Feeling Festive amid Stomach Bugs

Just a few quick updates on how the last few weeks have been, before we take off for Christmas in Alsace. We are really looking forward to a nice, relaxing holiday just the three of us in France. I’m hoping we’ll have a good combination of exploring different villages and towns, visiting Christmas markets, enjoying good food, doing some scenic hikes and just hanging out, enjoying Elodie’s first Christmas.

But in the mean time, here is what we have been up to:

Illness

The first week of December was rough – on the night of Tue the 5th poor Elodie began vomiting and didn’t stop until Thursday morning.

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Poor sick baby

It was so scary watching Elodie get sick and not knowing what was wrong or how to help her. I stayed home from work and took her to the GP on Wednesday morning; the GP assessed her and reassured us to just wait it out. Then I got ill later that day too, but only mildly. Andy and I both worked from home on Wednesday while taking care of our sick baby, and then he came home early Thursday so I could finish more work, although luckily we were both improving by Thursday afternoon. But it was all stressful and miserable; it’s just impossible to work from home with a baby. And we had mountains of laundry to do – every pair of pyjamas and nearly all our sheets and towels and muslins had to be washed – and we don’t have a dryer. 😦

Then, after she got over that, on Friday Elodie came down with a cold which turned into a fever over the weekend, and we nearly had to take her to a hospital on Saturday night because she had a high fever, shallow breathing and was refusing to eat, something she has never done. It was super scary but luckily after about two hours she began eating and behaving normally again and her fever broke.

 

However, at the same time, Andy also came down with a fever on Saturday evening and he ended up with the stomach bug on Saturday night and into Sunday. Altogether it was an awful week.

Holiday Fun

Before and after all the sick, we have tried to do some things to enjoy the holiday season. Having a baby makes me really excited about Christmas!

We went to the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland the first weekend of December, to enjoy the atmosphere and start to feel festive. I hate that the festival can be very tacky and carnivalesque, but we avoided the rides and games and stuck to the recreated German village area which was fun.

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And I always enjoy getting to another part of London on the weekends. We had a nice walk around Green Park and Belgravia that day as well.

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And we got snow! We had several inches of snow last Sunday which was beautiful and so rare for London; other than a dusting a few years ago, it was the first time we saw snow here. However, with all the sickies in the household we couldn’t go out and enjoy it, but it was nice and peaceful to watch it come down from the window. I have spent hours and hours this year feeding Elodie on the sofa and looking out the window, watching the seasons change from spring to summer to autumn and now winter.

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We also had lunch out one day and went to a friend’s birthday party, in between bouts of illness.

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And Elodie had her first visit with Santa Claus! This totally doesn’t count though. Our local park, Newington Green, was doing photos with Santa last Tuesday afternoon, which was convenient since that is my normal day off, so I took Elodie along with some of my mum friends and their babies. This Santa was terrible though. Ugh.

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So creepy. And why was he wearing green?

But afterwards we all had fun getting coffee at a nearby cafe with our babes. Work has been busy and stressful but I’m so happy to have some weekdays off that I can spend with my baby and my mum friends.

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Nothing more fun to play in than a box

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And then this weekend we visited Hampton Court Palace, out in far west London. Our friend Gary was in town for work this week and so yesterday we made a day trip out there, something that has been on our list for awhile. The palace was huge and there was lots to see and learn about Tudor history. The Palace was decorated for Christmas and there were Christmas carolers and musicians there, making it a festive day.

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On the train home with Daddy, tired from a long day

I’ve also made cranberry sauce, plus a batch of Christmas cookies to share with the neighbours and Elodie’s caregivers at nursery. These are two of my favourite Christmas foods so I’m glad I was able to fit them in. We won’t get to do every treasured Christmas tradition this year – there’s just not time – but I like doing what we can and I’m really looking forward to starting our own traditions. This will be our fourth year spending Christmas in France which is a pretty good tradition!

We also learned that Elodie loves dancing to Christmas music, so I’m making the most of the happy moments we can grab together and trying not to stress too much about everything else. She dances in her highchair while eating and apparently dances quite a bit at nursery too, which cracks me up.

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Just two more days until our Christmas vacation begins!

*all the good photos in this post were taken by Andy 🙂

Seven Months Update (November)

Elodie turned seven months old at the beginning of November!

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We started off the month with a country walk! We went down to Surrey on the first Saturday of November for a wet and muddy eight miles.

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We loved being out in the fresh air and had a lovely pub lunch.

