Monday, July 30, 2012

Olympic Tennis at Wimbledon

Sunday Brad and I headed to Wimbledon to watch some Olympic tennis! I somehow managed to land tickets to the second day of the first round on the Olympic ticket web site. We didn't know what matches we would be seeing until the night before, but found out it would be some Polish chick and some German chick.... followed by Andy Murray!! Playing someone from the Swiss team. 

Each Olympic ticket comes with a free transit pass to get you from where you are to the game, so we took the tube down to Wimbledon. Seeing Wimbledon was a first for both of us. The station is about a 15 minute walk through town to get to the club, which is huge! We walked from Gate 1 to Gate 7 in the hope of a shorter security line and it took about 20 minutes.  Just amazingly big for a tennis club. 

The web sites and emails said to bring as little as possible, since we would be going through airport style security screening to get into the venue. The weather said it wouldn't rain until the afternoon. Both of these pieces of information resulted in Kara and Brad standing unprepared in a downpour waiting to get through security. Good times. Love that London weather.

We finally got through and did a little souvenir shopping and got some lunch (typical awful British food). Then we headed in to find our seats. Behold, the view from our seats: 
I can't tell you how excited I was when we sat down. I couldn't believe some random clicking on a web site could lead to such greatness! Olympic tickets are sold in categories (AA, A, B, C, D) depending on the event. Ours were category B. I enjoyed taking credit for our good seats, even though it was really blind luck. We were across from the Royal box, but it just looked like a bunch of different government officials. No actual royals. 

The women's match was fun to watch as they were very evenly matched. As such, it went on forever. 2 1/2 hours? Maybe more? It was scheduled for 2 hours. People (i.e. Me) were getting antsy for the men's match to begin towards the end. Me especially because we had a babysitter watching Charlie just until 5! 

Finally the German chick beat the Polish chick - barely - though Poland had cuter uniforms. Then the men arrived for their match. I didn't know this at the time, but the Swiss player that Murray was up against was Roger Federer's doubles partner in 2008 when they won gold! So, needless to say, a great player. He had an amazing serve. Many aces. Not that Andy didn't have plenty of his own! 
I would hate to be the person (or people) playing Andy Murray in London, though. The fans were 95% Murray supporters it felt like and very vocal. Well, apart from some kid up in the stands that kept yelling for Warwinka. When it became apparent Andy was going to win the first set and the crowd was enthusiastically cheering, this little boy took a quiet moment to shout out "It's only the first set!" - I mean, adorable. 
Wimbledon has a new retractable roof that was recently added (this year I think?) and it might be my favorite thing in the whole world. It kept thunderstorming all afternoon but we were nice and dry inside, with no rain delays. 

In fact, for most of the afternoon, the only tennis happening at Wimbledon was at Centre Court because of the weather. Djokovic's match on Court one was delayed several hours. Andy Roddick was also supposed to play on Court 2. 

When we left around 4:30, they were just starting to roll back the tarps outside... but by the time we were at the train station it was pouring again. Olympic tennis may have to go on long after the closing ceremony at this rate! 

Anyways, the match was so exciting to see in person, I didn't move from my seat once it started. Brad left the stands for a coffee right before the second set and when he came back told me to look closely across the stadium, above the scoreboard. He overheard people talking in line for his coffee. When I did, this is what I saw:
Yes ladies and gentlemen, I was in the very same building as Roger Federer. I just about hyperventilated.

He was with his wife, who is sitting next to him. I wanted to go over and ask where the twins were?? Roger and his wife are very sweet together, constantly leaning in their heads to talk. At one point he laid his head down on that ledge with it turned towards her and they talked for awhile. I melted.
While Warwinka did not give up without a fight, it became pretty clear Andy was going to have this wrapped up in two sets. I could have stayed and watched all day! I really didn't want it to end. It was so exciting watching tennis of that caliber in person. The serves and hits were so powerful. It was never boring.
I have to admit, while he is incredibly popular here (obviously), I don't find Andy to be the most magnetic person when he's not playing. He is often stone faced or even looks mad. He seemed to get annoyed when the cheering got excessive because it slowed down the match. I'm sure this was out of courtesy to his opponent. But even after he won he didn't crack a smile. He's very serious it seems like. Maybe not your #1 tennis player to invite over for a party. He did stay out a while and sign giant tennis balls for the kids, though, which was sweet. I can see us getting Charlie a big tennis ball for player autographs one day! 
While it was very easy getting to Wimbledon in the morning, transit getting home was a mess. The tube line we needed to take for most of the journey was running slow and single tracking at a station. Such is travel during the games I guess!

