Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Happy Eighth, Happy Infinity

Walder Buckingham Palace London England
Thank you for saving me. M & C. Bah! EGG xx Our greeting card shot.

Fall in Love

 Attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907-1991)

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

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Saturday, 25 July 2015

Breastfeeding and homesickness

The Long Walk Windsor Castle Philippines bayong

Picnic by the Windsor Castle gates in early June, at one of our favourite places to go for walks, “The Long Walk.” Sprog no. 2 was only three weeks old at that time. Bayong love. Discreetly breastfed in front of the Queen’s house.
I haven’t had much sleep lately. But anyone with a grown-up offspring will say this is the easiest time so I just try to savour the moments with a baby who is hardly aware where his arms end and where mine begin. It gives me joy simply watching him stretch and yawn, those tiny arms! I can never bring this back. I can give all of myself right now and I know that it’s going to be enough for this pure being. However, when he grows up, when he tries to find his place in this world, when he experiences his first heartbreak, when he can’t find a job… I will still be there to hold him but that might not help much. Oh, anyone with a grown-up child will say that this lack of sleep when having a newborn is all just a breeze compared to what’s to come.
If I wanted to, I could apply the same tricks I’d used for my first-born who slept from 7pm to 7am at two and a half months (with an 11pm feed that gradually went away in the weeks that followed). One time, at close to midnight I tried making the new baby self-soothe in his moses basket, which he did after a couple of cuddles. He woke up again for a feed at 3am and this time, self-soothing did not work. He kept waking up till 5am and I just gave up and cuddled him and it occurred to me, I actually want to be awake. I actually want to use this time to read, listen to podcasts or watch films.

This year marks the 10th year since I've moved to Europe. I always say I never get homesick but probably I refer to it in other words. I engross myself in anything Filipino when I miss my family, friends and hometown. Since the baby’s birth last May, during those hours of breastfeeding, I’ve read/listened/watched so many things Filipino. Original Pilipino Music (OPM). Manny Pacquiao Documentary. Filipino author Eliza Victoria’s collection “Unseen Moon.” Have I said this before, or am I the only one who feels this? I’ve been reading Eliza for years, from her early works to the current ones, and I believe she’s developed this very distinctive, separate voice for her fiction and her poetry. Amazing.

Sometimes I’ll be in bed watching old Filipino films and at times my husband and daughter would join me for lego-building. My little girl can’t help but be curious about the film, with questions like, “is she angry? Why are they fighting?” I try to explain, tempted to say, no, they’re just talking, Filipino is just very loud. I watched Lino Brocka’s “Maynila sa mga kuko ng liwanag” again. It’s 40 years old this year, imagine that. Whilst watching I couldn’t help but feel the reality of it, and there was that prayer that my children may never experience such life. It is a harrowing film and I had seen these things happen, not to me, but to people I know. I feel bad now that I used to romanticise poverty (like Sonny Boy, my teenage crush, he worked at the Daungan and had his face constantly burnt by cigarettes in his sleep), or make fun of it (Fred, our neighbour’s help, and how he found work as a help in Manila and was embarrassed to ask for his pay, for months). This film was art imitating life.

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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Strawberry Thief

Strawberry Thief Liberty Mi-Pac flanked by Givenchy Nightingale and Avoca lambswool throw
Love from London, Paris and Dublin (Strawberry Thief Liberty Mi-Pac flanked by
Givenchy Nightingale and Avoca autumnal colours
lambswool throw).
When I saw the Strawberry Thief Liberty Mi-Pac, I thought I found the perfect nappy bag. What's more, it was offered at a reduced price on the Liberty of London website. I quickly ordered it. My order was confirmed but I didn't hear anymore till eight days later. Whenever I checked the status of my order on their website, it gave me the impression that the bag had been dispatched. Eight days later, I received a note that the product was out of stock. It took them that long to send an apology you would have thought -- without using the hypocritical 'gesture of goodwill' -- that they had a better offer (like a discounted Liberty mini suitcase perhaps??!). Being familiar with the store but never having bought from them before, I simply wrote back to convey my disappointment. That was three weeks ago and I'm not surprised they didn't reply to that, either. I know they are an iconic brand but heard that they've lost it in recent years. I managed to buy the bag from another store. I quite like the "strawberry thief" design. Reminds me of the "sleep thief" print we ironed on our daughter's babygrow shortly after she was born.
Avoca macintosh Liberty of London fabric
Christmas 2014 and four months pregnant -- one of my presents from Mike last Christmas is this lovely Macintosh from my favourite Irish brand, Avoca. It is made of Liberty of London coated fabric, and thank heavens not sold by Liberty or maybe I would not have received the coat, either.

Liberty of London alley
That alley outside the Liberty store in London last December.
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Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Oh hello, Sprog no. 2

Walder pregnant no. 2

He came as a surprise; we were totally unprepared. A week before my admission into hospital, I gathered some items from my newborn clothing stock from nearly five years ago. We didn’t buy anything, not a single vest or babygrow. Even with no. 1 we were sensible enough to buy neutral ones before but they were 0-3, not newborn clothes, and were still baggy even for her that time. We didn’t have time to transform the spare bedroom into a nursery. The idea was, if we had another girl, they should share the attic as it would be unfair to the younger one if the big sister would have a bigger room. We were bent on turning the spare room into a family room and lose the hallway as it had been originally during Victorian times.

