A quiet New Year’s Eve

It’s ironic, really. The most eventful year of my life has come to a very quiet close.

The Other Half’s flu got much worse over the weekend. Fakemas with my family was postponed on Sunday & yesterday we ended up at hospital having a chest X-ray on doctor’s orders.

Today, the antibiotics finally seem to be kicking in & he surfaced for some toast.

He’s hauled up in bed & I’ve been sleeping on the sofa in a vain attempt to reduce my chances of catching it. Though I started coughing last night…

Poor Baby Girl is climbing the walls, or more accurately, tearing the living room apart in her boredom. The Other Half’s GQ is shredded. The laundry basket has been emptied onto the bathroom floor. Even a Dora the Explorer treat couldn’t save us yesterday. So I had to call in the back up.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/76f/59093889/files/2014/12/img_5534.jpgMom arrived early afternoon (with donuts!) & whisked Baby Girl away for the day. Meanwhile we went for the x-ray & I dashed to the shops to stock up on formula & baby nibbles in case I catch it. Ain’t no way I’m worrying about cooking soft-but-lumpy-salt-free-risotto if I’m dying like the Other Half has been!

This morning, Baby Girl kept pushing the bedroom door open & rushing in to find Daddy as I chased after her, scooped her up & airlifted her back to the living room. As soon as her feet touched the ground she was off on all fours scurrying back to the bedroom. It seems we created a new game… me!

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Quick! To the bedroom!

 

So all in all, we’re facing a very quiet New Year’s Eve. Our plans have been cancelled (sorry again to those who now need to seek bubbles elsewhere!) & the Other Half’s birthday plans for tomorrow are in significant limbo.

All I’m hoping for now is a peaceful night from Baby Girl so I can enjoy a glass of wine surrounded by bubbles of bath variety (I won’t be sitting in a vat of champagne!) & a good movie to bring in the New Year.

Actually, that sounds a pretty good New Year’s Eve to me!

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A Christmas Miracle

My Christmas wish was simple. All I wanted for Christmas was a good night’s sleep.

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None of these boxes contained a cure for a sleeping baby.

We spent Christmas week at my in laws’. By Christmas Eve, there were 12 adults, three kids, two babies & three dogs. My wish did not come true. In fact, far from it.

Between The Little Auntie, who as much as I love her, at age seven, has absolutely no volume control even when we frantically remind her babies are napping; being somewhere new & unknown (Baby Girl never settles well in new places); sharing a room with her (we seem to disturb her as much as she does us); & the Other Half having flu, I got very little sleep.

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Baby Girl’s cousins, Be (12m) & Im (3y) helped show her how this present lark works.

Though to be honest, this is no different to usual. I’ve made it no secret there has been increasingly less sleep since around four months old. To the point where I was regularly living on only two hours a night from six months old.

So Christmas week has been even more tiring than usual. Truth be told, I was looking forward to returning to our quiet, little apartment on Boxing Day.

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Baby Girl looking really tired as we near bed time on Christmas Day…

And that’s when our Christmas miracle happened.

Baby Girl slept through the night. And again on the 27th. From 7pm til 7am.

I woke feeling refreshed & rested, albeit shocked & confused!

Baby Girl was nine months at the beginning of December & I reached breaking point. I still stand very firmly against just letting her ‘cry it out’, but we have started our own form of gentle sleep training. I couldn’t continue to live on so little sleep. (As the girl who previously couldn’t function on less than eight hours, ten if possible, it’s shocked everyone how long I’ve held on. Including myself!).

Baby Girl hasn’t fed during the night since 5.5 months old. She dropped the feed of her own accord. She had a dummy until teething began at six months at which point she refused it. During the warm summer, I gave her water if she woke; she would drink half an ounce then roll over back to sleep.

But between teething, chronic wind, a cold, then a dose of flu, we slowly got into the habit of picking her up when she cried at night. And slowly, it seems, she became a bit of a cuddle monster.

