Thursday, 4 June 2009

We survived!

It's the last night before Olga comes home, and there have been no disasters! My routine with Lara and Mishka improved as the week progressed, to the extent that the kids were happy enough to allow me to watch a film this evening - each night it's been earlier and earlier that I've been able to sit down on the sofa with a beer once all the jobs had been done.
I don't think Lara's appreciated that Olga's been away. We normally rotate the morning and evening jobs anyway, so it's not that unusual that I've been getting her ready in the mornings and feeding & bathing her in the evenings, and Lara's been her usual good self at sleeping, although earlier in the week I think the warm temperatures made her more restless than usual. Being at nursery all day every day has helped, as she only has one sleep there, and it can be as late as 6pm when I collect her, so she's exhausted. Although she's always running about and playing when I do pick her up. It's definitely one of the high points of the day - she'd be playing out in the garden at nursery, I'd come out and watch her for a few moments, and she seems really happy and comfortable there. Then I'd call her name, and she recognises my voice and her name, and there's a little pause while she looks around for me, then it's a big, cheesy smile and she comes running over.
I watched Hotel Rwanda tonight, I recorded it on Sky months ago, and have been dying to watch it. It would have been moving before Lara came along, but since I've become a Dad, these kinds of films have a very different effect on me, it's much easier to empathise with people's actions when their children, and others' children, are threatened. If you've not seen it, you should, and admire the man portrayed by Don Cheadle.

I've just checked and Olga's flight is expected on time, arriving at 6.20am. Lara and I will get up early to go and meet her - seeing as it's the first time she's been away! Next time, if she arrives that early, I reckon we might wait at the front door for her taxi to drop her off at home!

Monday, 1 June 2009

One day down, three to go

Today was just about how I thought it would be - a hectic morning getting the kids ready. Mishka will have to miss his morning walk this week, he'll have to put up with playing in the back garden while I get Lara ready for nursery. Lara did get me up twice in the night, which is unusual, but I think it was more because of the heat than missing Olga! All she needed was a drink of water the first time, and the second time she settled back on her own just as I was reaching for the nursery door handle! Typical!
The first thing I did this morning, around 7am, was check the BBC website to make sure there hadn't been a plane crash, specifically a BA flight to Johannesburg. There wasn't, so I relaxed, but by the time I sat at my desk at work at 9.30, news started coming in about the Air France flight that was "missing". Normally it's easy to feel detached from such a thing, you see the coverage on TV, you feel very sorry for the families involved, but this was different, knowing Olga was in the air at the same time. Just remember, air travel is still infinitely safer than road travel.
Olga rang me from her hotel this morning, everything was fine, the weather is clear but a little chilly. When we spoke this evening, she said it went dark around 6pm, and that one of the client's she'd met for lunch had advised her not to go out after dark in the area of her hotel, so I doubt she'll actually see much of Joburg on this trip!
Well, it's well after midnight, Lara's just asked me for a drink of water, she's thrown herself back down on her pillow, so I'll take this chance to get 6 hours of sleep myself.

A single parent, for the week

Sunday was mostly about getting Olga ready for her first business trip away since Lara was born, 4 days in Johannesburg. Firstly there was preparing the Vegetable Patch, seeing as that's Olga's other "baby" and I don't know what to do with it, other than water it when I'm told to. I busied myself with inflating Lara's paddling pool on the top decking, then we all went for a family pub lunch at Weatherspoons in Wycombe, which I think might become a regular thing. When we last did that, after camping a few weeks ago, we just gave Lara some of our food, but this time we ordered her her own "Kiddies Sunday Roast". It was too much for her, but we made sure the beef and veggies didn't go to waste :-)
Once back at home Lara played for 45 minutes on the decking, in and out of the paddling pool, I couldn't believe she wasn't complaining about being cold, or maybe she was but she hasn't learnt how to show it. In the end I took the executive decision that 45 minutes of running about on the decking in a swim-nappy when the decking was in the shade was enough, and she reluctantly let me put her dressing gown on. Again, like with her little falls and bumps, I was surprised that if she slipped in the paddling pool, and landed on her bum, the shock of the cool water didn't make her cry, although her face was a picture of shock sometimes!
Here are a couple of snaps of her in her element:

Then after a quick tea it was time to take Mama to the airport - Terminal 5 at Heathrow is certainly an easy place to get into and out of, and all this online check-in and Fast Bag Drop stuff has speeded things up. Lara of course didn't understand Mama will be away for 4 days, it will be interesting to see how she reacts to it being just me and Mishka at home over the next few days. Or maybe the fact she's not smiling on this photo means she did know something was amiss?!

