Thursday 19 July 2012

General Update

Generally speaking, Elizabeth is doing really well.  She is loving nursery and would probably be quite happy there full time.  The staff are fantastic and I'm so pleased that Elizabeth enjoys her time with them.  Her growth has slowed a bit now and some of the other children from my NCT antenatal group are catching up with her, with one or two being taller than her now.  She is still tall for her age though and continues to be in clothes one size up.
Talking and Signing
Elizabeth's speech is coming on quite well now.  She is 'behind' but then we expected that - she's learning three languages at once bless her!  She has quite a few very clear words now, both in English and Danish and she is constantly trying to say new things.  There are now several dozen words that are recognisable from her, although probably only by me.  Things like 'car' are pronounced 'dar' but that word coupled with the sign for 'car' tells me what she means.  I had a very clear 'toast' this morning when she was asking for more food, as well as the sign of course.  I estimate that Elizabeth now does about 30 to 40 signs.

Elizabeth now has 16 of her 20 baby teeth.  She just has the four molars that are at the very back to get but these aren't supposed to come through until she turns 2.  I'm hoping they don't come early as I would prefer to not have a teething toddler and a newborn baby to deal with at the same time.

I'm now in week 31 of my second pregnancy and I'm really starting to feel the strain.  My movements have slowed considerably over the past few weeks and sleep is starting to become difficult.  I can tell that the baby is getting pretty big now as I usually only feel kicks, jabs and foot movements, rather than squirms like the whole baby is rolling over.  I constantly have (what I assume is) a foot right up under my right ribs which means that I can't slouch.  I guess that's a good thing but sometimes I don't want to sit straight!  For this reason, driving is starting to become uncomfortable so I'm going to look into getting some sort of support pillow to help push my stomach out, keeping me upright and the pressure of the baby off my ribs and stomach.

I'm seeing the midwife next week for my 32-week check.  Hopefully the next few weeks will go by as quickly as the first 7 months have.

Friday 6 July 2012

Long Weekend Away - Part 2: Denmark

So straight from our trip to Sweden, we went down to the summerhouse in Nysted, Denmark to visit Inger (Farmor - Grandma for those English readers) and Bruno.  The drive was one we have done many times, only this time I did some of the driving.  Very scary!  I did like driving the Touran though.

We had a pretty chilled first night in Nysted, commencing with a lovely dinner prepared by Inger.  I was exhausted so made my way to bed fairly early but I love that I feel I can do that. 

The following day was Monday, our only full day with Inger and Bruno and we had a lazy morning then made our way over to Knuthenborg Safari Park. (Their website does have an English section if you click on the flag at the top but it mainly tells you how to get there and the prices.  For images, stick with the Danish site)  We arrived before lunch and were greeted with goats and donkeys roaming free.  This was a section of the park that was open for us to walk around and interact with the animals so we took the opportunity to get E out of the car.  We were unsure how she would feel about being kept in the car while we drove around trying to spot animals through trees so any breaks we could get were most welcome.  Of course, Elizabeth loved it.  She pretty much ran at the goats but they were a bit faster than her!  We then went over to see the donkeys and they were more than happy to let Elizabeth hug and stroke them.  She was thoroughly enjoying herself and didn't want to head back to the car.

Once back in the car, we went to find the tigers as it was feeding time at their enclosure.  This time Elizabeth was more interested in the other children that were peering through the window at the tiger than the animal itself but it was still interesting to see the tiger so close.  It was then lunchtime for us so we headed off for food and just managed to dodge the rain shower.  I hate rain.

After lunch we drove around the park, visiting various enclosures including the wolves where we got to see one of the cubs.  It was a little fluff ball and so very cute!  We could see the adult wolves at the edge of the enclosure, waiting for food as there was a demonstration going on whilst we were in there.  We continued our journey round the park and went into the tiger enclosure near the end.  We were lucky enough to find one of them laying on the top of a huge tree stump, right by the road!  We were able to get quite close and were then lucky again to see two more round the corner.  Amazing, beautiful animals.

Lastly, we went to see the monkeys.  We were actually stopping for ice cream (in the rain) and had good timing as the bus that takes you through the monkey enclosure was leaving shortly after we arrived.  It was a quick 2 minute trip but E loved it!  We were given some little treats to feed the monkeys and from inside the bus, you can put the food down shoots so the monkeys can pick the food out of trays that line the outside edge.  It was funny watching the monkeys waiting with their hands at the bottom of the shoots, clearly very experienced with this sort of bribery.  Seeing them close up was incredible and I thought E might freak out a little.  She was actually the complete opposite and would probably have joined the monkeys outside given half a chance.

