Friday, 14 October 2011

Thoughts on Day 2 of Nursery School

I am sitting on a cushy leather sofa in the Kitchen and Pantry coffee shop in Notting Hill with my phone and my computer to occupy me….yet I am still counting the minutes. I am far from home and feel almost in limbo. I am supposed to be enjoying this time to myself, expanding my mind, thinning my waist, basically wallowing in the sudden alone-ness that I have for three hours every morning. Yet the unenjoyable commute to this far off neighborhood and the stress of getting Caileigh to school happy, full and hopefully sort of clean has gotten to me after just two days. I'm barely enjoying the time to myself, maybe because it is bracketed in an hour on either end of something boarding on unpleasantness.

The worst part of this is that I knew about it. I wasn't thrown into this situation by someone else. I chose the school. I chose it. And goddamn if one of the first questions Hubby asked wasn't, "are you sure you're going to want to make that trip every day? Are you sure? 40 minutes? Really?"  The question was echoed by every new mom I met, when nursery school inevitably came up in conversation. I was so cocky and confident and willing to sacrifice what I imagined was a bit of down time on the sofa by myself for the betterment of my child. A second language is an amazing thing to gift your child with and when the parents don't speak a second language, a school must be found to fill the gap. Well, this is what I keep telling myself. 

Caileigh seems to enjoy the school. I asked her over and over again yesterday what she did at school and how she liked it. I was told, again and again, of the purple coloring on her hands and almost nothing else. [Sidenote: the purple marker did not come out in the bath last night and is still faintly visible on her hands, therefore I consider one of her first nursery school lessons to be - color only on paper not on your hands or clothes, I don't care if the lesson comes from me it's still a nursery school lesson.] She was at school for two and a half hours and I couldn't get her to tell me how she spent any of her time. Eventually as the day went on, and Hubby came home to ask the questions in a new way, we learned of her snack of water and apple slices, and of the pink cup the water came in. And possibly about a bumped finger, whether it was Caileigh's finger or not I couldn't tell. What I wanted and wasn't getting, was a blow by blow, video re-enactment, of my daughter's first day in nursery school. The one tidbit I got from a teacher was that, at snack time, Caileigh wanted her raisins, so got them herself from her backpack and then went around the room giving each classmate one raisin each. The teacher seemed touched, I was relieved that my daughter's sweet sharing inclinations extended to school. I considered it a sign that she felt comfortable being herself even while away from me and wasn't reverting to a shy scared little girl. 

So my daughter is enjoying herself. I am not. What don't I like about sitting in a coffee shop for 3 hours every morning, you ask? I don't know that I can pinpoint it 100%. It feels wasteful, in so many ways. I don't want to HAVE to pay for a coffee and a snack every day to earn myself a spot in a coffee shop for an extended amount of time. I don't want to have to pay for WiFi that I already possess at home. I don't want to sit reading or playing online EVERY DAY Monday through Friday, as though it's an obligation. I'm not sure I like the totally unproductive use of time. There's no cleaning being done at home, no errands run, still no groceries in the fridge when we get in from school. I don't want to stray too far from the school in order to avoid additional bus or train fares, the commute to and from school is already about eight pounds a day, much more than my previous transport costs were. I'm sure there are more things, but these are the ones that are bothering me this morning. 

Is this enough to change my mind about a bilingual education for my daughter? There are no French nursery schools in our neighborhood. There is however, a newly opened Primary and beyond school that has just opened. Meaning if I stick with this commute and provide Caileigh with a good background of the French Language, she could be going to the British equivalent of kindergarden at a French school three minutes from home. But that is in two years…are we even going to be in London in two years? I've made a "no more moving" promise to myself before, they don't hold up well. It also can't be guaranteed that Caileigh will be given a spot at the school. 

Would it be more financially prudent to find a closer nursery and then hire a French tutor? At least we wouldn't be paying for commuting and coffee costs. Would it be terrible to take Caileigh out of a school she obviously enjoys already? Possibly more importantly, what does Hubby think of all of this? Perhaps I should ask my second half and allow him his views, I'm sure he will have one or two. 

