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[Yes, I missed out doing an eight month update. The run up to Greenbelt was just a little too mad. Sorry.]

Dear Elisabeth,

If I had to describe “Elisabeth in a nutshell at 9 months old” it would be something like this: Happy, sweet, curious, very social, cuddly & affectionate, busy when playing, loves food, loves to be the centre of attention.

I feel like we’ve conquered sleep – at least for now. You do really well sleeping through the night. I often hear you yelping in the middle of the night, but I leave you alone and you put yourself back to sleep quickly. You usually wake up around 5:30-6:00 am wanting to breastfeed but most of the time you go back to sleep, at least for a little while. It helps now that it’s not already bright daylight by 5:30 am. You take a long nap – two to three hours – almost every morning. The length of your afternoon nap really depends on where you are sleeping. If you are at home in your cot, you’ll sleep as long as two hours. If you fall asleep in your pushchair, though, your afternoon nap only lasts 25-30 minutes.

You love eating! You’ll eat a lot of different foods including just about any form of bread, all fruits, cheese, eggs, chicken, potatoes and pasta. You will not, however, eat vegetables. I keep trying, but you just make a disgusted face and spit them out. I’m trying to be a little more adventurous with what I give you, and recently you’ve eaten courgette & tomato risotto and carrot pancakes.

In the last few days you’ve just started to make some first movements towards crawling. If you want something that’s out of reach when you’re sitting, you’ll sometimes push yourself over one leg onto your hands and knees, but then you get stuck and need help getting back into a sitting position. It’s progress, though! Does that mean it’s time to start childproofing the house? You would still much rather be standing than in any other position, and you’ve gotten quite good at holding yourself up on furniture. You’ll play happily by yourself for a while but if I come sit near you, you immediately reach out for my hands which means, “Pull me, mummy!” It gets very tiring because you keep reaching down to pick things up and then want me to pull you back up.

Your absolute favourite toy is a basket of 100 brightly coloured plastic clothes pegs which cost me all of £5 at the supermarket. You love emptying the basket, clapping the pegs together, sucking/chewing on them, and pulling them off the clothes line. Sometimes it almost seems like you use pegs as a comfort toy – you just want to have one in each hand. You really like your stacking/nesting cups as well and you often sing and bang them together. In fact, clapping or banging things together is one of your favourite things to do. You’ll clap any two things together that you can hold on to: your feet, two different fingers from one of my hands, one of my hands and one of daddy’s hands, etc. We’re not sure where you picked up singing along with banging on something, but you do it fairly frequently, especially in the bathtub.

You love attention and respond – usually very enthusiastically – when people oblige and pay attention to you. You love seeing other kids and often get very excited, squealing and flapping, when you see them and want them to look at you. I still get loads of comments all the time from strangers about what a cute baby you are. You look up at them with those big blue eyes open wide, and they can’t resist you! You still stare and stare at strangers, but you’ve gotten more quick to smile at them too.

You are a very sweet little girl, Elisabeth! I love all your smiles and happy squeals and kisses and cuddles. You get more and more fun by the week!

Dear Elisabeth,

Well, once again I am dreadfully late with this update. We’ve been rather busy! Your Oma and Opa (my parents) were here visiting when you turned seven months old. We had a wonderful two weeks with them and took them around to see lots of things in London. We got awfully spoiled having them around and since they left, I’ve just been trying to cope with being mostly on my own again!

You have changed so much in the last month and a half! You are getting more and more independent and it’s so fun to watch. At six and half months you mastered sitting without support. It’s great to be able to sit you in front of you toys and let you go at it. If I put a pillow behind your back just in case you fall backwards, though, you repeatedly fall backwards on purpose. I think it’s just to get attention – someone has to come and right you. Starting around six months old you started to engage a lot more with your toys too. I can now put you in the exersaucer and often you’ll be happy for quite a long time just playing with your toys. It really depends on your mood and how tired you are, though. Your favourite toys are the nesting cups that Oma got you, the Conrad the Crocodile bath book that your Uncle Matthew and Anna got you, and your Sophie the Giraffe squeaky toy. You also love toys that make a lot of noise when you shake them.

