Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year from Prague


Happy New Year!

We had a great night!  We put the kids to bed at around 7:00 (their normal bedtime) and then we woke them up at 10:00.  We all bundled up and headed out into the streets.

It was a pleasant evening (+6.2 C) and the streets had a few people wandering, but it was not crowded.  We had heard single fireworks going off in our hotel since dusk.  As we walked we could hear and see bursts of fireworks that individuals were setting off.

We walked over to Charles Bridge and picked a spot to stand and wait for the fireworks.  We arrived just after 11:00.  The fireworks were supposed to begin at 12:00, but for the entire hour that we waited until midnight, there were fireworks going off.  They were all around us, and there were all types.  Some looked like professional shows while others were obviously individuals.  The sky was filled with smoke and still more fireworks were popping all around us.  The wait went quickly as we watched everything that was going on, but it did start to rain and snow (light snow that melted).  It got a bit chilly over the water.

At midnight the fireworks barge blew it’s horn and then the “real” fireworks started.  From our side of the bridge we had a perfect view of one fireworks show.  On the other side of the bridge was another “official” show and then there were smaller shows all around us.  It was crazy loud and so colourful I did not know where to look.  It went on for a while (probably about 15 minutes) and then the barge sounded it’s horn again, signaling that the show was over.  Then all of the barges started sounding their horns.

The fireworks were surreal in the historic setting.  They lit up the Gothic towers on either end of the bridge and there was a large statue of Jesus that had fireworks above it for most of the show.  It lit up with an eerie halo.  About half way through the show there was so much smoke that I could not see the fireworks from the official show.  After the show, the smoke rolled over the bridge and was smelly.  It blocked the view almost completely; it was difficult to see the boats on the water.

During the show, individuals were setting off fireworks on the bridge and at one point a whole crowd of people jumped back to avoid ashes and flame.  This causes a bunch of men to fall into me and me to fall onto our buggy.  I broke my fall and prevented further pushing but from that point, a large wall of people were all leaning on each other.

As we walked off of the bridge it was so crowded that it was nearly impossible to walk and people were pushing and being pushed from every direction.  It was complete chaos.  There were people yelling, fireworks exploding everywhere and dropping ashes all over, including on us, bottles all over the ground, drunks stumbling and people dancing.  The crowd was crushing; I can now see how people get squished in football match stampedes.  At a few points I had to carry out 4-year old to prevent him from getting crushed or pushed around.  My husband wielded the stroller like a protective weapon.

Despite the crowded situation and the inherent dangers of trying to move so many inebriated people through narrow passages, everyone was positive and in good humor.  As soon as people saw our kids, they were helpful and extra nice.

After we got off of the bridge and pushed our way through a part of the Old Town we could easily walk back to our hotel.

Right now it is about 1:30 in the morning and I can still hear fireworks!

Jewish Quarter, Little Quarter, Petrin Park and New Town - December 31, 2011

We started out the day by taking a walk to the Jewish Quarter.   We did a walking tour (on pages 82-83 of the Eyewitness Travel – Prague book) and it was beautiful.  The absolute highlight for me was a cubist building – it is nestled among the more gothic buildings and I thought it was really neat.  We also saw the tiny Old-New Synagogue and the Old Jewish Cemetery, which was crammed with crooked, heaving tombstones of all shapes and sizes.  We walked down Siroka road, a fancy shopping street with high-end shops (like everywhere in Dubai, so not that interesting anymore) and then we headed toward the river.

We walked past the Rudolfinum, a beautiful concert hall, and crossed the river using the Manesuv Bridge, which offered great views of the Charles Bridge.  Then, we found ourselves back in the Little Quarter at around lunchtime.  We found a small restaurant to eat at on Nerudova and had a healthy-protein filled lunch (our older son had what looked like a 6-egg omelet).  We also took a rest from walking and used the facilities.

After lunch we wandered around the Little Quarter and into Petrin Park.  Then we crossed back over the river to New Town.  We crossed using the Legil Bridge, which gave us excellent views of the Charles Bridge from the other side.  We saw the stately-but-overly-ornate National Theatre and wandered around Wenceslas Square.

