Sunday, 27 February 2011

On Hair & Hostesses

A few days ago, my hair was awful. As in embarrassingly long roots, dead-dead-dead ends, and just blah all over. It was terrible. I have a great colourist & stylist in Edmonton, but what with a trip to Mexico before Christmas, then Christmas, then packing & moving & going-away events, getting my hair done before we left was just not an option. Then we arrived here, and it was even less of an option, as things like unpacking, getting Elizabeth over jet-lag, and finding grocery stores became more important.

So I got my hair done, finally, on Saturday. It was heavenly. Now I look like this:
It was great to sit in a room full of adults & no children for 3 hours. I chose a salon based on the fact that they use the same colour products (Loreal) as my Canadian salon, and my Canadian stylist, Toccara gave me my formula to give him. I thought that was incredibly clever of Toccara to suggest. PS It is not lost on me how saying "Canadian stylist" gives the impression that I also have an "American stylist" and a "French stylist" etc etc. :)

There were 4 other women having their hair done at the same time as me, and all four stylists were men. Two of them were older, and clearly the owners/managers of the place. And while Ryan (aka English stylist) was doing my hair, all on his own, the two old dudes each had an 'assistant' - as in, a girl who stood there and handed them the foil piece that was on the little roll-y table right beside them. I couldn't get over this, and kept almost laughing. These old dudes (as in, probably 50ish, so not old) couldn't even pick up their own foils??? I love it! And then, then, old dude #1 (who looked like Super Mario but in a purple plaid shirt) got his 'assistant' to put the pieces of foil onto this tablet thing that looks like the wooden trays they use for tapas at restaurants:

and then he painted on the dye for his lady's hair, and held it out for her to take & put another piece of foil on. It looks like a paddle. I found this whole situation with the 'assistants' pretty hilarious - especially because it seemed like all they did was look at themselves in the mirrors, primp their hair and pout their lips the whole time. They each got in trouble twice for being too slow - at handing over pieces of foil. I hope Elizabeth never turns into one of these girls.

On a separate note: I love how you can become BFFs with your hair stylist in just one cut. Ryan was really funny, and I already know so much about him - all about his ex-boyfriends, his new boyfriend, his new hair cut, his flat, his commute to work, his jean size, his exercise regime... I am probably going to go back to this salon for the duration of my stay in England, even though it is (a) too expensive for us to really afford, (2) a little bit far away from our place, and (c) full of stupid assistant girls.  I just realized why I was so drawn to these assistant girls - they make me think of the hostesses at Joey's downtown - and how it takes 4 girls in too-high-heels and headsets to get you to your table that is still full of dirty glasses.

All About Elizabeth


Okay, the formatting for this entry is going to be a little bit sad and pathetic. I tried on my own to get all these photos to be in a grid, or at least side-by-side, and couldn't get it to happen. Big, fat thumbs DOWN to blogspot for that.Would it really be that hard to write a bit of code so every time your mouse hovered-over a photo, the cursor turned into a little four-arrow-compass thing, and you could just drag and drop it wherever you wanted? I don't know anything about computer programming, clearly, but come on now.

Matthew also tried to "edit HTML" and got a table inserted, but I am impatient, and it was taking more than 20 seconds, so I told him that I'd suck it up on the poor layout. If anyone knows how to get photos side-by-side, please let me know. As a side note, the demo HTML table that Matthew found online and started modifying for this post had columns titled "Superhero" "Superpower" and "Favourite Food" and then the rows were "Chuck Norris - Hidden Beard Fist - Knuckle Sammiches" and "Patrick Swayze - Pelvic Thrust of Doom - Quiche". I love internet geeks!!

So today is a big update on Elizabeth. I have had multiple requests for recent photos, so here you are: 14 photos of her! :) It took me about 20 minutes to pare down the pics I'd taken to just 14. Feel free to skim the text & stare at her photos. My feelings won't be hurt.

Hello beautiful blue eyes!

Matthew taught her how to "cheers" with her sippy cup. It is a great game.

Saying bye to Daddy in the mornings. It is already green here, and warm enough to go outside at 7:30 in only her jammies.

