Oh Sylvie, how are you two? At the same time it feels like you’ve been here forever and also no time at all.Read More
Oh Vienna! We both loved Vienna; it was beautiful but gritty, our accommodation was amazing and finally we were out of Switzerland and back in a country with normal prices.. We stayed in Vienna for two nights, in a rooftop room that overlooked the city and the Naschmarkt, which is a huge area for food and market stalls.
We arrived mid-afternoon after spending the morning in Bratislava, checked in, and went straight back out to explore. We looked around the flea markets, and then headed further into the centre for a few hours to hunt out one of the Easter markets I'd read about.
The Easter markets are similar in set up to the Austrian and German Christmas markets, there are goods, food and drink stalls, some entertainment.. but for the Easter market there are also thousands (literally thousands) of hand-painted Easter eggs for sale. In Europe we noticed that people decorate with an Easter tree, and hang eggs off the branches. The eggs above are all real empty egg shells (as Vivienne discovered when she squeezed one..) but we picked up a few painted wooden ones as souvenirs too.
We grabbed some foot at the market including a caramel and custard waffle for Vivienne, I had a few glasses of wine and it really felt like Spring had arrived. We walked back as the light was disappearing to our accommodation, which was hosting a party to celebrate their 7-year anniversary. There was a band on in the bar, which also had games and pool tables, and we lay on a day bed under the stairs hanging out for a while before heading up to bed.
Next next day - our only full day in Vienna - was Easter Sunday! We got up early and headed out to Prater - a permanent fairground a little outside of the centre. We started by going on the huge ferris wheel which overlooks the entire city, then a rollercoaster (Viv's eyes were tightly shut the whole time!), looked around, then wandered back to the centre. We explored a little more before stopping for lunch. Viv and I had a deal that she would try some new foods while we were away, so she and I shared Goulash, Schnitzel and Sacher torte for lunch. We weren't far from the Easter markets ad couldn't resist popping back, Vivienne had some crazy chocolate-covered marshmallow thing, before hanging out and resting for a little while playing cards because it was getting pretty windy out there.
We also headed up to the museum quarter that day, but I think the past week or so and never really stopping was beginning to catch up with us and we were starting to flag.. At the same time everything around us started shutting early because it was Easter Sunday evening, and we were both happy to head back, play pool and have a bit of an earlier night (joking.. we watched more Fresh Prince..) Viv was pretty excited to be heading to Budapest the next day and finally see David and Sylvie again..
We had a few hours before we were due to get the train to Budapest the next day, so got a quick taxi over to Hunderwasser House and village - an area designed to promote living in sync with nature. You have to apply to live there, and can't live there for long. The idea is that you embrace it then move away to spread the gospel about living together with our natural environment.. We'd left suitcases at our accommodation, so slowly walked back, grabbed some brunch, and got ready to catch the train to Budapest!
Well, Sylvie is definitely not a baby any more. 'Spirited' would be one way of putting it.. 'a loveable little terror' would be another. She refuses to walk, but I'm declaring her a 'toddler'. The baby stage is well and truly over.
She seems to be learning so much so quickly at the moment; everything from trying to copy words that we say, to make-believe playing, to really understanding a few commands, like 'pass me that' or 'take your dummy out'. She has a baby doll which was once Vivienne's which she's taken a particular shining to, trying to feed it and put a nappy on it.. and watching her 'role-playing' is so wonderful. She's gentle with it and cuddles it.. In these moments you'd think she was a considered and kind little thing through and through..
Obviously the toddler years bring frustration and fury for them too as they try to make sense of the world.. she is head-strong, loud.. (I was going to type 'unreasonable' but *obviously*.. she's only 16 months old) Vivienne, hand on heart, was so placid in comparison, whereas Sylvie is not afraid to really make her voice heard.
We are so lucky that Vivienne is so patient as we make our way through this stage of giving kisses, cuddling, then hair pulling, hitting and pinching (those baby pinches really bloody hurt..). It's hard to start introducing discipline when I know she doesn't mean to hurt, or even really know what she's doing. Anyway, we're muddling through this ever-changing day-to-day life with our headstrong little girl.
The blog, recently, has been very heavy with things from mine and Vivienne's Interrail trip, so I thought I would also include a little Sylvie update, for this wonderful but often tiring stage we're currently at. All the little things she does and watching her learn honestly makes up for when she's screaming and attracting attention during 'the big shop'. Sylvie saying 'Mama' and putting her hands up for a cuddle makes all the difficult little moments melt away...
Sylvie at 16 months
Says the words 'Dad', 'Daddy', 'Mum', 'Wav' (for Viv!), "Yessss", "Cock" (for 'look', we hope..) and also, due to her Dad being a huge Boro fan ' Up Bo-o' for 'Up The Boro'.
Eats well on her own; she loves omelettes, lasagne, pasta, cottage pie, fish, vegetables, yoghurt, fruit pouches and chocolate (we're still working on the Easter chocolate!)