Now that we have been to the Olympics, I think we are becoming ticket junkies. We have tickets to the men's gold medal soccer match, but are dying to get some for swimming or diving so we can see the Olympic village. I'm starting to feel like an addict who can't stop checking the ticket web site! Brad and I have a new joint hobby - checking the web site for additional ticket releases.

I'm grateful for what we got to do, though and if we get no other tickets, I still count myself very, very lucky. It will be a day I will always remember.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Olympic Mania

Olympic fever has turned into Olympic mania here! Especially where transit is involved. Silly me, I thought we'd be closer to the opening ceremonies before things got really bad, but I learned my lesson yesterday trying to take Charlie to Hyde Park to meet some friends at the pool. 

What normally is 25-30 minutes total turned into an hour and a half experience. We got on our usual bus, pulled onto the main road.... and sat. Forever. Twenty minutes later, we'd gone 3 blocks. Charlie was so cheerful on the bus in his "swimming costume" that he didn't want to get off and walk! 
I finally persuaded him to and we went down to the tube stop, took two trains and came out a mile away from where we were going. It was a nice walk, though, can't complain too much. Well, Charlie could. He kept telling me he was tiiiiiired. I told him to try being 36 and pregnant if he wanted to know what tired felt like. 

I'm pretty sure we saw at least two Olympic athletes with their trainers in the park while we were walking. Nobody I recognized, they just looked taller and more muscular than your average bear. So just a hunch. 

We had a great time at the pool and playground with everyone. Had a picnic and Charlie wanted to stay long after everyone else had gone home. I finally got him to leave around 4. We walked to the north side of the park and took a taxi from there. It took a while to reach the edge of the park because someone had to take a lot of breaks:

Today the weather was beautiful again, so we headed to Holland Park to meet some friends at a kid's festival and to see the Olympic torch come through. After traveling all over the UK, the torch did a big lap around London today through all of the boroughs. 

The festival was all about Olympic sports and had mini versions set up for the kids to become more familiar with them. Charlie tried the javelin toss and discuss before he noticed there was tennis nearby. He got something of a mini tennis lesson, which he loved. Then he went through the rugby obstacle course about 3 dozen times. I think he thought it was American football, though because the balls look very similar. 

We had a little picnic at the playground afterwards and got some yummy ice cream! The symphony (which Charlie referred to as "the band") and chorus were rehearsing for a 30 minute ceremony that was going to occur when the torch arrived.
After finishing the ice cream, we played a few more games and then staked out our spot out to wait for the torch, which was headed our way.
Finally, we heard lots of cheering and knew it was getting close. I was holding Charlie and my iPhone, snapping photos, so it was a bit tricky. She was running at first and then there was smoke on the torch and she started walking. By the time she passed us I figured out the flame had gone out. 
About 10 feet after she passed us, she stopped and there was a huge mob around her while they re-lit the torch. Then she started running again!
When I got home, I looked up all the torch bearers for the day to try and figure out who she was. She looked very young. There was no photo of her on the site, but because she was so young I was able to deduce who she was (I think). She's a 16 year old who has done lots of youth sports leadership. Being a torch-bearer had to be quite an amazing thing to do at the young age of 16!

After two crazy days out and about in London, I think we are going to stick a little closer to home tomorrow. Archery is starting in the morning at the Lord's Cricket Grounds, near our house, so I'm going to attempt to get our tennis tickets printed at the Olympic Box Office there. We're going on Sunday and will know what match(es?) we will see on Centre Court by Saturday night.  

Whatever we do, I just have to make sure to wear this kid out as much as possible. You'd think he'd be exhausted after the past two days (like I am), but he's not! 

Monday, July 23, 2012


We had our 16 week ultrasound appointment this morning, and to our shock and amazement (again) we found out we're having a baby girl!! Everything looked really good on the scan. We got to see all the little body parts right down to her little heart valve fluttering. She once again had one hand behind her head, chillaxin' in the womb.