You love to read, and will sit on my lap and pay attention through five or six books at a time. You love turning the pages and especially love opening and closing the flaps in your Playtime Peekaboo book. Your other favourite books are Talk With Me (which your Nana got you), The Very Hungry Caterpillar (you love it when I count the fruit), and The Animals of Farmer Jones which your Oma & Opa brought you from the U.S.

You are getting to be a champion eater, and boy do you relish your food! You are so intense about eating. I put you in your high chair with a tray full of food and you just chow down! You’ve gotten quite good at picking up smaller bits of food and getting them in your mouth. Your favourite foods are banana, toast, nectarines, cheese, melon and pasta. You are a fairly picky eater. You often turn up your nose at new foods, although if you accidentally stuff them in your mouth and discover you like them, then it’s okay and you’ll try some more.

You are a very social baby. You like being around people and you crave attention. You can be quite a show-off it means people will pay more attention to you. During the two weeks that your Oma & Opa were here when you were getting almost constant attention, you were the happiest I’ve ever seen you – and you are a pretty happy kid generally! When we’re on public transportation or in shops, you stare and stare at people, and if you catch their eye, they are often so taken with you they will do all sorts of (reasonably subtle) things to get you to smile. You rarely oblige, though. You just stare with an intense gaze. I still get lots of comments from strangers on what an gorgeous baby you are.

Standing up is still your favourite position to be in, but you’ll often be happy sitting as well. You still don’t like being on your tummy, though, and last week you finally learned how to roll over. Now when we put you on your tummy, you almost immediately roll over onto your back. The cranial osteopath says you need to spend more time on your tummy to correct your slight plagiocephaly, though, so now we have to find tricks to get you to stay on your tummy longer.

You are fairly consistently taking long morning naps now – usually at least an hour and often as long as 2+ hours – but your night sleeping is still a problem. You usually wake up two or three times during the night and always want a yummy milky snack to help get you back to sleep. At least since we got black-out blinds you are sleeping until 7:00-8:00 (and occasionally 9:00!) rather than waking up at 5:30. I appreciate that. We’re planning to finally move you into your own room this weekend and I’m very anxious to see how that goes.

You are quite a cuddly, affectionate baby. I think I’m pretty lucky in that regard! You give me kisses when I ask for them. And sometimes when I’m holding you, you’ll grab my face, pull it so I’m facing you, then mash your mouth into my mouth as if to say, “I need a kiss now, mummy.” I’m very happy to oblige.

Most days I just wonder at what a happy, curious, gorgeous, fun baby you are. I love you so much!

So baby girl, a week ago you turned six months old. A whole half year! Unbelievable.

You are getting more and more fun everyday. You are as curious and engaging as ever. You are more smiley and you laugh much more now. You exhibit great delight in your favourite things, songs and people. “Old MacDonald” is still your absolute favourite song and you often giggle when I start singing it. Your other favourite song is “Skip To My Lou”. You really like the “Talk to Me” book (with bright colours and lots of flaps to open) that your Nana got you. You love your godparents, Matt & Clare, and they adore you. (We’re glad you get to see them as often as you do, and wish you could see your American godparents, Trevor & Jenna, just as often.) And you really like the jingle bells that I bought you last week!

Your favourite thing to do is standing. You are very good at it: you can stand up supporting yourself (with only a finger or two – or sometimes the coffee table – to hold on to for balance) for quite a long time and you can push yourself up from squatting. You look incredibly proud of yourself when you stand and you look around to see who is appreciating your incredible talent. You are also getting better and better at sitting unsupported. You do very well when your feet are lower than your bum, and you can balance for a few seconds when sitting on a hard flat surface. (Even longer on a soft flat surface.) You still show very little sign of having any interest in rolling over, though, and while you can push yourself up when you’re on your tummy, you really don’t like being there.

You are quite chatty when we are at home but a little more reserved when we are away from home. Even with our group of NCT mothers and babies – who we get together with almost every Thursday – you are a lot less chatty than you are at home. In the past month you have had periods of taking great delight in using your tongue when you talk. For a few days you were saying “gluck, gluck, gluck” a lot. I find it particularly cute when you use your tongue to pronounce consonants that don’t really require it, like “k”.

