Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Dinner is being prepared

My team of professional Sous Chefs prepare the vegetables
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Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Here we are, all set for later this morning...
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Monday, 19 December 2011

Happy Anniversary, House

Just a quick post to mark the 5th anniversary of us moving into this house. Ironically, this evening had been spent tidying up, as we have the first viewing of the house since August tomorrow.
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Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Suited and booted for a change

I've been working away from home this week for the first time since joining Flare, helping with a training course in Windsor. It's meant wearing a suit, which has actually made a nice change, and getting up very early. Earlier than Lara, no less.
Yesterday was the first day in a long time - since she was last on holiday with Olga I think, early in 2010 - that I didn't see her at all. I was away out of the house at 7am, before she'd woken up, and I didn't get home until 9pm, well after she'd gone to bed.
Today our trainee and I popped out from where we were working to see the Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle, here is a snippet for anyone who's not seen it before:

Yesterday was a bit of a marathon trip to get to Windsor - so that Olga could have the car to take Lara to her last gymnastics class of the year at lunchtime, I took a bus to Marlow, a train to Bourne End, another train to Maidenhead, a third train to Slough and a fourth train to Windsor. Dad would have been proud! Door-to-door that journey took 2 hours (the boss gave me a lift home!) On Monday I drove there by the back routes and it took one hour. I drove there today by dual carriageways and A-roads and it took 37 minutes, despite the traffic looking heavier than on the B-roads on Monday. There's a lesson in there somewhere.
Olga and I are working together with our trainee tomorrow - she's a Kazakh lady Olga knows from her visits over there - so I think we'll take the A-roads again!

The Best Looking Male in High Wycombe

It's official - the Best Looking Male in High Wycombe lives in our house.
Sadly, it's not me, but Mishka.
Back in September I took him to our local pet store who were having a Dog Portrait day. The usual story - have a couple of photos taken of the dog, enter them into a competition, no obligation to buy... Of course when we saw the photos a week later, we had to buy one!
When I came home from work today (have been working away from home), Olga said there was a surprise for me... a large framed print of Mishka's photo - he's won first place in the competition! Here's the link to the photographer's website for proof, and here's the boy sitting in front of his (ok, our) prize tonight:

Mishka will enjoy a jucier treat this weekend as his prize!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Birthday Lunch

We went to pizza hut for lunch after picking up Laura's free Design-a-Bear at Argos, free to those kids who had a birthday today or tomorrow!
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Lara is 4 today

Lara opening her first present just after 7am this morning.
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Friday, 9 December 2011

Christmas and New Year plans

Not having an office as such, Flare doesn't have a Christmas Party, so we'll make our own entertainment - perhaps the High Wycombe branch might go out for a meal. There is a night out in Reading on the 16th to catch up with Anton and Becca and the Learys, and this will give me a chance to do my final shopping on the 17th - should be nice and quiet in Reading 8 days before Christmas.
Grandma is coming down to stay with us for Christmas this year, which will be lovely. We've made much more of an effort with the decorations, as much for Lara of course as for the fact that we'll actually be here over the Christmas period. We've not gone to the same extent as some of the houses on our street, but we've pushed the boat out a little with some fairy lights outside, and we've no less than three trees up - two downstairs and one in Lara's room.

After Christmas we'll go with Grandma and meet Catherine, Nick and the kids in a lovely country pub in the Cotswolds for a pub tea, and to swap presents. This is after we've blasted round the John Lewis sales! Lara's big treat before Junior arrives will be a new bed, probably one of those cabin-type ones with lots of space underneath to explore and fill with rubbish all her stuff. 
We're really looking forward to New Year too - Olga is a member of a Russian social media website, and one of her contacts on there alerted us to a get-together some of the local Russian community is organising. They're hired a local village hall, and will be having a party there. Everyone brings a dish for the buffet, chosen from a list, so no-one brings the same thing - there'll be plenty of Russian salads, so I've been given special dispensation to bring some English food too; there'll be other English spouses there, so at least I'll have other husbands to chat to and drink vodka with. Kids are coming too, of course, and each family will being a game along to keep them entertained, we're going to bring Pin the Tail on the Donkey, and Olga is going to paint the tail-less Donkey.  New Year is much bigger deal in the Russian community than 25th December, so it will be a great experience to see how much everyone enjoys it. And as a bonus, poor old Olga can drive us home, no need for a triple-price taxi or a cold 2 mile walk. Thanks, Darling!

