Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
- Was your husband/partner in the loo this morning for more than 20 minutes whilst you frantically rallied the troops for the school run?
- When was the last time you were allowed to poo in peace without tiny fingers clawing their way under the door and the word 'Mummmmeeee' being shrieked repeatedly?
- Did your husband take his laptop in with him? If so, yuck.
- Is your idea of luxury is having a poo without your husband occasionally shouting 'darling, have we run out of envelopes?'
Thursday, September 9, 2010
- If you are even contemplating having more than one child, immediately buy a Phil & Ted's or similar. Otherwise you end up with just having to buy another pram after no.2 arrives. And a McClaren. Most of my friends and I have fine, expensive collections of prams. The worst thing that happens is that you can shove extra groceries or a friends toddler in the seating area of a stacked pram.
- Don't get too wedded to your birthing plan. The goddess of birth has a hilarious way of farting in your face if you assume all will proceed as planned. Whale music, schmale music.
- If someone offers to babysit - take up the offer! Short of the wicked witch from Hansel & Gretel babysitting I wish I had hurled my babies at more bystanders. An exhausted parent is not a joy to behold.
- Sometimes you should just give in. I did not want to co-sleep with my babies. My son wanted to sleep with his tiny face pressed against mine. We always started out with good intentions but ended up doing the dance of the seven beds where we would ricochet randomly into various bedrooms at night in search of sleep. I wish I had just given in at the beginning.
- Don't buy a 'diaper genie' (nappy bin). The room will just end up smelling of stale poo.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
I have spent the past two days a cottage with a friend. We fell out midway through the first day. Only for a minute, possibly five. But still...there it was, for that five minutes we did not like each other.
How soon can a NBF (New Best Friend - ick) and you argue, and the friendship survive? A week, a month, a year, never? This friendship was shiny-new, about 6 months old. Like a newborn we tended it lovingly, excited over every tentative development. We could drop in on each other. She was starting to hear about my skeletons in the cupboard, and me hers. But it feels as though the newborn has suddenly sprouted fangs.
What was the row about? Children, of course. That is a surefire way to disagree with even the most amiable friend. Her son and my daughter are kind-of friends. They wouldn't choose to hang around each other - she is Queen Barbie, and he doesn't think the day has been a good one unless he has had roughly 88 sword fights. But when it is just the two of them they muddle along fine.
Only, it wasn't just the two of them. A friend had rented the cottage next door and she has a son - who also likes swords. My daughter was teased, battered, subtly and not so subtly ignored, "Girls can't be in the rebel space command". Until the point she just looked pale faced and miserable.
I tried to think of 'bonding games', games that might give her a toehold in the boys imagination, but it was no good. By this time, she had become dull and flat, wouldn't you if every time you tried to join in a conversation you were put down?
I pointed it out to my friend, how it was upsetting me that my daughter was miserable. Her son got a sharp speaking to, and I got a sharper telling off. It was brief, 'He is fine. My son is being just fine' I think she said. I tried to apologise, telling her I was just worried. But by this time, the red mist had descended on her, and I just looked an overreacting bitch.
The afternoon limped on. I wanted to go home, but couldn't as she was driving. We forgave each other, we laughed about out little contretemps and gave each other a hug. She told me she never argued with friends. I felt that made me look kind of special, in a bad sort of way.
This morning, all was well. Except a little scar on the newborn friendship. It itches, it is healing, but hasn't healed. We left each other, all smiles, and yet my hand is going to hesitate next time I think of calling her.
I feel like a schoolgirl who angered her best friend. It's so sad, as I like her, and I like her son. These are such petty, silly things that won't be remembered in a decades time. But friendships are such precious, fragile things. I wonder if this one will get beyond the forgive, so that we can forget and move on.
Friday, July 9, 2010
That sounds incredibly sexist and marginalises 50% of the population, doesn't it?
So let me qualify that statement. I don't understand men much, and I think it is quite a recent thing. I have always been mystified by boys and their stereotypical interests (rugby, football, collecting strange things, mending shit etc), and was never able to banter with them. I blame having 3 sisters and an absent father (never blame yourself, always blame your past. It's so much easier that way I find!). Eeeps - saying men are only interested in sport and mending is like saying women only like gossip and shoes. Ah well, it I am aware of the stereotyping here.)
