Subscribe for email updates!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sleep!

Finally! We have a sleeping monkey!

Things came to a head with the whole sleep thing a couple of weeks ago. The monkey went through a bad bout of teething, and reverted back to an almost newborn sleep cycle. 4, 5 even 6 bouts of waking a night and the only way to get her back down was boob... Not that she actually ate anything. She just sucked until let-down then pulled off. Cheeky monkey!

I was a zombie, the DIY enthusiast as a mess and the little one was quite merrily getting by on about 6 hours a night. Not good for anyone. After a lot of research and "advice", we settled on a mix of controlled crying and the gradual retreat method.

We would put her down awake after her last milk feed at 8.30pm. We let her grizzle, but if she cried hysterically would pick her up, comfort her and put her back down when she settled. The first 2 nights were hell. She woke every 2 hours. We took it in turns sleeping on the sofa so at least one of us could get some rest.

On the 3rd night she slept for 12 hours straight! Not a peep. She has slept every night since! It's only been a week, but I am optimistic. She will be 1 in a few weeks and has been doing great with the solids, so maybe she was just ready anyway. Who knows? All I can say for sure is that I was definitely ready. Fingers crossed she keeps it up!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Battle of the budget nappies!



Front view: Aldi "Cherubin" (right), Lidl "Toujours" (left).


Today I will be comparing the two main budget brands of nappies that we use; Aldi's "Cherubin" and Lidl's "Toujours". Incidentally, the DIY enthusiast believed the latter to be made by women's sanitary towel brand Always. "They are basically the same thing aren't they?". Ha.

We use either brand and it solely depends on the rest of the week's shopping. We only go to Aldi for nappies and baby wash, so Lidl do have the edge at the moment purely because we do quite a bit of shopping there anyway. 


Aldi- Cherubin


Aldi "Cherubin" (inside)

We used these right from leaving hospital, and much preferred them to the Pampers we were given on the ward. They aren't the most aesthetically pleasing of offerings. They look a bit cheap and faded in tone, but don't let that put you off. They come in packs of 80 in size 4 and cost €11.39 (14c per nappy). The first thing I noticed about these was the beautiful soft lining. It really is lovely. So lovely that the first time I touched it I wandered around after the DIY enthusiast muttering, "Have you felt these?" whilst rubbing them against my cheek... The super soft lining also did a great job of keeping the monkey's botty dry.


The fit of the nappies was great for our baby. Other than the unavoidable explosive moments, we never had a leak. They weren't too saggy around the back either. Nice and snug. 


Overall, though they aren't the prettiest, the function is fantastic. I always feel confident that they keep the little one comfy and dry.




Lidl-Toujours


Lidl "Toujours" (inside).

These are a more recent discovery for us. After hearing so much good about the Aldi nappies -and being satisfied with them ourselves- we never felt the need to change. The main reason for giving them a go was a special offer that made a pack of 50 around the €5.oo mark if I remember correctly. Bargain. The usual price is €7.49 for 50 size 4 (15c per nappy). 


The first thing I noticed about these was the nifty print on the outside. It's a lovely clear print featuring owls. I love anything with an owl design; candles, cups, notebooks, clothing. Owls! The lining isn't quite as cheek-strokingly soft as the Aldi, but soft enough. It is just as good if not better than Aldi for keeping monkey's bum dry to the touch.


The second thing that struck me about the Lidl brand was the size difference. It is definitely bigger than Aldi's, and comes higher up the back. This is great for our little mover and shaker. Now that she is crawling faster than a cheetah as well as standing and cruising, this extra material gives a bit more security. Unfortunately it also sags a little bit more. I am hoping that they will just fill out a bit better as she grows, until then I will just keep laughing at her droopy bum!


One thing that I wasn't sure about at first with the Lidl Nappies was the filling. If you rub it between your fingers, you can feel a slight grainy texture inside. I assume that this is what expands to jelly when the nappy gets wet. It put me off a bit at first, but doesn't seem to bother the wearer in the slightest.


Conclusion


At less than 1 cent difference per nappy when you get deep into the decimals, I don't feel that price is a factor between the two brands, but if you are determined to get the very best deal, then Aldi it is. The only let down for them is the design, but for the price it is an absolutely fantastic nappy. The problems I have with the Lidl nappies are also trivial, but there are a couple more of them than with the Aldi. Honestly, I would be happy to recommend either brand!


 Back view: Aldi "Cherubin" (right), Lidl "Toujours" (left).



Friday, August 5, 2016

Jars!

My kid hates jars. Baby food jars that is. I've always cooked her food from scratch and was insistent about this (some may say stubborn!) from the first day of weaning. I merrily steamed pears, apples and broccoli, portioned them into seal-able ice cube trays and spooned them into her little chubby face with glee. Next came mild chili con carne, creamy curries and smushed up salmon with rice. It was great! Everyone complimented me on my "good little eater" and my heart -and head- would swell with pride. This feeling did not last. 

I fear I have made a rod for my own back. A lot of people told me I was making a rod for my own back on various issues; breastfeeding, feeding to sleep, not letting her "cry it out", ironing her vests etc. Funnily enough, nobody ever said it about only giving her home-made food. 