Building up to birthday and Christmas

The past few weeks have been about getting ready for Lara's birthday and Christmas. Presents for both have been bought and wrapped (Lara, if you're reading this when you're much older, it's a good job you've not looked in the garage!).  Last weekend Lucy came over, and we went into Wycombe to do some shopping, and Lara went to see Santa. This was the first time she'd seen him when she understands who he is, she did meet him in the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park a couple of years ago but that pretty much went over her head. He was very good, there were clever little touches that I'd not appreciated, such as we'd told his "elves" her name in advance, so when she first saw him, he welcomed her by name. This helps us with the whole "Santa knows if you're being a good girl, remember he knew your name when you met him" thing. Here she is in the queue:

Then we went for a Chinese meal; Lara's never going to polish off a whole plate of chicken chow mein in one sitting, but it was nice to see her have a go..

She's definitely a fan of foreign food, this week she out-ate Olga and I when we had palmeny (lovely Russian dumplings) - she started with 15, while Olga and I started with 20 each. We had to donate some of ours to Lara, and she ended up eating 20, leaving me with 18 and Olga 17. She loves ravioli, which is just like palmeny in tomato sauce to her, and today she wolfed down polish sausages. Pasta Bolognese is her all-time favourite at the moment, but I still persist with a Sunday roast. It's not a big deal if she doesn't finish that, I'll find room for extras. It has got to the point now where we've started serving some of her meals on adult plates rather than her kids ones!

On Sunday we went for a walk in the park in Marlow, and fed the ducks, although Lara ate almost as much of the bread as the ducks, swans and geese..

Olga is over her pneumonia now, though other pregnancy-related aches, pains and cramps are cropping up. Junior is kicking and punching, and when he's particularly active I've been able to feel him too, if I get my hand in the right place. Lara is still giving him big hugs before bed; we're trying to get her to understand how she'll not be the 95% focus of our attention (the boys get the other 5%) once he arrives. It's probably good that she's getting a lot of extra attention now for her birthday and Christmas without Junior being on the scene.
The boys are getting cold at night, we've put both their beds next to the radiator in the hall now, where Mishka has always been, but we'd come down in the morning and find that Jackson had turfed Mishka out of his bed, and Jackie had settled in! We're going to treat Mishka to a nice new, big bed, and Jackson can have Mishka's old one.
It's all about keeping the kids happy....

Last day as a three year old

Lara and Olga baked some cakes last night for Lara to take to nursery today. The kids had a little party, with some games and dancing, and Lara made sure each child took a cake home, with some left over for the staff. She took her mini-me, Natasha, with her, wearing the outfits Baba Luda created whilst she was staying here this summer.

Tonight Lara helped Olga pack the party bags for the party tomorrow at the soft play centre near our house. Lara is sooooo looking forward to being four, she's been pretending she's four for the past two days.
We've got lots of plans for tomorrow, it'll be a busy day!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Funny who you see in the giraffe house

Oh, I forgot to say that while I was having a sit-down at the zoo, watching the giraffes in their shed, Olga - who had taken Lara outside to see the next enclosure - called me but I missed her call. As I was checking my phone, a family walked past me into the giraffe house, but I took no notice of them. It turns out it was Rob Brydon! Olga thought it was him, and called me to tell me to have a look, but of course I missed the call. Anyway, we saw him later, going into the bat house, and yep, it was indeed the Welsh comic. He's shorter than he looks on TV...

