London

March 14, 2011

Maude Blair in London

Would you like to read a little bit about the trip Mimi and I took to London? It was our first time seeing the city and thanks to your recommendations, I really think we had the ultimate London getaway. We stayed at the Grange St. Paul’s and it is literally across the street from St. Paul’s Cathedral — such a dramatic way to greet the city each morning.

Big Ben London

There were loads of great restaurants nearby and even an adorable candy shop right down the street. We used the Big Bus Tour as our transportation (we could hop on right outside the hotel) and saw everything we hoped to see. We took a boat ride down the Thames to the Tower of London. Waved at Big Ben. Rode on the London Eye. Tasted our first Turkish Delight at Harrods. Took afternoon tea at Kensington Palace. Wandered around all seven stories of Hamleys toy shop. Ordered breakfast in bed. Took bubble baths in our swanky hotel room. And loved seeing Wicked.

We took so many pictures! Here’s a little slideshow. Click Prev/Next if you’d like to see our touristy photos.

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An unexpected treat: We’ve been working so hard on our French since we moved here, that it was a relief to be able to speak English freely — even for a few days. Can you believe how challenging it is to communicate in a new language? Makes me sweat!

P.S. — When Maude was very little, her nickname was Mimi, but in New York it sort of faded away. Here in France, Maude is a difficult name to pronounce, so she’s taken to introducing herself as Mimi again. I love it. It’s so cute and it feels so French, don’t you think? Do any of your kids use nicknames?

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{ 89 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Megan March 14, 2011 at 3:17 pm

What a splendidly lucky girl.

Wonderful!

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2 Sasha March 14, 2011 at 3:19 pm

My daughter has a nickname! BUG. :)

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3 Janey March 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm

I love the photos! It’s always great to see London through the eyes of a tourist!

In the 6th photo, of the sweets (candy) on the shelf, I spotted ‘Maldon Salt Caramel’ – Maldon is a town very close to where I live! Maldon Sea Salt is world famous, but I’ve never seen it used to make sweets before!

I’m glad you and Mimi had a fabulous weekend!

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4 Claire March 14, 2011 at 3:34 pm

You took some stunning photos. It makes me yearn for London (again) though! I so want to go back there. It does look like you had an amazing time (how could you not?!) but you’ll definitely have to go back – there’s so much to do in that city. :)

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5 Julie March 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Beautiful Pics!

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6 kbonikowsky March 14, 2011 at 3:39 pm

I’m curious if you liked Turkish Delight? I found it a bit disappointing the first go. But it carries such an aura of indulgence!
What a memorable trip! My favorite thing in London is Sunday lunch and the Globe Theater.

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7 Stephanie March 14, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Looks like so much fun. My daughter Savannah goes by Savvy most of the time.

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8 Amanda March 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Looks like so much fun! :) I call my 3 yr old son Buttons, but he’s getting too old for it, I think!

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9 Jill V. March 14, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I have had London on my mind all weekend after receiving the Boden Spring catalog. What a nice treat to see all these pics and places.

Ever since about 4 months old, Baby Claire, now 10 1/2 mo., is affectionately called Cha Cha. She responds to both names so we take that as acceptance. Yeah! I love unique nicknames that are born from a reason. In Claire’s case it was because she was a little sassy at that age. It still fits – she loves to dance and is the happiest, sweetest little baby.

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10 adventuresinbabywearing March 14, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Oh, I love it! The photos are fabulous. Ivy is probably called “Lulu” by more people than “Ivy”!

Steph

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11 AJ March 14, 2011 at 3:58 pm

What a lovely adventure she will always remember! Such a treat. My name is Amber Joi but have always gone by AJ. In my teenage years most thought my name was a male until they saw me!

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12 Nichol H March 14, 2011 at 3:58 pm

What a great trip for a mother and daughter! I absolutely LOVED London when I went there…I would love to live there some time. Thanks for sharing your great adventure and gorgeous photos!

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13 Joanna March 14, 2011 at 3:58 pm

cute. I love Maude :)

my daughter’s nickname is Olive. It’s down to two syllables instead of four…Olivia.

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14 Mrs. Cox March 14, 2011 at 4:00 pm

How fun! Love the photos :) Looks like you both had a fabulous time together.