But there were boys who were able to be a little bit girly (we called them blo-birds. i.e., part bloke, part bird) who I did bond with. Boys who didn't seem to have to adopt that weird barking laugh when some lame joke was told. Boys who could watch Dirty Dancing, or at least tolerate the soundtrack. Boys who chatted, rather than held forth about topics.
But those boys seem to have disappeared from my life. The last one was a stay at home dad who had me in fits of giggles at the crusty old church hall toddler group I used to go to. We have now moved away, and away from the blo-birds it would seem. The men around here laugh-bark at golf jokes, hold forth on why the healthcare system is collapsing and seem obsessed by playing squash.
All my friends husbands are very pleasant, but they make me feel as though I am whittering. I probably am, but who wouldn't want to have an indepth conversation about whether Robert Pattinson would kick Zac Efrons arse, or the other way around?
I am lucky that my husband is a blo-bird. His little sister beat girlishness into him from an early age - he even knows how to sing all the harmonies to the soundtrack to 'The Kids From Fame'. Thank goodness he can tolerate my whittering and I can tolerate him shouting at the TV when there is sport showing.
But I feel as though, as a full time mum, I in some kind of conversational convent. Where men are not invited or welcome. I want to change that. It is toxic to only be exposed to one gender, one way of thinking, one way of doing. So in the next few weeks, I start adopting a barking laugh, you will know that I am trying my hardest to get rid of my prejudices and integrate with the other 50% of the population.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
My spending diary looked quite fascinatingly frugal until about 3 hours ago when I was let loose in our local mall. Unchained from the kids I seemed to do a 'clothing binge' and now I feel a little bit sick.
All the clothes were fairly cheap, but there it is, in black and white, I spent $300. That's about £175 in Blighty-cash. For that, though, I got:
- 3 dresses (lovely light and airy ones that will let the breeze float about my nethers)
- 10 little t-shirt thingies. The white ones I had were starting to go terminally grey. I know there is an ancient way of solving this by borax and sunlight but the 'Going to Gap sale' method was far easier.
- 4 pairs of nice pretty nude-ish knickers when I realised that the lovely floaty dresses were a touch see-thru.
- A pair of Nine West Jackie-O style sunglasses that probably make me look like a bug rather than Jackie-O.
- A cute sundressy-nightgown, the nights here are now officially muggy and I am past wanting to terrify the kids with me ranging around naked at night.
- A rather enormous feeling of guilt.
Never mind. Back to the budget tomorrow.
Just worried about how to explain this binge to my husband though. I think the 'Look how pretty and seethru this nightydress thing is, so much more sexy that the flannel PJs I normally wear' will probably do the trick.
Monday, July 5, 2010
I feel as though I am the Judas in our mother/daughter relationship.
I left my white-faced daughter at day camp this morning, in a room which epitomised her worst nightmare. My daughter loves dolls, and sitting, and flowers and sitting, and card games and sitting.
This room had about 30 kids hurling hoops about with gay abandon, basketballs flying, noise noise noise and not a single doll. In fairness, this is a 'nature camp' where the day involved planting, a nature walk and 'playground based activities'. That doesn't sound too bad, I reckon.
But she was NOT BEST PLEASED to be left.
In Canada, there is a day camp culture during the summer that doesn't exist in Blighty. The summer holidays are much longer here, and it is the norm to send your child for football, swimming, arts and crafts camps etc. They are great...for parents. And I hear you argue why have kids if you just send them off the minute they are on holiday? Because the holiday is THREE MONTHS LONG!!
Not always too sure about how these things are for the kids. One of my friends had her child thoroughly mutiny this morning and refused to go. She is desperate for some time off and sounded gutted about having the chap around for the week.
I grew up in Canada and have nothing but fond memories of camps. The shinned knees, getting a crush on the hot camp councillor (who was probably age 17) and giggling alot. I probably blocked out the homesickness, the boredom and the repetitive macaroni sticking. I think she may like the 'Acting Camp' she is going to do in 2 weeks time (that is my plan, one week on, one week off).
