Saturday, March 31, 2012

In the Garden

We are very fortunate where we live to have a very large shared garden behind our flat that we can access. One of the benefits of the area of town that we live in is that having access to a shared garden is fairly common. I start to take it for granted sometimes and then am reminded that in other parts of town, you actually have to buy a membership to have access to a garden!

Since our flat is on the upper ground floor, we have a key to the gate around the corner and that is how we get in. The lower ground floor/basement flats typically have doors that lead out to a patio and directly into the garden. It's kind of a trade off in that those flats can be kind of dark, but direct garden access is pretty awesome. If you have kids, it's definitely the way to go.

We've been going out back several times a week since we moved into our new flat and on days it is warm, we spend hours back there. Sometimes all afternoon! It's got wide open spaces and Charlie likes to take his soccer balls, stomp rockets, golf set, baseball glove, etc. out there.

We've met some other moms and dads and kids out in the garden. In fact, we found two other 3 year old boys for Charlie to play with! Lorenzo and Peter, both very sweet and lots of fun. There are kids of all ages out playing when the weather is nice. In addition to Charlie's nursery school, it's been a great way to meet new people. 

The most exciting part of the garden right now is the pond. When we first moved in, the pond was filled to the brim with frogs. Frogs procreating. Then it was filled with tadpoles and eggs. Some of the school kids take them into class to show everyone. Apparently there's a heron or a crane that likes to eat them for lunch. 

Now we have some new residents of the pond - some ducks! Two mallards and a hen stick around the pond most of the day. I've heard they come each year. One of the mallards has paired off with the hen and I can't figure out why the other mallard sticks around. The mallards mostly fight and the one who scored the lady chases the other one around.

They keep a nest somewhere in the garden, though I haven't seen it. I think that's just as well. I don't want anyone messing it up. I've been told the ducklings should arrive in a few weeks and I bet they'll be so cute! 
I've heard there are also quite a few foxes in the garden. One family I met recently lost their cat for several days. It was found by someone in the garden next door and the foxes had gotten it. Poor kitty. Hopefully the other cats are on notice. 

There are many cats in the garden and Charlie loves them. It's the closest he will ever get to owning a cat, with his daddy and Nana and other assorted family members allergic to them. There's one cat in particular, Monty, who loves to come play with Charlie. He likes to chase the stomp rockets when we bring that to play with. Here is Charlie with Monty in the flowers:
I usually forget about them, but we also have a bee colony that is kept by a couple of the residents. The hives are behind a chain link fence enclosure, but obviously the bees fly all over. There are usually tons at the pond. They aren't aggressive at all, but I've been told the kids have stepped on them before and been stung, so I try to get Charlie to wear at least socks. I hear in the next few months we should get something in our mailbox asking if we want some honey. I'd say definitely! Yum!

There are several volunteer gardeners who take care of the garden and are frequently out there mulching, planting bulbs, pruning, mowing, etc. They do a really nice job. And mostly I'm happy I don't have to do any of it. Nice to have a break after almost 10 years of constant yard work. 

We had a picnic out in the garden last Sunday, though it was a bit hard picnicking on a bench. So I came home and ordered the biggest picnic blanket I could find from John Lewis. It just arrived today, as the weather turned cooler and cloudy, but on the next sunny day, we will try it out!

Here are a few more shots from around the garden. Boring ones with no people, obviously. :)

Charlie's Three Year Doctor Appointment

I took Charlie to his 3 year check up in January and then forgot to post about it. In full disclosure, one of the main reasons I document his height and weight on here is to go back and reference when I'm shopping online for him and I'm not sure what size to get. That's a good reason, right?

So there was I was, this morning, looking for pants that don't have buttons that he can wear to school while potty training and had to dig through my email box for a message to Brad about the appointment. All that extra work, just to order pants! 

Anyways, I had to squeeze the appointment in during the few weeks we were back from London and we didn't even see our regular doctor for the visit. It might have been the shortest appointment he's ever had. No shots needed - yay! 

We mainly talked about how we'd be out of the country for a while and the pediatrician just told me to take Charlie to the dentist whenever we get back. He doesn't need another check up until he's 4. That almost made me weepy - he's such a big boy he only needs to go once a year! And there was mention of him eventually turning 4! Waaah! My baby! 