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A few days out

We had a clear weekend 2 weeks ago and so took the opportunity to load up the car and head up to see Grandma. It was only a flying visit, but it was lovely to see her and Lara was very excited. We didn't tell her in advance that we were going, and waited until we picked her up from nursery on the Friday teatime. Mishka was in his usual co-pilot seat, up front with me, and Jackson was on the floor in the back, with towels and sick bags at the ready. The poor fella isn't getting any better at travelling in the car, and is sick every time. Interesting that Mishka has never suffered from this problem. Lucky us!

To give Olga some relaxation time, Lara and I took Grandma shopping in Manchester. We're used to Wycombe now, and it was a surprise to see how crowded a big city can get on a Saturday afternoon.  Wycombe's Eden Shopping Centre can get a little busy, but I'd never call it crowded, this was a shock!
The weather was lovely for November, with blue skies, and Mum suggested we go to the Christmas Market they're setting up in St Anne's Square. It would be lovely now, but many stalls were still being built on that day. We did have a very nice hot chocolate though while we watched the world go by. We wandered past Manchester's equivalent of the London Eye, and when we got home Lara tried on the first addition to Grandma's new dressing-up box - the elephant outfit.

On Tuesday we had a day out to London Zoo. The weather was still lovely, and being midweek the Zoo was nice and quiet, apart from the odd school party. The new penguin enclosure was a favourite attraction, but the giraffes, meercats, lions, tiger, butterflies, and monkeys all ran them a close second.

This weekend has been a bit of a mixture of trying to tidy the house, do some christmas shopping, and poor Olga wore herself out stripping the dogs, but of course they look wonderful for it afterwards. I'll post finished photos when I remember to take some, but here are a couple with Lara helping and documenting:

 Careful with those scissors, Olga!:

Oh, hang on, I found a video I took with the kids in it:

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A quieter time (apart from the fireworks)

Bonfire weekend passed uneventfully, apart from one of our neighbours having a visit from Fireman Sam and his cronies - his fire had got a little larger than he intended, and I think a neighbour whose garden backs onto his phoned the fire brigade, to protect his fence. Lara thought it was wonderful.
We had a nice visit from Auntie Cath & Uncle Nick, with cousins William and Elizabeth on Saturday morning, Lara was soooo excited. After that I took her to Littlewick Green for a Dad's & Kids afternoon - a pub lunch followed by a GeoCaching walk - you use your GPS on your smart phone to find "treasure" hidden by other GeoCachers. It was only a mile and a half's walk, but it was good fun for the kids, although I probably carried Lara at least a third of the way:

On Sunday we played a bit on our new (second hand) Nintendo Wii, then took the dogs for a good walk, this time Lara walked the whole way, probably another mile and a half. Lara modelled for some photos of herself holding photos of herself:

Olga is "showing" more and more now, as her body recovers from the pneumonia, to the point where I suggested she should use her bump to ensure she got a seat on the bus yesterday, when she went to Reading to see Lucy.  Lara has become very accostomed to the idea of a baby brother, and the hugs for him have multiplied. We've started buying odd bits and pieces for him that we reckon we'll need, first on the list was a very portable Samsonite pop-up travel cot, identical to one we borrowed off Anton and Becca when we took Lara to Russia when she was 6 months old. It was perfect for that trip, and Olga won one on eBay for a fiver, with the seller living only 2 miles away, we couldn't say no!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Junior Update - 20 week scan

Olga had her 20-week scan this morning, and even after all the trouble and illness over the past 5 weeks, Junior was given a clean bill of health by the sonographer, he was happy with everything he saw, and Junior is on the line or above in the 4 graphs that were put into Olga's notes for whatever measurements were taken. What size would Junior be if Olga had been fit and healthy for that time!! :-)
As I say, the sonographer was able to see everything he needed to see, and something he didn't need to see, but asked if we wanted to see it - a little dingle-dangle! Junior is a he :-)
Still all on course for March 27th then. Tonight we break it to Lara that she's going to have a brother, and not the sister that she's been seeing when she looks into Mama's bellybutton...
Here he is:

Mama & Papa - a study in pencil

Lara brought this home from nursery earlier this week. It's not their policy to teach the kids to draw, more to encourage them to learn on their own. Lara seems to have learnt how to draw people, and faces in particular, over the last month or so, and this has been her best effort to date. She even got our hair right!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Walking Jackson

Just a quick one from a few weeks ago when the weather was nice enough to walk the dogs to and from Lara's nursery. Lara didn't walk Jacky for long, but she enjoyed it for a few minutes.

