Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Day to Forget.

Yesterday will forever remain  in my memory as one of the worst days of my life. Xavier was having a wonderful weekend - two parties in two days. How exciting for him. The first one, on Friday, he was the only boy at a girl's birthday party held at Mystical Fairies a wonderland of glittering pink and home to Hampsteads Fairies. He loved it. No one danced more than the X-man!

Saturday he was a tag along at a party his sister was invited to. Once of her classmates was turning five. Big to-do. X was so happy to included and tried to hang with the big kids. I was chatting with the other mums and dads having a nice time. They served food and X dug right in. They had Cumberland sausages that were sliced thin on a angle so they were long but flat. There were no knives on the table so I didn't cut them in half. I picked small ones figuring that would be fine. But five minutes in, Xavier slumped over and I pulled him upright. He was beat red, grabbing at his throat - he was choking.

It all happened so quickly, I recalled to hold him upside down at an angle and bang between the shoulders from our CPR class years ago. It wasn't working. I reached in his mouth and felt a sausage in his throat, I scraped it out - it came out in a long strand - it was obviously the culprit. I pulled him back upright gently but he still couldn't breathe, he was very tense and was starting to close his eyes and go limp.

That's when I panicked. I picked him up again, turned him practically upside down, pounded on him and started screaming for help. I was shouting, 'He's choking. Someone help me.' I was seriously freaking thinking he was going to choke to death right there at Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre. Thankfully, a nurse was at the party. She works at a Daycare center. She came over, picked him up, pounded on him good and hard (much harder than I was). And he squealed. As soon as I heard him cry I nearly fainted on the spot. His throat was cleared. He could breathe.

He curled up for a good cry and I hugged him as close as I could. If I hadn't been in public I would have cried hysterically and headed for the liquor cabinet. Instead, I sat down and held my child, shaking so hard I could barely breathe myself.

I looked for Cate who watched the entire episode. She looked ashen. After X recovered and demanded to be put down I asked her if she was okay. She just nodded but I knew it had shaken her. I gave her a quick hug and then shakily ran after X who was acting like nothing happened. She wet her bed for the first time in months last night. Not only once - but twice. The poor thing. We've had a long chat and I'm hoping she's okay now.

Everyone was so nice, and concerned. I was a bit embarrassed for causing a ruckus and apologized for scaring the daylights out of half the restaurant. But I did what I had to do for my little man.

Every time I think of it I start to shake a little again. I was terrified right to my marrow. I couldn't bear the thought of losing either of my little chickens. Who would jump all over me as I do my morning yoga? Who would 'help' with dinner and chores? How would I spend my mornings if I didn't have my little guy to chase after and entertain. I know I'm supposed to put him in nursery soon. I'm definitely not ready. And after yesterday - he may be home schooled at this point.

Oh, and that's not all. After that harrowing experience, I walked 30 minutes home in the dark pushing both kids only to realize I forgot my keys, Fen was at work and couldn't leave the desk. I had to track down the nanny to get the spare set.

Yeah, I had a drink that night. And it was good.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My New Stalker

See that fella? He's stalking me. That's right. Stalking.

Last week I had a lovely birthday out with Fen and then on Sunday night we settled in to watch the BBC production of Birdsong (from the novel by Sebasitan Faulkes). I loved it, I thought the star, this young, sorta-handsome, somewhat-goofy star was phenomenal. I remarked to Fen that the kid had a bright future.

The next evening I was out on the town with my Fancy Friend who had fancy tickets to the excellent production of Shakespeare's Richard II at the Donmar Warehouse. Read a review here -  it's amazing and this review reflects my personal feelings on the play.

Armed with a few glasses of wine and too many canapes to admit to, we took to our seats. There was King Richard II sitting on his throne on stage as the  audience milled in. I looked at him and thought he looked awfully familiar. You betcha - was the kid from Birdsong! His name is Eddie Redmayne, by the way. Loved his performance and Fancy and I had a jolly good time although we couldn't get over the spitting (which is rife in live performances - I suppose it can't be helped and I can never get used to it!) So we giggled like schoolgirls admist the fine acting.