Poor daughter, I am picking her up in half an hour, and then I will know if I get the rest of the week 'off' with just my toddler.
Friday, July 2, 2010
I repeat blah, blah, blah.
Do you ever have days where you are just not in the mood for 'doing stuff' with your young children? Where you wish their days away hoping they will morph into a teenager and not want to know you - just so that you could get on with your day in a sane and orderly fashion?
I have woken this morning with a summer cold. So has my toddler. We are both a wee bit crabby, but nowhere near bed-ridden. I am not in the mood to play 'Go Fish' with my newly card-sharkish daughter. I don't want to push my son around on the pavement on an oversized bike for hours on end. I want to go 'Blah' all day.
It was one of those days where I watched my husband go off to work (it was a day to be spent 'doing paperwork' rather than seeing patients - in other words, a bit of a doss day) with envy.
And my friend cancelled on me as her child has 'bowel problems' so I have faced the day mostly alone.
We have cycled/scootered up to the local cafe, decimated the local toy shop and played several games of 'Go Fish'. To the point where I want to tip toxic waste in the fish pond.
WHY WON'T MY CHILDREN PLAY WITH EACH OTHER!!!
I don't like wishing the days away. I want to enjoy each day with them, to savour their precious childhood, to admire every ladybird and examine every flower.
But it's bloody hard work when your head has been stuffed with lint. Off we go, in a minute, to the park. Blah, blah, blah.
Today's spend: $20 on a coffee, 2 chocolate milks and an insulated coffee cup. Surely the insulated cup with help with future expenses.
Oh yes, and $5 for a pack of cards, which i am deeply regretting now.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Do you find the sun a tyrant?
In Britain, there is so little sunshine usually it's a wonder we are not all walking around with rickets. It's hardly a surprise that when the sun does make a rare appearance, it seems a sin to waste the day indoors.
Which is fine if it is sunny for a couple of days, then grey for a day, then sunny again for a bit, then grey etc. But when the sun lasts weeks - what is a housewife to do?
I see that England is enjoying a heatwave. It's pretty damn hot here in Canada as well.
My natural instinct as a Brit. is to fling myself and the tots outside and soak up every precious ray of Canadian sunshine now we are living over here. But that means that my house will look like a hole within a week and instead of rickets we will get scurvy from lack of supermarketing.
I can't resist the calling of my inner nag telling me 'not to waste the day, God knows when it will be sunny again' and yet I feel guilty being inside writing this on such a glorious day.
It's not as though I love slinging on my bikini and getting a tan. In fact, I loathe tanning. I just love to be outdoors, in the shade, or pootling around on a beach or paddling pool on a day like today. With a great big floppy hat and Factor 60 sunscreen.
I think I like rain. It allow me to potter about the house, guilt free. I don't think I could live in Florida, or Perth where it was sunny all the time. I know after a while the sun worshipping novelty would wear off, but I don't think the perpetual guilt about 'wasting the day' would.
Canada seems perfect, with it's imperfect weather.
Spend today: $11 on coffee and chocolate milk at a cafe. We ended up staying out later this morning than I thought and the snack disappeared far too quickly.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I don't even know where to start, this advice is so awful. The normally reasonable Dr Tanya Byron has effectively medicalised a nine-year old girl for wanting to be a tomboy. This is the article.
The mother is complaining that her nine year old, who in all other ways is 'normal' only wants to wear 'boys clothes'. And Dr T.B., instead of saying:
'Yes, this is quite normal for many, many, many girls. And they do not
grow up to be warped, hated individuals, they are simply girls who find they
can climb, play football better, run, cavort, do roly-polys better without a
skirt made of tulle and a push up bra specially designed for tweens.
They have not entered that world yet where they will be judged mainly on their
appearance, and long may she stay a child and unjudged a while longer.'
Instead, she adds fuel to the poor, overanalysing mothers fire and throws out comments about sexuality, 'tactile defensiveness' and essentially labelling this child to be abnormal.
Now, I don't know about you, but I was a 'tomboy'. I don't think I wore any other colour apart from navy blue until I was about 13. My hair was a rather unfortunate bowl haircut, and I hated to go to the hairdresser to be girliefied. Both my sisters were 'girlie girls'. I don't think I had a gender problem, I just wanted to climb trees. I didn't have 'touch sensitivity' I just hated the hairdresser. I didn't have any abnormality, I just HATED shopping with a passion only rivalled my passion for ponies.
