February and March Catch-up: The Last Two Months of Year One!

Life has been WAY busy and I am way behind, but my OCD nature won’t let me skip any months! I have lots to write about going back to February, especially our trip to Germany for Elodie’s first birthday in April!

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10 months old fox photo

But I drafted this ages ago and to keep things chronological, here is a quick summary of our February and March.

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11 months old fox photo

We started February with Elodie’s ten month birthday and a weekend in York to visit Aunt Lindsey!

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Later in the month we spent a Saturday at the Harry Potter Studio Tour! This was really fun and such a good day for all three of us.

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In March, we took a day trip to Rye, a quaint seaside village. We had lunch at an amazing historic tavern, sat by the fire, and it was just lovely. The barman there was so friendly to us and Elodie.

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Also in March, we celebrated my first UK Mother’s Day. I got a lovely card handmade by Elodie at nursery which made me cry! I also got beautiful flowers and lovely soaps and lotions. 🙂

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We celebrated all the babies’ one-year-old birthdays with our NCT group! So much fun and so amazing to see us all with one year old babies! Really grateful for this brunch. It has been so nice and supportive to have a group of fellow mums and dads going through the same thing at the same time.

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And here are some developmental updates for Elodie. First, food!

Since Elodie suddenly began eating off a spoon, she started  enjoying all sorts of mashed foods: squash, eggplant, cous cous, and hummus are favourites. She loves yogurt for breakfast and also began to eat porridge like I do (none of that baby stuff for her, just normal oatmeal). We learned she also likes falafel and spicy food, and grilled cheese sandwiches!

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She continued to refuse milk in a sippy cup, but did slowly start to learn to drink water.

For most of February and March, she consistently nursed a few times a day when at home with me: first thing in the morning, around noon, and again around 4pm, each time for just a few minutes. I continued to send breastmilk into nursery every day, but mostly it ended up being thrown out. I stopped pumping milk around 10.5 months since I had a lot in the freezer, and just sent in the freezer stash to nursery until just before she turned one. From a practical standpoint, it was very liberating to stop pumping at work and not have to clean all the pump parts every night and cart them back and forth. But it’s also the first step in her weaning completely, which makes me sad. I’m proud of how well she’s done with breastfeeding, and I like that it is such a sweet bonding time for us. I can’t really imagine what it will be like when we stop completely.

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Other things:

  • She loves blowing kisses!
  • Likes turning pages and opening hidden flaps on books, and generally likes to look inside and under things.
  • She began to really get a lot more mobile, pushing up on her knees and up on her feet, climbing over me, and loves practicing standing up (while holding onto something).
  • Just after turning 11 months, she began pulling up on the coffee table completely by herself.
  • Making lots of sounds and noises and says “Da-da” and “Ma-ma” pretty clearly. One day I swore she said book when we were reading together.
  • We had several unusual snow storms in London, and she spontaneously decided to catch snowflakes in her mouth! I didn’t show her that, it was all her idea!
  • Continues to have fun in her baby French class and dances way more than any baby I’ve seen!
  • It’s increasingly more difficult to get her dressed because she wants to move around so much!
  • She also wants to grip her toys tightly and is not happy if you try to wrestle a dangerous non-toy away from her!
  • Gives us huge hugs around the neck!

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We had a few health scares, including a bout of pink eye and a staph infection on her skin, several colds and high fevers and at least one stomach bug. 😦

As part of her one-year, the NHS sends around a health visitor to do a home visit (!) and check on the child’s development. This was a lovely appointment and we went over a long checklist of Elodie’s developmental progress. I learned that she is doing very well in communication and problem solving, and is in fact advanced for her age! Only thing she is behind on is gross motor skills since she’s not standing on her own or walking yet, but that is not a concern and it could be 15-18 months before she does so. So proud of my little bear.

 

 

January Catch Up: Nine Months

Catching up with some highlights of January, when Elodie turned nine months old!

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Coming back from our Christmas trip was rough, and settling back into work and nursery was not fun for any of us.

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But we had some good times, including play dates with some of our parents/baby friends.

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We did a fun baby swap with our friends Janice and Tom, who have a baby seven weeks younger than Elodie. One Saturday, we dropped of Elodie at their flat for a play date with Elizabeth while Andy and I went out to lunch! It was so nice to get some alone time with Andy and enjoy a relaxed pub lunch.

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And a few weeks later, Elizabeth came over to ours while her parents went out. It was really fun for all of us and taking care of the two babies together was much easier than I expected! I feel really grateful to have such good friends here.

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We also took a trip to the London Zoo and Aquarium in Regents Park. That was a rather wet day….

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Some new things that Elodie began to do this month:

  • Making kissy noises with her lips in imitation of us
  • Working on waving and clapping
  • Turning pages in book
  • Kneeling and beginning to pull up in her cot by kneeling.

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Two of the biggest topics always on parents’ minds are eating and sleeping.