I wanted to get a photo where you could see Elizabeth's two bottom teeth just poking through - can you see them?? I even chose size "large" for this photo to help you out. Note the marmalade on her nose - she is a big fan of toast & marmalade.  In order to get this pic, I just had to give her a spoon and then she started gesticulating and (basically) yelling at me. Maybe she's going to be a teacher. Or a conductor. Orchestra conductor, not train. Although, she does love trains...

Her new favourite toy: not the car, the empty freezer box. We have it as a tunnel/house right in front of the door leading from the kitchen to the back garden. In the evenings, when we're making dinner, she crawls in there and talks to "that baby" in the reflection. Usually she brings her other favourite toy: the empty milk jug. Why do we buy toys again??

Elizababy is all about kissing lately. Big fat, slobbery, really wet kisses. It's really nice when she gives you a spontaneous kiss, but I have to keep a kleenex in my pocket all the time to wipe all the drool off. I also have stains on the shoulders of all my shirts where she kisses shoulders & necks. Elizabeth is a loving girl.

Heeeeeey, look who stands up on her own!! It's hard to tell from this photo, but we have a tupperware beside her cardboard house, and she will stand up on the wall,  and then cruise from the wall  to the tupperware, and then to her little house... Soon she will make the jump from the house to the freezer, and then along all the kitchen cabinets. I am not super stoked about her almost-walking status. I want her to stay a baby forever.  PS I am aware of how huge that onesie is around her waist, but it's all snuggly and soft and cute. She is currently wearing British size 9-12 month shirts (aka her appropriate size) and Canadian size 3-6 month pants, sometimes 6-9 months. She is going to be tall & slender (just like her Mum, hahaha!!!)

This is what she looks like after her naps - a super happy, laughing little baby. She usually wakes up and talks and sings and plays with her toys in her crib for about 20 minutes before she makes grumpy sounds. Her crib toys are named: Ugly Doll (behind her right side), Giraffe (obvious), Pooh & Tigger (unseen - but you can probably guess what they look like) and Steve (the bunny behind her left). Matthew named Steve.

This is her dancing when her mobile gets wound up. When the mobile is on, it means waking up time, not sleeping time like most kids. Elizabeth lo-o-o-o-ves it.

We're trying to introduce finger foods more and more. We use the vacuum a lot. She loves to test gravity. A scientist already.

This is the setup when we skype - she usually stands there and brings up one or two toys at a time to show them off to whoever we're talking to. She has a gift for choosing the noisiest toys ever. (I am pretty sure we are watching The Office here though - the theme song to The Office is probably Elizabeth's favourite song. She loves it and bounces and dances. She's already got great taste in comedy TV!)

Getting ready to go out. She finally fits into the coat her Daddy gave her for Christmas. :) Elizabeth loves the bike, and we go zipping around all over the place. I have mastered roundabouts (aka traffic circles).  I must admit to being so proud of  this - I have to go on the wrong side of the road, in the wrong direction, and indicate when I'm staying in and exiting the roundabout. Pretty impressive with a baby behind you, don't you think?
 We are having a lot of fun with Elizabeth lately. She is just so much fun! It sounds cheesy, but it's true. One last thing: we have a copy of 'Brown Bear, What Do You See' by Eric Carle, which is an interactive version with little slide-y sections where you uncover what Brown Bear/Red Bird/Yellow Duck (etc) sees. Elizabeth totally knows how to read this book. She has mastered the sliding. We read it about 800 times a day. I am proud to say: I don't even need the book anymore to know who sees what. White Dog? Oh, he sees Black Sheep. And Black Sheep? She sees Gold Fish. It's true, I'm kind of a genius. Hopefully Elizabeth takes after me for smarts...

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Mum of the Year? Probably Not...

My cousin Emma came to visit us this week with her two children, Millie & Henry, and they stayed overnight. We had a great time with Emma & the kids. The best part was that it took Emma an hour & a half to get to my front door, whereas even 2 months ago it would have been an 8 hour flight.
Millie's hardest decision in life so far: choosing which sweeties to buy with the pound coin from her  Nanny & Grandad

Emma having fun on the carousel thing at the playground.