You are eating more and more foods. You have a little porridge once or twice a day, usually with some mashed fruit mixed in. And you really love chewing on rice cakes, bread sticks and pieces of fruit or soft vegetable – like cucumber or courgette – that you can hold onto. You don’t quite eat enough yet to attribute to it your astonishing weight gain in the past month. You went from 14 lbs 2 oz at five months old to 15 lbs 13 oz at 6 months old. That pushed you into the 35th percentile for weight whereas up until now you’ve always been right on the 25th percentile line.

Your sleeping isn’t any more regular or predictable than it was a month ago. You are currently in a pattern of sleeping around 6 to 7 seven hours, waking for a feed around 2:3o-3:00ish, then sleeping until sometime between 6:00 and 6:30. I really preferred it when you slept until 7:30 or 8:00! We suspect the brightness of the room in the morning may be contributing to your early rising and are looking into getting effective blackout shades. Napping is completely unpredictable right now too. Yesterday your morning nap lasted barely 20 minutes and that was interrupted twice by coughing. This morning you slept for almost three hours. I have no explanation, other than that teething is clearly affecting you in all sorts of ways right now and your sleep is almost certainly one victim.

You charm people everywhere we go, little miss. Strangers frequently comment on what a gorgeous baby you are, what a beautiful smile you have, and how you take everything in. I just smile like the incredibly proud mummy that I am.

Dear Elisabeth,

Before I go any farther, let me just acknowledge that I missed writing you a four-month letter. You turned four months old while we were in the US and it was in the midst of a lot of busyness, and things didn’t really calm down much after we got home. Besides I wrote your last letter at 3 1/2 months old, so at least it’s a consistent time period between updates. In any case…

Earlier last week you turned five months old. You weighed in at 14 lb 2 oz – still right on the 25th percentile line. It’s a little hard to believe that you are that small for your age because you are such a little chub. You certainly don’t look small, even compared to the other babies in our NCT group who are the same age as you. As far as I am concerned, you are a perfectly proportioned baby.

Besides “gorgeous”, the words that people use most often to describe you are “alert”, “switched-on” and “intelligent”. You are incredibly curious, and you are constantly looking around you, taking everything in. You can study people with startling intensity. (You could easily win a staring contest!) Your curiosity means that you get bored very quickly, however, making you a rather high maintenance baby. I can’t just put you down and expect that you’ll be happy for 1/2 hour on your own. Often after just two minutes you are howling for a change of scene. You’re happier in your bouncy seat than lying on your back since it lets you look around more. But even there you get bored after ten minutes or so.

Your curiosity extends to other babies now. Most of the time you delightedly smile and chat to the “baby in the mirror”. (Sometimes you just can’t be bothered – there are too many other interesting things around to look at.) You also smile and reach towards the other babies in our NCT group.

You do really enjoy being outside and still love going for rides in your buggy. Unlike the first few months of your life, though, you spend most of the time in the buggy awake  now, studying what’s going on around you. You like books, although you have limited patience for sitting and reading. And you’re getting more into playing with toys although you often get frustrated when you can’t get them in your mouth or when they fall out of reach. Then you throw mini “tantrums” — you throw yourself backwards and start howling because you can’t get what you want. I’m looking forward to you being able to sit up by yourself and being just a little bit mobile so you can get to your toys yourself.

You still don’t really like being on your tummy, but you love standing up and your leg strength is quite impressive. You can push yourself up to standing from a crouching position without any help and will sometimes stand for a few seconds with help for balance but no real support. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if you skipped crawling and went right to walking.

Your sleeping is still all over the place. While we were in the US in March and the beginning of April you were consistently sleeping 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours in a row, waking up for a feed, then sleeping another 2-3. Since we gotten back you’ve had more nights of waking up two or three times during the night which may be because of teething or just settling back in. The last couple of nights you’ve gone back to sleeping 8-9 hours before having a feed, then down for another 2-3, though, so I’m hoping that will continue for a while. Your daytime naps are pretty erratic too. Most of your naps are 30-45 minutes long, but every now and then you’ll take a long nap — up to three hours in a row — during the day. You’ve had a bad cold for the last couple of days and have been sleeping lots (not so much in your bed, though — mostly on your daddy or me or on the sofa). Which is fine with me!

Now that you have had a couple of bad colds and some spells of teething pain, I’m finding out how hard it is for parents to see their kids in pain or struggling. I just want to you be healthy and happy and okay!

