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BABE, DIARY, EAT, MAMA, PLAY

FRANCIE TURNS TWO!

19th April 2017
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My baby turned two! Sometimes I still feel that I am all new at this mom thing, as if I can use the excuse “I’m sorry I have just had a baby”. But here we are – twice around the sun and a whole lot fuller. There she is talking non stop, making up jokes and running almost too fast for us to catch her. But she still hooks on as if she were a baby koala, sucks her thumb to fall asleep and won’t let her dear old binkie out of her sight. She loves parties – specially singing happy birthday, she is obsessed with her ballet clothes and adores her cousins to the end of the earth. Here’s to another year beautiful one.
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To celebrate this milestone we threw a morning party in Kimmy & Bear’s garden. We had a Bloody Mary bar and served fresh croissants, French toast and maple syrup and muesli pots. My mama made the biscuits and my sister baked the cake. I made party hats for everyone. The four little girls dressed the same, Bailey drew a huge colouring in picture and the day flew by. We invited family and friends and had a delicious morning under the warm sun surrounded by love and joy.

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Pics by Robyn Davie Photography

DIARY

FRANCIE SUGAR (YEAR 2) – 52 PORTARITS ROUND UP – FEBRUARY

13th March 2017
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Week 45: We took it slow this week as you are still recovering from your time in hospital. We had to head back to the hospital each morning so that you could get your antibiotics via your drip. I was dreading it – knowing how scared you were and how much you hated it there I was anxious about your crying and fear. But I was wrong. We took Kimmy along with us and you showed off to her, calling Park Lane “my hospital” and walking down the passages confidently as you knew the way. You lifted your arm up and said “my drip” which of course broke my heart.

Since being in hospital you are more wary of strangers and new places, sticking close to me and not wanting strangers near us. I understand why. Sometimes when you are out you say “home” just like ET.

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Week 46: We are back in the rhythm of being at home but you are missing your twins. They have now started school so we don’t see them as much as we are used to. You ask each morning with excitement “Bailey? Nana? Florence?” and when we aren’t seeing them I see the disappointment in your eyes.

Each Wednesday Jack comes to play at our house while Wiggy fetches Honor from school. It is so sweet to watch the two of you play and negotiate around each other. You try your best to be the big cousin, clutching his hand and saying in your sweet voice “tum Jack Jack I show you” sometimes he obliges and follows you around the house, other times he doesn’t which you don’t understand and you try in a slower, louder voice “I show you”.

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Week 47: We went to your first dress up party this week. You wore your ballet dress and a cape. Your ballet dress is your favourite thing I think. You wear it from morning to bed at home and when we leave the house it comes with us in my bag. Your ballet shoes are old slip slops of Honor’s and those come along too. You were terribly excited to wear your ballet skirt and cape out of the house. You walked around at home excitedly and got in the car with enthusiasm but as we reached the party you stripped down to your leggings and onesie and that was that.

Our naps on weekends are often together, I fall asleep while putting you down and we end up spending the entire time curled up in your big chair. I love it.

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Week 48: It’s been a week of rainy, cold weather. Not the kind of rain that stops for a few hours so you can venture outside, no- rainy, rainy weather. We aren’t used to this kind of weather and days that we cant go outside! We got creative with our indoor play with dressing up and painting, clay cakes and tea parties, teepee houses and so many stories, long naps too.

BABE, DIARY

FRANCIE SUGAR (YEAR 2) – 52 PORTARITS ROUND UP – JANUARY

20th February 2017
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Week 40: We spent the last week of our holiday on the Natal Coast with the Stark family… we rented a beautiful house over looking the ocean, with a pool and a lawn. You decided that the beach was even less appealing than the week before so we stayed clear of the sand and the ocean. We spent the good weather days swimming in the pool and making endless cups of tea with your toy set. You built Duplo and coloured in. It’s a change to be the only child – for both you and me. In the mornings we quietly snuck out to make everyone breakfast. When you (and I) went down for a nap the rest of the family was waking up. On the cooler days we visited the croc farm – you loved seeing the flamingos and the bunnies. And one day we visited the UShaka Aquarium – you loved the push car that we rented for you, you found the fish fascinating and the penguins tolerable but you hated the life-size men dressed up as animals. I don’t blame you. Your Afrikaans vocab increased, you insisted on drinking water through a straw and from the moment you woke until bedtime again you didn’t wear clothes. The most I could get you to wear was a tracksuit top but certainly no nappies. In front of our house ran a working train track with  a train going past every few hours. Most people would complain about this but you were thrilled – you would jump up each time we heard the train coming and we would run with you to catch a glimpse!

