The End

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

Thank you for reading.

Paris, Part III: Disneyland

[Read Part I]
[Read Part II]

(Disneyland - We all knew it would come to this, didn't we?)

After the success of the Aquarium, we took the rest of the day easy. Emily was quite worn out from what was probably the sudden stimulation and we could get away with it. But we knew there was another day ahead of us and internet searches gave us no additional information whatsoever as to what sort of entertainment Paris held for toddlers. There was one glaringly obvious option, one we'd specifically decided against weeks before: Disneyland.

David suggested it again and I, again, said no. Emily is too young, it'd be a waste. She wouldn't appreciate it and she'd most certainly not remember it. But in the end, with the idea of a whole day of nothingness and frustration for Emily looming, I gave in (rather eagerly, I'll admit). So we hurried to the Disney store around the corner quickly before it closed and bought our tickets, and a Mickey Mouse toy for Emily which she hasn't stopped hugging since.

The next morning was cold, and very windy, although we can't really complain as rain had been forecast for the entire weekend and it had only rained for 20 minutes on our first day there. We searched high and low for gloves for Emily (I hadn't even packed a pair!) but as winter stock had been put away, there were no gloves to be found. We unrolled her jacket sleeves and tried to keep her hands under her footmuff.

I don't really think I need to say much more about our day there, I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

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And then I said it would be a pity to have come to Disneyland and not let Emily meet her beloved Mickey Mouse himself. So we queued for 50 minutes, sans buggy of course, on a gravel path - meaning Emily had to be held the entire time or she'd have tried to eat the gravel.

All for a few minutes with Mickey. Whom Emily turned out to be scared of.

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The verdict? We enjoyed it. Of course she won't remember a thing and we plan to take her again when she's older and can enjoy it more. But I don't regret having given in this time. It was a day where we could relax, not be worried about where we might need to change her nappy or what restaurant might have a highchair. We certainly didn't need to worry about anything not being child-friendly. Emily had a blast and we loved watching her enjoy it. That alone makes it worth it.

Under Way

You might remember me mentioning that Emily will be getting a new room this summer. Well decorating is finally under way. I'm hugely excited about this project, I have big plans for this new room of hers, and we visit it often as I want her to get used to it (it wasn't a room we used very much until now) so she is warming to it and loves watching the trees out of the window. I think she'll be happy there.

This is what the room looked like until yesterday...

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Stay tuned for updates!

Paris, Part II: Aquarium de Paris

[Read Part I]

Visiting the Aquarium was a stroke of genius. Emily could finally get out of her buggy and crawl around. She has recently become very interested in animals so this was a good opportunity to show her something different. She loved the movement and the colours of the fish, although not so much the larger fish.

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She spent most of her time at the Aquarium shouting at the fish, or trying to catch and lick them.

And then we found the petting pool. She stood by the side for a while, just watching. Then tentatively, she touched the water. Then a bit more and a bit more, until five minutes in, her top and cardigan were soaked right through (she kept turning around to try and dry her hands on David's arm!) and she was even trying to catch the poor, terrorized fish.

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We stopped to have lunch shortly after that (sushi - a bit ironic to be serving sushi at an Aquarium, we thought!) and we stripped Emily down to her vest and dried her clothes under the hand drier in the toilets which did the job and she was fast asleep, fully content, soon after that. Suddenly we didn't feel like such bad parents any longer: we had found something for Emily to enjoy in what seemed to be the land that forgot the toddler!

More Paris adventures to follow...

Paris, Part I: Hmm...

Months ago, we booked a long weekend in Paris. As part of his Ironman training, David was going to run the Paris Marathon on the 15th April. Then, due to injury, he was unable to run but we decided to spend the weekend in Paris anyway. It had been a few years since we were last there, and it was a good excuse to be back.

We couldn't quite make our minds up about how to get there and when we finally decided to take the Eurostar, prices had sky-rocketed so we fell back on our original plan to drive there via the Eurotunnel. We were both not very keen on this option because Emily had recently begun being very impatient in the car and we didn't want to have to listen to her moaning for over 3 hours. Still, we didn't want to fly there either, so we decided to risk it.

Turned out we had nothing to worry about. She was perfectly fine getting to Dover, spent the crossing out of the car, and spent the drive from Calais to Paris asleep or blowing us kisses.