Wenceslas Square was crowded and there was a bustling Christmas Market.  We treated ourselves to a local pastry – dough snaked around a wooden stick and roasted over hot coals, then dipped in cinnamon and sugar – Yum!   It was kind of like a massive, doughy churro.

Then we headed back to our hotel for a rest and dinner of sandwiches in the lounge.

Now I have 2 asides about travelling with kids – just a warning, one is about potty training.

First aside:  our 4-year old is an amazing walker.  He keeps up with us and does not get whiny as long as he is appropriately fed, watered and toileted.  It is so nice to not be held back by him.  We don’t have to worry about putting him into the stroller or making any accommodation for him, he can easily keep up with us adults.

Second aside:  with both of our kids, we have loosely followed the EC method of toileting.  Basically, I read the book “A Diaper Free Baby” and I decided to implement some of the points with both kids.  So, I started to take them to the toilet around when they started to sit independently and just built that into our daily routine.  What that means is that our younger son (now 1) prefers to use the toilet over using his diaper as a toilet.  But, he still wears a diaper, because I’m never sure that I can get him to a toilet in time, we don’t get much warning sometimes.

So, how does this translate to vacation?  Well, it is pretty amazing.  We are at the stage where if I put him onto a toilet he will pretty much “go” on command.  So we take him to the toilet before we leave the hotel in the morning and anytime we are stopped to use the toilet ourselves.  This means that we only have the rare wet diaper to change on the go.  This is excellent.

There are two not-so-excellent features of this arrangement.  First, when he has to wet his diaper he screams like crazy.  There is generally nothing we can do about it in the circumstances.  Second, we end up spending a lot of time sitting with him in public restrooms, which can be gross.  He sits on a toilet-minimizer (which I carry along with us) while we try to prevent him from touching everything in the bathroom.

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Thorough Overview - December 30, 2011


We slept in a bit this morning after our late night and then we headed down to the lounge for breakfast.  Then we dressed up to go for a walk, my plan today was to walk to the tram station, figure out how to buy a 3-day pass and buy passes, then take the tram to Old Town, where we would take 2 historical walking tours (I am following the Eyewitness Travel Prague guide and I planned to take the tours on pages 63 and 77 if you are interested).



We left the hotel and started walking and we immediately came to Wenceslas Square.  This was not entirely the direction we intended to walk, but it did not matter to us.  Wenceslas square was filled with candles in tribute to Havel (who passed on December 18 of this year).  There were thousands of lanterns and candles.


After that we walked to Hlavni metro station (still in the wrong direction) and saw the State Opera House and the National Museum along the way.  Then we got our bearings and walked into the Old Town.  In the Old Town, we wandered the streets until we came to the Old Town Square where the Christmas Market was going strong.  There were rows of vendor booths and we grabbed a quick lunch of sausage and kebab on bread.  While we ate we watched the astronomical clock on the Town Hall strike noon.  It is quite a spectacle.  It is a giant cuckoo clock that plays out a scene when it strikes the hour.  The scene is this:


  • Death lifts up and turns over an hourglass
  • Then 11 of the Apostles and St. Paul move around in a circle lead by St. Peter.
  • Then a cock crows and the clock chimes the hour.


Wow!


Next our diaper bag broke.  This was incredibly annoying as it was the first time I had ever used it!  I have a really good diaper bag at home (a Skip Hop that I adore), but it is a bit clunky for travel, so we decided to bring this other smaller diaper bag that I got for free from Boots (but it was apparently a £30 value).  It was complete junk, the handle ripped right off; leaving us in the lurch – thanks Boots, I’m so glad we relied on this product (with a sarcastic tone).  I had to sew the handle back on in the hotel this evening – it isn’t pretty but it should hold.


We wandered around Old Town some more and then gave in to temptation and crossed the Charles Bridge.  This is an amazing pedestrian-only bridge between the Little Quarter and the Old Town.  I had intended to go to the bridge another day, but we were in a walking mood today, so off we went!

