Sunday, 27 February 2011

Back in Biz

Tomorrow is a big day for me. I am going back to work after eight months at home with Little H. 8 months of an introductory how-to-be a mummy course, now it is time for Pappa Kas and his four months crash-course.
Am I nervous? Exited? Happy? Worried? Or all of the above?

Nervous: Starting work again is like going back to school after the summer holiday. Everything is the same, but still different. There will be people I haven’t seen in a long time, lots of catching up to do, and the challenge of getting back into the routines, perhaps create some new ones. There will probably be some new classmates ehrmm... colleagues, new scary software and new pregnancies. All will be as usual, but not quite. And me? A little older, a little wiser, but in a mummy- kind-of-way which I do not yet know if I can translate into business acumen.

Excited: for almost the same reasons as above. I am also excited about being amongst grown-ups in a workplace again. I am excited to re-start in a job that I really liked before I went on leave . And the excitement of whether I get a seat or not on the train in the morning is almost unbearable. Every morning and afternoon Monday till Friday I’ll be standing on the platform getting ready for the battle of Seats. Fellow commuters- be aware!

Happy: For changing less diapers. For being able to wear nice outfits without the danger of spit-up or other nastiness hidden in those hard to see places. For seeing my friends and colleagues again. For not having to walk 3 ½ kilometer for a double soy latte (we have several coffee bars close to my workplace).

Worried: For the missing fashion police at home. Who will check the outfits Pappa Kas picks for Little H when they are going out and about?
Well if that is my biggest worry, I guess that I am more than ready to go back to business.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Little H: the superhero

I was not planning on writing about this, but perhaps it helps.

I came across a blog from someone who has had a similar experience, and when I started writing her a comment, I could not stop writing. It all came back. So here’s a story I was not planning to tell:
Let me start with that we have a new superhero in town. Her name is Little H. She moves faster than the light, is more flexible than the most flexible yoga practitioner, is definitely smarter than her mum and stronger than Pippi Longstockings.

It was a Wednesday. We were to go cross-country with Granny B and Granddad G with Little H in her sledge for the first time. It was time to prepare. We went down to the bathroom to change into more wintry clothes.
I do not know exactly how it happened. Little H was at the bench on top of the mat we use for changing her. She was her usual slippery snake-like H, twisting and turning around on the mat. For a brief moment I did not pay attention. One second she was on top of the mat, the next she was lying on the stone tiles below.

My first thought was that I had killed my daughter (I had not, she is her healthy self again) I did not panic. I took her up and into my chest stroking her back while she was grasping for air. I went to find my phone, called my mum. Why on earth did I call my mum? Well, I guess that is what you do whatever age you are when things go horribly wrong. Luckily the call did not go through and I came to my senses and dialed the emergency number, all the time stroking Little H, who was grasping for air, pale and in pain.

I thought I was on the phone for 90 minutes before the ambulance came, later when I checked the length of the call it was 17 minutes. It was the longest 17 minutes of my life. The voice on the other end of the phone calmed me down, told me to continue stroking Little H, keep her close, her airways free, just to continue doing what I was already automatically doing. I was running on autopilot.

Little H started crying, and crying is a good sign in situations like these I. So I cried too. I cried and cried competing with the sounds of Little H. The ambulance came and the paramedics assured me that she was ok, but that it was best to take her to the hospital and get her properly checked.

In the ambulance I called Pappa Kas, and told him what had happened. Then I called my mum. I have never seen Little H so lifeless while awake. When she smiled a couple of hours later I knew that she was fine. She has the most beautiful cheeky smile I have ever seen. We were discharged from the hospital after a few hours. Everything was fine. Little H was without even so much as a bruise.

I have heard that this has happened to other mums. At the hospital several nurses told me similar stories. Everyone has reassured me that these things can happen to anyone, so I just need to let it go and not blame myself.

Pappa Kas told me that this is probably only one of many small accidents Little H will have. She will fall down stairs and get bruises. She will break a rib or two while snowboarding and she will probably drink from a colorful bottle found in the cupboard where we keep our cleaning products.