Here are the stats - 

Height: 37 inches (50 to 75th percentile)
Weight: 31 pounds (25 to 50th percentile)

The appointment was a month before his birthday, but those are the same percentiles he's been in since birth. Charlie is nothing if not consistent. :)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Easter Break Begins

These photos have nothing to do with Easter Break; I just thought they were cute. Brad took Charlie in a paddle boat in Hyde Park last Sunday. This fulfilled a lifelong dream for Charlie, who asks non-stop to ride in a paddle boat any time he sees them.

Charlie's school term ended today for a two week break before the summer term begins. There's usually a one week break in the middle of each term and then a longer break between terms. Lots of people leave and go on vacation (holiday) during the breaks.

I was going to take Charlie to lunch and shopping for new shoes after school got out today, but one of the moms suggested we take the kids to Holland Park for a picnic. The weather has been warm and sunny lately, so we've all been trying to make the most of it before it cools off again. It was so much fun! I wish I had my camera with me as Holland Park is so beautiful. I'm sure we'll go again soon.

We laid out a blanket and ate and then watched the kids playing the playground. They had a blast. Charlie gets very excited about picnics. I recently ordered a giant picnic blanket that I'm waiting to be delivered so we can become picnicking fools. 

With Charlie out of school for a couple of weeks, I've been making plans for us to do some fun things and go visit some new places. I'm really excited about the cooking class we're taking next week! It's at this children's club in Kensington. Charlie looooves to pretend to cook and help me in the kitchen. They told me at nursery school that he dresses up in the chef's hat and apron at least 3 times a week. I think he'll get a big kick out of it. 

We're also planning to take a little trip for a few days over Easter weekend since Brad gets two days off as holidays. We're going to the Cotswolds, which I think is London's version of the Hamptons, except not on the beach. Lots of cute villages and farms. It's where all the sheep are!

It will be fun to get away and check out some new areas of England. It should be beautiful this time of year. We are renting a car and Brad is driving. On the opposite side of the road. Yeah. I'll let you know how that goes. 

Our number one priority over Easter Break, though, is potty training. We're going to be doing a lot of this:

I had my meeting with Charlie's "key person" at his nursery school and we agreed he is ready to make the leap on potty training and wearing the big boy underwear. We'll do it at home consistently over the break and then when he goes back to school, I'll be sending lots of underwear and extra outfits! 

British parents potty train so much earlier here - before they are even 2, including the boys. Charlie is way behind, but I think he'll pick it up pretty quickly at this point. After all, there are exciting tiny toilets at school.

The part I'm kind of dreading is always having to find a potty when we're out and about in London. I've never had to worry about that before. I will always need to travel with extra clothes since I'm sure we'll have accidents due to being on the bus or tube or just not having any luck finding an open bathroom. I hope it doesn't become too upsetting for him. 

So that's what's going on with us! Big things happening over Easter Break!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Brighton Beach

Brad had to work Saturday, so Charlie and I tagged along with some friends on a trip to Brighton. It's about an hour south of London on the train and is a beach town. The weather the past few days has been in the mid-60's and sunny and we have been taking full advantage. 

There were four of us parents and five kids and we participated in tag team parenting for the day. Forget sunscreen? Need some wipes? Run out of snacks? Another parent has you covered. Brilliant.

For Charlie, riding on the overground train is an event in itself. Riding with other kids? Pure bliss. We rode from London Bridge to Brighton and the tickets were so cheap - 10 pounds round trip for adults. 

The kids were all bouncing off the walls on the way down there, just so excited to get to the beach and point out everything they saw on the train. We had snacks, snacks and more snacks to make the time pass. 
Charlie made a new friend that day, Stuart, who turns 3 in a couple of months. They love the same things in life: cars, trucks, airplanes, construction equipment, etc. Apart from what I suspect was Charlie smacking him on the way home (I didn't see it, but poor Stuart was crying), they got along very well. 

Once we got to town, we hit the beach. We were there by 10:15 and on the beach by 10:30. There's lots of cute shopping between the station and the beach, but there was no way that was going to happen. 