The bridge is dotted with huge statues (many are Saints) on both sides from one end to the other.  There is a huge Gothic tower on either end of the bridge and an array of buskers, trunk salespeople and street artists from end to end.  Fun fact about the bridge:  many of the statues are copies – the originals are in storage for safekeeping.


We wandered around in the Little Quarter for a while and we marveled at the creepy marionettes for sale in the little shops.  Across the river in the more-touristy Old Town, the marionettes were Pinocchio-like affairs, with pleasant, cute faces (except this one strange Michael Jackson marionette).  But in the Little Quarter, some of the faces were garish, disturbing or gargoyle-like.  The shops also looked like they were geared more toward professional puppeteers, not tourists in the Little Quarter.


We found ourselves heading up the hill toward Prague Castle and in we went, even though it was also not on the schedule for today.  (Those of you who know me will understand how hard it was for me to give up this scheduling control).  Prague Castle is like a small walled town and you can walk in and look around or choose to go into one of the many attractions for a closer look.  We walked through St. Vitus’ Cathedral, which was absolutely packed, to look at the stained glass windows and the grand ceilings.  The outside of St. Vitus’ Cathedral was amazing with Gothic details, hideous gargoyles (much like the marionettes!) and flying buttresses everywhere.


We wandered around the outside areas of the Castle and then briefly walked into the Hradcany neighborhood, also not on the schedule. 


Then we started back to our hotel, as it was getting to be late afternoon.  We stopped at Tesco for some basic foodstuffs (yogurt, apples, spa wafers).  Tesco was an absolute madhouse!  It was so busy I have never seen anything like it, including Boxing Day shopping in the 1990’s at West Edmonton Mall before online shopping was around.  Then we picked up sandwiches for supper and diapers for the baby before heading to the hotel.


We ate supper in the lounge and then headed out for an evening walk around Charles Square.

So far, I love Prague!  It is a beautiful, clean city (with lots of trash cans everywhere) with nice people.  For me as a tourist, the infrastructure seems solid (i.e. I can drink the water and not fall through the sidewalk) and the basics have not been overpriced.  The architecture is amazing and it is a “small” city to walk around.  The cobbles have not even made my feet sore!


The weather today was chilly – it was about +3 C and it drizzled from time to time.  We didn’t get cold, but we were dressed well (or we are just really tough Canadians!).

Getting to Prague - December 29, 2011


Yesterday we flew from Aberdeen to Prague.  Here is my account of what happened.  All in all, it went well with a few minor bumps along the way.

At about 12:30 we took a taxi to the Aberdeen airport.  When we arrived we learned that although we planned to “gate check” our buggy (For those not in the know, this means you get to keep your buggy until you get to the gate and as you board, they put it into the hold of the plane.  Then when you disembark the buggy is waiting for you at the gate of the airport.), our plane was not large enough and the flight was full, so it was impossible.  This ruined our whole luggage plan.  We had intended to carry on all of our baggage and then avoid baggage collection in Prague.  Since we had to go to baggage collection anyways to collect the buggy, we decided to check all of our bags.  This meant a bit of last-minute shuffling at the gate as we re-arranged our packing.

After we checked in we were way to early for our flight so we went to the British Airways lounge and had a snack.  One perk of my husband travelling for work is that he has lounge access and hotel upgrades in lots of places.

Then we boarded a completely full flight and flew to London.  I like landing in Heathrow, it seems to me that the flight path goes right over most of the major landmarks of the city!

After landing we did the normal “Heathrow scramble” sans buggy and ended up in Terminal 3, where we would catch our connecting flight.  We headed straight to the British Airways lounge, where we were turned away at the door!  This was quite a surprise after spending time in their Aberdeen lounge.  The doorman at the Heathrow lounge decided to count our 4-year old as an extra guest and told my husband he had too many guests.  So, we headed out to the cattle-pen holding area and bought lunch sandwiches.  I checked into a courtesy stroller (the lady at the Aberdeen airport told me Heathrow should have them) and the desk operator just looked at me like I was an idiot…sigh.  After we ate, we needed more milk for the baby.  This turned out to be a trial.

