The End

This blog is now closed. The story continues over on Flip Flops and Flying Carpets.

Thank you for reading.

How Lovely Are Your Branches

Our tree (as you may have seen from previous snapshots) isn't exactly a colour theme, or an anything theme for that matter. It's filled with fun, quirky or plain pretty decorations. Many of them have come from David's childhood, and I know he looks for these once I've set up the tree and the little boy in him is always over the moon when he spots four particular red teddy bears hanging off the branches.

Here are a few of my favourites - and his - and why they're there.

Photobucket
I bought two of these from the Christmas shop at Bluewater this year. I fell in love with how delicate they look and the fact that they are full of stars. I love stars. I also wanted to add some white to the tree and these two are it (for now).


Photobucket
There had to be something related to Emily so when Sarah of Hollyberry Boutique said that she was making personalised tree decorations (amongst other things), I pounced. It's lovely to have a handmade touch on the tree.


Photobucket
This is one of a set of snowmen and other Christmas-related figurines that David's mum passed on to us. I love the snowmen in particular. They have that extra bit of detail, like the bells on this one, and another one has a little knitted cardigan. I just think they're so adorable.


Photobucket
This silver heart came all the way from Denmark via @annfenech - three of these hearts and two little figurines dressed in Danish Christmas clothing were sent to me as part of the Ornament Exchange I featured last month.


Photobucket
I love this wooden stocking. It makes me smile every time I look at it :)


Photobucket
These are also new. They are part of a set of clay ornaments that I bought from Lakeland - yes, they are breakable and yes, they will break at some point or other. But until then, their cuteness is irresistible!


Photobucket
Remember those red bears I mentioned earlier? This is one of them. He is by far the most battered of all four but, while David loves them all equally, I have a soft spot for this fragile one. I can only imagine how many hours this bear spent in David's hands as a boy to have reached a point where he is now on the verge of losing an ear. And even then, I suspect he'll still make it onto our tree.



Did You Know?
Legend has it that Martin Luther began the tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas. One crisp Christmas Eve, about the year 1500, he was walking through snow-covered woods and was struck by the beauty of a group of small evergreens. Their branches, dusted with snow, shimmered in the moonlight. When he got home, he set up a little fir tree indoors so he could share this story with his children. He decorated it with candles, which he lit in honour of Christ's birth.
(source)

Photobucket


I'll be taking a little bloggy break over Christmas and the New Year. This will be a special one for us - Emily's first - and I don't want to feel like I need to be keeping up with my blog, as much as I love it any other day of the year. Rest assured though that you'll hear all about our Christmas upon my return in 2012! Until then, the very best to you all. May your Christmas be everything you want it to be, and 2012 start with a smile, and lots of love.

Charge!

Last Saturday, I brought the gifts out of their hiding place (it wasn't much of a hiding place to begin with, they were just out of Emily's sight) and put them under the tree. Emily hadn't shown much interest in the tree so I thought it would be safe.

And I can't say I was wrong... as long as Missy E is kept an eye on. She did however try and get her dangerous little fingers on the gifts. Everyone's gifts. Here is how it happened.


Attempt Number 1 (as caught on camera)
"I've figured it out... Wait till Mummy's not looking, then ransack the pressies!"



*note the guilty facial expression*


Attempt Number 2
The next day she really lost her cool and began making mad dashes for the tree in plain sight. Sorry baby, no matter how fast you are, I'm faster.


Attempt Number 3
"If I just hang out in the vicinity of the tree, looking innocent, Mummy won't be suspicious..."




Attempt Number 4
"Maybe if I take some toys with me it will look less conspicuous?"




Attempt Number 5
"A-ha! I'll pretend it's just the ribbon I'm after..."






... later ...



Maybe it was just the ribbon she wanted (not surprising, seeing as how she has no idea what's under the wrapping!) That, or she's just given up and is making do with her spoils of war. Sunday is going to be FUN! :)


PS. My sight is back baby! :D

PSS. Emily now has a blog! Check it out!

Pretty

Yesterday morning, with a packed day ahead, I popped Emily into the pushchair, ready to go out. Before I'd even strapped her in, I was howling in pain. Her ever-pointing finger and my eye collided. After some panic (wouldn't you if you suddenly couldn't see out of one eye at all for a few minutes?!), I splashed some water on it and headed out to run my errands, well hidden behind a pair of sunglasses.

