Home Renovation – Kitchen Series (1)

We have been on the lookout for a new apartment for more than a year and we’re so pleased to finally sign the contract for one just down the same street we currently live on. Just like most German apartments, our new place has been white washed, has exposed wires dropping down from ceilings that are waiting to be connected to our own light fixtures and no kitchen. 

Yes, EMPTY kitchen.

I did quite an extensive online research on where to get a new kitchen without breaking our bank and decided to go ahead with IKEA. 25 years warranty, speaks English, great selection, not too expensive yet durable. Our current kitchen is from a cheap IKEA range that our landlady had for a million years and while it looks plain boring, it’s perfectly functional. Online reviews from forums and blogs of IKEA kitchens are quite positive too, so we decided on the Swedish brand. 

  
We have a tiny, narrow kitchen. When planning the kitchen, I made it known that I wanted an airy space. While storage is important, I didn’t want cupboards casting shadows everywhere. I just wanted to have enough storage space, but not over the top for us to stuff random bits and pieces in. 

To create an open, airy feel, I chose white glossy doors.  I’m hoping that the glossiness will also give a modern feel to the kitchen. 

Silver handles wil be attached to the doors to give it a smart look too. It was important that the handles don’t feel too filmsy. 

 
In contrast to the white glossy cupboards, I chose a dark brown laminate worktop.  IKEA sells wooden worktops but those need to be oiled every so often and I can’t be bothered to.  

To inject a little fun in the kitchen, I chose some red and grey open shelves that will be placed above the small eating area. 

   
 
Despite it being a tiny area, we thought having an eating space where I can put Theo at in the evenings while I cook would be handy. He can have his meal while I prepare dinner. 

We had initially planned to get our stove and oven elsewhere as I didn’t come across very positive reviews of IKEA’s electrical products. Whirlpool manufactures the lower range and I’ve heard some negative reviews in the UK and Australia about their after-sales service. However, the middle-upper range products are actually covered by AEG, which in my opinion is a more reputable make. So we got an integrated induction hob and oven together with the kitchen. 

   
 
This is the plan for our new kitchen. I’m really excited to see what it actually looks like on 14th March 2016! 

  

All Over the Place

On 11th Nov 2015, Theo voluntarily walked from the sofa to Dan the entire evening. Those were his first steps. We were over the moon. No doubt that clubfoot babies do walk normally with the right treatment, I wondered when ours would properly take his first step as he was almost 18 months.

December wasn’t exactly an exciting month as we had 3 trips to A&E with Theo. During that time, he didn’t have an interest in walking whatsoever. Even if he wanted to walk, he wanted us to help him along. I suppose the illness made him a little weak. Although we had a routine check with the Orthopedist, he couldn’t assess Theo as Theo refused to walk properly. In fact, he was walking on the inside of his feet. We were told to go back a couple of months later to reassess the situation as they wanted his feet muscles to get stronger.  

However, on the 19th of December 2015, Theo was walking all over our friend’s apartment with her toddler. We’ve never seen Theo walk so many steps before. And true enough, he was very soon running everywhere. 

  
Here’s a photo of him proudly walking around in Oxford showing off his Thomas backpack. 

 
Just like other toddlers, he’s well capable of ascending heights he shouldn’t really be – such as the cat’s bed (or Grampy’s coffee table!) which he calls “cot”. 

I suppose walking at 19 months is considered quite late since having clubfoot doesn’t necessarily mean that your toddler should start walking at a later age. I can definitely relate to the concerns parents of clubfoot babies have when they don’t see their little ones taking their first steps once they hit 18 months old. 

If you’re a mum/ dad with a clubfoot baby with no other complications, I hope that this post will give you some sort of reassurance that you’ll soon have a little walker – once they’re ready. Once they start, they really DON’T stop. 

Our Clubfoot Journey: First Independent Steps

A few mums who have or are expecting babies with clubfoot have contacted me via the blog. Sometimes they want to know what the Ponseti treatment is like, if Theo has issues with his boots and bar, whether the tenotomy operation went successfully and so on. I’m more than happy to answer their questions because I know very well how scared, worried and heartbroken these mums are for their little ones – especially if they’ve not heard about clubfoot or know anyone with it. 