Emma almost puking on the carousel thing at the playground

Obviously you have to wear all the hats in the house at the same time. Especially when wearing pajamas.

"Yeah, I'm on a swing. No bigs. Yeah, I also kicked off one of my boots. Figure it out, people! It's fashion!"  
But the point of this post is actually about Elizabeth's crib. See, my cousin Ross came to visit us in January,

and when we tried to move Elizabeth's crib out of her room so he could sleep there on our extra bed (hint, hint, to anyone who is considering visiting!!), it wouldn't fit out the doorway. Even with a lot of  maneuvering and pivoting, and the best engineering Matthew could do, the crib was too wide for the door frame. And now, I have to point out that it is funny that my cousin's name is Ross, and everytime I think of that evening moving the crib, I also think of the episode of Friends with the couch and Ross yelling, "PIVOT!"

I love that this came up on Google Image when I searched "friends pivot" :)
This time, we didn't bother pivoting even one time; Matthew took the crib apart and put it back together in our room. So that brings us to this evening, when Emma & her kids have left, and Matthew is out with his new lab group for the evening. I had to decide: leave her crib in our room again tonight, and suffer through her super loud, noisy sleeping (has anyone else noticed how loud babies are when they sleep??), or take it apart and put it back together myself, and take care of Elizabeth at the same time? Um, hello, is this even a choice?  I can totally take apart and put together a crib!!

And guess what - I totally can do the crib thing. No problem! It's the "taking care of Elizabeth at the same time" part that is hard. Which is why my baby has a bump on her forehead about an inch and a half long. Because when I was balancing the bottom part of the crib on my knee and allen-key screwing the side into the headboard of the crib (you might have to read that sentence a couple times to actually visualize what I mean), Elizabeth decided to stand up using the crib as a support. Which meant I couldn't move because then she would fall - but also meant I was semi-trapped when she decided to let go and stand up on her own, and then fall down on her own. And clearly, she chose to land on her head.

Taken about 10 minutes after the 'incident' - can you see the bump? I swear, she was fine after about 2 minutes of crying. And her pupils dilate equally, and she responds to her name, and she follows commands. She  did 'more' in sign language when I gave her cheerios just before this photo. She's fine!

I realize this photo makes her look a little cross-eyed but she really isn't. She really is fine.
So.... does this make me a bad Mum? Or a good furniture-putter-togetherer? It's a bit of a toss-up, really.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Unfortunately, I am a Good Shopper.

Yesterday Elizabeth & I ventured to a shopping area called the Grafton Centre. It is two pedestrian boulevards with a shopping mall connecting them.
I wanted to get Elizabeth some plain long-sleeve onesies to go under her shirts, because I worry about wind getting under her jacket and making her tummy and back cold when we're biking. Matthew would say that I worry about that happening to Elizabeth because it happens to me. And yet, I'm not buying myself any plain long-sleeve onesies...

So I packed the diaper caddy into the backpack, along with the Baby Bjorn to carry Elizabeth around while we shopped, and we biked over to the Grafton. Then in Primark (kind of like Old Navy-ish), I couldn't resist, and ended up getting her two new shirts, two 3-pack onesies, two pairs of leggings and some socks. She pretty much needed them. Then, on our way back to the bike, I passed about 8 charity shops - in England, they don't have Goodwill or Salvation Army type stores, they have multiple charity shops and each one funds a different charity. We stopped in at the British Red Cross shop, the British Heart Foundation shop and one for British Homeless people. (I can't remember what it was called, but if you say "British Homeless People shop", it sounds like that is where you buy British Homeless People.) I just like to browse in these shops, and actually, they are a great place for baby toys. Elizabeth fell in love with this plastic train that choo-choos when you push the button, and has wheels and spinny things, etc etc. And it was a steal at £1.50, so obviously, into the backpack it goes.