And then last night as I was about to go out to dinner (again for my birthday) with a bunch of my girlfriends, Fen asked if I wanted to go and see My Week With Marilyn. Guess who's the star of that? And then, in the taxi to dinner we passed Burberry in SoHo - guess who's face is staring down at me from the windows? You guessed it - my stalker. A personal note to Mr. Redmayne: I'm happily married, flattered, but no thank you! ;-)

So, my birthday week was peppered with a stalker. Not too bad for an old broad! (and note to Lou, I forgot the chutney for Fancy. A thousand apologies!)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wake up already!

I don't know what my problem is but I can't seem to wake up today. It happens from time to time - I feel lackadaisical, lazy, like a slacker. Maybe it's my diet, maybe I'm just getting old, perhaps it's because I do too much. Whatever the case, I'm tired of being tired.

A few weeks ago I had a MRI to check on my inner ears, nose, throat, etc. It's been inflamed forever. That has caused me dizziness and difficulty breathing. Lovely - this has definitely contributed to my dragging.

It's not every day - it's at least once a week - I just DON'T feel like doing anything but lounging. I'm incapable of doing nothing but sitting around reading, sewing, knitting, writing, Internet cruising, blog reading and making lists (my personal favourite) sounds lovely.

I know I'm tired today because I've been on the go with at least two big things a day since we landed back on January 1st. We took the kids to see Arthur Christmas this morning and now there is nothing on the docket for the rest of the day. And I feel tired. So I wonder if I just don't notice my malaise until I have nothing 'big' to do? Hmmm....warrants a think, methinks.

So I sit here doing work, I'm making a roasted chicken with mashed potatoes, homemade Yorkshire puddings, gravy (from scratch), and steamed broccoli for dinner and then I'm sewing the kids curtains (it's only be on my list for six months). That's funny, suddenly I'm not so tired. Dare I go for a run?

Monday, January 16, 2012

That time again...

I have a tendency to get a tad gloomy around this time every year. I'm big on cleaning house - and I mean tossing everything in sight at the turn of each year. It's like I'm getting rid of the old to make way for the new.

But, today I was just about to unsubscribe from babycenter.com and it's weekly emails when I stopped myself. I've been receiving emails from them from my very first pregnancy back in 2006 (miscarried, unfortunately) and lived by them through both pregnancies and for years after. Now I don't even read them anymore - I just hit delete. Until today.

I'm not having any children, I don't pretend to entertain the idea - it's not going to happen. I'm too old, for one, and it's almost laughable to think of me pregnant again (I don't think the world would survive a third pregnancy of mine!) But that doesn't stop me from being nostalgic. My little man grows and grows. Cate is a little girl, no trace of baby left whatsoever. I have no baby anymore. This is good and bad. Today, it's not so great for grumpy old me as I sit hear listening to them in the bath with their father supervising. I don't need baby things anymore. That part of my life is over.

For a small part of my childhood and a larger part of my adulthood (especially when I turned 33!) I dreamed of finding the right man, having children and living happily ever after. I dreamed about that for decades! Finding the right man - check. Having children - check. Done that (and well, if I do say so myself).

Now what? I'm always reevaluating my life and what I want to do with it. I always feel that there is more that I can do. I'm at the top of my game professionally (infact was named in the top 150 dealmakers in publishing this week), have a sweet husband, adorable kids, wonderful family, a decent flat (don't get me started on this one), a job I truly enjoy, and a good life.

Still, I want more. What more can I do, really? I thought about it and I know what it is. I want to write a book. I keep playing at it but I don't really ever do it. I tap a few words out on the keyboard from time to time but I don't take it seriously. I think I want to write it in earnest this year. I'm a member of TWO writer's groups - you'd think I'd be more into it. What was a hobby I want to put onto the front burner. I want a book....and books are author's babies...so I guess I do want another baby! Guess I'll keep babycenter.com around for a tad longer.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Please Don't Label My Child

We received a letter in Cate's schoolbag this week to inform us that the school was going to put each child into one of two categories: Gifted or Talented. Children who excelled at academics would be put into Gifted and those who showed promise is art, PE, dancing, etc would be labelled Talented. I do not like this. Not one little bit.

I don't want Cate being labelled anything other than 'student.'  I feel that if she is told she's gifted she will feel pressure to be smart. If she's told she's talented then she won't try to study because she's 'dumb' or not 'gifted.' I don't want her to have to uphold any expectations at the age of 4 1/2. I just want her to learn to read, write and master the basics of mathematics. I want her to enjoy art, PE, dancing and whatever else she feels like doing.