So, our waking routine now goes something like this:

  1. Baby Girl wakes. Wait a few moments to see if she’s just moaning in her sleep or is awake & upset.
  2. If she cries, go in, turn on Ewan the Dream Sheep, pat her, ‘reset her’ if necessary (ie, lie her back down if sitting or standing), shush her, let her know she’s not alone, that everything’s ok, then walk out of the room.
  3. Wait ‘x’ amount time, then repeat of needed.
  4. Repeat until she settles.

The time we wait varies. To begin with, it was one minute. Then two. Then three. There were tears from me at the start having to leave her for any amount of time. It felt wrong of me & as though I wasn’t doing my job. But this technique does seem to be working for us. We noticed a marked difference within a week or so. And despite having a rough few days while we were away, touch wood, she seems to have slotted straight back in now we’ve returned home.

I still won’t leave her for more than five minutes to cry. As far as I’m concerned, a baby cries for a reason. Even if that reason is, ‘I’ve woken up & startled myself by practising crawling in the cot in my sleep!’. They have little other ways of communicating at this young age.

I’ve also read about the damaging effects of prolonged exposure to stress hormones if babies are left to cry too long. And I subscribe to the theory that, with controlled crying, babies stop crying because they learn no one will come, not become they learn to self settle.

While I appreciate that six or seven minutes may not be considered ‘prolonged exposure,’ this is what feels right to me. And so far, our technique is showing that you can gently train your baby to self settle without the distress of being ignored while crying. (For more info on these theories, see Margot Sunderland’s What Every Parent Needs To Know).

Though last night Baby Girl did wake at 2am briefly & started her day at 6am (yawn), it’s still a vast improvement on where we were a month ago. Fingers crossed this is the start of things to come. Definitely a high to end 2014 on if it is!

 

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Old timer Jack is a gentle giant but newbies to the family Tinker & Mimi didn’t really understand Baby Girl was nervous of their jumpy ways & were just curiouser & curiouser of this creature who crawled around their floor!

The best gift

I’m a fan of Barbra Steisand. I love musical theatre, was brought up listening to her CDs & watching Hello Dolly. And I’m not ashamed of it.

But Barbra’s Christmas album is particularly close to my heart. I don’t know why, but it’s not Christmas for me without it. This year, however, this CD, that I have been listening to annually for probably twenty years, brought a tear (or few) to my eye. For the first time, I truly understood this song.

And I can think of no better way to share how I feel each morning, though bleary eyed, when I see Baby Girl’s head pop up over the side of the cot, her toothy grin beaming up at me as I enter the room; how truly happy she is just because I’ve walked in the room & how no matter how tired I might be how happy her bouncing up & down as she grips the side of the cot makes me; than to share this song with you.

It’s true. It really is different when it’s your own.

The best gift
That I ever got
Didn’t really weigh a lot
It didn’t have a ribbon ’round
And it sometimes made the terrible sound.

The best of all it seems to me,
It wasn’t ‘neath the christmas tree
And yet, I guess I’d have to say
That it made all the other presents twice as gay.

The best gift that I’ve ever known
I’d always wanted most to own
Yet in my dreams of sugar and spice
I never thought it could be so nice.

The best gift
That I’ll ever get
Was sometimes dry and sometimes wet
Was usually pink but oftentimes red
And it lay so innocently in it’s bed.

The best gift of the year to me,
The one I hold most dear to me,
A gift that simply drove me wild
Was a tiny new born child.

-Barbra Steisand

How to: Survive a baby on a train

Living in London, we don’t have a car. We rely solely on public transport or lifts from our extended family. Or our feet.

We have family in Hertfordshire, Surrey, Gloucestershire, Liverpool, Manchester, even as far north as Sunderland. We know trains.

But trains with a wriggling, bundle of joy is new territory. Gone are the leisurely, lazy hours staring out of a window, catching up on a good book or watching movies on our iPads. No, no.

In the last nine months, we’ve learned a thing or two about trains and babies. Mainly, that if you can avoid it, do. But if you can’t, here’s what we know so far about having a baby on a train:

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If you’re not sat by one, move. If there’s no seats available by one, stand in the disabled area or vestibule. Baby Girl loves to watch the world go by & in tunnels is delighted by her reflection.