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We were the last car on board the train so she had ample room to roam.


Once we'd checked in to our hotel, we moved around the furniture in our room (we must be every hotel's favourite guests) to ensure we could actually have a quiet conversation once Emily was asleep. Then we headed out for a stroll down the Champs Élysées and to get some dinner.

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This was when reality kicked in. Stupidly, we'd done no "Paris With Toddler" research. Since we'd been before and done all the sights then, and we're not big on much sightseeing anyway - we much prefer to take it easy and just soak up the essence of a place, we figured we'd just chill and let Emily roam around while we do, as we'd do in England. We'd take a few walks, perhaps a boat ride, a spot of shopping, nothing stressful.

It was at this point, looking for a place to have dinner, that we realised that we might be in for an interesting weekend. Most restaurants and brasseries we attempted to have dinner in had no highchairs (and we'd stupidly left our portable booster seat in the hotel room). Emily was looked at as if she was some sort of alien fallen out of the sky. A child in a restaurant?! When we did eventually find somewhere that had a highchair (one without a harness so she spent the entire time climbing out of it), and after I was almost run over by a very rude waiter carrying a tray of empty glasses and got shouted at for being in the way while we waited to be shown to our table, Emily was given stainless steel cutlery, a plate and a glass. And the waiter seemed taken aback when I moved everything away from her.

From where we stood, it seemed like no Parisian had even the slightest concept of an infant. Playgrounds (we found quite a few) include slides, see-saws and monkey bars. Emily loves swings, but there are no swings, anywhere. Signs state that playgrounds are intended for children over four years of age.

Even shopping started out feeling hopeless. In Zara, we tried to get to the first floor. We spotted a lift. Good, this was progress. After what seemed like an eternity waiting for the lift to arrive, it was packed with boxes and clothing rails. There was no way more than one person would fit in there, let alone a buggy. The sales assistant close by looked up, then carried on doing whatever he was doing. We walked out. (We were more successful in other shops, but it was at this point that David looked over to me and, laughing, said "I can actually see the blog post writing itself in your head." He wasn't wrong.)

By the morning of our second day, Emily was bored out of her mind and we were becoming slightly concerned as to how we were going to keep her entertained, and feeling very bad for having brought her all the way there to have no fun whatsoever. I said to David let's find some grass and let her roam around for a while. But there on the grass was a fresh delivery of dog poo. Back to square one.

She was getting increasingly impatient to not be allowed to move around anywhere (remember, she still just crawls!!) until David spotted a sign. There was an Aquarium. We ditched the Eiffel Tower and made a bee line for the aquarium.

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I'll tell you all about that in my next post, and I promise it does get more positive after this!

[Read Part II]

How Much Fun Can You Have in a Bathtub?

...Lots, it would seem. And you don't even always need water.

Jokingly, I popped Emily into the bath fully clothed the other day and handed her some of her bath toys. The fact that she was in a place that is usually wet but this time she was dry and fully clothed, seemed to blow her mind just a little. She also found it hilarious.

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Sometimes (sometimes!!), it's so easy to keep her entertained!

So Much Love

The other day I came across something I wrote on the 10th February 2011. Emily was 13 days old.

"Being a mummy to this little girl of mine has made me feel complete. It feels like the final piece of the puzzle has been located and firmly put into place. I cannot get enough of the way she looks at me, adoringly, with her big eyes, the way she moves closer to me when I give her kisses because they comfort her and she wants more, the feeling of her breathing softly when she falls asleep on my chest. If I could sit here all day and just look at her, I probably would be fine with it. She's magnificent even when she's crying. So much love, I cannot even begin to put it into words."

I can't say anything's changed. If anything, I love her even more.

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Why God Made Little Girls

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God made the world with towering trees,
Majestic mountains and restless seas.
Then paused and said, "It needs one more thing...
Someone to laugh and dance and sing.
To walk in the wood and gather flowers...
To commune with nature in quiet hours."

So God made little girls
With laughing eyes and bouncing curls,
With joyful hearts and infectious smiles,
Enchanting ways and feminine wiles.
And when He'd completed the task He'd begun,
He was pleased and proud of the job He'd done.
For the world, when seen through little girl's eyes,
Greatly resembled Paradise.