My daughter’s only nickname is Luv. It started when I was pregnant actually, my sister said “Charlie Luv” and it was permanent. :)

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15 Sylvia March 14, 2011 at 4:03 pm

London is my favorite international city! What a great M/D trip!! So…is there any wedding fever there?

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16 Design Mom March 14, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Tons! During the tours, as we passed Westminster Abbey (where the wedding will take place) it was all anybody talked about. So fun.

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17 courtney March 14, 2011 at 4:06 pm

I love these pictures! Since I lived in London as a teenager, they feel somewhat like home to me. I miss it!
My daughter’s name is Bria, but she often calls herself “bri-bri.” For some reason I’ve taken to calling her Bieber– I didn’t even think about Justin Bieber until a friend pointed it out, but it’s become too much of a habit to quit now. Poor thing!

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18 Jacqueline Kearney March 14, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I enjoyed looking at your photographs. What a wonderful memory for your daughter. I like Mimi as a nickname. My oldest daughter is named Talia. We often call her Tals. My second daughter is named Lauren. We often call her Lowee. My third daughter is named Catherine and we call her Catherine, Moo or MooMoo. I don’t know how or why that nickname stuck when she was a baby–most of our friends and relatives find it distasteful. It has absolutely nothing to do with cows–and only sounds endearing when we say it. My husband’s nickname when he was young was Toadie–he’s not too fond of that. Mine was and still is, Jack.

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19 jodi March 14, 2011 at 4:17 pm

It looks like you had a great time! I love that you shared with us, and your photos are amazing. I bet it was nice to speak English freely. :)

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20 Bettijo @ Paging Supermom March 14, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Love all the pics, and your trip sounds divine! We love nicknames — in fact nicknames are a big part of our discussions as my husband and I are trying to pick out a name for this new baby.

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21 TennesseeCassie March 14, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Gabrielle, what a wonderful trip! I love special one-on-one parenting times. I also am from a large fam and those times are truly memorable. I have a daughter named Savannah and we call her Savvy. It fits her like a glove. Happy birthday, Mimi!!:)

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22 Mikki March 14, 2011 at 4:35 pm

here in france, Michaela is hard to pronounce. So I use Mikki. I did use it when i lived in england but definitely more so here.

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23 Hannah Stevenson @ MiniMe Paper Dolls March 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm

What a wonderfully unforgettable treat for little Maude (or should I say Mimi) and you! I’m from a family of eight so I cherish the memories I had of one on one time with my mom or dad. We’ve already started calling our baby Oliver (whom we will meet a week from today!) “Ollie”.

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24 Holly March 14, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Twinkles is my eldest daughters nickname (Hinckley)
My youngest daughters nickname is Percy (Persia)

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25 Elizabeth March 14, 2011 at 5:10 pm

That last photo of the two of you is so beautiful and not a little haunting — it’s the eyes, I think.

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26 kim March 14, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Oh, what a wonderful time! How special for Maude to have spent such a momentous birthday in such a wonderful place, with her mum all to herself. Looks like you guys rocked London!

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27 ChantaleP March 14, 2011 at 5:22 pm

What a lovely birthday treat! Love the photos.. Mimi is such a sweet nickname. My daughter’s nickname is Kiki. : )

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28 Michelle March 14, 2011 at 5:23 pm

My 1 and half year old daughter Jillian has called herself Giggy since she first started talking. We love it and hope it never stops. She makes up new names for everyone. Too cute.

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29 elisabeth*itsyfactor March 14, 2011 at 5:30 pm

I wouldn’t think they would have trouble pronouncing her name, at least the French way. It’s actually a French name!

http://www.linternaute.com/femmes/prenoms/prenom/546/maud/

By the way, when I looked it up, it turns out that TODAY, March 14, is St. Maud’s day. In France they celebrate name days like birthdays. Happy name day Maude!!!

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30 Kelly March 14, 2011 at 11:22 pm

That’s what I was going to say! How does she/you say Maude? In France it rhymes with ‘Ode’ (or like saying ‘old’ with a head cold and not pronouncing the ‘l’.)

