Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Who Knew Physicists Liked To Dance???

Matthew's lab's Christmas party was last week. Matthew was one of the organizing committee, and he got a little bit stressed about it, not gonna lie. It was a pot luck dinner so Matthew made a Google doc that could be modified by each person as they added what they were bringing. What Matthew didn't know is that in England, "pot luck" means you don't tell anyone what you're bringing - hence the 'luck' part, I guess. So a couple of really funny guys in his lab added what they were bringing - my favourites were: Crystal-Meth Stuffed Mushrooms, Spam A La Croute, Sandwich from the Vending Machine, Pond Water, and Leftovers from the Canteen.

We had a babysitter for the night - our friends Helen & Gabriel and their daughter Amy. Amy and Elizabeth are the same age, and they are besties for sure. When I said I was leaving, they were going for walks around the house with a stroller & a shopping cart, and I said, "good night Elizabeth! See you tomorrow morning!" and she said, "Bye Mummy. Walkie walkies!" 

The party was so much fun! They had a ceilidh band there: For those of you who don't know, let me reference Wikipedia:
Céilidh music may be provided by an assortment of fiddle, flute, tin whistle, accordion, bodhrán, and in more recent times also drums, guitar and electric bass guitar. The music is cheerful and lively, and the basic steps can be learned easily. Dancing at céilidhs is usually in the form of céilidh dances, set dances or couple dances. A "Set" consists of four couples, with each pair of couples facing another in a square or rectangular formation. Each couple exchanges position with the facing couple, and also facing couples exchange partners, while all the time keeping in step with the beat of the music.
 Who knew that so many of the smartypants physicists would volunteer to dance? I think about a third of them were too bashful to even try, but the ones who did were so gung ho and it was super, super fun! Very square-dancey feeling, with a caller who tells you the steps. As well, I must tell you that the band were maybe the Most British Looking People In The World. Exhibit A:

But the dancing was so much fun, and we all had a great time. Sometimes, you have to just buy into an activity - organized dance parties are so much better once you accept that you're going to look ridiculous, and you just let go and have fun.

A couple of Matthew's colleagues have kids who are between 6 and 10, and they came and had the most fun of everyone. There is nothing sweeter than when a 6 year old girl asks a 6 foot awkward guy to dance, and then they have no choice but to say yes. We can't wait until Elizabeth is old enough to come to these events with us.

As expected, Team Hawkeye put in a good show. It was so much fun!

The guys who weren't into dancing avoided it by cleaning up after the dinner. It just so happens that the youngest and most socially awkward fellows in Matthew's lab are German. Most hilarious conversation of the night:
Georgina: "This is hilarious - an international dance party, and all the Germans are in the kitchen working."
Petros (a Cypriot): "Yes, just like the Eurozone!"

One of the German guys, Christian, brought this awesome German thing as his contribution to the pot luck. Essentially, you put a bowl of mulled wine over a heat source (in this instance, a colander upside-down over candles), put some cinnamon sticks and orange slices in, and then you lay this garden-spade looking thing over top of it. The spade-thing has a slit down the centre, and on the spade you lay a cone of sugar. Then, you pour really high-proof alcohol in a ladle, light the liquor on fire, and pour it on the sugar. The sugar then catches fire, melts, and the liquory sugar falls into the wine through the slit. It was beautiful - not very tasty, but beautiful!

But what is the true evidence of a good time at a dance party?

Friday, 16 December 2011

New Christmas Is The Way To Go!

We celebrated Christmas on December 11 this year. It was awesome. There were so many great things about it, I have to make a list:
- We spent the whole day with just the 3 of us, and had no guilt about not seeing other people, because, hey! it's not really  Christmas, it's New Christmas!
- There was no expectation involved in the day at all. Christmas can be a bit stressful, with all the people to see and it can be a bit overwhelming. You want everything to be perfect. On New Christmas Day, there's none of that! If it all goes horribly wrong, no worries! You get a do-over on December 25!
- When Elizabeth was played out by 12:30, we just put her in her bed. And then we put ourselves in bed! For 3 hours! New Christmas is great! There was no apologizing for her, or helping her stay calm, or making her eat the food that other people had made. Nope - she had cereal, one pancake, and yogurt for most of the day. And cous cous for dinner.
- We had a lamb roast instead of turkey. Seriously, best choice ever. So much easier, and again, no expectations. If you have an undercooked turkey on Christmas day, it can be a bit of a game-changer, but that's not a problem on New Christmas day - you just get a nice rare piece of lamb!

And Elizabeth finally 'gets' what presents are now. We had to divide her gifts up since after the first two, she just needed to play with them - a play-kitchen, and a baby doll with a bassinet. There was no option of getting her to care at all about the other presents. So we gave her a couple more after lunch - a paint set with paintbrushes which are seriously fun, and seriously messy. And then after dinner, a Thomas the Tank Engine train set. By that time, she totally knew what a 'present' was, and she was pretty good at ripping the paper off. Atta girl!