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Although by the end of it Elodie just didn’t want to be in the carrier anymore. Now that she is awake and mobile for much of the day, that is just too long for her to be in the carrier. We still had a fun day but until she is walking herself, we probably need to re-think how we do walks/hikes to build in more time for breaks.

But the biggest event of the month was that I went back to work and Elodie started nursery (as day care is known in the UK).

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It was the most monumental change we’ve had since she was born. The only thing making it bearable is that I am back at work part-time, three days a week. Even though millions of other women go back full-time (and in America, go back a lot sooner than I did), I can’t imagine doing that right now and I’m lucky I have the flexibility.

Given that Elodie won’t take a bottle and it’s so hard to get her to nap, I couldn’t imagine leaving her all day every day. Honestly, three days a week is really hard as it us. Up until her first day of nursery, I had never been apart from her for more than two hours at a time, and I had never been further away from her than a few blocks. Also, on all those occasions, if she wasn’t with me, she was with Andy (except the time Grandma Jill babysat her for an evening in Florida). 

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Prior to my first week of work, we had a week of “settling in” at the nursery, where I took her there to visit, got to know the staff and her key worker, Ana. The first day, I stayed there with her. The second time, Andy came too and we both dropped her off and  then left her there on her own with them for two hours while we went to a cafe across the road. The third time, I took her on my own and again left her for two hours alone at the nursery with me outside. I’m really glad we did this to help us all get used to it, but even so, that first day, leaving her there for a full day, was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Harder than watching my Dad die and telling my Mom she couldn’t live on her own anymore. Hardest thing ever. I felt so incredibly guilty about it, and so empty without her. She relies on me and she is too little to understand what is going on, why I am gone, and that I’ll be back. I kept picturing her those first few days sitting there at the nursery, wondering where I was and what had happened.

Okay, I still picture that, and I can’t dwell on that, it’s too hard to contemplate.

On that first day both Andy and I took her for drop off, but our normal routine is that he drops her off and I do pick up.

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Of course I cried but I didn’t linger there, it’s best for everyone to move on quickly at drop-off.

Every day has been hard, but it has gotten better. She drinks very little milk there, even though I keep sending in bottles of breastmilk. Some days she drinks a little, some days none. She just hates bottles. So they have been working on getting her to eat more solid food, but that is touch and go as well. The nap situation was really frustrating at first; we know full well she needs at least two naps a day, but since it is hard to help her fall asleep, the staff wasn’t really putting her down at first.

But now, things have gotten better. She has really bonded with her key worker and now when I pick her up, she is happy and well-rested. They tell me she dances and plays and has fun during the day which I am so happy to hear. They help her to nap by putting her in a buggy at nursery and pushing her back and forth in that until she falls asleep. 🙂

The routine is difficult for all of us; I often have to wake her up at 7 so I can feed her before I leave at 7:20, and get to work by 8 am, then I race through the day and leave work by 4:45 to get her by 5:30. At nursery, after I talk to the key worker about her day, collect all her things, and feed her there, we don’t leave until after 6 and then it’s a bus and walk home in the dark, by which time Elodie is usually pretty tired and upset. So the evenings are rough and she wakes up a lot during the night to feed and make up for lost time eating and cuddling during the day. As for Andy, he gets into work pretty late by the time he drops her off and deals with a long commute in the morning, and then doesn’t see her at night before she goes to bed (but he gets plenty of time to see her when she wakes up during the night).

And did I mention all three of us have gotten sick a few times since she started? This is why I say three days a week is plenty.

And as for me, I am happy to be back at work. It feels very surreal to be back there with no bump and no baby, just me. I like my job and it’s good for my brain and my career and my own self-worth, not to mention bank account, to be back working. But I’ve walked back into a very busy project and I’m still learning how to balance being there only part-time, when my job really is full-time. It’s also a very new experience for me to be a working mum and have the limitations that go with that; I have to pump milk three times a day and leave at the exact same time every day, and I’ve had to walk out of meetings to go pump or go pick up Elodie. Those things are way more important to me than anything else. But it’s hard to figure out this new identity, to race through my day and get everything done and still fear that I’m now seen as uncommitted or not working hard enough. To let go of some stuff and try to figure out what balance looks like.

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Moving on, in other fun news from the month, we had several great visitors!

Aunt Lindsey came to visit from York for the weekend! It is so fun to watch her and Elodie bond.

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We had a fun meal out for Lindsey’s birthday, did some walking around and shopping on Saturday, and on Sunday visited the local pub for a Sunday roast and got some nice desserts at a French bakery in our neighbourhood!

And then later Aunt Laurie + Will came to visit from Seattle! It was our first time meeting Will and we were all very excited!