On the nap front, Elodie began to take deeper and longer naps, regularly lasting over an hour. She still had her usual routine of needing to be in the buggy or the carrier, walking around, to fall asleep; by far her best sleep association is being in one of our neighbourhood parks. But on several occasions I was able to bring her inside asleep after walking around for an hour and she stayed asleep! This was a big breakthrough. It didn’t (and still doesn’t) always work, so we can’t count on it, but it’s nice when the stars align.

On the food front, Elodie still refused a bottle at nursery and made up for it by feeding all night. But she began eating more food during the day and even started to allow us to spoon-feed her! Since October, Elodie refused the spoon and only wanted to feed herself, but suddenly around late January, she began to like eating off the spoon. I’m pretty sure she learned this at nursery. I like doing the baby-led weaning style of feeding and she still does a combination of both feeding herself and wanting us to feed her. But I felt like she really began to eat more food once we were spooning it into her, so that made me really happy. She also began to use her pincer grip to pick up raisins and Cheerios and chew them up, to my surprise (still no teeth!)

I’ll be honest that it was kind of a tough month, with long days at work and nursery, followed by long nights of lots of feeding and wake-ups. But Elodie stayed our happy, smiley baby throughout!

 

Christmas 2017: Basel

For our final day of our trip, and the final day of the year, we found ourselves in Basel, Switzerland, with about five hours to kill before our flight out (which was at 6pm on New Year’s Eve – best time to fly with a baby for a good price!). Given we hadn’t spent any time in Switzerland, we decided to make a day of it and make it Elodie’s fifth country (and roughly our twentieth).

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It was a very quiet city, given that it was a Sunday of a holiday weekend, and lots of things were closed but we enjoyed ourselves walking around for a few hours, checking out the Rhine River, the Munsterplatz and the main city centre.

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We also had a long relaxed lunch. As usual, Elodie was her smiley, sociable self and charmed everyone in the restaurant!

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We spent more time in the afternoon walking around the city before getting the bus to the airport.

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We enjoyed having the airport lounge nearly entirely to ourselves and toasted the new year early!

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And made it safely home to London in time to get in bed before midnight!

Christmas 2017: Black Forest

For our second day trip to Germany, we took the train to Hornberg, a tiny, somewhat random village in the Black Forest.

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We wanted to go to a pretty rural location without too many tourists, and this fit the bill!

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We arrived and it was such a pleasant shock to see the village completely blanketed in snow! It was absolutely beautiful.

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The snow, and our little companion, meant we had to temper our hiking plans somewhat, and we ended up structuring the day a little differently than we normally would, but that’s every day now. When we arrived in the village, we stopped at the tourist centre to get hiking maps and then went to get a coffee and a snack.

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And then realised it would really be best to have a lunch before going on our hike since that would work better for Elodie’s nap time, and also because the one restaurant we found open for lunch would close at 2pm. So, we had an early lunch, then set off.

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The hike we chose was basically a loop around the village and up to a castle overlooking the valley.

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It wasn’t terribly long or strenuous but it had beautiful views and was really fun in the snow, and Elodie napped most the time in the carrier with Daddy.

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I loved being out in the fresh air; it was so gorgeous and peaceful.

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Can you find Elodie in here?

We followed up with a second visit to the town’s coffee shop for coffee and cake, before getting the train back to Strasbourg. 

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Such a fun day out!

Christmas 2017: Strasbourg Part 2

After our Baden-Baden day trip, we did one more day trip to Germany, sandwiched between a few more days of hanging out in Strasbourg.

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One day we had a relaxed lunch of Flammekuchen (similar to a thin-crust pizza) and craft beer.

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And another day we went to a kind of nice place, Restaurant au Pont Corbeau, for lunch where we had excellent food and really friendly staff and patrons who were kind to Elodie.

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Walking nap to the European Parliament. She slept through the whole thing.

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These were the most relaxed, vacation-like days. It was easy and fun to take the days slowly, enjoy our free time with Elodie, and let her dictate our schedule.

Next up, the Black Forest!

Christmas 2017: Day Trip to Baden-Baden

On the day after Christmas, we set out bright and early on a day trip. Andy surprised me with a massage at an amazing spa in Baden-Baden, a spa town in Germany, in the Black Forest, and we set out to make a day of it!

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Baden-Baden’s thermal spas made it a popular destination in the 19th century, and today it is still synonymous with luxury and relaxation. Andy booked me in for a massage at Brenners Park Hotel and Spa, which is rated as a top spa destination in Europe – it was so kind and thoughtful of him, and I was so excited!

Our journey included a tram, two trains and a shuttle bus in the morning, and Elodie did just fine traveling to her fourth new country. We arrived with some time to explore the town, nestled in the foothills of the Black Forest, and have a cafe before my appointment.

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The town was really lovely and to our surprise, also boasted a huge Christmas market.

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We made our way to the hotel and it was so impressive, something I actually found intimidating.

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We arrived with some time to let Elodie play on the massive sofas in the reception area.