She's only 4 1/2 and her homework is off the charts. Her attention span is approximately 10 minutes for any given task. Doing homework with her is one of the things I dread completely. I've written about this before. Funny how, when I was childless, dreaming of one day having a darling, beautiful daughter, I had visions of us sitting on a sofa reading a Dick and Jane book with me encouragingly and lovingly coaxing her to sound out words as she bravely, and correctly, worked her way through her books. It was an ideal scene straight out of Leave it to Beaver. The truth is far, far from this. I get frustrated as she loses interest, doesn't pay attention and just guesses at what words are. It's maddening. They don't even have Dick and Jane books here (I just seriously dated myself. Ah well)

I've forced Fen, at gun point, to step in as I need a break for a bit. We're now tag teaming her through the weekends to get through the majority of her workload. I constantly remind myself: SHE'S FOUR! But we received a note saying we needed to step it up as Cate needed more help. Jaysus! I've repeated over and over to myself the mantra: She will eventually read, she will not be living with us as a 30-year-old illiterate. And we press on.

We now have flash cards, we're sounding out letters day in and out, we're spelling signs, magazine headlines, anything at all. How much more can I do?

And now they want to label her. At this rate they are going to give her a big scarlet T for 'talented' which may as well stand for 'thick as a post' or 'tupid arse'. I can't have it. I told the school they can label her for themselves but I do NOT want her knowing her label or being expected to follow that rule. She's got enough on her tiny, little plate to deal with as it is. And if she comes home saying some gifted kid said she was 'talented' I'll have a freakin' cow on them.

Perhaps I'm over thinking it. Whatever the case, I had better go. Fen is helping Cate with her homework now and I can hear he's about to jump off a cliff. Better go tag him out...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Farewell sanity... I knew ye well.

I used to be normal. Honest - I did. But the moment I realized I was pregnant, sanity left the building and a quivering, worrying, paranoid shell of a person remained. Okay, maybe I'm not THAT bad, but I am find myself being a bit of a hover mother, perhaps too clingy with my wee ones. I can't help it! I waited so long to have them that I just want them to grow up, healthy, unharmed, educated and street smart. When they turn 21 I can turn them loose on the world knowing full well that I did my very best.

But the world we currently live in scares me stupid. When I was young we spent hours outside roaming the neighbourhood, make forts and clubs in the surrounding woods, walking to the store unaccompanied and riding our bikes all over the place without a parent in sight. When I was 14, I saved my babysitting money so my friend Nancy and I could pull off a scheme so outrageous it gives me hives just thinking about it now. It cost $75 to buy a round-trip, same day ticket to Miami on Chalks sea plane. My mother would drop us off at the Paradise Island bridge on her way to work thinking we were going to spend the day at the beach with friends. Oh, no. We'd walk over the bridge, catch the 9:30 plane to Miami, take a taxi to the mall, spend the day getting ears pierced, seeing movies, shopping for junk, then take the 4pm flight back to Nassau, walk the bridge and be picked up by 6pm. We did this twice. My mother didn't have a clue. The horror!

You couldn't do that today (for many reasons including the facts that minors need permission to fly solo and Chalks does not exist anymore thanks to Atlantis). I know I was a difficult kid who was far too independent and ambitious for my own good and I see this in my daughter. However, should she ever deem to do anything like this I hope I'm still wiley enough to catch on and catch her before she does something mad and life endangering. My mother was a trouble maker as a teen, yet I still managed to outmanuever her on occasion and I think Cate will be able to do the same.

But still, I endeavour to teach her street smarts, how to act in public, not to speak to strangers, how to find a policeman/security guard, etc. Even then, I worry.

A friend of mine told me how her cousin had a heart-stopping scare over Christmas. They live in Birmingham and were out shopping at a mall with their 4 year old and a 11 year old daughters. The mother turned around for just a few seconds to give the younger daughter something and the 11 year old was no where to be found. She, like me, is a tad paranoid and thank God for that. She immediately freaked out so the mall closed all exits and started searching for her. 40 minutes later a couple with a child in a pram, covered in a blanket and wearing a hat were stopped. The woman was in a burka so when they asked to see the child she protested. the police were called and sure enough, once the took the blanket and hat off - it was the missing girl. They had injected her with something to make her pass out and had shaved her head, shoved her in a pram, covered her with a blanket and hat and were ready to wheel her off to a fate I cannot imagine.

This scares me stupid.