Then I got back to the bicycle and had a little moment - was the backpack too big and fat now? Was it going to smash E in the face as we biked? I took out the Bjorn, and wore it on my front, and then put the backpack back on, but was still worried about it. I actually asked a lady with a stroller to check for me as I sat on my seat - she said, "Oh, you've got about 3", just lean forward while you ride!" Thank goodness I asked a non-judgey Mum instead of one who would just tsk-tsk and say something un-helpful like, "well, I wouldn't ride home like that, but if you want to, I guess it's okay." (Because even if I had asked a judgey Mum, I was still totally going to ride home like that.)

As I was cycling home, I realized we had nothing for dinner. Hmmm, what to do? Go to the grocery store in town, or wait til we get closer to home and go to the neighbourhood one? Elizabeth was practically asleep already in the bike seat, and it would have been more challenging to wake her up once she was actually asleep when we got closer to home. So, off the bike we get again, and into a grocery store we go.

It was in the grocery store that I realized the train toy was choo-choo-ing from inside the bag - all afternoon I had thought I was setting off anti-theft alarms in shops. Whoopsies.

The meat section had a three-for-£10 deal, so obviously I had to get that. And then I remembered we didn't have any bread. And after I bought the groceries, I got back to the bike and realized that I am not brave enough to bike with a grocery bag dangling from my wrist. . .  What to do? Obviously, smoosh the bread into one of the mesh side pockets of the backpack, and then put the 3 packages of meat into the Baby Bjorn, and bike home. Ha!! I wish I had taken a photo of my meat baby!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

A Little Bit Too Young

Yesterday I took Elizabeth to the local community centre for an activity called "Family Fun Time". We went with my new friends (!!) Ignacia and Javiera. Ignacia has a four-year old son Francisco and twin daughters Olivia and Florencia, who are 18 months.  Javiera's son Manuel is three, and she is expecting her second son in March. Elizabeth is a lot younger than these kids, but totally loves playing with them.Well, mostly they play, and she crawls among them and randomly picks up a toy to eat. But she laughs and giggles a lot.

We went to a music class with Javiera and Manuel, and for the first half-hour, Manuel would put a bell or a tambourine about 5 feet in front of Elizabeth and she would giggle and crawl to it, and then he'd run ahead and put down another instrument and she would crawl to it, and giggle more. It was ridiculously cute.

But at the Family Fun Time, I realized that Elizabeth is a little too young for the ball-pool. I kept trying to put her in it with Olivia, and everytime, she looked at me like this:

Still a little bit too young, I guess...

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

We Live Here Now

It has been one month and two days since we arrived in England, and it finally feels like we live here. We've passed the feeling of holiday-ing, and have arrived to a place of almost-normalcy. This weekend was our first weekend where we really felt like Cambridge was our town.

On Saturday, I bought a bicycle. Everyone in Cambridge cycles around (and here, you say cycle, not bike), and it is a very bike-friendly city. Matthew bought a bike the second week we were here, and it really made his commute to work easier - instead of a 20+ minute wait for the permanently-late buses and a 25 minute bus ride, it is a 20 minute cycle. No brainer. So we went to the local bike shop to buy me a bike with a bike seat for Elizabeth. Everyone working there was under 23 for sure, except for this one Dad-aged dude. And thank goodness for him, because he totally attached Elizabeth's seat for us and had to cut off a little doohicky so the seat could go low enough for my short-ness, and basically, he Dadded it up. He was the equivalent of the white-hair guys that work at Home Depot who are just so happy to help you find that little piece of tubing so you can try to fix your sink yourself, and who remind you that you need a gasket or whatever to make sure it doesn't leak. He was that guy! He told me about 3 times that I need to remember to turn on my lights when it's dark out, and that when Elizabeth gets bigger that I need to bring the bike back to have the height of her seat changed so she doesn't rest on the mud guards, and blah-blah-blah-safety-Dad-stuff. It was great. And we got E a tiny little helmet and now we zip around town!

And get this: on Sunday, our friends Alex & Naomi Glancy came up for the day from London, and as we were walking to the town centre to meet them, we ran into someone I know. If that isn't a sign that you actually live somewhere, I don't know what is. Not gonna lie: I felt pretty cool.