We are very fortunate that everything has been rather smooth-sailing in terms of Theo’s treatment. However, when he didn’t start to walk at 1 year old, I got a teeny bit worried. After all, everyone else’s kids I know and similar in age were running everywhere. I told myself that Theo will walk whenever he was ready. 

My “best friend”, Google, tells me that if my child isn’t walking by 18 months something isn’t quite right and requires professional opinion. As days go by, Theo is getting nearer to being 18 months old. No bloody sign of wanting to walk independently! If we held his hand, he swayed from side to side as if we fed him Whiskey!

Then on 11th November, while Dan and I were having dinner and chatting on FaceTime with our family, Theo, who was sitting on the floor playing with his trains pulled himself up against the sofa and started to walk towards Daniel. He has never done that before! We didn’t ask him to either! He just decided he was finally confident and ready to take his first independent steps! 

We are the proudest parents E.V.E.R. I didn’t cry. Just over the moon. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy worrying about those precious feet. When I saw videos of other clubfoot babies walking, I feel so happy for the parents. Walking is such a huge milestone to achieve and it means so much to all parents. And I know when your clubfoot baby walks, it will be extra special for you too. 

Of course, you’ll worry when the little ones aren’t walking… And it’s perfectly understandable to feel that way. However, they will get there at their own pace and time. 

Tantrums

At 17.5 months, Theo has started throwing tantrums. Aren’t they suppose to start at 2 years old? Perhaps it only gets worse. 

Here are my observations:

1. Putting on shoes

Me: Put on your shoes before we head out.

Theo: No!

Me: You need your shoes on. It’s cold.

Theo: No! (Snatches shoes from my hands)

Me: Give Mama the shoe. 

Theo: No! (Tries to put on shoes himself without any success)

2. Play time

He tries to attach the wagon to the toy train but fails. I show him how it’s done. He tries many many times and fail. The toy gets thrown across the room.

Frustration.

3. Meal time

Me: Open your mouth.

Theo: Spoon. Bowl.

Me: Ahhhhhh….open your mouth.

Theo: No! Spoon! Bowl!

I give him his spoon and bowl. He feeds himself.

   I notice that “bad behaviour” such as throwing himself on the floor, throwing toys/ food, and hitting/ biting me or Daniel only happens when he’s frustrated. Our little boy is growing too fast. He wants to be independent yet he doesn’t know that he actually needs a helping hand. 

Sometimes it’s because we adults are so preoccupied with our cool gadgets that we need a toy thrown in our faces to give these toddlers our full attention. Guilty at times. 

Dealing with tantrums throughout the day is exhausting. There are days when I snap at Theo for pushing limits. Those are the days I feel like I’ve failed him. How can I expect a 17.5 months old to think like a logical adult? 

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t correct the behaviour. He needs to learn to not throw toys/ food to begin with, however, as his mum, I need to address the underlying reason that triggers such behaviour. 

When he got very frustrated while playing this afternoon, I picked him up, held him tight and told him I love him. He calmed down. He doesn’t need others to label him as “impatient”, “naughty” or “bad tempered”. He just needs “compassion and safe, loving arms to unload in”.

First Shoes

  
While we were back in Oxford last week, we made a trip to Clarks to get Theo his first pair of shoes. At 16 months he is no walker yet, but he needed a pair for when Kita (playgroup) starts in two weeks’ time. 

He had his feet professionally measured in the store and it was no surprise that he has wide feet. It is apparently quite common for clubfoot babies. He walked (with help) strangely to begin with but after a couple of days I think he got better with the shoes.

  
Whenever I tell him we’re heading out to see buses, trains and cars (because that excites him the most), he’ll say “Shoes!” and pretends to put them on himself. 

  
You’d think that putting on shoes would be an easy task. However, we felt like drilling holes at the back on the shoes so we can see if his heels were properly fitted flat down just like how they should be when in boots and bar! After a few days, we got pretty good at putting the shoes on for Theo. 
   

    
 

Museums in the Afternoons

With Theo napping less as he gets older, I’m really pulling my hair out thinking of ways to keep him entertained and engaged. He’s always bursting with energy so keeping him home is exhausting and kind of boring. So lately, I decided to check out some museums in Frankfurt with him in the afternoons.

