Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Elizabeth's First Birthday Part II: The Puke of Tiredness

So we all had a really fun time at the zoo, and decided to call my cousin Ross to join us for an after-zoo drink as he works close to the zoo. We met up, Elizabeth fell asleep in her stroller, and we went to a pub in Camden called The Spread Eagle. Totally birthday-worthy.
Gina drank that whole pint of cider - she was feeling no pain afterwards, which turned out to be a really good thing. 
Grandpa Larry was jealous of Elizabeth who got to nap in the pub, so he just lay down on the booth for a little shut-eye. No jokes.

With Rossy after everyone woke up and we were ready to leave the Spread Eagle.
Then it was a decision time: go home to Cambridge for dinner, or eat in London & go home afterward? It was Larry & Gina's first day in London, so we decided to eat in town - and you know those times when you think, "this isn't the greatest idea we've ever had . . . but oh well, let's just do it"? Yeah, it was one of those. Elizabeth had had a long day, and lots of excitement already, but . . . how hard could a dinner be? There were 4 adults to take care of her if she got squirrelly in the restaurant. So we went strolling in Camden town - a clear challenge when you have a big stroller and the streets are packed like this:
And even harder when every so often you come across someone like this, and you have to take a moment to appreciate how hard she worked to look like that:

But eventually we chose this french restaurant and sat down to eat. Well, Elizabeth didn't sit, but she wandered around the corner by our table, and then was pretty much unhappy for the remainder of the meal. We took turns walking outside with her so she wouldn't disturb the other people in the restaurant. I gulped down my wine (thank goodness for wine) and we left. Here is a photo of Gina & Larry, carrying Elizabeth back to Camden Town tube station

About ten seconds after this photo was taken, Elizabeth projectile puked all over Gina's white coat, and all over her leather bag. And all over the sleeve of her onesie (that was underneath her party dress). Barf. So we quickly get her onesie off but I didn't bring a change of clothes with me because she hasn't needed a spare set since before we moved to England. M & I put her party dress back on, and her little lamby coat, and she is all clingy and sad - keep in mind it's already 8:30ish, and she has been on the go since 8:30 am - poor baby!

Gina wipes down her jacket and BAM we're out of baby wipes. Obviously. Gina runs into a drug store & buys some more wipes, and phew, everyone's okay, baby wipes to the rescue!! Then we get on the tube. Oh, keep in mind we are in Camden (aka community of bars & clubs & restaurants), on a Friday night at 8:30pm, so there are a million people walking towards cool funky restaurants, getting ready for a night out. Tons of girls in short dresses & heels, and groups that look like they just stepped out of a magazine. It was so embarrassing - she smelled so bad. We get to Kings Cross and, of course, we missed the train we wanted - obviously - and had to fast-walk to another train that leaves from the opposite side of the station. Why do they schedule trains that go to the same destination only 10 minutes apart and 10 platforms away from each other?? Help us out here, train schedulers!

E was in her stroller now, so we get on the train to Cambridge, and obviously she has a massive, massive poop. So M & I are trying to change her non-chalantly on the train in her stroller because the carriage with the toilet is obviously on the exact opposite end of the train from us - and changing a diaper on a train is really not done here. Finally she fell asleep and we got to Cambridge. And then the bus that goes all the way to our house had stopped running because it was so late (9:45ish), so we had to take this other bus & walk home. She didn't get into her bed until about 10:30 and Matthew & I were totally exhausted

In hindsight, it was kind of hysterical - when I say projectile vomit, I mean it, it was like a fire hose of puke. But at the time, totally distressing - my poor baby! Turns out you really can have too much of a good thing when you're only one year old.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Elizabeth's First Birthday!! Part I

Our baby turned one this month - April 15. I cannot believe a year has gone by so fast - it is so cliche, but I guess cliches are cliches for a reason.
Elizabeth on Day One

Elizabeth on her First Birthday!

 We were so lucky that Larry & Gina (Matthew's Dad and Step-Mom) came to England to visit us for Elizabeth's birthday week. They spent a week with us in Cambridge, with a couple of day-trips to London, including a very exciting trip to the London Zoo for E's first birthday.