Role-plays with her baby doll, giving it her dummy, putting it down to sleep, trying to dress it and change it's nappy.. She tries to draw with a pen (yesterday it was all over the couch), and loves her wooden garage and cars that she got for her birthday.
Has walked four/five steps max, has taken plenty of one/two steps but 99% of the time powers around the house by crawling. She can scale a flight of stairs so quickly.. but no rush to get up on two feet.
Loves playing peek-a-boo behind clothing/sheets, and will hide then surprise you. She loves the swings and the slide, and when you pretend to chase her from room to room.
She's still constantly looking for Vivienne - she follows her around the house and will ask "Wav?" when she's at school.
Dances and shakes her head to music, and loves when we join in.
Also, I can't not mention her hair. Vivienne had hardly any hair until she was two and a half, and it was so curly. Sylvie has a mop of hair that means that she looks like a mix of Ed Sheeran and Boris Johnson if we don't tie it up.. So funny, but we still don't know what to do about it apart from making her look like Pebbles from The Flintstones!
Sleeps well most of the time, she's currently getting back molars in which is loads of fun - full screaming in the middle of the night, but hopefully we'll be out the other side soon.
Loves the bath and loves swimming. Water baby.
So! We're back from our Interrailing trip and we've been home for a few weeks now; the Easter holidays are over we're getting back into the swing of the normal routine.
It was *so* good. It took a lot of planning and going over and over details and checking the logistics of everything, but it went so smoothly and it was one of the most special things I've ever done with Vivienne. I'm working to put together some blog posts and organise the photos I took along the way, I'm going to be breaking the trip down into places to really go into detail about what we did in each place; but, for now, here is a short film I made of our travels. It was put together on my phone, and it's a little rough but it shows snippets of our travels and I hope you enjoy it!
Oh this year was a bit extra-special.. our first Christmas with our Winter baby, Sylvie. Our first Christmas as a family of four! Vivienne was so excited, Sylvie didn't know what was going on, it made everything that little bit busier than last year.. and it was all completely magical.
I loved hearing Vivienne telling Sylvie about Christmas and what happens ("this is our Christmas tree and we hang things on it.. no you can't pull them off!") whilst simultaneously remembering being very, very pregnant at the same time last year.. we were lucky enough to have a few days of snow which Sylvie was excited by, we went for lots of walks down into the town centre whilst being wrapped up warm, we had a 'friendmas' and pulled crackers a few weeks early, made a Christmas cake with Vivienne well in advance of Christmas day, made our own advent calendar..
In November we had to gently intervene with Vivienne's early Christmas list draft as it contained three pairs of trainers, an iPod and a Macbook Pro.. (she's eight. I *know*) She replied by saying "I know they're a lot of money which is why I've waited to ask Santa, then you don't have to pay for them." Well played, Vivienne. We had some thinking-outside-the-box-on-the-spot to do before gently persuading her that it was, in short, a ridiculous Christmas list. Fortunately she went on to revise it to something a little bit less ambitious..
As always, Vivienne's social calendar was busier than ours as she went on Brownie trips on the Santa Express, had Christmas discos and parties to attend, and we went to her school carol concert at a local church. Their school term didn't finish until 22nd which felt really late - half the excitement is feeling it build before Christmas, isn't it? But we made the most of the weekend before prepping veg and tidying round ready to host Christmas day (even if I was slightly worse for wear on Christmas Eve.. I didn't have any Christmas nights out last year due to bump so I guess it's OK..)
Vivienne was so excited this year, so much so that she excitedly carried her stocking into our room at 4.30am asking if the day could start immediately and she could start opening presents (the answer was no.. and 'go back to sleep'..) Ringing a bell to announce that 'he's been!' is a Christmas tradition in our house and my heart felt full watching the girls come into the living room on Christmas morning (even if it was still only 6.30am..) Vivienne bounded in and brought Sylvie to her pile of things before creating chaos in her corner opening things in a frenzy.
We have a few Christmas traditions but decided to add a few more this year. Last year, heavily pregnant, I was desperately trying to 'get things going' by walking as much as possible; including walking a long stretch along the beach and to the local farm shop and back - we've decided to do this every year. Vivienne and I made an advent calendar that contained a good deed, affirmation or something like 'think of three reasons you feel lucky today' for her to open each day; she had a chocolate advent calendar too.. I'm not that mean.. We also decided to start a little tradition between the girls where we'll give them a little money each year so they can buy each other a little gift to put under the tree; Vivienne picked both gifts this year but still wrote Sylvie a 'Thank You' card for hers.
We hosted Christmas dinner with my parents, sister and grandparents.. It went well, nothing got burnt or forgotten, there were no arguments.. all in all we had a busy, perfectly normal but wonderfully special Christmas fuelled by cheese, pate, alcohol, party food and leftovers (still feeling the effects at this end, well into January..)
I had two weddings between Christmas and New Year, and then the next stop was Sylvie's birthday on January 2nd - I think the actual chaos died down on about January 4th after Christmas, but I wouldn't want it any other way.
I hope you all had a really wonderful and special Christmas and a very happy 2018.