But Little H is our strong superhero, and now I just need to strengthen up as well.

Monday, 21 February 2011

The final countdown

I am entering the last week of my maternity leave before Pappa Kas starts his paternity leave, and it is with mixed feelings I hand Little H over to him.

On one side I am thinking “Ha ha, now he’s going to see what it is like to be at home with Little H and her tantrums ten hours a day”. But on the other: “how will I survive without her wet kisses, her random “singing”, her smelly farts and the look on her face when she smiles or the sound of her laughter?”

I was not prepared for motherhood; I do not think you can as a first time mum. Of course I had read books and magazines for how-to’s, spoken to other mummies and talked with a mid-wife. But upon arrival, Little H was Little H and no reading or talking to others could have prepared me enough.

I cannot say that it all came naturally, ask Pappa Kas (he taught me a trick or two). But little by little we made our own routines and Little H and I settled into everyday life together. We have had the same weekly schedule for a long time now, so Little H must be desperate for some change (that could explain the recent grumpiness). And I think that I am ready for some change too.

There are five days left with business as usual: swimming, Pilates, coffee-shop dates with other mummies, post-natal group get-together and all else we normally fill our weekdays with, and oh not forget the muffin-top shakes/walks.
Unfortunately Little H has come down with a bad cold and a fever, so I might have to go for the back-up plan – watch as much day-time TV as I can with little H on my lap- farts, smiles and all…

Friday, 18 February 2011

Sooooo last season

Typical Basques ;-)
According to the inhabitants of the fashion capital of Spain, Elorrio, Hanna and her pram is sooooo last season. There’s a new pram in town and it is owned by everyone who’s anyone in this little Basque town. It’s called a Baby Jogger City Mini (no more, no less) and is the only pram which works with the latest hiking boots, fleece jackets, Lycra hill walking trousers and mullets, as displayed by the local fashionistas (for more Basque Fashion).

One of the biggest and most important fashion statements a yummy mummy can have is the pram. So I did not take lightly on researching the most practical, durable and ehrmmm fashionable pram I could find (and afford) before the arrival of Little H. And as Pappa Kas is a man of method and thoroughness he scouted the internet, interviewed friends and read consumer tests. We were talking about an investment buy here, more often used than a Mulberry Bayswater, so we needed to make sure that we took the right choice. And so we thought…

International as we are, we did not end up with one of the Swedish sturdy, solid and snow compatible prams with footbags (whatever that is) but proudly bought a Central European design winner- the Bugaboo.

Overall I am very happy with the pram. It is light, easy to assemble, practical, and if you have to take the bus, it is so small that you can enter at the front of the bus rather than having to shout to the driver: “Open the back door please”, only to be ignored and left at the bus stop. The easiness of pushing it in the snow is not to be discussed here, but I can now understand why Scandinavian Design is for Scandinavians and adapted to their (winter)-needs.

The color of the Buggie was a blip though as we bought a chocolate brown one, despite me knowing that it did not match my wellies, my winter parka, my hundred black tunics or cardigans or any other item of clothing a yummy mummy is supposed to have. Well, the Chocolate color works with jeans and my hair-color, so I am one of those trying hard- getting nearly there- but oh so wrong. This seasons gray nail-polish? Don’t go there.

Me, Little H in the buggie, Amama and Aitxitxe

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Skiing for the boy(s) and shopping for the girls

We survived the weekend without Pappa Kas - no problem. I guess he survived without us as well, but he was looking pretty rough when he came in the front door after Little H’s bedtime Sunday night. I got the story little by little: sauna, tequila, aquavit and the usual shenanigans. In other words: a perfectly normal company skiing trip.
When I go on a skiing trip it is totally different. I’m in bed by 10 pm and up by 7 am to wax skis, make a packed lunch and to be the first one to hit the slopes. No stronger beverage than cod liver oil is consumed.