I think Brighton is England's version of Atlantic City. There's a beach, obviously, and a casino and big Victorian pier with rides and games. Apparently there used to be many piers like this one along the coast in England, just like in the U.S. This is now one of the few surviving ones. They are just so much work to keep in good shape. It's a wood contraption sitting in the ocean waves after all. 

It was a bit foggy. This picture doesn't do it justice. It's quite grand. 
Brighton also reminded me of Atlantic City since it's where a lot of people go for their bachelor (stag) and bachelorette (hen) parties. Each group seemed to have matching polo shirts with "Stan's Stag Weekend" or something like that embroidered on it. Brighton has plenty of bars and strip clubs to keep this segment of their target audience entertained. 

Anyways, once at the beach, I realized what a colossal mistake it was to wear flats that day. I mean, when are flats a mistake? When you go to a beach that is made up of rocks. They kept getting in my shoes and were hard to walk on. It was like stepping on Legos all day! 

I think I was the only person mentally whining about this - everyone else just treated it like any other beach. Spread out a towel and sun yourself! It was in the lower 60's all day after all. You'd have thought it was much hotter by some of the outfit choices. Short-shorts and a bikini tops, for instance. I saw one girl strip down to her swimsuit and run in the water. I won't tell you what she said about the experience when she got out. This is a family blog, after all. 

The kids had a blast throwing rocks in the water. They never got bored of it. They got their feet in the water, but it was oh, so cold! 

The cold water really threw Charlie for a loop. The last beach we went to was Gulf Shores (in August - painfully hot) and as soon as we got to the beach in Brighton, he wanted to strip down! He kept telling me he wanted his shirt off or would start pulling down his pants. 

Eventually he got his pants and pull up off and ran around in nothing but a t-shirt. Charlie turned Brighton into a nude beach. I had to chase him down at that point with the sunscreen. Not about to let all that get sunburned. 

By almost-lunch time, the parents were enjoying cold beer on the beach while the kids played. When they finally got hungry, we headed over to this big antique carousel on the beach for a quick ride before lunch. Each horse had a name - we rode on Lydia! Which is funny because Charlie has a friend in Dallas named Lydia.
We found a pub with picnic tables outside and parked ourselves for some lunch. The food took a while, but Frances had packed crayons and paper for the kids to color. Tag team parenting for the win again! 

We had some fish and chips, hamburger and fried haloumi cheese (which is amazing, btw - order it if you ever see it on a menu) amongst the group and then headed across the street for ice cream. I got Charlie a single scoop of chocolate in a cone, at his request. This was his first actual cone and I thought for sure it would end up on the ground. Nope, he ate every bit of it. 

After a return to the beach, it was pretty clear the kids were fading fast. We made an executive decision to take the train that left an hour earlier than we'd planned. We hoofed it to the station, which was uphill. Funny how you never notice big hills when you're going down them. It felt so much more steep than it was going down! 

There were no seats together on the train, but the kids were in such a mood that fellow passengers all around us defected to other sections one by one. Pretty soon we were all together again! We had all hit the wall. Tired kids, tired head. 

Charlie was absolutely exhausted when we got home. He had about 4 bites of dinner and a shower and then was nodding off during his final Peppa Pig of the evening. He still fought us on going to bed, insisting it was too early and he needed to go outside and play some more. Uhhh, wha???

It was fun getting out of London for a day and checking out another town. Besides some acting out on the tube on the way home, Charlie did really well and was such a good boy. I hope we can do stuff like this more often while we're here - it was a fun adventure! 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Charlie at Preschool

I hope you are enjoying Bad Poodle's fresh spring look. I bought some colored jeans at Zara last week so I figured the blog deserved a pick me up too. Anyways, on to the topic at hand.

So much to our very pleasant surprise, Charlie has really taken to preschool (or nursery, as the Brits call it) here in London. The long hours of long distance calls paid off in a VERY lovely school for him in Notting Hill. We have been made to feel so welcome and Charlie happily runs in each day and is very cheerful when I pick him up.

Charlie goes to preschool each morning from 9:30 to 12:30. I was a little worried that 5 mornings would be too much for him, given that back in Richmond he was only going for 2, but it hasn't been an issue. On Saturday he asks whether he is going or not. Only because Daddy isn't going in to work (well, at least MOST Saturdays) is it ok to not go to preschool.

