Wednesday, 29 May 2013

England to Yogurtland

Ellen and Meg arrived today for a month in the Californian sun.  For some reason they chose not to spend the whole time in the paradise of Walnut Creek, so will be taking off on a couple of road trips.  Who's meant to entertain the baby while they're gone?

Today we fulfilled the main reason that they came over: Yogurtland.  Meg has a long history with Yogurtland, but I think three hours after landing might be a record even for her.  It would have been rude of me not to join in, so I sampled the new Hazelnut Latte and Black Sesame Vanilla flavours.  And it's all fat free!  Until you pile it with toppings and syrup.

They wave goodbye for their first roadtrip on Sunday.  Let's hope that Sequoia National Park has recently cleared some trees and opened a frozen yogurt emporium.

Another au pair candidate.

Where does she get it from?

Deja vu.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Modern family

It takes a village to raise a child, something that many families took full advantage of when we all lived together in Berkeley's University Village.  Most people seemed to know which child belonged to which parents, but as to who had responsibility for whom at any one time...that was a little more complicated.

So it was fun and confusing when the Pellegs popped down from Seattle for something of a mini reunion!  A few years ago we were all young and carefree, and now there are babies everywhere.  I need to work out how these things happen.  Anyway, we took the opportunity of the long Memorial Day weekend to see how many parent/child permutations were possible.

Pete and Guy.  They're the same age...sort of.

Young Ayal, who just keeps growing up.

And baby makes three.  Agam appeared a few weeks ago, thanks to Shauli and Anat.

Stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap.

Oh, and we're babysitting Dwight and Santi's mum for the weekend too!

Single variety: everyone in this photo belongs to Dana.

It's never too late to have number four!

Amir demonstrates impeccable delegation, learned from the MBA.


An army marches on its stomach.

Who's got my baby?

Whose baby have I got?

I made another employment offer to Maya, but there are some kind of child labour laws in this country.  That's probably what's holding the economy back.

But who is the cutest?  As if I even have to ask.  (Answer: whoever is not crying at that moment).

Meanwhile, in New Zealand...they obviously do families differently down there.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Bouncing baby boy

At a recent Chevron fundraiser, in the silent auction, there was a hamper of baby stuff.  "I have to have it!" said Hannah, with her usual new-mother-MBA-graduate aggression.  So we got it.  Included in there, along with a voucher and some organic nappy cream, was a baby bouncer.  Not the type that the baby happily reclines in, no.  The type you attach to the ceiling and dangle your cherub from, like a torture device.

Pete is now four months old, but we've been told with premies you have to always calculate their "adjusted" age, from his original due date.  So he's two months old, but we believe things like medical expertise of doctors shouldn't hold him back.  He's not exactly holding his own head up, although his rolls of fat form a natural neck brace, but what better way to encourage development than bouncing him up and down for a few hours every day?

Assembly of the device was reasonably straightforward, and we found a suitable lintel to clamp the contraption to.  Then the baby was fitted and we waited for him stuff.  That stuff turned out to be looking confused, although not screaming, but Mummy was soon on hand to encourage him by doing the bouncing for him.  This is how it starts - next she'll be writing his school essays.

Helps baby reach 3 developmental milestones, smile, and become more ethnically diverse!

Construction begins.

Um, what's the point of this thing if you can't leave them unattended?

In he goes...

...although the addition of a couple of blankets behind to bolster him helped a lot.

Come on, Pete, make an effort!

Finally: screaming because he wants to go faster!  Or just screaming.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Las Trampas

"I feel like a little tramp this afternoon," has several meanings, but in the wholesome Davies family it signifies a desire to go out for a walk.  The walks that Hannah and her siblings were forced to go on when younger are legendary, but now she's older and wiser and, like us all, has become her parents, she feels that getting out on a Sunday afternoon is vital to Pete's development.  He declined to comment, unless being sick counts.

Where better to tramp than Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, a short drive from us, in the Moraga hills?  It's designated a "wilderness" because it's more than ten minutes to the nearest Starbucks.

Yep: a wilderness.

It was 35C+ when we arrived at the staging post in the bottom of a valley, so slinging Pete onto ourselves was an impractical and smelly idea.  Instead we clicked his car seat into our all-terrain buggy and set off uphill.  Very uphill - soon it didn't matter where the baby was, all three of us were dripping like ice creams in a sauna.

Hannah wanted to give up half-way.  Ha!  You don't drag the Davies boys out into hell and then tell them you're going to give up!  I took over pushing, and Pete registered his support from inside his double-shaded cocoon by not screaming all the time.

We didn't make it to the very top; there was a gate, and at that point we didn't feel like hoisting a buggy over.  But we had done ourselves proud, and for our efforts received a view of Las Trampas almost as good as from the top of the ridge.  We'll get there next time...when Pete is old enough to push us.

An expedition into the wilderness had profound effects on each of us. On the way home we stopped at Starbucks.

...of civilisation.

Bollinger Creek, not free-flowing at this time of year.