2. Doors (& their buttons) 

IMG_5365On Virgin Trains in particular, the doors amuse Baby Girl for a long time. You open the doors by effectively a touch screen pad; press it, the lights flash red, the door slides open into the wall. Where did it go? Here it comes again… Press the button, the lights flash red. But where did it go? Here it comes again…. Press the button…

Baby Girl thought it was the best game in the world. And opened the door for anyone who came by.

Then we found a different door button.IMG_5366

And a different type of button.IMG_5435

We also found a big, red emergency button in the wheelchair area. But we swiftly moved away once Baby Girl noticed it. Even the tiniest of fingers can’t resist a red button.

3. Where to sit

Book your ticket in advance & reserve a seat. Tick the options to be near a luggage rack & near the toilets (you can earn your Mama Badge or Dad Badge for a Train Change. Lucky you.)

Open Returns give you flexibility so you’re not rushing to make a specific trains, but it can be quite stressful if the train is busy, trying to find somewhere to sit with a baby & all your gear.

At the end of carriage is ideal so you’re not traipsing all your gear through, bashing someone with the carseat or your baby spitting up over your shoulder onto someone’s head.

There’s also usually wheelchair seats, which, if not in use, you can park up your buggy, have plenty of space to swing your baby round by their ankles & keep them amused. (Swinging by ankles, optional.) You’re also able to quickly duck into the vestibule if bambino is having a bad day. Rather than having to do the walk of shame down the carriage.

If your baby is standing, however, a table seat is handy so they can stand on the seat, lean against the table & stare out the window to their heart’s content, saving your arms a bit.

IMG_54344. This crack in the seats

If you’re lucky, you’ll have someone pleasant sat behind you who entertains your baby for you with funny faces, smiles & perhaps even a game of peak-a-boo. If not, then your baby will still be entertained by the gap. They’ll just irritate the people behind you instead & so you’ll have to entertain them in a different fashion, preferably far away from Mr. Grumpy in the seat behind.

5. Baby transport options

If you can leave the buggy at home, do it. Take the carrier. It’s just so much easier.

If you need a carseat, however, both carrying the car seat freestyle & wheeling it on the pushchair, in our experience, have their downfalls. Carrying it is just a pain & takes up a useful hand. But it also makes the buggy really heavy, which can make navigating public transport more difficult if it’s not easily accessible. (Especially if on your own, as I’ve been a few times.)

And then you lose the carseat attachments that hook it safely onto the buggy…

A bonus of carseats on trains, however, is it gives Baby Girl her own little contained area. And when travelling on my own, I have somewhere I can strap her in & know she’s safe while I put our bags on the luggage rack, or take my coat off or whatever I may need to do. It also gives your arms a break should you be lucky enough for bambino to sleep. (There’s always hope!) IMG_5364IMG_5362

 

6. Toys & Snacks

When all else fails, bring out the toys, rice crackers, biscuits, apple slices – whatever your baby loves.

If you can, bring something new or that they haven’t played with for a while. Something with novelty will keep their attention for longer.

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And if you don’t have anything new, get creative with what you’ve got… Poor Piggy…

Personally, I don’t worry so much about Baby Girl’s routine while travelling. Peace & harmony is the aim of the game people. If that means she has a bottle when she’d usually have lunch & then 4 rice crackers & 12 grapes an hour later, so be it.

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If your baby finds a position they’re happy in, move them at your peril. Back hurting? If they’re quiet then why are you complaining?

 

The List

Mama Badge: Poo Bath

We went nine months. Nine whole months. All our friends gradually fell fowl to the sorry end to the day that is a number two in the bath. But not us.

And then it happened.

Last night, we got back from swimming & I dunked Baby Girl in a bath full of foamy bubbles. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Suddenly, my nostrils were filled with the oh-too-familiar smell of poo. I looked around, “what the hell?!”. Toilet, empty. No diaper in sight. Suddenly my eyes settled on Baby Girl.