1. Museum for Communication

  
If you look closely, the sheep are made out of telephone cords. We stood there for a good ten minutes or so singing Baa-Baa Black Sheep. 

  
As we don’t own a landline at our place, Theo hasn’t really seen an actual phone apart from our mobile phones. He was thrilled to touch this classic phone and kept shouting “Hello”! 

  

There are old wagons, buses, cars etc that were used to deliver posts in Germany at the museum. Those were Theo’s favourite. He gets over excited seeing things that go. At the end of the visit, we stop by the cafe and enjoyed a slice of lemon cake together. 

2. Film Museum

There’s a special exhibit at the Film Museum – Films and Games. We visited it on a Sunday together with Daniel as I thought him being in the gaming industry would find this rather interesting. 

  
It was really cool to see scenes from films played out next to stages in games. Much to our surprise, Theo seemed to enjoy watching the films and the games. 

3. Kinder Museum (Children Museum)

It was a wet Sunday and we were desperate to find Theo a place where he could play freely without us saying “No climbing! No touching! No pulling!”. A few mums had recommended the free play area at the Kinder Museum so off we went to check it out.

  
“Whhhhheeeeeeee!!!!”

  
There were blocks, soft toys, sensory play cushions and many more toys to play in that area. 

  
Bonus – and it’s FREE!!! 

It’s a great place for younger kids like Theo to play freely for 30-45minutes. Great for him to burn some energy! 

Museums aren’t that boring after all! 

Just Roam Freely

At 15 months, Theo is an amazingly fast crawler. Most kids his age are walking (and have been doing so for months) but we’re letting him take his time. The specialist didn’t raise any concerns about him walking the last time so we believe he will walk whenever he’s ready. That said, it’s pretty annoying when strangers comment about Theo not walking.

Example:

1. “If he was my son, he’ll be walking!”

2. “Maybe it’s because my daughter has older siblings to learn from hence she’s walking.”

Serious! Dead serious that I get those comments. How rude right? 

Anyway, there’s a lot of energy in Theo from the moment he opens his eyes. He’s bursting with energy EVERY day. Unfortunately, there isn’t much space at home to crawl around before I shout “DANGER!” Honestly, I wished there was a Zen-like room where there’s nothing (apart from his toys).

Therefore, the playground is the best place for Theo to be at.

  
It does mean that he consumes an average of 1kg of sand each week and needs a scrub almost everyday. 

  
But this boy absolutely loves his playground trips. And I love them too. All the crawling around tires him out. It means we don’t have to struggle (most of the time) at nap time! 

  
This playground is located along the Main in Frankfurt near Schweizer Strasse. It’s usually quite quiet in the mornings. The only issue I have with it are the adults throwing cigarette buds by the benches at the playground. So although I let Theo roam freely there, I’ve got to be careful and watch that he doesn’t pick up any cigarette buds.

This boy is going to LOVE the gymnasium room at playgroup when he starts in mid October! He’ll be all over the place!

Family Day at Lochmühle 

A week ago we visited Lochmühle which is no more than an hour away from Frankfurt Central Main Station. It is a family oriented theme park but nothing like Universal Studios or Disneyland. There are rides suitable even for one year olds, massive playgrounds, farm animals, BBQ grills, affordable cafes and restaurants and not much queuing involved. 

  
We really enjoyed the day. Theo’s 15 months and while he can’t go on most of the rides, he still enjoyed his day. His favourite was probably th miniature train ride. 

  
And anything that involves playing with water!

  
The entrance fee is €11 per person (kids under 90cm – free) which isn’t too bad. The cafes don’t try and break your bank by charging ridiculous amount of money for drinks or snacks too. So I would say it’s a fairly affordable family day out. 

  
As the weather was beautiful, many families were there to BBQ. According to their website, it’s free to use the grill. You’ll just need to call and book. 

  
My vehicle-obsessed son has to ride on every mode of transport he sees. 

If the weather turns out bad, Lochmühle has an indoor playground to not disappoint the kids.

  
There are mini ball pit areas for babies. Those areas are separated from where the bigger kids play so you can be rest assured that your baby won’t be stomped on by excited big kids. 

