The End

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

Thank you for reading.

Of Adventures Ahead


Our farewell to 2012 looks to be a quiet one too. I'm not moaning, just stating facts. Yes I would have preferred to have something to look forward to, but that's just the way this holiday season was going to have to be, seeing as how we scheduled our move right after it. Not to mention the fact that Emily and I are now both unwell anyway - even if we did have somewhere to go, we probably wouldn't have made it!

The Amazing Frannie (because she is) listed her 5 awesome things about 2012 on her blog. She then asked us, her friends, to list our own 5 awesome things. I turned into a whimpering, hormonal mess because I couldn't think of anything. I said to her that I feel numb, that the last 6 months seem to be a complete blur in my mind. I guess that's why they list moving house (country!!) as one of the most stressful things a person can do in life.

But she calmed me down, as did David, and eventually I came up with a list. Realistically, 2012 was a full year, and a meaningful year. In many ways it was the year I really grew up and sorted out my priorities. Perhaps many things cannot be listed, they're lessons rather than events or occasions - but they don't count any less.

My List
- I helped Emily grow into a beautiful, caring toddler
- We created a new addition to our little family
- I became very close to a few particular friends whom I couldn't have made it through the year without
- The huge decision to move back to Malta was taken
- David and I became closer, and saw a return to the carefree relationship we had before we moved to England

2013 will be an exciting year. Not an easy one by any means, but an exciting one. A whole new life to build, three house moves, resettling into a country I don't particularly like (I may or may not go into this in a future post), reigniting bonds with family and friends, less feelings of loneliness, hopefully a fuller and happier life, not to mention a special little arrival sometime in March or April! So much to look forward to and nurture. Let the adventure begin!

[image credit]

Recently

Part of the reason I haven't blogged much this past month is that we spent two weeks of it in Malta. While we were there, we found a place to live, bought a car, chose a school for Emily, and a gynaecologist for me (to anyone thinking about it, I do not recommend switching health providers mid-pregnancy), and opened bank accounts. I think there was more, but it's like a small whirlwind in my head at the moment. Suffice it to say, we've been busy.

But here are a few snapshots from the last few weeks.

We've had little pampering sessions. Can't get over how long her hair is. She loved swishing it around.

We did the cool sunglasses thing whilst in Malta...

...Everywhere we went!

No comment (I couldn't resist).

Her eggbox is now her "compter." She turns it around and types emails on it
and informs me she is "bizzy emails compter, Mommay" I wouldn't dare disturb.

Meanwhile, as if I didn't have enough to do already, I am also planning her 2nd birthday party!
(I'm loving it really!!)

Happy Chrikras!

Because it's not too early...



(What she's asking at the end is to "see it" [the video]. She will happily perform but then expects to be able to watch the video of herself over and over and over again. She will watch it with a look of pure pride and satisfaction on her face.)

I digress. It's just 5 sleeps away... Merry Christmas!

A Year Ago

A year ago, Emily had just worked out how to crawl, backwards mostly. The Christmas tree was up and in some danger. This year, everything is different. All memory of last Christmas is understandably gone, but this is where the real memories begin.

She loves Christmas, and the lights, and the tree. She has a few favourite tree decorations which she understands she is not allowed to take off the tree, but she can touch them as much as she likes so long as she is gentle. She is very gentle. She kisses them, because she loves them so much.

This year, there are no presents yet under the tree. I have introduced the concept of Father Christmas and told her that presents will magically appear under the tree on Christmas Eve. She thought that was really funny. "Silly Mummy!" she said.

Baby Boy Sighting

How could I forget?

We had our 22 week scan last week! Here is Baby Boy...


He is doing very well, estimated to weigh about a pound and a half, hands constantly up by his face. And very much a boy. (Phew!)

Placenta is low-lying which may eventually prove to be a problem if it stays that way. Despite the sonographer telling me not to worry about it because it will probably move up by full term, I did of course worry for a while (and then consulted Dr Google... big mistake!), but pretty much over it now. However this little boy will need to be born, as long as both me and him are ok to enjoy newborn snuggles afterwards, I'll deal with it. Get me! ;)

Hanging Out with Emily

There are a series of picture folders on my hard drive that are called "Hanging out with Emily." They are not photos of events or anything in particular. They are pictures of everyday moments that happen when we're just hanging around the house and I have my camera handy. Very often, they make for the best photos. They are also, I am sure, the photos that will eventually trigger those memories that may otherwise be forgotten - which right now, when we are preparing to leave a whole life behind, seems quite significant.

Here are some we took today.


