Monday, March 24, 2008

Year of the Prawn

When documenting the passage of time, especially in regards to the growing process of children, it’s easy for details to start leaking out of your ears. I’m fairly sure that if I didn’t have pictures of the Prawn as a tiny blob, I would have a difficult time remembering that she did not spring from my womb fully formed, toddling, demanding cheese and shouting “geetar!” Have I forgotten enough to try to start the whole process again, complete with possible complications and disappointments? Possibly. Traitorous swine brain.

At any rate, our little crustacean has now been with us for a whole year. Both to celebrate her birthday and spend some time with their trans-Atlantic granddaughter, my parents flew in last Monday. From stories that have been passed down to me of my babyhood, I’m fairly certain that The Prawn is a far more charming child than I was. Luckily, this innate charm has completely won my parents over; I don’t believe there is any residual resentment that I haven’t yet had what’s coming to me in the baby karma stakes. I don’t think they’ll be disappointed forever, though; I imagine that the wheel of retribution is turning slowly but surely my way.

While we spent most of the week pleasantly sipping tea on the couch, reading and watching the Prawn discover new concepts like, “clock”, “duck” and “cow” (her cow impression, which is a strangled roar, is not to be missed) we decided that we should complete my parents' London Landmark tour by going to the Tower. The Tower is one of the more pricey attractions in the city’s tourist arsenal, but to my mind, well worth the expense for such a lot of history in one place.

Since we live 45 minutes outside of the city, the question is, To Drive or Not to Drive. Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone would much rather that we took the train, but Ken Livingstone is not in possession of a pre-toddler who would much rather be spelunking in carriage trash bin for Burger King remnants than sitting in her seat. Also, he’d need to lend me the 25 quid in fare, so he can politely sit and spin. Neither Mr. DD nor I object to the congestion charge (which is only 8 pounds) and neither of my parents were particularly keen to ride the Tube, so driving won hands down.

Our TomTom, which we rely on rather heavily when venturing city-wards, is obviously having some sort of elicit affair with the M1, which is not at all the way to get where we were going. While it has made our lives easier in a lot of respects, TomTom has yet to learn a rather elementary navigation lesson; that the shortest distance between two points might not necessarily be the FASTEST, especially in a city. For the second time in as many weeks, we resolved to next time ignore TomTom until we got to some part of the London that we recognized. Long story short, the 1 and a quarter hours journey actually took closer to 2.5 hours due to route diversions and roadworks. Lucky for us that we brought several pounds of Cheerios with which to distract the Prawn. (The US kind, without the sugar coating. If she ate as many of the British variety, we would have needed a sedative of some kind. As it was, we’ll still be hoovering those things out of the car for weeks.)

Upon our arrival at the Tower, we congratulated ourselves for bringing the new backpack-style Prawn transportation device instead of the traditional buggy, which works fine in the local shopping centre, but does not have shocks capable of withstanding 10th century cobbles. She seems quite content to let Mr. DD haul her around like a load of camping gear.

I quite like the Tower. It’s an extraordinary mish-mash of architectural styles resulting from it’s myriad of uses over the years, including prison, execution site, royal quarters and military station. It’s always quite something to come face to face with very old things, no matter how commercialized they’ve become. Apart from the several gift shops (which I have to say are tastefully incorporated into the scenery) the Tower has not yet needed to resort to Madame Tussaud type tactics to bring in visitors. The sheer weight of past events is sufficient to draw a crowd.

After the obligatory tour of the jewel house, the Prawn began to become restless, so we let her out of her pack to stretch her legs. The problem being, of course, that she doesn’t regularly use them yet, so after tiring of my attempts to help her navigate the cobblestones, she took off crawling towards the scaffolding site. Human nature dictates that we’re grimly intrigued by the gruesome. However, on the site of the scaffold where a good many nobles including Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey lost their collective heads, an artist has attempted to create a dignified memorial in metal and glass. I think this disappointed some visitors, as they much RATHER would have had a Madame Tussaud type re-constructed scaffold complete with re-enactments on the 12, 3 and 5. But instead, the memorial squashes our morbid fascination and makes the viewer feel just a little bit guilty. This was not the case for the Prawn however, who was all like, “Whee! Heads!” as she gleefully scooted around the edge of the memorial as fast as humanly possible, staying just out of the reach of Mr. DD, who was dodging German high school students to get to her.

My mother’s favorite part of the day hands down was getting a picture of Wren with Moira Cameron, the first female Yeoman Warder in the regiment’s 523 year history. Right on, strangely dressed sister, thought the Prawn.

The Prawn’s birthday fell on Good Friday this year, despite being born on a Wednesday. This had me vaguely confused until I remember that we experienced Leap Year calendar tomfoolery just about a month ago. Both my mother and I (and now The Prawn) have often had birthdays on Easter weekend due to whatever bizarro solstice related system is used to determine when the holiday falls. It was convenient, however, when planning a party for a day that everyone had off. My mother and I spent the evening before making a small cupcake army in lieu of a traditional birthday confectionary; who can argue with a self contained cake that, in a pinch, you can shove in your mouth at one go? My father and Mr. DD helpfully did the manly chores which involved hanging bunting and scrubbing mildew off of the bathroom tiles that I’ve been trying to ignore for the last few months.

Everyone knows that birthday parties for very young children are pretty much an excuse for a lot of grown ups to get together, eat junk food and finish off a couple bottles of Pino Grigio. Occasionally, the birthday boy/girl is the only child present at said gathering and earns his or her keep by pulling amusing faces in exchange for Cheetos. However, there were in fact 5 other children of various ages and at varying stages of mobility present at the Prawn’s natal festivities, so there was quite a lot of “omigodwhathaveyougotalloveryourshirt?” going on. The mountain of food that I had purchased the day before and was having sinking feelings about the chances of it getting eaten pretty much all DID, which was a relief for both me and my refrigerator. A hugely pleasant time was had by all, despite the fairly major space restrictions. The Prawn’s birthday dress was covered in strawberry juice within the first hour. And there were remarkably few tears considering the critical mass of rampaging children and adults balancing plates of food on their laps. A roaring success.

