Friday, 29 April 2011

Charlotte Celebrates

Charlotte sings in celebration of the nuptials of her future in-laws.

Celebrating the Royal Wedding

Despite all of us being under the weather, we made it to our local pub to join in the festivities. Charlotte donned her Union Jack onesie:

And I donned my Union Jack hat:

We ordered "full English breakfasts":

Check out that slab butter!!

We all had a great time, but are still not feeling our best:

We are looking forward to spending the afternoon at home. If we're feeling up to it, we've been invited to a garden party at the home of another DC expat later in the day.

Get Your Fascinators Ready!

Since I failed to put together a post about the royal wedding festivities, I want to refer you to my friend Naina's blog: MisFitz Abroad. She's done a very thorough post about what London is like during this exciting time!

We were planning on heading out to one of the parks broadcasting the festivities on a big screen, but as we are all sick, the plans have sadly been aborted. Alas, I will have to wait on wearing my first fascinator.

(The picture above was taken at a children's toy store not far from our house. No one is immune to the hype!)

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,
As I tended to my sick daughter into the wee small hours of this morning, I couldn't help but think that you must have done the same thing for me. In fact, you must have done it innumerable times between my birth and adulthood. It was such a comfort to me as I sang lullabyes to Charlotte and nursed her over and over again through out the night, to think that at one point, you did this for me. Thank you, mom.

"I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it." -Mae West

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Happy Four Months, Charlie!

Our Little Loveday is four months old today. Here is a quick list of what she is like these days:
  • She has started to enjoy having books read to her. She'll sit quietly and look at all of the pictures for quite a long time.
  • She has gotten good with using her hands. Just yesterday as she was playing on the ground, she got a stuffed toy laying next to her up onto her chest! Then she (unsuccessfully) tried to eat it.
  • She loves being sung to and will often coo along. She is also extremely vocal in church because of all the music!
  • We have been bad about giving her enough tummy time, so she hasn't rolled over yet, but she is SO CLOSE!
  • She is doing well in daycare and is bonding with her primary caretaker, Grace.
  • She currently has her first cold, but is managing to smile through it.
  • They start infants on solids as early as four months here in the UK, but we will probably wait until she shows some interest. She seems to be getting plenty fat of nutrition from breast milk for the time being.
  • Speaking of being well-fed, she is still wearing many of her 3-6 month size clothes, but a growing number of them are 6 months! Her cloth diapers add some bulk, but she is also just getting big!
  • She has no interest in her pacifier but seems to want to put just about anything else (including her thumb!) in her mouth.
  • She just might be the sweetest baby in the world.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Happy Easter!

Jason, Charlotte, and I went to the vigil Mass and Easter Sunday Mass at our new parish and then to dinner at the (temporary) home of our new friends Naina and Josh. (They also just moved to London and were smart enough to rent a furnished apartment while they wait for their furniture to arrive!)

Though we failed to get adorable shots of Charlotte in her Easter outfit with a lovely springtime background, we did manage to snap a few in the church:

They're not the greatest, but they'll have to do!

Here is a shot of us before dinner with Josh and Naina:

Unfortunately, Charlotte was under the weather all day, so we didn't stay too late. Home was a short bus and tube ride away:

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Venn Street Market

Jason, Charlotte, and I went on a walk this morning and stumbled upon the Venn Street Market a mere ten minute walk from our flat.

They had everything from colorful spring flowers:

to beautiful desserts puddings:

to Spanish meats:

to scrumptious cheeses:

to tasty olives and other tasty bits:

It is held right near our church whose steeple is pictured in the background:

We shared a delicious serving of fresh paella:

The market is only held one weekend a month but we are definitely putting it on the calendar diary for next month!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Charlotte and her Pappi

These two are so sweet together:

They love seeing each other when Pappi comes home after work:

Walking Charlotte in the common was Jason's "happy place" in the hectic months before we moved. Now it seems to be Charlotte's "happy place" too!