She LOVED it. The first thing we saw were the monkeys & gorillas - huge hit with her. She was Captain McPointy and giggled and laughed and screamed at them. At one point we were standing by this mesh fence, and there was a baby monkey just on the other side of the foliage in E's line of sight.
It was love at first sight, until some big kid shook the foliage and then the Mummy Monkey JUMPED onto the fence and did scary-monkey-screamy-face. That scared away the big kid, and also made Elizabeth cry. Mums can be scary in all species.

Then we saw this statue, and hello, could not resist:

Here are a few more shots of the zoo times (mostly of Larry & Gina & Elizabeth - I took very few pictures of animals, but I hope all of you know what zebras & giraffes & lions look like . . . )
Okay, so not "at" the zoo, but just hanging out on the tube on the way. Such an urban baby!
We kept trying to teach her to say "Grandpa" and it sounds like "Ga-pa!!" She is saying lots of words now, including Button, and Bubble . . . those two sound almost identical . . . I guess we should probably teach her words that start with different sounds . . .

Looking for the wild African dogs - they say "oof oof!"

Woot woot! First birthday at the zoo!!

I have to make a confession, that even though this zoo has lions, giraffes, okapis, penguins, peacocks, pigs, hippos etc etc etc, my daughter's favourite animal was the pigeon that she chased at lunch time. Hmmm...

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

What Will You Find At Jesus Green?

In Cambridge, there are a bunch of Greens and a bunch of Pieces, and couple of Commons as well. I don't know why they didn't just call them "Parks" because that is what they are. At any rate, in the centre of town, you have Jesus Green, Parker's Piece, Christ's Pieces, Midsummer Common, Queen's Green, and my personal favourite: Butt Green. Heh heh. And this past weekend proved that you don't have to suffer through months and months of snow & freezing cold to appreciate the sunshine. It felt like the whole city was outside, having picnics & going for walks. It was lovely! We ate outside for at least one meal per day for 5 days straight. Heaven!

I must apologize for the photography here. I forgot my camera at my cousin Emma's house, and so all of these are taken on my phone, hence the terrible quality. However! Emma has promised to photograph the little ducklings in her village for me, so get excited!

Here is a sampling of the wonders of Jesus Green, where we picnicked on Sunday:
Elizabeth refuses to hold hands when walking - even on uneven terrain. She actually bats your hand away and turns her head away from you. Sometimes she pushes your hand away with enough force that she falls anyway.

Dress up!

Cute barefoot baby - she would toddle around, and had about an 8 foot radius around us, and as soon as she got further than that, would come back. Super cute!

Hippy baby feet!

So all the students come out and "study" in little groups on the greens - beats SUB any day. It kind of feels like a Vampire Weekend video - everyone is super hipster and stylish. Lots of dudes in fedoras, plaid button ups and rolled up skinny jeans, and girls in striped shirts, big sunnies and super short shorts with saddle shoes. "Short" is a lot shorter in the UK. So many bums hanging out. . . I'm sorry I don't have a photograph for you, use your imagination.

Very sweaty, very hairy-chested, very unsavoury man doing a full Ashtanga 1 series in the middle of the green. He stopped in Warrior to take a call on his mobile. Very zen.

The obligatory volleyball game. Matthew has a friend at work, Alex, who recreated the volleyball scene from Top Gun last summer. I am so sad we missed it!

Also obligatory Crazy Middle Aged Lady swinging streamers around in patterns. Obviously, a requirement for any picnic.

The Cutest Baby in the World!!!

A pink tree
I wish I was making this up, but this guy was practicing his bull-whipping. I am not kidding! Honest! He kept doing the Indiana Jones whip-crack sound, and once, he even hit his girlfriend, who was lying there, half-encouraging him, and half-pretending she didn't now him. It was the most bizarre thing, and I could not stop staring. Who practices bull-whipping in a public place? Scratch that - who practices bull-whipping?? (Is bull-whipping even a word?? I have never had the opportunity to use it before!)

Most groups make a little circle on a blanket, bring some sandwiches, have a laugh and a good time. Right? Some groups take it one step further and bring a tent, and a barbecue that smokes. Grocery stores actually sell 'single use barbecues' - like a roasting pan with briquettes in it - but that group back there was dedicated enough to have an actual barbecue with them. I was duly impressed. 