  
Isn’t this just the most amazing playground for bigger kids? Whenever I saw the kids climb up and slide down the poles, my heart skipped a beat. This isn’t for the fainted-hearted parent like me. Good luck to Daniel! He’ll have to deal with Theo climbing on such playgrounds when he’s a big older! 

Sundays in Germany

We were out for an afternoon stroll on Sunday when a tourist on one of those For-Hire bicycles stopped us.

Tourist: May I know where the supermarket is? I would like to buy a drink.

Me: It’s Sunday. Supermarkets are shut. You can cycle down the street to the bakery to get a drink instead.

Tourist: Shut? All of them are shut? That’s not good!

I know how the poor guy felt. It must feel like Germany is so backwards, so old-fashion. He must have thought how inconvenient it is to live in this city. 

Before we parted ways, I suppressed the urge in me to tell him how wonderful it is to have Sundays as COMPLETELY errand free days. 

Whack the Paint

Last Christmas, the idea of homeschooling Theo crossed my mind. However, I found out that it’s ILLEGAL in Germany. One could face penalties such has hefty fines and imprisonment! But don’t all kids receive some sort of homeschooling before receiving formal education from the State?

With just 3 more months of time spent all day together with Theo before he attends playgroup, I’ve been researching for activities to do with a one year old on Pinterest. Here’s one of the fun ideas I came across.

 1. Spray canvas with some water and then randomly add bits of paint on it. 


2.  Wrap canvas with cling-film.


3. Let your child hit it, roll on it, step on it etc.

 

Tadaaaahhhhhh! Our finished art piece!!!

 

I love doing crafts like this as there will be something to keep at the end as a momento. 
  

  

I love being a boy-mum

Truth be told, I wanted a girl. When my gynecologist told us at 16 weeks we were going to have a boy (and she said it with the most conviction EVER and circled the little gentleman’s area on the scan photo), I freaked out. There goes my dream doll house, pretty dresses, head bands and girly activities I had planned in my head. In contrast, Dan was EXCITED for his future son to “inherit prematurely” (before his death!!!) all his toy cars and trains. 

  
After 13 months of being a boy’s mum, I gotta say I love it. Here’s why I love being a boy-mum.

1. Full of energy

From dawn till dusk, the moment those smiley eyes are opened, Theo is bursting with energy. It can be tiring to look after him, however that positive energy he has in him is infectious. It’s a sign that he’s happy and healthy. The constant burst of energy often result in loud noises – no need to pretend to be demure. Boys will be boys. 

2. Boys have fun but practical outfits

My initial worry of not being able to shop for nice clothes is thrown out of the window. Boys DO HAVE fun, colourful and interesting outfits. I love everything colourful and boys’ clothes are often in green, blue, red, orange, yellow etc. There will be cool robots, cars, dinosaurs, spaceships, bears, crocodiles and so on on them too. It also makes life a lot easier for me to dress Theo up – a t-shirt and shorts/ trousers. And they usually match quite easily. Apart from the bother of layering up to stay warm in the colder months, I don’t have ribbons to fiddle with on his head.

3. I don’t fuss as much 

I have to admit that I’m a VERY protective mother. The slightest bump/ scratch and my heart aches. There will be a million “if only I didn’t let him do XYZ he would be unharmed” self-blame. So can you imagine if I had a girl?!?! Of course, I know accidents happen and it’s all part of growing up. But seriously, which mum enjoys seeing her precious child hurt? We all pretend that every darn fall is “part of growing up” because we don’t want our fellow mummy friends to think we’ve gone absolutely mental. So, fellow mummy friends – let’s admit that we’re all slightly nuts up there! Woooohoooo!!! 

Having said that, I don’t mind my boy playing a little more rough. It’s ok when another kid pulls or pushes him slightly or pokes him. I’m less worried because boys ARE rowdy. In our household, we tell Theo to “man up”. 

4. We get dirty

I used to be a clean freak. If you’re a boy-mum, you’ll know what a challenge this can be. One moment they’re digging dirt, another they’ll be poking their finger somewhere else. General cleanliness should be enforced but I’m not the sort of mum who constantly wipes her son’s mouth after every spoonful. Neither am I going to tell my son that the grass is dirty and he shouldn’t be walking on it. By all means, go barefoot as long as it’s safe. And because I allow him to roam freely at playgrounds and on the grass, it means dirt gets rubbed all over me too. That’s why we have a bath at the end of the day. 

