The End

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

Thank you for reading.

In the Sunshine

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Over the last few glorious days of sunshine, we have counted windows, watched birds, waved to aeroplanes, saw lots of use of the sign for "fun", practiced walking alone (Emily, mostly), and we had special treat lunches on the sofa watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I got lots of outdoor reading done, hung laundry outside, drank rather too much wine, and generally chilled out. We watched the Eurovision, caught up with a good friend, planned some more home projects, enjoyed David and tried to support him while he did his triathlon (but mostly baked in the sun).

Photobucket

Photobucket

In other news, Emily and "Mr Fan" seem to have reached an agreement. He now gets a kiss good night (!) and is allowed to stay the night. Phew!

The Heat

Summer has finally made it to Kent. As of yesterday, we've been basking in the sun and basically living in the garden. Today we had the paddling pool out (painstakingly filled with buckets of water) and friends over. Tomorrow we hope for more of the same. The kids got to show off new swimwear and us grown-ups tried to alter our clothing to ensure "a good tan."

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket


Unfortunately the heat also comes with a down-side. Emily's new room is one of the hottest in the house. Of course we knew this when we moved her up, but honestly - how many very hot days do we get? We just figured we'd ride through it. Then last night we realised just how hot it gets. 33 degrees, the baby monitor told us. I felt so bad. I took the fan into her room to try and cool it down. She was already in just a vest and nappy and leaving her window open made no difference whatsoever (other than to bring in lots of neighbourhood noise that unsettled her further).

Turns out she is afraid of the fan.

Splendid.

We had to take it back out and once we did, she eventually settled down and slept. I took the fan back in and that brought the room down to 30 degrees. Not anywhere near the 22 degrees she's used to sleeping in but it would have to do. She woke up at 1:30am, saw the fan and freaked out again.

Tonight I tried to trick her into thinking the fan wasn't there by putting it outside her room, directing the air flow into her room. I am guessing she knew it was there anyway. She screamed for almost 1.5 hours straight, refused to be held, refused to be in her cot, until she eventually wore herself out enough to fall asleep.


I feel awful. And I feel like I've let her down. We've moved her into a new room - granted, it's a room she loves to be in - but then to know that she'd have slept so much better through this heatwave in her old room kills me just a little bit.

Bedtime is usually the time of day I look forward to the most. She is playful and affectionate, and excited to be going to sleep. It's a bittersweet feeling - I'm about to get some time to myself which I look forward to, but I also need to say good night to my little daytime companion. These last couple of days though, I have dreaded bedtime. I hate to be thinking that a cold day might make a night in her new room more comfortable, but yes, I find myself wishing away the heat. I guess this is what motherhood does to you.

Choose a Book...

When Emily was younger, I wondered whether we read to her enough. I needn't have worried. She has become the biggest bookworm I've ever encountered in a child her age. Granted, I haven't encountered a vast amount of children her age, but it's still quite impressive.

Her books are all over the house. A full bookshelf in the living room. Some more books on two small shelves by her new wardrobe. More in a basket in her room. Two hidden away in my dresser for when I desperately need to keep her entertained while I'm dressing up. Two more in her changing bag and one hanging off the side of the buggy. Oh and four bath books in the bathroom.

I'm not sure how many books they all amount to, but it's a large amount. A very large amount. I seem unable to walk into a bookshop or browse Amazon without buying yet another book for her. It's good for her, I argue.

Lately she's worked out that she can specifically ask us to read to her.

"Bk," she'll say and sign book.

"Would you like me to read to you?"

She'll nod, carefully. "Yish."

"Choose a book."

She'll scan her bookshelf (we're usually in the living room, which is where her largest book collection lives), while tapping her fingers on the shelf (I kid you not!), and she'll soon pick out her favourites having recognised their spines.

She'll look over to me or her dad and pat her thigh a few times. "Ca, ca!" (Come)

This is what we do to signal to her that she should come over to us and therefore it has become necessary for her to pat her thigh whenever she wants to come to us.

"Come and sit here," I'll tell her, patting my thigh.

She'll eagerly come and sit down beside me or on my lap. "The-tew!" (Thank you)

And we'll read while she follows attentively and lifts the flaps or feels the touchy-feely bits. Once the book is finished, she'll sign finished and the entire process begins again.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Some days, we can go through the entire bookshelf in a day, sometimes twice. And then we'll read more books in her room before she sleeps. I won't pretend I always have the huge amount of patience necessary. Some days are easier than others but since she's started pointing at pictures in books and saying the correct words, I'll admit I'm finding more patience for the whole thing. Seeing the fruit of my labour makes it much easier to appreciate the good it's doing.