(her very favourite spot)






Fear







There are many things that scare me about the upcoming move. The list is so long, I won't even try and go into it. Much of it can't even be understood, it's subjective and short of anyone having been in this exact situation themselves (moving country two months before having a baby, and what are technically three house moves happening within six months), I don't even expect anyone to understand. It's just not possible.

But there's one little thing that keeps nagging at my mind. I am going to need to share Emily. Part of me feels like this will mean I won't be as special to her any longer, I won't be her Mummy the way I am now - her everything. There are going to be other people - those same people we want her to be able to have in her life - who, whether they mean to or not, are going to take away small pieces of what I have with her.

And although I know this is the way life works, and more importantly I know it will be good for her, it also absolutely terrifies me.

Half Baked

Sunday was the 20-week point in my pregnancy. I'm not quite sure where the last ten weeks have gone. Last I remember, I was thinking to myself that it was all going very slowly and I had no idea what everyone meant when they said second pregnancies flew past. And then it happened.

I still cannot believe how lucky I got this time round. When I think that by this point last pregnancy, I had had to stop working and I was still constantly nauseous and desperately lacking energy.

This time, I still sometimes forget I'm pregnant. Sure, my bump is getting pretty huge and Squiggle makes his presence felt a lot, but when he's quiet I can forget. Energy levels are good until after dinner, there's no nausea, and even the hip pain that had set in properly by this time with Emily is only just starting to creep in.

Having said that, he's not often quiet. Since I hit week 18, the movement has been almost constant. I already know his sleeping patterns (and if they remain this way, God help me), and as of this weekend, David has been able to feel the kicks too. For those not in the know, it is still insanely early in the pregnancy for that to be happening!

The downside to this pregnancy has been - and remains - the heartburn. I have never known pain like it, and it feels ridiculous to refer to it as pain, but there's no other word. It engulfs my entire being, and even my beloved Peptac only works for 15 minutes if I'm lucky. But this too shall pass.

Meanwhile I am already hopelessly excited to meet my little boy, and what with all that's coming my way in the next four months, I don't think it will feel like forever before it does happen!

Rochester in the Autumn

I will miss Rochester. Especially in the Autumn. 





If I'm honest, I'll miss Autumn generally. Malta has two seasons: Summer (lots of it), and a short Winter. There's no Autumn and only a very vague hint of Spring (which I have probably come to know as the UK's version of Summer). Pictures like these will have a special place in my heart soon enough.

Goodness

I escaped for a quick shower. She wanted a tissue. 


She helped herself to the box.

I walked back in, she looked up guiltily.

"Oh goodness!" she said.

Organised Chaos

I've been busy. All my spare time has recently been spent on ebay. Box upon box of girls' clothes being listed to sell. I have spent so much time sorting through these boxes I even dream about how best to go about organising it all. I woke up on Monday feeling like a genius because, in a dream, I came up with the best way to do it. Insane, I tell you.

But it is with great pleasure that I can now say the boxes have gone from this:

(all girls' clothes to sort through)

to this:


Now, you may say there's not much difference (and I can see what you'd mean). Oh but there is! The boxes in the second picture contain no girls' clothes whatsoever (save for one box which is full of summer clothes that I will ebay off closer to summer), and I know that all I have left to ebay off are three moderately sized heaps of clothes (one of which can be seen in the last picture). 

So my head feels more organised. 

Yes I am a lunatic.

Of Very Scary Witches


"I might be the cutest witch there is...


But I take this very seriously and I will cast a spell on you!"

Happy Halloween!


(I can't get over how much she's grown!!)

All is Revealed

If I'm honest, I lost track of the guessing game in the end. So many last minute votes came flooding in through facebook (personal and blog pages) and twitter, I'm not sure I quite kept up! However, as much fun as it all was, none of it matters anymore because we know what flavour Squiggle actually is...


Squiggle is a boy! :D

So David and I need to get down to some serious name choosing. Twice now we've had girl names ready, but even last time, we were never entirely sure about boy names. This is going to be very interesting... [Edit 28.10.12 Scratch that, we've chosen a name!]

I am so thrilled, it feels like a first pregnancy all over again - a completely new experience! I feel strangely complete.



PS: Anyone with little girls, keep an eye on Emily's Closet - it's about to explode with new listings over the coming weeks!!!

Conversations with Emily


We visited Daddy at work yesterday, which meant catching the train to London. The last time we caught the train, Emily wasn't quite into trains and buses yet, but now she most certainly is and she loved it. The train journey out was so funny, I just had to try and jot down part of the conversation (well, monologue mostly) on the way back. This is what I saved on my iphone notepad: (note that she calls herself Elly)


Emily (looking out the window, for cows): Animals! Where are you, animals?