Saturday at the Green

What a lovely day Saturday was! Barely a cloud in the sky. The morning was Mishka's - one of the neighbours brought her 9 year old female German Shepherd round for a play date, except this grand old lady wasn't in the mood for a 2-and-a-half year whirlwind to mess her about. It was very interesting to see her put him in his place from time to time when he got a little rough or overly personal. The plan had been for the dogs to run off the lead in the "Dog" part of the garden, while us humans were watching from the upper decking, where we'd installed Lara. However, Tequila, the German Shepherd, was quite content to stay in the shade on the lower decking, which meant that that's where Mishka stayed, and so did we. For the 20 minutes or so that we were down there, Lara played perfectly happily on the top decking, without attention-seeking once, which was very encouraging.

Another highlight of the morning was I managed to get the hammock tied up between two trees, in a good place that won't always be in shade, which is the problem with where I put it last summer. I had a quick 10 minutes relax in it before cricket, and even Olga had a quick go too. It really is a great place to relax, we can just watch the red kites circling above.

Lara got her reward in the afternoon, with a trip to Littlewick Green to watch Papa play cricket. Our camping friends, the Fullers, who live on the Green, had a great kiddies play area set up in their back garden, so Lara passed a good part of the afternoon playing with the other kids on the mini bouncy castle and in the paddling pool. The plan had only been for Olga and Lara to stay for the first hour or so, and have a picnic lunch, then come back to pick me up later on, but it was just sooo nice there, and with the Fuller's playground on hand, that they stayed all day, even though our game dragged on until 8 o'clock! Then we just had to go to the pub on the Green for a drink, where Lara again charmed the locals, and astounded the other parents with her ability to remain happy and bouncy past 9 o'clock. Needless to say though, she went out like a light once she was put in bed at home!

Oh, we lost the cricket, since I know you were wondering... Olga was well looked after by the other cricket-widows, and I hope that continues for the rest of the season. I've always enjoyed playing there, but on a day with perfect weather, having your wife and daughter there too just made it all the more special.

First Blood (not the Rambo film)

We had our first bit of unwanted excitment last Thursday, when Lara and I were playing around before tea on the floor of the lounge, and she tripped forward and headbutted me. I could feel the impact had been under her eye, on the side of her nose, and indeed there were tears, followed by a reasonable trail of blood from her left nostril. This initial flow last only two or three minutes, and within five minutes she had calmed down (with the aid of Dr Iggle Piggle) and returned to her normal self, as if nothing had happened. The fact she was very calm, and the bleeding had stopped so quickly, reassured us that there wasn't any damage done, and it was just a good old-fashioned "bust nose". It was a relief to us all, but just another experience to tick off, it was bound to happen sooner or later, and it was just good that it happened at home, where we were able to look after her and Dr Piggle was on hand to administer hugs and kisses.
I'm only really posting about this to reassure other new parents out there that, whilst it's shocking for the first few seconds, once you've established that nothing's broken, dislocated, fallen off or otherwise in need of professional help, it's nothing that can't be fixed with a favourite toy, a kiss and food. (Ok, and plenty of tissues, wipes and a bunch of clothes, including Papa's t-shirt, going into the "Quick Wash" cycle).
We did tell nursery about this the next morning so they wouldn't panic if Lara started picking bloody bogies during the day! Lara is probably having her fair share of clumsy bumps at the moment, that very next day when we picked her up, we had another form from the nursery detailing how Lara had walked into a piece of furniture and had a bruise on her forehead.. that's her third in as many months, at least!
Nursery confirmed something Grandma noticed last weekend - Lara's a tough cookie. It seems to take a properly hard fall or bump to make her cry, usually there seems to be a microsecond of shock, then this turns into two microseconds of frustration at herself or the object that got in her way, then she's up again as if nothing happened.

Long may that continue!