Here is a sign that Elizabeth lives in England: she has a raincover for her stroller that actually gets used.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Menu Planning and Groceries. Le Sigh.

This week I decided that I would do a menu plan and an online grocery shop. Up until now, I have been grocery shopping every day at the local supermarket
 which is the size of a Mac's store but is a mini-supermarket, including fresh meat & poultry, fresh fruit & vegetables, and the most important: wine & beer. And while they are a little bit more expensive than at the larger chains (Tesco's, Sainsbury's or Asda), the price difference is still way less than bus fare (£3.40) and the convenience factor is huge, considering there are two within 5 min walking distance of my house. So I have been picking up fresh fruit & veg and whatever we want for dinner every afternoon, since we don't have a freezer.

That is right. It is so hard to live without a freezer. You can't buy more than 2 days worth of meat (and all you vegetarians can start patting yourselves on the back for not having that problem), and you can't pre-make baby food for your baby, and you can't have ice cream. I know.

Regardless, I thought I'd challenge myself this week and do an online grocery shop, and have my groceries delivered (!!!) as suggested by my cousin Emma. Asda is the equivalent of Walmart, and even has the George clothing line. And they bring everything right to your front door, at a time slot of your choosing, the next day. And it only costs £3.50, so basically the same as the bus but without the hassle of bus+stroller+baby+groceries - and even though I am an excellent sherpa now, it is still really exhausting.

I tried to menu-plan like my New Mom group friends, because they said it can really save money and avoid throwing out food that goes bad before you eat it. Turns out, I am really bad at menu planning. I realized that I am a sensory-grocery-shopper - as in, "ooh, those asparagus are nice and fresh, we'll have those this week with some grilled chicken" or whatever. It was really hard to shop without seeing the actual food as well! I didn't know what I was hungry for! I had already decided on a few dishes, including our favourite Barefoot Contessa broccoli dish
And then, for some reason, I thought it would be good to buy food that I had never bought before. Like parsnips. I have never purchased parsnips, but this week, we were going to have pork chops with parsnips and grapes. (I can't get the photo to be underneath this sentence, sorry, it has to be above the paragraph. How frustrating.) Elizabeth has been really keen on soups lately, so I thought I'd make some potato leek soup with bacon - big thanks to Chrissy & Dave for giving me inspiration towards soup.

Fine. I had made a little menu - full of food that we never eat. Well done me. Then came the ordering. Yikes. Everything is by weight, whereas recipes are # of items. Example: 3 small parsnips... how many kg are 3 small parsnips? And when you order on, there's no option button to dictate the size of your parsnips. As a result, I ordered 1 kg of parsnips, 1.5 kg of broccoli, and .50 kg of mushrooms. The parsnips were GARGANTUAN, easily three times as big as any parsnip I'd ever seen (which were the ones in the photo above), and 1.5 kg of broccoli is an awful lot of broccoli. After the order arrived, I looked at the broccoli recipe again, and realized I usually halve it. Whoopsies. And for your information, 0.5 kg of mushrooms is about 0.4 kg more than I have ever bought in one shop.

This is what 1.5 kg of broccoli looks like - aka a full grocery bag.
This is how huge our parsnips were - I used the coffee maker for size comparison.

British eggs are stamped! Each one! How weird!
In the middle of my online shop, I had to make an emergency phone call to my Nanny: what kind of potatoes do you buy for soup? In Canadian grocery stores, I think I saw maybe 4 types of potatoes: yukon gold (yum), russet (hard to peel), baby new potatoes (yum!!) and then the random loose ones that always look really dry, and I never buy. On, there are all kinds of potatoes I had never heard of: King Edward, Charlotte, Maris, Marabel, Marilyn, Roasting Rudolph - whaaaaat??? I wish I was making this up. So I phoned Nanny, who took the question very seriously, and we had about a ten minute conversation about potatoes. She recommended King Edwards. When I laughed and said, "obviously, those are the most expensive potatoes out of a selection of about 25 potatoes", she said (quite seriously), "well, Georgie, they are a very old potato, and the nicest potato, I think." These potatoes are probably going to change my life. I cannot wait. And thank goodness for that, because we have enough to last for a really long time.

