I Want It All, and I Want It Delivered

You can get pretty much anything delivered in London. Groceries, old-fashioned milk in glass bottles on your doorstep like it’s 1952, wine and beer. Which, for someone who does not have a car, is so helpful. We live about 200 feet from a dry-cleaner, but they offer free delivery, so why carry all those clothes 200 feet myself when they can do it for me at a time that’s convenient for me?

For groceries and household items, I use Ocado, both the website and the easy-to-use phone app. I place an order, choose a one-hour time slot for delivery, and a man brings the bags right into my kitchen for me. (The dog HATES the Ocado delivery men, even when the order includes dog food.) Pretty much all the big grocery chains offer their own similar online order and delivery service: Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Tesco. And of course there’s also Amazon Prime, Amazon Fresh, Amazon Prime NOW.

I love the grocery delivery, but not getting to pick out my own produce isn’t great. To supplement, we get a weekly box from Riverford organic farm. It’s kind of like a CSA, except you can choose which box you want that week, based on the contents, and you can skip weeks and not pay for what you don’t need. Their produce has been outstanding, much better than any grocery store. The day of the delivery I just leave my box from last week on the front step and they take it back to reuse it. This week I ordered organic chicken from them too.

For prepared food from restaurants, the most popular app is Deliveroo. On a Friday or Saturday night the streets teem with motorbikes with large boxes balanced on the backs, whizzing takeaway meals to hungry people at the tap of a finger on a phone.

And now M has signed up for Freddie’s Flowers, another local delivery service, and Friday morning a box was delivered with this beautiful bouquet inside:

Thanks, honey!

You know what Americans can get delivered to their front doors that we can’t, though? Girl Scout cookies. What I would do for a taste of Tagalong or a sliver of Samoa…

Mother-Daughter Play Date

Today, the kids won. Mommy is waving the white flag on Tuesday. There are towels soaked with urine, milk (cow’s, not breast), and baby spit-up molding over in the washing machine. The girls have decided they’re American and therefore are observing American Daylight Saving Time and woke up an hour early both days this week. I only made it through half of Buggyfit class this morning because R wouldn’t stop crying. I let E have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner (half of which was thrown away because it soaked up her spilled milk). I’m just going to admit defeat and hope they go a little easier on me tomorrow. One of my favourite terms I hear British mums use a lot is I’m shattered, meaning exhausted. It fits.

But if I can get a blog post up before I pass out, then I will feel like I accomplished something today!

Since Baby R was born, E has had quite a few daddy-daughter dates out with M, but I was definitely overdue for taking my firstborn out for some one-on-one time. On Saturday we agreed baby would stay home with daddy for some bonding time, and E and I were going out on the town.

There’s a great app/website here called Hoop, which rounds up all the activities for kids going on in London, by date, age range, location, etc. We get an email every Thursday with the top picks for things happening on the weekend, and this week we saw there was going to be a free arts and crafts session at the Unicorn Theatre, a children’s theatre, so I decided we’d go check that out.

When we arrived, I was a bit disappointed in the craft they were doing; it was something we could easily have done ourselves at home. But, I reminded myself, this was about us spending time together doing an activity, so as long as E was having fun, it didn’t matter that the artwork wasn’t going to be frame-worthy.

So she happily painted and coloured for quite a while, and then a stage manager came up to the table and said their new play, which was opening this week, was going to be doing a dress rehearsal in a bit, and we were invited to come watch. Well that certainly made the trip there worth it!

The play, called Jeramee, Hartleby, and Oooglemore, ended up being for ages 3 and up. It was one hour long, and very silly in a physical comedy kind of way. The only words spoken the entire play are Jeramee, Hartleby, and Oooglemore. So it’s all visual, and no jokes were lost on my three-and-a-half-year-old. We both found it quite delightful. (And especially since we got to see it for free!)

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 9.42.22 PMThis was her fourth play since we moved to London. We have also taken her to see The Gruffalo, Peppa Pig’s Surprise, and Father Christmas. All have been just about an hour, which is perfect for her age and attention span.

The theatre is in Southwark, near the South Bank of the Thames, which offers some cool views of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, especially on such a beautiful spring day.



I wish I’d known about the fountains here last summer, when we were living in our temporary flat, which is within walking distance. This would have been great to bring her to on a hot day to play in the fountain!