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Week 41: Back home and you are thrilled to be back in your space and surrounded by your cousins. You are back to owning our home and demand to carry no less than 5 bags around all the time. It was evident how much you missed your cousins while we were away as seeing them you threw your arms around each one with excitement. We are back into a rhythm of being at home, visiting the nursery and the horses, going back to our playdates and spending lazy summer afternoons with the twins.

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Week 42: Your sentences get longer everyday and I feel  I am constantly followed by a shadow that narrates my every move. To confirm what you want you put a decisive “ya” at the end of your sentence for example “come mama, ya!” or “read mama, ya!” you have also learnt to say thank you/dankie for everything which comes out as a mix equaling “dank you” in the sweetest soft voice.

To start the year off we got you a little table and 4 chairs which has been an absolute hit. I thought you would spend your time sitting at the table colouring which you do when your cousins visit but you prefer to line the chairs up as your bus. It is fascinating to watch as you make sure that the chairs are perfectly in a row, not a millimeter out. You then gather your bags and put them either “under my seat” or “in the boot” and collect us each a ticket. You, your mama and your papa have spent many hours sitting in your bus. Of course binkie joins us as does your doll’s pram and doll.

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Week 43: Time goes so quickly once you are a mother – I know I have told you this a million times but it constantly confronts me. As I watch you grow and explore I am endlessly amazed. Your little voice is so sweet and you concentrate so hard getting your words out. Your favourite food is chocolate ice cream (thanks to your cousins) and eggs and sausages. You love your doll, playing peek-a-boo behind the curtain in your room and your Playtown book is your best. You love having milkies when you wake up from your nap and then listening to Peter Rabbit. In the car your favourite song to sing is “our time” from Kindermusik. You want to take your ballet dress and a pair of Honor’s old slipslops everywhere!

Jack Jack comes to our house every Wednesday to play and you love showing him around, you try to take his hand but he does not always oblige. Of course I do also hear “no jack jack” often when he reaches for your things. I know the two of you will grow up bring such great friends.

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Week 44: We’ve had the toughest week since you came into our lives. You got terribly sick which resulted in you being admitted to hospital for four days. I never considered my baby going to hospital and then suddenly there I was packing our bags for Parklane. You were your usual trooper self, being so brave and patient and trying so hard to still laugh and giggle. People think that it is hard for the mama because of no sleep or a change in scenery but that isn’t what made it hard. I found it so hard- hard to know what to do, hard to comprehend  that I was supposedly doing the right thing. Hard to fight my mama instincts as I held you down for blood tests and all sorts of things… much of the time I wanted to rip the drip off and carry you home, but of course I didn’t do that. Instead you and I hung out together _ I read your favourite stories (Cave Baby, Angelina Ballerina, Peter Rabbit and Squash and a Squeeze) over and over and I undressed and redressed your doll countless times. We cuddled in the big chair and I breastfed you like a newborn. We had long midday naps together, when I would shut the door and pray no one would wake us. We stared at and chatted about the alphabet curtains and I explained the drip to you over and over – you soon got used to it, navigating your movements around the cord and even saying “beep beep” every now and then. We got into a routine of it all, your papa arriving early with breakfast and Bailey and Wiggy visiting later. Kimmy and Bear were stuck in France which broke my heart but I know it was worse for them 

BABE, DIARY, MAMA

FOUR TIPS FOR STARTING SCHOOL

16th February 2017
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My little ones starting school was such a big milestone, and a big change for them after being by my side for three and a half years. Speaking to my mom friends whose babes also started school this year, and even to moms whose babes have been at school for a while but were now going back after a long holiday, I know I’m not alone in thinking and feeling the weight of the occasion.

I received some wonderful tips from moms I know about making the transition as easy, and as gentle as possible for the child. Because easy for your babe means easy for mom.