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The first weekend that they were here, we had a really good time just hanging out in our flat and then down at a nearby pub. They were both so cute and lovey with Elodie.

We had to call it an early night with the little one’s bedtime, but the next day met them for brunch at Dishoom (where Elodie tried some curry!) and then walked along the Thames, meeting some of Laurie’s friends and getting some photos at Tower Bridge.

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They came by to visit during the week one day when I was home with Elodie, and then on Friday, Andy took the day off and we all went out to Hever Castle. We had been there once before on a country walk and it was really nice to be out in the quiet country, getting some fresh air, seeing some sheep and walking around the Castle and the grounds, all decorated for Christmas. 

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We capped it off with a pub lunch before getting the train back to London.

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Thank you to Lindsey, Laurie and Will for visiting us and loving on Elodie so much! It means so much. ❤

Some other November highlights:

Eating

We offer food to Elodie all the time, at every meal now, and she is interested but doesn’t really consume very much. This is normal for her age though; as one of my mum friends puts it, they are just tasting things now but not really eating.

She very occasionally has let me spoonfeed her a tiny bit of porridge (baby oatmeal) and yogurt but by and large she wants to feed herself.

She likes toast sticks she can pick up herself, spread with smooth peanut butter or hummus or smashed avocado. I was pleased to see she hasn’t had a reaction to peanuts (or anything else).

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She has gotten more adventurous and by the end of the month was eating big pieces of avocado and roasted courgette (zucchini), eaten with the skin on so she has something to hold onto. She also ate some lentil dal and some meatball, made by Daddy! He has been cooking without salt so she can try everything.

Health and Development

Elodie has learned to give big hugs!

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Has had two colds and a fever this month, which made some nights really hard. And then I had the flu and I’m pretty sure Andy must have had it at one point too. It was pretty awful.

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Her ability to sit up and transition from sitting to laying down really took off this month, and her fine motor skills (picking things up and moving them around) have really been improving.

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Activities

One Friday, I had two mum friends and their babies over one day for coffee and a play date, and I could tell she really liked hosting them and showing off. It’s funny how babies are different when they are in their own environment.

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We took her for a swim one Sunday morning at the local pool, and it was so much fun! Elodie really loved it; she was smiling and giggling and splashing! I think she also liked having both her parents play with her. 🙂

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Then she slept TWO HOURS in the buggy right after, with no prompting. In the afternoon she fell asleep in buggy again, nearly an hour! They say swimming really helps babies sleep. This was amazing.

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Overall, her daytime sleep has gotten a little easier and she’s been taking more naps at home, usually from feeding to sleep (or because she is sick), but since it’s gotten colder, that is better than having to walk outside for every nap.

As for me, I have barely gotten to work out anymore, especially given how much more hectic our life is these days. But one day I did run five miles, a new post-birth milestone for me.

Nights

Overall, nights have been terrible, there is no other way to say it. Often she wakes every hour or two, with lots of crying. The reasons vary from the trauma of starting nursery, being hungry since she doesn’t drink milk much at nursery, teething, being sick…it’s so tough. Lots and lots of crying and most nights she ends up in bed with us. We are pretty sleep deprived.

Language

I’ll end on a high note. When Will and Laurie were here and we were on the train to Hever Castle, it sounded like Elodie said Ma-Ma! Since then she has said it many more times. It definitely sounds different when she says it and she looks at me, like she is trying to really speak, not just make noise. And she babbles a ton in general. It’s really cute!

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That’s it for now but I’ll try to do one more post of updates before Christmas!

Six Month Update (October)

Here is a roundup of what was new with Elodie in October!

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At the beginning of the month she turned six months old.

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I felt like this was a pretty big milestone! We’ve been doing this for half a year now.

 

Feeding

One of the big themes of this month was starting on solid food, so I’ll get right into that.

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As I mentioned before, we are doing baby-led weaning. I read the main bible on this approach, and have read a number of articles about it too.

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It seems this approach is more common in the UK, and it jives with the attachment parenting approaches we’ve been using. The book goes into more background, but basically it is a more natural approach to feeding a child by allowing them to pick up food and feed themselves, and is generally based around feeding them the same things the rest of the family is eating (avoiding salt, sugar, and choking hazards).

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I never knew until I read the book that this was how babies were fed in the past, but around the mid-20th century, doctors began to promote formula over breastfeeding, and medical practitioners believed that babies needed table food as early as 2-3 months. Since their tongues and digestive systems aren’t ready for solid food at that age, purees and spoon-feeding was born. Now, the WHO, NHS and AAP all recommend waiting until six months for solid food, at which age babies have lost the tongue-thrust reflex and have better motor skills to feed themselves.