You are generally a happy, delightful little girl. When your daddy or I go to get you out of bed in the morning, you give us big smiles which just melt our hearts every time. You can be pretty talkative — especially when you are getting your nappy changed — and you love it when we echo your sounds. You love it when I sing to you, and some of your favourite songs are “Old MacDonald” and “Skip To My Lou” (to which I add a verse “Elisabeth Soraya Clare, won’t you be my darling”). I think that sometimes you even “sing” too. You have such a sweet voice, and we love hearing it!

You are the light of my life sweetheart. I can’t imagine life without you!

Elisabeth at five months

Elisabeth at five months

Now that Elisabeth is nearly five months old, we’re starting to think about when she’ll start eating solid foods and what those will be. Will we do things the most common way today: spoon feeding her pureed foods, eventually transitioning to lumpy foods and then finger foods? Or will we do it what is probably the more traditional way if you go back far enough is now known as baby-led weaning: let her start eating what she wants when she wants when she is ready? At this point we’re not eliminating any possibilities, and I think we still have at least another month before we really need to decide, especially given that guidelines today recommend breast milk only for the first six months.

In any case, this past week, Elisabeth had her first teaser of “grown-up” food. On Tuesday afternoon, we were at a baby play group and pieces of melon and banana were passed around for the mums and babies (most of whom were older than six months). I picked out a piece of melon and held it by Elisabeth’s mouth to see if she would lick it. She did and seemed to like it. I let her lick it one more time before I ate it.

Then on Thursday afternoon we were in Priory Park picnicking with the other mums & babies from our NCT antenatal group and I was eating a rather sour Braeburn apple. I had eaten about half of it when I held it to Elisabeth’s mouth. She clearly enjoyed licking that as well and sucked on it quite a bit before I finished it (after trying to wipe some of the baby drool off of it).

The next day I was eating a rather mushy pear and held that up for Elisabeth to lick. It was soft enough that she could actually suck bits off of it – which she continued to do with gusto until I took it away from her. She wasn’t very happy about that. She wanted to keep eating that pear!

It was really fun seeing her enjoy new foods, and while neither of us are quite ready for Elisabeth to launch more fully into the world of solids, I’m looking forward to introducing her to more new foods – and hopefully watching her delight in them – when the time seems right.

Dear Elisabeth,

It’s now been nearly two weeks since you actually turned three months old, but we’ve been a little busy what with cleaning and packing and traveling to the United States, getting a little settled in, your mummy getting 24-hour stomach flu, your daddy getting hit by a drunk driver while riding in Jude’s car (we’re so glad he wasn’t hurt!) and then going off to Texas for South by Southwest leaving mummy a single parent for five days… It’s been a little nuts to say the least. You’ve pretty much been the happy, easy going kid we’ve come to know through all of it, though. Thank you!

At three months old you are gradually developing your ability to communicate your needs and wants – which means you fuss and cry a little more often than you used to, but you are still a really, really great baby. You are happy to hang out in your bouncy chair or propped up on the sofa for long periods of time and just look around at everything around you. You are very curious, and you like to be where the action is.

In the last couple of weeks you’ve made some big steps developmentally. You’ve suddenly become much more smiley, which gives me no end of pleasure! Up until about two and half weeks ago, the only person you ever smiled at was your daddy – although you did regularly smile at inanimate objects that made you happy such as our living room curtains and a strip of brightly coloured cloth covering a futon that I was sitting on while feeding you. Then you finally started smiling at me too, and now you smile at just about anyone who stops and talks to you and pays attention to you. You’ve become much chattier too, and especially in the evening when you’re relaxed and content, your daddy and I sometimes have long “conversations” with you. You are incredibly cute when you are trying to talk to us.

You have become interested in other babies and kids, and you will spend a long time staring at Callum, the 7-month-old son of Trevor & Jenna Henderson (your American godparents) who we’re staying with in Nashville. You also get very excited looking at and talking to the baby in the mirror while playing on the baby gym at Hendersons’ house. Today for the first time while playing on the gym, you reached out and grabbed a dangling toy and held onto it for a while.

Perhaps the development that has been most helpful to me is the fact that you’ve been sleeping 8-9 hours in a row at night in the last week! I’m not expecting that to happen every night, but to know that you can and will do it even if inconsistently is wonderful.