I love London. I also started going to get away from speaking French all the time (I live in Grenoble), and it’s my favorite city in the world. I now take my kids there several times a year to get their dose of English.

(BTW- if you ever want to come to Grenoble, I’d love to show you around! It’s where the French Revolution REALLY started!)

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31 Damaris @Kitchen Corners March 14, 2011 at 5:49 pm

My son’s name is Lorenzo but he only goes by Enzo. In fact he says that Lorenzo is his nick-nac-name and not his real name. My daughter is Maria Aurea but we call her “mamas” or “nenem” for short.

I love the nick name Mimi. It’s the Palmer’s grandma’s nick name. her full name is Mildred.

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32 Emilee March 14, 2011 at 5:50 pm

My daughter Naomi is called Mimi, mostly because her older sister couldn’t pronounce Naomi when she was younger. I love it as a nickname, and it’s great because it’s a name that anyone can say. She becomes a favorite with any small children she meets, mostly because they can all say her name.
I’m jealous of your London expedition. It looks and sounds like it was loads of fun.

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33 Catie March 14, 2011 at 5:54 pm

I’m so glad you had a wonderful time in London! and I’m so glad that you did go to tea at the Kensington Palace Orangery… I love that place!

Catie

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34 Catherine at Design Editor March 14, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Living vicariously through you! As many times as I go, I can never get enough London. Favorite place on the planet! Glad your kids got to experience it.

Our nicknames right now are Maggie Moo or Mama for Maggie and Char-Char or CharlyBoo for Charlotte. Constantly evolving!

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35 Robin March 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm

My favorite pic is 42 of 42!

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36 Heather March 14, 2011 at 6:27 pm

What a wonderful birthday (the memories)! I love the name Maude, so I dint think a nn is necessary! Those French can pronounce Maude!!! :). But, whatever works for your daughter.
I am hoping we have a nn for our daughter. So far her full name has stuck though. Her 2 yo brother has no problem pronouncing her name either!

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37 r8chel March 14, 2011 at 7:10 pm

That first picture of Maude/Mimi opening the door to the telephone booth while wearing a beret is absolutely classic.

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38 Kate March 14, 2011 at 7:13 pm

cute! I’m curious if your June has any nicknames yet? Our June is frequently Junie, Junebug (obvious, I suppose), or Junimal (like animal, except June-imal).
: )

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39 Tina March 14, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Going by Mimi is perfect when you’re living in France! And I see she’s taken to wearing her beret with typical Blair flair – adorable.

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40 molly March 14, 2011 at 7:26 pm

My seven year old’s name is Sophia, but somewhere long ago, I nicknamed her Bird, and it’s stuck. We have a Mimi in our family, too, though, a cousin named Milah.

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41 grace March 14, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Oh what fun! Happy birthday dear girl!

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42 Shannon March 14, 2011 at 7:42 pm

I’m tucking your itinerary away in my “dream” folder for some day. So many great ideas…thank you!

During the long stretch of time between deciding to adopt our youngest daughter and actually “meeting” her and learning her real name (Ai Li) via e-mail, we needed something to call her. My aunt started referring to our unknown child as “lilypad” and we got so used to it that we had to name her Lily Ai Li.

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43 Josephine March 14, 2011 at 7:49 pm

My youngest daughter’s name is Adriana (pronounced like Adri-anna) but we have been calling her Annie since her older sister couldn’t pronounce her real name. Now it seems as if Annie is her only name because it fits her so well.

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44 Anna March 14, 2011 at 7:52 pm

My husband was intentionally thinking of names with few or no nicknames when we had our first. His name has lots of nicknames, most of which he didn’t like… Anna doesn’t really have a lot of nicknames, so I wanted one. :) We went with Adam and even though his initials, AC are a bit of a family tradition, we haven’t called him that at all.

Looks like a great mom/daughter trip!

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45 Michelle March 14, 2011 at 8:02 pm

What a fun mother-daughter adventure just for the two of you. I bet you treasured your time together in this amazing city!

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46 Ivonne Loving March 14, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Wow, how I remember living in a country were I didn’t know the language. My parents sent my brother and I to boarding school in Argentina. Neither of us knew the language! Don’t you hate the accents in the grammar: the rules and knowing where to put them. It is hard in Spanish but I know in french you can have up to three accents in a word. Good Luck! The children will pick it up easier. This opportunity comes once in a life time. You are giving your kids a second language, a fluent second language to be correct and an experience that will change their lives for ever. Congrats!