My mum didn't make a big deal of it. As long as I was clean, that was fine. Bless her.
At age 13 a man in a shop called me 'sonny'. And that was the end of my tomboy days. I slowly accepted prettier clothes, and hairstyles, modelling myself on Susannah Hoff from the Bangles.
We analyse too much what little girls are up to. Too boyish in blue, too girlish in pink. I just hope Dr Tanya Byron has not given this mother free reign to try and squash her daughters free spirit.
Todays spend: $10 for magazines. Had a long wait at the dentists, and knew I didn't want to read 7 year old Readers Digests.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
When did Sunday's stop being about having a leisurely read of the papers, followed by meeting friends at the park/pub/cinema?
Friday, June 25, 2010
We recently joined (at great cost) the whitest, most 'Dirty Dancing' type club you could imagine. So there is no Baby with a shirt tied above a toned little belly, or a lithe Patrick Swayze rhumba-ing about the place. Instead there is me, skulking away in a black Speedo swimsuit, trying to assess if I have 'spiders legs' peeking out from the bottom half, whilst wrestling with my kids in one of the many pools in this place.
I wish someone would put me in the corner, so I could have a couple of minutes to myself.
I became very concious today that there are many uber-yummy-mummies about the place. The kind that may have the odd stretch mark, but are otherwise toting a beaming baby and tow-headed toddler and giving Heidi Klum a run for her money on the 'post-baby flat belly' phenomenon. They are the kind of mums who have shiney honey coloured hair, and the shine is not from a mix of grease, suntan oil and mayonaise (as is mine) but from careful use of serums.
And yes, many of them are my friends, damn it. I am letting the side down somewhat, and one pair of glittery FitFlops is not going to do it. I am going to have to go full Bree Van Der Camp methinks.
Joining this club has made a mammoth dent in our budget, but so far, out of the week we have been members, I have been there five days. Five days of not having to devise a plan to entertain the wee blighters. Just plonk them in the giant sandbox with running water or bob about in a pool, trying to ignore the spiders legs resembling sea anemones around my ladygarden.
That makes it good value for money if I essentially take up residence there? I keep trying to justify the expense to myself and my husband. Perhaps we could move out of here and move into the clubhouse boiler room.
And who knows, maybe I will have a mild flirtation with one of the lithe tennis instructors who inhabit the club. After all, at that club I would be considered a 'lady who lunches', even if the lunch is some sweaty, sagging ham sandwiches on 'best of both' bread. And flirting with tennis instructors is what lunching ladies do? Right?
Today's spend: Nothing! Again!
Thursday, June 24, 2010
I feel I have a touch of Anne Shirley about me. I daydream too much, I talk too much and I am also in love with Gilbert Blythe.
There is a part in Anne of Green Gables where (not the exact quote, but the spirit of it) Anne acknowledges that she talks too much, but if you only knew how much she wanted to say but didn't, you would be quite impressed.
This sums up my relationship with money quite nicely. If I bought all that I reaaally thought I needed, I would need three times our income. So my restraint in only buying one jar of overpriced, home-made, gorgeous jelly last weekend from this adorable store http://www.tangledgarden.ns.ca/ at $10 a jar shows, in my mind, remarkable restraint when all around me my friends were buying up the shop.
Unfortunately, my husband and bank manager would not see the effort in this. Sigh.
Day 2 of my spending challenge and I spent: $4 on a parking meter!
So far, so good. I took the kids to a Natural History museum and packed water and chocolate chip cookies. I could have walked to the museum and saved the parking fee. It is about 30 mins walk away, but you know those walks that are easy to do with the pram, but not so easy with a reluctant 5 year old? This is one of those walks. I thought it best for all (except for the seals and penguins in the north pole) if we took the car.
This blog is definitely helping. I have sent an email to all my close family explaining that I don't want any presents for us or the kids for the rest of the year (we would only have to leave it behind when we move back to England anyway next year) and that a card and photos would be great instead. We will not be sending presents either. I have had very happy people emailing us back saying they are also on a budget so it's been well received.