The doctor paused at the beginning of the scan (just to torture me that extra bit) and explained that some couples like for him to write down what they are having in an envelope and that we could do that and go to a nice dinner and open it up. Umm, no tell me now. And hurry up. There are people in this world with great self control. I'm not one of them! I had to know ASAP! He looked a little surprised. It made me miss Dr. D back home. She knows me so much better than that!

So here's another true story: When I first found out I was pregnant I went for a scan to confirm it and brought Charlie with me, thinking he would have no idea what was going on. Stupid mommy. He looked up from a riveting Fireman Sam episode on my ipad and asked what was on the screen. In my excitement (and not really thinking) I went ahead and told him it was a baby.

When we got home we looked at the pictures and I asked if he thought the baby was a boy or a girl.  Without missing a beat he said very matter-of-factly that it was a girl. He has stuck with that ever since. Like, it's not even up for discussion. It's a girl just as I told you the last 20 times mommy! I was actually kind of concerned it would be hard to convince him otherwise if it was a boy. I'm glad I don't have to. He is so stubborn!

I think he must get his intuitiveness from my mom, who had this funny feeling in April (before either of us knew I was pregnant) that the next family member would be a girl. She has felt very strongly ever since then that I was carrying a girl. So strongly, she bought this little girl her first pair of shoes last week! On sale naturally. Baby's first sale shoes! First of many.

After we got done with our appointment I walked with Brad for a little while back towards his office. My father-in-law has been in town to go to the British Open with Brad and he was very kindly watching Charlie so we could have some time together. It was actually a beautiful day in London and we just walked in a state of shock and awe, absorbing it. I am still absorbing it.

I went into the Gap after he went into work to find some sale maternity stuff and get Charlie some underwear. It occurred to me I could TOTALLY go look at the newborn girl stuff! I had to remind myself. I perused all the adorable pink and decided to buy a little London onesie and pink polka dot pants, just to remind me of today. It's kind of cheesy and not terribly girly, but we'll have a good laugh and memories when she wears it. She. I'm still getting used to that.
I came home afterwards and showed Charlie the photos and told him excitedly it is a girl and he's going to have a sister.... and he looked at me rather bored-like and said I know. This was not news to Charlie. None of it matters because he still can't SEE the baby, which is his biggest complaint. Mine too! It's going by fast, though. She'll be here before we know it!

Friday, July 20, 2012

My Week with Mom

My mom stayed an extra week after my dad left to spend some extra time with Charlie and me, as well as watch him over the weekend so Brad and I could go to Paris. Charlie was back in school that week after his mid-term break, so we took him to school in the morning and did something fun each day without him! Well, except for the morning we tried to find me some clothes that fit over my cheeseburger baby gut that I could wear in Paris. Not fun.

I finally got to do one thing I'd been dying to do - tour Westminster Abbey. It is a GREAT tour and not one I would take a small child to, so good to go without Charlie. Admission includes a audio tour guide so you can amble around at your own pace. I have read several books about Henry VIII, his wives and kids (some biography, some "historical fiction"), so anything involving that crew of crazies is fun to go see.
There was also an additional free exhibit in honor of the Queen's Jubilee, which included photographs from throughout the Queen's life. It was very enjoyable.

We visited another interesting spot in London I hadn't been to - The Wallace Collection. It is a large home once owned by some wealthy person/family, but the collection has been managed and extended by a trust for many years and is now very impressive. I think they had more battle armor than is at the Tower of London! You could walk through each of the bedrooms upstairs and read about what they were used for and what pieces of the collection were kept there.

There is also a lovely atrium restaurant in the middle, where we got some late breakfast. That is the top photo on this post.

One afternoon I got a sitter and my mom and I went for tea and a massage. Well, I had a facial since I was still first trimester. But it was fun to get away and have a relaxing break. Charlie ended up napping that day so we weren't in too much hot water with him. I hadn't yet been to tea in London and it turns out it is full of delicious goodies! Best meal of the day here!
We did some fun things after preschool pick-up as well. One pretty day (the only pretty day?) we took Charlie to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Hyde Park and had a picnic. Charlie is ALL about picnics these days. He played and played until he got a scraped knee and threw a fit in the first aid center. 
We walked around Kensington Gardens after that, which are all in bloom. No Kate Middleton sightings, sadly. She had been seen in that area of the park (near Kensington Palace) a few days beforehand, walking her dog, Lupo. Mom almost hyperventilated when she read that on  
I also got to show my mom a lot of the Notting Hill area, since that is where Charlie went to school and I would spend my mornings. We went to see the market and do a little shopping. Mom really liked Daylesford Organic Market, where we had lunch at one day.
Charlie became good friends with the mannequin at Cath Kidston.
We took it easy sometimes, too, since the defining characteristic of this pregnancy has been exhaustion. It was so nice having my mom around to help with Charlie when I was at my most tired. It was also nice to just show her where we have been living and where we go in normal everyday life here. We fed the ducks in the canal and walked around while Charlie rode his scooter. Just normal stuff. 

