Archive for the ‘Baby’ Category

The bebe is cute. Insanely cute. And I’m not even saying that because I’m her mother.

When she wore her homemade bonnet in the Hamptons, people actually crossed the street to see her as we sat outside at cafe having a drink.

But even the bebe isn’t immune to Passport Photo Syndrome. You know, the one where even the most respectable people end up looking like a close cousin of Charles Manson.

What is it about passport photos that makes us look so, if not crazed, then certainly criminal? There’s something about those booths that turn us into frozen, dilated-eyed mug shots, as if we’ve been out for three days straight, partying with Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen.

Of course, when the bebe had her first passport photo taken at around eight weeks, she had no concept of Charlie Sheen (long may that last), yet she still manages to look like a Wayne Rooney lookalike.


See? She’s really cute. Not like Wayne Rooney at all.

Wayne Rooney. Not cute. Not like the bebe at all (except for on her passport photo)

It’s not her fault. She’d just woken up from a nap. And the photographer made me hold her up, out on an extended palm, in front of a white sheet that had been hung up on the wall. She was sleepy, slumped and drooling – none of which would be top of the tip list for taking a good photo – and most likely a little alarmed because her mother was holding her out, suspended in air, in front of a big white sheet.

Her head had sunk into her shoulders and she looked like she had no bones. And we didn’t have time to take another one because we had to get to the Brooklyn library passport office before it closed.

Then, a few days later, I found out that it’s OK to take your own photo of your baby, as long as it fits within the official guidelines, so for a I did moment consider cancelling the passport and starting again. But that would have been inconvenient. And vain.

So now I’m applying for the bebe’s British passport, we have a second chance of getting it right.

(To apply for a British passport while you are overseas, go here.)

Examples of passport photos - described in text above

As an American baby (because she was born here) with two British parents, the bebe can have dual nationality.

There is no downside to this when it comes to travelling, as:

U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship or another. Also, a person who is automatically granted another citizenship does not risk losing U.S. citizenship. (Read more here: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1753.html)

The bebe will have to use her US passport when leaving or entering the country. But that’s fine by me, as I’ll be able to go with her in the nationals queue at customs – which is generally shorter than that for international travellers.

Now, I’m off to sharpen up my photography skills. Where’s that birdie?

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Our beautiful bebe is just about to turn one. And, with two sets of friends leaving our neighbourhood and me about to find a killer full-time job, it feels like her birthday party will mark the end of an era.

An era of sleepless nights, afternoon naps, first smiles, first cuddles (even better!), picnics in the park, free Tuesday visits to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and too many episodes of America’s Next Top Model.

So the party will have to be a momentous one. Which, of course, requires a fantastic party dress.

I’ve got quite into sewing since moving to New York. When I was pregnant, I spent the hottest July on record either waddling to the Red Hook Pool or sewing quilts for my nephew and niece, and a wall hanging for the bebe.

Then I made a dress for her first Christmas. Just like when I cook and browse a number of recipes for inspiration, when I sew I tend to use a number of blogs as inspiration and then make up my own pattern.


For the Christmas dress, I used this bubble dress pattern from Prudent Baby for inspiration but ended up tracing around an existing top and just made the rest up. I don’t necessarily recommend this as I used up way too much fabric getting the shape right.

The fabric was Liberty Tana Lawn print and therefore probably more expensive than most sane people would spend to make a dress that would fit a doll.

It was gorgeous though – the blue and gold reminded me of a Victorian chocolate box, and it’s covered with what I imagined were partridges and pear trees (I think they are actually strawberries, but never mind). And the dress was made to be something of an heirloom.

Strawberry Thief C Tana Lawn

Since then I’ve also made a bonnet from a pattern by one of my favourite sewing blogs Made by Rae. I made it to go with a very sweet dress I bought from the excellent vintage baby clothes shop Lulu’s Then and Now on 5th Avenue in Park Slope. 

The bonnet and dress were for my friend’s wedding in the Hamptons last week, but the bonnet was so useful (and she looked so cute in it), she wore it all weekend.

IMAG1219IMAG1225 IMAG1264IMAG1265

Oh, and the roman blind for the bedroom.

Anyway, all this is a very roundabout way of saying that my crafty fingers are starting to itch and I’ve spent all morning looking at fabrics and patterns for the bebe’s first birthday dress.

