Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Could it be an airplane?

This drawing by the little girl from last week looks like an airplane to me, but I guess I shouldn't force my interpretation on her creative work.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Off again

We are off to Stratford-upon-Avon tomorrow for three days, so writing about Japan will have to wait until later next week. Have fantastic weekend everyone.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Japan: traveling with a toddler

The airplane ride with a toddler wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it was still exhausting for all of us. The little girl got very little sleep on the plane, but nevertheless behaved really well with only few protesting screams against tiredness and over-stimulation. And for me the time went by faster as I was busy trying to entertain her; get her to sleep, to drink, to eat; trying to figure out a comfortable position for myself without waking her up; to eat without her overturning the food on both of us. I wish we had a separate seat for her. I’m grateful for other babies on the plane (she loved watching them) and on-demand entertainment with good cartoons (like 2 episodes of In The Night Garden).

On board the Shinkansen bullet train

On our arrival to Utsunomiya after 12 hours on the plane and another 3 on trains we were exhausted and collapsed into bed as soon as we could at about 5:30pm - we would’ve been happy to sleep even earlier, but the hotel wouldn’t check us in before 4pm. Exhausted we slept until 7am the next morning thus beating the jetlag.

Every following day the little girl would eventually pass out in her stroller or on my shoulder for a pithily brief nap. She slept well at night next to us, occasionally kicking us in her sleep and often taking up most of the bed space by rolling about and sleeping at every possible position except parallel one to us. However the daily lack of sleep kept on accumulating eventually resulting in the session of protesting screaming on the last day when she desperately wanted to sleep while we had to pack.

Our return flight was a day one and I’m starting to agree with Clive that they are easier than night ones as we could be louder, sillier and more active. Since everyone always complains about their inability to sleep on the plane, I was surprised to notice a lot of people sleeping for long periods of time. But we didn’t get much sleep. Poor Cat asleep on the way home from airport. Our attempt to wake her up on the arrival home was met with horrible loud screeching; and so we let her sleep. She woke at 3 am for the next two mornings, but I think she is finally back to more normal schedule after staying awake from 8:40 to 19:30 yesterday. Annoyingly I still woke up at 3am today – looks like I’m struggling to flight my own jetlag while having to deal with hers.

Japan: the introduction

On Monday afternoon we returned from our trip to Japan for Tracey's (she is my husband's cousin) and Aki's wedding. I wonder how much you want to read about our trip, probably less than I am going to write. While in Japan, at times I felt that my trip consisted of being stuck in a tiny hotel room, walking around LalaSquare shopping centre and Utsunomiya train station complex. However on our arrival back my slightly altered perception of everyday things and the feeling of being away for weeks stunned me. Hence I guess it was an interesting trip full of discoveries and lessons; while traveling in Europe it is easy to forget how different other cultures can be and yet how similar people everywhere are. I was planning to write all my thoughts down, and then organize them into coherent posts. However after two days of being at home and struggling to get anything done due to jet lag, I decided to just start writing in a hope to document at least some of my experiences and thoughts while they are still fresh. So be prepared for a long, rambling and not always coherent series of posts.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Too many blogs

Yesterday I had over 200 unread blog posts in my Bloglines. Today I read few and did almost unthinkable – I deleted some blogs from my feed *gasp*. I hope next week everyone will be too busy having fun to post as I’m off to Japan until 19th. I wonder how many unread posts I will have on my return.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

To keep the tea warm

I drink large amounts of tea everyday - mostly the loose-leaf type that needs to be brewed in a teapot. Yet I never owned a tea cosy until I won one in Driftwood’s give-away.

It arrived yesterday and I keep on picking it up to admire the neat tiny stitches she used to attach the petals.

If you are interested in sewing or quilting, she recently posted a tutorial for a Fibonacci inspired rainbow quilt that makes me want to learn to quilt even more.

