Scotland Weekend

Back in early October, we spent a long weekend in Scotland – our first trip back since getting married in Scotland nearly a decade ago!

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I had to speak at a conference in Glasgow on a Thursday, so we decided to make a weekend of it. We took the train up after work on Wednesday evening, and Andy took the day off work on Thursday to hang out with Elodie while I was at my conference. Since I’m off on Fridays, I hung out with Elodie that day while Andy worked remotely.

The train ride up on Wednesday night took about 4.5 hours and it was kind of tough to be honest; it was evening, after a long day of nursery, and Elodie didn’t want to stay still. We used all our tricks: snacks, walking around, toys, sticker books…and eventually let her watch Paw Patrol after another dad offered it to her on his phone….

On Thursday Elodie and Daddy had a fun day involving some neat play areas and going out to lunch while I spoke at this event at Glagow City Chambers which was a very cool, historic venue.

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That evening we tried to find a place we could have a dinner but it was kind of tough, most places in central Glasgow, where we were staying, weren’t very kid-friendly; it was mostly pubs and restaurants for the office crowd after work. We ended up at a pizza place that was pretty good. Our hotel was an Ibis City Styles, not fancy but perfectly nice and functional and had a good lounge area we could hang out and play with Elodie, and a perfectly serviceable Continental breakfast in the morning. I appreciate now with kids how helpful that is to have breakfast provided.

On Friday, it was mummy’s turn for a day alone with El!

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It was a beautiful day and I love Glasgow, it’s such a cool city and has a gritty, industrial edge. It reminds me of Philly.

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Elodie was pretty happy in the carrier! We walked around, did some shopping and went to the Kelvingrove musuem which I remembered and loved from the time Andy and I went there on our honeymoon. It is such a cool museum. Elodie was a little scared of the big taxidermied animals though.

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We met Andy for lunch at Two Fat Ladies at the Buttery, an acclaimed Glasgow restaurant and the fanciest place we’ve ever taken Elodie. It was excellent! She did okay, all things considered…and the staff was very nice.

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That afternoon, Elodie slept in the carrier with me while we walked around. It had been so long since we did a walking nap! It was great.

At the end of the day, we met Andy for the train ride north of Glasgow to the small village where we’d spend the next two nights, Arrochar. We chose this village because we wanted to go somewhere out of the city that was remote and good for hiking, yet was accessible by train.

The train only took about an hour but when we arrived, we felt very far away. The train station was in the middle of nowhere, several miles from the tiny village where we were staying. Our inn said online there would be taxis but there were none….things looked quite worrying until we walked into the one pub near the station to inquire about ringing a taxi. Apparently no one ran a taxi service in the area any longer, but a friendly local offered to give us a lift….with no other options, we took him up on it! It was an experience but we made it to our place, The Village Inn, just fine.

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Arrochar is nestled at the foot of the Arrochar Alps, on the banks of Loch Lomond. We arrived at sunset and it was beautiful.

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That night we ate dinner at the inn, which is basically a pub with rooms above and at the back. It was a lovely little cozy country inn.

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The next morning was foggy and ultimately turned into a bright, perfect day. We had breakfast at the inn and then had some amazing views of the fog lifting over the lake.

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We took a walk around the lake and set off for a hike, a shorter one than we would normally do, but we weren’t sure how long Elodie would last in the carrier. But we got in several miles in the fresh country air and it was wonderful.

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On our way back into the village we stopped for lunch at Ben Arthur’s Bothy, an oddly named lovely pub on the lake. They had very friendly staff and gorgeous views across the lake! We returned to the inn where Elodie took a very late afternoon nap. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening relaxing at the pub, reading and playing with Elodie. I took her to a nearby playground at sunset with incredible views!

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We had dinner at the pub – again kind of stressful. Generally Elodie was happy on this trip but meals were not her favourite time, she just didn’t want to sit still. Oh well.

On Sunday morning I got to go for a run around the lake! Our travel back home was long though…involved a walk to the bus in the pouring rain, a long bus ride to Glasgow, a walk through the rain in Glasgow to the train station, a long train ride to London, then another train ride home. A long day for everyone….I felt so bad for Elodie, she was a trooper.  

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All in all a very worthwhile trip!  A long journey but so lovely to be back in Scotland, and to get to see both Glasgow and get some quiet rural time. Next time, we have to go to Edinburgh!