I am giving you the correct version here. The above in reality sounds more like "Amoos! Wheyayoo, amoos?"

Me: Shall we look for animals?

Emily: Yes

Me (there were no cows in sight, so attempting a diversion): Look, there are lots of trains and cars!

Emily: Trains! Cars! One two three six. Oh goodness! More more cars!

(The train doors open.)

Uh-oh open! Close! (She knocks on the partition behind us.) Hello? Who there?

(She tries to close the door, from inside the train. Needless to say, unsuccessfully.)

Elly sit. Ok. (She sits down.)

(Door closes)

Yay Elly! Good girl!
Wow more train! Another one!
Uh-oh gone. Ok.

(She notices me taking note of all this on my phone.)

Game?


At which point I handed over the phone to let her play a game.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I am never bored of spending time with this little girl... She is absolutely hilarious!

PS We find out what flavour Squiggle is tomorrow! Get your guesses in quick!!

Quick Visit to the Historic Dockyard


Last week (or it may have been the previous week - I'm having trouble keeping track of time at the moment), Emily and I visited the Chatham Historic Dockyard to have lunch with a friend and ex-colleague. I love visiting the Dockyard, I loved working there (and the job itself), it's all good memories.

So after lunch, after we'd said goodbye to Lydia, I walked Emily around to see some sights I knew she'd enjoy. Namely trains, ships and the helicopter. Add to that the fact that it had rained overnight so the road was peppered with puddles that I let her splash in, she had the time of her life.









Turning 30...

My birthday almost went unnoticed until I let it slip to two close friends that I would be turning 30 and was informed that something had to be done to celebrate. I wasn't about to complain. Some posh afternoon tea was decided upon and a venue chosen (Hempstead House) and booked and we were all very excited.

The heavy fog almost ruined the afternoon when I got as good as lost (very typical of me), although it turned out I simply hadn't driven far enough. I won't go into it here but suffice it to say that my SatNav and I have never seen eye to eye...

An hour and a half after I left home, and an hour after our tea session was meant to have begun (cue three very worried friends), I finally made it to my own party thanks to Julia coming out to find me at the Texaco garage where I decided to give up my search (it may as well have been in the middle of nowhere for all the fog).

Once we got there, it really was a lovely afternoon. The food was divine and we had our own little private function room, so we could chat away to our hearts' content and just relax, and mainly spend some quality time together sans toddlers for a change!


It was far from my best birthday ever, but I was properly spoilt and I spent it with the best people I could have imagined spending it with - and at the end of the day, I went to bed with a smile on my face, which is what counts. I have an entire year to let 30 be good to me, and I think (I hope!) it's going to be a good one.

In the Picture

That tear-jerker P&G advert still shows up on TV every now and then, and I've made a conscious effort to not to just be "air". Us Mums are often left out of photos - often too busy being behind the camera itself - but I am adamant that there will be many photos through Emily's life that I am present in. Everyone needs to remember what their Mummy looked like when she and they were young. Maureen over on Island Fairy does a regular Embrace the Camera post, which I love because it gives us an opportunity to see the person behind the blog, not just the children she writes about and so obviously loves... and if I enjoy seeing pictures of her, then they certainly will too.

But it's so easy to miss out. In our family I am the official person behind the camera. David isn't really into photography or even photo-taking so I can often be heard reminding (begging!) him to pick up the camera to ensure there are pictures of me with Emily too. Sadly this often means pictures that include me are posed and artificial. Yes, he takes plenty of them once he's at it but they are often twenty different versions of the same thing and I want life and candid moments, which I think either comes naturally to the photographer or it simply doesn't. Having said that - and he knows this because I have told him - David is getting much better at it, and although many pictures of Emily and myself are still painfully posed, there have been a few more recent ones that haven't been, and that I am in love with.

Today a friend on Facebook linked to an article called The Mom Stays in the Picture. It hit the nail on the head as to why I want to be in photos. Somehow I've never quite been able to explain it without sounding like some narcissistic prat. But this article did it for me. My husband may not be the type to pick up a camera unprompted, but he is kind and compassionate and caring and he admires the huge amount of work I do with Emily on a daily basis, and that can never be dismissed. I emailed the link to him with a note and I have been promised far more pictures in future.