The commute can be something of a bear some days. We walk about 3/4 a mile to catch our bus, ride the bus or 8 or so stops and then walk another 1/3 a mile to get to the school. The only issue is the street construction between our neighborhood (Maida Vale) and Notting Hill.

I don't know if it's always like this or if London is on some sort of construction spree with the Olympics and Queen's Jubilee going on, but they have at least one section of the road torn up and usually two. And then sometimes there's a delay because we drive by the station where the drivers switch at the end of their shifts and if the new driver is late, we all sit there. It can be killer.

Fortunately, Charlie loves to ride the bus. Unfortunately, Charlie now likes to stand up on the bus, like keeping one's balance is a game. I have to admit, with some of the bus drivers, it really is. On the way home I can keep him occupied with snacks. In the mornings, I sometimes have to bribe him with my iPhone. One time a driver even got fussy with me for letting him stand, so I do all I can not to experience that again.

On Tuesday and Friday mornings we *try* to arrive early, as there is a morning Praise and Worship session before school starts. Whether we arrive on time is truly up to fate and the bus schedule some days. On Tuesdays, the vicar comes and reads a story and on Fridays, the headmistress reads. There are songs and a prayer and it's really very nice.

Well, for the rest of us. Charlie so far doesn't want to sit still for it and is running around, checking out the toys. I leave him alone unless he's making a lot of noise. Sometimes I really want to wring his neck by the end of Praise and Worship. Can I get an Amen?

Even though he doesn't seem to be paying attention, it seems that some of it is sticking with Charlie. I forgot to do bedtime prayers the other night and he got SO upset with me. I felt horrible, as I was just trying to get so much done and rushed right through bed time. I honestly never really thought he noticed. But they talk about saying prayers before you go to sleep at nursery and that is now what we must do. :)

And then at dinner the other night (takeout Thai food, natch), he asked to "do amen" (Charlie speak for pray) so we all held hands. Before Brad or I could start the prayer, Charlie was leading one on his own! I couldn't believe it. He had his own little prayer he said. And then his favorite part is saying AMEN really loud. His Nana taught him that!

Each of the students at his school has one of the teachers assigned to them. Just someone to look out for them and keep an eye on them. That is who I talk to at drop off and pick up to exchange notes on how he's doing. I just love the teacher assigned to Charlie, she is so wonderful and very patient and caring. She really made sure his birthday was special at school. They do a special recognition for the kids on their birthday at Praise and Worship time, with a special chair and hat and a book from the teachers to take home. Charlie absolutely loved it.

Charlie had a very close friend at his preschool in Richmond, a little boy named Grayson. They were two peas in a pod.  I was kind of hoping Charlie would find a  Grayson at his new preschool, but as far as I can tell, he hasn't really. Some of the kids are just older, going on 4, and there is so much more of a difference between those ages than I realized. And there are LOTS of little girls.

There is one little boy that he seems to be fascinated with, but my group of moms I go get coffee with all tell me they hear he's naughty. He kind of picks on the girls I think. I walked in one day and Charlie was just finishing up tackling this little boy on the floor. It looked like they were having fun, not like Charlie was upset with him. All the same, I've never seen Charlie physically wrestle with another kid. I knew it was coming, but this was a first! I'm not sure what to think yet.

I send Charlie to school in pull ups and I think he uses the potty some, but there is too much fun stuff going on to worry about going potty too often. Sometimes it's fun because they have tiny potties and other kids are going, I think. I've seen some progress at home, though, so it is sinking in. There is a 2 week break between the terms coming up in early April and we are going to switch to some big boy underwear and see where that takes us.

I have to admit, I have been really enjoying my time off while Charlie is in school. It's nice to have somewhere to get up and go in the morning. With the commute, I can't really come back to the flat, so I've been using the time to either work out, shop/run errands or go sightseeing. Sometimes, though, I just grab coffee with some of the other moms and that has been so fun. They have also been so nice and welcoming. Makes me so glad we picked this school.

After the two week break, Charlie goes back in mid-April for the summer term. I think there's another week break in there somewhere and then he wraps up in early July. It will be neat to see how far he's come between now and then. It's really turning out to be an awesome experience for him.