I haven’t quite found it but I did come across this collection of fabrics on Michael Miller Fabrics, which seemed quite serendipitous. (Let’s ignore what it says about the cliche of nesting mothers turning to craft in Park Slope!)


Stay tuned to see what dress and fabric I choose…

The bebe is too small for the print on this birthday dress on Made by Rae, but what a gorgeous thing:


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Working Mothers Stop Feeling Guilty

Have a read… and worry about something else instead…

(Reuters) – Children whose mothers work during their early years do as well at school as those with stay-at-home mothers, debunking a common parenting myth that has piled guilt onto career women, according to research released on Tuesday.

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We’ve enrolled the bebe at nursery. Hard to believe that the little thing will be going off to pre-school in the fall. It breaks my heart and fills me with pride at the same time; to imagine her toddling off (she can’t even walk yet), lunchbox in hand.

Which made me think of my lunchbox when I was a kid. It was a Star Wars one. Or was that my brother’s? Mine was blue… oh, that’s right, it was The Muppets.

Either way, I formed quite a close attachment to my lunchbox. It being filled with biscuits, like a small piece of home – like Mum in the kitchen but in a portable box.

That smell of plastic and old sandwiches – very Proustian.

So Young Insulated Kids Lunch Box – Blue Dinosaur:

Envirosax – Robot:

Sugarbooger Classic Lunch Sack:


Snoopy Metal Box:

Scooby Doo Mystery Machine:


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I love reading. I love books. I was the first to read in my class because my parents (who also love reading, love books…) read to me every night from a young age.

For a small baby, I don’t think there is a more perfect book that The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It has a lovely sing-songy tone to it, has non-Disneyfied illustrations and teaches about (a) good eating habits (‘and he eat a nice, big green leaf and felt much better!’), and (b) existential metamorphose.

Plus it has pages that babies can turn. It’s pretty much the only book I have read the bebe so far (with brief interludes from Goodnight Moon and a book about a shipwrecked circus off the coast of Boston).

I like the bebe’s play to be educational, consistent, warm and nurturing.

The H1B thinks her life should be filled with fun. Stat. This is the book he bought her as a welcome home present: 

He reads it to her at night, sending her to sleep with the concept of melting brains in her little head. 

And she loves it.

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Oh Those Crazy Dutch!

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Back in the UK for a fleeting visit. My sister-in-law showed me this. Hilarious.

I love British TV.

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There’s no doubt about it; by Manhattan standards our 1,000 sq ft floor-through Brooklyn apartment is BIG. But we still only have one bedroom. So as soon as we found out about the junior (now six days over due), I was worrying about where to put the little thing.

The H1B maintained that babies have survived for centuries sleeping “in a drawer” but I was hoping for something a little more ceremonious for our first child.

One option was to convert our middle room (currently the TV/lounge) into a kid’s room but I didn’t want to lose any adult relaxing space plus it wouldn’t be practical as we’d constantly we walking through the area.

The best option was to try and corner off some space in our massive bedroom. But the question was how to also retain a semblance of privacy/personal space for all of us?

I stumbled across this brilliant one-bed solution on CasaSugar.com – of a rather clever conversion of a corner of a room using some dry wall stacked on to of an Ikea bookshelf unit, with funky curtains that can be drawn across to block out any light at night time.

You can see here how a clever friend of the couple used plasterboard and dry wall to make the room divider look like a proper wall. Clever, no?

Bingo! Except our high ceilings are waaay too tall for any attempts at using dry wall to make the box look like a proper room. It wasn’t within the H1B and my scope of DIY prowess and we didn’t want to have to pay someone to come in and do the work. Plus, we weren’t sure our landlord would go for it anyway.

But we stole the Ikea bookshelf idea and have create a nursery nook  behind the door.

I think it’s worked out pretty well. We can put up a curtain across the ‘entrance’ when the baby is a bit older and needs more dark to sleep. For now, I like it open for the airiness and access.

As a reminder, this is what the room looked like when we moved in:

Bedroom as it was when we moved in

And this is what it looks like now:

The bedroom

We tucked the ‘nursery nook’ behind the door to the right:

Showing room divider/Ikea shelves and crib with door to middle room open

The bookshelves provide loads of storage space for the baby’s clothes, nappies etc etc etc. I even labelled each basket with some cute mini chalkboards from Etsy in a bid to stay organised and avoid frenzied searches for matching tops and bottoms or favourite onesies.