After searching every business at Heathrow Terminal 3, we determined that none sold any “normal” milk.  One sold chocolate or strawberry milk, but that is not acceptable for a 1-year old.  So, my husband took the baby to the lounge and got milk there.  He said that the new doorperson (note, not a “man”) would totally have let us in….lesson learned.

Then we boarded our quick (1.5 hour) flight to Prague.  In Prague, we sped through luggage claim and passport control and our transfer car was waiting for us – with appropriate car seats.  We got to our hotel and checked in, with an amazing upgrade.  Our room has a loft, meaning it is spread over 2 stories.  On the main level is a king bed, the bathroom, wardrobe, coffee and TV and then up a flight of stairs is a pullout couch bed, desk, TV and a cot for the baby.  It is ideal, huge for Europe and totally luxurious!  I really appreciate this upgrade.

By the time we got to our room it was late at night and, after a quick trip to the lounge for more milk, we tucked in for the night.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Off we go!

Today we are jetting off for a few days of holiday in Prague….yes - sunny, beach-y Prague.  Well, maybe not, but despite the cold I’m sure we will enjoy getting to know the interesting and historical city.  It is mid-morning and we are just finishing up our last chores before we need to leave.

When we were first married, (about a decade ago) I used to leave the house in a whirlwind when we went away.  I would leave dishes in the sink, towels strewn around the bathroom and clothes that I decided not to pack all over the place.  I would never make my bed the day we were leaving and I would leave a hamper full of laundry.

Then, we went on holiday one autumn and a friend and her family borrowed our house while they were getting the finishing touches on their renovation.  This was an ideal set up for all of us – we had someone “watching” our inner-city home while we were gone and they had a place to stay to avoid the nightmare of renovation.  When we came home from that holiday, we discovered that my friend had left the house in pristine condition.  It was definitely cleaner than when we had left, possibly cleaner than it had ever been.

It was so nice to come home to a clean house, fresh bed and clean kitchen!  Since then, I have made a point of leaving my house in good shape when I travel.  This makes for a busy couple of days before leaving – so today I stripped and washed the bedding, cleaned the kitchen, emptied all of the waste baskets, put away all of the laundry and I will scrub down the sinks before we leave.  This is on top of packing for me and the kids….lots of work!  But, it will be worth it when we get home.

As an aside, the particular friend who borrowed our house a few years back suffered a heartbreaking tragedy in her family this year.  I have been thinking about her as I cleaned my house.   I hope she is doing well but I can’t imagine that the holidays are easy for her or her family.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

M & S Dine In Treat

On Thursday night my husband surprised me by bringing home M & S Dine in for £10.   It was a pretty big surprise, I had already made dinner, but I do like a treat.  My husband and I sat with the kids while they ate what I cooked and then we ate our fancy food once the kids were in bed.   But, with kids, it’s never that straightforward….

After the kids supper we had cake.  The baby was still quite sick so we put him to bed early.  After the baby was in bed I put the M & S food into the oven and then I played a game with my older son (a game called Rapido – it is awesome for his age and ability level!) and then told him to head upstairs.  He didn’t want to go to bed, he wanted to play the game, and when he finally stomped up the stairs, he woke the baby up. 

So I ended up holding the baby while he brushed his teeth and got ready for bed with my husband.  Once my older son went to bed I put the baby to bed and headed downstairs.  The baby was screaming and screaming.  After a few minutes my older son came down and complained that the baby was too loud.  The complaint about the level of noise was absolutely valid, but he had caused the noise by waking the baby in the first place!  We were going to march him right back up to bed when, all of a sudden, the baby stopped crying.  We didn’t want him to wake up the baby again by walking past his room, so we told him he could stay up for a bit.

