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Welcome to The Pretty Walrus (read the Hello page for an explanation on the name). I am Clare, married to David, and mother to Emily and Adam. The Pretty Walrus follows our journey from the UK to Malta to Dubai, and all our adventures along the way. Enjoy your stay!

Toilet Training: How It Eventually Happened

I never wrote about this because the timing of it all clashed with the move to Dubai, but I owe it to Emily to document the event before I forget it completely. 

Some of you might recall reading this some time ago...

Potty Training

I wish I didn't have to do this.

Shall I leave it at that? Says it all really, doesn't it? I hate it. It is the worst part of parenting there could possibly be. Worse than sleepless nights (ok maybe not that).

Then again, I say we're potty training but in reality I've done three (not consecutive) days of potty training, while living in denial and hoping it all magically happens on it's own to have me wake up one morning and find that Emily is comfortably in underpants and there is no need to have that bucket of water and Dettol handy.

I really did hate it and I didn't want to have to do it. I wanted to wake up one morning and it'd all be done. I kept trying every few weeks, while reminding her that she could be using panties if she really wanted to. And nothing got through to her. When she turned three on 28th January 2014, she was still very firmly in nappies, and I'd pretty much given up on that ever changing.

There was so much advice, and all of it so different. Several people told me it would just happen, just like the way I hoped it would. Yet that seemed too good to be true - they were obviously not telling me some important part of the story. Then there was the advice that said put her on the toilet at regular intervals (which in my opinion isn't toilet training, it's catching an accident before it happens). There was the "leave the potty in the middle of the room" advice... but we'd tried that and she still couldn't be bothered. Treats didn't work, promises of stickers didn't work, dancing with ridiculous levels of joy didn't work.

It boiled down to one thing ultimately: she didn't want to. Physically she was ready (she'd been dry at night for weeks by the time she turned three), but mentally, something wasn't clicking. She just wasn't ready.

Then the Clothy and Dummy incident happened, and at that point I knew the advice I so wanted to believe might be right. When she was ready, she'd let me know. So I decided to back off a bit and change tactics.

I left a little carrot. We'd promised her a bike once we moved to Dubai. But there was a catch... she would only get it if she was no longer wearing nappies.

I felt horrible. Was I blackmailing my own daughter? I suppose I was, but I did it kindly and only because I knew she could do it and obviously needed the push.

I also told her that since she was being so good at not wetting her nappies overnight, she could do her morning wee on the toilet. She did that every day for a few weeks (with lots of clapping and dancing and hugs and the tiniest chocolates known to man). Then we told her she could also sit on the loo before bed, and that became a habit too. I told her that I knew she wanted to stop wearing nappies and this was a good way to do it: we'd become experts at doing morning and evening wee on the loo, and once we're really great at that, we can do some others on the loo too.

I know my daughter, she works well in stages. But she was also close to being mentally ready to let go of those wretched nappies, and she really, desperately wanted that bike!

Less than two weeks after she turned three, on the 11th February, she woke up and told me she wanted to go to school in panties.

This was what I'd dreamed about and yet there I was trying to convince her otherwise. She wouldn't have it. She was going to school in panties that day. I quickly put together a bag with a change of clothes for her to take with her to school... there was not a shred of doubt that it would be used that day.

But when I picked her up after school, she was still in her uniform. Cue gobsmacked me. However, her teachers told me, she had been to the loo and hadn't done anything. She had last gone to the loo at 7am. This was 1pm. I had to get home FAST.

We didn't make it. Remember the smashed sunglasses incident? Yeah, the "distraction" was me hearing Emily go "uh-oh" as she let it all go on the pavement beside the car (thankfully not IN the car!)

The problem had been obvious. She used a toilet training seat at home, but there was no training seat at school. She was terrified she would fall in. So we got home and I made the training seat disappear. I showed her what needed to be done and I had to help hold her up at first, but by the evening she was sitting on the toilet alone without assistance.

She went to school in underpants again the next day and there were no accidents at all. Nor were there the next day or the next or the days after that. Her first accident was two weeks later in the middle of an indoor play area as I sat and told Maureen (of Island Fairy) how in awe I was of Emily for doing exactly what I'd dreamed she'd do. And to add insult to injury, I'd forgotten to pack socks into her change of clothes bag so Maureen had to let us have Robin's!