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Then, I said goodbye to Andy and Elodie ready for a few hours of me time!

I’ve had massages a few times before but never been to a full-service spa like this, and wasn’t really sure about etiquette. It seemed to be pretty empty though, so I relaxed in the sauna for a bit before going in for my massage appointment. That was lovely – I had one full hour to just completely relax and the massage felt amazing. Carrying Elodie around and walking miles every day with her in the carrier definitely takes a toll, and Andy and I had both been complaining of sore backs. Funnily enough, we actually both had the same idea for Christmas presents! I gave him a certificate for a massage in London that he could use later on. 🙂

After my massage was over, I had some time to chill out by an infinity pool and read my book for a bit before getting ready and going to meet Andy and Elodie. It was so relaxing and blissful and such a wonderful gift – and I was so excited to reunite with my family after!

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Andy and Elodie had a good time walking around the town and having a cafe and some apple strudel, and when we met up, she was asleep on his chest. We walked around the hotel grounds and then back into town, and settled in for a late lunch.

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Following lunch, we explored the huge Christmas market for awhile, then made our way to the train station to get back to Strasbourg. Unfortunately our bus to the station got stuck in traffic and we missed our train! We had an extra hour and a half wait at the station which was not at all fun – but it was yet another opportunity to be glad that I am breastfeeding. I could feed Elodie there no problem and I was so glad we didn’t have to worry about not having formula or bottles. Whew.

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We made it back to Strasbourg that evening and went straight to bed, happy and relaxed from a wonderful day out!

Christmas 2017: Strasbourg, Part 1

Continuing on with our French Christmas, we left Colmar on the morning of Dec 23rd, traveling via train which went just fine. Strasbourg was a bigger city than I had expected but I really liked it.

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We checked into our Airbnb which was in a great location in the centre of town, with a very friendly, chatty owner who had lots of tips on things to do and shared his family’s history in the region.

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He has two little girls himself and had equipped the Airbnb perfectly for a baby, with a playmat, highchair, cot and baby bathtub, and he even left a Christmas present for Elodie! So incredibly kind.

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We had lunch at a nearby galette cafe where we found out that Elodie likes galettes (savoury crepes), and then we explored the Christmas markets and picked up some essentials for making our Christmas Eve dinner the following day.

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We returned to the flat for some play time with Elodie  – she is so adorable and this is such a fun age! 

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Later, we went out in the evening for more Strasbourg explorations before an early bedtime.

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On Christmas Eve, I was lucky to start the morning with a run while Andy took Elodie with him to buy some wine and cheese, and then we met at the Au Pain de mon Grand-Père boulangerie for fresh bread and to buy our dessert for that evening. We separated again in the morning while Andy helped Elodie take a nap and I bought her some lovely wooden toys at the Christmas market, and we reconvened for lunch, continuing our routine of making lunches our main meal out of the day. We relaxed at home in the afternoon until I took Elodie for her afternoon nap, walking around Strasbourg, and Andy began dinner prep.

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When we got back, I dressed Elodie up in her Christmas dress, listened to Christmas music and read Christmas stories while we made dinner and felt very festive. I was so excited about her first Noël and we had such a good time!

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We’ve gotten in the tradition the past few years of making our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, since restaurants in France typically close for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so then we can have leftovers on Christmas Day as well. This year, our menu included:

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Roasted Chicken Provençal

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Fennel-Apple Salad With Walnuts

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Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Shallots and Garlic

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Roasted Broccoli and Carrots

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We drank a lovely Cremant d’Alsace wine and finished with a selection of cheese and a slice of cake we’d picked up that morning.

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It was all so good, and we ate earlier than usual to Elodie could join in! She quite enjoyed the vegetables, mashed potatoes and especially the bread.

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The next day was Christmas morning, Elodie’s first! We opened a few presents with Elodie but she really just wanted to play with (and eat) the wrapping paper! She got overstimulated rather quickly, so we saved the rest for later. We didn’t get her too many things, but she did have a wooden farm animal puzzle I got at the Christmas market in Strasbourg which quickly became a favourite, and a pull-along giraffe from the Colmar Christmas market, along with another puzzle and an alphabet game we are tucking away for a little later on. All locally made products! We also bought her some clothes on this trip since we have a few favourite French kids clothing brands.

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We had breakfast together in the flat, then set off for a hike, another Christmas Day tradition of ours. Because of transport logistics, we found it would be easier to do more of an urban hike around Strasbourg (since trains either weren’t running or were on a reduced schedule for Christmas). We set off on a long loop of the city, with Elodie napping in the carrier with Andy, and enjoyed some fresh air and sightseeing.

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We returned in the afternoon for some play time and a light lunch in the flat, before walking around the city at sunset, before Elodie’s bath and bedtime and a reprise of our Christmas Eve dinner.

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It was such a lovely first Christmas of our little family; I love sharing our traditions with Elodie, and starting new ones around her!  

*Most of the photos in this post are from Andy!