I told myself it was nothing and it'd pass but I cancelled my afternoon plans as they involved driving and my sight was way too blurred to be able to do that! So Emily and I played on. She was determined to get her hands on the Christmas tree, so I thought I'd beat her to it and introduce her to the pretty baubles directly.

Here is a short clip of her investigating, and if you listen carefully, you will hear her say "pretty" when she catches sight of herself being filmed towards the end! (She's a modest baby...!)



It was moments after I stopped filming that the pain in my eye suddenly became unbearable and I gave in and called NHS Direct, who strongly advised that I get it looked at in A&E.

Cue a flurry of plans and my sister and her hubby saving the day by taking me to hospital and keeping Emily. David left work and met me in the A&E waiting room, where I apparently looked like someone had punched me in the eye. (Well yes, a baby.)

A&E was impressively efficient, seeing me in under an hour (I suspect I wasn't down as a minor case). The lovely doctor anaesthetised my eye (oh to have had that last longer than 30 minutes!) and checked it out, and sure enough there was a scratch over the cornea, narrowly missing my pupil. I was given some antibiotic drops to prevent infection and told it should be better in about 3 days.

Meanwhile, I sit here grateful for my touch-typing skills because when I look at the screen all I can see really are little letter-sized shapes, which as you can imagine is extremely frustrating. The unfortunate thing is that my injured eye is my good eye. My other eye is a lazy eye (just not the wandering off sort) in that it doesn't focus. I rely almost entirely on my right eye to read and see clearly, and you guessed it - Emily scratched my right eye. I thought I had bad eyesight before...

At the moment, if you had to ask me what I want for Christmas, I'll be happy with being able to read a sentence without guessing at the letters and words again! x

Just Us

I haven't openly admitted this but until last week, David and I hadn't yet been out together - ie JUST US - since Emily was born. There were a couple of times when we said we might but we never quite "got round" to it. But last weekend, when my brother was over, we took the opportunity to really try and get out once Emily was asleep.

Typically, that week, she'd started being really unsettled after bedtime - sometimes waking up screaming and needing to be comforted to go back to sleep. But my brother was confident he could handle it, and we decided to go ahead with our plans.

It was just up to us to decide what we wanted to do. The one thing we miss most from our pre-Emily life is the cinema. We really, really miss it. So we both wanted to go to the cinema, but then couldn't decide on a movie (we only had one shot at this - it HAD to be a great movie!!). So the cinema became just a drink. Then we almost cancelled the night out. Then it became a walk. Then, again, maybe we just won't bother. And in the end, we called up our favourite restaurant at 20:10 and made a reservation for 20:30, I quickly painted my face and were there just 5 mins late.

We had a fabulous three course meal with a bottle of what tasted like the best wine we've drunk in years. We chatted and planned holidays and generally enjoyed each other's company and when it was over, we walked (I stumbled, noisily) home, satisfied and talking about doing it again soon.


Emily, on the other hand, was not too impressed with our behaviour. After sleeping through the night again recently, she chose that night to wake up at midnight and refused to go back to sleep until 02:30. Trying to rock a fretful baby to sleep when tipsy isn't something I'd like to repeat any time soon... so maybe a bit less wine next time!

[image source: unknown]

Weekend with the Girls

Spent a few precious days with two of my bestest friends last weekend. They popped over from Malta for a flying visit (made shorter by a misunderstanding on the part of the taxi company who caused them to get to my house three hours later than planned), but it was an excellent weekend. Some highlights:

1. Emily pointing at things and saying "pretty." Everything she likes is now pretty. Daddy is pretty, the walrus in her bath book is pretty, her milk is pretty. You get the picture.

2. A much anticipated girlie dinner.

3. A (quite hilarious) Fruit Ninja marathon.




2000

Oh Deborah, do you recall?
Your house was very small,
with wood chip on the wall.
When I came around to call,
you didn't notice me at all.

I said let's all meet up in the year 2000.
Won't it be strange when we're all fully grown.
Be there at 2 o'clock by the fountain down the road.
I never knew that you'd get married.
I would be living down here on my own on
that damp and lonely Thursday years ago.