This was our living room when we went to bed on New Christmas Eve:
Elizabeth woke up at 7:27 am. This was the scene at about 7:31 am:

And at about 7:33 am:
And at about 7:34 am:
She showed her new baby all her toys, and the "Teeeee!!! Baby, lightsssss!!" Completely adorable. 

The other big hits were the Nemo and Dory stuffies, and the Mary Poppins dolly. She now will bring Mary Poppins to me or Matthew, and say, "Poppie!! MummyDaddy Poppie!!" (When she gets excited, she just says both our names as one...) And we, being the fools that we are, start singing some random Mary Poppins song and making Mary dance. Elizabeth loves it. She also loves the cake set that Alex & Naomi gave her - it's a great toy with velcro in between the pieces so she can carry it from room to room without losing any slices of cake. Obviously, she thinks she is incredible when she does this.

As per Elizabeth-style, she was a bit tired and sorta sick for New Christmas day (just like her birthday, and New Christmas Eve). We didn't mind at all, and just had lots of chances for Christmas cuddles. It was kinda nice, not gonna lie. 

Merry New Christmas, from the Hawkeyes!


Sunday, 11 December 2011

A Great Christmas Eve

We will be in Canada for December 25, so we decided we'd have an early Christmas morning for just the 3 of us. We hadn't hammered down the date yet, and yesterday when we were on the train to London, I said to Matthew, "Let's do it tomorrow!!" So, BOOM, December 10 became New Christmas Eve! We were instantly excited and had a kind of nervous energy all day. It was so much fun.

We were on the train to London to meet up with our friends Alex & Naomi. Naomi works for the St Johns Hospice,  in North London. They were having a Christmas fair as a fundraiser, and we decided to go down and check it out. It was great timing to go to a Christmassy event on New Christmas Eve! There was face-painting, an inside, man-made skating rink (sorry folks, it's still waaaay too warm here for a real one), a giant snowglobe, and some great market stalls. The Lord Mayor of Westminster came, so Naomi had to do a lot of ooh-ing and ahh-ing, and photo-op-ing.

Santa Claus himself was there for Elizabeth to meet. Naomi did let it slip that their scheduled Santa had called in sick the morning of the event, so they had a stand-in. . . we were glad to find out that this guy's costume had been cobbled together that morning. He was an awesome Santa - his beard, sadly, was not.

It was a pretty warm day, so we were comfortable spending most of the afternoon outside. It was so weird to be outside for hours in December, and not be in full snow-gear. This is one of my favourite pictures of my two favourite people.

After the fair, we decided to go to Harrod's, because there is no better way to get in the Christmas spirit than to go to a huge department store with a massive Christmas section - aptly titled, Christmas World. Alex came with us, and in his own words, "was as overwhelmed as Elizabeth". She was dazzled. We let her walk about, and we're pretty sure she touched every single ornament. I was also caught up, and bought these four cute ornaments. These four little Harrods bears cost more than our entire tree and all the other decorations. Whoopsies.

When we left, it was already dark out and Elizabeth was stunned by the lights.This is what she saw:
and this is what she looked like:

She was such a good girl all day, and we didn't get home until really late - we magically missed two fast trains, and had to take the longest train in the world. You know how that goes. But even on the train, she was just floppy and tired, but didn't fuss or cry. I guess she was holding it all inside, because while Matthew & I were wrapping & getting ready for Christmas day:
 Elizabeth puked in her bed. Poor baby!! The excitement was just too much for her. It's a little bit reminiscent of her first birthday in London. . . Believe it or not, it was our first bed + puke experience, but luckily she went right back to sleep in a fresh bed.

We had a great New Christmas Eve - it is so much fun to be spontaneous!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A Cheating Blog Post

Nothing is really new these days. It is wonderful. We are just living, and there is no drama right now. It is glorious. So I don't have anything earth-shatteringly-exciting to blog about. So far this week, Dr Faff has a cold, so has been going to bed early, I finished a book and started another, and Elizabeth has been asking for her naps. It's been a great week for quiet time & resting! Oh, and I took Elizabeth to her first "dance" class. It was awesome - she followed along with all the big kids (most kids were 2 1/2 - 3) and did the imagination games like pretending to be a snowman, stretching like a turtle out of her shell, then jumping like a raindrop. It is safe to say: she loved it.

So instead, here are some videos of regular, everyday life in the Hawkeye home. (You might notice that I am also 'tidying up' my blackberry, so all the vids are being transferred to the computer, thus to the blog...) In this one, I love how Elizabeth hooks her feet up under the edge of the book to lift it up. So clever! Elizabeth is a reading machine these days, so I have many videos called things like, "reading after breakfast", "reading to babies", and this one is called, "loud morning reading." Very original.