"I'm everywhere in their young lives, and yet I have very few pictures of me with them. Someday I won't be here -- and I don't know if that someday is tomorrow or thirty or forty or fifty years from now -- but I want them to have pictures of me. I want them to see the way I looked at them, see how much I loved them. I am not perfect to look at and I am not perfect to love, but I am perfectly their mother."
[Allison Tate, The Mom Stays in the Picture]

Crazy Bathtime

Do you remember this post? Well, we seem to have found the solution...

A SUPER GIANT DUCKY!




And inspired by Bex, Emily had a glow in the dark bath last night. I was slightly hesitant due to her recent
fear of the dark but it didn't seem to bother her one bit. She loved it and it was possibly her longest bath
to date. Lots of wrinkly fingers and toes by the end of it! :)

Log Your Guesses

I am aware that I never even wrote about my 12 week scan this time. Poor Squiggle is certainly getting less pregnancy attention than Emily did. However, it was slightly overshadowed by the fact that Emily moaned and squirmed throughout, thought they were torturing me and kept coming over to ask if I was alright (in a whimpery voice). I wish I could have been able to fully focus on what was going on in the scan, but everything was fine and that was all that was important really.

Unfortunately, the sonographer we had this time refused to even try and have a guess at the gender. With Emily, we knew at her 12 week scan that she was probably a girl. I didn't start buying things, but it helped with bonding. Now with Squiggle, there is even less bonding than there was with Emily (mostly because she keeps me so busy and also because it's a much better pregnancy so I sometimes forget I'm actually pregnant) and not being able to give him/her even the slightest identity isn't helping. 

Soooo... David has decided to treat me for my birthday next week (yes, next week!), and we will be having a Gender Scan in 10 days time. My next NHS scan is at the end of November, and frankly I'm impatient to find out so it was an ideal birthday pressie ;)

To help you along, here are some pregnancy comparisons:

Emily: I suffered from morning, afternoon, evening sickness from week 3 until it calmed down around week 22.
Squiggle: I can't really say I've suffered from any pregnancy sickness. My sense of smell is more sensitive which sometimes makes me sick (*cough*toxic nappies*cough*) but I had that with Emily too, minus the nappies.

Emily: Heartburn hit in the last 3 weeks of pregnancy.
Squiggle: Heartburn began very, very early on and hasn't calmed down at all. I dread those last 3 weeks!

Emily: Bump began showing around week 14. This is probably due to it having been my first pregnancy and the fact that I was a dress size larger.
Squiggle: Bump showed by week 6 and hasn't looked back. They do say you pop earlier with second pregnancies, and I had a bit less "padding" to camouflage this time.

I can't say I've noticed a difference in bump shape.

Emily: I craved mango.
Squiggle: No real cravings to speak of.

Emily: My hair loved pregnancy. It grew strong and shiny.
Squiggle: My hair hates pregnancy. What it has done most of so far is fall out.

Emily: Stretchmarks began to show up within the first month.
Squiggle: No new stretchmarks. Hooray!


So what do we think, folks? Pink or Blue? Leave a comment with your guess, all will be revealed on the 29th October!

[image cred: 5 Ways to Guess an Unborn Baby's Gender]

The Moogies

In light of the recent article advising that children under 3 should not be allowed to watch TV (which I wholly disagree with*), this probably isn't the best time to mention this but hey ho, I don't care.

Emily watches TV, it has been my saviour especially towards the beginning of this pregnancy while I laid lifeless on the sofa. I felt bad about it for a long time - electronic babysitter and all that - but she only ever watches programmes that are appropriate to her age and that are educational. We can see the benefit of this now that she is recognising letters of the alphabet at 20 months of age, can count items in front of her, uses expressions that certainly didn't come from me or David ("oh dear!"), and can even mutter a few words in French and Chinese (she loves the Lingo Show!). TV isn't on all the time, we do puzzles, build towers and castles, use play-doh, dance, read, go out, cook, paint, etc.

There's no denying this generation is born into a technological age. Moderation is the key, as with everything. Denying it is like trying to pull the world to an age it simply doesn't belong in any longer.

But I digress. What I wanted to write about is an iphone app that Emily loves. (*shock horror* yes she also plays on my phone.) She's known how to unlock it since she was 9 months old. Like I said, they're born into a technological age. There's a little folder on my phone called "Emily" that she knows to go to and find her games (once I unlock the phone!!), and she will stay within this folder 99% of the time. She's good like that.