These two look more and more alike every day:

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Charlotte's Report Card

Charlotte's nursery provides us with a daily summary of her activities, which as you can see below are mostly limited to intake and output of milk, with the occasional nap.

My favorite thing about these cards is that they tell us how the staff (and, in particular, her caretaker, Grace) engaged her through different activities during the day.

"Playing with her friends" may be a somewhat generous description of what actually went on, but I like knowing she is with the other babies. I'm also glad that she got some time outside in the garden: we're having such a tremendous spring that it would be a shame if she were stuck inside all day!

Speaking of our tremendous spring, after work yesterday I walked the opposite direction from our flat toward Clapham Common, where Bethie and Charlotte were waiting for me. We had no plans or agenda (in fact, I met them at the park because Bethie sent me a text when I was on the train suggesting I meet them there), and we passed a lovely part of an hour watching the sun sink below the treetops. We even had out first "run-into" since we've been here: our new friend, Miranda, was on her way to the neighbourhood Easter fair and just happened to pass by our park bench.

Charlotte and her best friend Abby

These videos were taken the day before we left DC (over three weeks ago now!). Abby had just learned to crawl and decided to crawl over to visit with Charlotte. Too cute!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

What we've been up to . . .

Here's what we've been up to while our internet has been down:

Fish and chips at our pub:

Charlotte and I signed up for "Baby Play" at our local Gymboree. We both love it! Here is a pic I quickly snapped of Charlotte while we were in class:

A trip to the Portrait Gallery:

Many trips to Clapham Common, our local park:

And loads of hanging around being cute:

Now that our internet is up, we will be posting much more often!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

An Update

Here I sit in an internet cafe catching up on emailing and blogging and life in general. We are without internet in the house until Tuesday which makes emailing, blogging and life in general a bit more difficult. The good news is that I'll have lots of new pics to share once our household is back online!!

Luckily things have slowed down quite a bit in our lives. Work is going well for Jason, Charlotte has started two days a week at a local nursery and I finally have some time to myself to catch up on life and work on getting my career started over here. In addition to brushing up on my audition pieces, I will need to brush up on "I Know that my Redeemer Liveth" as I will be singing it at our local church for Easter! I approached the music director after Mass last Sunday and offered my services (for free as it is our parish church) and that was that! I'm hoping that he might be a good contact moving forward. The church itself is quite lovely:

In other career related news, I will be meeting with a producer this afternoon whom I worked with a number of times while we were in DC. He is American but has lived in London for the last twenty years or so. I'm hoping he will be a good contact here. I will also be tapping my other contacts with London connections to ask for recommendations. I'd love to get singing here in London!

We have also been more social than we expected to be only two weeks in. I've met with a few mums (yes, mums) here and have a few more mummy lunch dates on the schedule. Charlotte and I have also begun to attend our local Gymboree which is helping us to meet other mums as well.

Last weekend was particularly social with a lunch date with a friend of mine who is studying at Cambridge and a dinner date with a new couple, Naina and Josh, that we met through a mutual friend. We have loads in common (we both just completed house renovations, Josh and Jason work in the same kind of law, we both have family in California and Seattle and we all moved from DC to London in the same week!) and were actually introduced by their friends Elizabeth and Jason. Weird. We're looking forward to seeing them again soon. I promise more posts (with pictures!) after we get our internet hooked up.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Bath Time!

When we first arrived in London (last week!), Charlotte was having a tough time getting to bed at a decent hour. A mommy friend I met through Netmums suggested developing more of a bedtime ritual might help. We started giving her a nightly bath (instead of a bath every few days at any given hour) and she loves it!

She smiles when she gets in the warm water and patiently lets us clean her. Once she is all clean, we let her play for a while. She flaps her arms and kicks her legs and has a great time.

Sometimes she looks like a dancing leprechaun:

After the bath she gets cuddled up into one of the many towels we were gifted. Last night happened to be a princess towel (thanks Mike!):

By the time we're done, she is nice and sleepy and ready to nurse and fall asleep. This is much improved from her first bath time experience which she screamed her way through:

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

We Got a Couch!