5. Cool and fun toys

How many different cars, trains, fire engines, aeroplane and construction vehicles can there be? 13 months into being a boy-mum and geez … I really have a lot to learn and I love learning about them all! Who would have thought that the Transport Museum was the most exciting day trip ever? It also means they are super easy to distract when we’re out and about. Just ask boys where the cars/ trains/ aeroplanes are and it becomes a great I-spy game!

6. Boys love their mums

So do girls! What I’m saying is, when my boy uses both hands to turn my head towards him just to plant a kiss on my lips… WOW!!! It makes EVERYTHING and I mean every sweat, tears, pain and hard work all worth while. It’s an extremely special feeling. I just know that I’m his special woman for now. 

Frankfurt Transport Museum

The Frankfurt Transport Museum is located in Schwanheim, the end of the tram line 12. A friend brought her kids there some time back and recommended it to me. As Theo is now really excited about the different modes of transport, we decided to spend Sunday morning at the museum.

Fortunately for us, a very friendly English-speaking guide was there to show us around. He allowed us to “ride” on as many old trams as possible and was excellent at explaining the history of transportation in Frankfurt. 

  

One of the oldest streetcar at the museum dates back to 1884. This place really let’s you relive the past! 

 
What really impressed us was the pre-war trams. They had quality, comfy leather seats! Even the appearance of the trams looked beautiful and classy. In contrast to the post-war public transportation that were dull-looking (although functional and practical), the pre-war trams looked stunning. It was a shame that many were destroyed in the war.

  

The other highlight at the museum is the 1900 steam engine. 

  

Theo probably had the best 1.5 hours of his life at the museum today! 

I would love to bring him to the London Transport Museum!!! That would be fabulous!!!  

Frankfurt Unveiled – London City Airport #NoFilter Project

Frankfurt, also known as Mainhattan, has been my home for the past 3 years. It is notorious for being a transit hub for travellers heading to Singapore from the Big Apple, New York City. Due to the presence of the European Central Bank and the various international trade fairs, it is no surprise that Frankfurt has earned itself the reputation of a mere “business center”.

However, does Frankfurt really lack character as a city? Is it really that dull? NO!!! That’s why I’m really excited to be part of London City Airport’s #NoFilter project which aims to debunk the clichés of Frankfurt. In this project, Harriet Baskas, editor of Stuck at the Airport , will be judging to see which travel blogs best presents Frankfurt. Her website is a great resource to turn to for up-to-date information on art and cultural exhibits, creative restaurant menus, observation decks, and amenities at airports worldwide.

So, in #NoFilter Frankfurt, we’re going back to basics – there will be no filters used to create “the mood” in photos and no editing programs used to create “the perfect” picture. Here’s my selection of photos:

1. The Altstadt (Old Town)

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An iconic landmark in the city center that’s home to the Medieval City Hall, and the Gothic church, Frankfurt Dom.

2. Take a stroll along the Main

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Cross Eiserner Steg (padlock bridge that links town to Sachsenhausen) to the south river bank where the museums are located to get an amazing view of Frankfurt’s skyline. During the Spring and Summer months, grab a drink and a slice of cake at Main Café or a kebab from the floating Meral’s Imbiss

3. Garden in the City 

Frankfurters are huge nature lovers. There are many parks in the city. One of my favourites is Grüneburgpark which is located in Westend, just next to Palmengarten. There are adventure playgrounds suitable for children of different ages in Grüneburgpark. The beautiful and serene Korean garden can also be found in the park.

4.  Ebbelwei-Expreß City Tour

If you’re short of time or walking isn’t your kind of thing (although I think a city is best explored on foot), hop on the Ebbelwei-Expreß which brings you on an hour-long journey to cover all the main sights in Frankfurt. There are podcast commentary onboard, music, pretzel and of course, Apple wine, to enjoy.

5. Frankfurt Christmas Market

Christmas in Frankfurt is one of the most amazing festivals. The market begins on 25th November and lasts till 22nd December in 2015. Don’t miss it if you’re in town! Warm yourself up with a cup of Glüwein (mulled wine) and get some delicious gingerbread. The market will be busy with everyone in a cheery and festive mood. 