They played Pulp's Disco 2000 on the radio this morning. Release date 1995.

Back in 1995, I was 12 going on 13. It was the year both my grandfathers passed away, followed by a summer I'll never forget. It was the year I became a "young lady" (which prompted my mother to call EVERY member of the family to let them know - thanks ma). It was the year of the Aussie cousins, and what will forever be remembered as my "hormone attack" (no, I will not be telling that story). It was the year I first went away to Girl Guide Camp. It was the year we bought a new house and my sister got sick. In many ways, 1995 was the year that started turning me into the adult I am today.

I remember thinking that 2000 was so far away, it would probably never happen. And yet here we are, soon to be raising our glasses and waving farewell to 2011. How, pray tell, did that happen?!

Cars do not hover, air is not pure, robots have not replaced half of humankind, and Space is still not a holiday destination. Hah. Fancy that.

[image]

I'll Be Honest

Lately, to the large extent, life's been a great, big, steaming pile of crap. Since around the 29th October we've barely had a whole night's sleep. Between teething, an ear infection and God only knows what else, Emily has been up almost every night for hours at a go.

Some nights, even thinking of her smile, her chuckles, her general adorableness hasn't cut it. Some nights have pushed me so far, I've ended up in tears not wanting to go into her room for fear of losing my temper with her. Some nights I've despised her.

Luckily I'm surrounded by some great friends who, while they can offer no solutions, assure me that feeling this way is normal. (Equally, there have been "friends" who have offered no support whatsoever, instead trying to make me feel like the worst mother that ever lived. Always nice, that.)

Days become equally as hard. I'm so tired I'm listless, unmotivated and verging on depressed. Housework has severely fallen behind. I then look at the mess around me and feel even worse. Some days I have no energy to hold a conversation with anyone and avoid meeting friends or socialising at all. This plus my husband's very long work hours sometimes makes for very unfulfilling days, meaning things are already not great at bedtime, when we then need to gear up for the possibility of yet another tough night.

My point? Not sure there is one. But if any of you think my life is a bed of roses all the time....? Not so much.

[I wrote this at 3:30am this morning after having been up for 3 hours, 2 of them trying to get Emily to go back to sleep, one of them trying to get myself back to sleep. Apologies if it sounds somewhat desperate. I was.]


---

Update, 22nd November @ 20:50

I have learnt that when I reach rock bottom, I feel the need write about it. And after that, the only way is up. However, thanks to my writing about it and in this case making it public, you've all made it that much easier to find the way "up". Since yesterday's post, the amount of love and support that has come FLOODING in (here, FB, Twitter, email, text, whatsapp, you name it!) is amazing, and so moving. I am in such an immensely different place today - and it's all thanks to you. I am once again able to look at Emily and feel pride and overwhelming love for her, and when she moaned a bit this afternoon, it didn't feel like the end of the world. We just had some cuddles and sang a few songs, and she was happy again. I couldn't do that recently, it's felt so hard, like I'd become a rock, incapable of feeling warmth towards her. We had a really great day today. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you <3

Toughie

The weekend was not quite the one we had in mind. I was unwell on Thursday and Friday, and so desperate for Emily not to catch whatever I had, I went a little bit mad on Thursday evening disinfecting toys I'd touched throughout the day, the kitchen, and the "13 hideouts for icky germs." It probably didn't exactly aid my recovery. But while David ended up getting sick over the weekend and is still recovering, Emily didn't get sick. So yay me.

What she did have was lots of teething pain. Loss of appetite, a runny nose, a few very toxic nappies, and on Saturday night, a fever of 101 degrees. I stripped her down to her vest when she woke us up to find her that way at 2am on Sunday and I could feel her burning through my nightclothes, her thighs red with the heat. My heart went out to her.

David moved downstairs to the sofa and Emily came into bed with me. But she never quite settles to sleep in our bed, and that night was no different. Eventually we ended up back in her room, snuggled on the armchair until she fell asleep at 4:30am, finally (a little bit) cooler.

Short of bulging gums, there is still no sign of the wretched teeth. But today she woke up suddenly knowing how to clap, and she's loving it. She's been trying to clap for weeks and weeks and couldn't quite get her head around it and finally, she's figured it out and she is SO proud of herself, it's tangible.

