our girls

A Great Greenwich Day

Today we decided to stick to Greenwich, and I am so glad we did! What a lovely day. We walked into the centre of town, stopping by La Salumeria, the great Italian deli along the way. We bought some freshly made paninis to order and some juice boxes. Now these are not ordinary juice boxes, they are just pureed juice - peach or pear. So delicious I can barely stand it.

After shelling out just over £10 for the three of us including marinated olives and some pasta for later, we walked towards the Market. We were headed straight for Mr Humbug, but got sidelined by a couple of run-ins with teachers from Halstow, which was really nice. Finally at Mr Humbug, the olde timey sweet shoppe in the market, we filled our boots. On a mission for gift bag fodder, we sampled several brightly coloured sweets and bought an awful lot of candy. No worries though, we're still spending far less than going a traditional gift bag route.

Bags filled with sweet treats, we headed towards the Maritime Museum. We stopped along the way to eat our panini, which were amazing. I love La Salumeria! Katie managed to spill blood all over hers, but we didn't mind: She'd lost a tooth! She celebrated by calling Daddy at work. He was very proud of her. Within moments Buffy notified us the heavens were opening, so we dashed inside the museum.

The National Maritime Museum is always awesome. They have a brilliant children's "Hands On" section, which was mercifully uncrowded. This meant the girls got to do everything they wanted to without dealing with queues. Just as we were thinking of heading out, the rain really started bucketing down. We found distraction in their activity room. Our mission was to go round the museum again and draw pictures of three displays, then return to the activity room and recreate the displays in our very own 3D gallery. The girls drew brilliant pictures of a stained glass window, a bunk bed and a WWI women's navy (W.R.N.S) uniform.

Back in the activity room, we drew, cut, pasted and toiled until we had something we were justifiable proud to bring home. It's in front of me now, and it looks pretty good! Katie did a brilliant WRNS uniform complete with it's own wardrobe with peephole. Buffy decorated the walls and made a sign for our gallery. I did the stained glass window and the bunk bed. All in all, highly successful.

I just love that we *live* here. We didn't have to go far afield, just stumbled out of our doorstep. What a wonderful day! When we finally left the museum, the sun was shining and we detoured through the playground. Fantastic!

8 Days 'til Party

I have finally acknowledged I need help. I have enslaved two cute and surprisingly willing little girls to do my bidding. My bidding currently entails making giant crepe paper roses. We now have nine. I have no idea how many we'll try to make, but I think we'll keep going until our (read: their) fingers give out. All of the cootie catchers are printed, but need to be trimmed and pre-folded. In my crepe-paper rose zeal, I have neglected the coffee filter roses, so there are still eleven to make. Onward, cute little slave girls!

Ten Days Left

Ten days until our Un-Birthday Party. Today we tested a chocolate bread recipe. We want to make a chessboard of sandwiches, but we needed brown bread. I figured the kids wouldn't go for pumpernickel, so we needed an option. I found a non-sweet chocolate bread recipe on Tastespotting to provide confirmation it was possible. Then we just used the recipe that comes on the back of the yeast box and added 1/4c cocoa powder. The bread is slightly marbled and not as dark as I would like, but it is a successful trial. Next time we will add more cocoa powder at an earlier stage. Even as it is, though, should be good enough for a recognisable chessboard.

I also uploaded some party planning pictures and received two deliveries - crepe paper for the giant flowers and packs of cards for the gift bags. Sweet!

Updated pictures

Am working on getting loads of photos uploaded to the website. Most are of our recent holiday in Pembrokeshire, which was amazing. We were very lucky to have my sister, Shannon, along with us. She is such a delightful person who finds the fun in any moment. It is a constant source of joy to be around someone like that. Buffy is much the same way, so we had loads of fun.

I was very proud of Katie's progress this summer. She went surfing many times. While she never went deeper than her knees, she did get her face wet many times. This is huge progress! She also made a new friend (a boy!) at Folly Farm. I think this went a long way towards building her confidence in making new friends. As her best friend is changing schools, Katie needs a confidence injection in exactly this area.

It will probably take me a couple of days to get them all up. Thanks for your patience!