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Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Halloween, Logic and Languages

We're not into trick-or-treating, but we don't mind if other kids want to do it, and Lara looked forward to dressing up as a wicked witch when she got home from nursery. I'd stocked up on a load of sweets, but we only had one group of visitors, which means someone's got to eat those sweets over the next few days, oh well... :-)
Here she is with the pumpkins she helped Olga to carve on Sunday (Lara designed her pumpkin, the one on the left, with only minimal help):

Her logical mind continues to amuse me. On Monday, while eating tea, I asked her what she would be doing the next day (Tuesday is her gymnastics day, and she knows this very well). She claimed not to know, so this is how the exchange progressed:

Papa: What are you going to do tomorrow, Lara?
Lara: What day is it tomorrow?
Papa: Well, it's Monday today, so what comes after Monday?
Lara: Tomorrow.

Genius. I couldn't argue with her.

In her own quiet way she's increasing her Russian vocabulary too. Last week I bought some children's books that help with English to Russian vocabulary (I can use them too!) and some flashcards in Russian, and she has enjoyed trying to learn some of the words, but I was astounded how many she knew of the flashcards after only one or two evenings of practise when it's Olga's turn to take her to bed. Without trying to be too pushy, we're encouraging her to use Russian words for simple things like colours, and numbers, and hopefully as she uses it more, the even more interested she'll become, and hopefully it will snowball into her using full sentences in the future.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Lara 20/20 vision, gender prediction and a perfect nursery

Lara is fine at the moment, not showing any ill effects from her bang on the nose. She has a bit of a cough and a cold, but hey, that's normal for our house at the moment, I'm surprised we're not giving the dogs Lemsip.
She seems to fully grasp the concept of Olga and Junior, if not the timescales involved. We got a great kid's book from the library this weekend, called "There's a house inside my mummy", which we read to her every night. Last night when Olga was reading it to her, it led Lara to put her eye to Olga's belly button "to look at the baby", and she went on to announce that it's a girl.
Her eyesight is amazingly good. This morning she spotted one of her nursery workers walking to the nursery, and from fully 200 metres away she was confident in saying "That's Bianca over there".
Whilst I'm mentioning it, it should be noted that our nursery, the Cressex Day Nursery, has just had its Ofsted assessment back, and it achieved Outstanding in all 17 categories that it was assessed on. Now that is something to be proud of.

On the mend

Olga is getting better, slowly. After she came home on Wednesday, she had her antibiotics and two inhalers, and they seemed to be helping with her breathing, and her cough - whilst still very irritating for her - was at least doing what it was supposed to be doing, and dislodging the gunk in her lungs. However, weeks of heavy coughing had taken its toll, and she had a bad stabbing pain in her ribs, and worried that it might be a clot developing, and at least wanting to report it, she headed back to the GP on Thursday.
He checked her over properly, unlike his two previous colleagues (one of whom had listened to her breathing with his stethoscope through two layers of Olga's clothing!), and reckoned that it was a muscle strain. Ibuprofen would have been the normal solution, but of course Olga can't have that, so it was back to the paracetamol, and let the antibiotics do their job. After a bit of internet-diagnosing, we wondered if it might be pleurisy, but even if it was, the solution to that is to treat the underlying cause of it, which is the chest infection.
So, each night Olga's been able to get better and better quality of sleep, taking a puff on her inhaler if she wakes up coughing in the night, and tomorrow she finishes her course of antibiotics. She went to see the GP today so he could see if she needed another course prescribing, but she doesn't. Her cough will linger on for a few more weeks yet, most likely, but the infection will be gone, and hopefully she'll be able to get a full night's sleep.
All focus switches now to the 20-week scan for Junior next Friday. Two possible side-effects of pneumonia in pregnancy are low birth weight and premature birth. Well, Lara had both of those and she's strong as an ox and twice as stubborn! I will feel better once we've had the scan and know more about Junior's progress.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Home now, and the diagnosis is in....

