Monthly Archives: January 2014

Sweet pies

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I had forgotten how Brazilian people love babies and children. I’m shocked with the amount of people that stop to talk to us because of Bea and Laura, some even going to the “extreme” of holding them.

I normally don’t mind; I’m just surprised because my daughters are adorable, cute, smiley and fun but mainly to my eyes. I do remember looking at babies on the street, saying hello, etc, but never stopped what I was doing to play with a kid or changed route because I saw a baby.

And it’s everywhere: restaurants, beach, traffic light, touristic spots… All sort of random people and situation. My kids seem to enjoy the attention as the smile back snd say hello. Beatrice got to the point that she throws herself to people she “likes”, or nudge them. Not to mention the biggest smiles.

As for me, I don’t know much how to behave. The British side tells me it’s lacking a bit of personal space, but I like to see the good in people and rather have my children surrounded by happy loving people than by people that would rather have them with the mute button on.

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Laura’s snippets

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It’s been a while since I last posted some Laurisms, mainly because I forget to write them down.

Here are some of the things I can remember that made us laugh:

We were planning our day during breakfast and we decided to go to Arembepe:
Me: apparently there is a hippie community there
Laura: and maybe there is a hippiepotammus too!

We have had a few incidents where Laura called people “stupid” (our fault), so I was telling her it was a bad word and we shouldn’t call people this name. A few days later Laura and daddy were arguing:
Daddy: no, you cannot have chocolate again!
Laura: you shouldn’t say this to me, it’s a bad word!
Daddy: what?!?
Laura: that I cannot have chocolate! You don’t say this to people!!

Laura’s new thing is starting sentences with “weeeeeell”. Sometimes, “well” is the sentence. For example: “Laura, you cannot have ice scream before lunch”; “weeeeeeeell, but I want to”. Daddy was taking her to the pool, after a day at the beach:
– Laura, we are going to the pool, but you need to have a shower before, ok?
– Weeeeeeeeeell…
(Ok, it’s not as funny as the real thing, but I assure you, it was hilarious)

Laura is a very shy girl when it comes to making friends. We went to a restaurant for dinner and there were some kids playing together. She asked me to go with her and play with them, which I did. She was mute, just looking. After a long time playing, they left. She was very upset, saying that the kids didn’t want to be friends with her. After dinner she went back to play on her own, but then a boy showed up and they played together until it was time for us to go. On the way back, she told me: “mummy, I found a friend! I really liked that boy.”

Conversation at the natural pools:
Laura: mummy, I want one of the thingy that we put on the eye and mouth to swim. 
Me: the mask and the snorkel? Do you want to dive here?
Laura: No, I don’t want to die, I want to see the fish.
Me: dive, Laura, not die.

Me: Laura, what’s your favourite place from holidays at the moment?
Laura: Old Mac Farmer!
Me: Uh?
Laura: Old Mac Farmer had a farm, ia ia Oh
Me: we didn’t go to a farm
Laura: ok, so I like this beach here. But I like Old mac farmer too, it’s so pretty!
(No matter how many times we correct her, she always says old mac farmer)

Laura had a wee in the sea for the first time.
Me: it’s ok to wee in the sea but not in the swimming pool, ok?
Laura: ok… Why?
Me: because the sea takes the wee away, but in the pool it stays there
Laura: ok.
Me: So, there, have a wee
Laura: NO! I have to take my bikini out!
Me: why? Just wee now.
Laura: no, I’m gonna wet my bikini. Take it off!

“Look, mummy, I’m Dora the explorer”
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15 Travel tips for stressed parents

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One of my new year’s resolution was to not stress/freak out during my holidays. I failed it badly. I got stressed several times, got grumpy and freaked out. And we are only half way through. God help us all.

Mr C and I don’t travel as much as we would like to simply because we are too scared of how hard travelling with kids can be. Yes, it is hard, bizarrely hard and sometimes not even worth the trouble. But it can be fun too and I dare say it gets easier less difficult the more you do it. So i put together a list of tips and things to remember when travelling with kids IF YOU ARE THE TYPE OF PARENT THAT DREAD LEAVING THE HOUSE WITH YOUR CHILDREN. (you might want to consider councelling/therapy because it’s not normal/ok to be scared of your children… But I know the feeling):

1) make a list of places you would like to visit and check with friends, bloggers, strangers which are kids friendly and suitable for kids same age as yours. If the child doesn’t like the place or is bored, your holidays are ruined. On the other hand, if the place is great for children but you hate it (let’s say you hate themed parks/Disney), you are going to ruin every one’s holidays.