My sister, Alex, mother of 6 year old Honor and 1 year old Jack, recommended the magic bracelet. This idea comes from “The No-Cry Separation Anxiety Solution” by Elizabeth Pantley, and she used it when her daughter started school at 3 years old. She made a beaded bracelet with her daughter before school began. Once they had made the bracelet she filled it with her love, demonstrating this through rubbing the beads. The bracelet was only to be worn at nursery school and any time she felt unsure she could rub or squeeze the beads and get some love from her mom.

My friend Dominique, mother of two and a half year old Griffin who started school this year. When her son is unsure about going to school in the morning, Dominique says, “Do you remember how the story goes….” and he immediately says, “Ooh tell me the story.” She then talks him through a story of the entire process of going to school, from driving and seeing how many busses they can spot, to parking and saying hello to the dogs that bark next door, all the way through the to giving him a big hug goodbye, and on until story time when she picks him up. Griffin loves the story and finds comfort in the monotony of it.

My friend Rose, mother to 1 year old Sophie and 2 year old Isabella, who started school this year. The line that Isabella responds to the best is “you’re going to play with all your friends, mummy has to do mummy stuff (e.g., work/shopping) and then I’ll be back for you just after story time (the last activity).” Apparently using “leave” and “go” imprint in a negative way on the child, and they prefer a logical explanation and format.

My tip is taking your child to the school they are going to be going to before they start there. I took my girls to the little school they are attending in the mornings before school actually started a few days a week towards the end of last year. They got to know a few of the teachers and the space became familiar to them. That way, when they started school this year, they were not seeing the place for the first time.
I would love to hear your tips and what you have done to help your babe to transition smoothly into school.
BABE, DIARY

FRANCIE SUGAR (YEAR 2) – 52 PORTARITS ROUND UP – DECEMBER

24th January 2017
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Week 36: Summer is the best isn’t it? You love it when you can take your clothes off and wonder around in the nude, at Kimmy & Bear’s house on a Sunday or after dinner at home. We seem to have gotten into a little after dinner routine with Honor and Jack, they come over and play until we walk home with them again before bath. You love it – you run to greet Honor and follow her around the house showing her things. You try to share with Jack too even though it is hard for you.

We gave you your Christmas present early this year. Your little wooden kitchen on one rainy Saturday afternoon. It really is your favourite thing and we all spend ages cooking in your kitchen. Your favourite story is The Ginger Bread Man and I think one of the reasons why you love your kitchen so much is that your wooden ginger bread biscuit was put in the kitchen’s oven as soon as you saw it and it has not come out since. Each time you ask you say “no ready”.

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Week 37: This past weekend we spent at Leopard Creek in the Lowveld, it was just your mama, papa and ouma and you. Your favourite thing was swimming so we would spend most days in the big pool, cooling down and singing all the songs that you know from your swimming lessons with Judy. Then you discovered the water slide with you papa which you loved! You would go on it “again” and “again”. You would get so excited as you climbed the stairs with your papa and then wave “hi” to us while I waited at the end for you.

You also learnt all about mosquito repellent – reminding me to rub you each time we left our room, even lifting your hands as if asked to do so. But the most amusing part of the holiday was that the shower had “no door” which you told anyone that would listen. At first you didn’t even think I should shower with no door but once you got used to it, you knew that your explaination of “no door” was amusing us so you would say it over and over.

You also loved the golf carts and watching the fan go “round and round” but were not a fan of all the animals that we spotted from the house and would say “bye ellie” and go inside whenever you saw them (or hippos, monkeys, buck or anything else you spied).

One night you woke in the middle of the night and asked for milkies, when I said no you asked “just a bit please mama” which of course broke my heart.

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Week 38: Some time at home before we headed off on holiday. You loved having your papa around for more than just mornings and you thrived playing with your cousins. We celebrated your papa’s and Honor’s birthday all day on Sunday 18th December. First we spent the morning at Honor’s house, opening presents and having breakfast and then the afternoon at home for tea, dinner and bath time. We hardly saw you, following your cousins around but every now and then (like you do whenever we are at parties or around lots of people) you took a timeout. Coming to sit down with me, with your binkie and your thumpie and having a little break. This moment was caught taking a time out with Granny – your great granny aka Sugar, who you are named after. The days drift away, often not captured so although she is around us all the time I don’t have many pictures of you together – of course one does not snap Saturday morning breakfast or grocery shopping but here you are together and this is one of my favourite pictures.