Charlie had so much fun with Nana. We were all a mess when she left. I can't even recap it. Charlie will bring me my iPad periodically and say he wants to talk to Nana (on Facetime) and that he wants to go to Nana's house. He loves his Nana! We were sad to see her go. It was a really fun week, which I will always remember.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Erv and Nancy Come to London!

With all my first trimester exhaustion and general bleck-ness, I haven't been able to blog about our big event in early June - my parents coming to visit! They flew here as soon as my mom got done with school for the year and arrived on the third day of the Queen's Jubilee weekend. 

We kept so busy while they were here and when Charlie and I had to take rest (because he is 3 and I am pregnant) they would take off on their own and go see more! My parents have strong public transportation skills, especially after visiting my sister Meredith in Brooklyn last Christmas. They got around London like it was no big deal. 

We saw a lot of sights and ate some fantastic food (most of which tasted so good I didn't care what my stomach was saying) and did a little shopping. 

We checked out the Jubilee festivities on the day they arrived, walking around Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and St. James's Park. That evening Brad took my dad to the pub across the street from us for a beer.... and there was an unexpected performance of Handel's Messiah. What that has to do with the Queen, I'm not sure. But they really enjoyed it! 
One of the day trips I'd really been wanting to do, but saving for their visit, was to take a boat tour on the Thames to Greenwich. Greenwich has one of the last surviving clipper ships in the world, the Cutty Sark, that reopened in April after a 6 year renovation. We were able to tour it and the Maritime Museum, which had some really neat exhibits and a kids room for Charlie to play in. 
We also introduced my parents to the greatness that is Byron Burger. As if they knew we were coming, the special burger of the month (in honor of the Queen, of course) was a spicy chile burger. My dad felt right at home! 

Brad had to work the next day (actually 3 days) so we got some lunch and my mom and I took Charlie to Southbank Centre to ride the carousel, eat ice cream and play at the playground. 
My mom, Charlie and I met up with my dad at the Imperial War Museum, thinking we were just going to pick him up and head home.... but when Charlie saw the lobby filled with airplanes, tanks and trucks, he got so excited we had to stay for a while. Not a museum I had originally considered for Charlie, but a big hit all the same!
My dad also went up to the Royal Air Force museum and thought it was even more impressive than the Imperial War Museum. Do you see a trend in the types of museums my dad enjoys??

While he was doing that, my mom and I took Charlie to Harrods for lunch and to run around the huge toy rooms. This is Charlie's ultimate way to spend an afternoon. I checked out the maternity section, but of course they had nothing that would work for me at such an early stage.

After I showed my mom the Harrod's food hall, we agreed we needed to take Dad back there. The food halls at the major department stores in London are like giant gourmet grocery stores. They have anything you can imagine: produce, meats, fresh fish, cheeses, breads, pastries, coffees, chocolates, ready-made food.... it's amazing. Foodie paradise. Brad took Charlie for their special morning, so we had a French breakfast and checked it out!
Later on Saturday the Spooner clan was tired, so my parents took off to see St. Paul's Cathedral, Shakespeare's Globe and some famous pub that a friend of my mom's used to work at. These attractions are on the other side of the river, but my parents went down and back on the tube no problem! 

We got a babysitter for Saturday night and all went to dinner to celebrate Brad's birthday. Earlier in the day we had a German chocolate cake for him (mix and frosting brought over by my mom from the states!) and sang happy birthday. Charlie loves celebrating birthdays and helped blow out the candles!
Sunday my dad and Brad went to the Churchill War Rooms and to lunch while my mom and I took Charlie on a picnic and to the playground at St. James's Park. The weather was of course not great, but we sat outside and got ice cream cones anyways! Because it was June dangit!