2) take lots and lots of activities books/magazines if you are going on a long haul trip. Colour in, sticker books, story books (this will also help with bedtime) and if your child is in to it, ipad all help. Long haul flights are a pain, but they take you to the best places, so it’s worth the effort to start your holiday well. The way back might be harder…

3) routine is good, but only if it works for everybody. Back home I’m a sargeant when it comes to bedtime. My kids are in bed no later than 19:30-20h on a bad day – normally it’s 19h. They were so into it that even when we are on holidays, they start getting tired around 18h and can easilly fall asleep at 19h. But what if you are somewhere nice and want to stay longer? What if the kid is too excited and cannot sleep? It’s best to relax a bit and hope for the best. If you panic all the time with routine, you won’t have much fun and will end up stressing the whole family out. Yes, it’s hard to go to bed at 22h and wake up at 5h, but eventually children sort their internal clock out. Same for eating. The kid won’t starve, so it’s not a problem if you skip a meal or if the child refuses to eat. I’m still breastfeeding Bea, so we are not that regular with her meals. We give her fruits whenever we have them available and if I can get some, I also give her rice, beans and vegetables.

4) things never go according to plan when you have children, so don’t bother planning to much. Make a list of things to do and decide in the morning. Give room to cancelations – some times all the child wants to do is stay in the hotel room and watch TV. Sometimes it’s worth trying to convince them to go out, sometimes it’s not. Just don’t do anything too labour intensive if you had a bad night or if you are in a bad mood.

5) stick to the basics. The amount of things we carry when going out with children is overwhelming. Pushchair, towel to protect from the sun, sunscreen, hat, bikini, spare clothes (3 sets, just in case…), arms bands, baby carrier, inflatable pool, towels to dry and to sit on, flip flops, shoes, food, cameras, nappies, creams, colour in book, umbrella to protect from the sun, travel potty,… It’s always hard work to pack and to leave the house, then a pain to walk around carrying lots of bags. Pack what you think you need on the previous day and after 2-3 days you have an idea of what is useless. One thing we have been taking, even though sometimes it’s like carrying an elephant, is the pushchair. Today it was awful, as we had to walk on the sand for a long time, but we used it to put Bea to sleep, so it was worth it. But I cut down on some useless things and slipt everything into two bags, as opposed to one – easier and lighter to carry.

6) Smile to strangers. People are more likely to sympathise with you if you smile and are nice to them. If they are rude or don’t do something as expected, smile. Always smile, even if you are angry.

7) ask for help. When you are on holidays, people tend to be more relaxed (everybody seems to be more relaxed than you, even those with five children) and helpful. Don’t forget to smile when you ask for help. And think you are asking a favour, not that it’s the person’s obligation (even if it is).

8) take someone close to you on your holidays – mum, in law, sister, best friend. If they are not of much help, at least it’s someone to talk to (and carry the bags).

9) if you are angry, frustrated, furious, take a break. Lock yourself in the bedroom for 5-10 minutes or go to bed earlier. Of course, make sure someone is looking after the children.

10) shorter holidays (1 week,10 days) are better than longer ones if you want to rest. No one relaxes and rests when there are small children to be looked after. Holidays are now synonym of adventure, adrenalin, hard work. Think boot camp. Don’t bother bringing loads of books unless you suffer from insomnia. Longer holidays are good if you have other people to help with the kids – otherwise you will need holidays after these holidays. Also, the shorter your holiday is, the smaller your luggage will be.

11) If you are staying in a place for a week or more, consider renting a flat with kitchen, so you can prepare a quick meal in the evening or early morning. You can use this breakfast time at “home” to start making your child tired. Hahaha also good for planning and chatting about the day ahead or buying some time if you are too early for an attraction (we’ve been waking up at 5-5:30am so nothing much to do at this time, unless wr go straight to the beach)

12) respect your child’s pace. No point trying to do lots on one day. If the kid needs a nap, try to find a place for a nap. If the child got tired of going to te beach, take the opportunity to read a book while the little one watches TV or draws.

13) safety first. Avoid trips to A&E by giving your child plenty of water, keeping him/her cool (or warm, if it’s a winter holiday), and always looking where he/she is. If you panic on holidays in general, you will panic even more if you child gets ill.

14) say sorry and talk to your husband/mother/in law/child if you explode. They normally will understand and forgive you quite easily if they know you “didn’t mean it”. Say when you are not happy about something – nicely, explain how you like things done. But try – just try – to be cool when things don’t go according to plan. You don’t want your baby to have sugar before she is 1? Perfect! But your eldest will give her ice cream as soon as you get distracted. It isn’t good, but it’s not the end of the world; no need to freak out, just be more vigilant next time and explain your reasons.

15) eat good food. It works for me: if I eat something I like, I’m kinda happy. And everybody – even your hyperactive children – needs to eat, so it’s an easy family programme to fit in your schedule, at least twice a day. I’m sorry to say, but not everything you like can replace eating. :/

If you are a true panicker, you can try as hard as you like, but you will still panic at least once during your holidays. With some luck, it will be just once. I panic before, during and after each holiday, but I’m determined to stop reduce that.

Holidays – part 1

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And we are here in Salvador, ending the first part of our holidays. Tomorrow we are driving to Praia do Forte, somethig like 70km north of Salvador.