Just then our "grown up" dinner was ready.  We sat down with our fancy food and my older son looked it over.  He said “that looks good, but it would not be for me, I don’t like those things.”  I wasn’t really concerned – after all, he was done for the day, he had already been to bed.  When my husband and I started eating and he said “where’s mine?”  I said “where’s your what?” and he said “my food?”  Considering that he had already had supper, a snack and cake this was ridiculous - he insisted on getting some yogurt and sitting with my husband and I while we ate our supper.  He even tried to make grown up conversation.

Anyways, we enjoyed the wonderful food:  salmon en croute; Mediterranean vegetables; and a blondie.  It was delicious - I love M & S food.  Last week I got the duck spring rolls (mmmm) and sui mai and both were divine – light and vegetable filled, but still true to the concept.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dunnottar Castle and Stonehaven


Today was a lovely clear day (if a bit chilly (-1C!)) and we decided to go on a family outing.  We drove down to Dunnottar Castle, which is about ½ hour from our house. Dunnottar looked beautiful in the sunshine and it did not matter that the castle was closed, because we did not intend to go inside today.  We walked on the pathway to the castle viewpoint and took a few pictures.

There were fire trucks at the castle because there was a fire somewhere in the castle earlier.  They cleared away while we were walking around.

As we drove into the castle parking lot, our older son said “I know, we’ve come here to meet…” and then he named a couple of classmates.  I told him straightaway that we were not here to meet anyone, because I did not want him to be disappointed.  He kept mentioning the classmates and I started to get irritated with him.  We parked and got ourselves sorted out (put the baby in the back carrier, put the back carrier on my back and put all of our hats and mittens on) and then started to walk toward the castle.  As we walked I saw a familiar lady – the mother of the classmates our son had mentioned.  He was right!  So we had a nice chat.

After we saw the castle we drove into Stonehaven and parked in the public car park near the Boat House CafĂ©.  We walked along the beach and through town and then sat on a bench to eat our picnic lunch.  Then we drove home past the seaside and through the farmland.

What a lovely outing!  We will have to remember to take all of our visitors to Dunnottar and Stonehaven.

Just as an aside, you may have noticed that we visit a lot of castles.  I love visiting castles, so we bought a 1-year family National Trust membership and we have gotten our value out of it in just a few months.  Dunnottar Castle is not a property that is managed by the National Trust; it is managed by Dunecht Estates Office.   There are large contrasts in management style between the two managers.  In my opinion the National Trust manages it’s properties in a way that respects the historical significance of the property, protects the property and serves to educate the public through visits.  Dunnottar Castle seems to be managed with these goals in mind, but a more commercial purpose at the forefront. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Terrible Mummy!

This year our younger son got one Christmas gift that he adored more than any other gift.  It was a set of 3 “sensory” balls (see: http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=11776555).  Why did we get him these?  Well, a few weeks ago, we were at a play centre and they had these balls.  He took a shine to the large green ball and carried it around for 2 hours straight.  Then, we saw it at the store and he went wild for it.  They were cheaper than expected, so we bought them for him for Christmas.

We really only wanted the green ball, but the set was a large green ball and 2 small balls – red and blue.  He opened the balls last and played with them for the entirety of Christmas Day.  On Boxing Day morning he started playing with them and then we needed to go out to buy milk.  I grabbed the blue ball to take it along and my husband told me to leave it at home.  I had already given it to our son and so I brought it despite my husband’s protest because it was easier than listening to our son cry for it.

We went to the store and came back home and….no ball.  We searched the whole car, still no ball.  I drove back to the store and searched the parking lot and it was not there.  So, we lost it.  It must have rolled out and been picked up, or blown away (it was very windy today).  One day after we gave it to him and he fell in love with it.  And it was clearly my fault…. terrible mummy!  At least we still have the other 2.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas everyone!  This is my first Christmas away from Alberta (I have celebrated Christmas in both Edmonton and Calgary) and my first Christmas away from my extended family.  I miss “home” and my family, but had a wonderful Christmas here in Scotland.

I thought I would share with you the things that our family did today to celebrate Christmas. 