There are about eight apps in that folder. To name a few of her favourites, there are:
Phone4Kids
Playtime with Dora (a huge favourite - she loves the Memory games, better on ipad)
Baby Sign and Learn (this has been amazing, she is actively learning new signs and words thanks to it)

But the game she can spend hours on (or at least until it kills my phone battery entirely), is The Moogies. This is a clever little discovery game. A house with nine characters at nine windows. Each window reveals a different scene with different "tricks" to discover. The characters will dance or sing, even the frames on the wall and the moon or the sun have surprises up their sleeves. You press anything and something happens.


Emily has her favourites. The talking Parrot at window 8 and the fishing Cat at window 7, and lately also the dancing Sheep at window 4.

We didn't know what the parrot did at first. We thought he was really boring until Emily spoke one time and the parrot repeated what she'd said in a funny high-pitched voice. There was no turning back. Part of me wishes there was a Moogies toy in it's own right, not just an app on my phone. Because if there were, I could guarantee it would go everywhere with her. She has entire conversations with that silly bird, often interspersed with infectious giggles, she asks him things and accepts his repetition as a reply, then more giggling/dancing/jumping around.

This app has become an absolute life-saver in doctor's waiting rooms or times when Emily needs to sit down quietly (like my 12 week scan!!). Try it out on your toddler - trust me, it's worth the 69p - and let me know what you think! :)

(Note: this app will override the mute setting on your phone)



* Beth pretty much sums up my thoughts on the "no TV for under 3s" issue here

Home


It'll be seven years this coming April that we left the little rock and moved to England for good. We became adults here, we built lives and dreams, a family, a home. And we loved it.

In July, when we visited Malta, it surprised me that for the first time, when looking out of the plane at Malta, "home" wasn't a word that crossed my mind. But other big surprises were to come my way.

I'll admit, I'd been pushing certain thoughts to the back of my mind for a few months by then. Shoving them away, far out of the way. I didn't want to know. We moved to England for good. We planned it out, mapped it out. We couldn't go back on our plans, I didn't want to be a failure, I didn't want to be predictable. I ignored my innermost thoughts, hated the very thought of Malta (I can only suspect because of the rest of the feelings it brought along with it).

Until that same day in July - the day I realised Malta no longer felt like "home" - when I realised what home really is. Somewhere in my subconscious, a wall came crashing down, and I knew that I wanted to go back.

David didn't believe me. I'd cried wolf a couple of times before and always changed my mind by the end of our visit. I'd always come back to England ranting and raving about how wonderful it is to live here and how I'd never move back to Malta. And it is wonderful, there's no denying that. But somewhere over the past year, my priorities changed. And by the end of our visit to Malta in July, much to David's surprise, I hadn't changed my mind.

I want Emily to have the same closeness to family as I did growing up. I want her to experience hot summers spent in the water. I want her to know and love her grandparents. I want to be able to show her that it's good for her parents to have a life outside of bringing up her and her brother or sister. That her Mummy and Daddy can have fun together. I want to never have to sit in A&E with a child, completely alone, again. I want to have a full life, perhaps smaller, simpler, but certainly fuller.

We are moving back to Malta in January 2013. As bittersweet a decision as this has been and as hard as it will be to leave my sister and the amazing friends I've come to rely on with my life, it is simply time to head back. (I still can't bring myself to completely accept that I'll be leaving these people behind, I'm sure I'll come to terms with it eventually. Maybe.)

Needless to say, this won't be the last you've heard of this. But in the meantime, yeah, that's our big news!

Lucky Fourth



Don't know much about your life.

Don't know much about your world, but
Don't want to be alone tonight,
On this planet they call earth.



You don't know about my past, and
I don't have a future figured out.
And maybe this is going too fast.
And maybe it's not meant to last,



But, 
What do you say to taking chances,
What do you say to jumping off the edge?
Never knowing if there's solid ground below
Or a hand to hold, or hell to pay,
What do you say.


PS. We made it. Love you. So much. Happy 4th wedding anniversary x

Words are Taking Chances, by Celine Dion

Bump!


I will actually write about this pregnancy one of these days.
I have notes scribbled in a notebook that lives on my bedside table
(I always get bloggy ideas just as I'm falling asleep),
but have yet to put it all together to make some sense. Bear with me!

PS. Bump is currently bigger than it was last time at 19 weeks!

Riverside

Yesterday, we had no plans. So we threw our things together and headed to the Riverside Country Park in Gillingham. We had once been briefly but never explored it fully, and with no threat of rain, it seemed a good opportunity to find out more.

Emily loved it. She walked far more than she usually does and was fast asleep soon after lunch and napped for a good while (which is always a treat, especially after the late night we had the previous night!)

Here's the little beauty...









Would you like a lalloo?