Thursday, December 22, 2011

Visit to Santa

Last week we took Charlie to see Santa at one of the large department stores here, Selfridge's. To commemorate it, I have a variety of low quality photos to share with you on the blog! These include our picture with "Terrified Santa" up above. 

In an effort to skip the lines, I shopped around online and bought tickets. We had a designated appointment time during Brad's lunch hour and I thought we'd go, let Charlie talk to Santa for a few minutes and have time to grab some lunch.

Um, yeah, WRONG. When you book tickets to see Santa, at least at Selfridge's, you are there for an experience and you are not leaving until you have had one. Oh silly ignorant Kara (Stupid American!) thinking this would be time efficient and quick.

Little did I know that LOTS of people had our appointment time! Just because the appointment times were only 10 minutes apart online did not mean you got your own. We did end up standing in line, waiting our turn to go inside the experience as a group.

I'm just going to call it "the experience" because I have no idea what else to refer to it by. It was like a theme park ride without the roller coaster. 

We went into a couple of different rooms, each for about 10 or 15 minutes, where a character in costume would talk to all the kids and show them different funny things about the rooms. These included buttons that make funny noises (from Santa's workshop, natch) and fake penguins wearing costumes. 

I remember one character being an ice princess, or something like that, but I lost track after that. They all kind of looked the same to me. Elves, I guess? We were in some frozen, ice covered grotto. Father Christmas' Grotto.

Before we went in, we were warned not to take photos, upon penalty of ending up on the bad list. However, nobody seemed to pay this any mind, so we snapped a few too. The lighting was dim, though, so none of them really turned out. And Charlie appears to have orange hair in most of them. 

After a painfully long wait peppered with filler activities, like sending your Christmas wish down a special tube, we were finally welcomed in to see Santa and his #1 helper/picture taker. And I finally told Brad to put up his iPhone or it was going to end up down the Christmas wish tube too.

Santa was maybe 30, but gave a decent booming voice. He took plenty of time with each child, which explained the long wait. He even spent a few minutes talking to the one baby in our group, who was there with his mother and grandmother and couldn't have been more than 6 months old. I'm not sure why they were there.

When you sign up for tickets online, there is a form that asks you what the child's hobbies are, their pet's names and what they want for Christmas. So both the check-in people and Santa asked about Zoe and Bobo. I have to say, Bobo's name in an English accent: hil-arious. Try saying it, all proper like. See what I mean?

Anyways, these strange people asking about his dogs seemed to really confuse Charlie. And Santa was a bit scary, so he mostly got shy and snuggled into my shoulder. But I was proud of him - he did manage to eke out his request for a fire truck, which he has been asking for consistently for 6 weeks.

We also managed to get Charlie in Santa's general vicinity for a photo by letting him sit in Brad's lap. After the picture was snapped, the head elf told Santa he looked like he was about to sneeze in the photo! Hmmm, not really. Does that look like sneezing to you?

It might be my favorite Santa photo, even above the one last year where Charlie looks absolutely terrified, just because Santa is so funny in it. I didn't even really look at it when we bought it. I handed it to Brad to scan at the office. There was no option at the check out to buy a digital file of the photo. Kind of a bummer.

After our photo, we walked out and had to wait in line for our photo and a person in a very large snowman outfit scared Charlie to death. I think Charlie was pretty happy to leave his Santa experience after that. Just toooo scary!

The whole thing took over an hour, so there was no time for lunch with Brad. Charlie and I ended up buying some McDonalds at the Bond street tube station. It was my first McD's visit since getting here. I note the following:
  • All the calories are up there on the menu board, which was kind of handy, but I mostly ignored because I was famished and really just did not care how many calories my McChicken had
  • The McChicken actually tasted like a chicken breast
  • They have not changed the milkshake recipe here like they have back at home, so it was yummy instead of too sweet
  • They had little mozzarella cheese bites to dip in marinara sauce on their holiday menu and Charlie thought that was awesome
So that was it. A big trip to Selfridge's. Charlie really hates Selfridge's because the two times he's been there, it's been extremely boring. For him. Not much of a shopper. In fact, he started to cry when we first walked in, thinking we were there to shop. We finally convinced him that that's where they keep Santa if he'll just be patient for 2 seconds!