I am so bummed out with the quality of these photos! Oh well, now you all have good reasons to come and visit us in the summertime. Hello, when are you ever going to see a dude bull-whipping in public??? That is worth the airfare right there.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

DIY? DIDon't.

I am a terrible, terrible painter. Terrible. I just am not good at it.

We got a patio set for free from our neighbours when they moved. This is the best part about living in a transient neighbourhood - free stuff!! Unfortunately, the chairs were totally dirty & resistant to all kinds of cleaning & scrubbing by me.

Gross, right? So I decided to paint them. And a reputable source (ie first hit on Google search for: painting lawn furniture) assured me that it was both easy, and cheap. And the site showed their before & after photos - from greying white to fresh red! Yes! I wanted red lawn furniture too, especially if was going to be easy and cheap!!!

At the hardware store, Matthew tried to convince me to choose a darker colour - one that would provide better coverage, and be better at disguising future dirt. But no, I wanted red. So we bought one can of red  spray paint, just to see how it went. And then today was gorgeous and sunny, and so while Elizabeth slept, I decided to DIY. (Well, grammatically speaking, it should be DIM - myself.)

Here are the terrible, terrible results. Only one chair was fully painted by the one can, and very poorly painted at that. This being my first spray painting attempt, I didn't know the signs of an emptying can, and so I tried to start the second chair. Silly Jammy. I guess we will go out this weekend and buy some more suitable spray paint colours, and try again with the other 3!!

From far away, it doesn't look that bad, just like it needs a second coat, right?

Boom!! Didn't expect to see that, did you? Do you like how it's all bumpy? That's because I tried to wipe it off after it had semi-dried. Why do I think I am handy?? All attempts at handy-ness have shown me to be woefully NOT handy. 

On the upside, Elizabeth & I had a picnic outside today, and she rode home without a jacket. It is beautiful today. AND I found a snail in the garden. That must be a sign of good luck somewhere in the world.
50% sick, 50% pretty

We played 'chase' for a little while. She got tired and lay down.

Coming back to Mummy!

Big girl on the bike!!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Becoming a Big Girl

Elizabeth walks well now. She still falls 100% of the time, but she walks all over the place. She's been walking solo for about a week and a half, maybe 2 weeks, but I've been waiting to get some videos of her walking towards me - apparently, my baby likes to walk away from her Mummy a lot more than walk towards her...

But this morning, we got a cute little vid. Please enjoy the droopy pajama pants!! She must be pretty well balanced because she can walk with her pants all droopy and step all over the cuffs without falling...

She has also discovered the concept of the 'bag'. She carries a yellow pail like it's her purse, and now, the soft horse-bag that Matthew brought her back from his work trip in Austria. She loves to play in-and-out with her 'bags'.

On a totally unrelated note, last night we had our friends Javiera & Nico over, as well as their 3 year old son, Manuel. I'm sorry to report to all her Canadian boyfriends, but Manuel has totally stolen Elizabeth's heart. He taught her how to take the cushions off the couch, and then how to crawl up on to them and roll off of them. Hello, best game ever?? Elizabeth spent pretty much the whole evening following Manuel around, and he reciprocated by carrying a tupperware of shreddies and cheerios and feeding them to her every so often. Super sweet.

And there was another 'first' for Elizabeth last night - a boy brought her flowers! I foolishly thought they were for me, and Manuel said, "No, they are for Elizabeth only."  

Monday, 4 April 2011

Wales Weekend

This weekend, we went to Wales. It was one of those great weekends where we just felt like everything was coming up Hawkeyes. Matthew took Friday off, and we rented a car and drove down to Swansea, to a B&B on the seafront. Here are the routes we took - yes, in order to avoid London, we went north to go south. We went a "direct route" - ha ha - on the way there, and then on the way home, we went northward into Wales to the Brecon National Park. It was a really great weekend.
Apparently, in England all roads lead to London. In order to go south to Wales, we had to go north to Birmingham to avoid London & the M25. I guess the M25 = ring road of doom. And actually, when we were driving away from London there were still signs telling us how many miles to get there. Crazy.

 We stopped for lunch at a super dodgy pub... It was called the Black Horse, in Bedworth, at the yellow dot just before we got on the motorway (aka highway). There were about 5 men in it, all drinking pints in oppressive silence, and there was a van outside that made sandwiches that you were allowed to bring into the pub to eat. It was pretty much the most depressing place to sit and have lunch, but Elizabeth managed to have a great time, playing peekaboo using a stool:

(I still haven't figured out how to make those line up. Sorry.)

