Monthly Archives: June 2013

On travel, superstitions and addictions

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Laura: Daddy, I’m going to Brazil tomorrow.

Daddy: No, it’s not tomorrow.

Laura: Now?

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Yes, we are going to Brazil! Tickets booked. We are going in January (yes, 2014…) and the plan is to visit Salvador, Bahia (Northeast of the country, if you are not familiar with the place). I don’t know Salvador (I was 2 years old when I went there) so it will be a fun family trip. We are still working on the details and I will share the plans once they are more than just vague ideas.

Mr C is going for just two weeks, but the girls and I will stay for longer and come back with my mum. It will be a summer holiday for us, while it’s winter in the UK. It should be boiling hot, like 40C+, so wish us luck! Not now, we still have a long way to go.

Before this trip we should go to Romania, and for the first time (for me), not in winter. Hurray!

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My mum’s trip is coming to an end, in a week she will be heading home and I’ll be on my own with the two little misses. Hmmm, I hope it won’t be too hard, but one thing is for sure: ironing clothes will not be a priority in this house. Actually, housework will have to be secondary, unless it means cooking for Laura and washing the girls’ clothes. Everything else is secondary.

One of the great things about having my mum here was to hear stories of our family. My mum tends to repeat stories from time to time, but there were some “never heard before” stuff. For example: I didn’t know that my grandmother didn’t go to my other two aunts weddings, just to my mother’s. Apparently they weren’t in great terms at the time of their weddings, so my grandma decided not to go. I can’t imagine being angry to my daughters to the point that I won’t show up to their weddings… My grandmother also went to my mum’s graduation parties at university, which my mother didn’t show up!! If this thing of having a favourite child is true (*), it’s safe to assume that my mum was the favourite child. ha-ha.

I haven’t met my grandmother, I was one year old when she died, but she is very present in my life, from the stories my mother tells me to little things my mum replicates because her mum used to do. An example: when her children had hiccups, my grandmother used to place a wet piece of cotton on their foreheads. There’s no explanation to it. My mum does the same to Beatrice.

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Do you believe babies can get addicted to certain things from very early days?

My daughters knew how great it is to sleep in grandma’s arms since they were tiny, a month old or less. And of course they want to carry on sleeping in “someone’s” arms after the grandmothers leave.

I’m glad they get over this addiction after certain age (and before getting too heavy).

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Relaxing therapy

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I found out that cooking is more relaxing than eating. I eat because I’m anxious/stressed/happy/hungry/bored but it doesn’t always make me feel better. When I cook I drift off, I relax, I don’t think about the problems. Some people think that cooking when you are stressed is not good, because all the stress passed on to the food. If it’s true or not, the fact is that I am way more relaxed after the food is ready that everybody around me is more relaxed as well. If they will get sick eating the stressed food is another thing.

As with any manual work, I’m useless. I struggle to make things look pretty, my hands aren’t firm and precise. But I don’t let this put me off cooking, because it’s all about “the inner beauty”. If the dish is yummy, it doesn’t matter if it’s not looking great.

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On Friday mum and I defrost the freezer to clean it as the door was barely closing due to the amount of ice that accumulated on the drawers. I had a couple of things for a long time in there and I decided to get baking.

I bought this Jus Rol ready made pastry to try at home. I got two options: one savoury and one sweet. I started with the savoury as I was also preparing lunch. The sheet didn’t fit on any of my baking trays so I cut them in two. I prepared a very simple recipe to start with – tomato sauce, cheese (I only had leerdammer cheese, my favourite at the moment), ham and oregano. I cut the squares before baking them, just to make it easier to separate them, but the package doesn’t say anything about that.

The conclusion: the pastry is great, I can’t believe I didn’t try this before! It’s quite messy to eat though. I used sliced cheese, so the cheese melted and disappeared; next time I will use bigger chunks and I will also choose a cheese with stronger taste. I will also experiment with different flavours; when I was a kid I was a big fan of puffy pastries with pineapple and bacon. Yummmm. I accept suggestions of toppings!

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The savoury option

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The result

I decided to try to make berry tarts with the sweet pastry, but I didn’t have the ingredients for the recipes I found online, so I had to improvise. The inspiration came from lime pie: 1 can of condensed milk + the juice of one lime + one teaspoon of vanilla paste + the juice of the berries I had (it was quite thick), all blended together to a cream. It is simple and it doesn’t require cooking. I had frozen berries in the freezer but they weren’t sweet, so I added some sugar since the cream wasn’t too sweet.

The conclusion: this thing is a time saver and I can focus on coming up with new toppings – I want to try pineapple, lemon, ginger and nuts. Learning for next time: I need bigger and deeper circles so it can hold the cream properly. They taste quite good, especially when chilled!

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Tah-dah!