Olga's back at home, as of 3pm today. Her discharge sheet from the hospital states Community-Acquired Pneumonia (CAP) as the diagnosis of her illness, so at least we can put a name to it now. She's got 2 inhalers and bottles of pills galore to take, and won't be running any marathons in the near future.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

One more night away

Olga's having one more night in hospital tonight. She's been given 2 inhalers to use, and been given some breathing exercises to do by the physio, although when she did part of them this morning when I was there, the result was her coughing worsened for 45 minutes. I suspect that is what is supposed to happen though, it's supposed to get the gunk in her lungs moving. She's still on antibiotics, but came off the oxygen this afternoon, and still has blood-thinning injections once a day, to combat any clot. So, she should be home tomorrow, which will be great, but more than anything I want her to have a good night's sleep without coughing.
I remembered to take a photo of Nurse Lara tonight, before we were ejected from the ward due to their No Kids rule. Something to do with avoiding infections, whether they're worried about the kids taking something in or taking something away wasn't clear! We hadn't been told this rule, communications between staff and family could be better - some nurses on the ward today weren't even sure what time evening visitor hours were... Anyway, there's nurse Lara giving Mama an injection and checking her temperature.
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Monday, 17 October 2011

Nurse Lara visits the patient

Olga is staying another night in hospital tonight. Her temperature has stabilized today, thanks to the antibiotics, but her cough is just as bad, and her breathing isn't much better, and so she's been on oxygen all day. I went to see her for a few hours this morning, then Lara and I went to visit her after tea tonight, and we thought it would be cute if Lara wore her nurse outfit, and took her Doctor's bag with her. It's actually her Vet's bag, but the equipment she carries in there is good for humans and dogs! She checked Mama's temperature, gave her some medicine, gave her an injection, looked in her ears, rubbed some cream in, brushed her hair and trimmed her nails (all pretend of course, apart from the hair brushing!) The real nurses loved it!
The word from the Doc is that there's a good chance Olga will come home tomorrow, but we'll have to wait and see how she is in the morning. I only thought of taking a photo once we were in the lift on the way down from the ward, which is a shame..

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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Had better weekends!

Woke up in plenty of time on Saturday to play with Lara while watching the Wales v France game (even if Sam Warburton's sending off was justified, Wales deserved to win, if only the try conversion and that penalty had gone over, both were soooooo close), then took Lara to the park with Jackson, to gauge his reaction to other dogs, now that he goes out with his muzzle on. He was fine, no agression, just far more excitement than a foot-tall dog should have! I've still not let him off the lead yet, the park where we took him is just too big, it would take me ages to get him back if he did disappear off to play with another dog.
Back home to watch the Liverpool v ManUre game, which naturally I'll say Liverpool should have won, but at least they didn't lose. Then time to take Lara up to the top of the garden to pick up the fallen apples before I mow the lawn. Poor Olga is still in a bad way, and seems to only be able to get any kind of sleep in the early morning, once exhaustion kicks in, so she didn't get up until 10.30am, and then just didn't have the energy to get off the sofa. Lara gave up helping me to pick apples up after collecting about 6 apples, and decided it was more fun to kick my raked-up piles of leaves and apples about, or do somersaults on her trampoline. I don't mean proper ones, this is with the aid of the support bar on the trampoline that she's supposed to hold whilst bouncing (it's not one of the common round, caged-in type of trampoline). It was just the kind of thing she does at gymnastics, and was very confident at it, completing dozens of them whilst I picked up 2 full bin bags of apples.
So, I thought I'd nip to the bottom of our garden and bring the lawnmower up, and as I'm heading back up our rather long garden, I hear a nasty crack from where Lara is, followed by the kind of cry that kicks a parent right in their stomach.  I dashed up, and Lara had an obvious bruise coming up right between her eyes, at the very top of her nose, and my first thought was that she'd broken her nose. However, there was no blood, and she stopped crying in under a minute once Papa had picked her up for a cuddle, so I began to calm down.  Then I started to worry that maybe you can break your nose without blood gushing out, and that maybe she'd gone into shock and couldn't feel the pain. We applied ice (a bag of frozen brocolli) back in the house, and she really didn't seem in any more pain, and within 20 minutes appeared to be her normal, cheerful self. I put her to bed after popping out to a friend's 50th party for an hour or two (both my girls lying on a sofa each watching TV, comforting each other!), and when I pulled her T-shirt over her head, it pulled against her nose, and I thought this would be the acid test, if it was broken, the pain would show now.. and not a squeak out of her, so I think we've gotten away with just some swelling and bruising, although she says it does hurt when she pokes it with her finger (so, don't poke it, Lara!).