It took us about 5 hours to get there, and I was pretty stoked. Check out the signs!! Welsh!!
I look totally crazy here, but I'm not very good at taking self-portraits on the Blackberry, so this was the 3rd or 4th attempt. Hence the totally genuine expressions for both of us. 
How many llath to a mile?
 I think Welsh sounds like Elvish from Lord of the Rings. I didn't think anyone would believe me, and so I tried to 'non-chalantly' secretly video people speaking - big surprise, that didn't work out so well, and I have a few muffled videos on my phone. :( So here is a you-tube video of Welsh speaking - you need to watch until the lady in the pinky-red sweater speaks (about 20 seconds - and I don't recommend watching more than that):

 and here is Liv Tyler from Lord of the Rings, speaking Elvish.
.... same same??? I think so too. I have also decided to teach Elizabeth to say "Ta-rah, ta-rah" instead of goodbye. I might just try to get her to speak with the lilt-y way of the Welsh. Everything they say sounds like a little song!

We were based out of Swansea - and here's a tip from both us and my cousin Ross: don't plan to stay in Swansea. It is super chavvy - and for those of you who don't know, a chav is a chuddy person. Someone who drinks tall-boy cans of cheap beer in public, while wearing sweatpants and no shirt, and swears a lot. They usually have bad tattoos and, if they are a girl chav, bad boob jobs. However, Swansea is both the birthplace of Catherine Zeta Jones, and a great jumping off point to Mumbles (in Welsh: Mwmbwls - wtf), a beautiful seaside town with lots of gorgeous hilly, green walks, and the Gower peninsula (in Welsh: Penrhyn Gwyr), which has a cool old castle.

We went on this 'walk' just outside of Mwmbwls - we asked a lady if the walk was stroller-friendly. In her lilting Welsh voice, she told us, "Aye, there ar-r-r-re a few rocky bits, with some tree roots, y'know, but I should think your pram will be just fine, y'know. She's a loavelhy one, idn't she?" Always a lot of breathy sounds at the ends of words, and trilling r's - and every sentence either ends with 'y'know' or 'idn't she?'.
Please note: Elizabeth slept through the entire walk. Also, this 'walk' was more of a 'hike' and the terrain was definitely not stroller-friendly. We ended up carrying the sleeping babe in her stroller for probably 1/3 of the walk, through wet sand & muddy patches. It was a bit of a workout, but it was a lovely walk.
This is Matthew, running back to get his very expensive, very nice camera that fell out of the stroller when we carried it across this particularly big stretch of stroller un-friendly wet sand. Please note: Elizabeth didn't fall out of the stroller, not even one time.
 When we asked the people at our B&B where we should go with Elizabeth in Swansea & area, they said, "Ah, you should go to the Gower Heritage Centre. It's loavelhy, and there're so many things for a wee one to do there, y'know." So we went. It was totally random. Kind of like a mix of the Edmonton Valley Zoo, with the Ukrainian village. In no particular order, we saw: a petting zoo (big points with Elizabeth), a working water wheel, antique tractors, a bomb shelter (complete with air raid siren that scared me), a wool mill, a blacksmith shop, a puppet theater, and a bumper car area. So bizarro.

Who is more excited - Daddy or Daughter? A gold star for you if you said Daddy.

Elizabeth liked the bunnies best.

Elizabeth liked the pony, but was scared of the goat. And it is probably because goats are actually totally scary looking - they have horizontal pupils!! Did anyone else know that? I was actually freaked out by the goats too. 
Super creepy, right?

Elizabeth pats Matthew on the head when she sits on his shoulders. So cute.

Right after this photo was taken, Elizabeth smeared her hand in bird poo, and then I 'cleverly' wiped it off, using the sleeve of my coat. After gagging for a few seconds, I got some baby wipes and cleaned off my coat, and her hand. Baby wipes can get everything out. Someone needs to tell Kelly Ripa that Tide-To-Go isn't where it's at.

See how her little right leg is tucked under her? She likes to sit like that now, and as a result, often falls off of toys like these. Silly Elizababy.