Look what I bought with
Pappa's card!
So what did we do over the weekend? We certainly did some shopping, had coffees and some girlie chat. I was planning to go on a big spending spree with Pappa Kas’ credit card, but it was hard to stay focused on the shopping when Little H constantly chatted (shrieked in delight) to staff in the shops and old ladies kept saying things like “what a nice little boy!” and “what’s his name?”. With other words: Just another usual day out and about with Little H. 

Sunday night I tried to keep the little bundle of joy awake until Pappa Kas came home, but I did not stand a chance. Little H started getting tired (read grumpy) around 6 pm. We then went to have a bath, which she loves, in order to buy us some time as Kas was sitting in a traffic jam somewhere (read: having a burger stop).

When Little H’s lips started to turn blue and her toes and fingertips looked like mini raisins, bath-time was over and I tried to lift her out of her little tub. She protested wildly, we are talking her much feared high-pitched screams (see video: chitty chat) but after having given her a toy to chew while singing one of her favorite songs (not the poo one, but the Wheels on the bus) she calmed down.

When Pappa Kas opened the front door a few minutes after Little H had fallen asleep I was already standing in the kitchen with a bottle in the one hand and a bottle opener in the other- Hora Feliz!

Friday, 11 February 2011

It’s Friday!

We have a song, well, one of many songs in the Castro-Nyhus household, which goes like this: “It’s Friday! It’s Friday!...” and so on. We also have a rap on poo, and a ‘trying-to-buy-time- until-the-food-is –ready’ song. The rap both has a Spanish and an English version and a variation so that it works for farts as well, in both languages of course.

Today it’s time to sing the Friday song. For me it does not really matter as I’m always on holiday. Yes, holiday, that is what my mother in law and the rest of my Spanish family calls maternity leave. Are they kidding? There’s no nine to five here, rather six am till eight pm and an extra nightshift on top.

But I am sure Pappa Kas was singing the Friday song when he left this morning, ready packed for a weekend of down-hill skiing, drinking in the sauna, drinking in the Jacuzzi, going to after ski, you get the point. He’s off on a skiing weekend with work, while leaving me and Little H home alone. This leaves me with 48 hours alone with full diapers, spit-up, snots and porridge stains everywhere. While on the other hand I get the happy, energetic, charming and laughing little H all to myself.

And what are our plans? Shopping and hanging in coffeeshops of course- pappa Kas left us his credit card.
A little Lady who likes to lunch

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Staying in

This morning started (way too early) with bright sunshine and snow sparkling like diamonds outside.

We had just gotten accustomed to sleeping through the night, when we moved Little H into her own room. I guess it had to happen one day, but it is hard. I keep saying to Pappa Kas: “I do not think Little H is happy in there, perhaps she should move back to our room?”. What I really mean is “Can we please move her back into our room so that I do not have to wake up two times a night to comfort Little H”. But pappa Kas is hard, there’s no room for bargaining.

My poison of choice
We aim for a walk every day. The fresh air does good for both me and Little H, and it is the best way to get her to nap during the day. I also get to shake the muffin-top on the way to feed my coffee addiction. There are three and a half kilometers (the shortest way) to the nearest town and coffee bar. So if I want one I know what to do.

Oh, so wrong
You might know that I struggle with the mummy uniform and how to walk from the countryside and stylishly into town. I always seem to get it wrong. When the other mummies are wearing wellington boots, I am wearing hiking shoes (I know it is a no-no, but so comfy!) When they are wearing their winter parkas, I am wearing my woolen coat. Their outfits always matching the pram and their baby’s outfit, while Little H’s pram is brown and I do not have any items of clothing which is brown, beige, tan, vanilla – you get the point, and get it wrong in grey, black and more recently navy.

So today we’re staying in. Sad but true.
To be used when?

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Another week in MaMa Land, and what have we done?