Off this afternoon for a paddle with the kids. That will be free as well. Hurray for mother nature.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
The summer holiday here in Canada at my daughter's school arrived two weeks ago. Two bloody weeks ago. What the hell is that about?
That means it is roughly three months of entertaining two gorgeous, screechy, energetic, diverse, doll-obsessed, train-obsessed children for umpteen weeks by myself from 7am-6.30pm.
I thought my daughter's 6 weeks holiday back in Blighty was bad enough.
That makes me sound like I don't like my children, which I do. A lot. But I also like brie and champagne a lot too but wouldn't want to be force fed it for 3 months. This morning alone we have:
- Read stories in bed
- Had a friend come over for 2 hours and played fairly well at 'Star Wars - Let's Pretend the Toddler is Darth Vader and Attack him for the Duration of the Playdate'
- Gone for a very slow painful bike ride around the block, each taking it in turn to whine if the gradient rises even slightly on the sidewalk
- Play-doh toss and hide in Mummy's soles of her socks.
I seem to lose my temper every quarter hour. Help. It is going to be a long summer if this carries on.
Anyhow, the reason why I have written this is that I seriously need to budget.
Seriously. As in 'Oh Shit, I am scared to look at the bank balance'
You see, this part of Canada is not as cheap as you think. Coupled with the fact that I am not allowed to work and my husband is on an academic salary (read that as low), we are up a creek financially. Our rent takes up the whole of the salary even before we wake up. And the expenses, mainly on the kids...eeeek.
We have accepted every second hand thing thrown at up. Begged, borrowed and nearly stolen. But some things have had to be bought. Like a new bed, as the futon the house came with was like being interrogated by the Spanish inquisition. Like the 3 helmets my daughter needed, one for skating, one we bought thinking it was a skating helmet and turned out to be a skiing one but couldn't be taken back, and the one for her bike. I mean, come on, how many ways can you hit your head?!?
Like swimming lessons for my daughter, who goes off in an almighty huff if she suspects my husband and I are trying to teach her swimming ourselves. Like two snowsuits and boots for the winter, like new sunsuits and shoes for the summer, like the kettle which exploded week 2, like the kids cutlery, like the frying pan, like sheets for the bed. AAARRGH.
I am hopeless at household budgets. I am no stranger to charity shops, all my books come from the library. But bugger me if the money still rolls through my fingers. Like a dieter who secretly knows where they are going wrong but deludes themselves they are perfect - my list of no-no's is terrifyingly long. Here they are:
- Magazines. Just the odd one, but they add up.
- Coffees at coffee houses. I don't know how I will stop those, as half my social life takes place at a fantastic cafe with a train table which keeps my toddler happy for a blissful hour.
- Presents for other people. Did I really need to buy my friend a handmade wooden chopping board. Yes I did, it was from such a cuuuuuute farmers market.
- Expensive meat. Because cheap meat gives me the eebie-jeebies.
- Shoes. Perhaps buying Fit-Flops for $100 was not a good economy. But you never know, I may get buns of steel from wearing them. Hmm.
- Just petty little crapola spends in a day which you don't even notice and yet there they are, adding up.
So, like a dieter, I am going to write down what I spend every day this holiday (or until I forget) so that it may bring back control to my life and possibly even a degree of shame.
Today's total spend, thus far = Nothing!
Hooray. But I must point out I have really not left the house properly yet. Ah well.
Monday, May 31, 2010
For all my good intentions this morning, I ended up bellowing at my toddler.
He is an adorable, lively, car-obsessed little chap, and we all love him dearly. But his emotions would put a hormonal, hissy teenage girl to shame. He chooses a cereal, then decides it's the wrong one (once the milk is poured, of course) - major cadenza. So we do 'dance of the seven cereals' every morning.
He wants to wear his wellies, but it's 27 degrees out, he wants to wear sandals in the pouring rain, I let him, he sobs that his socks are wet.
He carries a tiny car in his little mitt, everywhere we go, but loses it just as we are about to leave somewhere.
He wants whatever his sister wants. It doesn't matter what it is.
He will only eat noodles at lunchtime.
He wants to 'drive' our car as soon as we pull into the driveway - then will not leave it without a ten minute fit.