But there haven't really been any accidents since and two weeks after we moved to Dubai, she even stopped using pull-ups at night (which she was only using because I was worried about her wetting the hotel bed).

So there you have it. When people (and now I) tell you it can happen overnight, that they just need to be ready, just wait for them to decide they want to do it.... believe it. It's pretty incredible. As with so many other things, be firm, guide them, but let them lead the way.

She got her bike the day after we landed in Dubai. I was still so jetlagged, I barely remember it happening.

Spring Blog Carnival

Now that we have more space to work with in the house (or rather, space that works well for us), we are doing quite a lot more arts and crafts at home. Emily has her paints out often and Adam has even had a go at some finger painting. He wasn't very impressed.

Emily, however, is having a whale of a time. Her artistic streak is really shining through; her favourite thing to do now is draw, draw, draw. She still has a soft spot for rainbows and butterflies, so there have been plenty of those. We made some beautiful butterflies just the other day, which are now hung on the wall.

I drew butterfly outlines for her to paint, then cut them out,
folded their wings outwards, and stuck them on a piece of card. 
I love the result.

Spring here in Dubai isn't quite Spring in it's traditional form. When I chose the theme for this carnival, I chose Spring because I knew it'd be a good opportunity to soak up as much of the season as I could via other blogs - and I chose it when the move to Dubai was nowhere yet on the cards... It is all the more the case as I write this in 39 degrees "Spring" in Dubai!

So here is my little taste of Springtime...

Ali writes of her love of spring, and I know just how she feels. "It’s the simple things in life, at this time of year, which make me happy: putting the washing on the line; watching my husband mow the lawn and smelling the freshly cut grass; having windows open and watching my children play happily in the garden..." Perfectly put. Read the rest here.

We've been to Richmond Park once and loved it. We swore we'd go back but sadly, never did. I enjoyed Elfa's blog post about her family's visit all the more because of that. Read all about their deer spotting adventure here.

Spring wouldn't be spring without the arrival of lambs! Need I say more? Emma's daughter witnesses the birth of a lamb, and Emma has written about it.

Michelle shares pictures of the stunning imagery she is surrounded by. Be sure to drop by and have a look at the beautiful blossom tree. I can't get enough of it!

Adam's Cake

Back to Adam's birthday for a little while. So I decided I'd be making the cake myself.

I'm not sure what chemical I'd been inhaling when I made that decision. Had I forgotten that two days earlier, there'd be packers once again turning my life upside down... and two days later, we'd be moving half way across the world?

Probably. That, or I am genuinely delusional and think I'm Superwoman.

I'm no Superwoman, but I will say this... The cake was far from perfect. It was actually quite messy. But when you consider that it was baked with most of my baking tools already en route to Dubai, it really could have been worse.

It was a red velvet cake and it tasted good. And sitting down to make the cake and that bunting for my little boy was just what I needed at the time. It made me sit down and focus. My thoughts weren't about packing, or how overweight we'd be on the 3rd March, or what had I forgotten to take note of. For a beautiful couple of hours, I sat down and forgot about it all. I was focused entirely on my creation.

And I am so pleased with it and with the way the bunting turned out. Not just because it looked cute (I won't go into how the M flag shouldn't have been a dark colour), but because it was evidence that during a week when my world was turning into a whirlwind yet again, I found the time to stop and make something pretty.

Keeping Little Specs On

It's been just over four months since Emily started wearing glasses (it feels like far longer). And in these few short months we have tried out several little accessories to help her little specs stay put. She'd look down and her glasses would slip down her nose until they're at the tip in what she calls her "granny look." It's actually really funny, but that's not the point.

One thing I promised myself when she first got glasses was that I didn't want them to hold her back from being a child. Meaning that, amongst other things, I wanted her to be able to play in a playground as she had done before glasses. We needed to find a way to make her glasses stay put.

We trawled opticians in Malta at the time, but no one had anything more than those awful loose strings that simply turn a pair of glasses into a necklace, or thick sports bands that only came in adult sizes. So we moved the search online... David came across Speccles, and I came across Stay Puts. I ordered both to try them out and see what worked best.