#NoFilter Photography Tips

1. Don’t rely heavily on process filters

“Toaster”, “Hefe” or “Nashville” (just to name a few Instagram filters) may look cool, but very often I find myself leaning towards subtle effects more. 

2. Avoid zooming on smartphones

I can’t speak for Android phones, but when it comes to iPhone photography, avoid using the zoom function unless necessary. Zooming in using the iPhone unfortunately results in poorer resolution and sharpness. You end up with a poor quality image. If you want a close up image, move yourself closer to it.

3. Practice. Practice. Practice.

Through practice you’ll familiarise yourself with your camera. It is useless getting an expensive DSLR if you have no idea how to utilise all its fancy functions. (Guilty of this! I ended up purchasing a point and shoot Olympus XZ-1 which I LOVE.)

4. Stop and think before shooting

Use your naked eyes to observe and appreciate what you want to shoot. Try looking at it from different angles WITHOUT using the camera first. We are often too quick to snap away just because everyone else is already clicking away on their cameras. 

I hope you’ll find these tips on photography and Frankfurt helpful.

Thank you London City Airport for giving me this fantastic opportunity to showcase Frankfurt! 

Breuer’s Rüdesheimer Schloss

  

Rüdesheimer Schloss is located on Drosselgasse and prides itself as a traditional wine restaurant. We were lucky to visit Rüdesheim on a warm and sunny day, so an outdoor wine garden like this looked very inviting and romantic. 

As it’s a touristy town, it is not surprising to us that prices are slightly higher than usual. However, we were rather pleasantly surprised by the friendly service (it’s REALLY a rare in Frankfurt!!!) and delicious food.

  

Asparagus salad with marinated chicken breast and chips, €11

As it is asparagus season, I had to order this dish. Given the blistering hot weather we had during our visit, I was glad to order a cold dish! I loved the zesty and sour salad dressing. It was very refreshing. The asparagus were crunchy and juicy too. 

  
Fried sausage from regional game, Savoy cabbage, mashed potatoes and mustard, €14

Daniel ordered this dish and I just had to sneakily steal a couple of mouthfuls from his plate. It looks so delicious, doesn’t it? Seriously! As you bite into the sausages, juices would explode in your mouth. The meat was tender and flavoursome. The buttery smooth mash was a hit, and I think Theo loved it too. 

 Riesling, €5,90 for 200ml 

Since we were in a wine garden enjoying great food and lovely live music being played by a pianist, we thought we should order a glass of Riesling each. I’m not a wine person. I think wine tastes bitter unless it’s sparkling and dessert wine. Hence, I ordered a sweet Riesling while Dan had his dry. I definitely like mine sweet. The restaurant also has a huge selection of wine on their menu which I’m sure will be heaven for wine lovers. 

If you’re visiting Rüdesheim and want to have lunch here, I would recommend getting a table before 12noon. After noon, the tourist crowds flock in in big groups. 


Rüdesheim am Rhein

  
Rüdesheim am Rhein, which lies in Rheingau, is a winemaking town. With its picturesque vineyards and castle ruins along the river to explore, it is no doubt that Rüdesheim is one of Germany’s most popular destination among tourists. 

There are approximately 380 highly-trained winemakers in this region which are family-run businesses. One of their specialities is Riesling which is the highest prized variety in this region. It covers 84% of the vineyard area in the Rheingau region. 

 (€5,90 for a glass)

Riesling is zesty and fruity. It is a must try if you’re in Rüdesheim!  

 
A walk up Drosselgasse, a cobbled old street that is 144m long, is highly recommended in Rüdesheim. Yes, the street is lined with traditional German restaurants and gift shops, but it does give you a taste of the town. You’ll find live music at lunch time, lovely food and pretty wine gardens. It is essentially a place to take out your cameras and snap away. 
  
To get a good view of the Rhein and vineyards, take the cable car up to the Niederwald monument. It costs €7 for a return ride and €5 for a single. We paid for a single and hiked our way down with a 10kg baby and a stroller. It was no easy task but lots of fun!   (Niederwald Monument)

   
Down we go!

  

The great thing about walking down, apart from it being easier than walking up, is that you can see the vineyards up close. The view is really breathtaking!