In short, he is a toddler.
I know what I am writing is true of all, or at least most toddlers. I know it is exhausting for all parents. I know bellowing is not the answer. But when you have to summon the negotiating skills of Butros Butros Ghali and ALL of the United Nations for every tiny detail of the day, a bellow sometimes escapes.
I like to think I am quite a jolly mum usually. I have a fine repertoire of talking stuffed animal chats, I am more singy than Rod, Jane and Freddie put together, and I think nothing of making a tit of myself on a regular basis - purely for the delight of my children. But I don't think I do the toddler thing well at all. It all seems so needless, the fighting and cajoling, the 'time-outs' and the givings-in.
I just left him at daycare, his one short day a week where I get to have five hours off to sort the house out. But I feel so sad that he is thinking of me bellowing at him because of his new stupid, bloody coat. His little tear stained face is going to haunt me all day. The worst part of it is, he loves it there, and within five minutes I know he has forgotten about it already and is making a big mud pie with his mates.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Some women seem designed to make you question how entertaining you are. Are you fun, are you stylish, is your house a thing from the pages of Elle Magazine? Are your children from the pages of a Boden catalogue? Or are you more likely to be from the pages of Mumsy Magazine Quarterly (in this months issue - how to blend in with your oatmeal coloured sofa. Simply wear your usual dull clothes and ensure you don't apply lipstick. That should do it!)
There is a saying that you should live in the worst house in the best area. I am not sure if this holds water. We do, and it sucks. Just a bit. Our house is not tiny, but it is bijou. It is charming. It has mismatched rental furniture which is always just a bit sticky despite cleaning. It could fit into the extension of the house around the corner from us. All around us though it is like Wisteria Lane. Yummy Mummy's, gorgeous flaxen haired children romping about in clap-board New Englandly mansions. We look a bit like trailer trash compared to them. Having the worst house in the best area is a recipe for discontent. (I fully, fully acknowledge that compared to real suffering this is extremely minor league. Having sticky furniture is not a national emergency.)
And it is not to say that the mum's aren't lovely folk. They are. Very warm and welcoming. But you have to sing for your supper with quite a few of them. It is like trying to keep up with the popular cheerleaders in school, when you know that really your should be with the band geeks. These mums have really opened their hearts (concealed in perfectly gym-toned bodies) and doors (architect designed) to me, but there is a part of me that feels insecure that there doesn't seem to be conditional friendship there. I'm absolutely sure that I am reading too much into it, but I sense I have accidently started moving in circles of the super-wealthy 'royalty' in this area.
On the other hand, I have made some 'warm bath water' friends. They kind of friends who look a little frayed around the edges, don't have personal trainers and admit to their imperfections. When you are at coffee with them it is like immersing yourself in a warm bath and going 'ahhhhhh' with pleasure that you can be yourself.
Why do I run myself down? My children are both flaxen-haired, we are not slack-jawed fools (infact, I would probably be classified as 'a bit posh and brainy' back in England), and although I talk way to much, I am generally considered entertaining. Why am I put off these women by the fact that their kitchens and abdominal muscles look like perfection?
Perhaps it is that they are not a perfect fit for me, nor I for them. So the kitchens and abdominals are a good scapegoat.
It takes a while when you move to a new place to find out which friends are glitter, and which friends are gold.
Friday, April 23, 2010
I have been letting the side down about not discussing more housewifely things like muffin baskets and the uses of baking soda.
I think this post will more than make up for it,
I am here to discuss holiday wreaths. In England, wreathes are generally used to celebrate Christmas and well, for the dead.
Here in Canada (or perhaps just the Maritimes - I'm not sure), any occasion is a wreath occasion. You can buy St Patrick day wreaths with shimmering green shamrocks, Easter egg wreaths, generic spring wreaths with silk crocuses (or croci?), wreaths with tiny deck chairs and suntan lotion for summer. You name it, it goes well beyond Christmas and Death.
I have just ordered a spring holiday wreath. A 14inch twisted willow wreath with hydrangea/spring flower melange. I do this because I covet all the wreathes in the neighbourhood. They just seem to lift a property and looks welcoming. Wreaths celebrate whatever time of year it is and they look dead pretty to boot. Once you have the basic willow skeleton, you can embellish it as you will.