Monday was my dad's last day and I am trying my hardest to remember what they did! British Museum? At some point they went to Winston Churchill's favorite cigar shop, I remember that! I took Charlie to school and was ready for a nap by the time we got home. One thing I remember about that phase of pregnancy was my eyes burning a lot from being so tired.

We had a fun French dinner out in Chelsea the night before my dad flew home. It was very traditional French food - even had Crepes Suzette for dessert! It was a really fun way to end his trip.

Charlie got so upset the next morning when my dad left. My mom was staying another week - I don't know what would have happened if they had both left on the same day! Each time we would come home to the flat, he would ask where PawPaw was. We would tell him that he had to go home to Dallas to take care of Odie (my parent's shih tzu) and Charlie would say he wanted to go to Dallas too! How can you argue with that? Kid's been homesick for a while! 

Anyways, it was a great visit and we fit a lot in. Charlie loved having PawPaw come visit!  And my dad even managed to sneak a few cigars home! 

Weekends and Weekdays

I know I have no right to complain about this to a bunch of people suffering through an oppressive heat wave-ridden summer..... but it has rained EVERY DAY here since I don't know when. I am so. sick. of the rain. It's not even exciting rain, like a thunderstorm. It just rains. We've been doing our best to press onward, despite the yucky weather, but I would say our summer itch has not been scratched.

Charlie's nursery school wraps up their term on Friday of this week so daytime entertainment is going to be 100% on mommy! Please PLEASE let the weather improve! It is so hard when your two options are:
1) stay inside a small flat where the downstairs neighbor is constantly on your case about noise and we are sick of our small toy collection, or;
2) go out walking in the rain with a preschooler who doesn't LIKE the rain and is quite vocal about that and try to find something to do indoors that isn't insanely crowded.

The moral of this story: We are starting to really look forward to going home!

We've been keeping busy on the weekends with mostly indoor activities. We have a little tradition here of Brad and Charlie going off to do something on Saturday morning together and I get some time on my own. This is nice because Brad and Charlie don't get a lot of time together during the week and I get a chance to go see some London sights I can't really take Charlie to.

Most of the time they go to Starbucks (because Brad is addicted), then to Hyde Park to play with the soccer ball for a while and then get some lunch. When it's raining, this plan gets thrown off and Brad isn't sure what to do with Charlie! This rainy Saturday they attempted to see the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, but the crowd was so insane they left.

Afterwards they went to Harrods to pick Charlie out some new shoes, but Charlie wouldn't commit. We bought him these Saucony sneakers in January that he refuses to part with. There is no way they can still fit.

All the same, with shiny new shoes on, he still said he wasn't really sure! He says that a lot now - I'm not really sure. Most of the time it's when you really don't care whether he is sure, like when he needs to eat his dinner, take a bath or go to bed! Or just wear some shoes that fit.

Sundays are typically family time and we do something together. Last Sunday we finally made it to the London Transport Museum, which was really neat! I think it was created with 3 year old boys in mind. Charlie ran around the whole time, very excited. He pretended to drive every vehicle he could and wanted to check out every single exhibit. I highly recommend. We may have to go back. The adult tickets are good for a year and kids are free.
This Sunday we took Charlie to see the Lion King! We've talked about going for a while, but it typically sells out and we haven't planned well enough before. We went to the matinee today and I have to say, the show gave me chills like I haven't had since I saw Rent for the first time. It's amazing. They have hired the most talented singers and dancers for that show and the costumes blew me away. Powerful is the only word to describe it. And we're talking about something that is based on a Disney movie people.

Charlie was enraptured for the first half. We had floor seats and he loved the animals coming down the aisle. He also clapped his little hands every time the audience did! He was just starting to get antsy at intermission so we got him a little cup of ice cream and settled in for the second half.

The two second half opening songs were breathtaking, but then the pace slowed considerably. Lots of dialogue and slower songs and I could tell the attention span was waning. I kept hoping the music would pick back up and catch his attention, but it didn't.  He started making too much noise and we had to leave. I think 2+ hours is actually pretty good for a 3 year old boy, though. I'm glad he enjoyed the parts he was there for.

This week we will be wrapping up school and have a big final picnic on Friday. Brad and his dad are heading to the British Open next weekend and he is sooooo excited! A lifetime dream come true.