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47 Dee March 14, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Nice pics, am glad you like our London Town : D

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48 Sarah March 14, 2011 at 8:25 pm

My 3 1/2 year old, Naomi, called herself Maymay/Mimi for a few years. When she finally could pronounce her real name I almost cried. I miss Maymay.

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49 Ali March 14, 2011 at 8:46 pm

I’m sure it wasn’t because of my recommendation but I’m delighted that you had tea at the Orangery. So wonderful.

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50 Arika March 14, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Your daughter is beautiful and looks exactly like you!!! My oldest daughter’s nickname is Tater-tot!

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51 Dee March 14, 2011 at 8:53 pm

What a wonderful trip! All four of my kids have nicknames and my younger two are probably called by their NNs more than their given names!

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52 Haydee March 14, 2011 at 10:11 pm

I absolutely love that you and “Mimi” (love it) took this mother/daughter trip together. I truly hope my daughter and I will remain as close as we are now and do things like this. You look like you had so much fun. Great pics too:) Oh and my daughter’s nickname is Bear ’cause she used to growl a lot when she was a baby.

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53 lisa polo March 14, 2011 at 10:11 pm

My daughters’ nicknames are Petunia and Maizie. The boys have them too but they aren’t used as frequently.
I’m glad you enjoyed London though. My son just found out he’d be serving a mission there. He’s quite excited…and I miss him already.

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54 Jess (Where My Heart Is) March 14, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Gabrielle the slide show is a brilliant idea, a great way to share a whole lot more photos, and you know we just LOVE seeing as many as possible!!!

What a great girly weekend – Mimi must have just adored it all. It looks like the weather behaved itself for you.

Our nicknames for our daughters are Woo woo for Maddison (no idea how we got that :)) and Paree waree for Paris. And no we only use these names in private, especially as they are aged 19 & 16.

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55 Kholisa March 15, 2011 at 12:54 am

Hi there, I’m an avid follwer of your blog all the way from Johannesburg South African! My daughter’s name is Imani, which is Swahili for Blessings and we have called her Mimi since she was born.
She’s only 2 now but I’ve enjoyed reading about your mom and daughter trip, totally inspired me to dream of one day doing the same! Thank you, thank you for sharing your journey!

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56 kirsten March 15, 2011 at 1:11 am

My daughter’s name is Mirabel, but we’ve been calling her Mimi for a while now – it’s what she calls herself. At two she can say a version of Mirabel, but she still uses Mimi!

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57 Katherine in Paris March 15, 2011 at 1:18 am

Looks like a wonderful trip. We always go by eurostar, but I would love to take the kids by ferry like you did if it’s a nice trip. Hope Maude enjoyed St. Maud’s Day. In France, people really do remember to wish each other “bonne fête” for these days. (Benjamin is the March 31st by the way.)

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58 Sandy March 15, 2011 at 2:38 am

We have a Mimi in our family, too; my 2-year-old niece Emilia, though mostly we call her “Meems.”

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59 Katherine March 15, 2011 at 3:16 am

Loved seeing your pictures. I couldn’t help but notice the blue skies in some of the pics – you really lucked out, considering the typical London weather this time of year. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

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60 madebymum March 15, 2011 at 3:34 am

Looks so much fun. The sky is so blue in your pics.

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61 Melissa March 15, 2011 at 6:24 am

My 6yo daughter is nicknamed Peaker… because from the first moment of life, she would peak with one eye opened ALL.THE.TIME. Her real name is Grace.

My 3yo daughter is most often called Bean or Jilly Bean since her name is Jillian.

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62 Caitlin in MD March 15, 2011 at 6:31 am

Wow, Maude is your spitting image. That last picture looks like an age progression. Amazing :)

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63 Yvonne March 15, 2011 at 7:06 am

London is a great city to discover, specially when you try to get off the beaten path. Did you take the trip just with your daughter? If so, what a great idea to do something special :)

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64 amyks March 15, 2011 at 7:17 am

How fun, London and Paris in the time frame of one week. How cosmopolitan of you:), love the pictures, thanks for sharing. My children would have thought they “died and went to heaven” in that candy shop, wait, what am I saying, I would have too.