So I hover over Cate and X. I worry when they play too hard or climb too high. I watch them like hawks regardless of where we are. I grill Cate with what to do in case of an emergency and I don't trust anyone with my children (except my nanny and close friends).

And I don't care if I'm a crazy mother who screams down a shopping mall if my kid goes missing. These little terrors are the loves of my life and I would kill anyone who dares to touch them. Even after they turn 21. Hey, I'm a mother afterall!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Thar she blows!

The wind was out of control for two days. I thought London might blow right off the map! At times the winds were 100mph - that's almost hurricane force. The rain and hail didn't help the situation. I've been sitting at home in a daze, tan fading, mumbling, 'Wha happened?' to myself as I can't believe just six days ago I was on a beach, swimming with dolphins. Ah well, time to get on with it.

With the weather being so horrific, my internet and phone decided to go on strike. Quite annoying as I was quite ready to tuck into my favourite blogs and write a few posts myself. Highly disappointing. It's all fixed and fine now, but that didn't help the situation on Wednesday when I was all geared up for an hour of alone time and a cup of tea!

My second disappointment came when I went out in search of pecans and dark corn syrup today. Oh, no! Both are very American. When I asked at a few different stores I received blank stares and one look of horror from a clearly new employee (I think she may have been living out one of her nightmares from the sheer terror in her eyes and the stammering). I let her off the hook. We're invited to dinner tonight and I wanted to make a chocolate pecan pie. Can't find the ingredients, so it's out of the question. Dang. I'm now uninspired to bake something so I'll pick something up at Maison Blanc or something - let Raymond do the baking for me.

Cate is back at school and I'm currently researching nurseries for X. In five months I'm going to start putting him in somewhere twice a week for a few hours. He needs to have a little X time to start becoming more independent and developing his own little social skills. He's quite independent already, always has been. He's fine playing on his own and whenever we go somewhere new he jumps right into the thick of things whether other kids are there or not. He's a nice little fella and gets along with just about anyone. The words are starting to really flow now. He has two and three word sentences too. His favourite sentence: No, mine!  Yikes.

I'll admit I miss Cate and I can barely fathom the thought of my little man heading off into the world without me. I'm sure I'll be wandering the streets of Hampstead, pram-less, tears streaming down my cheeks, muttering nonsense about no pecans or some such thing. If you see me please make sure I don't meander out into traffic!

While on vacation I had big, big plans for my return and a list as long as my arm of things I wanted to do, fix, change, accomplish, etc. Today is the day I write that list down and start scratching things off it. A few of the to-do items:

Put away the Christmas decorations
Paint bathroom
Sew kids curtains
Organize closet
Ged rid of unworn clothes
Pitch a few more articles
Find a few new clients
Organize desk once and for all
Sort out kitchen
Unpack the last two boxes
Sell kids bedroom furniture
Buy bunkbeds
Buy tickets to New Zealand for spring
Bake pecan pie

Mercy, it goes on and on forever. Can't possibly write it all here. Perhaps I should go take the decorations down so I can at least scratch that off! Right... I'm off.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

FREEDOM....sorta

Cate went back to school today and after I dropped her off I managed to have a coffee, run to the bank, Vodaphone, browse drawer handles at Andrews of Hampstead (love that place), peak in a few stores for the sales (bought nothing) and then sauntered back down the hill toward home. X was with his Daddy at the playground and I had 2 hours to myself. I haven't had two hours to myself for over three weeks.

'S wonderful. 'S marvellous. 'S awful nice. 'S paradise! (love that song)

Even though we had a wonderful holiday, despite missing Tracy, I'm already back into the stress of things. It's not that bad because I'm going to make this year easier on myself by pulling back on my overextended life. Easier said than done. But it's going to happen. (Read: I pray I stick to my guns and make it happen).

It's funny how being away for 18 days, sitting in the sun almost daily, becoming tanned and lazy, meeting good, longtime friends, laughing and being carefree can disappear so quickly when you're smacked upside the head by reality. London has been a tad cold, dreary, rainy (hurricane like winds and hail) which was a delightful reminder that this is where we really live. As awful a picture that might be - I'm still glad to be home, tan fading and getting back into the swing of things. I love my job, I love my 'hood and all the friends we've made here. I'm happiest when I'm on a schedule, busy, planning, plotting and moving, moving, moving. So I'm glad I'm home.

Looking forward to the next holiday though! Got a good year of them planned too.