The best moment of this online shopping experience is  is that I still had to go to the corner store the same day anyways. I had forgotten some key items: milk, bread, butter and coffee. Still have a few things to learn about menu planning, I guess.

And now, for those of you who have made it to the end of this very long post, you get a prize. Here is my cute baby girl having her breakfast this morning:

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Matthew becomes a Daddy

Elizabeth has been teething in earnest this week. She has been the slobber queen since she was about 3 months old, but her first two teeth are just starting to poke through. So we have been giving Tylenol & Advil as necessary to keep her happy and free from pain. Yesterday afternoon, I realized we were really low on baby Tylenol - only about one mL left in the bottle. But I figured we'd give her Advil for pain if needed...

Except. She woke up at eleven, was really distraught, and super warm. She had quite a fever - 102.9F, which is 39.4 C - and was kind of beside herself. We gave her the last of the Tylenol, and cool cloths on her forehead and back of her neck. She pretty much hated that, and did little shuddery cries the whole time. :( Poor baby!

And then Matthew got dressed, put on his coat, and went to the 24 hour grocery store to get her some more Tylenol for the rest of the night. On his bicycle. He's a Daddy now.

Addendum: Elizabeth woke up this morning completely afebrile, and a happy baby again. Evidence:

Monday, 7 February 2011

Bognor Regis: the end of the road tripping

Well, we made it back. Elizabeth & I went to visit my Grandma on Wednesday, and Matthew joined us on Friday. The journey there was pretty okay, actually. I had Elizabeth in the baby Bjorn, and the two bags, and it was all going to be fine, as I had figured out the train times perfectly. Wouldn't you know: the local bus from my house to Cambridge Rail Station was 25 minutes late (well, probably it was broken down or something), so all my train times were screwed up. Oh well, we made it there with relative ease. The only funny part was when I was at Victoria train station - it is huge - there are 19 platforms, and they're divided into three sections (0-8, 9-14, 15-19). Of course, when I got off the tube I went to the 0-8 section, and of course, our train departed from platform 16. I almost cried, no jokes. It was at least a 15 minute walk carrying all my stuff. But then Elizabeth slept for the last leg of the journey and I got an hour and half of quiet reading time! Yay! I highly recommend Shades of Grey, by Jasper Fforde.
On the train from Cambridge to London
In Victoria Station, trekking along

On the train to Bognor, just before E slept

The week in Bognor was great; I think I am meant to be in my 80's. We woke up everyday at 7:30, had a coffee (or breastmilk, whatever), and sat in the sunroom to watch Cyril the Squirrel and the birds at the birdfeeder. Cyril is our inspiration to get a birdfeeder in Cambridge. He's practically my Grandma's pet.

Then, leisurely breakfast for all, and E went for a morning nap. Out for the lunch hour, and then home again for an afternoon lie-down. Evening drinks at 5:30, dinner at 6, E is in bed by 7:30 and I was in bed (no jokes) by 9:30 every night. It was pretty much the best week ever.
It was great to see Elizabeth playing with her Great Grandma. They had some good times together, lots of cuddles and lots of good talks. My Nana has a little nook in her kitchen with a fold-up table and a stool in it, and Elizabeth made it her little house. She would go in there multiple times a day, and stand up on the stool and chatter away. Super, super sweet! She also ate steak and kidney pie, and loved it. She's becoming more British by the minute! :)
Elizabeth's play house

Feeding the ducks!!

Trying on fancy hats

Reading the newspaper. It was very interesting.
It was great when Matthew got there on Friday - he fit right into our 'busy' schedules. It was so much easier to get home with two adults - and again, the only tiresome part was the wait for the bus home from the Rail station in Cambridge. Traveling without a carseat is easy until you really, really want to take a taxi.
We realized that Elizabeth hasn't slept in the same bed for more than 5 days since January 9, so we are not doing any more road trips for awhile. We are going to explore our own new city instead.