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve day was a slow, relaxing day for us.  We cleaned and did light chores and we also walked into town to stock up on fresh produce for Christmas dinner.  The weather was dry but chilly, but our time outdoors was pleasant enough.  After supper (spaghetti made by my husband!) we made popcorn on the stove – a little treat for the kids.  It was my first time making popcorn in a pot and I was surprised at how easy it is!  A little surprised with how much oil I used as well....

After the baby went to bed I played 2 board games with our 4-year old.  He is really into board games right now; he is just starting to get a handle on how they work.  I am always so excited when he learns a new skill.  On a related note, I was bursting with pride because he is learning how to subtract.  He can do "3 - 2 = 1," which, granted, is not the most difficult math problem, but it is exciting to watch his brain figuring out how math works.

Christmas Morning

We kept the kids in bed for a reasonable amount of time this morning (until 7:30) and then we insisted that they eat breakfast before checking if Santa visited.  Our older son figured he had been round because the hallway light was turned off.  After breakfast of cinnamon twist (a family tradition - a take on cinnamon buns), Christmas shaped buns (I made a Christmas tree, snowmen and a star), and eggs we headed down to open our gifts.

The kids enjoyed opening their presents (our baby likes to rip paper, so this was perfect!) and they loved what they got.  We did not get out of hand with the volume of gifts this year, making it really enjoyable.  Santa found me a beautiful gift at Tiffany's - what a great surprise!

After gift opening the kids played with new toys while we took a few minutes to relax.  My husband has hurt his back so he was glad to rest it.  Then he started to work through our older son's new transformer - it took about an hour to "transform" the first time!  The baby got a ball and a Noah's Ark and he spent all day playing with them – often trying to put the ball onto the ark!  Our older son was into an RC car and the transformers.

Christmas Dinner

For Christmas dinner, my husband picked up a half-turkey from M & S.  The turkey was spatchcock and had slits cut into the breast portion containing herbed butter.  It came with stuffing balls and piggys in the blanket.   We also had potatoes (Maris Piper), green beans and broccoli.   It took 1.5 hours to cook the turkey and it was amazing!  The meat was cooked perfectly (all of it - both white and brown).  I have never had such moist turkey breast meat - maybe that was due to the 3 pats of herbed butter that was inserted into the breast!  The stuffing balls were tasty - little herb-y tasting bites of joyous Christmas flavor.

My older son liked the piggys in a blanket - pork sausages wrapped in bacon.  They were not my favorite part of dinner, but they were definitely his.  After the succulent turkey, the star of the show was, in my opinion, the potatoes.  I bought Maris Piper potatoes, a well-loved potato variety in Scotland.  They were creamy and smooth - I read before buying them that Maris Piper potatoes are so creamy they don't even need milk in the mash - now that I have mashed them, I believe this to be true!  I usually buy Yukon Gold at home in Canada, and the Maris Piper flavor is very different – much creamier.

After all of these lovely dishes, plus gravy and cranberry sauce, we decided that we would forgo a big fancy dessert and we kept it simple with a packet of biscuits and yogurt.

Now the kids are in bed with full turkey bellies - we can relax!  What a lovely, calm, relaxing Christmas!


Merry Christmas Everyone!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

OK, don't panic

  ....it's still me, Janice....it's still my blog.  I just changed the name.

Why?

Well, I have never been married to the name "Janice's blog."  It was boring but descriptive.  I figured that if someone wanted to find my blog that I knew in "real" life, they could search for it with my name and presto! They’d find it.  This approach of boldfaced (uncreative) logic appealed to me, especially since I could not conceive that readers who did not know me personally would read my blog.

But I was not satisfied with the name.  I have looked at the names of other blogs and they are so creative!  The names are creative, but they are often a one-dimensional highlight of a single facet of the blogger’s personality, interests or lifestyle.  This troubles me for two reasons.  If I pick something to feature in my blog name, would readers continue to read my blog for diverse reasons?  For example, would you read a blog with “mama” or “mom” or “mommy” in the name to learn about political issues?  Would you discount the viewpoints in the blog due to the name?  Hopefully the answers are “Yes” and “No,” but it is difficult to control inner prejudices.