It makes sense to me from a developmental standpoint, although I was was also willing to spoonfeed Elodie so I have tried both approaches. Choking very much scares me! But she made it pretty clear from the beginning that she does not want to be spoonfed! If I come at her with a spoon, she clams up and tries to grab the spoon out of my hand. So, baby-led weaning it is.

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We started with steamed pieces of sweet potato and moved onto avocado and banana. I tried both feeding her in her highchair, and holding her on my lap and feeding her off my plate. She didn’t really love anything; after weeks of trying to grab food off our plates, when I finally let her have some she seems just so surprised and confused. The taste and texture must be such a shock to her!

The first thing she had that she really liked was broccoli!

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She ate it off my plate when we were out for a pub lunch and loved it, wanted more!

She has also enjoyed gumming up an apple I shared with her!

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Since then, she has liked roasted potato, roasted courgette and slices of wholemeal pita bread. Anything that is too slippery or slimy is frustrating, and it’s been trial and error process for me to figure out how to make the pieces big enough that she can grip them. Choking still scares me big time, but she really seems to know what she’s doing and just coughs up whatever can’t fit down her throat.

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I love watching her eat and enjoy new things but I have to say it’s frustrating when she just throws everything on the floor. I keep reminding myself it’s all part of the process and she is just playing and learning. It’s not a waste if she doesn’t really eat anything because just holding, seeing, touching, smelling and tasting little bits are all teaching her about food. But I will say that building the time into our days to prepare and clean up after eating adds another whole complication to our day!

 

Sleep

Sleep this month was hit or miss.

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El began moving towards two naps rather than three, beginning to drop the 4pm nap, and often her morning and/or afternoon nap can be a little longer, averaging about an hour and a half. Her morning nap has been starting later, like two or more hours after waking up, which is nice because mornings are quite as rushed. Naps still work best walking around outside in the carrier, although she can often do her morning nap in the buggy.

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I don’t want to talk about nighttime sleep.

 

Health

Elodie weighed 15 pounds in the middle of the month.

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She developed a bad cough this month, which all three of us had, and then later developed a cold. So pretty much constantly sick. 😦

 

Play and General Development

After five months of refusing the buggy, Elodie now rides in the big-girl seat very well! As I said, she will nap in it most mornings and I’ve finally had success with taking her places and letting her chill in the buggy. One day I was able to go to a cafe and eat a sandwich for the first time with her by myself, and another day, I took her to an outdoor workout class for mums in the park and she sat there in her buggy the whole time! Made some noise near the end but nothing major. Seemed to enjoy watching! This has never happened.

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I also had a really nice moment sitting with her in the park one day, just sitting on a bench feeding her then holding her, watching the ducks and just hanging out. It’s fun that we can do things like this now that didn’t really happen in the early days. For so long I’ve looked at other mothers calmly pushing babies around the park in buggies, and finally, we can do that too.

Elodie also moved into her cot (crib)! Up until the end of September she had been sleeping in our room in a side sleeper but she began to outgrow it, and we were sure that we were waking her up too often when we went to bed. But it was so convenient for breastfeeding. I was pretty nervous and doubtful she’d sleep in the cot at at all that first night, but after a few false starts she did! She doesn’t sleep for very long stretches as night and we’ve had some rough nights…as I’ve said, I don’t want to talk about it. But moving into her own cot in her own room is a big deal.

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Other things:

Really enjoys swimming and being in the bath!

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Loves her stacking cups! Scoots around on the floor to play with them.

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Scooting around on her tummy everywhere, getting dangerous!

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Elodie knows her name! She turns when we say it to her.

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Has gotten up on her hands and knees but not often.

Loves zippers! And buckles, clips, and tags on items. Wants to eat grass in the park.

We had a fun visit from Aunt Lindsey in the middle of the month! It is so fun to watch them bond.

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Halloween

At the end of the month we celebrated Elodie’s first Halloween!

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On Saturday, we met friends from our NCT group for a pub lunch (there was supposed to be more of us but it didn’t end up working out for everyone).

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Then on Halloween itself we had two fun events. I took her to our usual Tuesday French class (have I mentioned this? It’s great, it’s a weekly class we go to for babies that is mostly singalong and nursery rhymes but all in French) and the class this week was Halloween-themed.

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And that afternoon we went to a gathering of mums and babies one of my friends hosted at a nearby pub, and gathered a large group of us. I brought a few of my other mum friends too.