Most flats in London are offered furnished. This would be great if they had decent looking furniture, but most furnished flats (in our experience) seem to have cheap, outdated furniture. Our flat was offered furnished or unfurnished. After seeing the overstuffed, white leather couches they had in the living room, we were quick to ask for it unfurnished (aside from a bed, so we'd have something to sleep on!).

The day we arrived we headed out shopping and eventually found a lovely couch at John Lewis. It folds down to comfortably accommodate two sleeping adults (yes, we laid on it in the store) and makes for a stylish, modern couch when upright.

The fabric is a dark gray made up of small black and gray checks:

The best part of this couch, is that we no longer have to eat our meals on our bed!

The Baby Room

Charlotte and I went on a lovely walk past Clapham Common this morning to visit The Baby Room. After doing a bit of online research it looked to be one of the better nurseries in the area. It is about a twenty minute walk from our flat (and only one tube stop away).

We were greeted by a lovely woman who took us from room to room (each based on age - hence the name). All the caretakers were extremely nice and all the children were happily engaged in activities.

We started in the Blue Room where Charlotte would be until she turns 18 months. There is one other little one around her age, and he was happily engaged in a bouncy seat. The other little ones were playing with blocks on the floor together. (I absolutely love the social aspect of putting her in a nursery as opposed to having someone look after her alone at home.) There was one caretaker for every two babies, and there were probably only around six kids, so it didn't seem too hectic.

In this age group, the majority of the day is spent playing in the room or outside in the courtyard. They also go on little field trips to Clapham Common or to the library (once they are a bit older).

Charlotte would be assigned a specific caretaker with whom she would build a bond. At the end of every day that caretaker writes up a little report card letting us know about every meal, diaper changed and activity she engaged in. It is all very well thought out.

The Baby Room doesn't accept kids for half-days so we will enroll her for two days a week (perhaps Tuesdays and Thursdays) instead. That will give me time to hit the gym (I WILL fit into my old jeans again!) work on music and head to some auditions. Eventually, once I get some gigs lined up, we may have to reassess the schedule, but they seemed very flexible about letting us add/change days in the future. Luckily Jason now arrives home around 6:30 every night (as opposed to 9:00 at his last job!) so he can watch her if I have any evening rehearsals or performances.

Two days of childcare a week will give me some freedom while still giving me enough time at home with my sweet little baby girl. Sometimes I wish I had it in me to be a full-time mom but then I remember that it will be good for Charlotte to see her mom using her abilities and doing what she loves to do! It takes an amazing kind of person to be a stay-at-home parent and I am in awe of those of you who make it work. Truly. I've been staying home with Charlotte since we arrived in London (only a week ago!) and I am already a bit burned out. I know that having some help during the week will make me a better mom when I am with her.

The next step will be to submit our application. There is a space for her age group open but there won't be for long, so I'm going to walk the application back over tomorrow. She could start as soon as next week. This means I will need to start preparing my audition materials . . . ACK!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Happy (UK) Mother's Day!

We began the day with a sweet post-breakfast photo shoot:

We were having a lot of fun . . .

. . . until someone decided it would be more fun to eat her hands . . .

We then had a mama and baby photo shoot in the living room. We dressed Charlotte in a dress that we bought while on our honeymoon in Mexico. My friend Alli made her gorgeous sweater.

Bare white walls and bright morning light (and a talented photographer) made for some great photos!

Then we were off on an adventure in our new city. After quite a bit of walking, we enjoyed a lovely tea service complete with tea sandwiches and the most delicious scones (sufficiently slathered with clotted cream) I have ever had:

We all enjoyed our meals:

We then did quite a bit more walking (and a bit of shopping at Covent Garden) before heading to a lovely little Jesuit church for an evening Mass. It was a short walk from there to a tube station that took us home in no time.

It was a fantastic first mother's day. The best part, by far, was spending it with my two favorite people in the whole world:

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