Saturday, 31 August 2013

Junior's first haircut


We had hoped to wait until Junior turned two to get his hair cut, but at twenty months he was starting to look like a mad scientist. When he started pushing his hair out of his eyes the other day, I decided it was time to book at appointment. So we took him to Shiny Stars in Wimbledon this morning.


He chose the seat shaped like a Hummer (as opposed to the Mini Cooper, which was occupied, or the airplane) and held onto the gingerbread biscuit they gave him.



He was remarkably patient and cooperative, with only minor wiggling.


His only protest was due to the blow dryer.


But he seemed pleased with the product they put in at the end.





And he was very pleased with the plastic giraffe in the gift bag when we left.



His curls aren't gone completely, but he looks like a big boy now. I wonder if people will keep calling him a girl...

Monday, 5 August 2013

Compact living

As we prepare to move from a 2-bedroom maisonette to a 6-bedroom house (!), I'd like to go on the record as saying:

I really DO love this flat.

S bought this flat ten years ago, before we ever met, before we ever dreamed about getting married or having a kid. It was an awesome bachelor pad. It was great when we were dating. It was lovely when we were newlyweds.

It was only when we started preparing for Junior that certain ...inconveniences... became more apparent. S lost the sole use of his office when we put in Junior's cot and changing table. We both cleared out bookshelves, stuffing Things We Don't Use All the Time in the loft (and in the crawl space, and in the closets, and in the airing cupboard, and underneath the stairs...) We rearranged the living room several times to make it more Junior-proof. And on the whole, it's perfectly fine.

Having said that, however...

Let me show you a typical trip home from the grocery store. We don't have a car, so I use Junior's buggy to carry home heavy bags. We have a small kitchen and a v.e.r.y. small under-the-counter fridge/freezer, so I can't bring much home anyway. I don't bother with online grocery shopping because it's not worth it - we simply can't store enough food to justify the extravagance. It means I go to the local Sainsburys/M&S almost everyday, but on the other hand: most of our meat and veg is fresh, we don't tend to buy what we can't use, and it's only about a ten-minute walk from here. It virtually guarantees I have to leave the house everyday, and I get a bit of fresh air and exercise.


The hardest part, and this is the part that I won't miss at all, is getting everything back inside the flat.

Two shopping bags filled with heavy groceries, Junior's scooter, my water bottle, and Junior's milk bottle, at the bottom of the stairs

Add to that Junior's nappy bag, some shopping from M&S, a towel returned by a friend, and a sleeping toddler

Not pictured: two letters that came in the post, my cardigan, and Junior's sweatshirt

So, that took three trips up and down the stairs to carry the bags, post, and extra layers. Notice that we have self-enforced a rule not to wear our shoes inside the flat. Is it any wonder I wear sandals in summer and slip-ons in winter?

Then there was a fourth trip upstairs to bring Junior inside and place him gently in his cot.

Then I had to retrieve the buggy.


We chose a folding buggy because - well, we didn't really have an alternative. Before Junior was born, my dad rigged up a clever mountain bike hook with a luggage strap which serves to hold the buggy at the bottom of the stairs, and it has been a lifesaver. Still, it requires folding every time we come home, and unfolding every time we go out. I'm looking forward to the new house where we can just wheel the buggy - and Junior and all the bags - inside and leave it open under the stairs unless we choose to fold it. Choice! Freedom!

I'll say it again: I really DO love this flat. But I'm looking forward to having just a little bit more space...

Sunday, 4 August 2013

france en famille

What is more entertaining (and challenging) than visiting France with one toddler? Visiting France with two toddlers!

Junior, S, and I went to the Breton town of Perros-Guirec on the pink granite coast with my parents, my sister, her husband, and their son. We rented a lovely holiday home with a view of the ever-changing tide and settled in for a two-week stay.

The weather did its best to make us feel at home - we could have stayed in London if we had really wanted rainy, chilly 'summer' days - but we did have occasional sunshine, especially toward the end.


Unlike most of our travels abroad, our focus was less on sightseeing and more on spending time together as a family. So we read books, played with toys, chased balls in the garden, and played on iPads.


At first, sharing was not their strongpoint. There were battles over bath toys.


There were fights over territory.


Grandpa only had one lap.


So did Grandma.


Sometimes time spent alone was more fun.





But by the second week, they were used to each other, and even started enjoying themselves together.





We explored the local beaches.



We took advantage of every local playground.





We cooked some great meals, and ate out when we couldn't face another trip to the Super U.


We laughed, and talked, and walked.



We took a few day trips to neighbouring towns, but we discovered that much of Brittany observes an inconvenient siesta right in the middle of the afternoon, making it hard to coordinate schedules around lunch and naps. But we were well-situated for beaches, carousels, restaurants, and playgrounds between Perros-Guirec, Louannec, and Ploumanac'h, so we didn't need to venture far to keep ourselves busy and amused.

As with most toddler-related activities, some of the best moments weren't captured on camera. P kept a running commentary on everything we did, and Junior was just content to keep running all the time. Junior befriended every dog. P read every book, même les livres en français. They discovered that rolling a toy car along the top of the radiator makes a satisfying grating noise. They put olives on their fingertips before eating them.

Two weeks came and went too fast. We were lucky to have a few extra weeks with my parents in London, but seeing Junior and his cousin together was definitely the highlight.

À bientôt!