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Lately, I've been playing this game with her, that goes something like this:
Georgina: "Oh no!! It's time to sit on Elizabeth!!"
Elizabeth: "Noooooooo!!!" (huge smile, usually starts to run away)
Georgina: "Uh oh, I guess I have to sit on her now!"
And then this happens:
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And one last one (I swear) of a family dance party. Elizabeth sings along to everyone's favourite dancing song: Dancing Queen, by Abba. Poor Dr Faff.
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 I love how when Matthew goes to dance with her, she runs away. Her run is hilarious - so many tiny, fast steps!!

This Could Be The Reason

Our meals seem to be lasting a really long time lately...

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Sunday, 4 December 2011

Mill Road Winter Fair

I know I have referenced Mill Road before, but as a reminder, it is full of hip, independent shops, and has a ton of international restaurants. Every year, on the first Saturday of December, they have the Mill Road Winter Fair, and they pedestrian-ize the whole road. All the shops have outdoor displays, and all the churches and mosques (of which there are several) have bazaars and stalls set up inside & out. We had a really fantastic day!

The first thing we saw was this:
I was so pumped - I'd never had roast chestnuts before! This is what you get for 1£:
And this is what you look like afterwards, because roasted chestnuts are (a) hard to eat, because you have to peel the husk off, (b) you both burn your hands and inevitably leave behind a big hunk o' husk, and (4) they are gross:

But luckily, we were invited to come into one of the churches, to "have our photo taken in a manger, with real costumes!" Matthew's face said, "Do not make me do this..." and so I said, "Sure! We'd love to!" I bet he is so glad he "agreed" because this might end up being our best family photo ever:

After we'd strolled up & down, and Eliz fell asleep in her stroller, we did what any normal parents would do: went to a pub & had a pint. She slept for the whole time we were in the pub, and we stood at the bar - mostly because it was busy, but also because we never get to stand at the bar anymore, and it's the best place for people-watching/judging. I didn't find out until today (ie a day too late) that the Man in Red, Santa Claus himself, was also having a pint at the same time as us, but at different pubs!! Oh well, we'll have to find another time for Elizabeth to see him again.

We also hit up the stalls of bric-a-brac, and came home with a bunch of "olde-fashioned" wooden Christmas tree ornaments, a bag of Christmas tree balls from a charity shop, and a tree & tinsel from Salvation Army. Our little tree cost us a grand total of 12.50£, and I love it. More importantly, Elizabeth loves it, and if she pulls it down, it won't hurt her. Also, if she breaks every single one of the ornaments, who cares!

Elizabeth is allowed to play with the Santas & the little train, and so now she says a lot of "Ho Ho Hooooooooo" and "chooooo choooo". She also thinks the lamb is a horse, so she says, "Neigh, neigh" a lot too... 


Thursday, 1 December 2011

Lots to Say

Elizabeth started communicating with us using baby sign language. Well, I guess first she cried & we guessed what she needed, and then she started signing. I cannot say it enough: that was one of our best parenting moves. She didn't start signing back to us until she was between 8 and 9 months, which meant about 3-4 months of me doing the signs every single time she did something, and having no response from her. Then she did "more please" and I probably cried with happiness. Then she learned "all done", and "milk" (which later morphed into just "drink"), and "help please", and then she learned a whole bunch really fast. If you need a flashback of Elizabeth's cuteness, she kept doing "more please" at the fair in August when the bands were done their tunes.

Once she realized that when she did this weird motion with her hands she got what she wanted, she was off. Then she did a hybrid of signing & speaking, and then it became a hybrid of speaking & signing. But to be honest, since she's started speaking, she hasn't really ever stopped. We can pretty much always tell what room she is in. We know when she is on the move in the house. And there is never a question of whether or not she is awake - if she is in her bed and quiet, she's sleeping, because otherwise she is telling all her bed-friends the news.

Well, a couple nights ago, Elizabeth had some phenomenal news. I'm not sure what it was, but it was super intense, and I had to pare down these vids to the bare minimum. These are mostly up for the grandparents and family, so if you don't feel like watching all of them, I totally get it. However, you might like them for a few reasons: (1) Elizabeth is in them, and is super funny, (b) they are shot on my Blackberry, so the audio & video get screwed up and they are reminiscent of a bad kung fu movie, and (4) she says "Messi!!!" and I think she is talking about our trip with Stuart and Ika.

Video #1: Ends with a great laugh.
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Video #2: Check out the expressive eyebrows, seriously gesticulating arm motions, and puckered lips. Also, I love the progressively worsening audio-video delay. I think it adds a little je ne sais quoi to the vid.
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Video #3: Who else thinks she is talking about Barcelona??? Also, her lips are nowhere near close to the sound. Apologies all around.
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Now I have truly opened myself up for everyone to say, "Like mother, like daughter" but I can take it. Our loud, chatty, never-stop-talking little girl is 100% entertainment! Someone might have to remind me of that one day, but not today!

PS Did anyone else notice that I wrote "little girl"?? I'm starting to warm up to the idea that she's not a baby anymore. But she is practically still a baby, right? Right??