I'll keep you all posted if Santa comes through on the fire truck. Frankly, he looks too terrified in the photo not to. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Good Morning!

Here is what happens when you leave Charlie alone for a few minutes in the kitchen! So far this week there has been liquid laundry detergent and Aunt Jemima on the kitchen floor! Housekeeping is loving us. :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Meet Bad Guy

Some time during the flight over from the states, Person acquired a nemesis. A blond haired nemesis.

Since Charlie likes Person so much, I picked up a few more Playmobil characters for him to unwrap and play with on the plane when we flew to England. Ironically, I think Bad Guy came with some police gear and is a cop.

I have no idea where Charlie even picked up the concept of the bad guy, but now Bad Guy holds just as significant a presence in our lives as Person. He must be located before bed time, he has to take a bath, etc.

Incidentally, on Sunday we were shopping (aka *trying to shop*) on Oxford Street and Regent Street and decided to take Charlie to Hamley's, which is a 6 story toy store. On a weekend right before Christmas. Yeah, brilliant.

Anyways, we got to one of the floors, I don't remember which, and they had a HUGE collection of Playmobil stuff. Brad was carrying Charlie and his eyes got very wide and he said, in complete awe, "Persons!".... so very many persons.

I guess he didn't see any with blond hair because I didn't hear him exclaim about all the bad guys.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

London Eye

the London Eye at twilight a few weeks ago

Yesterday we went and rode the largest Ferris wheel in Europe - the London Eye. My family bought us tickets to visit the Eye and the London Aquarium as a Christmas gift, which was so nice. These were two attractions that were very appealing to us, but kind of on the pricey side. I don't know if we would have sprung for tickets for ourselves, which made it a real treat.

It's hard to tell from the photos, but this thing is HUGE. I've heard it's London's answer to the Eiffel Tower. It is located on the South bank of the Thames and was pretty easy for us to get to since our tube line stops right by it.

Wikipedia tells me the Eye is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the UK. And you can really tell - they are set up to process a ton of people. Since it was a Saturday during the holidays, it was pretty crowded, but since it was 40 degrees, not terribly crowded. I can only imagine what a zoo it is during the summer. Or what it will be like during the Olympics. Eek.

Charlie fell asleep in his stroller while we were walking around looking for the ticket office. We only had a 10 or 15 minute wait to pick up our tickets and he slept the whole time. That is so sad, that these days 15 minutes is a huge nap for him. Anyways.

By the time we got in line for the Eye, we had to get him out and fold up the stroller. He laid his head down on Brad's shoulder while we waited in line.
Quit taking my picture Mom

I was worried about the grumpies, but as soon as he saw the Ferris wheel pods (??) going by, he was excited. He would yell out Fly Away! I guess they looked like little planes taking off? I'm not sure, but it was a very cute Fly Away.

This is what they look like:
As soon as Charlie realized he had woken up, he was hungry. Fortunately I'd already had a moment of mommy-genius and purchased a ham sandwich, brownie and water for Charlie to eat when he woke up. We cracked that stuff open as soon as we were in our pod for the ride and Charlie snacked the whole time and was very happy. 
Don't you love that hat? My mom picked it out for him. It's the first hat he's ever willingly worn.

The Eye is 443 feet tall. This provides an excellent view, given that London and the surrounding areas are pretty flat. Since it was early afternoon, the sun was already well towards setting the West (don't even get me started on how early the sun sets here), which meant Big Ben and Parliament were hard to catch on camera. This was the best we got:

Everything to the East, South and North, though, was lovely....

Charlie's favorite part was watching the trains speed in and out of Waterloo station....

He also liked watching all the boats on Thames... doesn't that water look yummy??
And here are all of us, posing individually because getting a shot all together is, in Charlie's words, Toooo Haaaarrrrddddd....
Doing his best Tom Cruise

After a week of being sick, it was nice to go do something fun and get out of the apartment for a while. There was a German Christmas market along the river that we walked by briefly, mostly because I am on the hunt for wooden Christmas ornaments and decor similar to what my mom and Aunt have from when my Aunt lived in Germany. I scored some cute stuff and we were all ready for a nap after that.