In the past month, there have been several occasions when I’ve been away from you for long periods of time. I had an all-day Greenbelt meeting which meant leaving you alone with your daddy for 12 hours. It was really hard to leave you in the morning, but we both did fine, and your daddy managed to survive the day too. Then a few days later, your daddy and I went out together (to see Fleet Foxes at the Camden Roundhouse) leaving you with your first babysitters – your Uncle Matthew and his girlfriend Anna. Matthew and Anna both think you are pretty wonderful, so we were quite comfortable leaving you with them. You were a very good baby for them, and I think they had a fun time too! And then to help me out when I was getting ready to go on our trip, your Nana and Grandad took you with them to the British Museum for the afternoon. I think Nana really enjoyed giving you a bottle in the middle of the Babylon exhibit.

The range of songs that I sing to you is gradually broadening, and your current favourites are “Do Re Mi” and “Old MacDonald Had A Farm”. I am certain that a couple of times you have tried to sing along. So far you are fairly ambivalent about books, but I’m sure you’re appreciation for them will grow.

You are a breathtakingly gorgeous kid, Elisabeth and I swear you just get more beautiful by the day. I am incredibly privileged to be your mummy!

On Thursday the 12th of February, James, Elisabeth and I trekked to Mayfair to the US Embassy in order to register Elisabeth’s US citizenship and apply for her US passport. Once we got to the embassy, the whole process was fairly straightforward and quick, but we found that the information that we got from the embassy and on their website was not very helpful. Some of the information was incomplete or misleading and some of it was just incorrect. So I wanted to post this in the hopes that it might help other people in the future.

One of the things that the embassy thoroughly communicates is that mobile phones or any electronic devices are not allowed inside the embassy. They suggest leaving such things at left luggage facilities at one of the major train stations (Victoria being the closest). And I suppose if you drive to the embassy, you could leave mobile phones in your car. (Where you would park, I have no idea.) Since we weren’t thrilled with the thought of leaving our phones and James’ laptop at a left luggage facility and we don’t have a car (we wouldn’t drive into town anyway) and we weren’t about to leave our phones at home, James ended up leaving early and bringing our phones to his office in Shoreditch. When we got to the embassy, we discovered that actually we could have left our phones at security. That was a frustrating discovery to say the least. James probably wouldn’t have been able to leave his laptop at security, but we wouldn’t have needed to traverse the city separately sans mobile phones.

One of the things we were told we needed to provide was proof of our plans to travel on March 8th. Since we hadn’t thought to print out our e-ticket confirmation before the day of the appointment and don’t have a functioning printer at home, another reason for James’ early morning sprint to his office was to use his office printer. When we got to the embassy we discovered that they provide both computers and printers. So both reasons for James making the trip to his office before the appointment were both not necessary after all. Grrr. In the end, they didn’t even ask to see the proof of travel. It’s probably still wise to bring proof of travel along, but it’s good to know that if necessary, it’s possible to print things at the embassy.

Another source of stress for us that morning was that we both forgot to bring our cheque book to pay the fee. James spent 15 minutes running around Mayfair looking for a cash machine while Elisabeth and I waited outside the embassy. NB: If you even find yourself in Mayfair needing cash, just go straight to Oxford Street. There apparently are no cash machines in Mayfair. Even the Post Office in Grosvenor Street doesn’t have one. It seems that the limosine drivers just hold the residents’ cash for them. In any case, when we got to the payment window we found out that they don’t take cheques anyway, but they do take cash (pounds or dollars) and they do take credit cards. Had we known credit cards were a acceptable form of payment, James wouldn’t have wasted all that time running around looking for cash and again, we would have been spared some stress.

Finally, the instructions tell you to bring along a Special Delivery envelope to have the passport mailed back to you. I stopped at the post office on the way to the appointment to get a Special Delivery envelope, so we did have that with us. Then the first person who processed our application told us to go down to the lobby to buy a courier envelope which we did. It turns out that since we had the Special Delivery envelope, the courier envelope was redundant. Thankfully we were able to get a refund for the courier envelope which was a good thing because it cost £14.50 compared to £5.05 for the Special Delivery envelope.

While the morning could have been much less stressful than it was, ultimately we were successful in getting Elisabeth registered as a US citizen and applying for her passport. And her passport arrived in the post two days ago so we now have that in hand. We’re very much looking forward to getting her first stamp in her passport on March 8th!