You are playing more and more games with us, hiding and saying “where me” or asking “where ma thumpie?” after bath. I now wrap you with one hand out of the towel so that it is easy access to sucking. Of course your binkie and your thumpie continual to be your favourite things, resting quietly on my shoulder with you are tired or need comforting.

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Week 39: Hello holiday! We made the trip to Southbroom this year – Granny, Kimmy, Bear, Bailey, JanJan, Hugolyne and Guy and all you cousins. We all stayed in one big house and spent the week having long meals, beach visits and afternoon swims. Before bath we would go for long walks on the golf course and bath tubs filled with little bods. You thrived of course – the sea air took over your curls and made you eat well and sleep well. You love having such easy access to your cousins – finding your own way to their bedrooms and jumping in bed with them or playing with their toys and reading their books to your hearts desire.

You loved the plane ride, explain to us on a daily basis that you went “op op op” in the plane with the suitcases while your papa drove mama’s car. You didn’t love the beach. Surprising I know but you would rather we didn’t go, staying hooked on my hip and asking to leave from the moment you saw it. You would put up with it slightly if we were under the umbrella and you were distracted with sandcastles – again the ones that your cousins built were best. But we didn’t dare take you near the sea.

Each morning I would sneak you into Kimmy and Bear’s room and you would spend the early mornings with them, chatting to Bear in bed and Kimmy gave you breakfast. Of course your possession of “ma mimi” was strongly felt and you would leap up to her hip each time you sensed someone else may be aiming for the same spot.

Christmas morning was beyond exciting for you – you knew something was up and though father Christmas gifts were amazing that they kept coming out of your stocking – each one you pulled out was met with an excited enthusiastic “wow”. Then more presents under the tree pretty much blew your mind – even if they weren’t for you, you loved to hand them out and help everyone with the opening.

Our Christmas Day had a sad taint to it – your papa’s papa passed away and you knew something was up. One day we will tell you all about him.

BABE, DIARY, MAMA, PLAY, TRAVEL

TAKE ME BACK

17th January 2017
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I can’t believe two weeks ago we were probably sitting under an umbrella on the beach, feet in the sand, drying off from a swim in the waves. From the moment you arrive back home, holidays feel so long ago. I think in part because they are a change in scenery, but also because they are a complete change from every day life.

 

We spent our Christmas holiday with our whole family on the Natal coast. And although we were brought up going to this area, we haven’t all been on a beach holiday together since we were young. I get nostalgic returning here – the smells of the tropical vegetation under foot as you make your way down to the beach through a jungle-like canopy, and the sticky feeling of salt water drying on your skin, and the sight of tropical leaves lining every street bring back so many memories as we create new ones with our own children. Our barefoot days were spent going to the beach with the kids piled in the boot of the car amongst umbrellas and boogie boards and buckets, dips in the pool, late afternoon walks on the golf course, long swims in the sea, juicy litchis and mince pies and Christmas-pudding-ice-cream, little cousins who were barely apart, and early mornings with the smell of the ocean and suncream more than hinting at what the day will hold.

 

Here are a few snaps from our time away.

 

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We hope you had a happy break, whether at home or away. One thing is for certain, looking at everyone’s holiday snaps from the passed month, we really live in a beautiful country with amazing places to go and explore.

DIARY, MAMA

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

16th January 2017
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“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious the time is you have to spend whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savoured.” Earl Nightingale

 

Welcome back to a brand new year. I love a fresh start, a blank diary, and a full year ahead. It makes me pause, reflect, and think about where I want to focus my energy and attention over the next 12 months. The words above really resonate with me because if there is one thing I have learnt being a parent it is the importance of being present. This idea is not a new one but I like to remind myself of it each year.

 

May 2017 be a good year for you. A year full of moments that bring you happiness, joy, surprise, challenge, adventure, health, growth, and love. Because it is the moments which make up our days which will make up the the whole year.

BABE, DIARY

FRANCIE SUGAR (YEAR 2) – 52 PORTARITS ROUND UP – NOVEMBER

15th December 2016
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Week 32: This week you had your first hair cut. I’ve delayed it as long as possible but we just had to do it, there were a couple scraggly bits and it was starting to resemble a  mullet. It broke my heart. Those soft luscious curls being snipped off although after the cut your shorter style revealed your beautiful dainty neck which too breaks my heart. You were so brave, sitting quietly on my lap as Alice snipped away.