The tickets also include a visit to the Aquarium some time in the next month and I think we're going to go next weekend. I *love* aquariums and I wanted to have plenty of time to look at everything. I think Charlie will get a kick out of it too.

Thank you family for such a memorable Christmas gift! We had an amazing time!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How We're Doing

We are sick. And by "we" I mean Brad and me, though Charlie might be sick too and just not showing it too much. Sightseeing obviously came to an abrupt screeching halt. Actually any major activity other than working for Brad and keeping Charlie busy for me stopped this week.

Tomorrow it will have been one week since I started feeling bad and I'm just almost feeling better, though not 100%. It's been a tough illness to shake. Brad and I both went to see a private doctor this week to get antibiotics. Yay for the zpack! I was diagnosed with walking pneumonia and Brad with his asthma-y lungs isn't doing any walking - just pneumonia, though it is improving.

The timing stinks, though, because we had to miss Brad's office Christmas party and I'd been planning my outfit for weeks. I need to find somewhere to wear this cute dress I found, and there are practically no holiday parties going on in the states anymore. Such a bummer. We're keeping it low key this weekend so Brad is rested to get back to work on Monday.

We did make it out for a while today to go the London Eye, the largest Ferris wheel in Europe, though! My family sent tickets as a special Christmas treat and we had a blast. It's definitely getting its own post because we took a ton of pictures.

We're getting ready to spend Christmas here, just our little family. We bought a tree last weekend and had it delivered. It's much bigger than I thought we would get - it's a 6 footer. Now I'm trying to decorate it without any of our decorations!

I made some garland out of popcorn and cranberries. We put lights on it. Bows, paper snowflakes.... yeah, after that I'm out of ideas. I'm going to buy a couple meters (not yards!) of fabric to bunch under there as an impromptu skirt, then take the fabric home and do something else with it.

I'm trying to plan Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals. Probably go out for one and do the other at home. I have very limited supplies in this kitchen, so I'm either going to raid Kristen's kitchen while she's out of town (hi Kristen!) or hit up a kitchen supply store.

My dad is helping me find some good recipes. While we are low on kitchen equipment, I think I can find just about any type of meat or fish or ingredient you can think of. There's a fantastic butcher nearby who has wild game and everything. Oh the possibilities!

We're trying to decide what to get Charlie for Christmas this year. We are going to see Santa at Selfridge's department store this Wednesday and it will be interesting to hear what he tells Santa he wants - if anything. He freaked out last year, but seems to get who Santa is this year. Except that everyone here keeps calling him Father Christmas!

Thanks to those of you who emailed me book ideas for Charlie! I was able to get some, though some of the American authored books cost twice as much here, so I went with some British books too. He's enjoying the Judith Kerr books, especially Mog the Cat. I just ordered Mog's Christmas. I'll always be able to remember which of his books we bought here since they call their moms MUMMY! ha

Charlie is still having a rough time sleeping and has had some night terrors. He won't nap and is basically exhausted. Night-mare. He was up 3 times last night. We've finally just come to the conclusion that he hates his room here and just doesn't feel settled. He doesn't want to go in his room at all, refuses to during the day and fights it at night. It doesn't help that he can get out of his crib. He loves his room at home and I hope hope hope he falls back into his routine when we get back.

I guess that's about all that's going on here! It got VERY painfully cold here this past week and so we are going to buy warmer coats tomorrow. I want something puffy with down in it. It's so cold it hurts to be outside at night. My Texas-raised blood can't take it!

Hope you all have a good weekend!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Winter Wonderland

I am so behind on blogging. I have about 5 posts floating around in my head, but unfortunately also have about 5 different kiddie Christmas specials downloaded on my laptop, so Charlie's been hogging it. Also see earlier posts re: no napping and not wanting to go to bed. I finally have things to blog about and can't get any blogging done! Oh cruel irony!

But anyways. Each year at Christmas here in London, there is a carnival called Winter Wonderland that is put on in Hyde Park. It's a pretty major carnival - almost small amusement park sized. And really cuted up; reminds me a bit of Busch Gardens.

Charlie got to go to Winter Wonderland twice last weekend. Brad took him on Saturday morning while giving me a much needed break. Then I was so jealous I missed it, we all went back on Sunday.

