

11.8.10 ~ 150 words on sadness

We woke Jake up early today so he could say goodbye to Tony, Jo & Alyx. When we told him they were leaving, he shook his head and said “No.” Then we said goodbye and he cried a bit and we were all sad. After they left, he said “Gone.” Then Paul went to work and I felt like I was holding both mine and Jake’s sadness like fragile flowers. Alyx is an only child and yesterday she noted that Jake got many more birthday cards than she gets. Jake had only received 6 this year, less than last year. It made me feel sad that we have to live this way. Our families so far away, two cousins, both only children who adore each other, separated. I saw them growing up lonely without each other. I wanted to cry at the unfairness of it. It utterly suck suck sucks.

10.8.10 ~ cat puppets

As a birthday treat for Alyx, I arranged for Robyn to do a puppet-making workshop with us while the boys went on their Emirates Stadium tour. Later, while Jake napped, we all played a quiet game of Uno for old times’ sake. In the evening, Paul and I took advantage of one last night of babysitting and went out for dinner at Mildred’s. Although we enjoyed it, we really just wanted to have a lie down in peace and quiet. And even at home with Tony, Jo & Alyx for company, Jake cried when we left and asked for us.

Alyx's kitty drying on the windowsill

My blue and orange cat

9.8.10 ~ 100 word diary

Tony, Jo & Alyx headed out for Buck House, Harrods & Hamley’s, Paul went back to work and Jake and I were suddenly left together in the silence after the whirlwind. I asked him if he wanted to go out and he replied, “No, later. Make it, trains” and proceeded to push used Paris metro tickets through a lego ticket machine. Even promises of icecream were met with, “No, busy.” But go out we did, if only to do some shopping. I was worried he would be sad to be without the others today, but he was calm and happy.

8.8.10 ~ 250 word diary (house trees & fried ice cream)

After a stressful start to the day, doing yet more laundry, being ignored by a moody Alyx and trying to get everyone organised to have breakfast and get dressed in time to Skype Mom & Dad before going out, things improved when we got to Kew Gardens.

After eventually dragging Jake away from the “pretty flowers”, at Alyx’s lead, we discovered and wandered into beautiful “house trees”, waited as the kids played in the new Plantastic play area, had lunch by the lake, fed geese, heard the odd laser-weapon sound of the Goldeneye duck, stopped and chilled out under some trees while Jake napped. Then began the trek for a Vietnamese restaurant (Pho for Jo – for medicinal purposes), which ended in us walking out of a Thai restaurant off Tottenham Court Road, then Paul, Jake & Alyx going home and me, Tony & Jo staying in Central London and discovering the fab Thai Metro restaurant on Charlotte Street and having a pretty darn good time. We ordered spring rolls and chicken satay to start, then Weeping Tiger (sizzling rare beef with chilli soy sauce) with rice, a noodle dish we don’t often find on menus outside of Thailand, stir fried vegetables and Tom Yum soup. For dessert, Tony had coconut icecream, Jo had chocolate and I had fried ice cream. Vanilla fried in batter and covered in cream and some sort of syrup. The first time I’ve ever had it, and probably the last. Delicious but so bad for me.

In the "house tree"

Monday, August 09, 2010

7.8.10 ~ 100 word diary

Another day of being tourists in London. Started off at Tower Hill then walked along the Thames up to Waterloo Bridge, passing Southwark Catheral, The Globe and Tate Modern -where the Turbine Hall was pronounced as boring by Jo and I got stupidly offended, but made up for it by buying myself children’s books on Paul Klee and Hundertwasser. A late lunch at Wahaca jollied us up. Jake napped as we walked up to Westminster for photos of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Then more walking to Pimlico (with an ice cream stop) before getting the tube home.

Having my brother around, I recognise in him so many of
the weird and wonderful quirks I have and feel comforted.

6.8.10 ~ 100 word diary (returning)

I had just been getting my bearings, warming up to and enjoying Paris. Then we left. There was unexpected culture shock, even for me, but I now wish we’d had more time there. Tony & Jo were, unfortunately, disappointed by Paris. They’d had very romantic notions of it and did not expect it to be the way it was. So they were very happy to be back in London. I felt out of sorts at first, but quickly got back into the swing of things. Getting back home and having everyone’s mountain of laundry to start on saw to that.

The drawing Alyx made in the Visitor's Book
of the apartment we stayed in.
It's her & Jake.

5.8.10 ~ 100 word diary (in Paris: Pschitt and stuff)

Tony & Jo head off for another try at the Louvre and the rest of us explore the Jardins de Luxembourg. We stop for some time at the playground and then later stop for another disappointing lunch. Alyx’s hot dog was too French (in a baguette and covered in melted cheese) and my panini was not Italian enough. The chips were good though, and Alyx enjoyed her Pschitt. We all met up later for a wander through Ile de la Cite, where Jake made us all carry him while running until we chanced upon a picturesque playground near a monument.

In the playground of the Jardins de Luxembourg

A monument

4.8.10 ~ 300 word diary (in Paris: mishaps, Shakespeare & Co and fear of torture)

While Alyx, Paul, Jake & I wandered through the Musee d’Orsay, Tony & Jo tried to get in the Louvre but gave up when they saw the queues. So we met for lunch where Tony had a burger served without a bun which he will never forget. Then we got on the Batobus (boat) for Notre Dame (which I didn’t like as much as the Sacre Coeur), and Shakespeare & Co where I could’ve stayed happily for several hours. Even Jake enjoyed the children’s section and Alyx sat reading The Book of Genesis by Robert Crumb.

Later, another boat trip to look up the skirts of the Eiffel Tower and then back to the apartment. Leaving Jake with Tony, Jo &Alyx, Paul & I went out for our first night out alone together for over two years. We went to Au Grain de Folie, a veggie restaurant in Montmartre. The food was good but there was one (very charming) woman doing everything and we had to wait half an hour for a menu and over an hour for our food. By the time we’d finished our meal, we decided to have our apple crumble takeaway since we wanted to get back in time to put Jake to bed ourselves. In truth, Paul started us both worrying that Jo was going to simply lock Jake in the bedroom and let him scream himself to sleep the way she did with Alyx when she was Jake’s age. So the end of our meal was somewhat tainted by fears of Jake being mistreated. Of course no such thing happened, though Jo reported that Jake was sad the whole time we were gone and clearly missed us, crying a lot and wandering around the apartment looking for us. Even Alyx couldn’t cheer him up.

Forgetting my hat and having to wear Paul's

No photography is allowed inside museums, galleries or Churches in Paris.
This was a poster outside the Musee d'Orsay.
Kind of lucky, since it was also my favourite painting in the Musee.

Notre Dame, detail

A park near Notre Dame and Shakespeare & Co

I think I might need a tissue Daddy.