Let’s recap-

Monday: baby swimming- Little H loves to go swimming and so do some of her friends. We’re four mummies with our babies who every Monday afternoon go to baby swim class. Well, I and Little H attempt to go to baby swimming every Monday afternoon, but sometimes there’s no chance we’ll get there in time and have to stay home for no good reason.

The Little (H) Mermaid

No matter how long in advance the bag has been packed, it is always something that comes up last minute. A tantrum held because Little H does not want to put on clothes, an express -delivery spilling out of the diapers and everywhere else, me not finding two equal socks, or having forgotten where our swimsuits are. Not going because my legs have stubbles of hair has never been an option, then we would never get there…

Mostly we manage, rushing in at the last minute. Last week, we were early, In fact we were so impressively early that the changing room was almost empty and when one of the other mums arrived a couple of minutes later she exclaimed: "I KNEW we were late when I saw Little H’s pram standing outside…."

Tuesday: Pilates as usual, and for smugness factor we walked about 12 km on the iced and snowy pavements and roads. Remember how I was jealous of another mummy and her super sporty walking outfit? Well, when I went to get something similar I came home with a stylish back to-work-shirt from the sales and a sequined black knitted hat, far nicer than the wannabe-pro-cross country skier hat the other mummy had! And my hat works as well in the country side as in the city, but it looks silly in the ski slopes, so there I change to my white woolly hat with knitted ears…

Wednesday was sore….

On Thursday the “Skinheads” met again, unfortunately we came an hour late as Little H decided that she needed a two hour nap after breakfast. I was so in awe of that she actually slept inside at that time of day that I did not make the most of the hour-S and did some much needed housework. My theory was that if I got really into something (cleaning windows or polishing cutlery) she would wake up immediately, so I surfed the net and made Banana Loaf.

On Friday we went out walking again. There’s no place to get a decent coffee around the fields of Lier, so we have to boogie into town to fuel up on caffeine. You might think that fresh air and a quick stroll could wake me up sufficiently, but I need stronger stimuli to keep Little H entertained all day.

So this was our working week, pretty average I would say. Here’s a summary:
Lots of walking, sleeping, coffees and lateness, a little laziness and so much crawling around on the floor with little H that my used to be nice dark skinny jeans looks more like faded denims with ragged hems and has a new worn out look. Despite all my efforts, Little H does not crawl at all, but that’s another story.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Sergio’s Senoritas

Pappa Kas has many female admirers. They love to spend time with him, to play with him and his toys, listen to his charming accent and laugh at his bad jokes. And he, on the other hand, loves to spend time with his little ladies, to woo and entertain them for hours and hours on end. How do I cope without being jealous?

Lucky for me these female admirers are all under 8 years old.

What makes him so attractive? I think I have picked up a few of his tricks. Where other grown-ups sit in the sofa sipping coffee talking about the weather, Pappa Kas sits at the kids table with his hot chocolate discussing the latest Wii games or listens attentively to stories about who-said-what-to-whom in the nursery that day and why it was unfair - without interrupting.
I have gotten accustomed to our friends daughters saying that they want to go to and visit Sergio and have no idea of my name or that I even exist. I try to bribe them with home-made cookies, but they just grab them off the table and run off to play with their favorite Spaniard.

Now, after the arrival of little H, Pappa Kas has gotten fierce competition. The teeth-less princess-dressed little ones no longer flock to our house and squeal of delight when they see Pappa Kas, but rushes past him in search of Baby Hanna. Last week we went to visit a family where their three charming daughters are honorary members of Pappa Kas Fan Club, and whom he absolutely adores. I am proud to tell that these girls have (finally) started to remember my name, so I am making progress with my cookies. At least I was making progress until now...

I did not see Pappa Kas' face when the grown-ups if the Castro-Nyhus household were referred to as Baby Hanna and the others by his Senoritas, but I bet he was shocked and disappointed. I guess that he understood, at least a little bit, how I feel when I also want play, but the girls only has eyes for Pappa Kas.

Now we're even
- and beaten by a baby.

Pappa Kas with Audrey, Ashley and Adriana

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