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Preparing it

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They look right, but they are too small and I only noticed it after they were ready

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The first one looks good

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The rest looks a bit messy

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I’m in love with this

52 objects: week 46

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What is it? A hair brush – no, actually, my favourite hair brush.

Where is it? Normally in the bathroom.

Why was it chose? I was never a fan of (self) brushing my hair, but after I got this brush I really enjoy it (it doesn’t mean that I do brush it, though). It massages my scalp and untangles my hair really quickly.

What else? In total, I have three brushes and one comb, but this is the only one I use (the others are just in case I can’t find this one, which happens sometimes).

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Life in the UK: doctors and dentists

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I’ve been here for 8 years and I can say I’m pretty used to the “system”. Sort of.

Health system is free to everybody, but you have to register with a General Practitioner near where you live (or sometimes next to work), who will be your family doctor while you live in the area (or until you decide to find a new one). We found one as soon as we moved to this area and we are happy with it (as happy as you can be with public health system). I had all the ante-natal check ups (with midwife) there and only had to go to the hospital for scans.

All the kids vaccines are also done there, which is quite practical. Beatrice is due to her first set of vaccines in two weeks time and Laura will have her pre-school booster in September. The vaccines here are not the same as in Brazil because some of the diseases have been eradicated in the UK, but with so many immigrants in the country, they have offered “special” vaccines to certain group of people. I have been offered BCG for Beatrice as Brazil is in the list of countries in risk of Tuberculosis. Laura didn’t have it and I can’t find my BGC mark, so not sure I had it although my mum said I had.

For special needs, we have to be referred to a specialist in the area. We’ve noticed that Laura’s right foot is slightly bend towards her left foot, causing her to trip over it. I went to the GP to referred me to an orthopaedist. I am waiting to hear back with an appointment date at the hospital but it isn’t something quick to get. I’m not stressed yet because it isn’t a major issue for now.

Although appointments are free, medication is not. The prescription is charged a flat fee, so if you have a prescription for one box of whatever medication or for 10 boxes, the price will be the same. Some medications don’t require a prescription (eg Paracetamol) and can be cheaper to buy over the counter as opposed to having a prescription. Children and pregnant women up to baby’s first year are entitled to free medication, but only when they have a prescription. Laura’s GP have never given me prescription for Paracetamol or cough syrup, so I have always paid for them. I don’t mind, because I only get them once in a lifetime, but if the kid has these sort of medication all the time, their parents should request the prescription to save money!

Dentists aren’t free but some accept NHS patients and it is a lot cheaper than the normal price. I know some people don’t like dentists here, especially via NHS, but for the simple hygiene and check up, I think it is ok.

When we moved to our new area, I had just given birth to Laura, so I was entitled to free dentist (from pregnancy until the baby is one year old). I registered with a dentist not too far from us and went there a few times. When the fee exemption expired, I called them to book a routine check. To my surprise, I was informed that I wasn’t registered as an NHS patient and would have to pay the full fee.

Life carried on, I forgot about it and recently I realised that I haven’t been to a dentist for two years (shame on me!!!), not even during the second pregnancy (shame on me twice!!!), and I kept forgetting to look for a new dentist to register with. Hubby has his clinic not too far as well and said they are good but they must be so bloody good that they only have appointments in six weeks time. I booked, but now that I set my mind to it, I don’t want to wait that long. I found a new one, close to Laura’s nursery and booked for mid-July. I hope they are good and I can stick to them for a long long time.

It will be Laura’s first visit to the dentist – it is recommended that children go as soon as they have teeth, and children have free treatment until they are 18.

The Little Sis

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She will be two months old on the 10th of July but it feels much longer! I think it’s because a lot is happening at the same time…

Little Bea is growing as expected, weighing 4.5kg now. She makes lots of baby noises, sometimes it feels like she is really trying to talk. She is very curious, looking at everything and everyone, turning her head when she hears a sound. Her neck is also quite firm, she can support her head for a few seconds (minutes?) and doesn’t want to stay all the time on her back.

She has mastered the art of sucking and her feeds are now quite short – less than 10 minutes. She also feeds between 2 and 4 hours, and wakes up once or twice for milk (but she doesn’t cry – I know because she starts sucking her hand very loudly).

She sleeps around 2 hours (sometimes less) a time during the day and now she has been sleeping mostly in our arms. Whenever we put her down, she wakes up in 5 minutes. She sleeps through the night relatively well, but wakes up around 5 and 6am and only goes back to sleep around 8am.

And because sometimes she cries a lot and it’s not hunger or a dirty nappy (probably colics), I gave in and introduce her to the dummy. She took it but not without a fight and she is still reluctant to have it most of the times. I gave up – for now – introducing the bottle.

She has a huge red spot – birth mark – on her back, which we only noticed when she was a week old. The health visitor said it will fade and become smaller when she is around 2 years old. Nothing to worry about.