Mum to Mom Translator

It’s common knowledge that there are quite a lot of differences between the American and British English vocabularies. I still learn new ones all the time. There are plenty of books offering “translations” between the two, but I have actually discovered a whole set of different terms directly related to babies, children, and pregnancy, so I am developing a Mum to Mom Translator:

General

Nappy = diaper (so also nappy bin = diaper pail; nappy cream, nappy bag, etc.) Derives from “napkin”

Buggy/pram/pushchair = stroller

Kicking off = (baby) starting to fuss

Strop = tantrum

Whinging = complaining in an irritating and persistent way

Dummy = pacifier

Teat = bottle nipple

Cot = crib

Carrycot = travel crib, or the large Moses basket-style part of the buggy for babies up to 6 months

Go to the loo/go to the toilet = go potty

Wee/poo = pee/poop

Poppet; sausage; pickle = apparently these are appropriate terms of endearment for adults to call children (like sweetie; honey)

Wind/winding = gas/burping

Muslin = burp cloth

Cuddle = hug

Beaker = drinking cup

Milk teeth = baby teeth

Father Christmas = Santa Claus

Crèche = daycare/drop-in childcare

Playtime

Disco = dance party

Hokey Cokey = Hokey Pokey

Noughts and crosses = tic-tac-toe (x’s and o’s)

Soft play = area for little ones to play in that’s all foam-filled objects, maybe with a slide and a ball pit

Roly-poly = somersault

Twit twoo = what an owl says, rather than hoo/hoot

Cockerel = rooster

Telly = TV

Pocket money = allowance

Fancy dress party = costume party

Health

(Sticking) plaster = Band-Aid

Jab = shot (injection)

Poorly = sick (as in, “Rachel wasn’t at school today because she was poorly”—E has actually said this, and it makes it sound like poor Rachel has been suffering from smallpox or something)

School

Nursery = preschool

Public school = private school

State school = public school

Full stop = period

Rubber = eraser

Sellotape = scotch tape

Rubbish bin = trash can

Zed = how you pronounce the letter Z

Minibeasts = insects/invertebrates

Maths = yep, they put an s on it

Rucksack = backpack

 

Clothing

Tank top = vest

Vest = onesie (for babies), tank top (for older kids/adults)

Nought to three = zero to three months (clothing size)

Baby grow = sleeper/sleepsuit

Gro bag = sleeping bag for infants, which come in different weight/thickness called tog, e.g., 1.0 tog for a lightweight one for summer or 2.5 tog for a heavier one for winter


Pants = underwear

Jumper = sweater

Trousers = pants (For some reason, it is really hard for both M and me to remember to say trousers instead of pants. You don’t want to make the mistake of telling someone you don’t know very well that your pants are wet. We have so thoroughly confused E with our inconsistency on this that now she says things like “underwear panties.”)

Tracksuit bottoms or joggers = sweatpants

Trainers = tennis shoes

Swimming costume = swimsuit

Fancy dress = costume

Kit = appropriate clothing/equipment for an activity, e.g., P.E. kit, tennis kit

Rip-tape = Velcro

Maternity-Related

Antenatal = prenatal

Postnatal = postpartum

Rugby hold = football hold (breastfeeding position)

Waters have gone = water broke

NCT = National Childbirth Trust. This organization does lots of things to provide support for new parents, but you primarily hear people referencing their “NCT friends” or “NCT group,” which is the group of women they did antenatal/birthing/get-ready-for-baby classes with, and then continued to get together with once the babies were born for “coffee mornings” and various baby classes you can do when you have the luxury of a whole year of maternity leave.

Expressing = pumping

Midwife = a nurse who specializes in delivering babies and providing ante- and postnatal care

Health visitor = the person who takes over the baby’s and mother’s general well-being after the initial midwife visits

Mummy Matters

Mothering Sunday = Mother’s Day (late March instead of early May)

In the diary = on the calendar

Have a lie in = sleep in (as in, “It’s been literally years since I had a proper lie-in”)

Bubbles/fizz = Prosecco, the London ladies’ drink of choice

Yummy mummy = hot mom

Fit dad = hot dad

Slummy mummy = my new favorite phrase, used proudly by mums who aren’t ashamed to admit they give their kids fish fingers for tea while they pop open a bottle of pinot grigio

Kid Food

Tea = the kids’ dinner, usually served early, about 5. As in, “What are you giving the kids for tea?” I’m sure this derives from the custom of “high tea,” but it really confused me to begin with, as it doesn’t include actual tea for the kids to drink.