 

 

 

Greece (September 2018)

In September, when Elodie was 17 months old, we took a week’s holiday in Greece, at a resort on the island of Rhodes.

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We wanted an easy holiday, with warm weather, and to just stay in one place and enjoy the beach and pool. It was quite different from our previous trips, as we’ve always tended to do more ‘travel’ than tourism, and favoured staying in unique hotels or B&Bs or Airbnbs in out of the way locations, or hip city neighbourhoods. We’ve usually combined several destinations into one trip and never done a resort (besides Disney World last year). But with an energetic toddler and a busy summer, something relaxing and easy sounded appealing.

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So we found ourselves at the Atrium Palace Thalasso resort near Lindos, a smaller village on the southeast side of the island of Rhodes.

We were nervous about the flight (four hours) but we managed. We had a very early, 5am-ish flight on Friday morning, so we did another thing we’ve never done before – went and stayed at an airport hotel the night before. This was a good decision as we could check our luggage the night before, and in the  morning quickly and easily get through security, with Elodie still in her jammies. I fed her yogurt and Calpol before boarding, nursed her on takeoff, and she slept three hours! It all would have been perfect if the plane hadn’t been diverted to Thessaloniki for an emergency landing to allow a sick passenger to disembark….so that delayed things by several hours, but we all were fine.

She said ‘bye bye airplane’ at the airport in Rhodes which I think was the first time she strung words together!

Upon arriving, we boarded the hotel shuttle for an hour drive which Elodie was not happy about – this was our last trip with her in her infant car seat and she hated it.

But then we arrived in paradise!

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The hotel was plunked down on the seaside, in a rural area with not much around but a few restaurants and convenience stores that had popped up to cater to the hotel guests (and we found during the week that the off-site restaurants were better than the hotel one).

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That first day we went straight to the poolside casual restaurant for a late lunch and some time exploring the pool.

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In the evening, we had dinner at the hotel restaurant. We hadn’t booked the “half-board” option (which includes dinner every night) but were told at check-in that we had it. We hadn’t paid for it, but decided to take advantage of the free dinner that night while we got our bearings. It was good, a huge buffet with Greek classics plus many other foods, as well as a hot dinner served. We didn’t eat there every night but it came in handy a few times.

During the week we fell into a comfortable pattern of breakfast on the hotel terrace, which was included, and was great – fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, a huge buffet of options, unlimited coffee.

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Elodie developed a love for watermelon and cornflakes in the morning! She was always at her most smiley and friendly, waving at everyone and making friends with all the waiters.

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A few mornings before breakfast, I went for runs in the area, although there weren’t many places to run. I also took advantage of the hotel spa to use the treadmills and weights.

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Then, we’d either go to the beach or pool for the morning.

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It took Elodie a little time to get used to the pool but after she got used to it, she loved it! We bought her a bucket and some toys which provided endless fun.

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Andy and I got into a routine of taking turns playing with her, and reading on the sun loungers, which was nice and gave us each a chance to relax.

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We’d have lunch, usually at a nearby restaurant or sometimes by cobbling together snacks or light bites from the pool bar. On this trip, El struggled with sitting still in restaurants…..

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One of our favourite meals was on our second day, when we had lunch at Konstantin, a very friendly restaurant with a nice outdoor play area and swingset.

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Elodie loves the swings and this week was when she began calling them “whee whees”. Because we go “wheee…..”!

Around 1 or 2 we’d put Elodie down for a nap in our room. Looking back, we were quite lucky that she went down for naps somewhat easily that week (compared to now). One of us would rock her until she was asleep, then lay her in her cot and she’d sleep an hour or two.

That actually worked out really well, and in the afternoon then Andy and I would take turns having longer breaks, with one of us sitting in the room with her asleep and the other going down to the pool or beach for an hour or more. That was nice. I loved the chance to swim in the sea, it makes me so happy.

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After her nap, we might do more playtime at the pool, or more often, go to one of the playgrounds on the resort, or take her to the kids club.

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The kids club was great! Kids under 4 had to be accompanied by an adult, but we had a lot of fun with her there – there were tons of different toys and things to do.

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In the evenings, we’d go back to the hotel, take showers and head out for dinner either at the hotel buffet or more often, to a nearby restaurant.

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Another nearby favourite restaurant was Ostria, on the beach.

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It was a family-run traditional taverna and was so amazing. Elodie loved tzatziki sauce (Greek yogurt with garlic and herbs!). At every meal we had lots of fresh pita, feta cheese, hummus, grilled veggies, seafood – I loved the meals on this trip.