Yes, I always have the hope we wil do loads during our holidays, spend 12 hours in the beach, walk everywhere, etc. Truth is: I love the sun and summer but I can’t stand high temperatures without air con on. The reason why I don’t complain about the British summer is because it will never get as hot as summer in Brazil. Salvador is cooler than Rio and yet temperatures here are between 30 and 40C. Yes, I’m feeling sick. And the biggest failure is having a husband that doesn’t like air con. I can’t even breath here.

Anyway, back to doing loads. We are limiting our days to ONE thing and that’s all. Pelourinho one day, just an hour. The zoo on the other, for a couple of hours. And it has proven too much for the girls. And us.

In terms of food, the idea of eating less because of the heat doesn’t work for me, especially if the room has air con. We are not having dinner, though.
With jet lag, tiredness and strict bedtime routine, by 6-7pm every one is in bed. And by 5-5:30am every one is awake.

Today we had a really awful event at our hotel, which only shows that we have to be all eyes and ears in our children. A 5 years old child drowned in the pool of the hotel. I don’t know the full details and I don’t think it matters now, but the thought of it made me want to cry. We were going to have lunch by the pool, we noticed the ambulances on our way there, then everybody looking at the pool, then the pool emptier than normal. A member of the staff told us that they didn’t have conditions to serve any food, everybody was in shock. It was shocking. It is still. It just take two seconds for a child to drown. Laura lost her balance a couple of times in the baby pool (it’s really shallow) and we had to help her to her feet. What if we were there? Or that quick? We were even saying that it looked like she was swimming, not drowing. We are never just one of us with the two of them. About the boy, we don’t know how he is – I was told that the paramedics were trying to revive him for over an hour and they managed to, before taking him to the hospital. I’m praying that he will be well.

To end the post on a positive note, some few photos (i’m not using the mobile that much, so not that many to share).

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And Happy 2014!

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Now my year has officially started. The last 10 days I was in limbo were quite hectic and not super duper.

I’m writing this in the plane, on our way to Rio. Laura is watching whatever on TV and Bea is driving daddy crazy. The flight was meant to take off at 12:20pm, which overlaps with her second nap. Of course she is fighting with all her strength NOT to sleep, too much to see, too much to do, lots of people around to annoy. Sleep isn’t as fun. But the poor thingy is so so tired that it’s heartbreaken.

I cannot complain, though. Despite being quite tiring to be awake, I haven’t had any problems with the two. They played, they ate, they watched TV, but very little tears (and all from Bea’s side and all because she was tired). Bea was all smile to people around her, giggling at any and all display of sympathy from others.

We had a little play area next to our seats and stayed most of the time (turbulance permitting) playing on the floor. Luckily, after several hours trying, Bea gave in and slept. It’s 20:45 UK time and she had an one hour nap when lunch was served and went to “bed” around 20h, just one hour behind her normal time. I won’t be surprised if she wakes up several times, though, as her chair is quite uncomfortable and the lights are on.

As for me, I am tired, couldn’t watch a film or finish my book, but I’m pretty pleased with how smooth the flight is going. And so happy that my little trouble maker, Laura, is behaving so well. She has been asking why we are on the plane for so long, why the plane is not going, how many sleeps ’til Brazil, but not moaning about it.

Three more hours to go. Let’s hope they are as good as the previous 8 hours.

******

Bea woke up after dinner and didn’t go back to sleep until now, midnight local time (2am UK time). Laura had a two hour nap and now doesnt want to sleep. Great!

All good, though. We are ready for some more tomorrow. 🙂

The last day of MY year

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So I decided that 2013 will end today. Just because.

Things about the last day of my year:

I woke up with a strong headache and eye pain. Because Laura wasn’t sleeping well, came to our bed and (by accident) kicked me on the eye. I cried in pain.

It was a freezing morning but a beautiful sunny day. The conservatory, after a boost of heating, is at 36C.

I’m having sweet potato and coconut soup for lunch and home made lemonade full of demerara sugar (I needed it).

I’m washing the last load of dirty clothes. Not because I finished it all (I keep finding dirty clothes everywhere), but because I had enough.

I’m almost all packed. Just one more luggage and two hand luggages to go.

Despite the rush and stress, Laura will have a final play date this afternoon, here in our home. Because life is never stressful enough.

Beatrice turns 8 months today. Cuter than ever but not enjoying her sleep that much.

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Beatrice’s first word

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Mama. 😀

I’m doomed! She will now figure out that I’ll do anything if she calls “mama” with a crying voice and I’ll be her slave.

She’s been saying mama and mummy for a week or two now and I’m still not 100% sure she means it. But I notice tht she says it when she needs “rescuing” or a cuddle or milk. So, it has to be mum, right?

Babies have this thing of immitating sounds and parents have this thing of swearing their babies are talking – then they get frustrated that the babies stop saying the words out of the blue. Laura was like that. Beatrice is like that. Besides mama/mummy, we also heard daddy and “Laula”. We ALL heard, not just me, ok?

I cannot imagine how this house will be if Bea talks as much as Laura…

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