  

Some parts on the path had steps and weren’t exactly buggy-friendly, but Daniel didn’t complain about it. When he finally stood still at one point, his legs were shaking uncontrollably!

 

The fresh air helped Theo fall asleep. Too bad he missed the views but we were glad to just enjoy ourselves on our walk. 

Rüdesheim is only an hour away from Frankfurt Main Station on the VIA trains. It’s really close to Mainz and Wiesbaden too. If you’re in town, don’t forget to make a trip down to this stunning little town! 

10 Things I Learned in My First Year as a Mum

Now, my baby is a toddler even though he’s still my baby. Everyday I hold his head close to my nose and take a deep breadth, wanting to inhale all of him. Needless to say, that delicate baby scent is gone, only to be substituted by whatever crumbs left behind from his last meal.   

I’m glad I’ve taken photos of most milestones he’s reached and written about our journey together. It’s nice to have something to look back to in the future and see how we’ve grown. Here are 10 things I learned in my first year with Theodore:

1. Google is NOT your paediatrician. Don’t we all rely on the Internet to give us answers? Chances are it will tell you that your baby has got a serious disease and needs A&E treatment immediately. No! Take whatever Google (or mummy forums) says with a pinch of salt. When in doubt, seek professional help. 

2. Life with a baby is a roller coaster. I’ll tell you that a newborn is EASY to look after now but believe me, it was SO DIFFICULT back then for me. Each stage has its own challenges. It gets tougher, easier, then tougher and then easier. 

3. You love like you’ve never loved before. That little life you’ve brought to this world WILL BE your everything. 

4. Sometimes you do wonder what your life would be like without a baby. You’ll imagine it to be glorious. There’s no need to feel guilty about it. 

5. It’s perfectly acceptable to ASK your husband to take over while you take a long, hot bath to unwind. You deserve it. 

6. You’ll want to buy all the toys in the world for your little one but really, he doesn’t need ALL of them. Babies love repetition and familiar objects. 

7. 5 minutes of Peppa Pig on the iPad while you pop into the loo isn’t going to kill your baby. 

8. Put the baby down in the room and all he wants to grab are the wires, bookshelves and anything not baby-friendly. 

9. You’ll get into an argument with your husband on who’s more tired when in actual fact, you’re both equally exhausted (hence the argument).

10. You don’t get annoyed at babies crying in public anymore. You’ll look the other parents in their eyes, and give them a sympathetic smile as if to say “I understand. It’s going to be alright”. 

Read! Read! Read!

 

At Theo’s recent check-up (the Germans call it the U6), his paediatrician said we should read LOTS to him. Apparently babies pick up a lot of vocabulary in the second year of their lives hence reading aloud helps them learn new words.

We’ve been reading to Theo since he was born. I’m all up for reading for the following reasons:

1. A good habit to have.

2. A way to learn new vocabulary. 

3. Encourages children to be imaginative.

4. Allows parents to spend quality time with their children.

5. Teaches children about the world and other cultures.

Although we have a bookshelf for all of Theo’s storybooks, I’m a little doubtful of the shelf staying upright. This little guy is well capable of doing some serious damage to himself if he pulls books off the shelf. I thought it would be discouraging to keep shouting “No!!!” whenever he tries pulling a book off the shelf or even goes near it. Therefore, I’ve filled his nappy box with board books and placed it in his playpen.  

 He can pick whichever book he wants, flip the pages without me worrying if he’s going to tear anything, lick it and so on. 

About 3-4 times a day, we’ll go through the books together. Depending on his attention span, we read between 2-5 books at a go. I find that he’s able to concentrate best in the mornings and when there’s nothing else apart from the box of books in the playpen.

I’m glad that Theo shows interest in books so far. I’m doing something right here! :) 

 

25 Reasons to Celebrate My First Year of Motherhood

It was only when my landlord congratulated me on Theo’s birthday that I realised that we as parents were celebrating our first year of parenthood. A year of survival. 

  
In the past year, there have been countless of times that I thought I was going to die for various reasons. Of course I didn’t, or else I wouldn’t be blogging this! So, here are my reasons for celebrating my first year of motherhood:

1. I survived breastfeeding even though there was a point in my life when I felt like I was in hell and I hated it when it was time to nurse as my boobs were sore and swollen. 