[Author Unknown]



When Denise and I were young, we shared a room. On the wall was a pretty pink frame with a picture of a little girl and the poem "Why God Made Little Girls." I remember reading it and imagining those majestic mountains and little girls in fields. I remember trying to understand what "feminine wiles" were. This poem had a special place in my heart. It made me feel special.

Years passed, Denise and I moved into separate rooms and didn't want sentimental mush on our cool walls. The poem was forgotten.

Until last week, while trying to think up something different to put on Emily's new bedroom wall, it came back to me. I couldn't remember the name of the poem, so I asked my sister if she remembered it. She didn't but my dad saved the day, and some good news: the frame still exists.

Whether it will be that original frame or an updated version, I will be seeing to it that this poem is on Emily's wall when she moves into it in a few weeks time. Maybe she'll read it in wonder when she's older too and know just how special she is.

[image cred]

Date Night Observations

Last month saw our third date night since Emily was born. My sister kindly babysat and we headed out to the cinema for the first time in 17 months. (Yes, I counted.)

Here are some date night observations:

1. No matter what great outfit you had in mind for date night, it simply will not do on the night and you will go through everything you own, only to turn back to that original outfit reluctantly as nothing else seems to work as well.

2. It is not possible to wear more than one pair of shoes at a go. Yes there are many pretty shoes in that closet that haven't been worn in months and months, but you really will need to just settle on one pair for the night.

3. You feel the need to tell your sister where everything is, forgetting that she already knows all this because she is, in fact, your sister and not a random babysitter.

4. Cinema food doesn't get cheaper 17 months on.

5. The tub of pop corn that you just spent a half a year's savings on will topple over if you hit it with your coat.

6. People will want to sit in those seats you've draped said coat over.

7. Volume levels in the cinema seem shockingly high when you're used to keeping the TV at a sensible volume because the baby's sleeping.

8. Upon your return, the baby will sense that you've been out galavanting and will spend the rest of the night unsettled just to keep you on your toes, and in the hope that you won't dare go out alone again.

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Our next date has been scheduled ;)


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One Perfect Spring Day

Spring took us by surprise this year in that it arrived when it should have. Chances are we won't see another sunny day for months but while it lasted, it was superb. One of the first days, we headed out to the park with my sister and niece.

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Later on that day, once Emily had woken up from her nap, we dusted off the picnic blanket and took it out into the garden, brought along a few toys for entertainment and just whiled away an hour. Emily was of course more interested in picking up dead bugs from between the decking boards, and I even got the opportunity to introduce her to a live ladybird (which she tried to kill). I may need to keep an eye on this little munchkin!

An Easter Dilemma

When we were young, Easter was a very important religious event. We attended a mass which lasted almost all night long and ended with a great feast in the early hours of Easter Sunday itself. I'm sure it still is important to practising Catholics, be it in the way we celebrated it or a more mainstream way. For me, once my family moved on from celebrating it the way we did when I was young, it all pretty much lost all meaning. Easter was Easter night, it was fun to be up so late and we participated in the mass, it was exciting. I am no longer practising but somehow, possibly because it once was such an important time of year, I cannot bring myself to celebrate Easter in any real way any longer. For it to become simply a day when it's okay to eat lots of chocolate seems horribly fickle.

And yet I'd like to instil some sort of acknowledgement of the holiday in Emily, and in us as a family. I want us to look forward to Easter almost as much as we'd look forward to Christmas. I'm just not quite sure how to go about it. Perhaps turn it into a Spring celebration. We might make Easter trees and decorate eggs and do crafts and have outdoor tea parties. And we all know how much I adore Spring. It would be quite fitting really.

Emily's too young at the moment, there didn't even seem any reason to give her any chocolate today, which is why I'm sitting here this year really thinking about it, because next year I'd like to begin whatever "Easter tradition" we decide to go with. I'd like to be able to think of Easter and have a smile come to my face once again, decorate the house, really enjoy the holiday.

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Finger Painted Easter Cards

I decided a while ago that I wanted to send Emily's Grandparents personalised Easter cards. I searched high and low for ideas (ok, not really, I searched Pinterest) and finally settled on something simple. I mean, let's face it - she's 14 months old, and while I haven't discarded the possibility of her being the next Picasso, I'm not putting my hopes up.