It’s a long journey from this, to the hopes that he’ll be conceived in my beloved Ireland late last summer (nearly happened), to his beginnings and full cooperation whilst we drove 3065 miles across some parts of North America in autumn. The big sister wanted twins; I said I would have wanted twins the first time, certain that if it were up to me I would want only two. Not that we make twins. The only thing I know is when we did this before, during those sleepless nights, we knew we said, “what have we gotten ourselves into?” A few years later, somehow, like the others before us, we found that we got amnesia and would like to do this all over again.

We were given two dates and chose the earlier one, May 19th. On the 14th, at my pre-op, my blood pressure was unusually high. I told the midwife that it was the book that did it, the elective caesarean book they ask the patients to read right before the appointment. With my emergency c-section before with sprog no. 1, after trying everything during labour except the pushing, we just went for it, no discussion of anything. Somehow, a supposedly relaxed environment I found a little bit more fussy because of how organised it was. Everything was described in the book in detail, along with pictures. Something like, “Let the team know what you want. You might like for the doctor to lower the screen a little bit and raise your newborn so you and your partner could see the gender.” That first time, it was all frantic and when I first heard my little girl’s cry, even if we knew what we were having I had to confirm two times, “is it a girl? Is it a girl?” The surgeon was probably too busy stitching me up but finally he said, “yes, it is,” with a smile in his voice. (Nothing like a Filipino film when the doctors announce "It's a healthy baby girl!")

The surgeon raised the baby for us to see. “It’s a boy!” I said. I saw that Mike got teary-eyed that I started to cry, too. My tears were probably out of sadness for this little boy and all the model engineering and train shows his father would drag him to.

During my first pregnancy I went out for walks almost everyday and exercised greatly to prepare for a natural birth. This time around I became irresponsible and knew I’d be in trouble should I go into labour before May 19th.  I literally held the baby in till the last minute. I was surprised I lasted for 39 weeks, with the big sister my waters broke at 37 weeks but that was also full term. The service at the postnatal ward that first time was a traumatic experience for me. There were things I wasn’t pleased about this second time but they were mostly about waiting – I was ready to be discharged 24 hours after my operation but nobody did the necessary checkups till the afternoon. Fortunately, we managed to go home that same afternoon of the 20th. I want to remember the nice and funny things. Before the operation, an assistant undid the stopper on the cannula on my arm that all the ‘anaesthetic’ blood was everywhere, on the sheets, pillows, on her scrubs. I didn’t faint and thought it was a bit funny. And then there was beautiful Charlotte who was so sweet and kind and whose energy just didn’t waver. One would think she was being nice just to make her job easier but when we came back to the hospital a week later to have our little boy’s jaundice checked, we saw her again and she remembered both our children’s names. She is genuinely kind. Charlotte, I doubt you’ll ever read this but thank you for looking after me at the post-op ward.

Walder pregnant no. 2 pic 2

Up to a few days ago I was mostly in our bedroom on the first floor. Mike brought all my meals upstairs and attended to my every need. I thought he only had two weeks paternity leave so I was really pleasantly surprised when he said he took two more weeks off, as I guess we wouldn’t be going anywhere this year anyway, with the baby and all. “When are you going downstairs?” He asked days after I came back. “When breakfast is ready,” I said. He rushed downstairs, saying, “I better start vacuuming then.” From the start, one of my worries was what state my kitchen would be in when I returned from hospital.

Just some random stuff: I was told they used dissolving sutures for my stitches. And the husband and I had the time to joke about never, ever using dissolving sutures for a heart operation (referring to one of our favourite Columbo episodes wherein the murderer was played by Spock, err, Leonard Nimoy)***Nothing could ever prepare you for a newborn boy’s wee, you think you have everything under control, but once that little squirt comes, it’s everywhere (whatever happened to that protective spray on the Parker Knoll? The wee didn’t run off, instead soaked through the floral design, I even remember which flower it was)***All housework is set aside; our garden is now starting to look like a little meadow.***The pregnancy felt so long as it seemed everybody kept asking Mike if the baby has arrived yet, from our postman to some people I know at the nursery.***The classic: Big sister asked, “why does the baby have red teeth, mummy?”

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Thursday, 21 May 2015

It's All Becoming Clear

Givenchy Black Medium Antigona Tote blue tie
...this recent obsession with blue. Although I may not be able to carry anything but a nappy bag again in the next several months.

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Friday, 1 May 2015

In an English Garden

Dans Un Jardin Anglais Hermès scarf designed by Alice Shirley
Dans Un Jardin Anglais Hermès scarf designed by Alice Shirley
I’m falling in love with the Hermès Paris scarves created by young British designer Alice Shirley, what a charming name. How can she be both Alice in Wonderland and Anne (of Green Gables) Shirley? It all started after I saw that Zebra Pegasus in blue which reminded me of our lovely trip to Santorini, Greece, many years ago. Unfortunately, I discovered the scarf only two months or so ago and this colour that I liked seemed to have been sold out on the UK Hermès website. I believe this was among her first designs for Hermès which became available in the A/W 2014 silk carré collection. In the end, this didn’t sadden me because I saw another creation of hers that I like - Dans Un Jardin Anglais (in photo, not sure what it is that attracts me to blue lately). It is suitable for framing! ***UPDATE*** MY HUSBAND GOT ME THE ZEBRA PEGASUS ONE DURING A BUSINESS TRIP TO AMERICA. YAY!

Other works she was involved in include writing and illustrating her own edition of Aesop’s Fables and teaching and mentoring for the Young Artists Program of the Prince’s Drawing School at the Natural History Museum and V&A Museum of Childhood.

Have a look at the details of the design over at her website. I’ve also checked out her Instagram account. I don’t have any social networking account so before I’m left breathless just looking at her photos, I've decided to channel my gushing via this post.
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