When the time to leave Nysted on the Tuesday came, we took a little walk around the town itself before saying goodbye to Inger (Bruno had already left for work).  We had an easy car journey up to the airport but the airport experience itself could've been better.  I won't bore you with the details but by the time we boarded the plane, we were almost the last passengers on to a very full flight.  Frans and I were going to have to sit apart but thankfully we had a wonderful air steward who politely asked someone to move so that we could sit together.  No only that but we had three seats, making the trip much more bearable as E isn't happy just sitting on our laps the whole time, not any more.  There was a little girl sat in front of us who did a great job of entertaining Elizabeth so a potentially stressful flight turned into a pretty cheery one.

That's our last trip before baby number 2 arrives.  I have a feeling that our next trip abroad may not be so smooth.

Thursday 5 July 2012

Long Weekend Away - Part 1: Sweden

A while ago, we spoke with Frans' siblings about doing a weekend break in Sweden. This would be just the siblings and their families, making us 12 people. We immediately loved the idea and Laura (F's sister) set about finding somewhere for us all to stay.  She did a fabulous job and found us this place (unfortunately the website is all in Swedish and doesn't really show you the property very well but I have a few photos coming up).  We also decided that as this would be our last trip out Denmark way before the baby, it would be a good opportunity for us to visit F's mum as well so we arranged to stay with Inger and Bruno down at the summer house in Nysted. This meant 2 nights in Sweden and 2 nights in Denmark before going home.

The closer it got to our Sweden trip, the more we were looking forward to going away.  We ended up booking flights with good ol' EasyJet, taking us into Copenhagen airport.  It was too awkward and inconvenient to fly into Malmö in Sweden, although I was a little disappointed that this meant E wouldn't get a Swedish stamp in her passport. I've always loved the passport stamps and wish all countries still did it every time you flew.  I'm just a sentimental sucker I guess and E is building up quite a collection now!

Again we hired a car through an independent online company, all the time praying it wasn't with Budget again - our experience in Northern Ireland was that rubbish. So when the confirmation came through, guess who we had booked with - Budget! It actually turned out to be a good thing as we got a car upgrade, additional driver and child car seat for less than the cost of the upgrade.  Well done Budget for redeeming yourself! The desk guy was pleasant and efficient, the directions to the car were clear and straightforward and the whole transaction was done in a few minutes.  Both Frans and myself were far more excited than we should've been about getting to our car - we'd been upgraded to a VW Touran and we've been talking about what we were going to replace our Passat estate with when it finally bites the bullet.  The Touran, aka 'dad-mobile', is on our list so we had been given the perfect opportunity to try one out.

So off we go to Sweden, over the ridiculously expensive bridge and heading towards Lund where we had arranged to meet Laura and co for lunch.  The weather was looking good and we were ready for a stay in the Swedish countryside.  It was lovely to have a little stop in Lund although we had some fun trying to park.  I think we went into a taxi-only zone twice before we realised that we weren't supposed to be there.  Oops!  Lunch was lovely and we then had a quick stop at a supermarket to purchase supplies.  This should've been easy but both Frans and I were tired and we had a little girl who was misbehaving due to being tired herself.  I don't wish to experience that sort of shopping trip ever again but I'm sure it'll happen frequently.  Suffice to say that it was lucky we all made it out without killing each other.

When we eventually got to the lovely cottage in the woods, it was clear that Elizabeth was going to have a fantastic weekend.  Thankfully the weather held out and E spent as much time as possible outside with her cousins, aunts and uncles.  She was in her element!  It was wonderful to see her playing and being at ease with everyone as she hasn't seen these people since last December when we visited Denmark to celebrate E's first birthday.  Watching her, you wouldn't think that she didn't really know these people.  I loved that we all ate together outside and spent the evenings round the campfire.  I did NOT love the midges though.  Unfortunately that first night was rather disturbed for us as E kept waking.  The next morning I discovered that her last incisor tooth had broken through - at least that's it now until the big molars next year.