So finger painting it was. Now bear in mind, she'd never encountered paint before. A voice in my head told me I may be being overly optimistic but I was determined to try. I took her out into the garden on a beautiful day, armed with paper, watercolours, a long-sleeved bib, a packet of handwipes and some snacks.

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I didn't dilute the paint to keep the colour bright.

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The artist contemplates her art and munches on some snacks.

I explained what we were going to do and asked her which colour she wanted to use first. She poked the red. Red it is, then. We used all four colours (the blue somewhat reluctantly) and made some beautiful 14-month old art.

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She quickly lost interest (she wanted to eat the paint and when I didn't let her, that was pretty much it) but I had enough for all the egg cut-outs we needed.

The artist seemed very proud of herself...

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The paintings were proudly displayed on the fridge to dry.

Later that night, I set to work. I'd dropped by the craft shop the day before and picked up some scrapbooking stickers along with blank cards, and along with a silver pen I'd entirely forgotten I had, I had all the tools I needed for the project.

Many failed egg-shape attempts later, I found a good one online and literally traced it off the screen. I then traced it onto the best bits of finger painting.

Then came the tough part. I had to cut out the eggs. These were my daughter's first ever works of art we're talking about. Cutting into that paper felt like cutting into my heart just a teeny bit (Note to grandparents: you're not to EVER throw these out!!)

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As simplistic as they may seem, I was quite pleased with these cards. Here is the finished product!

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And the back:
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Happy Easter!

New Rules: How Did We Do?

Back in October, I set myself four rules that I felt were important. A winter later, here's how I did:


No laptop use while Emily is awake.
This was going really well. Enter the ipad, and things fell apart for a while until I gave myself a little metaphorical shaking and put it away. It doesn't mean I don't stop to check my mail a few times or tweet a few more times but I'm not sat there glued to it all day (as I may have been before). I get down on the floor and play with Emily, we build towers, we read, we tickle and get tickled. Sometimes we just cuddle in front of TV. It's all good.


Read more.
Safe to say I failed this one. Miserably. I've still not yet read another book, but I have picked up a few magazines over the last few weeks and have made myself sit down for a few minutes to relax every now and then. I need to learn the meaning of that word "relax" all over again, or so it would seem. I have also added a few books to my Kindle that sound promising (and have even read the first two chapters of one of them), so there is actually some hope.


Establish storytime.
For a while, we read every day after Emily's bath. Until I realised she had no patience for it at that time as all she wanted was to get to sleep. So we moved storytime to before her bath. And that worked nicely. But we read so many books throughout the day, there are always books around somewhere (there are even two little ones that live in my handbag for when we're out), and we read bathbooks too, so in the end "storytime" per se faded away and we still read lots. We just do it whenever.

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(She even has a magazine of her own which she loves leafing through)


Get out every day.
We've been good with this. However I've also been good about realising that just because we don't go out one day, just because we stay in and just enjoy Emily's toys and I catch up on some things around the house, or just take it easy, doesn't make the day a failure. We've achieved a good balance. We go out often, we have people over often, we have us time often.


Ultimately, things are going well. Emily and I seem to have reached a point where we know how to work with each other. I am slowly even starting to feel comfortable cooking dinner in the kitchen while she plays in the living room. The fact that she is increasingly mobile helps as when she misses me or needs something, I hear the "clap, clap" of her hands on the wooden floor as she crawls towards the kitchen, or the little plastic wheels of her walker being pushed down the corridor, and she's with me again. I never leave her alone for more than a few minutes at a time. More often than not, she chooses to hang around the kitchen with me, playing with her fridge magnets or a wooden spoon, or "cleaning" the floor with the tea towels - and it wouldn't be the first time I've cooked dinner with her hanging off my leg either. Not a huge amount of fun, but sometimes it just needs to be done!

Early Morning Perspective

At nine o'clock on a Sunday Morning, it may just as well be six o'clock. With only a handful of people on a street that you know will be bustling in a few hours, there's a certain stillness in the air. The kind of stillness you can enter but not disturb. Dogs and owners are out for their walks. Shops are shut. Maintenance workers have time to stop and play peekaboo with a baby. There is an intoxicating simplicity to life that you can fill your lungs with. A mental snapshot of a quieter world to keep close for those other, overwhelming days.

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