There were a bunch of kiddie rides, all of which Charlie enjoyed. He wants to pick out his vehicle and then pretend to drive it. He got to do an airplane, motorcycle, double decker bus and Coca Cola truck. In other words, he was hot stuff.

There was a Santa that I thought we could go see, but by the time I checked it, the line was insanely long. So we blew it off. Here he is Father Christmas and you visit him in his grotto. I'm not sure about the elves, but for some reason "Santa's helpers" are dressed up as Christmas puddings around the grotto. Basically a big brown ball wearing a Santa hat. I'll just let you draw your own conclusion about what that looks like when you're not used to it.

On Saturday, Charlie also got to ride the big ferris wheel with Daddy while enjoying an excessively large lollipop. Between this and the binky, our future pediatric dentist is very disappointed in us.

From the photos, I can't tell if Charlie really knew he was in a ferris wheel, or if it was just a seat from which to enjoy a giant lollipop. Now when he asks me to ride a ferris wheel, is he really asking for a lollipop?? Not sure.

There was all kinds of yummy fair food from all over the world. We had some bratwurst and weinerschnitzel on a bun. About every 10 feet was a stand selling Belgian waffles covered in nutella. That is a huge thing here - I see someone selling it every time we are somewhere with street food. The British are serious about their nutella. Very popular in crepes, as well.

After we ate and it was clear Charlie was getting tired, we decided to throw all our tickets at a ride all 3 of us could ride. I don't know how to explain it, so here's a picture:

I remember there was an indoor version of this at Six Flags when I used to go with my dad as a kid. Anyways, I didn't recall it being that fast and there was a booth with a DJ playing music while you road, so I thought it would be fun.

To summarize, it was VERY fast, the DJ would only let about 15 seconds of any song play before yelling out something in German and switching songs, and we were both shocked Charlie wasn't scared. He laughed the whole time, except when they had to stop the ride to let a much older girl off (wimp). Then he just got impatient for it to start up again. I think we have a roller coaster fan on our hands! 

Since I almost never include pictures of us, here is some proof we were actually there, watching over our child and buying him tickets and fried food and stuff. I like to call this smile my "Brad quit catching me off guard with your camera" smile. Smirk?

Last night Brad and I had a babysitter and headed back to Winter Wonderland to enjoy it adult-style. We found out that we are not very carnival-compatible. I wanted to ride scary rides and Brad wanted to check out the various bars and live music. By live music, I mean these strange one person music shows in each of the larger pop up bars.

In the end, I was only able to talk him into one scary ride before they shut the place down. Probably not very nice to do to someone with a fear of heights. It was SO FUN though! And here in a few years I think Charlie will ride all the roller coasters I can handle. And then some. :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Canal Cruise and Camden Lock Market

The weather was nice last Sunday so we decided to take a water bus to Camden Lock Market. We live near an area in London called Little Venice, which has a canal running through it. There are house  boats along the banks, a boat that has a puppet theatre in it and you can take different boats to the zoo and up to Camden Lock Market. Since it's winter, we were limited to the Water Taxi, which runs year round. 

Brad and I were pretty tired, we'd gone out the night before to Soho for tapas and met a really nice couple from Pennsylvania while we were in line for a table. Yes, a line. Because the restaurants in Soho are so tiny (they could rename it So-Small! hardy har) all of them have lines forming outside to wait for a table. Once you are in the portion of line that's inside, you can order drinks and appetizers and the time passed pretty quickly. 

It's a quirky area of town, Soho is. I started keeping count of the drag queens, bachelorette parties and pairs of Louboutins that passed by. It's also the first area of town I haven't felt completely safe in. It's a little gritty and a girl two tables down from us had her purse stolen right off the back of her chair. We were sitting outside and were approached for change every 10 minutes or so.  I was glad I didn't bring a handbag or anything valuable. 

Anyways, we got drinks with the nice couple after dinner and stayed out way too late. Sarah shares my love of design blogs and good food and wine. So much to talk about. So the next morning required emergency take away lattes for 2 please. 

Charlie was so excited about riding a boat, but he kept talking about the boat going fast, so was probably a bit disappointed once we got going. It's a slow ride and passes a number of beautiful homes and pretty areas of town. Brad brought his fancy pants camera and took a bunch of shots along the way.