There have been many cuddles and snuggles over the last few days, many tears and much screaming (silent on my part), along with a good (but never sufficient) dose of patience and counting-to-ten. Bear with me if I am not around much this week, my energy is being spent elsewhere!

Cliché

When I was pregnant, people would tell me not to wish it by too fast. I didn't. I was determined to enjoy every moment and despite being sick for over six months of the pregnancy, I think back with a smile on my face and butterflies in my tummy. It was a magical time and I made the most of it the way it was.

When Emily was about to be born, people told me to enjoy my sleep and my restful nights while I had them. They advised me not to wish them away too fast - once she arrived, I wouldn't be getting any sleep. I disagreed: I was already losing sleep, Emily was making a point of that, using my bladder as a pillow and testing how far exactly my hips would stretch. I wanted to meet my princess on what would be the most important day of my life. It had been a long enough wait, and much to my delight, she arrived 5 days early. I don't feel I lost out on any sleep because of it.

When she arrived, they said "Enjoy her, they grow so fast." A cliché in every way, but each day that passed, each week, each month, I just found myself thinking the same thing. They grow so fast. At some point around four months (or it may have been five), Emily lost her newbornness. She became a baby rather than a newborn. Now, despite making no attempt at toddling, she looks more like a toddler than a baby. She is so far removed from the fragile newborn I held moments after she was born, it's hard to believe it's only been - realistically - a few months. She really has grown fast.

For once, "they" were right.

My View: Autumn Edition

Who remembers this?

Walking along the other day, I just couldn't resist but snap an updated picture. This is my fantastic view this Autumn:

Photobucket

The little princess's hands get cold very quickly, and it was a particularly cold afternoon so I whipped out the mittens. She didn't quite appreciate them being put on but once she was warm, she sat there and enjoyed the ride like a proper little lady... bear.

Rubber Ducky

Dear family of duckies from various walks of life,

Photobucket

I can't not thank you. You provide Emily with hours of bathtime fun. You make squeaky noises, squirt water and look cute, and for this I thank you.

What I'd love to know, though, is WHY DO YOU NEVER FLOAT UPRIGHT?!!!!




That is all.

One Little Strawberry

So Halloween came and went and we had not a single trick or treater. This means that it is now down to David and myself to get through the (thankfully small) bucket of sweets we had prepared just in case. We know we don't usually get trick or treaters around here (we've had one little group come by since 2007!!) but I always prepare some sweets - you don't want to be caught without! Plus, it's so much fun! I'm always left quite disappointed when, yet again, the doorbell remains silent. Bah humbug.

But we still got to have some Halloween fun. We had a little NCT Halloween party over the weekend. Not a massive turnout there either as many people couldn't make it or were away, but it was fun for the four little ones there. And Emily went as.... a strawberry! Here are some pictures, enjoy the cuteness!

Photobucket
James and Emily

Photobucket
Myself with Emily, Joseph and Joshua, Joshua again

xx

A Story of Nines

Today is Emily's 9 months in, 9 months out day! (Simply put, she's 9 months old.)
So, to recap, because 9 is one of those numbers that seems important in a baby's life...

Photobucket
...here's a glimpse of Emily (then known as Bean) 9 weeks into the pregnancy...


Photobucket
Then suddenly I was 9 months pregnant.
(No, not the most flattering of pictures, but in my defence, this was precisely 7 days before Emily was born...)


Photobucket
And this is my little Bean today, 9 months old.
My headstrong little smiler. She's suddenly craving independence in every way.
Hates that she can't yet crawl. Hates being fed. Hates being strapped into her pushchair.
Loves music and her daddy. And banana and bread and anything she can eat with her hands really.
Desperately trying to speak to fellow humans but for now makes do with speaking to her toys.
Everyday I think I can't love her anymore than I already do.
Everyday, I do.


Emily is "wearing pink" in support of Breast Cancer Campaign.

My First Birthday

...as a mummy that is.

I turned 29 over the weekend. (Although I still think that someone miscalculated something somewhere along the way and I've only just turned 20 really.)

I'm big on birthdays. October is always an exciting month for me, even if just because towards the end of it, nicely enveloped in beautiful autumness, is my special day. But this year, it almost escaped me. October hasn't been that great and my birthday almost seemed to surprise me. Suddenly, there it was, a few days away. So there wasn't a huge build-up. I barely had any time to plan anything.