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Week 33: Summer days like the ones we are having are the kind of days I want to remember for ever: very little clothes, playtime with buckets of water and cleaning up from mud baths in the sink. We continue to spend time with your cousins, we see them everyday and you are slowly learning how to play their games properly. Although it is completely confusing for you when they change their names, so Anna becomes Honor, Florence becomes Emma and Honor becomes Miss Biacchi (her teacher!) Wiggy, Honor and Jack Jack visit us a couple times a week, after dinner. It’s fun playtime outside where you all chase balls and run around like crazy, we then walk them home through the neighbourhood – when they move house, we will truly miss them.

Jack was christened this week which meant a beautiful celebration under Kimmi and Bear’s old Oak tree.

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Week 34: This week was your biggest role yet: flower girl for Fae at Ulrich and Fae’s wedding. And you nailed it, of course. You loved your dress with it’s giant “bow” which you say and show everyone proudly. You didn’t walk down the aisle, you ran much to the crowds delight and you sat quietly next to me during the ceremony. You played your part for photos, ate french fries for the first time, stayed up way past your bedtime and ate wedding cake for dinner. At about 21.30 you crashed and slept soundly until the next morning.

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Week 35: You really did just explode with words this week. I cannot believe what a little chatterbox you are – a constant narration on our life. I love how you use your words to tell us exactly what you want. “Mama done dodoes” first thing in the morning or before bed, “mama milkies now”. The other night when it was time to get out of the bath, you said, “bye water, bye tap, bye fish… bye dis, bye dat” for the things you didn’t know. You haven’t quite worked out the “H” sound yet so it is “and (hand), ug (hug), elp (help) and eavy (heavy)” often resulting in “elp mama eavy”. People have told me that you talk a remarkable amount for your age. I of course think you are genius even when ;dying on the floor but I do think we owe your extensive vocab to spending so much time with your cushions, mimicking their every move. And everything is “ma (my), so ma mama, ma papa, ma mimi, ma poppy, ma bailey, ma Wiggy, ma pram.

You are loving the build up to Christmas, admiring every single Christmas tree that we see with an excited “wow” “more wow mama”. I love your little body perched on my hip as we shop or do chores together. Your head often resting down on my shoulder or your pointing at something with amazement. You loved decorating Kimmy’s Christmas tree – an annual tradition and you were fascinated by all of her exciting Christmas toys.

DIARY, MAMA

FRANCIE SUGAR (YEAR 2) – 52 PORTARITS ROUND UP – OCTOBER

3rd November 2016
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Week 28: No matter how our nights go you end up in our big bed from early in the morning and you know what? It’s my favourite thing to have you sleeping next to me. I nearly wrote “curled up” because sometimes you are – curled up as close as you can get, I often awake with your body twisted around my neck or your little legs resting on my tummy. Other times you sprawl out, taking up as much space a you can.

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Week 29: We’ve just spent 10 days in Paris. People thought we were crazy to take a toddler to a big city but it was fantastic! You traveled like a super star, sleeping on me the entire flight and carrying your backpack with such pride. When we finally made it to my favourite city we explored the new surroundings – you mastered slides, ate croissants every morning, learnt all about buses and trains – which are now pretty much you favourite thing. You loved going on the carousel in the Tuileries garden, you saw the Eiffel tower. You discovered your shadow. We took you to see Monet’s lilies in the l’Orange and the impressionists in the Musee d’Orday. You drank tea at Laduree. You danced on Pont Neuf. We played in playgrounds around the city. We took you to my favourite cafe. You slept on my back.

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Week 30: Being back home has been tougher than I thought – you took a while to get back into it and you have been sick – refusing to eat for a week and sticking to your mama’s hip like glue. We’ve had long naps together, and sometimes longer nights. We’ve slowed things down, spent time with the family and done our old favourite things. Jack turned one this week so we celebrated his first birthday with must excitement. I love that you call him “Jack, Jack”.

Since being back home one of your favourite games is to pretend that you are catching a bus or train. Our conversations go something like this:

Francie: “bye” (followed by a kiss or hug – on the most accessible place, often a knee?)