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65 amyks March 15, 2011 at 7:24 am

Oh, and my children are Kailey “KK”, Dominic “Dee”, never Dom, and Ionie “I-O, or Icakes”, not too original really, but it started after my son(middle child) was born. I didn’t want people calling him Dom, so we went with Dee, apparently his great grandfather was also called “Dee”, which we didn’t know at the time.
PS. The children call my mom “Mimi”, love that name!

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66 beth confusedhomemaker March 15, 2011 at 7:54 am

Beautiful pictures. I’ve been so enjoying all your posts on how you & the family are adjusting to the new surroundings.

Mimi is also a perfect name for France & really anywhere.

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67 Kristin March 15, 2011 at 7:56 am

Couldn’t help but think, “that’s how a candy shop should be!”. Where I’ve lived in the states, the candy stores are basically sparse and essentially boxes w willy wonka stuff and jelly belly assortments.
Love seeing pics of your trip. Splendid way to love on your daughter. :)

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68 Han March 15, 2011 at 8:12 am

I love that your holiday photos are photos of my route to work!

I’m glad you enjoyed your visit – that area is one of my favourites – historic and lovely but nowhere near as crowded as oxford st way!

That sweetshop is lovely -I go there quite often but they are SO expencive – theres a chain called the sugar boy (mainly in kent – next time you come to the UK you should visit canterbury) which does sugar mice for 20p instead of £1! (how it should be!)

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69 Sarah March 15, 2011 at 8:35 am

It looks like your trip was wonderful!
When I lived in Paris, I went teaching with the sister missionaries once a week, and it was so nice for an hour or two to just prattle away in English and laugh and share my stories and experiences from the week–I felt like I had my full personality back, since I had the vocabulary to express it! That was the biggest challenge for me in being immersed in French–I wanted to be able to express myself at the same level I would in English, and I felt like so much of ME was lost in my sadly lacking French skills. Good luck with developing your French skills–my life has been so enriched through being able to understand and read French (the literature alone…). :)

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70 ClumberKim March 15, 2011 at 10:31 am

Thanks for sharing your trip with us! My son doesn’t remember going up in London Eye but I have a holiday card from 2006 to prove he really did it. He was afraid of it when we were there last spring. And I look forward to taking the kids to Hamley’s too, when they are just a little bit older. The Orangery was on my list for last trip but we didn’t make it. Back on the list it goes!

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71 Maude March 15, 2011 at 11:27 am

I’m a Maude as well. A French speeking Maude, with an “e” from Montréal.
When I was a teenager, I spend a year in California with an exchange student program. I always had to spell my name, because people there didn’t seem to understand what my name was when I told tem.
Now that I hear that you have the same problem in France, I guess it’s just an accent thing :)
Profitez pleinement des beaux moments.

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72 Bri (like the cheese) March 15, 2011 at 11:45 am

What a super birthday celebration! Love the mom & daughter time together too!!
Ah, nicknames! I started going by ‘Bri’ in college because people had a difficult time with ‘Brianne’ (BREE in, not, Brian, not Brianna, not BriANNE). People would actually correct me in pronouncing my own name once I’d spelled it! Then I went back to Brianne in graduate school. My parents seemed a little sad that I’d shortened it to ‘Bri’ and I missed my real name. My friends still call me Bri – especially those who met me that way.
Then I did the same thing to my daughter. Her name is Aine Lea (AHN ya LEE, not ‘Ainey-Leah’). We call her ‘Lea quite often. And sometimes “Lea-Loo” (like Lilu) because our last name starts with Loo…
Then I named my son George. We call him G, Geo, Jorge, and Georges. And I call him Porgie-pie…..because he’s still a fat ‘little’ baby. I’m sure that one won’t sitck….

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73 R. Pyper March 15, 2011 at 12:37 pm

What a fun trip to take with just you and your daughter — I hope to do things like that with my boys when they’re old enough.