This is her living room bookshelf:

Photobucket

My sister couldn't help herself, apparently, and had to organise it in her OCD way a few weeks ago. It lasted all of three minutes.

Emily's current favourites are:
* Baby Faces (Look Baby Books)
* Big Book of Beautiful Babies Board Book
* Moo, Baa, La La La (Boynton)
* Where Is Baby's Belly Button? (Karen Katz Lift-the-Flap Books)
* My First Gruffalo: Colours
* My First Gruffalo: Touch-and-Feel
* Goodnight Moon (thanks to Maureen of Island Fairy for recommending this one!)
* Dear Zoo
* Where's Spot?

(PS: And if anyone is going to buy any of these books, it would be really really nice if you bought them via the links above as I will get commission. Cheeky? Quite.)

Littlest Buddies

Last year I wrote about the blossoming friendship between Emily and her NCT friend Krishi, here. Since then, they've been to baby signing classes together, not to mention several playgroups and playdates. They can pick each other out in a crowd and they greet each other with a kiss on the face. Krishi's mum and I are pretty much over the moon about the way they adore each other.

One of their recent playdates involved much laughter (I say "their" playdates but you know that for us mums it's a perfect excuse to let the little ones entertain each other while we have a good natter, right?) We caught some of it on video. Oh the wonder of iphones.

I dare you not to smile.



Go ahead and bookmark this. When you're having a bad day, watch it again. Baby laughter is the best medicine.

PS Emily started walking over the weekend! Woop!

The Beautiful World of Baby Signing

When Emily was born, there weren't too many baby classes I was interested in. I wanted to enjoy quality time with her, focus on her and really take everything in. I didn't want to be rushing to and from a dozen different classes, feeling like a maniac. But one of the classes I always knew I'd sign up for was Baby Signing. I'd heard about it years ago and instinctively knew it would work for me. So when Emily was about to turn 9 months, I signed up.

The class I chose was Sing and Sign. There are other programmes out there, but this one came recommended so I gladly went with it. The concept behind baby signing is to be able to communicate with your baby before they are able to speak. One of the rules is to never sign without saying the word. The aim isn't to replace speech but to complement it.

Classes were great fun and our tutor, Lorraine, was fantastic. We sang songs and signed along and when we went home we tried to remember to sign along with certain words that we'd learnt. I was lucky in that David was extremely supportive and asked me to teach him the signs too, so he'd also be signing with Emily.

For ages our main sign was "milk". It was obvious that Emily knew what this meant, she reacted appropriately whenever we made the sign/said the word. But for a while, there was not much more communication on her part other than the widening of her eyes in eagerness when we mentioned something she wanted.

And then one day, she signed "milk". It was a beautiful moment: our daughter was finally able to communicate with us. We'd been attending baby signing classes for just a few weeks.

Slowly but surely, her "vocabulary" increased. We'd sing songs and sign along at home as well as in class and you could actually see her taking in new signs, and then trying them out. She doesn't always get them right but they're always similar enough to know what she means to say. She also usually tries to say the word along with her sign.

Emily began talking quite early. By just over 10 months old, she was calling things "pretty" and by 11 months she could tell us when she was "happy". My personal theory is that her early speech is at least partially due to the fact that communication channels, so to speak, were opened so early. She felt that she could communicate with us and therefore she tried to do so all the more.

At this point, I have lost track of the signs she knows. There was a time where I kept a mental list, but there are far too many signs that she uses now to be able to remember them all. By way of some examples, she will sign "carefully" when she knows she was close to losing her balance. She will sign "nappy" when I ask her if she needs changing. She will tell me she's hungry and when she's ready for bed. She can ask for more of whatever she wants more of. She will sign "naughty" and "sorry" when she's done something she knows is naughty. If she sees a picture of a cat or a duck, she can tell me what they are, and she can also make the sound they make (although her "meow" sounds more like "waaa" at the moment...!). She will sign "home" when we are out and she wants to go home (she did this in Paris, oops!)

Her most recent sign is "love you". My heart melts a little bit each time she signs that one.

Photobucket

Now I didn't take it as seriously as I could have done. I missed several classes and never ended up attending the second term, which I was very disappointed about. But in my eyes, the outcome has been hugely successful anyway. I can communicate with my daughter in ways I know I otherwise would never have been able to. It's a beautiful feeling to be able to know what a child this young wants, to know I am helping her sort through her thoughts and therefore helping her understand herself better.