She is a DUCK! She eats and she poos. It might be normal, but Laura wasn’t like that when she was a new born so I’m quite surprised with the amount of poo that comes out of this little girl! She poos all the time, even in the bath!!!! Geez, and bath time is not easy with her… Laura used to love it since a baby, but Bea seems to be annoyed. I think she feels cold. And, no, I still don’t give her a bath every day. I’m trying to find the best time but it seems that whenever I’m ready to give her a bath, she is either hungry or upset or sleeping. So young and already mastering the art of skipping her bath.

I don’t think she has a clue of who the heck we all are. I’m the lady with the milk, grandma is the lady with nice arms for sleeping, Mr. C is the guy with scratchy face and Laura is that very loud girl that keeps trying to stick her dirty fingers in my mouth.

She isn’t smiling as such, but she has a smiley face. And from what I can see, she will have an adorable smile.

I have to say that sometimes I feel like I’m a first time mum looking after Beatrice. Everything seems to be new: bath, nappy changing, putting clothes on, cutting her nails… the only thing that seems natural is breast feeding, but even then we have our clumsy moments.

The Big Sister

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It has been less than 2 months that Laura has become the big sister and we have been through all sorts of phases.

When Beatrice came home, Laura was delighted and wouldn’t stop starring, touching, kissing, chatting to her little sister. She also sort of rejected the grandparents. It was a bitter sweet situation, so that Mr. C cut short his paternity leave by a week – his presence in the house, believe it or not, was making Laura be even more aggressive to her grandparents. She had mood swings; sometimes was great, sometimes was in a bad mood, throwing tantrums whenever she didn’t have things her way (and she wouldn’t even know how she wanted things to be).

Laura didn’t want to leave the house and wanted to watch TV all the time, which was driving me crazy. The thing was: she didn’t want to leave me and she didn’t want to leave me alone with Beatrice. We have been testing several ways of dealing with her to see how she would feel in different situations.

In the meantime, we also decided to send her back to the nursery. I never wanted to take her out of her nursery in the first place but it wouldn’t be possible to drop her off and collect her in central London. I was broken hearted and I think Laura felt the same. So you can imagine the mess in her head: separated from her friends, having to share her parents with a new person, her mum was most of the time nursing a little baby, and the grandparents were here to keep her “out of the way” (in her mind). On top of this, the afternoon naps have stopped for two weeks and it makes such a difference at the end of the day – she is knackered but she won’t give in! And of course, there is the summer time and daylight coming at 4am, so her sleeping patterns are a bit of a mess and I think she has been more tired than usual. Oh, and did I mention that we cut her bedtime milk? Yes, we did and it was quite hard for her in the beginning, especially with Beatrice having milk every hour, but she is kind of over it now.

After a roller coaster of emotions, here is how we are:
* Laura has changed her behaviour towards her grandmother. Yes, sometimes she is not a sweet little girl, but generally speaking, she has been behaving quite well.

* My mum and I alternate the attention between Laura and Beatrice. In the beginning, I was quite a lot with Bea (because of the feed and because I wanted to enjoy her) and then my mum was quite a lot with Bea so I could stay with Laura. So now we see how Laura’s mood is and we ask her what she wants to do and whom she wants to play with. And when Bea is sleeping or just happily quiet, both grandma and mum give attention to Laura. It seems obvious, but it’s not when you have a newborn demanding attention full time and with no routine yet.

* Hugs, kisses and eye-to-eye contact have been part of our lives even more. And a lot of talk and explanations and laughter. But some bribery and shouts as well.

* When Laura isn’t at the nursery, she is the priority. We look after Beatrice, but Laura will get our attention always. And the only housework that is done while Laura is at home is preparing lunch and dinner because Laura has to eat – everything else is left for when she isn’t around.

* A lot of preparation is required. We adopted Supernanny’s countdown method and it is working. “Laura, 5 more minutes and bath time is over”, “2 minutes and you will put your toy away and have lunch”. I also let her know what is coming next. So in the car, on our way home I keep telling from time to time that the first thing we are doing is having a bath (or eating or washing our hands). So she is always aware of the next move.

* A lot of negotiation is also required. “No, you cannot have lemonade, but you can have apple juice or orange juice”. “No, you cannot have this candy now, but you can have it after lunch”.

* Some giving up also happens. Some days I am just too tired of everything to be bothered to argue with anybody, especially a three years old. I know I shouldn’t, but for the sake of everybody’s sanity, I do. So, last week, she was exhausted after a day at the nursery and had a massive fit, screaming like someone was killing her (I can’t even remember the reason) – it was hard to give her a bath and to dress her in her PJs. She begged me for milk. I gave her and she felt asleep immediately, with the bottle in her mouth, at 7pm, without brushing her teeth. Honestly, it was the best I could do – I wouldn’t torture her, or myself, or my mum and Bea, we were all exhausted. But normally we are very strict: no milk (especially bottle) in bed and no sleeping without brushing her teeth.