For the most part, I enjoy cooking for the monkey. I love it that she enjoys eating things that I have put care into. I enjoy cooking anyway, so nourishing my child with meals cooked by my own fair hand was just a great extension of something I already have a bit of a passion for. The problem is now she sticks her nose up at anything else! We can sneak in the odd fruit compote squeezy pouch or fishfinger as a novelty, but that's about it.


It didn't seem like much of a problem until a recent trip to the UK. I took a squeezy pouch on the plane for her. That was fine for a 2 hour journey. I also took 4 of the dreaded jars in my suitcase for longer trips we would be having whilst there. I picked lovely sounding dishes with no added preservatives or artificial flavourings. I even tried one myself to make sure that they were up to par, and was rather impressed! The issue was that we would be going back and forth between mine and the DIY enthusiast's families and knew I wouldn't have an opportunity to make little pots of monkey's go-to dishes. I wasn't prepared to ask family members to faff over making seperate portions with no-salt stock cubes, so jars it was.









On the first day, the little minx wouldn't even try it! She screwed up her cherubic mouth and gave me a look to kill! She would not be coaxed, even by Daddy's aeroplane or choo-choo train! What's a mother to do? Well, the answer to that is; let her eat cake! And scrambled eggs, crackers, fruit compote and biscuits!


Looking back, I wish we'd have thrown a couple of jars and pouches into the mix early. Surely it would be better for her to have the odd bit of processed meat and veg over cake and biscuits? We all have 20:20 vision with hindsight don't we?



Thursday, August 4, 2016

Our afternoon at Kid's Island, Antibes! (Marineland)

I say our afternoon, but it was only 3 hours, really. I must say, I had my reservations about this one. I am not a fan of Marineland whatsoever, and they run Kid's Island, Aquasplash and Adventure Golf as spin-offs on the same big complex in Antibes. Today, I forgot my disdain of the place for the monkey's sake, so we bundled up the travelling circus and off we went.

First off, I will say that this place isn't exactly cheap. We paid €28 for 2 adults (kids are free up to 3 years). We could have saved €4 each if we had booked online: http://ticketing.marineland.fr/en-GB/products , but alas, our sun-addled brains weren't in gear. I am usually an extremely thrifty person, so I have rather disappointed myself there! I would recommend that as well as booking online, you may also want to take a picnic. To add fast-food meals for a family of 4, you would be looking at around the €40 mark. There isn't a big variety and what they do have is deep fried. Not great for a hot, Summer's day!

Now, to the positives. The first thing that struck me was how well maintained and clean everything is. The animal enclosures are clean and have shaded areas. The animals all had access to food and water- which we saw the staff topping up as we wandered round. The animals all look clean and healthy. It was a big difference to what we saw a few weeks ago at a different animal park (post about that to come shortly). We saw Goats, horses, donkeys, sheep, ducks, birds and rabbits. You can walk into the enclosures to see the goats, sheep and rabbits. Monkey wasn't very happy with the friendly goats, but the DIY enthusiast was very keen to make friends! The sheep got a slightly better reaction (mutual indifference and she LOVED the rabbits. They were very placid little creatures. Very happy to have their tummy's tickled by sticky, little paws! There are pony rides for bigger children, and the queues weren't long at all. You can also go into the enclosures for a little feeding experience and talk about the llamas and lemurs if you have slightly older children

After our little tour of the "farm", we stopped for lunch. You already saw my opinion on that, so we'll talk about the rides. We were very lucky that we could go on a weekday afternoon, as there were no queues to speak of. Monkey had 4 rides on the galloping horses, which are like carousel horses that go around a track. 2 with Mommy, and 2 with Daddy! She also went on the magic river ride. This is a very gentle version of river rapids; a giant, motorised dinghy which weaves around a watery trail which is shared with Aquasplash next-door. She had 1 ride with each of us. We weren't supposed to be allowed on after 13.45PM, but the staff were great, and since the queues were small, they were letting people through. The little one absolutely loved both rides! I think she would have been quite happy to sit on the galloping horses all day long. She looked like an even tinier than usual jockey, gripping the pommel with a fierce look of determination on her little face! I was pleasantly surprised that she could go on the rides at all, since the only safety harness was our arms! I can't imagine it would be allowed in the UK... For bigger children there is also a pirate ship ride where you can all shoot each other with water guns! Monkey would love that, but unfortunately they have to be 95cm tall.

Amongst the rides and animal attractions are several play areas. There is a small assault-course style area which runs adjacent to the animal enclosures (for those who need a dose of adrenalin with their cute and fluffies). There is also a maze and 2 areas with slides and climbing frames etc. One is for all ages and the other for over-5s. They look great, and the kids who were playing there seemed to be having a ball! If all of the above wasn't enough, kids over 1 year can also play in the Playmobil area. This are 2 rooms filled with little towns set up with Playmobil toys. These rooms were the busiest area of the whole place! It must be like Santa's grotto for the tiddlers!