The market is huge, both indoors and out. We arrived at lunch time and were pretty hungry. There was so much to pick from, it's impossible not to have remorse over what you ordered when you pass other food stalls. Dim Sum, Indian, Moroccan, Greek, African, you name it. A giant whole pig turning on a spit - smelled heavenly. Also so many sweets and pastries and mulled wine and cider. I feel hungry just typing about it.

We had some falafal and other greek type yummies and the most incredible chicken and plantains from a Jamaican stall. I got some apple and cinnamon - basically cider without the alcohol. Just couldn't do the real stuff after our late night.

After we ate, we walked around and checked out the stalls with merchandise. Luggage, carpets, fabric, clothing, antiques, junk, collectibles - just about anything you could ask for or dream up. It was challenging to shop with Charlie, who kept getting out of his stroller and grabbing things. I love the kid, but it would be nice to go without him some time.

One of the buildings there used to be stables, so there were these large iron horse statues everywhere. We tried to get Charlie to sit on one but he screamed his head off and was too scared. Brad jumped up there instead.

Charlie has become obsessed with motorcycles and scooters (the motorized kind) since we got here. There are always a few parked outside our building. We were walking around and he suddenly yelled at me to STOP and TURN AROUND.

He jumped out of the stroller and hopped on this antique Vespa. He stayed there for 20 minutes. The stall had the strangest "art" and was kind of boring, so 20 minutes was about all we could take.

Eventually Charlie fell asleep in his stroller, but not before we bought him a very cute sweatshirt from a little business, Wee Clothing, that hand sews these cute felt designs on kids' clothes. We got Charlie a sweatshirt with a double decker bus since he is our seasoned public transportation expert.

I just noticed that we even made the fan page for Wee Clothing! The owner took our picture after we put the sweatshirt on Charlie. Check us out! We really are fans, I want to get Charlie a couple more things. The designs are so cute and the sweatshirt has held up beautifully in the wash.
Getting home was pretty much a nightmare. Instead of booking a round trip on the water bus, we decided we'd take the tube home. Mistake. There were a number of lines and stations down for track maintenance and we had to switch twice and go up and down all these stairs and I don't even want to think how much longer it took us.

We were so happy to get home! But of course, 30 minute nap in his stroller was the only napping Charlie was going to do that day. Brad and I had to switch off for a little shut eye for ourselves.

Hopefully we can make it back at some point, but there are some other area markets we want to go to as well. I hope the food is this good everywhere!

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Very Non Thanksgiving

Well, after yesterday, I can say that there is nothing that makes you more grateful for your family and friends than missing the heck out of them! I feel very fortunate that we are getting this time here in London, but yesterday was HARD. I was really missing my family, who were all together at my parent's house in McKinney. We did get to do some video chatting, though, and that cheered me up immensely.

It was kind of a strange day. Since I'm trying to get a few toys around here for Charlie to play with, I decided we would hit up this kid's consignment shop in Notting Hill that someone told me had lots of toys. As a bonus, Kristen showed me the most incredible cupcake shop there, called Hummingbird, and I thought we could get some of those.

The best way to get there is the bus since the tube route is so convoluted, so I got it all figured out on my computer, which bus to take, which stop, etc.

Then we walked over and got on the bus going the wrong direction! Yes folks, I am bus-stupid. Advanced college degrees and certifications have no bearing on my ability to decipher the bus system here. Not my proudest moment.

Fortunately it took me a while to figure it out and we had passed several shady areas and landed in a somewhat cute high street. We got off the bus to take the one going in the other direction and I looked around and thought we'll just hang out here!

I asked Charlie what he wanted for lunch and he said a cheeseburger. What an American request on Thanksgiving! We went to this place called Gourmet Burger Bar, which is exactly as it sounds, and had burgers, fries and a chocolate milkshake.

There were several charity shops around, pretty light on toys, but we did manage to score a giant bag of Mega Blocks, a puzzle and some books. The puzzle and two of the books are Postman Pat, which my mother-in-law Sue used to buy here for my sister-in-law Clare. Did you catch that? Anyways, it's a very British character.

