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That’s My Daughter in the Water

When I got a promotion at work about a year ago it meant that I had to up my working days to 4 (plus a little more).  As a result and in order to make things work for our family, The Native arranged to go down to 4 working days.

Mondays are his Daddy/Daughter Day with The Duchess and to be honest, I never anticipated they would become what they now are.

He makes such an effort to take her out and do things with her.  It has genuinely become a time that he cherishes.  With my marathon of a maternity leave now only days away, we are both grieving losing that Monday because we know what it means to her and we both understand and see that it has really come to be something quite special for him, too.

Today they had a day out in Wells in Somerset.  They visited a tractor shop – as you do in the West Country – and then went on to the stunning Wells Cathedral.  Image

They trundled around the Cathedral, charming (at least in The Native’s account of things) the older visitors.  But the best bit of the day was walking around the moat.  The Native showed me this picture when I got home.  I love her mischievous face.  It tells a story.  And there is definitely a story there.  Image

“I told her that if she caught a pigeon, she could keep it.”

Thankfully she hasn’t yet inherited my insane fear of pigeons and seagulls (and I will argue that there is a VERY good reason to fear them).  She took the challenge seriously.  As a girl should.


“But then she came across this freakishly over-confident pigeon.  The thing wouldn’t move and came right up to her.  She was reaching out to grab it and I had to scream, ‘DON’T TOUCH IT!'”

Hey.  He set the challenge.

Even when The Native “loses” his Mondays, long may Daddy/Daughter Days reign.

Sweet Nectar of Life

Oh, it took me some time.  And as someone who could take or leave hot drinks, I’ve probably had hundreds and hundreds of offers before I finally succumbed.  I couldn’t quite understand how a cup of tea could be the prescription that soothed all sorts of emotional and physical ailments.   I know Americans love their coffee, but the love that the Brits have for their tea doesn’t compare.  Coffee doesn’t FIX things.  Not like tea.

Balancing out or complementing things like a hearty meal, a good sob, a nasty cold, a chilly day, a stressful day, a relaxing day, the best day ever, a household fire, sitting by the fire, childbirth, and unimaginable grief.

But after 9 years, I think I’m finally starting to get it.



Off the Charts

Oh hey.

Remember when I said, weeks ago, that my midwife measured this baby on the 10th percentile for size?

And remember when she said that if he didn’t grow, I might need to go in for a growth scan to monitor how things were progressing?

Yeah.  Remember that?

Somehow I don’t think I’m going to need that growth scan….


…..unless they do it because they are afraid your stomach is going to EXPLODE because of the amount of baby you’re carrying.

Can you make sense of that projection?  Can you?!  Because my eyes can, but my head can’t.  This kid is LITERALLY off the chart.

Can someone please remind me of how I said I don’t put much stock in these fundal height measurements?  Because right now my mind is going to interesting places – bad places – places that fear the headline, “Woman in Britain gives birth to 20lb baby” with a picture of me craddling my toddler-sized newborn.


Bump Update: 33 Weeks


Weeks ago it was as if someone pushed a button and Autumn just was.  There was that crispness to the air and the need to start to layer after a summer where we got to wear SHORTS and feel good about it (pretty significant for England).

We’ve got so much to look forward to in autumn.  The food, Bonfire Night (that is an ACTUAL thing),  traditional carnival in the Southwest, our annual Thanksgiving, celebrating six years of marriage, and of course, the arrival of this little one.

I feel my natural instincts kicking in that delivery isn’t too terribly far away.  Today I spent hours de-cluttering and reorganizing our bedroom – and it.was.glorious.   After doing my Big Night In post, I have this CRAZY desire to make S’more cookies.  I want to paint.  I want to do furniture renovations.   My body is telling me to get this house ready and I’m glad I have (hopefully!) a few more weeks to do it.

And to spend time with this little monster once I begin my maternity leave.

Here’s to autumn!




Bedtimes Apps for your Toddler


Total non-guilty admission: We love technology and think apps can be a REALLY good thing for children.

While bedtime is a time that we genuinely treasure – full of books, made-up stories, quiet songs and last minutes cuddles before The Duchess drifts off – we also sometimes need a step between the chaos of the day and that quiet period.

Here are a couple of apps that we have found have that lovely, calming touch right before the bedtime hour.  Image

Nighty Night is an interactive bedtime app where the user puts each of the farmyard animals to sleep by switching off the light in their room.

ImageIllustrated by Oscar-nominated Heidi Wittlinger and narrated by Scottish actor, Alistair Findlay, Nighty Night is stunningly done.  His beautifully soporific voice coupled with the sound of crickets and that instrument of glory, the glockenspiel, is enough to send me off to sleep.  A free version is available on Android, where your little one can put 6 animals to bed, or there is a fuller in-app purchase option (£1.99) for 13 animals.  On iOS you can purchase Nighty Night for £1.99 for all 13 animals.  Image

The Best Friend introduced us to Sandra Boynton (not in the flesh) when she bought us The Going to Bed Book in hardcopy shortly after The Duchess was born.  We loved it as it was, but when the app was in a Play Store sale, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have an interactive version.

We’re glad we didn’t.  Produced by Loud Crow, the little touches are what make this book especially wonderful.  With the lovely voice of Billy J Kramer providing narration (who I SWEAR sounds like Christopher Walken – you know, if Walken wasn’t so intense), a melodic piano tune playing in the background, and interesting interactive touches on each page – like turning on the bath tap and popping the bubbles from the tub – it is definitely one of our personal favourites and one we’d suggest to all parents of young children.