Mama: “Where are you going?”

Francie: “Bus” or “train”

What do you need: “ticket, bag, binki” (which you are currently holding). You head to the door.

Mama: “Who are you going to see?”

Francie: You answer either “Bailey, Nana, Nana” “Jack Jack, nona” or “mimi”

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Week 31: It was Bailey’s birthday this weekend – you loved it. You thrived. Your clothes came off less than halfway through the afternoon – you wondered around thinking you owned Kimmy’s garden, playing with everyone or no one. Often checking in with your mama or papa, eating cake, strawberries and frozen pops. The afternoon was wonderful – Kimmy’s garden filled with too many people, delicious food and over excited children. Pretty dresses and sun hats… the sun shone and at the end of the day you were dirty, exhausted but chatty and happy – just as you should be.

BABE, DIARY, MAMA, TRAVEL

TRAVEL GUIDE: PARIS WITH A TODDLER

18th October 2016
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We just got back from 10 days in Paris. So many people thought I was crazy taking a toddler to Paris but it was fantastic. Big cities are really geared up for kids and we all had such a great time.

First things first:

Surrender to the fact that your holiday will be different to pre-baby holidays. We forgot about late dinners or all-monring coffee stops and instead indulged in toddler friendly activities.

Where we stayed: 

As you may know Paris is divided up into different endorsements (areas) and each has a really specific vibe. My favourite androssiment to stay in when I visit the city is the 3rd/4th in the Marais. This area is a very old part of Paris, complete with tiny cobbled streets, great boutiques and even better restaurants. There are many cafes and bistros to try  and is centered around Place des Vosges which is one of the most people spots in Paris. It is also very central so it’s easy to explore the rest of Paris from here.

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We have given up on hotels, especially since having a baby so we turned to AirBnB. This is the one bedroom apartment we chose – it had the best location ever! And we really wanted an apartment which had a bath – to keep in our bedtime routine with Francie and also wanted a space where the one bedroom was closed off to the rest of the apartment. This one ticked those boxes but I must mention that it was 4 stories up with no lift. We left the pram at the bottom each night but  say those stairs where a killer.

How we got to our apartment from the airport:

There is a train from Charles de Gualle straight to Paris which we usually get but this time we decided to rather go for a pick up – with a babe, long flight, luggage and a pram we decided a car would be easier. We used Taxi Baby Seat – it was great, you book online and they meet you at the arrivals hall and then drop you off right at your apartment.

What we ate:

Crossiants! Haha. Croissants definitely became Francie’s favourite food while we were there so she had one everyday.

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Since we were in an apartment we gave Francie most of her meals at home and then anything she ate at cafes etc was a bonus. We headed to  the supermarkets Monoprix and FrancPrix for daily staples like yogurt, fruit purees and eggs. We used the markets or speciality stores for roast chickens, ham, cheese and fruit and salads and Francie also loved the quiches that we found.

We also used Picard. Picard is pretty amazing, it only sells the frozen food and I found Francie the most delicious meals there for lunch and dinner – think chicken, couscous and mixed veg or meatballs and rice. These we easily heated up on the stove and she loved them.

High chairs are not a big thing in France. Have you read Bringing Up Bebe? No cafes we went to had high chairs which suited Francie just fine, she sat in a chair and behaved like a little french babe. Laduree (which we visited once for a treat) is geared up for tourists so they had a high chair, as did Le Pain Quotidian, a favourite spot of ours.

Playgrounds: 

We decided to explore the playgrounds of Paris and made sure we hit at least one playground a day for Francie to explore, play and get much needed exercise. Here is a list of some of the best ones:

Place des Vosges: Although this playground is tiny, it is pretty awesome to play in such a beautiful square. There are also two big sandpits here which are great for babes. *Place des Vosges has free wifi, so while your babe plays you can catch up on some internet time.

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Also in the Marais, Square Charles-Victor Langois: we loved hanging out here as it was just round the corner from our house and Francie and I would often head there early in the morning while the rest of the city was still asleep. There isn’t much for small babes but Francie still loved to play on a few things and watch the other kids play. This park also had a ping pong table which I imagine would be fun for older kids and Francie found it fascinating to watch.