No…

Yes. She held her little orange squeezey frog & just blinked up at me with a very solemn face. It was a face that said;

“Yes, Mama. Under the bubbles…”

I whipped off my jeans, scooped her out of the baby bath (hands under her arm pits, trying not to touch any poo water!) & we both got into the big bath. I ran the tap & started scrubbing (gently…ish) her hands & feet before she had a chance to get them in her mouth, all the while bubbles foaming up water swirling round her in the big bath.

Baby Girl splashed & giggled & flailed. She thought it was brilliant. The big bath has so much more room for splashing!

I fear the big bath only rewarded her behaviour. What have I done?!

And so I add another badge to my collection. I really would have been ok with not getting this one. Really.

Ps; thanks to the Other Half who disinfected everything & cleared up said event. One Dad Badge well earned there!

Baby Girl’s foot fetish

I’m starting to come to terms with the fact Baby Girl may have a foot fetish.

When she first started gnawing at our toes, we laughed it off; “she’s teething, isn’t it cute,” we said.

When she started chewing her feet; “she’s discovering her body, how clever!” we said.

When she started playing with the laces on our shoes & then pulling all the shoes off the shoe rack; “she’s exploring her environment, how sweet,” we said, as we put them all back & hid the expensive ones higher up.

Now, every time the laundry basket is within reach, she finds the socks. No matter how low I bury them in the basket. And then she crawls around holding a pair. (I have no idea which socks are clean & which are dirty anymore, there’s so many strewn around the apartment!)

It is time to move from denial to acceptance.

Our baby has a foot fetish.

The Wonder Weeks: Leap 7, AKA, slap in the face

I’m having flashbacks to the nightmare that was Leap 4.

Only this time, Baby Girl is 9 months old, has even stronger lungs to scream with, is sick if she cries for long periods of time & is able to stand. Which after bedtime is how we find her probably 50% of the time, holding onto the side of her cot like the world is coming to an end. Which pretty much kills even the tiniest hope that she might just fall asleep unwittingly.

Leap 7, ‘Sequences’, is a biggy. It’s all about understanding & mastering a flow of events. For instance:

  1. grab handles of sippy cup
  2. lift sippy cup
  3. bring spout to mouth
  4. suck water, quench thirst

IMG_0098.PNGAs I mentioned before, we’re still struggling with this particular flow of events. It’s not so flowy.

The Wonder Weeks says:

…Your baby will keep an eye on you more, stay close to you, and will regularly come to… “refuel” mommy or daddy…

But let’s not pussyfoot around. Leap 7 is unusually bad. I pick her up, she pushes me away. I put her down, she hugs my legs & whimpers. She’s gone off her solids, has upped her milk content again, she doesn’t want to fall asleep on her own… It goes on.

And the cherry on top? Baby Girl started a week early. So we weren’t mentally prepared. And we were ill & not on best form to deal with it. But I’m looking at the in app calendar & thinking ‘this leap apparently goes on well into January… How will we cope?!’.

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The exciting part, however, is what this leap will help her master. For example:

  1. Answers simple questions like, “How big are you,” by raising her arms to indicate size.
  2. Points to things, people or animals if you ask her to or points where to go
  3. Tries to persuade you to help her with things she could have done without
  4. Imitates two or more gestures one after the other
  5. Tries to put on her sock on her own, but fails

These feel like huge milestones in comprehension & communication. We’ll get genuine feedback to what we’re saying, showing us she understands some basic language. (I would put any amount of money on the fact that ‘No’ still will have absolutely no effect. She’s her father’s daughter!)

The pointing has already started, mainly pointing to her sippy cup during meal times. (Which she then opens her mouth & tilts back her head like a baby bird as if to say, “I’m not doing it. You do it!”.) But it’s definitely a start.

See more Finding Our Feet The Wonder Weeks posts.

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FINDING OUR FEET IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE WONDER WEEKS. WE JUST REALLY LIKE THE APP. ALL OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS REVIEW ARE INDEPENDENT AND MY OWN.

The Big Sippy Cup Review

Baby Girl can do many things. But drinking out of sippy cups is not one of them. We have persevered since about 4.5 months, trying multiple cups, spouts, brands… Finally, at 9 months old, she’s starting to get the hang of it. Hallelujah!