I love the nickname “Mimi,” and I love nicknames in general. My son is named after his dad and grandpa, so he’s got a “III” at the end of his name. We call him “Trey” because it means “three.”

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74 Ashlea Walter March 15, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Ooh the candy shop! What a wondrous-looking place. I can almost taste the sweets… thanks for sharing your memorable adventure!

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75 dunski March 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm

great pictures! and a great adventure! my girl’s nickname is: Mimi! ;) Her cousin was using it, as he was to small to say her name right, ever since, everyone calls her Mimi. (in the family)

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76 sarah March 15, 2011 at 6:19 pm

loved the pictures, especially the mother/daughter one!
yes, Yes, YES … learning another language does produce sweat! i lived in argentina for a few years and experienced the latin sweat of language immersion.
i must say that i’m finding french quite easy ~ as i live it through you anyway! :)

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77 Jen Lewis March 15, 2011 at 10:24 pm

I could spend all day in the candy shop.

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78 Hannah S March 15, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Looks like you had a fabulous time! Lovely photos. And great idea to take the river boat. I love her nickname too.

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79 Pilar March 16, 2011 at 2:34 am

Hi, I just have to say I think that it is really weird that you say that Maude is a difficult name to pronounce in French— I live in Geneva (French-speaking) and there are plenty of little girls named Claude, which rhymes with Maude. But the name Mimi is quite cute!

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80 Amy Mac March 16, 2011 at 8:44 am

I just wrote a recommended reading list about Britain for Flashlight Worthy Books (http://www.flashlightworthybooks.com/British-Invasion-Books/660) and your pics have me dying to catch a flight across the pond! In the meantime, I’ll just live vicariously through your blog ….

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81 bdaiss March 16, 2011 at 9:23 am

Looks like a beautiful, wonderful, mother-daughter trip. And it inspires me for the future with MY daughter.

I also thought at the beginning “I love that you call her Mimi” – so I love the little note at the end. No nicknames yet for our kiddo’s – well we add an -ie to the end of one, but I don’t think that really counts. Of course neither hubby or I really had nick-names growing up either.

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82 Alisha March 16, 2011 at 11:57 am

What a wonderful memory trip you made with your daughter! Can’t tell you how important those will be to her (and you) as she grows up and moves on – but you have years still! My oldest daughter, Lauren, is quite often called “Lala” by friends and family. And Lexie (already shortened for Alexandra) is called Lex. Family names are so fun and interesting! There was never a fun way to shorten my name as a kid, but I’m ok with that!

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83 Jessica March 16, 2011 at 11:58 am

what a beautiful trip…our family just got back from a bit of traveling as well. 3 weeks in new zealand. i’m having fun catching up on your posts.

as for nicknames, oh yes. we call my daughter madeline, leni (as in lean-e). sorta came from mad-e-leani ballerini, then tortellini, then simply leni. she loves it. we love.

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84 Kathleen March 16, 2011 at 5:48 pm

What fun! I love looking through all of your pictures!

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85 Elizabeth March 16, 2011 at 8:05 pm

My family lived in London for 10 years. Unfortunately, i was born 9 months before they moved back to the states. I have only been back once and it was awesome, but I look forward to the day I can take my kids to explore and be a tourist where their mama was born and their aunties grew up. I especailly fantasize of making the trip during the 2012 Olympics when the bike time trial will literally go right past our old driveway and church in Kingston.

My favorite nickname of my children is Mille, short for Amelia.

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86 P.B. Lecron at A French Education March 16, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Hi there! So glad you made it into Hamley’s! Even I’m enjoying your stay over here–it’s fun to follow your blog!

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87 Seth Adores Jai March 18, 2011 at 7:45 pm

By the time your children are of age this blogger thing will have given way to an evolved state but I would love to fast forward and read their take once they are older and can reflect on this wonderful once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you and your husband have given them. Not to mention what a lovely birthday present for Maude.

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88 Sarah March 19, 2011 at 10:45 am

I love these photos! What slideshow plugin did you end up using?

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89 Stasha Ashton March 27, 2011 at 9:09 am

Nobody has said it yet . . .
“Mimi” is short for “mignon”, or “cute” in French. My daughter and her friends are always saying “ohh, c’est trop mimi!” when they see something they find adorable.

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