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Mum Network

On that note, I feel really lucky that I have a good network of mum friends. I don’t know what I would do without them. Some have babies around the same age which is helpful as we are all going through the same things together. Some have older babies which is great because I can learn from their experience. It is so important to have this support system.

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And relatedly, one day I met for a coffee with someone with a four-month-old, and it reminded me how far we’ve come. It’s easier now. I’m not as stressed and Elodie is more chill.

IMG_4999I know that I can go out with her and she won’t have these screaming fits anymore, that we can hang out more easily. It just takes time. She is so sweet, I am overwhelmed with love for her.

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Birthday Weekend + Country Walk

For my birthday weekend in late September, we left London for the day to do a country walk!

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A “country walk” is what we might call a hike in the US, but the term “country walk” is the term used here (probably also has something to with the the gentle rolling landscape in the UK; it’s not like we are climbing any mountains). Anyway, we used our trusty Time Out guide to choose a walk; this book, which is actually two volumes, is great. All the walks listed can be accessed from London via train, so no need for a car, and the directions are very detailed and always include recommendations for pub lunches and tea stops.

We did the Henley via Hambleden circular walk, so we could start and end in Henley-on-Thames, a cute town on the Thames west of London that we’d visited before and wanted to see again.

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We were lucky to have absolutely beautiful weather. We brought Elodie in the carrier and it went just fine, going a bit slower and taking more breaks than we normally would.

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I fed her on a tree stump by the Thames! Definitely one of the most scenic feeds we’ve had.

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Immediately after that we had to change her nappy there on the stump….then again later in the woods! But it was fine and she thought it was funny.

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We had a really lovely lunch at the Stag and Huntsman then walked back along the Thames to Henley, covering about eight miles total. So pretty.

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Upon returning to Henley, we stopped at a pub for refreshment and Elodie was so happy, so giggly and excited!

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I also got myself an ice cream cone before the long train journey home. All in all it was a pretty perfect day.

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The next day was my actual birthday and we had a fun day in London. I woke up thinking about my mom giving birth to me, wondering what that day was like, now that I’ve been through it myself.

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We gave Elodie a bath and she was so cute and happy in the tub! Later I went for a run and got us coffee.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous again, so we walked around Islington, had lunch sitting outside at Earl of Essex, one of my favourite pubs, and later stopped by Ottolenghi to pick up desserts and had a drink in the garden at Canonbury Tavern.

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Later we skyped with Grandma Jill, FaceTimed with my mom, had dinner and presents and dessert. It was all so much fun, honestly one of the best weekends of my life! I ended the night feeling so happy and grateful for everything I have and such a wonderful weekend with my little family.

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Five Month Update (September Summary)

Finding the time to blog hasn’t been easy lately, but it’s important to me to keep it up so here is an overdue summary of Elodie at five months (the month of September). The first part of this month we were in Florida. The rest of the month’s highlights are below!

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Growth

In mid-September, Elodie weighed 13 lb 15 oz, and I was told she is inching up out of the 9th percentile but isn’t quite into the 25th percentile. Progress! By late September, she transitioned into size 3 nappies and was solidly into size 3-6 month clothing (just in time for her six-month birthday).

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Development

By mid- and late September, Elodie really began scooting all over the place! She began to move off her blanket on the floor by pulling herself along on her tummy, and we bought her a new playmat which really helped her begin “creeping” even more!

She also began to sit up on her own!

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In anticipation of starting on solid foods, we got a highchair! She looks so little in there and I about died at how cute she looks perched in this little chair.

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We also put her in her big girl seat in the buggy, and she liked it!

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This is a big relief since she hated the carry cot (bassinet) so much and only just tolerated the car seat attachment on the buggy. Being able to use a buggy now is a game changer. We still use the carrier a lot for convenience and it is the most reliable way to get her to nap, but she will often do her morning nap in the buggy.

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Having the flexibility of the buggy, to allow her a comfortable place to sit when we are out and about and a new way to see the world, is fantastic.

Elodie now holds up her arms when she wants me to play with her or pick her up which is so cute. Overall she seems to really be communicating a lot, looking to me when she wants something, making noises and giggling a ton.

She also loves exploring faces and mouths with her fingers all the time; when I am feeding her she is constantly sticking her fingers in my mouth or grabbing my nose or neck (ouch!).

Eating

Near the end of the month, just before Elodie turned six months, we introduced her to solid foods! The first thing we tried was sweet potato.

