The End

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

Thank you for reading.

Best Laid Plans

So much excitement and we had it all worked out: Emily would nap between the two parties while we had a rest and set up for the afternoon event.

But the night before her birthday, she was very unsettled. We knew something was up. Then at 11pm she woke up with a fever. We stripped her down to her vest, gave her some medicine and her temperature eventually came down and she slept at about 3am.

Come 11am (party-time) needless to say, she was shattered. She had bags under her eyes and all she wanted to do was curl into us with her head on our shoulder. She did enjoy the soft play area for a short while but she was clingy and quite cranky. She picked at her food but didn't eat much at all and towards the end of the party she'd had enough and got quite upset and just wanted to sleep.

But when we tried to get her to sleep, there was lots of crying and screaming. I put it down to overtiredness and she was asleep an hour later, but it was distressing and disappointing and all I could think was that I'd let her down because she wasn't able to have fun on her own first birthday.

I know: she won't remember. And there'll be many other birthdays to make up for it. But how cruel for a little girl to be that unwell on her own first birthday.

And the fever raged on. By Sunday, still no real symptoms but I began to discard my teething theory, even the combination of Calpol and Nurofen wasn't making a difference to her fever. She was burning hot and she was not impressed. I planned to call the doctor first thing Monday morning.

But at 10pm, she was up and in a state again. 45 minutes after giving her both medicines, her temperature was only increasing. So I called NHSdirect, suspecting a chest infection. They advised that she be taken to the emergency clinic and at midnight, we were seen. It wasn't a chest infection after all (the wheezing was only due to the high body temperature). It's a double ear infection. Her second in two months, my poor little pudding seems to be quite prone to them.

She is now on antibiotics as well as Calpol and Nurofen (which now thankfully seem to be working) and I can only hope that very soon, she will be able to begin enjoying her second year of life, and all her new toys!

C'est la vie!

Little Party People

Emily's first birthday is almost here. Ignoring the little screaming person inside my head who cannot for the life of her understand how this year passed so quickly, my logical side set itself to organising a party. Thanks to plenty of photos, I "remember" my first birthday party. I remember my red velvet dress and white knee socks (it was the 80s, so sue me!) and I remember there being many people and all the family and lots and lots to eat.


Naturally, I want to give Emily the same memories. Parties were always huge in my childhood. If there was one thing my parents did well (they did many other things well too), it was birthday celebrations. So I was never going to be one of those people who celebrated Emily's first birthday with a couple of close friends. I don't think any less of people who choose to do it that way, but it isn't for me.

So my next task was to establish what sort of party to have. We considered doing something at home. No, not enough space. Maybe renting a function hall and organising catering and entertainment for the little people. And we considered inviting some of Emily's little friends to have some fun at a soft play centre. There was also the issue that the grandparents will be coming all the way from Malta for the event, and I didn't really want them to be coming to watch some toddlers have fun while they watch and aren't really able to participate in the party themselves.

What to do, what to do?

Solution: two parties. Oh dear.

But hear me out.

Over lunch, there will be the little people party at a soft play area (which worked out far cheaper than renting a hall and sorting all that out - and best bit is I don't need to organise anything other than the cake!). Then, after a well-needed nap, there will be a little gathering at home for close family and godparents. And during that, Maltese tradition will be upheld in the form of a "quccija" - a funny little custom in which a baby supposedly chooses his or her destiny.

I cannot think of a better way to spend Emily's first birthday. There will be photos - many, many photos - which maybe she will one day love as much as I love the photos of my first birthday party, especially knowing now the thought and effort my parents put into it for me! We are all so excited!

Amber

Teething. Don't we love it?! The crying, red cheeks, streaming nose, fever, nightmare nappies. The list goes on. Emily seemed to start teething when she was 2 months old, before she could even hold a teether to her mouth. Her first tooth eventually showed up at 7 months. They say there is a lot of movement below the gums before teeth actually cut through. It's a long process, and not a fun one by any means.

I started looking for tips early. Teething powder was high on everyone's list. Teething gels are well known. Trusty Calpol and Nurofen always come to the rescue. But sometimes it's just not enough, and I don't like pouring medicines down Emily's throat constantly! So from an early age, having researched it's safety and a reputable place to purchase from, Emily wore an amber necklace. For centuries throughout Europe, Baltic amber has been used for healing and wellbeing. When worn, the warmth from the body releases the amber's natural oils into the skin, soothing the misery of teething aches and pains offering a completely natural teething remedy.(1)

It started as one of those things I put on for her on the off-chance that it made a difference and helped her even just a little bit. The only time it comes off is for bathtime.