And so we come to Sunday - again, up early (7.10am, too early really) and I go and help Lara in the bathroom, almost not wanting to see how her pretty face looks this morning, but it was fine, still some swelling and some little bruising, but if anything was broken, I would have expected her to look like Stallone at the end of Rocky.
We watched the rugby and cooked our breakfast, and Olga came down just before 11am. Even coming downstairs caused her to be out of breath, and straight away this shortness of breath made her panic, and she had to sit down by an open window to recover. She'd felt like this once or twice before in midweek, but the feeling had passed quickly, but this morning she had this one attack, then another within 10 minutes, of extreme shortness of breath, bringing on a feeling of panic, and we both decided it was time to go to the Minor Emergency department at Wycome hospital. We have Junior to think of as well as Olga, and this has chest infection has been going on for two and a half weeks now, and it's not been getting any better at all after two visits to the GP, with a third appointment scheduled for tomorrow morning. Olga's had virtually no appetite in that time, and that's not great for Junior, so I packed a bag, almost exclusively full of things to entertain Lara with, and we went to the ME department at 11.30am. It was very quiet, Olga was seen within 10 minutes, and we spent the next 3 hours in a booth in the old A&E department, with Lara and I mostly playing snap, although I'd even been prepared enough to take our netbook and Lara's headphones, so for the last 30 minutes of that we had some peace and quiet while she watched Postman Pat and Toy Story. Olga had an ECG and a chest x-ray (note to mums-to-be: opinions differ, even within hospitals, about having x-rays while pregnant. We were of course warned of the small risk, but the interesting thing was the chief nurse who was looking after Olga confirmed what we knew already, that they would use a lead blanket over Olga's tummy during the x-ray. However, the radiographer poo-pood this, and said that using the blanket actually trapped the radiation inside the covered area longer than if there was no blanket, so Olga went blanketless) to see if that showed anything about the chest infection, or a blood clot, which is another possibility the Docs were putting forward. The x-ray was inconclusive, so they treated both issues, with a dose of strong antibiotics and an injection of blood-thinning treatment (makes us wonder why the GPs were so reluctant to give antibiotics, the Docs in the hospital didn't think twice, despite the pregnancy), while she had an IV drip for fluids, once the Doc had got the annular fitted. Glad I didn't watch that bit. Once Olga's temperature and heart beat had normalised (her heart rate was 110 when we arrived, I measured mine at 75 at the same time), we asked if someone could check on Junior, and another Doc appeared with the microphone-thingy, and found Junior's heartbeat straightaway, and it was perfectly normal, which made us both feel better.
After three hours Olga was transferred to a short-stay ward, and went over her story (for the third time) with another Doc, who said Olga would stay there at least until the Consultant had done his rounds and seem her. She couldn't say for certain when that would be, so I took the opportunity to take Lara home, so we could let the dogs out for a few minutes in the garden, and I could get an overnight bag ready for Olga just in case. We stocked up on grapes, juice and a copy of Now magazine and went back about 4.30pm, staying with Olga until the Consultant came round at just after 6pm. While we'd been out, the ECG Doc had come back to see Olga, and tested the oxygen levels in her blood - he likened the level to that of a 93-year-old heavy smoker, so when we returned, Olga was hooked up to an oxygen cylinder as well as an IV drip, but she was well enough to have had a cup of tea and a sandwich.
The results of her blood tests weren't back yet, but the Consultant's opinion was that she has a very bad chest infection in both lungs, and that will be treated with at least one night's stay in hospital on antibitoics, although I wouldn't be surprised (and I think Olga and I would both feel better) that unless she makes a miraculous recovery tomorrow, she should spend a second night there, we both feel some much better mentally (and physically I hope, for Olga) that she is there and that her illness is finally be treated with some proper medicine.
Lara was thoroughly bored of being told not climb on this and that, and to try and whisper and not shout, that we left Olga as soon as the Consultant had said his bit. She's got our netbook, with some films on it other than Postman Pat and Toy Story, and a book and her Now magazine, so hopefully she's not been too bored herself tonight, and I hope she's sound asleep now.