Optimistic, and ready for the off!

Less optimistic.

It was a little steeper than we anticipated.

Almost there.

The view from the nearly-top.

Back at the bottom, and enjoying a kick around after rather a long time in a car seat.

Dining al fresco.

The sweet taste of safety in a Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino.

Made for walking.

Finally home, and happily chilling by the pool.  We've heard that fresh air may promote hair growth...

Friday, 10 May 2013

Last Train to Kidzville

Our local gym has a creche - Kidzville - where members can leave their kidz for up to 2 hours a day while we tone our rippling bronzed bodies ready for the California summer or, alternatively, sear our white pasty British flesh lobster-red in the sauna in the changing rooms.  The moment had come for me to leave my baby for the first time ever!  Well, with someone who isn't a family member...and not counting all the nurses in the NICU...

I reflected on this novel thing I was feeling - guilt? - as I knelt, showering a sleeping Peter with kisses and reminding him that daddy loves him (yes he does, daddy loves you, daddy loves you very much!), while the Kidzville supervisor stared blankly down at me.  I then made sure I explained to her how to change a nappy (it's a cloth one, completely different), and that sometimes if Pete is crying it's because he wants to eat.  You know, like every other baby in the world.

I'm sure the other gym-goers thought my tears were a result of the particularly punishing program I'd selected on the Stair Master.  But how would they feel if their baby was 15 feet away in another room being cared for by a certified professional?  How can American certification be as good as British?  What if they leave Peter sleeping under something that might catch fire and then fall on him?  Or fall on him and then catch fire?

I didn't want to overdo my first workout in a while, so after twelve intense minutes I had a rushed shower and went to rescue my baby.  He was sleeping, but had woken up, played with toys far more varied and interesting than we have, had his nappy changed (correctly) and finished his bottle.  On the way home he woke up in a much better mood than he usually manages that late in the afternoon.  It will take a while to judge the long-term psychological impact of his ordeal.

As with every harrowing experience, I came out with greater knowledge: I am the parent I couldn't stand when I worked in childcare.  And this is now a baby blog.

Here's what entertainment at home with daddy looks like.  Am I surprised he loves Kidzville?

Monday, 6 May 2013

Auntie Em! Auntie Em! There's no place like home...

My sister's fortnight with us came to an end today, and she's off back to Africa via a couple of weeks in England.  She lives in Uganda; as long as we could provide consistent electrical supply and an Internet connection faster than dial-up, she's been happy!  A lot of Grey's Anatomy watching has taken place.

We've also embarked on a culinary tour, taking in such highlights as In'n'Out, Krispy Kreme, and the Pyramid Brewery.  Pete has been educated in these fine establishments too - obesity is his American birthright! - and has been enjoying much time with the family member he resembles most.  Em, pediatric nurse that she is, has been patient in answering all my "is this medically normal?" questions.  And ones about the baby too.  Come back soon Em...mainly because tomorrow is my first day alone with the child...

Too cold to jump in, apparently.  Africa has turned her soft.

Gastro-tour stop one.

Gastro-tour stop two.

Potential career move.

She then turned to homemade treats: oat cookies.

She also had time to knit Pete a few fine clothes, including this hat, which he appreciates very much.

Throwing in some education along the way (with fab BabyLit books she brought).

She even got to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with us.

She will be missed (I'm going to have to get used to being sicked on).

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Son of Superman

In a cosmic confluence that may result in us all developing superpowers, Star Wars Day ("May the Fourth be with you") landed on the first Saturday in May which, as everyone knows, is Free Comic Book Day!  Comic shops around the country were giving out free issues; the geeks were out in force wearing Star Wars t-shirts - where better to experience this than in Berkeley?

We drove over the hills and down to Fantastic Comics on Shattuck Avenue, stopping by Guerrilla Cafe for a Blue Bottle cappuccino en route of course.  What lured us was the chance to meet a Stormtrooper, but sadly that opportunity (and resulting amazing photo of a Stormtrooper holding a chubby baby) didn't happen.

What did happen was much cooler.  There were three student artists who would draw your comic portrait, for free!  Hannah, doting mother that she is, was happy to spend time in a shop she wouldn't normally be seen dead in to secure an image of her baby.  And we got a full family portrait!  I've always felt special, as though maybe I'm the last remnant of a noble alien civilisation and was sent to Earth to teach and inspire humanity.  Now I've seen myself in comic form, there's no doubt.

Don't feed the wrong drink to the wrong person.

If it's got free in the title, I'm there.

Emily finds a book detailing her superpowers.

Our artist, T1mco (not her real name).

It took a while, so Em caught up on literature.

Hannah: Berkeley mother.  Of course, if she was a real Berkeley mom she'd have been breastfeeding uncovered while singing about it on an acoustic guitar.  Next time.

Look!  We're a comic book family!!  I think she's captured us all quite well, especially Pete's evil look (and giant thighs).

My free comic. Gotta stay down with the kids...of 1977.