This year, a tiny person is more important than my birthday.

So it arrived, a plain day with the potential to be as plain as every other. But instead, it was a magnificent day. Over breakfast, David and Emily gave me my presents in the form of a treasure hunt and had me running all over the house eagerly looking for gifts cleverly disguised in different wrapping paper and hidden under or beside everyday objects. One was even buried inside Emily's toy basket.

Then we went out for an early lunch. We had friends coming over later to join us for some champagne tea ;) Oh yes, are we posh or what?! After which, we went for a walk in the perfect October weather (this week has been nothing short of glorious), and then stopped by the swings. Emily had a go on the baby swing (have you seen her very first time?) while one of our friends and I had a go at the see-saw.

Nothing like acting like a 5 year old on your 29th birthday.

Oh did I say 29th? I meant 20th.

By the end of the day, I just wished it didn't have to end.

And if anyone's curious, this was what my real first birthday looked like...

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Ah, the eighties. Check me out in my knee highs.

[Special thanks goes to my Daddy (now sans huge specs) for scanning these in for me over the weekend :) xx]

Autumn Leaf Testing Procedures

We went for a walk through the park the other day and I was thrilled to see the ground covered in shades of rust.

Photobucket

I handed Emily a leaf to feel and touch.

Photobucket

The leaf was then put through a series of rigorous tests.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket


Overall, our tester was very pleased with the quality of Autumn 2011.

The Gift of Language

Malta is a bilingual country. The national languages are both Maltese and English. And despite it being a very small country, there is somewhat of a divide - the people who primarily speak Maltese and the people who primarily speak English. This is often down to schools attended. Some teach in English, others in Maltese. If I'm honest, it is slightly confusing and messy, but that's the way it is. Most people are perfectly fluent in both. Personally, while I adore languages, I'm not very good at them and having been brought up speaking English, my Maltese has suffered slightly along the way (though ironically it seems to have improved since I left Malta).

David on the other hand is perfectly fluent in both, as well as in Italian. He can also communicate well in French and Spanish to an extent. He is one of those lucky people who is amazing at languages. My mother is similar (imagine her disdain when I turned up!!).

Enter Emily, who was born in the UK. She is still Maltese (although we intend to get her to dual-citizenship status at some point) but has very limited exposure to the language. We know that the best way to raise a child to be bilingual is for each parent to speak a different language to the child. However this works easiest when the parents are actually from different countries. With David and myself it feels unnatural as we speak to each other in English (with the odd Maltese word thrown in... it's a Maltese thing!). So what to do?

Photobucket

I could be wrong, but I have a funny feeling Emily takes after David in this respect rather than me. Her understanding of most of what I tell her is already very clear. She has known what "milk" means since she was about 5 months old. She also knows what "sleep", "nappy" and "bath" mean. We communicate well: I say the word (within a sentence) when I think it's time for whichever and she will smile or snuggle if she wants to sleep, for example. If she is not interested, then there is no reaction. It's a system that works well.

Seeing as how David was raised in Italy and England as well as in Malta, his parents spoke to him in Maltese to ensure that he never loses his Maltese. We thought it would be fitting for them to continue this with Emily. It's not the same of course but there'd be visits and Skype, and later on, phone calls and overall we thought it might give her more of a reason to want to learn the language. Sadly, it would appear that they'd prefer not to. It seems a pity, but it is ultimately their choice. We will teach her some basic vocabulary and she will have special story books in Maltese, and perhaps when she's older she'll make the choice to pursue it further.

Ultimately I feel it is important to give her at least a basic understanding of part of her heritage. And that much, I will strive to do.

[image]

New Rules

Some things need to change around here. Therefore I am setting these new rules:

No laptop use while Emily is awake.*
All she ever seems to see me do is use the laptop while she plays. More time will be spent playing with her, therefore also increasing the possibility of her learning that there is more to life than a computer. I am a very computery person, but I had a varied childhood and I really don't want her to be one of those kids who only know how to turn to a computer for entertainment. Children see, children do. For this same reason...

Read more.
I was a total bookworm right up until about the 28th January 2011. Since then, I think I may have read one book (I'm not entirely sure) and skimmed through a few magazines. I need to read more for me, because it focuses me and it calms me, and I need to read more for her, because she needs to see that reading is something that's good to do.