As for me, I'm going to need to keep this little guy busy and myself distracted.... because next Monday we find out if we're having a boy or a girl! Woohoo!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bump Pic

A little self portrait with my phone in the mirror. Not a great pic! This is me at almost 15 weeks. I've had a cheeseburger gut since 8 weeks but it's finally starting to pop out a little bit more and look like a proper baby belly. People are noticing more. And by "people" I mean the teachers at Charlie's preschool and random waitresses.  

I'm looking forward to being able to wear actual maternity clothes instead of having to get creative with normal clothes. Such a pain. I have a couple of pairs of maternity jeans from TopShop but they fall down all the time. Not big enough to hold them up yet. 

Charlie has a bad cough so we are home again today. I will not miss the inside of this flat one bit when we go. Ah, and it just started to rain again - awesome!! We are taking Charlie to see The Lion King in the West End on Sunday, so I was going to download the movie for him to watch. The DVD is $8.99 on Amazon but to buy it on iTunes it's $19.99. I mean???

That's all from here!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Cravings Comparison

My cravings this pregnancy feel stronger than they did with Charlie, where I spent the first 5 months just trying to survive morning sickness. While eating Toaster Strudel. On the flip side, I don't have as many food aversions this time. There was so little that sounded appealing while carrying him. So I'll take the cravings over that. 

Lately I've been feeling ok most of the day, though I'm still a little sick in the evenings. I'm not as tired and can make it through most days without a nap now. My eating habits have changed, though. 

For one thing, I can't drink milk without getting really sick to my stomach. I appear to be lactose intolerant while pregnant. Odd, huh? I've switched from lattes to tea. How British of me, eh? I miss milk, though. And bowls of cereal. The soy milk here is nasty so I've just stopped eating cereal. I sometimes stare longingly at the carton in the fridge. 

When I was pregnant with Charlie, no matter how sick I was, I could eat Italian food and it would sit ok. With this baby, it's Mexican food - which isn't even that easy to find here! There are a few places and I've been eating at them frequently! I've even been making some things at home with the few ingredients I can get here in London. Old El Paso has never seen this amount of sales off of me. 

I also want very watery fruits - cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew. I eat them every day. In real life I like watermelon, but could live without the other two. Part of it is that I'm thirsty but I don't want water. I've had a hard time finding drinks without aspartame that aren't too sweet. 

And my usual chocolate-loving self has no use for it now. It's strange. I'm just... not interested! Instead I want very tart things. Lemon sorbet mostly. I would probably not turn down a key lime pie if they had that here. A lemon bar if it was realllllly tart. 

Oh and the gummy bears. I CRAVE gummy bears. I have not been keeping them in the house because the last bag I had was gone in an hour. I feel kind of lightheaded just envisioning them! That's just bad. Really, really bad. 

I keep thinking now that I'm in the second trimester things will go back to normal, but so far they are holding steady. I think this may just be how things are for the duration!

Monday, July 9, 2012


Brad got me a Kindle for Mother's Day and I have been reading so much more. I always considered myself to be a die hard paper books type individual, but it's just so light and convenient. Since I haul a bag of stuff around all day, everywhere we go, it's nice to have some entertainment that doesn't weigh me down.

This past week I've been tearing through the Divergent Trilogy. Well, the first two books - the third is yet to be released. It's a great summer read; a page turner with interesting characters and is well written. I'm in awe that it's the author's debut novel. Well done Veronica Roth, well done.

For some reason I also got into a parenting book kick. While I've purchased a couple of books before just to check myself and get ideas on age appropriate discipline, the books I've been reading lately are more about parenting approach.

I read Bringing up Bebe, which was a fascinating read. I'm not interested in raising a French child, but they have some really good approaches that are worth reading about. I've downloaded The Three Martini Playdate and Free Range Kids but are not far enough along in either to comment. If you are familiar with any of those books, you can probably see the direction I'm headed. I think it's called Long Range parenting.

Another area I'm interested in reading about is getting kids to eat well. I feel like Charlie's diet is getting worse and worse as he gets older. We started with a universe of food he would eat as a baby and he has slowly worked himself down to a very short list of acceptable foods. Things he used to eat happily, he is now refusing.

While I understand this is common and normal, I'd like to see what I can do about it. And I don't want to just hide good food in what he thinks is his normal food. I want him to actually eat good food! The parenting dream: a child who eats vegetables.