If you have a child who can sit still, there is a free face-painting service available. We saw lots of little butterflies, tigers and Spidermen freely roaming the premises. No monkeys though. Monkeys don't like people touching their faces. "They" have this horrible habit of trying to bite your fingers off! Hopefully "they" will grow out of that one  quick-sharpish!

Overall, a lovely little day out. I think when our little critter gets a bit bigger we will definitely be back! Really good for those old enough to appreciate all of the activities available, but still a nice afternoon out for those a little smaller.




Wednesday, August 3, 2016

That Newborn Baby Smell?

I was having a little sort out of the Monkey's cupboard this morning. Amongst the partnerless socks and saggy-bottomed leggings, I found one of the more unusual gifts that we received upon her birth. Now, don't get me wrong, I am very grateful that so many people thought of us when she was born. We received some beautiful and unique gifts. This one just threw me a little...

Baby PERFUME!

It came in a gift set with a beautiful, soft little bunny toy, which is actually now one of her favourites. I just couldn't understand the concept of perfuming a baby. Even now that she's heading towards toddlerhood and emanating some noxious odours more akin to a teenage boy, I can't imagine spraying her with fragrance. I thought I would be in the majority of parents with this view, but possibly not. A quick google search brought up offerings from Burberry, Bulgari, IKKS, L'Occitane and even a cologne from Johnson's!

Apparently it is quite popular within many European cultures to put scents on babies! Who knew? Personally, I couldn't get enough of the monkey's natural smell when she was newborn (still can't). I'd carry her around everywhere with me, having a little sniff of her powdery bald head along the way. Anyone who happened to be in my path would have the baby thrust upon them for a whiff. "Smell! It's more addictive than crack!". Why would anyone want to cover up that with an artificial scent, presumably designed to have the same effect? It's like covering a filet steak with ketchup, no?

Anyhow, although I refuse to put the perfume on monkey, it is a pretty nice scent. Powdery and light-like a baby. I am determined not to waste it, so perhaps I will use it myself. I am still breastfeeding and don't like to use heavy perfumes on myself, so maybe this is one that can fill the corset-shaped void in my soul where Jean Paul Gaultier "Classique" once lived?




Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Duracell baby!

Good morning?

I was sure that my first "proper" post would be something to do with living in France, as the name of the blog might suggest. Today though, seemed the perfect day to discuss our most pressing parenting issue- sleep deprivation. Not far from 11 months in now and our little critter still doesn't sleep.


Yesterday was a perfect example. The monkey napped for a grand total of 40 minutes during the day. "Yes!" I thought (because I am stupid, and desperate and fall for this one every time), "She WILL sleep tonight! She will be sooo tired!". HA! Sure enough, the little angel was still galloping around like the Duracell bunny on speed at 11PM. We were in bed by 12AM. She woke up at 4AM. 6AM. 7.45AM.


This is about normal for her. She will have the odd night where an 8-hour stretch is achieved and I will proudly exclaim; "Ah, she has turned a corner now! We must continue to do everything exactly as we did it yesterday, because that is clearly the magic formula!". Of course, it never is.


We had a beautiful little routine going for about 2 months around Christmas. Bath and bed by 7PM. I felt rather smug and other parents would tell me how lucky I was. She never slept through, but there was at least an opportunity to go to bed early and recharge before the next service bell rang. 


Any how, the routine was slowly corroded for various reasons and now we must all suffer. Serious attempts have been made to re-establish a routine, but we never quite found the right combination. The monkey also got wise. She is now well aware that a few swift, bellowing screams will bring myself or the DIY enthusiast running to her aid. She always shows her gratitude by giving us a big toothy grin and immediately desisting in her attempts to wake the street. So, that's something, right?


Despite our experience so far, I live in hope. There will come a day where I can throw away the industrial concealer! I will pass a mirror and not look like I have dressed in the dark! I will re-acquire the skills of speaking a coherent sentence and performing simple mental arithmetic! One day, it WILL happen. Knowing my luck, that day will probably be the day I find out number 2 is on the way! Ha!


Au revoir for now!


Monday, August 1, 2016

Good evening, Bonsoir!

Good evening, Bonsoir!

So... Now I'm here, I don't know what to say! I've been meaning to do this for ages and now I've done it my brain has turned to soup. I swear, I had some spiffing ideas for this blog. Honest. Lists in my mind of product comparisons, pros and cons of living in a foreign country with a baby, general witty and thoughtful observations of daily life with a 10 month old, a newly converted DIY enthusiast and the world's neediest cat...


Perhaps I will just offer a brief introduction for now? I am a 27 year old, degree educated stay at home mum. I live in the South of France with the DIY enthusiast and our little monkey. And the cat. 


I am an avid (perhaps slightly obsessive) consumer of blogs, but despite my desperate scouring of the inter-web, I am yet to find one that I can fully relate to. I have therefore decided to create my own, tailored to my own whims and fancies! With any luck someone, somewhere may happen upon my ramblings and decide that this is a blog for them. If you are that lucky so and so, please feel free to leave comments, questions and suggestions.


Over and out!