Driftwood, thank you for the tea cosy and the inspiration.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Braided Bookmark

Today I finished weaving the four-strand braid and am now using it as a bookmark. I wish I had longer hair so I could braid it into them.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

That was one long day

During her visit Polina kept on asking how we fill our days, so when I saw Holli Conger's meme I decided to take a chance to document one almost standard day in our life: Cat wakes up anytime between around 6 and 7, so the whole day gets shifted accordingly. I’m not tagging anyone this time, but I would love to read about your average day.

5:28 – I get up before anyone else, though this is a rare occurrence – Cat usually wakes me up. I write in my diary and reply to few emails, while occasionally pausing to gaze at the soft colour changes of the morning sky.

5:50 – Cat wakes up. I breastfeed her, before she excitedly runs into the other room screaming “Papa”.

6:05 - Since Papa doesn’t show any signs of waking up, I take her to the kitchen to make some breakfast. While I’m cooking oat porridge, Cat signs that she wants to draw; so I get her a clean piece of paper and crayons.

I notice that her drawing progressed in the last few weeks: instead of making few short marks and running away; she draws long lines up and down, side to side, squiggling and circling them around the page for few minutes at the time.

6:20 – Cat and I have our breakfast. As always she is reluctant to eat the porridge so I get up to wash her some grapes. On her own she picks up the spoon and starts eating. Until recently her self-feeding consisted of picking food up, putting it on the spoon, picking it off the spoon and putting it into her mouth. But now she is able to scoop the food into the spoon and most of the time get it into her mouth. Eventually she has enough of porridge and starts demanding raisings. Poor girl is addicted to them, but we don’t have a sign for raisins and therefore she ends up pointing behind her towards the cupboards hoping that I’ll know what she wants. Anyone has any suggestions for a sign we can use to mean raisins?

6:40 – Just as we finish breakfast, Papa gets up and I can have a shower.
7:05 – I boil carrots to take with us to Gymboree and wash dishes. I try to cut Cat’s nails while she examines a pinecone found in the park. I only manage to get one hand done, which is still better than the usual one-two nails at the time. The surest way to cut all of her nails off is to turn on cartoons, but since Cbeebies stopped showing In The Night Garden in the evenings we no longer watch TV.

Around 7:20 – I realise that we have plenty of time to visit supermarket, so I make a shopping list and get both of us dressed.

Few minutes to 8 – All of us leave the house. Cat and I wave goodbye to Clive, heading to work, and go to supermarket.

8:36 – We are back home. Cat plays with her toys, while I unpack the groceries. Our fridge, like most of the fridges in London’s rental flats, is small and unpacking turns into the game of Tetris. Usually I would give Cat a small snack, but we are running late. So I put a load of laundry into washing machine, make a small sandwich, pack everything we need and we are off to Gymboree.

9:30 – Cat mostly wants to play with all the different Gymbo Clown dolls. We go to Gymboree twice a week. On other days this time is used to call my mum; go to the supermarket, local park, the library or just walk close to the house.

10:15 – Time to go home. By this stage the little girl is very hungry and happy to eat almost anything including boiled carrots. There are severe delays on our line, but luckily we don’t have to wait for long.

11:06 – Back at home I would usually prepare lunch for the two of us, we would eat together, I would wash dishes while she plays before putting her to bed. But today she looks tired and so we play for a tiny bit, I read her a book and put her down for a nap. When I leave the room I wonder if it is too early, but she falls asleep almost straight away.

– I heat up some leftovers and brew myself a pot of Moroccan Mint tea.

12:05 – I start typing this post and reply to few emails. I should always write blog posts in the afternoon instead late in the evening as my communication abilities decreases exponentially as the day progresses.

12:45 – I take some photos for Crafting 365 Flickr group. For my upcoming birthday Julia gave me THREE crafting books and while looking at them I got an idea for braided necklace. I decide to practice without beads and search the web for the directions of how to do four-strand braid. Using beading thread I try few of them and eventually settle on weaving version described here. While braiding I decide to use the finished braid as a bookmark. I almost finish it, but glancing at the clock realise that it is time to start packing up.