My other issue with a blog name underscoring one characteristic of me is this – what if that characteristic changes?  For example if you called your blog “toddler mum,” what happens when the child grows up and you no longer have a toddler?  I guess the answer is clear – you change the name of the blog.

Anyways, I put both of those issues aside and tried to think up creative names.  By nature, I am not really the most “free thinker.”  I love structure, obvious connections, logic and formulas. I also hate “cute,” so words like “tickly” and “snuggle” were out.   I determined through this process that forced creativity comes hard – who’d a thunk it? – and I also determined that I do not want to go very far “outside the box” with my blog name. (All of this may seem a little ridiculous if you know my kid’s names…).  So, I picked the new name and I’m going to run with it for as long as it applies.  If you feel like letting me know your thoughts, feel free to comment or email me if you know me…


Stayin' Home For Christmas

This year we are staying in Aberdeen for Christmas…that is…we are staying “home.”  Aberdeen is where we currently live, so that should be home, right?  It’s strange, but when it comes to Christmas, your home is not necessarily where you live, but where your family is.

We decided not to go back to Edmonton for Christmas - we were just home in the summer and the travel has been a bit exhausting (yes, we are going on a trip later in the holiday, but it is a much shorter journey).  This year I spent an extraordinary amount of time living under the same roof as my parents – just under 12 weeks between stays in Edmonton, Calgary, Dubai and Scotland - and we have had a great year.  We wanted to stay put and enjoy the holiday; avoid the stresses of travel.

We are taking this time to be just our little family.  I will miss my extended family, but here’s the thing – my parents, my grandmother, my in-laws, my sister, my brother-in-law, my nephew and my sister-in-law will all be “away” (that is, not in Edmonton) for Christmas this year too!  It is like the whole family is taking a year off of the traditional “Edmonton” Christmas.

I am looking forward to developing Christmas traditions with our little family and this is definitely the year to start.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cloth Diapers or "Real Nappies"

Aberdeen City Council has a program through Waste Aware Aberdeen called “The Real Nappy Project” - it encourages people to use cloth diapers (they are called “real nappies” here).

I love disposable diapers, but we are trying to potty train our baby and the “pee training” is easier if the baby can feel when he is wet.  It is tough to know when disposable diapers are wet, so we planned to switch to part-time cloth diapers.  The Real Nappy Project sells used discount-priced nappies and they also have a “kit” that they lend out so you can try real nappies to see if you like them.

I borrowed the kit and it was a great experience.  It contained 9 different brands and styles of real nappies to try out.  I started to try out the different brands and I kept notes on each so that I would know which brand to buy.

I was planning on posting my notes about each brand and style of nappy, but after trying 4 different types of nappies I came to a realization - I don't want to use cloth nappies.  What I need to do is put the baby into underwear.  This is what we did with my older son and it was effective with him.  So I got out my older son's old underwear from storage and put them on the baby.  First problem - the small ones are too small!  We'll see how it goes...

I am very grateful to The Real Nappy Project because I came to the realization that cloth nappies were not what I needed while using the free lending kit, and I did not waste a bunch of money on nappies.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Beans on Toast

My baby loves beans on toast.  In case you don’t know – this is canned beans (like pork ‘n beans, but I buy the vegetarian ones in tomato sauce) that are warmed and scooped onto toast.  My husband does not love beans on toast so I only ever make it for lunch.

Last week I made it for lunch for the first time since the baby has been using the potty.  He loved it so much that he ate many servings (probably about ½ cup of beans in all).  Unfortunately, this has put his whole “potty schedule” into chaos.

He is refusing to use his diaper as a toilet because of the potty training work we have been doing with him.  Since the potty schedule is off I now have to get up with him every night to take him to the potty.  It takes forever!  I am up for about an hour with him.  Just when I was getting used to him sleeping through the night…