Friday, 22 July 2011


I swear to G&d that my flat was designed by a GIANT with no logic.

I'm trying to instill some independence in Caileigh. This is turning out to be more difficult than it SHOULD be, what with simple simple things like turning on the bathroom light requiring assistance. The light switches all over the flat are at shoulder height for me and I'm 5'4". Yes, I know I live in England and they don't use inches and no, I'm not actually going to measure how high they are - you're going to have to go with my vague, non-technical estimate.

This is just one example but it's the most annoying one at present, can you tell?

Friday, 15 July 2011

What We've Been Up To Lately

Iconic Kentish Town graffiti, extended family in Paris, Tottenham Court Rd on date night with Hubby, Hubby and Caileigh stretching before a run on the track, yummy cupcakes, a tea party with friends

What have you been up to lately?

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Cheesy Product Endorsement

I have had two separate "ah-ha!" moments since I've moved to London that were entirely based on my use of new (to me) products. Others may already be aware of these super useful products but I wanted to put my two cents out there for any other mums or moms, since they are available in both the UK and USA, that may be interested in them.

First product is actually a line of cleaning products. As Hubby can promise you, I do not enjoy cleaning nor do I do it frequently. I normally wouldn't pass along recommendations or gush about a cleaning product, but while using these I actually stopped mid-cleaning and stared at the bottle in my hand, amazed that little lazy old me had gotten such a fabulous result with very little effort.

The company is Ecover and they have a wide range of products. I have been using the Washing-Up Liquid, Multi-Surface Cleaner, Lime Scale Remover (totally necessary in London) and just recently switched to using their Hand Soap. All of their products are green and ecological and have pleasant, light scents.

The "ah-ha!" moment came when I finally got around to cleaning the mirrors in the master bath and realized I didn't own any glass/window cleaner, not a big surprise. So I used the Multi-Surface cleaner and suddenly it was as if I was in an Ecover commercial, it was that good. So now I am a convert and as I run out of other products such as laundry detergent, I'll be buying Ecover.

If anyone is looking for something new to try I recommend trying out this line. The product list on the US version of their site is pretty extensive, so you should be able to get the full line whether you're in the UK or USA.

The second product is Pampers ChangeMats, disposable changing pads. This is obviously a child's product and most will say they don't need disposable changing pads because most mothers have a reusable one they carry with them everywhere they go. I haven't used a disposable changing pad since Caileigh was 8 weeks old and we were traveling via air to see Grandma and PeaPaw.

I did a lot of research and finally found this product. I'm using it not for diaper changing but for potty training. Typing that out actually makes me think of pee pads used for training puppies, which I assure you is not the case. It's been the perfect purchase to protect the stroller seat from accidents. I've also used it to cover upholstered chairs in restaurants when we are eating out. I just lay the ChangeMat on top of whatever piece of furniture that I don't want Caileigh to pee on (umm so all furniture). The mats are reasonably durable so on a good potty training day I can reuse the same mat over and over.

Hubby was mighty skeptical that the ChangeMats would actually prevent puddles dripping onto the floor but I was able to unexpectedly test out the ChangeMats and their absorbency when my washing machine started to leak one morning. Even with a decent amount of water the ChangeMat didn't leak. That's all I was looking for!

While a disposable pad isn't very eco-friendly, I was in need of something light weight and portable since I would be carrying one or more around the city all day. Also, if one is soiled, it goes straight into the garbage. I felt my options were very limited due to my city living status and this was a great solution for me.

Have you ever used either of these products? Do you ever use something new and it's so amazing you can't help but tell people about it?

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Norway in Photos

Hubby, Caileigh and I spent the past four days in Norway, traveling through Oslo, Bergen and a small (but popular) part of Fjord country. I have a ton to say about the trip but wanted to share photos since I've already uploaded them - shocking I know!