Duckies

I just came downstairs to see the girls chatting aimiably at the table over toast that Katie made for them both. She got the bread and remembered to close the fridge door. She toasted the bread and was careful not to burn it. She got Marmite for Buffy, honey for herself, and put the jars away. In short, there was nothing left for me to do. Brilliant!

What were they chatting about? Maths. There's this gameshow we all like called Get 100, where the goal is to get all of your numerical answers to add up to 100 before anyone else. We play it on the long walk to school most everyday. When I came downstairs, I found Katie quizzing Buffy about ducks. Buffy likes duck questions.

Katie asked, "Buffy, if there are three ducks in the pond, and one more flies in, how many ducks are there?"

Buffy counted on Katie's fingers and said, "Four!"

Then Katie said, "What about if there are two ducks in the pond and two more ducks fly in?"

Buffy shouted, "Four!" She continued, "Two plus two is four! And two plus two plus two plus two is eight!"

That's my girl! (Actually, that's Andrew's girl, but I'm glad they're mine, too.)

This and That

So, the big news is my ickle bitty baby is officially seven. SEVEN! SEEEEVVVEEEENNN!

So, yeah, I'm sort of freaking out. She was so teensy and fragile. She's still a bit delicate, but she's kind of big now. Like seven-year-old big. And she does all this seven-year-old stuff like calls her friends, takes pictures on her own camera (thanks Granny and Granddad!), does homework, reads paving slab books, discusses menu plans, asks what "rape" means when she sees it in a newspaper headline, hides from others when changing, paints her nails and lots of other things that freak me out on a regular basis.

You see, when she was born, the night she was born, I did a lot of freaking out. I panicked. Having battled my biological clock since I was TWO, I finally had a baby to look after, and I had no idea what to do. This is hard for me to admit, but I didn't feed her for the first day. Twenty-four hours. No food. I also took her home in a car on a pillow. Not a carseat but A PILLOW. My precious, most-wanted-ever gorgeous perfect little baby. In a car on the South Circular in my arms on a pillow. My hungry little delicate baby.

While I did get her home in one piece, and I did figure out a way to get food into her body (apparently mouths are key), I spent about four weeks standing like a deer in the headlights. This whole life was my responsibility. Andrew was sweet and supportive, but I knew the truth. If anything happened to her it would be my fault. I failed the beautiful birth experience I promised her, I failed (for a while anyway) to breastfeed her, I failed to protect her from the hideousness of an NHS birth.

It wasn't all failure though. On that terrible first night I managed not to let her die, put some clothes on her and cut her fingernails. I talked to her while I bled through every sheet and bit of fabric that came (begrudgingly) my way. A thousand times that night I told her, "You're safe, Baby. You're safe." She cried, and I stared at the headlights.

Midwives came in and yelled at me for bleeding so much. Another came in to yell at me for not feeding my baby properly. She kept poking my breast further into Katie's teensy little mouth, and it just didn't seem like it was ever going to work. Other mothers in the ward cried, screamed. Maybe it was the babies crying? Maybe it was all in my own head? The enduring image I have from the point labour started to go wrong until the goddess Jill Dye (lactation consultant) taught us to nurse lying down is of me in a hospital gown, standing in a highway in the rain with my baby on a pillow and bright headlights blaring down on us.

Still, it got better. We bonded. Together Katie and I figured out breastfeeding. I let Andrew hold her a bit more (he took her downstairs and put her in a box, so you can see how wise that was). I started to sleep a bit. I started to heal. Eventually she started gaining weight, getting back up to her birth weight after a week or two. My midwife warned me not to let the Health Visitors come by, because they'd have me up for post partum depression for sure. My mom gently tried to broach the subject. While I still don't think I had PPD, I do think I had some sort of trauma recovery, and possibly not just from the birth. Possibly just from the fact of being in charge of another person's life. Completely. Everything I'd ever wanted, really.

Now Katie is seven. And she's amazing! She's so beautiful and clever. My god, she is so clever. she can tell you what the square root of 81 times the square root of 36 is in no time flat. She turns a fantastic cartwheel, and she's a fiercely loyal friend. She can draw really cute people, and she can read absolutely any book (or newspaper headline!) you put in front of her. She is amazing.

This morning I asked Buffy idly if she had a best friend at school. She thought about it for a minute and said, "Not really. Only my sister is my best friend." Buffy's a clever girl, too. She knows a good thing when she sees it.

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