I couldn't recommend Sing and Sign enough.

This is not a sponsored post. It's simply been a very positive experience which I couldn't help but share with you all.

Phase One: Complete

As some of you may already know, Emily moved into her new room over the weekend. It's not entirely finished - the curtains are still in Malta where I sent them to get done "cheaply". Two months later they were finally ready, and then my little sister - whom I'd been counting on to bring up the curtains - had to cancel her visit. It now looks like they will get here next month with more visitors from Malta. The irony is that the entire room was designed around the fabric we chose for the curtains, and yet they will be the last thing in place. Best laid plans and all that.

There were a few more hiccups along the way but the room really is looking lovely now. I'll only post a little hint of what it looks like as I'd like to wait until those curtains are in before I take proper pictures.

Photobucket

Emily's first reaction upon seeing it was "happy, happy" while she jumped in her cot with a look of giddy excitement on her face.

I think she likes it.

Toothbrush Party

Emily had her first visit to the dentist last week. Nothing's wrong of course, but according to her red book, babies should have visited a dentist by the time they are one. We were already running a few months late. So I made an appointment with my dentist and off we went.

I was slightly nervous - Emily's not usually very cooperative when it comes to showing off her teeth. Personally, I've sworn off trying to feel for new teeth as my fingers keep getting violently bitten every time I try, it didn't take me long to have enough of the torture.

But once we were in, she was too busy taking in all the shiny and interesting-looking gadgets in the clinic to bother much. She cooperated perfectly and the dentist was happy to report her teeth are all fine and there are twelve of them. She got a sticker - which she tried to eat - and off we went.

Since then, Emily has been FAR more cooperative about brushing her teeth. I'd almost entirely given up brushing them for her as it only ended in a melt-down. She simply wouldn't let me do it, and the last thing I wanted to do was make her hate brushing her teeth. So we turned it into a game. I'd hand her her toothbrush to mostly chew on while I brushed my teeth too and sang and made funny faces as I did it, which she found hilarious, and soon brushing our teeth became fun. When David is around at weekends, he'll sometimes join in too. A tooth-brushing party, if you will.

But since going to the dentist, she'll let me brush her teeth! She still gets some chewing time, but I then take over and she opens her mouth wide and goes "aaah" and they get a good scrubbing. I'm slightly flabbergasted at the way it so suddenly changed, and I'm sure the novelty won't last too much longer, but while it does last I'm not complaining in the least!

Growing Up

Last week I (finally) finished putting together Emily's first year photobook. (I put it off for three months. It only took me three days to compile. Silly me for procrastinating.) It was as I was doing this that it really began to hit home: my daughter is growing up. She's no longer a baby, despite me still referring to her as one. She's very much a toddler, well on her way to being a proper little girl.

I look at these two photos side by side, and can't quite get over the difference...

Photobucket

Yes, Hamley bear is huge. I am still almost as taken aback by him everytime I lay eyes on him now as I was when my colleague walked in to the bar, carrying him, where we were having farewell drinks for me on my last day of my first ever job in London. Such great memories. And he wears the t-shirt to prove it.

But I digress.


Photobucket

Emily is growing up fast. We have little conversations now, even if I can't quite follow half of what she's telling me. She says "thank you" and "please". She darn well knows what she wants - apart from when she's tired. And then I know she wants a nap.

Photobucket

At bedtime, she loves climbing up the stairs herself, but has to stop at the photographs on the bookshelf to point out people and say who they are. She loves us reading books to her, and she especially now loves lift-the-flap books. Even if it's because she likes tearing off the flaps "by mistake."

Photobucket

She will now nod - very slowly and carefully - when she wants to say yes. And she wants to eat out of a bowl. With a fork, which she will then pick food off with her hands to transfer into her mouth. She'll then lick the bowl clean(ish). And she can't have breakfast without the radio on.

Photobucket

She's my little peanut!

Sneak Peek

Walls are pink and birdy/leafy stickers are up!

Photobucket

I took Emily in to see the stickers and she had the exact reaction I'd hoped for. She looked up in wonder and fascination. The plan is for her cotbed to go under the larger treebranch so the fact that she liked it so much made me immensely happy. I wanted to give her something pretty to look at when she wakes up (in an attempt to possibly keep her quiet for longer in the morning!!)