These are some pictures of Charlie hard at work at preschool:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Buckingham Palace/St. James's Park

I have this family on a strict diet of weekend sightseeing. I don't want us to get to the end of our time here in London and realize we didn't see several dozens of things we wanted to. I assume there will be some things we miss, though, since there is more to do here than you could accomplish in a lifetime. But I will make sure we witness the high points.

Towards the end of each week I have been sending Brad a list of potential things to do, given our other plans and the weather, which is all over the place right now. Then he picks something and I talk him out of it in favor of doing what I secretly had in mind all the time. I'm kidding. Mostly.

The tube line we live on (Bakerloo) was shut Sunday so we needed somewhere we could get to easily on the bus. Rick Steves told me St. James's Park is beautiful and not to miss it, so I said OK Rick, great idea! When getting directions I saw it was next to Buckingham Palace, which has the changing of the guard every other day at 11:30. Two birds, one stone. 

Just viewing the palace is not very exciting. It's not architecturally appealing and seems kind of cold and sterile. I think it looks kind of like the Supreme Court. See what I mean?
One of the pretty parts about the palace is the stinkin' fence they put up to keep the lowly tourists out. 
We arrived about an hour before the changing of the guard and it was already getting a bit crowded. We could have staked out a spot, but there's no chance Charlie would have stayed in one place that long. In fact, he kept bolting whenever the mood struck him.... until he bolted right into a couple of guards on their way to make a delivery at the gate. 

Brad was trying to take our picture at the time, Charlie ran and then turned his little behind around and hid behind me. I couldn't figure out why until I saw the hats! Charlie stuck by me for a solid 10 minutes after that. I now understand why people leash their children. 
We stood around a little while longer and then a group of guards on horses trotted by. I'm sure if I looked into it, I could figure out where they were coming from and where they were going. It was a very exciting moment for Charlie. However, he wanted to know if there were horses, where was the farmer. And would there be sheep?
We walked across the street to the guards museum and the Guard Band was going through inspection. One of them got quite a talking to about the lack of fluffiness in his hat.

Charlie loved this part of the morning to, seeing all the instruments and yelling out what they were. He wanted to know where the bassoon was, though. I guess it's from one of his Richard Scarry books, but Charlie is obsessed with the bassoon. He lumps most woodwinds into the "bassoon" category. I will very soon need to sit him down and explain which instruments march and which don't. I fear it will be upsetting for him to learn nobody marches a bassoon.

After inspection, we went across the street to the children's playground at St. James's Park and Charlie had a blast playing while Brad and I drank very bad, but desperately needed coffee from the stand next door. While we sat in the playground we got to hear the band rehearse.
By this point in our morning, we realized there is no way you can logistically see the entire changing of the guard. If you stake out a good spot to see one part, you will miss the other parts. So we resigned ourselves to seeing a little bit of most parts. 

We headed back over to the palace and Brad put Charlie on his shoulders. Charlie pulled Brad's hair for the next 20 minutes. We saw the band come in and this giant Irish wolfhound. Because of the crowds, we have mediocre pictures at best. Charlie really had the best view and he will most likely not remember it! 
After Brad was certain he would have no more hair left if we didn't leave soon, we walked over to the park, which is across the street. It's right in the middle of the city and apparently several movie scenes have been shot there, including one of the James Bond movies. 
There's a large pond/small lake with swans and so many ducks, all tagged, that live there. This kind of thing gets my husband quite excited. DUCKS! Let's find out what all their names are! 