An interesting weekend, but hey, at least the weather's been nice!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Zombie House, and a quick getaway

A piece of advice - don't come and visit us at the moment. 
All three of us are suffering to different degrees with coughs; Olga has it by far the worst, she's been signed off work this week by her GP, she's had it for 2 weeks now, and despite 2 visits to the GP and numerous calls to the midwife, we're reassured that Junior isn't going to suffer because mama has a chest infection. Lara and I are spluttering, but it's not keeping us awake at night, unlike poor mama, who's not had a good night's sleep for weeks.

On a different note, I simply have to report on a personal best Lara and I set this morning... My alarm went off as usual at 6.50am, but the house was quiet so I opted for a lie-in, and was woken by Lara's usual wake-up call of "Papa, is it morning yet??!!!" at exactly 7.26am. Normally, this would mean a long, drawn out procedure of getting her dressed, washed and breakfasted, in order to leave the house once the rush hour traffic has died down around 9am. The general rule is, if we've not set off for nursery by 8am at the latest, she won't get there in time to have breakfast there, so she might as well have it with us without the hassle of sitting in rush-hour traffic.
Anyway, this morning Lara decided she was happy to be rushed, and I wondered if it would be possible to get her to nursery by 8am, despite being 36 minutes behind schedule already.
Getting her out of her jimjams and dressed was easy, she accepted my first offering of clothes, which is rare in itself. Face washing and toothbrushing happened equally quickly, and she helped me get dressed before we set off downstairs for the normally difficult job of getting her hair sorted out. By now it was 7.40am, and we'd already broken all sorts of records, but the hair has taken me more than 20 minutes sometimes to get three plaits sorted out. However, the secret today was that last night, Lara wanted to have her hair like Mama's, in some sort of high ponytail, so I had a practise before she went to bed, and Lara liked her new look. So this morning it was easy to get her to sit still long enough for me to put one new ponytail in, even I can do that in under 5 minutes, and after refitting her car seat (I took it out last night for some adjustments) when I checked the clock in the car as we pulled away from the house, it was 7.51am. 25 minutes from us getting out of bed to us driving off to nursery! Unheard of.
It might mean nothing to most people, but I felt Lara and I deserved a post dedicated almost solely to this near impossible feat...

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The next Tiger Woods?

Golf last Friday was brilliant - fantastic weather; I had 4 pars, including 3 on the trot - something I don't recall ever doing before - and I didn't lose one ball. In fact, I only had to look in the trees for it once in the whole round. I was "nearer the pin" than the three other guys in my group for the "nearest the pin" competition hole, and I hit the longest drive of the four of us on the "longest drive" hole.
For anyone that cares, I scored 34 stableford points, playing off a handicap of 27, and went round the par 69 course in 99 shots. I had a 30-foot putt that lipped out that would have given me a "3 for 5" score on that hole, the holy grail of golfers, I'm led to believe...