2. I realised that heartaches don’t kill me. They only make me stronger for my boy.

3. I discovered the true meaning of unconditional love. 

4. I never had to clean poop in the bath tub. (Hopefully not going to jinx this!)

5. Despite my son’s obsession with putting everything and anything in his path into his mouth, we have never been to A&E to remove any foreign objects within him.

6. I can be sleep deprived and be a grumpy person but all it takes is a kiss from my boy to recharge my energy levels. I suppose I’m easily pleased.

7. I fall asleep breastfeeding him almost every night but have never dropped my baby.

8. My son has never peed on me.

9. I’ve only ever encountered a poop incident once on my hands (small incident).

10. I didn’t hit people who stared at my son when he wore his boots and bar. 

11. I sometimes let my son try food we eat outside without killing him.

12. I laughed when my top was soaked through with milk.

13. I never once replaced cow’s milk with breastmilk when making my husband a cup of tea although I’ve threatened to do so (much to his disgust!).

14. I managed to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes before my son turned one. 

15. I look after my son all day by myself when my husband’s at work and the boy is still kicking away. I seriously had doubts keeping a baby alive when he was a newborn.

16. Despite my poor judgement of European weather, my son didn’t freeze in cold weather.

17. After 10 weeks, I learned that babies have sensitive skin and are prone to harmless rashes caused by hormones. That helped reduce the number of trips I make to his paediatrician significantly.

18. I stopped relying on medication to treat my son’s common cold. I swear by chicken soup now and it feeds the whole family. 

19. I didn’t kill my husband when he said “Brilliant! Theo slept through the whole night!” because he didn’t hear our boy cry. 

20. My boy has never fallen off the bed or sofa. 

21. My son has eaten the menus at restaurants less than 5 times. This IS impressive given that he puts everything in his mouth. 

22. After 6 months, I no longer cry when I put on the boots and bar for my son. Not because it doesn’t hurt me anymore when we do it, but because my boy has always been brave and brilliant when it comes to his treatment.

23. I’m still alive even though I haven’t slept properly for more than a year. Well, approximately 19 months if you include the time BEFORE my son was born. 

24. I’ve accepted that my clothes will have snot, food or dirt on them.

25. My husband and I aren’t divorced even though we sometimes feel like killing each other.

Good job to Mama & Papa! 

Happy 1st Birthday 

Theodore turned 1 yesterday and he received one of the most beautiful cards from his Grandparents and Auntie Gemma.

He adores The Very Hungry Caterpillar to bits so this is the perfect card for him!

mygirllollipop

My gorgeous nephew has just turned 1!

I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone. He’s changed so much and I’m incredibly proud of him, especially as he’s been through such a lot for someone so young. I don’t get to see him as much as I’d like, as he lives in Germany, but I’m so grateful for video chats.

For his 1st birthday card, I decided on a Hungry Caterpillar theme as he loves the story. I saw a wonderful card on Pinterest, made by Connie Babbert at inkspiredtreasures.com. Such a perfect card for fans of the Hungry Caterpillar, so I had to have a go at recreating it for my nephew.

I found some fun green fruit paper which was perfect to use as the caterpillar body. The number 1 was created using a die from the Avery Elle Elle-Ments Dies-Count On It set.

Happy birthday little…

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Frankfurt’s Grüne Soße Festival

 

Grüne Soße (Green sauce) is a traditional local delicacy of Frankfurt. It is rumored that it was the favourite food of Goethe however there is no evidence to support this claim. A traditional way to serve Grüne Soße is with hard boiled eggs and pan-fried potatoes. 

  
The sauce which is made up of 7 herbs is usually served cold. These are the herbs that MUST be used – parsley, chives, cress, sorrel, chervil, borrage, and salad burne. This is a truly local dish as most of the herbs used are said to originate from Frankfurt’s neighborhood. One can only sell the sauce as Frankfurt Grüne Soße if more than 60% of the herbs are from Frankfurt. No kidding! 

 
The festival ends on 9th May 2015 at Frankfurt’s Roßmarkt. So, pop down there ASAP and enjoy this local cuisine!  
  

  

A blog on my three greatest loves – family, food & travels

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