Some woman stopped me in the store and pointed to the Mega Blocks and asked if I knew what I was buying because they go everywhere. Isn't that funny? Yes, they are toys and he is two so things do tend to go everywhere!

I also found a DVD of Christmas Vacation, which I plan to watch this weekend. That's a Crain family Thanksgiving tradition - time to bust out some of Chevy Chase's best work.

On the bus on the way back I noticed that Charlie's sippy cup had leaked all over my bag and soaked my iPhone. It is finally powering up but the screen is very dark - I can barely see the buttons. Such a bummer - I hope it will finish drying out and start working again!!

When we got home I attempted to make a reservation for a Thanksgiving dinner, since Brad said he could leave the office at 6. There were two restaurants nearby doing the whole turkey thing, but sadly both were booked solid. We ended up going out for some awesome Italian food. Fresh pasta and gnocchi and foccacia and prosciutto. And wine. Ok and gelato.

We will get our turkey fix on Saturday night. We've been invited to a dinner party to celebrate Thanksgiving. I'm making green bean bundles for 23 people!! That's a lot of bacon and butter. The dinner is kids-free, which is awesome, this mama needs a break and Charlie has grown quite fond of his babysitter here.

Anyways, thought I was past the hard stuff until my iPad told me the A&M score this morning and I felt sick to my stomach. What an annoying, horrible loss. UGH. Do we need to switch out coaching staff at half time??? Geez. My dad already had his A&M shirt on when we talked yesterday and I bet he yelled his head off at the TV!

Arkansas has a big game tonight against LSU. Go Hogs! Please win and perk up my week!!!

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go waddle off all the Italian food I ate last night and head towards a bus stop going in the CORRECT direction. lol

Monday, November 21, 2011

Charlie's New Ride

Thank you everyone who has sent me messages and comments on the transitional problems we're having. So many great ideas! I think one of the first things I'm going to do is hunt down some more toys for him and just it make it feel more homey for him. 

We may also be moving flats soon to one with hardwoods floors that faces the garden. Right now we have all white carpet (yeah! with a toddler!) and face the street. There's a primary school across the street and the 45 minute a day estimate we were given for the recess noise was about 2 hours understated. So anyways, I thought if we move flats, maybe I can do some things to make the next room more *his* - though I'm not sure how just yet. 

Also, I think I'm going to write down an official schedule for us. This is not something I've ever done for us before, but I think given the situation it will help. I'll keep you posted on what works and what doesn't in case you ever find yourself in a similar situation. 

Wanted to post some more pics of Charlie with his pride and joy... his new helmet. LOL Seriously, I think he may like the helmet more than the scooter! He wants to wear it everywhere and has been taking it in the crib with him to sleep. He kind of likes to have the scooter near his crib/bed too, though. All the better to go rolling into Mom and Dad's room with.

We bought his scooter at this adorable kid's store in St. John's Wood called Igloo Kids. That's where I got his red wellies, too. They have insanely cute but expensive clothes, some really nice toys, disappointingly few books and they do haircuts in the basement. Funny.

Unrelated side topic: I just realized when I went to the Igloo web site that they are a small chain. That keeps happening to me here in London. I think I find the neatest, cutest little spot and think Wow! I've discovered this totally cool and original place! Then I find out there are 4 or 5 of them in London. London reigns supreme in the small chain arena. And I am never as cool and original as I hope.

So after we stopped for coffee at Gail's - another small chain I originally thought was only one awesome location I "discovered" - we went to the park for a bit and Charlie of course talked about all the scooters. That was all it took for Brad to want to get him one. 

Charlie actually already has a scooter at home, so it was kind of hard to justify buying it. But it will keep him very busy the rest of the time we are here and they are so popular that if we want to sell it for a big chunk of what we paid for it, we should have no problem. I was not able to find him a second hand one because they sell so quickly on the UK version of Craig's List (Gumtree). It actually folds down quite small, so maybe we will just take it home and he can always have friends over to scoot! 

So we went to the store, got him fitted for a helmet and he picked out the black scooter. It's technically for a 5 or 6 year old, but Charlie didn't want the blue one meant for 3 to 5 year olds. The only difference we could tell is that the one for the older kids a tiny bit heavier and the handle is adjustable for height. I'm not sure why Charlie was so taken with the black one. 