So many things have infected the British culture for the worse - trick or treating instead to Guy Fawkes night (I prefer the good old innocent holiday where we burn a catholic on a pile of rickety boxes and watch a Catherine wheel attempt to go around despite being nailed too firmly to your shed.), the term 'whatever' etc. But this is one quirk which I hope will cross the pond.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
It's a phrase that is infecting the English language and it's p*ssing me off.
'I am so busy I haven't got time to...' Fill in the blank. So far I have friends/acquaintances/ heard it on the telly who haven't the time to:
- Read a book
- Keep in touch, even with a quick email
- Cook a fresh meal for their family, so the kids live on chips and kebabs
- Read a newspaper
- Put their feet up
- Go see a film
- Have a date with their other half
- Take their kids to the park
- Calling you back to say they won't be able to come/meet after all
This list goes on, and on, and on.
Now. I am not saying that we should all be doing all those things on the list. Exercising and keeping in touch are sometimes my weak points. And cleaning. And ironing. But please, could we start calling it what it really is? For 'I haven't the time' please from now on say 'I CANNOT BE ARSED.'
My friend who can't be arsed to read a book or take her kids to the park, goes on three 10 km runs a week and never cooks anything other than beautiful organic food for their children. She also hoovers every day. (gasp)
Another friend can't be arsed to tell you she won't be coming, until 15 minutes after you have arrived at the arranged spot. Yet she is able to have lots of fun making crafts with her children and gardening .She also is able to watch Eastenders, Corrie and Emmerdale. (Something I am 'too busy' to do - watch soaps.)
We all have our priorities. I 'haven't the time' to go on a date with my husband or wash windows. I also 'haven't the time' to do paperwork, but I read two newspapers a day and go to the gym three times a week. I love to cook for the kids but 'have no time' to trim my hair every 6 weeks. Could we all please though start telling people like it is?
This whole 'such a busy person' thing is just a load of chaff. Even when I was working three long days a week, taking a degree and raising the two mini-ones I still ploughed through about 2 crappy novels a week and otherwise lived in the park with the kids. Because that was where my priorities were. I was terrible at going to the gym then, not because I didn't have time, but because my enormous butt was not a priority. My paperwork mountain was a sight to behold and my laundry mountain even higher.
There is almost a feeling of competitive business between people, even friends:
'Sooooo sorry for not getting back to you about that thing last week, I was just sooooo busy.' I tend to read it as 'You are just sooooo low priority in my life that you didn't even factor in my to-do list.'
I would much rather hear: 'Sorry didn't call, I had lots to do and couldn't be arsed. Hey-ho, I'm here now though.'
So let's all just stop being so bloody busy the whole time. Down tools, relax and do something that perhaps you are too busy to be arsed to do.
Umm...in my case that would be paperwork. Bit too busy for doing that at the moment, it would seem...
Friday, April 9, 2010
I can hardly bare to share.
But perhaps you too are having a bad day and hearing someone else's misfortune may give you a little glimmer of joy.
I have just finished rocking in the corner whilst sucking my thumb, trying to erase the sight of the twenty-something builder knocking on my door to remind me not to flush the toilet again as they had disconnected the waste pipe. (They are working on an oil spill in the basement.)
The worst part is, I remembered they were going to do that this morning, just seconds after I had flushed away my, erm, number two.
So I can only speculate in horror at what havoc my flushing 'solid waste' (as they described it - aaaarrrgh) into their work area.
To compound the horror, the workman asked me, in a helpful manner, if I needed another half hour to 'finish up'.
I am NOT my husband, who lives in the loo for the length of a Wagner Ring Cycle (hoho) so I didn't need another half hour to 'finish up'. By now I had swooned with shame in the hallway. The builders smirk remaining on my retina like the Cheshire Cat's grin.
There you go. Just a bodily function tale of cringe. Perhaps I am oversharing, but as it is making me chuckle, so it might make you chuckle as well. Not a life changing post, but just vent my shame. I am going to go now and crawl under a small rock.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Someones civil liberties are going to be eroded by any law passed or not passed, but whose will it be - parents or child?