GoingtoBed2The Going to Bed Book is available on iOS for £2.49 and currently all Loud Crow apps are on sale in the Google Play store.  Unfortunately, I can only see the listing in US dollars, which is priced at $2.84.  This converts to £1.82.

I’d suggest both Nighty Night and The Going to Bed Book for children between the ages of 2-5 years old.

And just as proof that Billy J Kramer was the better choice for narrating The Going to Bed Book, here’s an old video of Walken on Jonathan Ross telling the story of the 3 Little Pigs.


A Big Night In – American Food, Fun and Films

The last time I was pregnant, The Native and I really did sense the change ahead.  A change we were excited to embrace, but one we also knew would mean a more sacrificial stage of life – where adult conversation is a rarity and usually takes place over the bar of a pushchair or in the front of the car once the kiddo has nodded off.  As a result we tried to soak up the final stages of being a two-some by going on as many dates as humanly possible in my final weeks of pregnancy.

And we were right because over two years later, we know firsthand that it’s REALLY hard to go out.  Since we are working parents and because my in-laws provide so much help with childcare in the week, we feel too guilty to ask for anything more when we want a night for grown-ups and often find ourselves in our pyjamas by 8pm on a Saturday.

A Big Night In is just what we need.

So when Little Stuff said they were teaming up with 2 Little Fleas to see what bloggers would classify as a great night in if they had £750 to spend, my mind started to put all of the dates we haven’t gone on since The Duchess’s birth into one night.  And I have to admit that in true Foreigner fashion I went for the extreme opposite of what we’ve been living for the last 27 months.

“A Big Night In.  Red carpet attire.  Catering.  A candelit dinner.  Fine wines (or Schloer for us preggos).  A stringed quartet.  A make-up artist.  Maybe hair too.”

I got a little carried away.

I soon came to my senses and realized that even if I blew 80% of the budget on styling myself like Jennifer Lawrence, I’d likely be the only one to enjoy it.  (Even though I would enjoy it.)

Some of the best nights of our lives have been the most relaxed when we are in the company of people who we absolutely adore.  And as a foreigner, something that has been so significant to me on those nights is when I get to share and enjoy little bits of my culture with those people.  It’s a chance to share a unique part of who I am.

Our annual Thanksgiving meal is one occasion to bring a little bit of America to my beloved Brits.

Our annual Thanksgiving meal is one occasion to bring a little bit of America to my beloved Brits.

So the Big Night In would absolutely have to be an American barbecue.    Because in the Expat Family book, there is always room (and a season) for barbecue food.

Eight of our nearest and dearest would arrive to a cozy backyard layout.  Picture it.  Picnic blankets strewn about with cushions scattered on the ground, a couple of comfy seats, bunting dangling above and fairy lights hung overhead, acting as our British fireflies for the evening.

We’d have a menu solely dedicated to feel good American grub (you guys KNOW how I feel about a good burger).   We’d dip our sweet potato fries in homemade sauce as we sip on fresh lemonade and root beer floats from Kilner glasses.

But the real fun is that when the sun sets.  There was a drive-in movie theatre not far from my house when I was growing up and I remember so clearly going there for the first time as a young child.  It’s an experience I’d LOVE to share with The Native and would love to introduce to some of our friends.

Sure, it’s not quite a drive-in, but a sit-in movie theatre under the stars sounds just as magical.  My in-laws have a projector and screen and so we’d serve up hot apple cider (not the West Country type – but of the spicy, non-alcoholic kind), set up the speakers, light the firepit, cozy up on our blankets, start to toast the S’mores and project a classic American film onto the garden wall.

So what’s in my shopping bag to make our Big Night In happen:

  • £220 for beautiful, adaptable outdoor seating.  And yes, I will be making use of these chairs and cushions after the Big Night In.
  • £40 for fairy lights
  • £40 for Kilner jars for decoration and drinks (You can never have too many!)
  • £169.99 for Leisuregrow Grillstream barbecue
  • £80 for food
  • £59.90 for firepit
  • £129.95 for Yamaha speakers for watching an American classic under the stars

Total: £739.84

That is date-doing, soul-filling, memory-making, life-sharing stuff.

Oh, and if you don’t know what s’mores are – I’m glad you’re here.  I’m about to change your life.


How would you spend a Big Night In?  I would love to hear your ideas.

Check out my Pinterest boards for a complete look at the menu, decor and film selection.

Strategic text over my smoking hot, popped belly button.

Bump Update: 27 weeks


I’ve been so laid back this pregnancy.

I went to have my bloods taken last Friday and my midwife did my first fundal height measurement.  The baby is only measuring on the 10th percentile and I’m all,  “::shrug::  Yup.  Okay.”

If that would have been the case with The Duchess, my butt would have been Googling the heck out of fundal measurements before my feet hit the parking lot.   But it just so happens that my midwife was super laid back my last pregnancy so she always saw me and said, “You’re growing” and didn’t chart my measurements – well, because it was obvious that things were heading in the right direction.

I’m bigger right now than I was during my first pregnancy and after having an 8lb 3oz’er on the first go, I’m not at all worried about this little one packing on the pounds he needs before he arrives.   Plus, I know my own body well enough to know that I have a tiny frame.  Always have.  And something in a chart can’t account for how all women carry.

While knowing what to expect and not going into “crazy pregnant lady mode” is useful the 2nd time around, it hasn’t at all been useful for planning.   I just tend not to do it because I think most things we need will be lying around.

So, we have a baby carrier and a double pushchair.

That’s enough, right?



This milestone in my pregnancy has opened my eyes to the fact we do need to do at least a little bit of thinking about what else we need before baby arrives.  So here we go – 13 weeks left – better get cracking.

Any suggestions for #2?