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She seemed intrigued by the novelty of it but didn’t really eat anything. After a few tries of that I next offered her avocado. We are mostly doing baby-led weaning, which means offering the baby finger foods and letting them feed themselves. I tried giving her some pureed foods on a spoon as well, but she really did not like that – she has a mind of her own!

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There are a number of benefits and reasons for using the baby-led weaning approach and it makes sense to me; I’ll write more about it in my next post since we really got more into it in October. 

Sleep

Following our trip, baby jet lag (and possibly other developmental changes?) meant LOTS of night wakings (about six per night). At various times she has seemed to have both tooth pain and gas pains and was waking up crying a lot. The evening routine of putting her down and knowing she’ll sleep at least a few hours has not worked and there have been multiple repeat rounds of rocking, feeding, using the dummy, and giving Nurofen for teething pain. Rocking her to sleep doesn’t always work, and after I feed her to sleep I have to hold her until I am sure she is deeply asleep and then slowly leave. Most nights she ends up in bed with me and sometimes that is the only way she will fall and stay asleep. But I do love waking up with her and snuggling her in bed. She is always really giggly and cute in the morning. 🙂

My days revolve around Elodie’s nap needs. If I can anticipate it and help her sleep when she needs to that is great, but if a nap doesn’t happen or is short, things get tricky and affects her later in the day, and affects her sleep that night. I’ve come to realise I really can’t have more than one specific activity or playdate planned per day; it’s just too hard to schedule naps around more than one thing. Some days if I have to be somewhere at a specific time I get majorly stressed about her naps.

Activities

We started a French class in September! We are going to Coucou Loulou, which offers French classes for various age levels. Elodie’s class is for babies up to 5-year-olds, and is basically a sing-along and nursery rhymes, all in French. I really like it and I think Elodie enjoys it too. We’ve been listening to the music and singing along at home, too.

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Coucou Loulou

We’ve also had fun play dates with friends and my NCT group.

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Elodie and Gus

We celebrated my birthday at the end of September with a country walk out near Henley on the Saturday and a great day hanging around in London on the Sunday. I plan to write a separate post about the country walk, but this was honestly one of the best weekends of my life.

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Birthday family selfie

The following weekend, we went to west London for the first time in awhile and visited the V&A Museum and walked around Hyde Park, enjoying the autumn colours.

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More to come about month six!

Elodie’s First Trip to America! Part 5: Disney World Continued

The fifth and final leg of our trip to America was a final few days of holiday at Disney World with just the three of us. We had intended to stay a little longer and see more friends and family but Hurricane Irene cut our trip short. 😦

But picking up where we left off, we awoke early Tuesday morning to say a sad goodbye to Grandma Jill. It was so great having her there with us for the weekend!

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Andy took her to the airport and returned our rental car at the same time, while I took Elodie on an early morning walk around the Boardwalk for her first nap of the day. When Andy was back, we walked over to Epcot, my favourite park and the one we visited the most while we lived in Florida. The Food and Wine Festival was going on and we were so excited to check it out!

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We spent that whole day at Epcot, riding Spaceship Earth and Livin with the Land, checking out the Festival Center and spending plenty of time exploring all the international pavilions in World Showcase and sampling the food and drink on offer as part of the festival.

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I just love Epcot. I love the theming, I love the detail, I love wandering around all the hidden places. We weren’t sure how Elodie would last or how we would do an early baby bedtime that night, but it all worked out well. We took it slow and took turns putting her in the carrier for slow walking naps in quiet, air conditioned corners. We didn’t ride as many rides or sample as much of festival as we may have in the past but we very much enjoyed ourselves. We ended up staying through the evening and watching the fireworks. We didn’t anticipate keeping Elodie up that late, but since the fireworks woke her up the night before anyway, we ended up just doing more naps through the afternoon and evening and then hightailing it back to our room once they were over.

The next day we went to Animal Kingdom and this was a really fun day! We rode the Safari ride and had a really nice lunch at Tiffins, a new high-end restaurant there. The great thing about being at Disney was we could easily take an infant to a nice restaurant and no one batted an eye – the waitress loved her. And the food was amazing.

We also took advantage of the child swap policy to take turns riding the new Avatar ride there, Pandora. I never saw Avatar and wasn’t really that excited by this new addition but the ride, and the new “land” Disney built in that section of the park, is truly amazing. Andy and both loved it.

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We also did the Tiger Walk and watched the monkeys for awhile, and I rode Expedition Everest, probably my favourite roller coaster, and we just enjoyed the theming and atmosphere.