But once, I forgot it off after bathtime and all of the next day. I couldn't for the life of me understand why she moaned and whinged so much that day. I knew she was teething that week but why the sudden change? It was when I realised the amber necklace wasn't on that it occurred to me that maybe it did make that much of a difference.

I have since changed her necklace to an anklet (despite necklaces being safe, I felt more comfortable with the idea of an anklet at night), and a few weeks ago again, forgot it off after bathtime. The night that followed was not restful (to say the least), for Emily or for us.

Could it be, then, that it helps that much? I am quite sold at this point and am more than happy to recommend amber to other parents. After all, if it can't harm the child and might very well be giving a helping hand, the question very simply is: why not?

(1) Information Source: Dino Daisy

A Matter of Time

In 8 days, my tiny baby turns one. Tiny baby is not so tiny any longer. She weighs over 20lbs and has hair long enough to pull into a ponytail (I toy with the idea but haven't yet). She has a little collection of words that she uses on a regular basis. She is now mobile and cruises around the living room like she owns it. Her favourite spot, however, is her bookshelf. Early on, I cleared one of the wall unit shelves and filled it with her books. She has recently discovered it and takes pleasure in inspecting her books over and over again until they all end up at her feet. She'll then hang out at the shelf and "read" a book or two of her choice.

Photobucket

I could watch her for hours.


But yesterday saw her first "accident". She slipped and hit her mouth against the corner of the tv unit. There was so much blood. I generally pride myself on keeping calm during situations like that. I'm usually really, really good. (It's needles that scare me, not blood.) But this time... oh I was mostly calm, I did everything right, but there were moments of panic where I struggled to keep it together. My baby was broken. She was bleeding and all I could do, really, was wait to see whether the bleeding would continue.

It didn't. But the afterwards looked pretty scary. My top and her top full of blood splatters, kitchen towels soaked in blood, a cup I'd used to give her water to wash her mouth with also streaked with blood. It wasn't a pretty sight.

She was fine long before I was. I sat her in her highchair and offered her a couple spoonfuls of ice-cream (I figured the cold would help?!). She slept for 3 hours after that and it took almost that long for my heart to return to it's normal rhythm.

It still races just remembering.

Crowning Glory

I was born bald. When my hair finally grew, it was very fair. I now have dark hair. My mum often mentions that I was her fairest child and yet I am now her darkest.

But hair colour is not what this post is about.

Some of you know me as she of the curly hair. If you fall into this category, you probably went to school with me or knew me before I turned 17. Many of you have no idea I have curly hair.

My hair is curly. And very frizzy. Over the years, I have subjected my hair to several treatments in an attempt to make it less so. All to no avail. My hair remains curly, which technically I could live with. But to my horror, it has also remained frizzy.

Photobucket

Cute on a (grumpy!!) kid, not so great on an adult.

Washing my hair is a huge event. Wet hair will always be followed by approximately 45 minutes of drying time. My hair gets tugged and pulled and straightened to within an inch of it's life so that I can, until the next time I need to wash it (or the next time I forget an umbrella when it rains), pretend that it is actually naturally not frizzy. It is for this reason that hair washing needs to be planned. Scheduled. It can not simply happen on an ad hoc basis.

I could never be a person who washes her hair every day. It would eat into my week too dramatically. This has, over my lifetime, impacted things that anyone else may never think of, like exercising. There was a time when I was getting into running quite a bit. Part of me would have gladly gone out running every evening. I loved it and the time it gave me to be out, feeling the wind against my face and just enjoying my own company. But alas, a good run works up a sweat. After which I would need a head-to-toe shower. Problem.

I won't lie: it's not the first time I've gone to bed with a sweaty head. Sometimes I just don't have the energy to deal with my hair.

I hate that I am not able to walk in the rain without a care in the world. I hate that rain turns me into a fretful "must cover my hair lest it detects humidity" bimbo.

There are times when I attempt to "wash & go". Each time, I hope that maybe - just maybe - my curls have been visited by the frizz fairy and they will magically look like this once dry (that's the closest image I could find to what my hair might look like sans frizz). Or that something clicks in my head and I am suddenly able to look at myself in the mirror and not care. Each time, I regret it. The frizz fairy is about as real as the tooth fairy and my hair still thinks it's a bona fide Jackson Five hairstyle. And I still hate it.

(I should clarify at this point that "wash & go" in my case should not be taken literally. It involves a plethora of sprays, creams, lotions and potions that I have tried over the years. Some things have worked for a few weeks. But ah, my hair is smarter than that.)

Is there a point to all this? No. I simply needed to vent. Because at this point - even carrying an extra 30lbs that I am desperate to lose - if you had to ask me what I'd change about myself, I may stop to think about it, but ultimately I know that my answer would be my hair. I would give anything not to have this silent dictator seemingly ruling my everyday life. /rant

Group Hug!

