Sunday, March 09, 2008

Weekend highlights

It's FA cup quarter-final weekend. It used to be FA Cup quarter-final Saturday, but with the power of TV (read as money) the games are now played one by one throughout the weekend. We gathered round the TV to watch Man United dispatch Portsmouth, only to see (to our dismay) the first Cup upset of the weekend. Later, delightfully and deservedly, Barnsley dispatched Chelsea, before today Cardiff City got rid of Middlesborough and were then joined in the semis by West Bromwich Albion (or "W.B.A" as Hayley insists on calling them). So the weekend seems to have been conducted to a (radio) soundtrack and/or (TV) backdrop of football.

But the real highlights lay in the details of everyday life. Yesterday lunchtime, having need of some provisions for the tortilla wraps that Hayley was cooking for lunch with Manny, Sara and Jack, I took Lucy over to the shops in her Baby Bjorn carrier. It was a showery, windy day, so I wrapped us both up well and set off with a brolly. Well, nothing of great import happened, but the pleasure of having the little lady attached to my chest to chat to as I did the shopping was a real treat. And of course she's still little enough and cute enough to attract the smiles or endearments of other shoppers. The only hiccup came when I let her take a packet of crisps to play with. I was about to walk through the checkout when I realised she still had them in her hands.

Later yesterday afternoon, as Jack and his parents packed up to leave, Oliver decided to come onto the sofa and snuggle right up next to me, lying his head on my chest. Often he will resist sleep at all costs, but he then happily fell asleep on me. Hayley took Lucy out for some fresh air and when she came back 80 minutes later the two of us had only just woken up. I couldn't think of a nicer way to catch up on sleep.

And boy have I needed some sleep. For a week from last Friday (29th Feb) Lucy had a temperature, on and off, at one point registering 104.9 degrees! She had an out-of-hours trip to the doctor on Wednesday and Hayley consulted the triage nurse every other day. Thankfully she seems to be past the worst of it, but along the way her sleep has gone to pot. Poor Hayley was up for 3 hours on Thursday night and I didn't fair a lot better, despite being granted sanctuary in the spare room so that I could conduct appraisal interviews the following day in a partially conscious state. (One colleague was candid enough to tell me I looked awful the next day.) But last night was better with only occasional stirrings. Unfortunately, along the way this week, Lucy has been coming into our bed (evicting me in the process) and it remains to be seen how easy this will be to correct. We were on the point of moving her to her own room when all this kicked off.

Despite her illness, she's still been a remarkably happy little lady. And she's blessed to have such a loving big brother. I'm so proud of him. Oliver really looks after and entertains Lucy. I came into the living room today to find he had squeezed in next to her to play the toy piano together.


Tonight Oliver and Hayley had the following conversation.
Oliver (on his trike, riding through the kitchen): "I'm going."
Mummy: "Where are you going?"
Oliver: "I'm going to the shops."
Mummy:"On your own?!"
Oliver: "No, I'm going to get Lucy." (And of he went into the living room to see her.)
Lucy adores watching him come down the stairs from her vantage point being carried by me, as he uses both hands to hang on to the banister. Best of all, the other night when Oliver did his usual trick to me of shutting the stair gate quickly behind himself so I couldn't get through to go upstairs with him, Lucy found it hilarious. She really got the joke! How can that be?! She's only 6 months old, but I'm telling you she totally got it and laughed her little socks off. He even repeated the trick for her entertainment with the same effect.

I must admit that seeing them together reminds me of pictures of me at that age with my sister who is 18 months my junior. Oliver looks a lot like me and Lucy has blue eyes as does my sister, but mostly it's the fact that he is always busy doing something and she is almost invariably looking on. I guess it's the lot of the younger sibling.

This evening, after a hectic hour or so of preparations and placating offspring, all four of us managed to have a meal together at the table. Lucy was admittedly finishing off her proper meal with her first taste of garlic bread, which she happily sucked until she fell asleep in her high chair, bib covered in the remnants, looking like Onslow from "Keeping Up Appearances".

But then Hayley, Oliver and I all thoroughly enjoyed the spaghetti bolognaise that Hayley had made. More notably, Oliver was very conversational. For dessert Hayley and he ate ice-pops: a sort of ice-lolly without a stick that you squeeze up out of a long thing sachet. Hayley entertained Oliver by "accidentally" squeezing hers too hard so it popped out as she tried to eat it. The little man laughed that wonderful laugh where he can hardly draw breath before laughing again. And then he said to Hayley "You're funny Mummy". I guess that when we read this back in years or even months to come it won't seem special, but it was a beautiful moment and it marks a change in his language that I have only noticed over the last couple of weeks. No longer does he answer questions in the same terms that they are put to him, he can use his own words to say the same thing. For example, I asked his do you want episode X or episode Y of a TV programme, and he replied "the new one" meaning episode Y. When he told Hayley "You're funny Mummy" it brought tears to my eyes. It's a bitter-sweet feeling to realise that he is really growing up so fast.

The weekend drew to a close with Oliver and I doing something he enjoys: reading together. But this did not involve us both reading the same book. He likes us to sit together and read different books. I read aloud and he "reads" aloud bits of his, turning the pages precisely when I do. After a while he'll start to tell my story too.


So here we are, Oliver exactly two and a half years old yesterday and Lucy speeding towards 7 months. Last night we stood in the kitchen and looked at the two Tommy Tippee plastic bibs on the drainer, one pink and one blue, and pinched ourselves.