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Unfortunately we also spent awhile on the phone with Virgin to try to change our flight, and spent some time figuring out what we would do if we were trapped by the hurricane. We ordered supplies from Amazon and made plans to stay with my brother, but also kept calling the airline. Eventually the next day, we got put on an earlier flight, so we would be leaving on Friday. We were so bummed to cut our trip short, and have to miss out on seeing our friends the Floyds and their kids, and seeing Mark and Becky again and other family and friends. 😦

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But we decided to make the best of it. We ended up staying late at Animal Kingdom that night too, first watching a light show on the Tree of Life, during which I fed Elodie: absolutely the best entertainment while feeding I’ve ever had. We finished out the night watching the new Rivers of Light show.

On Thursday, I went for a run around the Boardwalk and we hung out at the pool in the morning, taking advantage of the nice resort and getting Elodie more pool time. We then spent the rest of the day at Epcot, getting to explore the parts we didn’t get to on Tuesday, riding some more rides and sampling more of the festival. It ended up working out really well to eat most of our meals on Tuesday and Thursday as snacks from all the different festival marketplaces since we could eat on the go.

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We also met some characters! This is not the kind of thing we ever would have done before but with a baby, we kind of embraced the chance to be silly.

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We had planned to spend Friday at Magic Kingdom, but since our flight was changed to Friday evening we’d have to leave for the airport by 1pm, knowing the airport would be mobbed (it was). Since going to MK would mean having to take a bus to/from, adding in  Elodie’s napping and the complications that entailed, before a full day and night of stressful travel back home, we decided it would just be better and easier to walk over to Epcot again and have a more relaxed morning. So we did, and it was great.

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Kevin and Debbie were back at Disney that day, escaping the storm, so we got to see them again too right before we left for the airport!

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We were super duper sad to leave for the airport. Our flight went off without a hitch and amazingly, Elodie slept the WHOLE FLIGHT HOME! She fed on takeoff and then passed out in my arms for three hours. She woke up to feed, and then I transferred her to Andy and she slept in his arms another few hours. She woke up when we were landing in a great mood. I couldn’t believe how lucky we were. it was amazing! Mind you, baby jetlag the whole following week was awful…but at least the flight was easy!

All in all it was a great trip, albeit exhausting. Never before has that old cliche, “we need a vacation after that vacation!” applied more. But we were thrilled we saw so many family and friends and happy the trip went so well!

 

 

 

 

 

Elodie’s First Trip to America! Part 4: Walt Disney World

For the final leg of our trip to America, we went to Disney World! We figured this would be a fun place to spend time with family and friends and also get a bit of a holiday for just the three of us as well. Living in London, we really miss warm weather and the idea of staying in a nice hotel, getting some great food and enjoying the theme parks all in a very family-friendly environment sounded appealing. We have such good memories of visiting Disney when we lived in Orlando and were looking forward to some of our favourite rides and restaurants and just enjoying walking around the parks.

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We left Tavares on Sunday morning and checked into a Holiday Inn near Disney Springs (what used to be known as Downtown Disney), a collection of shops and restaurants. To make a long story short, our plans for this trip changed multiple times beforehand which is why we ended up with one night at this hotel before transferring to a hotel on Disney property for the rest of our trip.

Anyway, we checked in (Grandma Jill was staying with us at the hotel that night too) and walked over to Disney Springs to pick up some lunch.

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As I’ve mentioned before, Elodie has always hated being in her buggy (stroller), particularly hating the carry cot (aka bassinet) style which require newborns to lay down and therefore not see anything. Our primary mode of transport (and her sole napping situation) is in the carrier, strapped to one of our chests. But in the lead up to this trip, I knew it would be much too hot to keep Elodie in the carrier all the time so we would need to figure out a way to get her comfortable in the buggy, and that she would be in her carseat a lot too. Her carseat attaches to her buggy base, so we went on lots and lots of walks in our neighbourhood parks in London in her carseat attached to the buggy, to get her more comfortable with this set up. I was pretty proud of both of us that all this effort ended up working out. She didn’t love being in her buggy, but she was able to hang out in there sometimes and it was good to have the option and definitely cooler for her (and us) than being in the carrier all the time.

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We had lunch at one of the many new restaurants that has opened at Disney Springs in the last few years, Frontera, a Mexican restaurant by Rick Bayless. It was so, so good: probably the best meal of the trip so far. Andy and I both love Mexican food and it’s impossible to get good Mexican in London or anywhere in Europe.

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We had plans that evening to see my brother Kevin and sister-in-law Debbie, who live on the Atlantic Coast of Florida and were coming in to see us that night and the next day. Fortuitously, they ended up coming to walk and shop and eat at Disney Springs that afternoon too, so we met up briefly before going back to our hotel since our room was now ready.