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Finally, we got in the habit of ending our evenings at the hotel’s mini-disco! Every night around 8:45 the hotel staff would set up a DJ on the terrace and play music and encourage kids to dance. It was so cute! Because this was mid-September, everyone at the resort was either retirees or families like us with very young kids, too young for school. Elodie loved dancing and made quite the scene every night! It was adorable.

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As part of our booking we had free vouchers to use the resort spa one day, so one day Andy and I took turns going. It was so relaxing: I sat in the hamman (Moroccan steam room) and then used the hydrotherapy pool, which involved getting massaged via underwater jets. It was wonderful.

We did just one day trip, to the nearby village of Lindos.

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We took a (very crowded) bus there from the road outside our hotel which didn’t take too long. In the village, we explored the ancient streets and little shops, with Elodie happily in the carrier, something we hadn’t used much in awhile.

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There was a hike up to the castle that we would have done in the past, but way too hot with Elodie.

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The trickiest point came during nap time. She wouldn’t stay in the carrier long enough to sleep, so we took turns trying to rock her asleep in quiet alleys. Eventually Andy was successful, and we were able to lay her down on a sofa in a cafe!

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After she woke up, we had lunch at Olives, a rooftop restaurant that came recommended to us by friends. The food was great and we all enjoyed ourselves.

We thought we would do more visits to Lindos and a day trip to Rhodes, given the way we were used to traveling in the past, but in the end decided it was easier and more relaxing to stay at the resort. There wasn’t much for Elodie to do in Lindos and we suspected Rhodes would be the same, and didn’t fancy the hour bus ride there and back.

Another day, we booked a babysitter for a few hours in the afternoon. It was really hard to do and we ended up feeling pretty weird and guilty about it, but Andy and I ended up having fun, just sitting by the pool and chatting and getting the rare chance to be alone together on vacation. Elodie was fine but we were pretty happy to be reunited with her!

Another night, we had dinner at a different hotel overlooking the beach, Mikos. It was great and had especially good fish. We were lucky that it was low season and everywhere we went people were happy to see her. She developed a huge fan club at the hotel over the course of the week – everyone at the front desk knew her, and lots of people around the pool!

Two of the biggest highlights for me of the week were:

First, swimming in the big pool with Elodie. It took a few days for her to get used to both the baby pool and the big pool, but once she did, I had the best time taking her for a swim around the deep end.

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And second, on our last night we went back to Ostria for dinner, but beforehand, we sat on the beach playing a little and watching the sunset. I had the best time there with Elodie, just playing with rocks and sand and watching the sky turn pink. Andy captured these photos but it wasn’t staged at all, we really were just having such a nice time. Made me so happy.

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Aix-en-Provence (June 2018)

Back in June we took a long weekend trip to Aix-en-Provence, in the south of France. Our friend Gary from the States was traveling in Europe and it proved to be a good opportunity to meet up there.

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Andy and I had visited Aix (pronounced ‘X’) for a day once before, when we were staying in Avignon over Christmas 2016, and really enjoyed the city.

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Our summer trip made us love the city even more. It’s a small city that is compact, walkable and serves as a good base for exploring the larger Provence region.

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We took the train to Paris, then transferred to another train to get to Aix. It was a long day but Elodie slept off and on on both trains, and it was more relaxed than flying.

In Aix, we rented a 2-bedroom Airbnb in the centre of town that worked out just perfectly for us, with a small kitchen, dining room and living room, equipped for a baby with a highchair and cot. She did not like having to take a shower however…

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IMG_7860I went for early runs a few of the mornings, followed by trips to the city’s amazing market, just around the corner from our flat.

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Love Provence in the summer, and love all the fresh produce, and amazing cheese, saucisson, honey and lavender products.

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One day we took the bus out to do a hike in the nearby mountains. It was wonderful, and we had an excellent lunch after.

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Elodie slept through this part of the hike

 

Elodie became quite the foodie on this trip. She enjoyed truffle mashed potatoes, aubergine pate, filet mignon, chocolate mousse, ice cream, raspberries, and croissant!

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In the evenings, we tended to go for an early drink and some snacks on one of the many terraced cafes in town, then return to the flat for baby bedtime, followed by dinner cooked with some of the amazing fresh ingredients from the market.

