Thursday, April 04, 2013

Back on the blogging wagon

Well, I seem to have fallen off the blogging wagon, so time to climb back on again! I’ll try to be brief about what’s happened in the past two months (oh my, I really hadn’t realised quite how long it had been!), but brevity was never my strong point :-D

The big thing that happened was our trip to Israel in February. We had a beautiful two weeks there seeing family, travelling a bit, and generally having a much-needed break. We didn’t get off to the best start when I went down with Norovirus (or something that looked awfully like it) two days after we arrived and spent several days in bed feeling utterly grim. Fortunately, our apartment was just upstairs from my in-laws’, so dh was able to take Daniel off to play elsewhere and just bring him back for feeds. He (Daniel) didn’t really understand why he couldn’t spend more time with me but at least he had daddy there to reassure him. The day I started feeling better and was actually sitting up in bed and smiling when he was brought up, he beamed and threw his arms around me, saying “aaaaah” – I think the translation was something along the lines of “it’s so nice to have you back, mummy, I’ve missed you!”

Luckily, dh managed to avoid the bug and although Daniel did get it, it was only very mildly – after all, he’d had several days of antibodies through my milk by then. I was hugely glad he’s still breastfeeding as we were able to take him off solids altogether and not worry about him getting dehydrated.

Once were were both back in the land of the living, the three of us decided to go ahead with our planned short break in Haifa and had a lovely few days taking it easy and seeing the main things we wanted to, while managing not to overdo it. The hotel was right in the middle of town, perfect for getting to places – and for getting back to bed quickly when I got a bit wobbly. On the first day we went to the Gan HaEm, which is a small-ish zoo and play park, and Daniel loved it. He’d never been hugely interested in animals before, but he certainly was that day, and has been fascinated ever since! The play park was also a novelty, with a long enclosed bit of equipment that he couldn’t fall off, lots of challenges (like a hump-backed bridge he had to work out how to get up and down) and plenty of children to talk to.

On the second day, we visited the Baha’i gardens and did the tour, though we weren’t there at the right time to go into the shrine itself. The tour was interesting and the gardens beautiful (even in winter), and we were both glad we’d gone. Haifa is a great place to go with kids, so we’ll definitely be visiting again in the future.

Back in Herzliya, Daniel had plenty of opportunities to socialise with his extended family, and put up with being passed around remarkably well, even when tired and hungry! His diet became much more varied as we introduced meat and gluten just before the trip and fish during; they don’t seem to have baby-led weaning in Israel, so he was the subject of much fascination from waiters and family members. At times he had rather too much when people got carried away with the novelty of feeding a baby real food and let their common sense go, but overall we kept a reasonable grip on it.

Day trips included Jerusalem twice, Caesarea and Zichron Yaakov. We were in the Old City on Purim, which was rather surreal, seeing everyone in fancy dress! (have a look in the background...)

At the Israel Museum Daniel crawled at top speed to the middle of a huge art gallery, sat up and sang a long operatic “laaaaaa” at the top of his voice, much to the delight of the heavily-uniformed guards! We got the impression it was the most interesting thing that had happened all day. The excavations at Caesarea were well worth a look, and Zichron Yaakov is beautiful – we’ll certainly be going there again.

Overall, the best bit about being in Israel was that it was warm and dry, and so there were loads of opportunities to just let Daniel go in big open outdoor spaces. He’s completely confident going off and exploring, and if there is a child anywhere in the vicinity, he will find and befriend them within minutes!

As usual, my Hebrew improved hugely while we were there and I made a point of speaking it as much as possible to Daniel. He spent the first 24 hours listening intently, and then seemed to get it and was fine from then on. Not to say he was fluent, but he did seem to get the basics fairly fast after I sandwiched a few times (i.e. said something in Hebrew, then repeated in English, then again in Hebrew) A few trips to the local bookshops produced copies of his favourite books in Hebrew, and when we put them down in front of them next to their English equivalents he stared, opened one of each, and literally squealed with excitement! I’m using the books to improve my own Hebrew and trying to spend plenty of time with them now we’re back so I keep it up, though inevitably I don’t speak it nearly so much at home. With English, Hebrew and German to juggle, I’m never going to be able to give him native fluency in all three; what I can do, though, is give him as much as possible of each so that if he wants to improve his Hebrew and/or German in the future it won’t take much to become really fluent.

Since we’ve been back the weather has been too icy to go out more than absolutely necessary, and Daniel also went down with a succession of nasty things shortly after we returned home. The first was a fairly serious tummy bug which lasted a week and has set him back a couple of months in terms of eating; he’s gone back to full breastfeeding and will only have small amounts of very simple food like banana, roasted squash, carrots or hard boiled eggs. He’s also gone back to eating a lot of one thing for a while, then switching to something else, etc. He clearly knows what his system can cope with at the moment, so we’re just going with it. After the tummy bug came a night or two of what sounded like croup, but that came and went fairly fast. Following that, teething hit and we’ve had rough nights ever since with him feeding back to sleep so many times each night I’ve stopped counting. If we weren’t co-sleeping I don’t think I’d have retained my sanity for this long, but as it is we’ve just cut down on how much we’re doing and we take plenty of naps during the day if we need them. So far, we have two beginnings of teeth to show for it! I have to say, he’s being remarkably cheerful about the whole process.

The last major thing to report is that we have started going to Forest School once a week. We’ve had two sessions of toddler club, the first more successful than the second but only because it was so bitterly cold last week that everyone was miserable and we finished early! Of 8 or 9 children in our group, 4 (including Daniel) are home educated, which is brilliant. One we already knew, but the other two are new friends J We haven’t made it to the HE group since we got back from Israel but will soon. After the Easter break we are all hoping that Spring will have properly sprung and it will be slightly milder so we can enjoy the mud a bit more. Generally, though, Daniel seems to be taking to it like a duck to water…or, indeed, a toddler to mud!

The next thing to come will probably be walking. He’s standing up on his own for longer periods now and will happily walk holding on to a hand or a skirt, so it’s only a matter of time. In the meantime, he's climbing everything in sight. This has the benefit of meaning he can get himself safely off the sofa and the bed, and more or less safely down the stairs. On the downside, just as I got the hang of putting things out of his reach, I started being confronted by sights like this...

Bless him, he was so proud of himself I didn't have the heart to do anything other than applaud! Which reminds me, he can now clap and put things on his head, both of which amuse him hugely. Oh, and he has regular goes on my violin now (plucking the strings under strict supervision - dh is astonished I even trust him to do that); this evening this was apparently so wonderful that he could only express it by chewing his own toe. Teehee!