Wednesday, 30 April 2008

On The Good Side

A few posts ago, I noted down the things I am NOT looking forward to in Guadeloupe (you will also be glad to hear that Bertie filled all visible holes, and despite a scrabbling at the window the following evening, no sign of the mouse since - phew!).

In order to reassure Dad that there are some good reasons for going, I put my mind to drawing up a list of things I AM looking forward to - if there is anything you don't recognise, just ask - or come on over and see for yourself!

Having my own room!
Having a bedroom with a door leading onto a balcony
No damp
Pretty much constant sun
Being able to plan a picnic or trip without consulting BBC 5 day forecast
Not getting fed up at BBC 5 day forecast being so very wrong, again
Palm and coconut trees
Mangos, passion fruit, guavas, bananas picked straight off the tree...for free!
No parking restrictions
No parking attendants
No parking fines
The smell, sounds and feel of the Caribbean
Watching the kids having a great time in the sea, 30 degrees warm
Visiting my favourite beaches - Port Louis, St Anne
Watching the sun set in Deshaies
Accras, colombo, sweet potato, pineapple
Kassav, chi chi on the beach, tourment d'amour, chaudeau, bokit
Not having to endure the sun setting at 4pm and rising at 8am
Making sorbet
Bertie's homemade juice
Just getting together with folk and doing things, not having to book 3 months ahead
Speaking French more often
Getting to know the in-laws
Putting washing out in the morning, taking it in again...that morning!
Drying out in seconds after it has rained
Seeing Christmas and Carnival
No heating bills or coats
Not having to bribe the girls to put their tights on!
Church on the beach
Showing visitors the many delights of the island
Seeing Bertie so very happy to be home

Pretty In Pink

Seeing me collapsing under the weight of a heavy To-Do List, Mum kindly took things in hand and the girls are now fully prepared for the hot months ahead with some very pretty and (more importantly) very light dresses. Can anyone tell me what this style is called? Apparently it is very fashionable this summer!

Thanks to our models who kindly posed - can you believe CassCass actually stood still and faced the right way for the camera?! Wonders will never cease...

Well, even top models have to let their hair down occasionally!
I have been told before that the girls are tall, but it is a bit ridiculous sizing that LissaLou is wearing a 7 year old dress and CassCass size 4-5!


Sunday, 27 April 2008

Silly Sausages!

That's what mum has taught the girls to say when they smile for photos (though CassCass yells it out facing completely the wrong direction usually!) I'm not sure if that's what Baby JoJo was trying to say, but here are some attempts at his first smile. Correction, he can smile perfectly fine - here are some attempts to catch his smile on camera!
And at six weeks, here he is holding up his head beautifully: For those interested in his progress, Baby JoJo is now sleeping even more than when he was born (if that is possible!) His heartless mother keeps trying to wake him and get him into some kind of routine, but he is having none of it! He did manage two nights of sleeping 11pm - 6.30am with only one waking - wow! Reduces my blogging time no end though!
He still has this cold he has had since practically birth, and is constantly coughing, spluttering, snuffling, snoring and generally sounding most pitiful. He has failed two hearing tests on one side as a result, so we are off to the advanced test this week. His nose is often running, and in the footsteps of his sisters, he is a most sicky child. Hold him without a cloth at your peril! Because he is either full of cold or gas wanting to come up, he has been wanting to be held lots recently, which means that I have achieved very little, and can be a bit frustrating. Hopefully we can tempt him back onto his playmat and into his chair soon.
In those rare moments when he is awake, he loves to gaze adoringly into his mother's eyes (or whoever else happens to be around!) and every now and then bestow a sweet smile on her, at which her heart melts and she forgets the night wakings, and all the other downsides of newborn days!

Picnic In The Park

This is one of our favourite family activities, and whilst our rations were rather meagre this time, the principle was the same - throw down the picnic mat and let the girls run off all that steam that causes havoc in our tiny flat!

Hmm, not the best photo ever, but you get the idea!
Umm, what delicious fare!
Eaten so daintily!
Ahh, this is the life! (doesn't he remind you of his daddy?!)
One day, we may just be lucky enough to get CassCass in a posed photo like this one! She reminds me of Maria from the Sound of Music - how do you catch a cloud and pin it down? How indeed!
At this point, LissaLou shouted across to me "I am breastfeeding!" I can assure you, I am not quite so public when performing the same activity...