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This was about six weeks before Elodie began walking, but she was very into walking holding our hands at this stage.

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Oddly we seem to have no photos with all four of us, or with our friend Gary at all! Oh well, I swear he was there too. Aix is one of my favourite spots in France, and I would definitely return any time of year!

 

August and September 2018 Highlights

More catching up!

By about August 15 Elodie was full-on walking! Better late than never and I truly understand every child does everything in their own time. I never worried about it because I knew she’d do it when she was ready.

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We did a 10-mile country walk on a Saturday in mid-August. As always, I loved being out in the fresh air and the countryside, but it was kind of hard. Elodie didn’t want to be in the carrier and we mostly just held her.

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She did take a nap in a field though!

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And when we finished the walk, in the town of Arundel, we found a little festival going on and it was a fun end to the day.

Another weekend, the last bank holiday weekend of the summer, we took a day trip to the small town of Lewes which was lovely.

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We really enjoyed this quaint little town. We explored the shops and I bought Elodie an antique copy of a Peter Rabbit book at a wonderful used bookstore to add to El’s growing collection (who knew there were so many different Beatrix Potter stories?).

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We settled in for a pub lunch and Elodie ended up napping on a bench in a pub!

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After she woke up, we explored more of the town and especially, the gardens, which she really loved.

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Also in August her molars began to come through and by the end of the month she had seven teeth in total. 

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Her language really took off in August as well:

  • She began saying lots of words, repeating everything, and pointing to animals and objects in her books and puzzles.
  • Loves pointing out airplanes in the sky.
  • By September, she had about 30 to 40 words; new additions were happy, tasty, shoes.
  • She could also roar like a lion and baa like a sheep when prompted.
  • She knows her stuffed animals’ names and she loves Bobo, my teddy bear I’ve had since I was three!

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In mid-September we took a family trip to Greece – separate posts on that coming soon(ish)!

 

May, June, July Highlights

Still catching up on the summer!

IMG_8336Given how much time has passed now, I thought I would do a few quick catch up posts on the highlights of the last few months. Clearly I have not been able to find time to blog much…but I don’t want to give it up, and I like having this as a record of how Elodie has grown and changed, plus a travelogue for us. I try to keep notes regularly on what she does, especially when she reaches certain milestones.

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So, here are the highlights of the summer. The biggest thing that happened this summer was that we moved from our flat in north London (Newington Green) to a house in south London (Herne Hill) which was a big adjustment psychologically not to mention all the logistical hassles that go with moving.

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So that is partially my excuse for getting behind in blogging. That, and being busy at work, and Elodie not sleeping…

Anyway, here are the highlights, by month!

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May (13 months)

At 13 months, Elodie was saying hello, bird, dog, duck and ‘uh oh’, in addition to Mama and Dada. She constantly babbled and makes all sorts of sounds and noises, looking at us so earnestly. She tried so hard to get her point across!

She could also do baby sign language for eat, water, no, bye bye, wash hands.

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Loves books and is constantly handing us books to read her. She has her favourite pages that she turns to right away in certain books. Loves her baby faces book and can imitate them all, including laying down when she is pretending to be sleepy.

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Her first tooth broke through! It appeared around 20th May, or 13 months and three weeks, on the bottom right.

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And she learned to climb on and off the sofa!

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First ride in the swings!

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And we watched the royal wedding.

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June (14 months)

Elodie understands questions or simple directions, like we need to change your nappy, give me Freda (her doll from Germany), do you want to eat/drink? She also began signing when she wanted me to feed her! She can point to her nose, head, tummy, feet, and says hi very clearly.

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By mid-June her second bottom middle tooth came through, and by the end of June both top middle teeth came through.

Basically doing one nap a day now, late morning, for an hour – hour and a half. She also began sporadically taking naps in her cot which was a welcome new development.

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For Father’s Day we had a lovely weekend with a trip to Borough Market and watching the World Cup on Saturday, and lunch at Primeur on Sunday.

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And began to stand up without holding on to anything.

In June we took a long weekend in Aix-en-Provence which I’ll write about separately.

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July (15 months)

This was the month we moved! That was stressful.

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Elodie started her new nursery.

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And participated in her first protest!

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England had a heat wave! I loved it.

Andy went away to Australia for 10 days and I had a very stressful/busy month at work. I basically was trying to work around the clock and had a big event one night. Luckily Aunt Lindsey came to baby sit!