Brad got some really good shots of the ducks, but I won't bore you with duck pictures. Well, just 1 I thought was neat. And when I saw Brad was "shooting" the ducks, I mean with his camera. Don't want to confuse my Arkansas readers! The park police get all fussy when you do the other kind of shooting. Don't ask how we know this.
The park also has some pelicans. White pelicans. I... don't know why. Brad kind of didn't believe me until he saw them in person. Apparently you can watch the park rangers feed them at a certain time each day. But we were brunch-minded people by this point and really just wanted to feed ourselves.
There's a nice restaurant in the park called Inn the Park (hardy har) with views of the pond. You can pick up food to picnic outside on the lawns or sit and order. We sat and ordered and it was nice, if a little slow and overpriced. The doors were open, the sun was out and the bloody mary was tasty. Charlie had chocolate ice cream and my iPhone.
There is some kind of contest or something going on in London where you try and locate these large Faberge eggs all over the city. I guess kids can go online and download something and then track all the eggs and see how many they can find. St. James's Park had 3 that we located. It's kind of crazy, you're taking in the view and there's this random egg out in the middle of the water.
While the park was beautiful, it really isn't spring here yet, so I think in a month or so it will be really gorgeous with all the flowers blooming. Right now it's just mainly daffodils. We will have to go back some time and maybe have a picnic. As long as Brad brings his camera and not a gun, the ducks should be happy to see us back. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Three Years of Charlie

I've procrastinated on this post enough, but I am frankly having a hard time figuring out how to write it. How do you describe Charlie at 3 years? Well, I suppose it depends on the day! Charlie is lovable, sweet, caring, affectionate, inquisitive and adorable. He loves to give big hugs, snuggle and he's started kissing my boo boos like I kiss his.

But he can also be challenging, stubborn, demanding, dangerously inquisitive and... challenging. He finds the limits and pushes them every day. I realize this is normal behavior for his age, but daily boundary pushing is not a fun lifestyle choice.

He's also just so INTO everything. I can't leave him alone in the kitchen for 2 minutes before he's got the sink going and all the dish washing liquid everywhere. It's like that all day long. There is no babyproofing with Charlie. He will FIND A WAY. Consider yourself on duty.

I find this stage he's in to be the hardest so far, from a parenting perspective. My goal each day with Charlie is to remain patient. I fail more often than I care to admit and frequently wish I could do better, because he really deserves it. He is a good kid. And he is reaching the age where he knows what my reactions mean and he apologizes and is just SO SWEET. Which makes me apologize and promise to do better. It's hard. I know all of us toddler mommies go through that.

I've decided that three year old boys are just a special breed. It's a crazy mix of being extremely active, curious and relentless. It is all out, all the time. Not that three year old girls aren't curious or active, I just see them deliver these traits in different ways. But I'm going to stop with the gender stereotyping because my little boy loves to throw on a good pair of princess shoes as much as the next child.

Overall, I would probably use the word active to describe Charlie. He can't spend enough time outdoors. That is, unless we're near a sporting goods store and then he wants to go through each section, checking out all of the equipment, like the place is a museum. His Aunt Megan was like that as a child, but mostly with the home gym equipment. Ha.

There really isn't a sport he doesn't show interest in. He loves to kick the soccer ball, he and Brad just started throwing a little baseball we got him (they make gloves for 3 year olds), swing a tennis racket or golf club (also made for his age group), jump in the pool, throw a basketball through the hoop, etc. I even found a little lacrosse set for him. It's fun to watch him be so enthusiastic about all of it.

Now that Charlie isn't napping every day, we are about to sign up for lessons and classes for the afternoon after preschool. Some days I am pretty sure he will never tire out, but that doesn't mean I can't try! Right now he is napping about every other day for a solid 2-3 hours. On days he naps he goes to bed later, like 8:30. On days he doesn't nap, it is crucial to my sanity that he is down around 7.

Charlie has always been a big talker, but now he can really tell us what is going on and a lot of the time, it's really funny! He definitely lets us know when we're in trouble with him and need to go to time out. If Brad has his arm around me and Charlie wants us to get up and play with him, he tells us Mommy, Daddy, no snuggle right now. Get up! Stuff like that. He's so adorably bossy.

It may be that we are all living in the same town 7 days a week now, but Charlie is in a MAJOR daddy mode right now. He is ALL about daddy and wants to do exactly what he's doing. The other morning, Brad was standing in the kitchen eating cereal and I kept hearing him tell Charlie to sit down to eat his breakfast! I couldn't help myself - had to point out the irony of that one to Brad. :)

Those two also love all the same foods, but unfortunately Charlie hates most vegetables like Brad does. They both have a major sweet tooth and find peanut butter and chocolate to be the ultimate. And meat. Dinner can consist of nothing but meat sometimes. For both of them. It really leaves a lot of leftover salad for me.