The boys were off the lead!!

The other big news this week was on Sunday we took the boys for a walk in the woods, to the place we normally go in West Wycombe, where it's rare, though not impossible, to bump into other people walking dogs. The weather continued to be toasty hot, so we took a little picnic too. Part of the walk is uphill, across large fields, which at this time of year the farmer had ploughed but nothing was growing. Lara set off walking up this hill, before a slight difference of opinion developed about something and nothing, and she stomped off in one of her best huffs yet. As we could see all around for hundreds of metres, and there were no threats visible, we just let her stomp away, interested to see how far she'd get before she turned around.
It was about 100 metres, before a circling Red Kite worried her enough to return to us, and we agreed that I'd carry her on my shoulders for the uphil bit.
The really interesting bit was the walk in the woods, where we put Jacky's new muzzle on him, and let him off the lead. We didn't actually bump into any other dogs, but it was a relief to see that within 2 minutes he was trotting along, not trying to take the muzzle off, and coming back to us whenever we called him or gave our two peeps on the dog whistle. He did seem a little subdued whilst wearing the muzzle, not really going more than 20 metres in front of us, but that in itself doesn't worry us. At the moment, we'd rather he did that than run miles away.
We kept Mishka on his 5 metre lead at this point, but after our picnic we came back through the same woods, and decided to let them both off, so for the first time since our December holiday in the Lakes last year (outside of our back garden, of course) they were both off the lead at the same time. Mishka was more adventurous than Jackson, although to start with even he would only go 20 metres before turning to check we were still following. They both came back perfectly when called and whistled, which bodes well for future walks.
We got Mishka back on the lead when we noticed a couple entering the woods, as we didn't want him bounding up to them and worrying them, and we couldn't see if they had a little dog with them, but for those 10 minutes or so, I had what I want to achieve consistently in the future, a walk with my family in nice scenery, with our dogs off the lead, but responsive to our commands. Heaven!

Struck down with the lurgy, but Junior's OK

Well, this week has seen our house resemble a ward in M*A*S*H rather than a home. Not so many gunshot wounds, but certainly an awful lot of coughing and wheezing. Olga has got it the worst, the poor love has a cough that would make a 60-a-day smoker blush, and Lara's not far behind. I've only just started with the odd little splutter. Even Mishka was having an attack of the sneezes today.
There's not much we can do for Olga, she went to see the GP today, but unsurprisingly, given her condition, her wasn't going to prescribe any antibiotics, and she shouldn't even take any over-the-counter remedies to soothe her cough, so we're relying on external and herbal treatments, with good lashings of vaporub, and plenty of honey & lemon in her hot drinks.  Lara is getting by at night with vaporub and tixylix, she has no other symptoms than a bad cough at night, and even that isn't playing her up too much tonight (famous last words - I thought that last night but she ended up in bed with me in the office till 3am). I've decamped to the sofabed in our office so one of us can operate vaguely normally after some hours sleep, otherwise we were finding that as soon as we had both dropped off to sleep, I'd roll over and wake Olga, and her coughing would start again.
I've asked my Mum how to make a kaolin poultice for Olga, but we're not sure you can easily buy kaolin any more, but I'll have a look. I've just googled it, and the second result was from a Horse and Hound forum:
I'm sure that's not something to worry about, I don't remember them doing me any harm, although it might explain why I do like to jump fences from time to time.

Olga coincidentally had a scheduled appointment with her midwife today, and after a worrying moment of hunting around, they tracked down Junior's heartbeat, and everything was tickety-boo, a healthy 140 bpm or something like that. He or she was very active, and hid from the microphone-thingy a couple of times, and the midwife had to hunt "it" down again.