I lamented whether we were doing the right thing in getting him the version for older kids and Brad pointed out that no way was Charlie leaving with any scooter other than the black one. And he was right. We were getting it to make him happy, why make him sad to leave the one he really wanted?

Here he is outside of Igloo with his scooter and helmet:

Charlie rode that scooter the whole way home (it took forever) and he and I spent a large chunk of the afternoon in the garden watching him practice. He's getting pretty quick on it, but is still figuring out the steering. He'll jump off if he's about to run into something instead of steering around it.

He really is so proud of it though... and possessive. Of course other little kids in the playground want to check it out, just as he was doing before he got one. Once I reassure him they are just looking and it is not going home with them, he's usually fine with it. 

I think our MacLaren stroller is going to be feeling pretty lonely soon with all the attention we are paying the scooter. Once Charlie gets really comfortable on the scooter, we won't need the stroller very often at all. It's just sitting in the hall right now, feeling rejected. 

Well, if you're looking for us, we are probably back in the garden, perfecting some scooter skills and terrifying the neighbors' cats. :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I don't know why I picked a photo of Charlie standing next to two fake sheep for this post. They stand outside this very nice and $$$ butcher nearby. I think my dad would weep tears of joy if he walked in there, just meat, beautiful meat everywhere! Anyways, just felt like I need a photo of Charlie in here if I was going to be talking about him.

Just in case you thought it was all fun and games here in London, the past week-ish has been pretty rough from a Charlie perspective. I think he is having a bit of a hard time adjusting to being here. The first week was like vacation and his Mimi was here, but now we are effectively living here and it's wearing on him I think. His sleep schedule has been horrible and he's been acting out - being tired most of the time is probably contributing to that.

Our apartment here has 2 bedrooms, so Charlie has his own room, and the manager ordered us a brand new, nice sized crib for Charlie to sleep in. He still sleeps in his crib at home and loves it. He's been a very good sleeper up until now, usually 12 hours at night and a 2 to 2.5 hour nap most days. Lately we've been getting 9 to 10 hours at night and no nap. Let me tell you, it makes for a VERY long day to have no down time with such a tired toddler.

I don't know if the crib is not comfortable or if he can just tell it's not really *his* room, but he doesn't like sleeping in there. There are also 2 twin beds in the room and he will now occasionally sleep in one of those. He can easily get himself out of the crib, so it makes no difference if he's in the crib or bed - when he feels like leaving the room, he will. And does.

After getting over the jet lag, we had a few days where he would sleep until about 8 or so - about his norm. The last 8 or 9 days, though, he's been up at 6 or 6:30. We've tried putting him back down after he gets up, but he's not having it. When he's up, he's up. And therefore, so are we.

It's tough on Brad, who is working late right now. It's tough on me because I haven't felt rested enough to deal well enough with some of his tantrums and by 3pm I am just mentally done trying to keep up with him. I never realized how much I need that mental break in the afternoon even if I'm busy doing other things.

Nap time is a struggle because he just keeps getting up and throws an absolute fit at the suggestion of going back. This child back home would ASK to take a nap if he was tired. He would also happily go to bed at the end of the day.

I've had moderate luck going in his room and laying down on one of the twin beds and staying there until he falls asleep. In fact, I did that earlier tonight when we hit ten times of having to take him back to his room.

While at first his tactics to leave the room and sneak around the apartment were cute, they are getting tiresome. He'll kind of crawl on the floor into our room, I guess thinking we won't see him? I think he's copying Snoopy when he sneaks around along the ground on Charlie Brown. And now that he has the scooter, he quite enjoys just rolling into our room on that! Kind of victorious-like. Actually, now that I write that, it is kind of funny.

I've also noticed he's gotten very clingy with the lovie and little beanie baby we brought from home. Charlie has never been a stuffed animal kind of kid. He calls his lovie Bobo (like our dog) and used to barely notice he had it. He'd rather carry around a truck or Person. Now gets upset if he doesn't have it Bobo, who goes everywhere with us. All over London.

Charlie also has this beanie baby of a deer that's been in his crib since his little surgery at 1 year old. He calls that toy Odie, after my mom's dog. Odie doesn't leave the apartment (yet), but Charlie will kind of panic if he can't find him. Odie must be present at bed time.