Since Helen from Cheeky Wipes was so kind as to drop by my blog and leave a tip about warming up the wipes, I thought I would put up a little advertisement here.

About a month ago one of my friends from our NCT class sent around a link about Cheeky Wipes – re-usable wipes that you wash rather than using disposable ones that end up in landfills. Being a person who tries to live a conscientious and eco-friendly lifestyle, I thought this sounded like a good idea, so I ordered a starter pack.

I have to say I’ve been very impressed. Helen has put together a great product! The starter pack includes a pile of cloth wipes, two tubs – one for clean wipes and one for mucky ones, two different types of essential oil – one for each tub, a mesh bag to line the mucky wipes tub that can then be lifted right out and put in the wash, and two bags to take wipes on the go – one for clean wipes and one for mucky ones.

Everything is of a high quality and incredibly convenient to use. Also, part of Helen’s philosophy of business is to treat the customer as she would want to be treated, and she certainly succeeds in providing excellent customer service. Plus her website is very nice and easy to use. If saving the planet is this easy and this nice – not to mention much more cost effective over the long term – why wouldn’t you do it?

Two thumbs up for Cheeky Wipes. Highly recommended.

Dear Elisabeth,

Today you are two months old, and I hardly know where the last two months have gone. I have a feeling I’ll be saying that monthly…

You are an incredible joy to me and your daddy. We can hardly believe how lucky we are to be your parents. You are such a good baby! You hardly ever cry except when you’re hungry and impatient with waiting to get fed. Sometimes you get upset when you’re uncomfortable or want a change of scene or to be picked up, but you are never inconsolable. Most of the time you are content and happy and utterly delightful. You are a gorgeous child too – at least fifty times a day I tell you how beautiful and gorgeous and adorable and sweet you are! You are cutest when you are engaged and curious and into what’s going on around you.

Things you especially like include:

  • Riding in your buggy – most of the time you sleep but when you’re awake you look around curiously at everything passing by. You don’t like stopping, especially when there’s not much to see, and you can be quite vocal and insistent in your desire to get moving again.
  • Lying on your changing table – unless you are really hungry, you look around and kick happily and generally look quite delighted to be lying on your changing table while your daddy or I change your nappy. For the first few weeks of your life you really didn’t like having a new nappy put on, but you seem to have gotten past that. Now you just don’t like the cold wipes. I don’t really blame you.
  • Your daddy – Oh my word, you love your daddy, and it’s so cute the way you do! You stare and stare at him. You look to see where he’s gone when he goes out of your eyesight. And sometimes if he’s sitting next to me on the sofa when I’m trying to feed you, you stop eating to look over at him. The feeling is obviously mutual, and it makes me so happy to watch the two of you together.
  • Eating – You eat with gusto, little girl! Often you are so excited about eating, though, you have a hard time staying latched on and occasionally get sprayed in the face. You take it all in stride.
  • Mummy singing to you – I sing you songs from The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and My Fair Lady as well as Sunday School songs that my mommy sang to me when I was your age. You seem to especially like “Do Re Mi” and “Edelweiss”.

This week when you turned two months old has been a week of lots of firsts. We finally started putting you in cloth nappies this week. They make you a lot more bulky but other than that are working out fine so far. You took a bottle (with mummy’s milk in it) from your daddy for the first time. You slept for six hours in a row during the night shattering your previous record of four and a half hours. And you got your first round of immunisations.

I love you so much, Elisabeth. I’m so glad you’re my daughter. And I’m so looking forward to seeing all the new things you will do in the next month!

Elisabeth at 8 weeks

Elisabeth at 8 weeks

Ever since Elisabeth was 13 days old, we have been bundling her up in her snowsuit, tucking her into her buggy, sling, car seat or – more recently – Baby Bjorn, and taking her out and about. Some places Elisabeth has been in her 7 1/2 weeks of life:

St Luke’s – we first took Elisabeth to church when she was 16 days old. It happened to be the Sunday of the kids’ nativity play. Elisabeth was very cuddled and cooed over after the service, and a number of people commented that in three years time, she might be up there as one of the sheep (which were played by the congregation’s three-year-olds). We were just glad that we hadn’t agreed to have Elisabeth play the baby Jesus this year when we saw how the four-year-old Mary yanked around the baby Jesus doll.