And for those wondering what our scrumptious picnic dish was, wonder no more!Ever so nice jam tarts (note the finger pointing out which one she was going to eat!) and the chef:
With her willing helper (only in eating them - she slept through the making! Probably a good thing!)

It's Springtime! (Finally!)

Another trip to our local park and I got to snap that blossom tree: and this lovely couple smelling the beautiful blossom:
Here are the ducklings:And as the temperature rocketed up (and a little girl came home from nursery early, apparently bored with her lunch - ??), we ate on the balcony for the first time in 2008:
Not the first time we have seen such a messy mouth though!

Or such a sweet smile!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Of Mice And Other Fears

Oh dear. As I sit and feed at the unearthly hour of 4am, I fear I just saw a mouse flit across the room. I do hope that it was just a figment of my imagination as i really don't like having mice in the house, and it would be about the fifth time! They can't crawl into moses baskets can they?

Which brought me to thinking of the things I am NOT looking forward to in Gwada, of which there is quite a list! It starts with not mice, but

mille-pattes (especially in the shower!)
driving on the left side
driving at all, surrounded by crazy dangerous drivers and unlit roads
continual heat
answering the phone in french (I shall train LissaLou to do this for me)
boudin and dombrey (black pudding and dumplings?)
pig's tail
being thousands of miles away from family and friends
traffic jams
having to take the car everywhere

I shall work on my looking forward to list shortly!

NB We had our six week check today, Baby JoJo and I. Not that he is six weeks yet, but there you go. It was a very long process (2 hours and I forgot to take a book!) but the results are we are fine, and JoJo has gone up to 4.7 kilos and 57.5 cm, with a really big head!

No sign of any mouse, hopefully it is safe to go to bed...

Springtime In The Park

We were watching the baby ducks that have just been born - unfortunately they swam away before I could snap them! Another day maybe. CassCass is such a livewire, it is so hard to get her to pose long enough for a photo - or look in the right direction!
Such beautiful tulips are out.

The blossom trees are also looking wonderful, but the weather turned just after this photo, so we hurried home. I shall miss Spring (and Autumn, and Winter - just a little bit!) next year.

Birthday Boy!

I don't know if there are any golf lovers amongst the readership, but here is Trent Park, beloved of Bertie, and where he spent his birthday whilst we visited friends. A beautiful north London park, we had our wedding reception near by too. Lighting the candles...
Singing Happy Birthday/Joyeux Anniversaire!
Blowing out the candles together (oh their delight when the candles relit themselves!)
Thanks to mum for the delicious cake!

Friday, 18 April 2008

Should It Stay Or Should It Go?

One of my dilemmas in planning our trip is what to take with us, especially when it comes to electrical goods. I don't want to have to take too many plug convertors with us! My hand-held blender is a wonderful tool, and as I look forward to baby purees, has definitely booked its place. I am also tempted to take my electric kettle, as from experience the French aren't very into these. However, what about our bread maker? Yes it is big and bulky, but with Chef Bertie in charge it produces such marvellous things, especially now he has purchased this:Indeed, today he produced three of these:So delicious, that within an hour when we thought of taking a photo, there was only this one left! Ah, decisions, decisions!

Joyeux Anniversaire!

Cher Toto, tu es un homme fidele a son Sauveur et un epoux devoue a sa femme; tu es un Papa adore par ses filles (et maintenant son fils!) et un prof respecte par ses etudiants; tu es un super golfeur et bien sur un "bon coureur"!
Je te souhaite un tres joyeux anniversaire et une annee de bonheur, dans ton pays natal. Et oui, j'espere que tu auras un 76 sur le parcours aujourd'hui!

Fond Farewells

I was extremely fortunate in my ante-natal classes when expecting Alyssa, to make some great friends who have been both excellent company and wonderful support through all the baby years and beyond (not to mention delicious cake-makers!). I and two others managed to produce two girls each, and they have become great friends too. So it has been very sad to say goodbye, first to one off to Ireland, then to another off to Malta tomorrow. However, I look forward to keeping in touch and hearing what life abroad is like for these fellow expats! Here are photos from our goodbyes today:

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Water Babies

CassCass woke up this morning and called "Go to swimming pool!" So being the obliging parents that we are, we did! Bertie sacrificially agreed to go in the pool whilst I sat on the side with Baby JoJo in case he needed feeding. Sacrificial, because he hates the chlorine in the water (these people who grew up in the Caribbean Sea are so fussy!). The girls had a fantastic time, it was such fun watching the joy and excitement on their little faces. Bertie did a marvellous job keeping up with the two of them and being in many places at once! They particularly loved the little slide and jumping under the water then coming up spluttering and laughing! They are both full of confidence so I think they will get on marvellously in the West Indies, where I hope we will be able to teach them to swim properly.