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By the end of the month Elodie had five teeth.

And she took steps on her own on July 28!

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Germany Birthday Trip: Part Six

Our final day of our Germany trip was the actual day of Elodie’s first birthday, Tuesday, 3rd April 2018. It was such a good day and so emotional for me! It was a lovely day to spend with Andy, Elodie and Grandma Jill.

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Elodie woke up happy that morning in the AirBnb. She slept five hours solid the night before, 9-2! There were several wake ups after but that’s okay because a five hour stretch is very good for her. We had yogurt, grapes, and granola for breakfast (bread instead of granola for Elodie) and got ready for the day. Elodie was a little out of sorts though and got oddly very fussy, so I fed her – out of routine, but she seemed to want it and I’m so glad I’m breastfeeding so it’s still an option to comfort her when she’s upset or sick. She did a short nap then I had a quick shower and we left.

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It was another beautiful day! We took the tram into the city centre and she fell asleep in carrier with Andy as we walked along the river. We went to a baby store and browsed some other shops – very cool indie neighbourhood – then had a coffee and snack at a little cafe.

Walked around more and got her back to sleep but she def seemed sick/out of sorts and we realised she had a slight fever, poor thing, so we got her some Nurofen at a pharmacy.

We had lunch at a great place, Wirsthaus Zum Straubinger, which offered traditional Bavarian food but with a modern presentation. We sat outside and it was so wonderful in the sun. The poor birthday girl wasn’t feeling well though and we took turns walking around with her while we ate.

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After, she fell asleep in carrier with me right away, and we walked across city, lovely in the sun. Souvenir shopping then made it to Englischer Garten again for another long walk. We talked about the day Elodie was born and I retold the birth story which made me cry. So emotional. Such a big, wonderful day. I’ve learned and changed so much in the past year.

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At the biergarten in the centre of the park, Elodie woke up and I fed her, then Jill took her for a walk while Andy read and I wrote in my journal and we had a beer.

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It didn’t last long but it was fun, and then we took turns walking Elodie around and looking at the merry go round and playground.

We returned to the flat for the evening and bought some groceries for light, simple dinner. Poor little bear was still not feeling well, didn’t want to eat, and really protested a bath, so we skipped it and put her to bed. Such an emotional day. My big girl. But she’s still my baby. My sweet, sweet Elodie bear.

I jotted down some one year milestones at the time:

  • Says dada, mum mum, has tried to say hi and book.
  • Loves her new doll (Freda) and her fox and Minnie Mouse, kisses them all.
  • Very affectionate and friendly, blows kisses and waves all the time.
  • Claps and holds out her hands.
  • Very good fine motor skills, likes to pick things up, pass them back and forth to me.
  • Points at everything, especially the food she wants.
  • Dances to music all the time!
  • Loves turning pages in books.
  • Played with her new shape sorter and very good at it! Kept looking to me for approval which made me so proud!!
  • I love it when her eyes shine when she really smiles.
  • I love that she still loves breastfeeding.

We had such a wonderful trip. The next morning we flew back to London. Lots of love to Grandma Jill and Aunt Lindsey and Aunt Laurie for celebrating with us! We had a wonderful time and feel so lucky that so many people love her, and we know her Grandpa Mark and Becky and her Gran and the rest of her cousins, aunts and uncles all were celebrating for her too. 🙂

Germany Birthday Trip, Part 5

On our last morning in Unterwössen, I was still battling a sinus infection but determined to do at least one run in the beautiful countryside (and take advantage of all the babysitters!). I ran at sunrise and the mountains were so beautiful.

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We packed up and drove to Munich which went well as Elodie was by then getting more used to being in the car. We arrived at our AirBnb in a nondescript western neighborhood in Munich and I put her in the carrier immediately and she instantly fell asleep. We took the tram into the city centre, walked around, got coffee, and went to the Hofbrauhaus, where we ended up having beer and pretzels but not lunch.

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I also fed her there in a quiet corner which worked out well – I have fed her in so many random places!

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It was all really fun. She loved the oompah band!

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We walked around the city in the sunshine – this was my fourth time visiting Munich and I just love that city.

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We had beers and brats in the biergarten at the Viktuelenmarkt.

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Later we walked to Englischer Garten and saw surfers, so cool! I love that park.

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We took the bus back to the Airbnb for the night and said a sad goodbye to Aunt Lindsey and Aunt Laurie. We were very grateful to have them join us!

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