14:30 – As expected Cat wakes up. I’m lucky that I got 3 whole hours to myself, as her nap can be as short as one hour. We play together..

15:00 – I start preparing a snack for her. Left on her own she starts drawing; since she doesn’t appear very interested in food and happy on her own I manage to read two paragraphs of a book. I need to start a new crochet project, as crocheting is another thing I’m able to do easily while she is awake.

Around 15:30 – Cat has her snack. I wash up, change our clothes, grab a ball and we are ready to go outside.

15:58 – First we go to the big grass court inside our block. We play with the ball, spin around, run, and smell the flowers. Cat shakes the metal mesh fence and I beep her nose through the holes.
(* this photo is actually from the weekend, but today was exactly the same except she was wasn't wearing a coat as today was very warm)
She notices small rocks and starts experimenting with throwing them through the holes. We walk around a bit more and she starts crawling and rolling on the grass – I guess it’s a perfect day for it. On the street there is a young man fine-tuning his radio controlled car, so we sit on the bench and watch the car zooming past.

17:09 – We are back home and I notice that it takes us four minutes to take the shoes off and wash our hands. Our days are full with tiny tasks that take few minutes, but add up to fill the time. We play.

17:26 – We call Clive, which doesn’t happen everyday, but I need to find out how to make the salad dressing.

– I fry some mince with mushrooms and zucchinis: enough for Cat to eat today & tomorrow and to freeze for the day when I don’t feel like cooking. By this time she is hungry and tired, so struggles to concentrate on any one thing. Eventually she gets out a pot and starts pretending to cook.

18:02 – We have our dinner and share an apple for the desert. Cat signs for a cup of water: she never drinks much from it, but enjoys seeing what happens with the food that is thrown into the water. While she experiments and finishes her dinner, I manage to knit two rows while trying to chat to her (doing anything else while knitting is dangerous since I often end up making mistakes).

18:33 – She is done and hoping that she’ll play on her own I make salad. However, she wants me to play with her. I turn on music and we dance.

18:58 – I start frying chicken breast filets to go with the salad while continuing to play with her.

19:09 – Clive is back home. I get him to check the chicken, while I make salad dressing.

19:14 – Clive and I sit down to eat. I have some salad with tiny piece of chicken as I already had my main dinner. I don’t really cook two dinners everyday, there are days when I don’t cook at all. We chat about our day.

19:35 – Clive takes the little girl to the bath to brush her teeth and bath her. I put away folded laundry, tidy up Cat’s toys (we really need to start doing it together with her) and start washing dishes.

19:50 – I hear that Clive took Cat out of the bath, so I go in and while he dries and dresses her I tell her about our day – a much shorter version than the one you are reading. He reads her 2-3 short books. I breastfeed her and put her into her cot.

20:09 – I’m back to washing dishes, while Clive is unsuccessfully trying to find his key. I suspect that the little girl dropped them in some very random place while playing with them. I have to go back into her bedroom as she threw her blanket out and is unhappy.

20:25 – Sounds like she is asleep
20:35 – Dishes are washed and I get my laptop. I look at my friend’s photos from last weekend, upload photos to Flickr, finish writing about my day, chat to Clive and enjoy a smoothie made by him.

22:18 - I’m a slow writer in the evenings. :-) I may do few rows of knitting before going to bed. Cat still wakes up once at around 12, if I’m unlucky she may wake up even more times since her last four teeth are coming through all at once.

So that's my day - not super exciting, but highly enjoyable.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Discovering the world: feeding birds

Today the little girl experienced the joy of feeding the birds herself. Cat saw me and various friends throw the bread crumbs to the birds many times before, but today was the first time she threw the bread, given to her, to the birds instead of eating it herself.