How to achieve it? I'm not sure yet. I've started with French Kids Eat Everything. The French definitely have us beat in children's eating habits, but the book isn't terribly encouraging so far at the halfway point. I need to look into some alternate titles.

If anyone has any suggestions on books in these areas (or just fun summer reads) I'd love to hear!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Update on Charlie

Since I haven't been blogging, I haven't really been documenting what Charlie is like at this blessed age of 3. And that really is one of the purposes of the blog, so I thought I'd do a little catch up. 

I was watching some of my flip videos the other day from earlier in the year and am realizing how much he has grown up while we have been living in London. He is.... definitely THREE now. Those of you who have or have had a 3 year old boy will most likely know what I'm talking about. They seem to be their own breed. I was ill prepared for what this would entail. 

Charlie has always had a lot of energy and been very curious. You turn your back for a second and there WILL be pancake mix all over the kitchen floor. He's also always been very physical. Climbing, pushing, pulling, running, knocking things over.... it can be fun to watch, but also a lot to keep up with. 

The age of three has brought with it an increase in all this physical activity combined with the dropping of the afternoon nap. Combined with eating less than ever. Combined with asserting his independence. Resulting in some pretty tiring and/or frustrating days. 

I realize that asserting independence is totally normal for a 3 year old. All 3 year olds do it. I would guess almost all 3 year old parents hate it! Charlie is quite spirited (a nice word for willful) and so we run through the same discussions (a nice word for disagreements) many, many times before he knows what the boundaries are. 

Some days this feels like he is fighting me on every little thing from the time he wakes up until he goes to bed at night. Even when provided with two choices, the selection is often None! Neither! Yuck! Enforcing two choices could now be listed as one of my major hobbies. 

Don't even get me started on him going to bed at night. We will be trying the big boy bed again when we get back to Richmond in September and I am *dreading* it. This child fights sleep like it is a life or death situation. I hope we can get it under control before the baby comes. 

That's not to say it's all bad with him. Some days he is sweet and loving and not so disagreeable. There are a lot of times we have so much fun together and I just want to eat him up again. He is genuinely entertaining to talk with. And watching him play soccer or tennis or climb on the playground or try new tricks on his scooter is always fascinating to me. He's so serious and determined about it! 
He loves all sports and being outside. This may be one of the main reasons he talks about going back to Richmond so much; we just finished up the rainiest June on record EVER and our opportunities to play outside have been limited. He is like a caged animal in this flat when it rains. And I am the insane zookeeper. 

I had a parent/teacher conference with his key person at preschool this week - which sounds more serious than it was. I got a binder of his artwork/drawings for the term, which was actually kind of light. She told me that he is so into the physical play that he doesn't ever sit down for long to work on those types of things. 

This was not news to me, though it's always interesting to hear it coming from someone else's perspective. As much as I would love to be able to sit down and do drawings or crafts or make cards to send people... that is not the child I have.  I feel good that his focus on things like that will improve as he gets older. Until then, he just has too much to get done and ohmygosh a fire truck! 

Because of the older boys at preschool, he is very into super heros lately and that has been hilarious. He told me a couple of weeks ago that Ben 10 is really cool and do I think Ben 10 is cool? Yes Charlie, Ben 10 is cool. (spoiler: we have never watched Ben 10) Spiderman is another favorite. Charlie's impersonation of spiderman jumping all around is quite entertaining. Well, maybe not for the lady downstairs who thinks we make too much noise. 

And I will say that one of my favorite parts of him growing up is all the talking he does. He will tell me about anything - true or make believe or plot lines from the books we read at night. Sometimes he talks the entire way home from preschool! That's about 30 or 40 minutes. 

He'll also start belting out songs out of nowhere. Wheels on the Bus, Itsy Bitsy Spider and some of the praise and worship songs from preschool are his favorites. Everyone on the tube today was treated to a heartwarming rendition of wheels on the bus! 

So that's kind of the mixed bag we're dealing with here at age 3! While this is a tough age and definitely not my favorite, we have decided not to sell him. On days when Brad and I are feeling worn out, I point out two things: 1) the same qualities that make him difficult are the ones that will make him amazing when he is older; and 2) we are throwing a really big freakin' party for his 4th birthday - for ourselves.