Mamas and babies group – the couples in our birth preparation classes really bonded over the course of the seven weeks that the class met and since then, the mothers from the group – and babies as they’ve been making their appearances – have been meeting weekly for lunch at a cafe in Crouch End. I really enjoy having a group of other new mothers to get together with regularly, and it’s fun to see how the other babies grow and change from week to week.

All Hallows & the Greenbelt offices – I am administering the talks programme for Greenbelt this year and so have had quite a few meetings at All Hallows just this month. One of them was on Inauguration Day, and when I arrived they had all the lights off in the Greenbelt office and were projecting the Inauguration ceremony on the wall. That was a great way to watch it! I kept telling Elisabeth how significant it was and how cool it was that she would never know a time when there hadn’t been an African American president. She seemed more interested in eating. Oh well. Some day she’ll get it.

Our local pub, the Salisbury – When Elisabeth was just a few weeks old, our good friends Matt & Clare (who are also Elisabeth’s godparents) phoned us up and asked if we wanted to join them at the pub for a pint. Since it’s just down around the corner, we put her in her snowsuit and James just carried her there. She had a drink at the pub too (of mama’s milk, not beer – not for 18 years yet, please dear).

Cambridge – On December 19th when Elisabeth was 15 days old, James’ parents came and picked us up and drove us to James’ grandad’s flat in Cambridge where we were joined by James’ Uncle Louis, Aunt Martha and two of their sons, Daniel & Christopher, Martha’s mother Carol, and James’ Uncle Alex. We had a lovely lunch with all of them and they all very much enjoyed meeting Elisabeth. Martha, who was in a back brace due to a bicycle accident, still managed to spend a good bit of time holding Elisabeth. She was still only about 6 1/2 pounds then so it wasn’t too hard. Delightfully, we were able to take a photo of four generations of Stewarts.

Hampton-in-Arden (near Solihull) – James and I were supposed to go to his Aunt Sheila and Uncle Ian’s house for the Ganjavi family Christmas gathering on Saturday, December 13th. Those plans had been made when we thought it unlikely that we’d have a baby yet on that date. Whoops! Since Elisabeth was still just nine days old on the 13th, we decided to stay home and try to get together with the family at a later date. A gathering for Baba’s (James’ grandfather) birthday on January 2nd proved the perfect opportunity. Again James’ parents picked us up and drove us to Hamton-in-Arden. As with the trip to Cambridge, Elisabeth slept in her car seat almost the whole trip. The Ganjavi family loved meeting Elisabeth as well, and this time it was Baba who spent the most time holding her.

Tunbridge Wells – After the day with the Ganjavis, James’ parents drove us to their house in Tunbridge Wells where Elisabeth had her first overnight away from home. On Saturday I got to do a good bit of shopping in town while Elisabeth’s Nana (James’ mum) watched her. I came back from shopping expecting to find a baby girl wailing with hunger, but she wasn’t even there! She was out for a walk with Nana and quite happy about it apparently. On Sunday we took Elisabeth to James’ parents’ church where she was introduced a lot more people who oo-ed and ah-ed over her. To get back to London that evening, we were driven to the train station, then took a train back to London Bridge, then a bus back home. Elisabeth slept pretty much the whole time.

The bowling lanes at Shoreditch House member’s only club – our friend Beki Bateson had invited us to help her celebrate her birthday on January 20th at Shoreditch House. Did we let having a seven-week-old baby stop us from joining the party? No way! Elisabeth spent most of the time at the party cuddling with our friend Gill who has a number of grandchildren herself and thinks babies are the best.

Hackney – We have lots of friends who live in Hackney and we end up spending quite a bit of time there. We regularly join our friends the Turners for their Monday evening open house suppers and took Elisabeth there for the first time on January 12th. They were thrilled to bits about meeting Elisabeth and she got lots of cuddling that evening as well as some adorable shoes made by Burmese craftspeople and a stuffed elephant from Sri Lanka. We were back in Hackney – just up the street from Turners – on the 18th for Sunday lunch with our friends Joe & Annabelle. They are expecting their first baby in July, and we are excited for Elisabeth and their little one to grow up together!

We are very much looking forward to Elisabeth’s first airplane journey which she will take on March 8th when we fly to Nashville. We can’t wait for her to meet her American family and lots of friends in the States!