There is a lot to say about this trip, we encountered so many (some really, really unexpected) things: a private concert, being surrounded (literally) by models, planes trains boats, more trains and cars, Norwegian cooking, crazy fellow tourists, kindness from strangers, great coffee…..

I'm tempted to start writing everything out now but still really feel the need to relax and do nothing after four days of constant "going". Enjoy the photos, crazy stories to follow!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

A Weekend in Paris

Hubby, Caileigh and I spent a weekend in Paris two weeks ago. We had an amazing weekend and were disappointed to have to go "home" to London. 

We stayed at Hotel des Deux Iles on Ile St. Louis, the neighborhood we fell in love with on our first visit to Paris way back in 2006 (07?). The hotel was a bit mediocre but the location can not be beat. Hubby provided us with a late night dinner from a local shop of delicious yogurt, very stinky cheese, bread and wine that Friday night once we made it in from Gare de Nord train station. We would have loved to eat out, but a Friday night in Paris after a two hour train ride didn't seem like the best idea with Caileigh in tow. 

Saturday we had breakfast at a local brasserie on Ile St. Louis. Hubby loved that locals were popping in and having a quick beer before heading out, at 8am! We tried out the Centre Pompidou, a huge modern art museum, being under the impression that it was a child friendly place. The only reason we stayed for over an hour was to try to get at least some of our money's worth of culture before admitting it was an awful decision. We are not modern art fans and it was NOT a place I would knowingly take a child. Way too many displays within reach of a two year old.

We had a bit of a walk around, enjoying the people watching and stumbling across interesting finds, like this fountain and a small playground in the middle of a busy intersection. Caileigh loves all the fountains in the cities we've been to. This one pictured was the perfect size for Hubby to chase her around for a bit of exercise. 

A nicely timed nap meant Hubby and I enjoyed a quiet lunch street-side in the Marais neighborhood. We spent most of the lunch discussing all the people walking by.

Once Caileigh woke up we introduced her to the very Parisian, Nutella crepe, from this spot in a small alley in the Marais :-)

You can see the crepe maker in the window there. Hubby had to wait in a long line, but we decided a long line meant they were worth the wait. We were right!

It was a big hit, I was barely allowed a bite.

But I did get a big chocolaty kiss.

And since we didn't have any type of agenda for the weekend, we stopped here for some actual fun-time (unlike the museum). These are all over the place in European cities, I have no idea why. We did this in Bruges as well.

It was a very relaxing day and really enjoyable, despite the unexpected cold. We got the chance to visit the much coveted photograph of Picasso that Hubby found on our first visit to Paris. Yes, it was still there! It seems Hubby has very unique taste in art and it hasn't sold. The price has gone up considerably though, doesn't it figure? 

We did get the chance to sneak in a nice dinner that night, with the help of several Dora the Explorer's on my old iPhone. If you ask Hubby though, the only edible part of the dinner was Caileigh's child entree of plain chicken with yellow and orange carrots. Since we speak almost no French, Hubby ended up with PIG'S FEET as his appetizer and something unidentifiable as his entree. He went to bed hungry that night :-) 

Sunday we took a boat tour of the Seine and then spent the afternoon at the Jardin du Luxembourg. This park is a haven for kids!! We will be going back again in order to get into the playground. When we arrived on Sunday the wait for the playground was over an hour! Everything in the park had a fee, though the two things we tried, the "swings" and the carousel were worth the money. 

Tip: If you try the carousel at the Jardin du Luxembourg, wait inside the fence with your toddler in your arms, and as the carousel slows follow alongside a child on a horse on the outside who looks like they're getting off and quickly throw your kid up on the horse. It's the only way to get an outside horse, which allows your kid to experience the old fashioned golden ring game using a wooden sword. 

I know that sounds like the actions of an overbearing parent, but I myself tried this twice and failed miserably at getting Caileigh an outside horse. Which of course she wanted. I was so embarrassed at my inefficiency, especially compared to those French moms that were showing me up. But now I know for next time :-)

Champagne on the Eurostar on the way home really capped off the weekend.

We had so much fun we're going back this Friday, to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary, with Caileigh!