On the Saturday, our second day, we decided to take a group trip to the beach.  I hate sand and Elizabeth wasn't too sure about it either at first.  Everyone had a great time playing games despite the cool temperature and slight wind but it was soon time to head back for lunch.  That's where the real fun began!  We were following Kris & Dwight's sat nav on their phone but we had to turn around a few times and go a different way.  I decided to fire up our far superior sat nav just in case - good ol' Google Maps!  At almost every turn I would say to Frans 'ours says to go a different way.  We should follows ours and race them back to the cottage!' but to no avail.  Then, when Dwight turned down a very narrow track that looked a bit dubious, I tried again.  'Go on babe, go straight ahead.  We'll see who gets back first!' and this time Frans got a big grin on his face and went for it!  What really made me chuckle is that Laura, in the third car, followed us instead of Dwight!  We raced back - and by 'race' I mean drove at a sensible speed with no harsh breaking or accelerating at all - and pulled up at the cottage first.  We had won our race that no one knew we were in!  We waited for our lead car to arrive but it didn't come.  Uh oh.  What had we done?  We had left them stranded somewhere.  Were they OK?  Eventually they showed up, laughing and with stories about the 'roads' they'd been taken down and the circles they were driving in.

Oh, it was such a great weekend and I didn't want to leave.  Sunday came around all too quickly.  Although we did take a quick trip to Degeberga for a little walk by a waterfall, our trip to Sweden was over and we had to go back to Denmark, back over the ridiculously expensive bridge and head down to Nysted and the summerhouse.

Photos  (they weren't all taken by me though... )

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Baby Carriers

When we were expecting Elizabeth, we spent a lot of time investigating ways of taking her out with us without having to rely on the buggy.  We found that there were so many different types and makes of carriers, making it difficult for us to know where to start.  After much research, we decided that we liked the concept of a wrap and eventually settled on the Kari Me.  We both loved it but I found that as Elizabeth got bigger, I struggled to carry her in it.  Frans didn't seem to have the same problem and would often opt to carry E in the wrap and she really enjoyed being in it.  We now use the big solid-framed back carrier although E prefers to walk everywhere these days.

So knowing the difficulties I had with the Kari Me, I mentioned to Frans some time ago that I would like to investigate other options for a baby carrier so that I could also 'feel the freedom' of using a baby carrier.  I also think I'm going to need something other than the buggy for the baby when it comes to walking the dog with two children.  My plan is to have the baby in the carrier and E in the buggy if necessary but I don't really want to take the buggy out unless i have to.  Time will tell with that I think.

So on a recent trip to Waddesdon Manor, I bumped into a Mum carrying her baby in an ErgoBaby.  I took the opportunity to quiz her about it and that gave me the kickstart I needed to look into baby carriers in general.  I've found that there are even more options now than there were two years ago but this time I'm starting knowing that I want a more solid carrier, not a wrap or sling style one.  Frans plans on using the Kari Me again so the new carrier should be something that I like and find comfortable, although the option of Frans using it if he wants to would be good.  Most of the carriers I've looked at are unisex and come in muted colours so there shouldn't be any problems there.

I've heard good things about the Baby Björn so that was a good starting point for me.  I quickly rejected it though as I would like to have a carrier that can be turned onto my back as the baby gets bigger, meaning that next summer we can go for long walks as a family with both myself and Frans carrying a child on our backs (although E will probably want to walk most of the time, knowing her!)  I liked the way the Baby Björn fitted the body and seemed to be made like a good backpack is, so that it sits comfortably and you don't really notice it's there.  This is so important to me as I have both a weakness in my lower back and one knee due to past injuries.  The carrier I choose has to be comfortable to wear for long periods.

Next, I looked at the ErgoBaby.  From the images, it doesn't seem to have the same kind of support that the Baby Björn offers but I do think I'd like to try one on.  It can be used as both a front and back carrier although I don't like that you have to buy an insert for your newborn baby.  It's adding all these little accessories that cause prices to creep up.

I then sort of fell in love with the Stokke MyCarrier.  There were various other carriers that I looked at but the three I've mentioned were the most note-worthy.  The Stokke MyCarrier just seems to be exactly what I want and the few reviews I've read (for the MyCarrier is very new to the market) all say that it's great.  The biggest negatives are that it is a bit bulkier than some other carriers and that it can't be packed away easily into a bag as it doesn't fold up (or screw up) like a wrap or sling would.  The main positives are that it's made from organic textiles and no nasty chemicals have been used, it's machine washable, comfortable to wear and can be used for older toddlers.  On paper it certainly ticks all my boxes and once I no longer have a bump, I shall be going to test out both the ErgoBaby and the MyCarrier.

I'm very excited - roll on September!