Establish storytime.
Currently our most successful storytime is during bathtime and involves waterproof books. I do not think this is acceptable. I need to find a time when she is awake enough to tolerate it, and bedtime is not an option - I am generally yelled at if I dress her too slowly, let alone pause the entire process to read a story. What can I say, the child loves her sleep! So if anyone has any advice or suggestions as to a little storytime tradition I can set up, please share!

Get out every day.
Even if it's just for a walk around the block. I was really good at keeping to this rule until about a month ago when Emily and I were both unwell and I made an exception for a few days because I had such little energy, and since then I just haven't been able to find my mojo again. Mojo must be located. Emily loves being outdoors, the fresh air is good for us both and God knows I need the exercise.


* This rule can be broken under certain circumstances (eg if I am desperate to place a grocery order) but then use must be quick and to the point. Use of my phone is still allowed because I trust myself to be somewhat balanced with that (and if necessary can be hidden behind a magazine...).

Big City Lights

I've always loved a night scene. Something about a lit-up city scene makes my heart flutter. When it comes to the view I'll take a night flight any day - and I'll be taking the window seat thank you very much. I love Christmas for several reasons but the lights are one very good reason.

I don't know whether these things can be passed on, but Emily has loved lights from day one. Her favourite toys mostly involve flashing lights and she'll stare at the kitchen lights for ages. When she was just weeks old, she adored the chandelier in our bedroom. She's a lights baby, there's no question about it.

So when constrained by a mini seat belt (which she eventually gave up trying to eat) on the flight back from Malta on Sunday, as we circled and circled Heathrow, I was dangerously close to losing my voice after singing far too many nursery rhymes in an attempt to keep Emily entertained. She hates having to sit down on us for long periods of time, she'd much rather be bouncing around but the seatbelt sign was on for ages.

And then she caught sight of the lights of nighttime London (the sparkling sight never fails to take my breath away) and there was no need to entertain her any longer.

She stared, mouth agape, transfixed, until we landed.

I can't wait for Christmas now that my little cherub is around to share - and add to - the magic! Just over 10 weeks to go... and I don't expect there's more than about a month to wait until the lights are up! *much excitement*

[image]

Perspective

And just like that, it's our third wedding anniversary. I'm sure David would agree with me that this year is possibly the most special so far. This year, it's not just a wedding anniversary. It's a celebration of all that has happened to us since the day we met: the long-distance relationship, the early engagement, the life move to another country, the crazy wedding planning, the building of a home, the (almost?) perfect wedding day...... fast-forward to the arrival of an amazing little girl who now gets to share this day with us, and is, honestly speaking, the realisation of everything David and I dreamed of since some point very early in our relationship.

Three years ago, my biggest problem was the weather, my dress not fitting well and a certain speech getting out of hand. I'm not saying that those things would not have worried me had things happened in reverse (I haven't changed THAT much!), but it certainly puts things into perspective.

David is still as supportive of me as he was then, still as much my voice of reason as he was when he called me up the morning of the wedding to assure me that from where he was standing, he could see the end of the storm (the black cloud was moving away) while I was still seemingly surrounded by it, pouring my eyes out because I thought my beautiful wedding was ruined.

Sigh.


Here's to many (multiples of three) more wedding anniversaries.



(D, love you & thank you x)

[image]

Daisy Chains

Photobucket

Last month, our little UK-side family met up in Canterbury. Growing up in Malta, we were very close to our cousins. We met up regularly and did all sorts of things together. So it is one of the most important things to me and my sister that our little ones have a similar experience of family. Most of the family is still based in Malta, but as there are two of us here in England, we can give the kiddies as good a dose of family as often as we can.

Photobucket

There is just an 8-month age gap between Gabriella and Emily. (Remember Gabriella?) I had no idea when she was born that I'd soon have a little peanut of my own! The age difference is huge for now, Gabriella is walking and can say a few words. She blows kisses and tries to hug Emily (who fights her off). Emily can only look on in frustration. But soon the gap will seemingly shrink and I look forward to a day when we can watch them interact on equal terms.

Photobucket

For now, they just watch us act the fool :)

Photobucket
Photobucket