Room divider and changing table

The quilted wall hanging was a project I was working on when I was clearly nesting and had loads of energy. I really wanted something to brighten up that big dark door (that goes through to the hallway but we don’t use except for moving large objects around – like the 9ft Christmas tree we had in December). It took me, like, forever on my rickety budget sewing machine from Target (a Singer Promise if you’re interested), but I think it really looks pretty.

The fabric is from Carousel Designs and I learned how to do the pinwheels and prairie points (I had no clue what they were called before I started either) from various YouTube videos and googling.

The tags for hanging can be easily removed so it becomes a quilt or playmat.

Quilted wall hanging I made to brighten up massive brown wooden door to hallway (not used)

Excuse the indulgence of a close up – but it did take me about a month to make

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Brooklyn Baby

It’s been a really long time since I posted but it’s been hard to think of something to say when there’s been a big, white elephant (or in this case, blue and stripy) standing on top of my keyboard.

The H1B and I are having a baby – we’re about three months along.

Superstition made us keep it to ourselves until now. I previously thought that the tradition of keeping mum until the 12 week mark was something to do with getting through the first trimester because of high miscarriage risks but now I know that it’s because you need three months to get your head around how much something that is so innocuous as to be frequently described in fruit terms (‘at eight weeks, your baby is the size of a grape’, ‘at 11 weeks, your baby is the size of a kumquat’, ‘at 13 weeks, your baby is the size of a lime’…), actually takes over your life.

Here are ten things that people don’t tell you about getting pregnant:

1. You’ll fall asleep on the subway at 10am despite having slept for 14 hours the night before. (In New York, this doesn’t matter as you’ll blend in like a local.) You’ll also need a nap when you get home for about another four hours. It will be the deepest sleep you’ve had in years.

2. “Morning” sickness doesn’t kick in until about six weeks. I had nothing and felt rather smug about it until I panicked that there must be something wrong with the baby. The day I googled ‘Why don’t I have morning sickness at six weeks?’ it hit me like a truck. I spent all Christmas and New Year and most of January feeling like every tequila I’d ever drunk had come back to haunt me. All day.

3. Your appetite becomes like that of a 14-year-old boy. I drink about two litres of milk every two and a half days. Nesquik has become by best friend. I hate anything ‘fancy’ like pesto (previously loved), hummus (ditto), salads (same). I like: creamy pasta, bread, peanut butter, toasted sandwiches, baked beans, baked/mashed/little/big potatoes, more potatoes. I’m not sure where I’d be without porridge. Your body’s demands are immediate and final. If you wake up thinking ‘cheese!, tuna!’, you better get it and damn quick.

4. The first time you have good sex (ie: an orgasm) you will experience a cramp like you have never suffered before. It bloody hurt, which is a shame because the rest of it felt really good.

5. Other side-effects of pregnancy include: nose bleeds, sneezing, continuous low-level tinnitus in my right year only, waking at 4am every day, itchy skin, weeping with love and joy. They come at random and the explanation for all of them is a slightly inconclusive and unsatisfactory ‘rise in progesterone’.

6. Your relationship with your mother has never be better.

7. Your partner’s sense of patience is being thoroughly tested as you rapidly oscillate between conflicting but very strong thoughts and opinions.

8. You can’t read the news without feeling the pain of everyone and everything that was involved in that latest corner store raid. Movies that involve war, missing loved ones, cruelty towards animals (even putting a dog out in a cold night), or gratuitous acts of violence like car crashes or cop shootings are off limits. War Horse? Forget. It.

9. You develop a sixth sense. That clichéd ability your mother had to see out of the back of her head is real. It kicks in with conception. The other day, I busted the H1B eating peanut butter out of the jar with a spoon even though there was a wall between us. I don’t actually really mind if he does that – but I’m not sure I would have been able to tell before.

10. You have scary dreams – quite violent, mad ones, that leave you a bit shaken in the morning. Can’t actually go into them as they are too disturbing (and also immediately forgotten), but putting the whole thing down to my body and mind trying to ‘cleanse’ the baggage out before I deal with raising a child. Brr. (You also have good dreams too, often involving puppies and kittens and fat-bottomed babies.)

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