Pudding = dessert (“Will you have treacle tart or Eton mess for pudding?”)

Biscuit = crisp cookie, such as a McVitie’s Digestive or Walkers shortbread

Chips = French fries

Crisps = chips

Fish or chicken goujons = Fish sticks or chicken tenders

Macaroni cheese = what you’d expect, but for some reason they ditched the “and”

Sweeties/sweets = candy

Toad in the hole = sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter

Spag bol = spaghetti Bolognese, or pasta with meat sauce

Jelly = Jell-O

Sausage roll = A big pig in a blanket–a sausage rolled in puff pastry

Ice lolly/choc ice = popsicle/ice cream bar

Pick’n’mix = self-serve bulk candy you put into a bag and then pay by weight, a popular snack at the cinema

Babyccino = a gateway drug designed to ensure the next generation continues to spend loads of money on fancy espresso drinks (essentially foamed warm milk with a sprinkle of chocolate powder on top served in a plastic cup; all the coffee shops around here have these on the menu)

Squash = a sweet artificial fruit juice concentrate, which you dilute with water (similar to Kool-Aid, I suppose). Knowing this is essential for understanding this headline. The more you know…

 

 

That American Life

“MOMMY WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO?” E demanded from her car seat in the rear, as I annunciated coffee words out the car window at a sign. It occurred to me my city kid had probably never been through a drive-thru before, or at least doesn’t remember having been.

“It’s finally happened,” she was probably thinking; “Mommy’s finally cracked.”

Then a magic arm reached out and handed me my coffee and I revved the Prius and was on my way.

God bless America!

We were back in the U.S. for two weeks, our first trip back since August, and Baby R’s first trip outside of London.

The trip from London to Portland, Oregon, is loooong. We were lucky enough to fly business class, so it was significantly more pleasant than it could have been, and both girls did pretty well. These ages are good for travel. E is old enough where she can be entertained by the TV and movies on board, and can listen and follow instructions, and she’s potty trained. And R is young enough that she isn’t able to move around, doesn’t take up much space on my lap, and doesn’t need any toys, snacks, or purees packed for her. By the time she’s 1, it will be so much harder. This is our brief window for manageable long flights with her for a while! I even braved flying back alone with the girls, so I could stay a few extra days after M had to get back to work. It went surprisingly smoothly (again, much of this was thanks to flying in business class), and I got lots of assistance from a really sweet flight attendant. I think this may be the only time I have ever filled in the feedback form on an airline website with something positive to say.

The 8-hour time difference is hard, too. The first morning we were there, E woke up for the day at 2 a.m. “Daddy, I’m not tired,” she said. “You have jet lag,” he told her. “My legs are fine,” she replied. And so they were up.

It was interesting to see how E has adapted to the London way of life this trip. She’s now used to walking everywhere (well, I walk, she rides on the Buggy Board), so having to get in and out of a car seat to go anywhere was a change. And certainly R had never been in a car that much. Sometimes I miss having a car, sometimes I’m glad we don’t have one, but you know what’s an under-appreciated aspect of having to drive everywhere? The car seat nap. 

E gave up naps when we moved here, but she was consistently falling asleep in the car this trip, either as a nap in the afternoon or if we were out for dinner and getting home late. Then we could just transfer the tired teddy bear to bed, no prolonged dawdle-y bedtime routine necessary. Our car-less lifestyle doesn’t allow for that to ever happen!

Later the same day as the Starbucks drive-thru, both kids fell asleep in their car seats and, I’m no fool, I wasn’t going to give up some gifted rare moments of peace and quiet, so when we got to the shopping center that was my destination, I just parked and sat in the car for a while. But then I got really hungry for lunch. Oh, look, a Panera Bread! Oh, look, you can order online from your phone…! I ordered my lunch, waited 10 minutes, and then literally ran inside, located the pick-up shelf, snatched the bag, and ran back to the car, praying no one had seen the two little ones asleep in a car by themselves and called the police in the 30 seconds I was gone. Mission accomplished. I felt properly suburban sitting there in a shopping center parking lot eating the Fuji Apple Chicken Salad I ordered from my phone.

My dad texted me that he was going to the grocery store, did I need anything? “Yes, come find me in this parking lot and sit in the car with the kids so I can go into Old Navy,” I replied. “And also more yogurt.” Grandpa to the rescue!