Our other obsession around here are planes, trains and automobiles. Fire trucks, dump trucks, diggers, cranes, tractors, helicopters. If we see one, we must stop and obsess. Charlie's favorite books are all on the topic. I can no identify more construction equipment and airplanes than I ever thought I'd be able to!  Fortunately, there's lots of construction to go see in London.

We are slowly working on the potty training, but I'm not pushing it. He tells me most times when we are home and he has to go. Wakes up in the morning and after nap dry most of the time. I think over the 2 week school break coming up we are going to move from pull ups to underwear and see if being wet and uncomfortable moves him forward at all.

As much as I wanted to avoid using food as a reward, we are using Cadbury chocolate chunks to potty train. Chocolate just resonates well with him. Especially the chocolate they have in this country - yum!

We are also slowly moving from 2T to 3T clothes, but only because of the length - Charlie's a bit tall and 2T stuff is getting too short. But we can barely keep any pants from falling down now that he's wearing pull ups. Brad likes to point out Charlie's "plumber butt" when we're at the playground. I'm not sure what is going to hold those pants up when we move to big boy underwear. I have those adjustable waistbands as tight as they'll go!

This child looooves to watch TV. I have to be careful to not let him watch too much. Though who are we kidding, he probably already does. His favorite shows have changed since we left the states, where we were on a steady diet of the Wiggles, Caillou and Fireman Sam. Now he is all about Peppa Pig and... yes, finally Dora. I knew it was coming eventually. I'm just glad he doesn't yell back at the TV when she tells them to.

Between preschool and the tv shows, I am hearing a bit of a British accent from Charlie. Whenever he says Sorry! all I hear is British Child. And the way he says Mommy (more like mummy) and Daddy both have that inflection on the words that you hear here. It will be funny to see what else he picks up.

I'm trying to think what else. I guess this post is pretty long and I should stop, huh? It's hard to stop when I get started on my favorite topic. Anyways, that's what Charlie is like at 3 years! Years from now I can look back and remember. Love you kiddo!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Charlie's 3rd Birthday Party

I have the best family. For most of the time were were home from London in January, I was preoccupied with preschools, ordering things for our new flat and lots of other details. I had no time to plan a birthday party for Charlie. 

My sister Megan offered to throw him a party while we were visiting in Dallas, which just blew me away. My mom helped her plan it and it ended up being such an amazing party. Charlie and I both had a blast. A month later and he's still talking about it! 

We flew into Dallas on Friday and the party was the following day. When we woke up, there were some men setting this up in the back yard: 

When Charlie woke up and saw it, he was so excited! Megan took him out for some pre-party jumping in his PJs. It was pretty chilly out, but we couldn't get him to come in! He just wanted to keep jumping! 

So happy in the bounce house...
This is one of my favorite photos - Charlie and Aunt Megan had so much fun in the bounce house! As a side note, Megan said it is quite a good work out for your legs. :)
I felt so lucky to have so many Dallas friends come up to McKinney to the party. Some of these ladies I had not seen for a decade! We keep up with each other through our blogs and Facebook, but it was so much fun to see everyone in person and meet their kiddos.

 The party had a fireman theme since Charlie is quite obsessed with firemen. Megan even got him a special hat to wear that made siren sounds when you turned on the switch. I think we were all ready to run over this hat with one of the cars by the end of the party! 

In a shocking turn of events, towards the end of the party, MY DAD got in the bounce house to jump with Charlie! Uncle Bruce got in there too and the three of them jumped for a while. I loved it! 

Later, after the sun went down, the men came back to disassemble the bounce house. The next morning  Charlie came downstairs looking for the bounce house and just couldn't believe it wasn't still there! I think we told him the bounce house had to go rest somewhere else or something. At least, when he talks about the bounce house, he finishes by saying it had to go to sleep!

I feel so fortunate that with everything going on in our lives right now, Charlie was able to have such a fun birthday party. He still talks about it frequently, about how there was a bounce house and we had friends over! And we sang happy birthday Charlie! 

Thank you to Aunt Megan and Uncle Bruce, as well as Nana and PawPaw for throwing Charlie such an incredible party! And thank you to everyone in Dallas who made the drive so they could attend! It means the world to us.