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Meeting more new family members! So much fun. Elodie needed a nap at this point though!

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We went back to the hotel and I found a quiet hallway to put Elodie in the carrier and do about a million squats and lunges to help her settle and fall asleep.

Later, we were back at Disney Springs for dinner with Kevin and Debbie at Homecomin’, a Southern-themed restaurant by Art Smith. Again, we wanted a type of cuisine we can’t get in London and this was another awesome meal.

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Elodie fell in love with water bottles on this trip

It was really risky having dinner that evening since it would be past Elodie’s bedtime, and she was kind of shouty during dinner but overall it worked out. It was great seeing Kevin and Debbie and catching up with them; we used to see them a lot when we lived in Florida. And they agreed to be Elodie’s godparents!

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The next day we were up early to switch to our hotel on Disney property (Disney’s Beach Club) and the meet up with everyone at Magic Kingdom for the day.

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I was so happy when we arrived at Beach Club. It’s at the Boardwalk area of Disney, walking distance to Epcot, and one of my favourite places. Disney has such nice theming, landscaping and attention to detail.

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We made it to Magic Kingdom not long after the park opened for the day.

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It’s not too easy to get a family photo with the baby smiling!

One thing that was great about Disney is their child care centres. There is one in each park and each one has plenty of baby changing tables, facilities for preparing formula or feeding toddlers, bathrooms, baby products like nappies for sale, and best of all, breastfeeding rooms. Of course every bathroom at Disney has baby changing tables (the mens rooms too!), and I am totally fine with breastfeeding Elodie anywhere (and I certainly have) but it was really nice to have this option available. Anyone could go in the baby centres but only breastfeeding women were allowed inside the nursing rooms, and these rooms were dark, quiet, and air conditioned, with comfortable seats. Elodie is at the age where she is really distracted while eating and having a quiet place to take her away from the crazy overstimulation of the park was fantastic.

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This was the room at MK; in true Disney fashion each park’s breastfeeding room was themed slightly differently. This one had Victorian photos of mothers and children on the walls, how adorable.

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Sitting on a soft in the baby centre

So we went there first for a feed and a change while waiting for the rest of family to arrive, and then when we were done met up with Sean, Jess and the three girls.

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We headed to It’s A Small World first! A classic and one of my favourites. Elodie’s first ride!

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Next, Kevin and Debbie joined us and we went on Pirates of the Caribbean. Another classic, so good!

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It was a super hot day and after some more walking around, shopping and photo taking, the others decided to call it a day. Andy, Jill, Elodie and I stuck around to ride Jungle Cruise.

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Check out Elodie’s face! Pure excitement.

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We had lunch (Columbia Harbor House, my favourite) and then Grandma Jill got some quality time with Elodie while Andy and I rode the new(ish) roller coaster, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. So much fun, we felt like kids again! This was also the first time in Elodie’s life that we had ever both been apart from her together. Up until then, she has always been with at least one of us at all times.

We were amazed that the day went so well and Elodie held up great. We left in the mid-afternoon and headed back to our hotel for some pool time.

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We had big plans that night for our first post-baby date night. Since Grandma Jill was staying in the hotel room with us, we planned that I would feed Elodie and put her down to sleep, then sneak out while Grandma stayed in the room with her. Usually (back in August and September at least) Elodie would pretty reliably sleep for 3-4 hours in the first part of the night.

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Excited for date night

It kind of worked. After Elodie was asleep, Andy and I snuck down to the hotel bar, the Crews Cup Lounge. It was so fun and felt so weird! I even wore a dress and some makeup. We split a burger and a beer and sat there chatting about the trip, how our lives have changed, reminiscing on the old days but agreeing how happy we are and how much we love Elodie and love being on holiday with her.

We went to sit on on some rocking chairs overlooking the pool, when Jill texted that the fireworks woke up Elodie and she was inconsolable. 😦 Poor thing. Our hotel room was so near to Epcot that you could hear and see the fireworks, and it woke her up. I went back up to calm Elodie down and give her a comfort feed back to sleep, then went back down to meet Andy. We ended up being out for about two hours. It’s funny, I know a good number of other mums who have been away from their babies for an entire night, or even a weekend by now! Because they all take bottles it is possible…for us that’s not possible at all, and I wouldn’t even want to be apart from Elodie for that long. Just a few hours is plenty!

So our first two days at Disney were busy but a blast. This is getting long so I’ll write about the last few days of our trip in the next post.

à bientôt!