So I thought I’d share what we’ve learned. So, in age appropriate order…

NB: all cups featured are BPA free

spilly cupThe Tommee Tippee Essential Basics First Cup 4m+
AKA: Tommie Tippie Spilly Cup
RRP £1.50

Baby Girl’s current status: utterly hopeless

Features:

  • 190ml capacity with measurements down the side
  • Free flow spout
  • Slim handles for little hands
  • Foldable spout for drip-free transport
  • Snap on lid
  • Available in a variety of colours

Positives:

  1. Dishwasher, steriliser & microwave safe
  2. Great value for money (if your child can actually use it)

Negatives:

  1. Childproof lid is also adult proof. It’s impossible get off.
  2. Free flowing spout (when unfolded) means the liquid just dribbles everywhere soaking bambino if they haven’t got to grips with sippy cups yet – which as this is a ‘my first cup’, that’s unlikely. Or pours all over your bag if spout left unfolded & it tips over in your bag. (Wish I wasn’t speaking from experience there… As I said, ‘Spilly Cup’)

Overall rating: **

aventc upThe Avent Bottle to First Trainer Cup 4m+
RRP £4.50

Baby Girl’s current status: almost got it, occasionally end up dribbling it everywhere while sipping

Features:

  • 125ml capacity with measurements down the side
  • Familiar bottle shape to ease your baby into the change to sippy cup
  • Interchangeable with any Avent classic shape bottle teats
  • Detachable handles can be used on trainer cup or Avent bottles
  • Slightly softer spout for gentle gums can be free-flowing or ‘suckable’ by removing a plastic cover under the spout
  • Cap to keep it clean when not in use

Positives:

  1. It’s really versatile. You can have it as a bottle with handles, a sippy cup without handles, a sippy cup with handles… Choices, choices!
  2. You can use the spout with bigger Avent bottles you already own if going out for a whole day so you’re not worrying about running out of water.
  3. Can be used with Avent breast pumps
  4. It has a cute bunny on it.

Negatives:

  1. If you don’t screw the lid on properly (which the handles can get in the way of) bambino ends up soaked. (That was not our best day.)
  2. Being white & a slightly more rubbery material, after a few rounds in the dishwasher it ends up a bit discoloured.
  3. Cap detachable; easily lost

Overall rating: ****

ird cupHaberman Bird Cup 6m+
RRP £4.95

Baby Girl’s current status: success!!! (As long as I lift it for her)

Features:

  • 250ml capacity
  • Drip free spout & leak proof screw top lid
  • Bird design available in pink, blue or green & the new black & white penguin design
  • Dishwasher safe (top rack) & microwave safe (without lid)

Positives:

  1. Easy to use, refill & clean
  2. The bird design seemed to delight Baby Girl – she played with this cup in a way she hasn’t with any other
  3. Drip free no matter which way I hold it

Negatives:

  1. No cap to keep spout clean.

And that’s it. I can’t think of anything else. I love this cup.

NB: From 6m, baby’s feeding equipment doesn’t need to be sterilised if cleaned in a dishwasher. This cup is not steam-steriliser safe, but could be used with cold water solution sterilisers.*

Overall Rating: *****

IMG_0094.PNGHaberman Cow Cup 6m+
RRP £4.95

Baby Girl’s current stats: just about success

Features:

  • 250ml capacity
  • Drip free spout & snap on leak proof lid (with handy arrows to show you where to fasten it together to ensure it’s leak proof)
  • Dishwasher safe (top rack) & microwave safe (without lid)

Positives:

  1. Awesome design, love, love, love it
  2. Easy to use and keep clean & no chance of baby getting the lid off (though sometimes no chance of me getting it off either!)
  3. Doesn’t drip or leak no matter which way I hold it

Negatives:

  1. I’m a weakling & struggle with snap on lids, but that’s just me.
  2. The rounder spout is harder for Baby Girl to use and she does still dribble a bit with this cup. But not as much as with either Tommee Tippee cup.
NB: From 6m, baby’s feeding equipment doesn’t need to be sterilised if cleaned in a dishwasher. This cup is not steam-steriliser safe, but could be used with cold water solution sterilisers.*