My parents departed this morning. I’m always terribly sad to see them go, but I think the Prawn will be even more bereft to have lost her two constant companions who filled every spare moment of the day with learning, tickling and funny faces. I imagine that she’ll wake up tomorrow and be like, “YOU two again? What happened to the older models? THEY didn’t have to work on laptops, cook or do the laundry! I DEMAND THAT YOU SIT DOWN HERE AND THROW THAT BALL TO ME 250 TIMES IN A ROW! AND IF YOU DON’T, I’LL CLING TO YOUR LEG AND GO EEEEEEEEEAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH UNTIL YOU DO!” Such is the nature of grandparents.

Before I try to rescue my house from the disarray of the past week, I leave you with some gratuitous Prawn-related imagery.

Friday, March 21, 2008


My dear little Prawnlet is a whole year old today.

Pictures of the mayhem that was her first birthday party to follow on Monday after the departure of the grandparents.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Very Quick Year

As it is desirous for any blogger to meet other bloggers, Prawn Cocktail has joined in the internet tomfoolery that is 5 Minutes for Mom's Ultimate Blog Party 2008. Check out the party action!

In the spirit of things, and since it's been almost 2 years since I started this blog, here's a quick run-down of all things Rockmama. I'm a 32 year old American ex-pat living in the greenbelt surrounding London. Although my long haired, rocker husband and I spent 7 years living on a traditional, English narrowboat on the Grand Union canal, we've now lived on dry land for a little over a year.

Although we now have a beautiful daughter about to turn one, our road to parenthood was not smooth. After 3 years of trying and suffering two miscarriages, we were beginning to wonder if it was all going to happen for us. Luckily, we manged to find a great and sympathetic doctor (the others usually dismissed my by saying, "Oh, it's very common, just try again." This usually led to me wanting to punch someone in the face.) who discovered that I had a progesterone deficiency. After 14 weeks of supplements in early pregnancy, I finally went on to have our daughter (whom is known as The Prawn) almost a year ago. She's wonderful, bizarre, hilarious and our new best friend.

While I work for a GPS specialist, talking to people on the phone using acronyms that I don't completely understand, my real love is metalwork. I make and sell silver and gemstone jewelry. Other great loves reading, snowboarding, music, tattoos, swimming and cooking.

To celebrate nearly a year of the Prawn's presence, I've put together a cheese-tastic slide show of some of her best moments. Bring on the Velveeta.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Love is a Many Prickled Thing

Most weeks, Mr. DD, his brother and our future sister-in-law and I try to get together for dinner or drinks at Chez Prawn after the bedtime of She Who Must Be Obeyed just to keep up with what’s going on and to demolish bottles of wine. I may start referring to these get-togethers as Evenings of Knowledge, because we will inevitably, in the course of our conversations, have to go to Wikipedia 3-4 times.

Last evening’s conversation turned to Mother’s Day and the fact that the American holiday is celebrated the second Sunday of May while the British one is tied into Lent. (the 4th Sunday after, apparently) According to the mighty Wiki, British Mother’s Day is actually tied to a Roman festival honouring Juno, mother of the gods. The US celebration is loosely based on the British one, although it was started after the American Civil War in order to rally woman to an anti-war stance.*

This is my first Mother’s Day. My induction last year fell on Mothering Sunday and I naively believed that being induced might result in, oh, I don’t know, AN ACTUAL BIRTH, so I was kind of looking forward to becoming a mother on Mother’s Day. This morning, by the time I woke up, my daughter was already down for her morning nap after having emptied the dishwasher, taken out the recycling, cleaned the kitchen and made me tea all while her father sat on his ass on the couch and scratched himself. Well, according to him, anyhow.

My favorite Mother’s Day story, which I might have told before, but can’t find in my archives anywhere, takes place the year I was about 5 or 6. During the annual Mother’s Day church service, all of the children in the congregation were invited to the front of the sanctuary to choose a colourful plant to take back to their mothers. Whoever did the purchasing of said plants must have had a momentary brain lapse, because in between the little impatiens and petunias, there was a single cactus.

I’ll give you two guesses as to who got the cactus.

I got an email from my mother this morning.

“I was just looking at Ms. Cactus yesterday and thinking about how lucky I was to have a daughter who, at the tender age of whatever, had the foresight to realize what a great choice this was. :) (But truly, I wonder what on earth made you choose a cactus over all the other colorful, flowerage available.)”**

Well, it might have seemed like a rather contrary choice at the time, but all those other kids can totally suck it. Because while those petunias and impatiens all met a quick, neglected death in someone’s kitchen window, my cactus (which was no bigger than an adult thumb) now looks like THIS. One wonders why the cactus industry (if there is such a thing) has never tried to capitalize on the symbolism. “Roses wither in days. Nothing says eternal love quite like something that is short, squat, spiky and hangs on despite the fact that you only water it once a year. Plus, the cats won’t eat it.™”

I hope that one day, the Prawn will give me a Mother’s Day cactus that I can look at as a reminder of her love for years to come, free from the threat of drought or being the salad course.

*The other two items that we looked up had to do with the word “nee” (inserted after a woman’s married name and before her maiden one.) and Jewish holidays. We run the conversational gamut on Evenings of Knowledge.

**I probably was kind of fascinated with the idea of a plant that could hurt people.