On Saturday, we attended the first birthday party of a fellow NCT baby - Emily's good friend, Joshua! The babies mostly spent their time hogging the ball pit and there came a point where someone (it may have been me) had the great idea to try and get an updated group picture. On paper it was simple. In reality, it looked like a giant baby pile-up. Us parents found it quite hilarious... I'm not entirely sure the little ones were as amused ;)

From this (Feb 2011), to this...

Photobucket

A January Christmas Recap

I blinked and it is almost mid-January. Seems a bit pointless now to be talking about Christmas, if I'm honest. All the decorations are down and packed away for another year and all I can think about now is Emily's birthday. January will never again be an anti-climatic month. I didn't expect it, but I was far more eager to de-Christmas the house this year - and there can only be one reason. Emily's birthday is even more important to me now than Christmas is. I never thought I'd say it and yet there it is. I've typed it out. It's true.

But for posterity's sake, Christmas was perfect. Emily was thrilled to finally be allowed at the gifts and she even loved opening her stocking. I had thoroughly expected her to only be interested in the paper, but no... she was frustrated at the paper. Because it was keeping her away from the goodies hidden underneath it.

Her stocking contained a Waybuloo DVD, a set of hairbands (her hair is growing fast!), two packets of Milky Buttons (she'd never tasted chocolate before Christmas, ignoring the time she stole a bite off my KitKat but that's another story), some bath toys, a little racing car, That's Not My Snowman touchy-feely book, the Hungry Caterpillar soft toy, and a soft Robot doll. It was a full stocking, I don't deny that. But her favourite was the Waybuloo DVD. She'd put it down, pick up something else, and then go back for the DVD. She just gazed at it most of the time with a silly, lovestruck look on her face.

Photobucket

As for other gifts, we limited that to two from us, and two from Santa. Then there were another three from the great-/grandparents, and a few others from friends (not to mention the huge amount that flooded in once we got to Malta!). By the end of the morning, it looked like a toyshop had crashed into our living room.

Lunch was nothing special. I went all out last year for exactly this reason - I knew that this year, it would be the last thing on my mind. I didn't want to miss out on a moment of Emily's first Christmas.

Unfortunately the excitement of the morning meant her nap ran almost an entire hour longer than it usually does and as both David and I felt it would be wrong to eat dinner without her, we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And by the time she was up, the turkey wasn't impressed to have been left waiting and as a result wasn't the juiciest it could have been. And as we had nibbled so much cheese to keep us going until she got up, we had no appetite. So in the end, Emily ate more turkey than David or I did and the Banoffee Pie I'd bought for dessert became our midnight snack. It was all quite confusing but it did make me realise that it was silly of me to be cooking turkey for tradition's sake when, if I had to be completely honest, I don't even really like it. So next Christmas I shall be making a delicious lasagne.

But back to the point. We then sauntered over to my sister's where - Emily could hardly believe it - more presents awaited.

Photobucket

And that was pretty much it really. There was almost no time to really enjoy the spoils of Christmas Day as early the next morning, we were off! But that rainbow kept its word, so it was all worth it in the end.

Quiet Words

While in Malta over New Year, we had our usual family gathering where my extended family got to catch up with us and see Emily. Just before leaving, my grandmother made my day when she said to me: "I'm very proud of you for the way you're bringing up your daughter."

I can't quite express how much that touched me and how proud it made me :)

Photobucket

Thank you Nanna x

[image taken in June 2011 in Malta]

When a Rainbow Makes a Promise

Our last holiday in Malta was less than wonderful. A lot less. We got home feeling so stressed, I didn't want to consider going back anytime soon. The fact that we had already booked our December flights was not a great feeling. So when I uploaded our holiday photos onto Facebook back in October, I joked about a picture of a rainbow I took when we arrived at the airport. I said that the rainbow was there to reassure me that next visit would be better.

We flew out on Boxing Day. I was already not pleased about this as I wanted to be at home on Boxing Day, to be able to soak up any left over Christmasness and not have to pack on Christmas Day itself, and for Emily to have some more time to enjoy her new toys. We initially wanted to fly out on the 27th but when we booked flights, the 27th was £400 more expensive than the 26th was, so really there wasn't much to consider. We booked the 26th and I dreaded it each time I thought of it.

On the morning of the 26th, we set out a bit too late and almost missed our flight. I had already written off the holiday and just wanted to go back home. But we made it and it was actually an excellent flight and Emily napped well. Things started looking a bit more positive.

When we landed, the weather in Malta was awful. Grey and rainy. But once we got out of the plane, the sun came out. And there, again, was a rainbow. Call me silly but at that moment, smiling to myself, I thought that maybe it was true: this holiday would be better.

Oh it most certainly was!