[image via babyology]

Speccles are clear, bendy plastic pipes which fit snugly onto the arms of a pair of glasses. They are as secure as it gets. Emily can do anything when she's got her Speccles on. They are slightly tricky for a child to remove, thus ensuring glasses don't get taken off (handy if you have a child who keeps trying to remove their glasses). We had no such problem but Speccles were our accessory of choice when Emily was at school simply because it meant it was more difficult for other children to remove her glasses.

[image via eyepowerkidswear]

Stay Puts are silicone hooks that are slipped onto the arms of a pair of glasses to keep them from slipping back and forth along the ear. They do an excellent job - even in the playground, Emily's glasses are always safely in place. They give the child freedom to remove their glasses if need be. Emily uses these most of the time because it means she doesn't need us to help her remove or put on her glasses, and it's generally less faff.

She'll be back in her Speccles once she starts school again in September though!

We have also begun patching. Her sight has responded to her lenses very well and she has improved significantly (I can count the amount of times I've caught her eye turning on one hand since New Year), but one eye has responded slightly better than the other. So we are now patching for half an hour every day.

Our optometrist didn't specify whether he wanted her in adhesive patches or not, as I hear some do. But finding patches is quite a bit harder than I'd ever have thought! We moved to Dubai four days after we were told to start patching so we were in a new place, trying to work out where we might find some. The only place we had any luck was at a pharmacy, where we bought plain brown adhesive patches. I promised Emily I'd buy her some fancy ones online, but in the meantime we'd use these regular adhesive ones.

We stopped patching less than a week later. Removing those patches hurt her so much, we couldn't bear to put her through it again for the sake of half an hour. I ordered the online patches and decided to wait until we had those (not quite knowing when that would be as Dubai post isn't hugely reliable).

They made it eventually and we picked up where we left off. I explained to Emily why we are patching and she was cooperative. She's even been out on her bike with a patch on!

We bought our patches from Kay Fun Patch, and are extremely pleased with them. Emily picked out the patterns she wanted herself (sparkly pink skull and crossbones, and a ballerina print one) and chooses which patch to use on a daily basis. They're good quality, reusable, and were worth the money.

Emily's new pair of glasses have transition lenses, so they "magically" become sunglasses when she's in the sun.
And what do you know... Bunny's got glasses too! (also via Kay Fun Patch)

As an aside, we have also tried Kay Fun Patch's Wedgees, which I do not recommend. After using Stay Puts, they seemed like the amateur little sister, didn't fit onto Emily's glasses very well, and were uncomfortable. Five minutes after trying them on, her Stay Puts were back on!

When Adam Turned One

Adam's birthday was celebrated over a couple of weeks. We threw a little party for him in Malta before we moved to Dubai, because we wanted to celebrate with friends and family there.

The party was scheduled for two days before we moved. As you can imagine, it was utter chaos, so the Mickey Mouse theme for the party (his beloved Mickey!!) was lost in it all slightly, and I still have most of the decorations, unused, in a little bag! 

It didn't matter, of course. It was a good excuse to catch up with everyone before we left and of course we also held Adam's quccija that day! Here are some snaps from the party.

Ask Adam "How old are you?" and this is what you get!

He crawled up to the tray with no hesitation whatsoever, and picked...

...a whiteboard marker, indicating that he may be a teacher of sorts when he grows up!
(the one profession we forgot to represent in Emily's tray!)

When we arrived in Dubai, every weekend was spent running errands, meaning the kids were stuck in buggies or trolleys, and they were entirely unimpressed. Adam's birthday was kept clear of anything like that. It was the one day those first few weeks during which we ran no errands. 

Instead, we went to Safa Park. We'd not been there before and had heard it was beautiful - and it was. The kids had a blast, and Adam discovered sand!

A couple of weeks later. we organised a cake smash photo shoot for Adam, but I'll write more about that once I have the photos to show you! (Very excited about it too!)

An Important Note About Photos

As much as possible, I will give credit for any photographs/images used. If however, you strongly object to my using and crediting your image, please let me know to remove it.

Most times, photos are mine. Should you wish to use any of my photos in your blog, please credit '' and link back to this site. I will not tolerate commercial websites or pages using my images without permission.

Older posts may include links to photo albums on Facebook. These links are temporary and only last a few weeks. For this reason, most links may no longer work. Should you wish to, leave a comment letting me know, and I will gladly refresh the link.

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