Similarly, he's gotten very attached to his binky. He used to just insist he had it whenever he went to bed, but now he wants it all the time. I've had to insist it doesn't leave the apartment with us, but he will go find it when we are home and walk around with it in his mouth. It's not good, I can't tell what he's saying most of the time.

I guess because he's using the binky so much I'm realizing how silly it looks to have an almost 3 year old using it and that we should have taken away at 1 year like we were told. Given our other issues here, I'm not even going to TRY and bring that topic up until we are back in Virginia. Same with potty training - I bought him a trainer seat, but I'm not pushing it until we are back home.

The temper tantrums he's been throwing are very new to me - he's never been a big fit-throwing kind of kid. He can definitely be stubborn, but can usually be diverted or distracted. And those throw downs just don't happen that often. He's generally a very happy kid.

I guess as a way of asserting some control in his little life, he has become extremely stubborn and resorted to extremes to get his way. Like throwing himself down on the ground (yuck) in a busy tube station and kicking and screaming. I thought his head might start spinning during that little episode.

It was followed by another screaming fit in front of Madame Tussauds. The tourists got their own little show while waiting in line! We were meeting Brad for lunch and he had to leave the restaurant and come get us.

For the most part, when he's not making a scene, I try and just let him get it out and have his way as often as it isn't dangerous - can't do much when throws a fit because I won't let him play with the stove. If he'll let me, I'll pick him up and sit down with him or walk around with him and just talk to him in a soothing voice. Sometimes he's too mad for that, though and I just have to wait it out.

It can really make for an exhausting day when everything is a battle. He even protests putting on a diaper and clothes in the morning. I keep waiting for bruises to appear on my stomach from being kicked so much.

We were able to bring over a few little toys and books with us, but for the most part this apartment is pretty boring to him. We leave and go places for him to play every day, but the sun sets at 4:30 and we are generally back by then with time to kill until bed time.

He's bored and has started trying to play with things around the apartment - like the dishwasher, the washing machine, the DVD player, the fridge and freezer, etc. I feel like I am saying no every 30 seconds when we are home, just so he doesn't break one of the appliances!

That was a big reason we got him the scooter this weekend, even though he has a scooter back home. It helps wear him out and also keeps him very entertained, in a way no other single toy probably would. It was also a treat for a kid who is having a hard time but all in all being a trooper.

He's been talking about his friends back home more and more - bringing them up out of nowhere. He plays with the phone and calls Ben, Will and Owen and tells them all sorts of things. Tonight he was talking about preschool and his friends Grayson and Austin. He told me he wanted to go to preschool. Sometimes he tells me he wants to go home. It really kills me when he's crying when he says that.

I did not give enough thought to what Charlie's adjustment period was going to be like over here. I figured there would be one, but this is tougher than what I imagined. I thought the fun, new experiences and getting to see his Daddy every day would make up for it. I now realize that most of all he just wants his old routine.

I'm now trying to stick to a more structured schedule over here so he knows what to expect. I ordered a white noise machine for his room, which should arrive tomorrow, so it sounds more like his old room. I'm going to order some more books and look around for some more toys, maybe borrowed if I can swing it.

If anyone out there has any ideas, I'm all ears! I feel horrible he's not happy. I'm also very, very tired!! Also, I'm going to order him some new books, so if there are any that your 2 or 3ish year olds are loving lately (or loved at that age), could you send me the titles?

I need to catch up on email so bad - I know I owe several of you a message. Not to mention the blog - I have about 5 other posts imagined up, but not written and bunches of pictures I want to get loaded so I don't forget all that we did here.

Anyways, send me an email or FB message or comment here or whatever if you have any thoughts. I better get to bed, my wake up call is going to scooter into my room here in a few hours!

Oh, and some more photos, mostly for my mom and dad, who I know are missing Charlie a ton right now. These are from the park at Paddington Street Gardens where we played after having lunch with Brad. Charlie and a little French girl really hit it off. :) Wish I'd gotten her picture because she was darling, but felt weird taking a photo of someone else's kid and my French isn't strong enough to explain it to her mother.

 even the trash can (yuck!) was neat at this park.