The pool doesn't allow photography (won't be a problem at the beach!). However, in the interests of blogging, don't tell them, but I took a few discreetly...Dad's camera is definitely more discreet than my previous one was!

Needless to say, Baby JoJo didn't exert himself quite as much as the girls......oh, except to change position of course!

Such were their efforts that they slept for 2-3 hours this afternoon!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

1 Month!

Definite growth here! I am looking forward to finding out his weight at our 6 week check next Monday. We aim to please on this blog, so any requests will be met where possible! (Although this doesn't stretch to adding more fur. Sorry Berry.) Just for Evs...
He is very alert and active now, and I am convinced that he smiles at me! (What mother isn't?!) Last night he celebrated his first month by sleeping for five hours in a row for the first time! Okay, so it was 7pm till midnight, we shall work on getting it to happen between midnight and 5am. But I slept that whole period (such early nights at the moment!) and was all the better for it! He is big enough for his sleeping bag now and enjoys bathtime with his sisters (brave boy!).

To Do

This blog is supposed to be about our journey plans, but not much has been happening on that side of things, as I have been too busy feeding, changing nappies, enjoying the holidays! However, here is an idea of all the things I should be doing. As I love writing things on my list I have already done just for the pleasure and satisfaction of crossing them off, I have included these in red! (tell me I am not alone in this habit?!)

Book flights
Book Eurostar tickets to France
Send LissaLou's application for maternelle (nursery) over
Allocate all our worldly goods to one of the following
- take with us (work out how!)
- store here (work out where!)
- chuck away
- recycle/give away (work out to whom!)
Cancel bills etc
Set up redirecting mail with post office
Bertie to send off his CV (near completion apparently)
Find some summer dresses for the girls (all the ones I have seen so far have too many layers)
Immunisations (Baby JoJo has his BCG this week)
Dentist (make the most of free treatment while we can!)
Optician (need some good sunglasses!)
Find out about changing our mobile networks
Get an ipod instead of taking all our CDs (debating this one still!)
Buy the game of Risk for Bertie's nephew out there - I promised him this about 6 years ago and he has never forgotten!
Buy mosquito nets

Well, that gives you an idea of the main things, no doubt there are many others that I haven't put. On the passport side, I shall permit myself another rant. I went to the Post Office last Friday and was parted with £53 for Baby JoJo's passport (£53??!!) and told that they were likely to not accept my choice of countersignatory. Grr!! The French passport, which you will remember is FREE for under 15s, doesn't require a signatory at all, and only one photo! So what is all the fuss about for ours? So far the only disadvantage of getting one I have had suggested by my dear readers is "loco Sarko"... Anyway, we shall wait and see if the application goes through.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

If You'd Gone Down To The Woods Today

You'd have seen us up and out very early, making the most of the sunshine (minutes after our return home there was a thunderstorm!) and having a lovely time!
Took a while to produce this but it gives you an idea of playing in the sandpit, swinging on the tyre, climbing the big frame (and getting stuck so daddy to the rescue!), driving the tractor to Holland, having sausages and mash in the little house, daddy attempting a cartwheel (he managed it, I didnt manage the photo!), sunbathing, playing in the woods...
Some quotes from the day:
Mummy: are my sausages ready yet? I'm hungry
LissaLou: no, they're not burnt yet (whose cooking has she been watching?!)
LissaLou (talking about one of the dads at the park): he knew I was a girl because I was wearing a skirt!
The man in the cafe apparently bordered on speaking no english whatsoever! I asked for 2 teas please, and with the most pained expression, he asked disbelievingly, "cheese?!!" Needless to say, that transaction took an awful long time!
Sisterly love! (for a sleeping baby!)
We now have our own personal photographer with us - I gave the camera to LissaLous and told her to take one of us, and she did!
Sheltering from a quick shower on our way homeAnd back home, reading our new favourite book, Happy Hippo, for the umpteenth time with Grandma and Verona (thanks Tom and Pam for another fine choice!)