Overall Rating: ****

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Can be bought individually or part of the Tommee Tippee Explora starter packs

Tommee Tippee Easy Drink Beaker 7-12m
RRP £3.99

Baby Girl’s current status: we’ll use it if all the others are in the dishwasher

Features:

  • Large cup; 330ml when full
  • Drip free, spill free
  • Softer spout for gentle gums
  • Attached spout cap to keep it clean
  • Rubber grips down the sides to help baby hold on
  • Available in a variety of colours
  • Dishwasher, microwave & steriliser safe

Positives:

  1. It’s larger size is good for a a day out
  2. The cap cover it great & tucks away, clicking into place when not in use so it’s not in baby’s way

Negatives:

  1. The spout shape seems to be difficult for Baby Girl to use. Although not as bad as the Tommee Tippee ‘Spilly Cup’ above, she just dribbles whatever she sucks out everywhere & I spend more time mopping her up that quenching her thirst.

Overall rating: ***

*Please note, I am not an expert but ‘just another mom’ with experience who has read the NHS guidelines. The purpose of this post is to share my experience with you to help you make an informed decision for yourself. Your child’s welfare is your own responsibility and you should always do what you feel comfortable with.

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The Haberman Bird Cup and Cow cup were provided to me free of charge from the company in order to review then. However, the opinions expressed in this review are independent and my own.170x30bwi

Feeling Christmassy… ish…

This weekend marked one year since the Other Half & I moved in together & was Baby Girl’s 9 months birthday.

We had planned to put our Christmas tree up – our first ever (we didn’t have one last year as we weren’t spending much time here over the Christmas season). And to visit a lovely little Christmas Fair at Hackney City Farm. There was going to be mulled wine, Christmas tunes (much to the Other Half’s dismay) cinnamon biscuits…

But that was not to be.

Instead, late on Thursday night, I started throwing up. By 2am, I could barely move for my aching limbs. Baby Girl followed suit shortly after. On Friday the Other Half worked from home & I spent most of the day semi-conscious beneath the duvet. By late Saturday night, it was his turn.

So, our weekend consisted of a Netflix Christmas movie marathon (with a Disney’s Hercules interlude, which, by the way, is awesome) and generally lots of sleeping. On Saturday afternoon, there was a brief moment in time when all of us seemed to be ok, so we nipped to a friend’s who has just come back after 8 months in Thailand. But it was short lived.

Luckily, Baby Girl seemed to have the lightest hit of the bug and the Other Half & I managed to be at our worst on different days so we could take turns entertaining her while the other one wallowed.

But we were determined to put up our Christmas tree. So on Sunday evening, we manned up & got our Christmas on.
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The tunes were on, Baby Girl was trying to eat twinkly lights, it was glorious. In a, we’re-so-ill-you-have-to-laugh-or-you’ll-cry kind of way. We decided to give the champagne a miss for today.

Now let me prepare you. Because our tree is really quite something. When you see it, you’ll understand why it seemed such a struggle for us in this state. Prepare yourselves for the amazingness that is our first ever family Christmas tree…

I mean, wow, right.

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On the plus side, Baby Girl can’t reach it if it’s this small & on the side… so we thought…

Our tree. In it’s full 3ft glory. With it’s whole 6 decorations. And yes, that is a hedgehog on top.

Ooooh yeeeeh.

We are young, new parents who insist on living in London’s zone 2. There’s very few pennies going spare each month. Christmas is tight this year. Our tree, was £5 from Tesco; the decorations & lights we already had & the hedgehog… well, he’s one of Baby Girl’s finger puppets. His name is Hedgy. His sidekick is Piggy, but there’s no room for him at the Christmas Tree Inn.We had thought we’d get a star or an angel at the Christmas Fair. But we didn’t get to go. So we have no star or angel. Instead we have a hedgehog.

And so our first family Christmas tradition is born. Baby Girl will get to choose a different toy every year for the top of the tree.

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“These don’t look very tasty crackers to me…” thought Baby Girl