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The best play area: the playground in the Jardin du Luxembourg. There are so many wonderful things about this playground: it’s big, it has loads of play stations – big jungle gyms, play trains, buses to climb on, mini slides and climbing roles, bounce animals and an enormous sandpit. The sandpit also has a house and car in it with a pulley system which was such fun. I loved sitting here and watching Francie play with the little French children. Just outside the playground is a kiosk for coffees and other yum things and there is a carousal too – but its not one of those that you can stand with your babe, so it is better for bigger children.

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Francie’s favourite thing to do in Paris: ride of the Carousel in the Jardin des Tuileries. I think this is the most magical carousel. It’s perfect for littles as you can stand with them (and hold them!) We ended up visiting a number of times. Also in the Tuleries is a great playground and a trampoline park! The Tuleries brings back such wonderful memories for me as I used to live just around the corner so I may be bias, but I think it is the most beautiful garden in Paris – with the Louvre at one end and  the Concorde at the other . We spent many hours just strolling through the gardens – Francie found her shadow this holiday which  is pretty much the best thing ever.

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One afternoon we head up to the Canal St Martin – which I had never been to before. It was a wonderful area to wonder around and fun to walk along the canal. I also recommend popping into Antoine et Lili – a fantastic kids store on the corner (it’s painted bright yellow so hard to miss), I found some lovely little things for Francie and her cousins. Also in that area is the Jadin Villemin which has a fantastic playground and it is where Francie mastered the art of sliding.

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Tourist things and museums: 

Since we’ve spent lots of time in the city we didn’t feel the pressure that we had to do anything but of course being in Paris there are a couple things we didn’t want to miss. The gardens in the city are so wonderful so part of being in Paris was spending time in them, here are the other things that we enjoyed:

The Eiffel Tower – I wanted to get a snap of Francie near the tower – mostly to prove to her when she is older that she had been to Paris. We didn’t climb it though, but once again spent time in the playground on the Champs de Mar – it was quite something to see our little babe playing in a sandpit with the famous structure in the background (although she was, of course, oblivious!)

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Museums  – our approach to museums was limited time and to not try and see everything. She is of course only 18 months but I approached showing her the famous artworks the same way we look at any pictures in a book. We chose the fifth floor of the Musee d’Orsay to look at the impressionists. I pointed out the trains, flowers and ballet dancers. Francie liked Degas’s horse sculptures the best. We also went to Musée de l’Orangerie to look at Monet’s waterlillies, which of course are amazing. *I noticed many of the French mums take paper and crayons to museums and their little ones sit on the floor and draw while looking at the pictures, I will do this next time, for sure.

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Musee Rodin is also a great spot to visit with kids because once again it has a huge garden yet you are surrounded by beautiful sculptures. Plus there is no need to worry about keeping your babe quiet and there is space to run. We had a lovely afternoon there and once again ended up in a sandpit which is located at the end of the garden.

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The bridges! Aren’t the bridges across the Seine magical. We loved walking across the two pedestrian bridges (Passerelle Solférino is just near Musee d’Orsay and Pont des Arts is further up and deemed the most romantic bridge in Paris). We spent time looking at the boats and listening to the buskers.

Shopping:

I decided that I wouldn’t do loads of shopping while there but of course I couldn’t resist a few little spots. Here are the best shops for babes and all of them had great installations for her to play in.

BonTon – quintessential French brand. Their flagship is fantastic and we loved exploring the 3 floors.

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BHV – They have a great kids clothing and toy section with a few play stations set up and some great toy brands which we don’t have at home.

If you are in the Canal St Martin area Antoine et Lili was great. Francie happily played with the toy kitchen with I browsed.

WH Smith – this is the best English bookstore in Paris, if you ask me, and they have a great kids section upstairs. I was on the lookout for some great kids books about Paris to read while we were there and I found some fantastic ones.

Other tips: 

Make sure you take a baby carrier. While we loved using our pram, somehow all you need is a baby carrier. We used Bailey’s African Baby Carrier (from Yummy Mummy & Baby) and we loved it so much we are going to buy one of our own.

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We took the opportunity to explore new modes of transport with Francie. She learnt all about trains and buses. Hugolyne gave me the tip of using the app City Mapper and it is amazing. You simply put in your destination and it gives you all the options of how to get there and times. For example: this bus and then walk or that metro and then a bus etc.

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