I do take a second look at people smoking in cars with a toddler strapped in in the back seat. It just looks, well, wrong, in the same was that lighting up now on a plane would look. Trying not to judge here. Probably failing.
As an asthmatic, this is a subject close to my heart (or lungs). My mother smoked when pregnant with me. It was the 1970s and hey, a few glasses of wine for the road as well was the norm. She has cursed her younger self ever since. Nothing like having to schlep your wheezing, allergic child to clinic after clinic to make that Marlboro lose it's blissful allure.
And no, she didn't smoke with my siblings - all of whom are hale and hearty.
She was able to plead ignorance for the effects of smoking on me. Had she known, she would have given up without a second thought (or so she says).
So what are we doing nowadays that we will look back and cringe about with our children? Will the car seats of the future resemble full body casts of foam and we will laugh at our feeble attempts at safety? Will we find that fizzy drinks are the alcohol of the future, just one sip leading to the undiagnosed 'Foetal Fizz Intoxication'? Or perhaps, what we have slightly expected all along, that any mother who let their child go near a phthalate (a plasticizer in a children's toy, for example) is a BAD, BAD MOTHER.
What will cause future harm will probably come out of left field. An innocuous thing we are all doing and seems normal, like a Victorian mother letting a baby suck sugary gin-soaked rags as soothers. (Mmmm - gin soaked rag. I could just do with one of those right now...)
Occasionally, my mum will apologise to me about her smoking. I always hug her and tell her that having asthma, eczema and allergies has made me a stronger person, in a funny kind of way. Challenge is a good thing, right? But part of me will always point a little finger of blame at her for not knowing then, what we know now.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Never trust a hairdresser who tells a thirty-something woman their proposed haircut will make them look 'edgy'.
It is impossible to look edgy when you have a face puffy from lack of sleep (thanks darling toddler) and lack the sharp cheekbones of Audrey Tatou. The concept of 'edgy' in these circumstances is about as likely as an outfit making me look 'fierce'.
I asked for a hairstyle that might make my standard 'Rachel cut' updated. (yes, I know it's all a bit 90's, but it really suits me. Honestly - I even look a little like her if you squint really hard after a glass or two of Pinot Noir) My perky 20-something hairdresser suggested an asymetric 'edgy' fringe and then lots of flicky layers.
It sounded so reassuringly nice...
...and looked great coming out of the hairdressers.
The problem is, in common with most mothers, I do not have the time (or finances) to apply three different products to my hair, use clips so I can pouf it up at the back and then flat-iron the hell out of it.
The asymmetric fringe has boinged up a centimeter so I look like a cross between Dave Hill (above) of Slade and the local village idiot. The flicky layers have removed any natural volume there was before so I now have, what can be best described as a limp mullet.
I have not had such a bad haircut since I requested my mum cut my hair to resemble Princess Diana in the mid-80s. At the end of that I looked like a boyish village idiot.
Why is there not a mirror at the hairdressers that doesn't show the hair as it is immediately after a cut, but as it will be when you have had a bit of a go at it two days later? I am going to develop one to save millions of women every year the trauma of FDS - Follicular Disappointment Syndrome.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
What kind of fool parent takes a sensitive 5 year old girl to Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland' for a March Break treat?
(1950's Housewife tentitively raises hand to tutting from the audience)
OK, OK so it wasn't the wisest of cinematic choices. But when your daughter begged to go to the cinema as a treat and the two choices are 'Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 -Let's Give Mum a Migraine' or scaring your offspring witless with Johnny Depp and some dodgy highlighted hair, then there is no choice. One of us was going to have nightmares and I decided it wouldn't be me.
And possibly, just possibly, making her see it in an IMAX theatre in 3-D was also not sensible. Tim Burton could not work out if this was a film for children or adults so it was a bit like watching a Disney film crossed with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
My daughter held up well, fuelled by a vast bucket of popcorn, until poor Alice had to climb across corpses mouldering heads to reach the Red Queens castle. Even Anne Hathaway's white queen brought no relief for us - she made a potion, not from fairy dust, but whithered severed fingers.
By the time the Jabberwocky's head bounced down the stairs my daughter was curled up in foetal position on my lap, unsettled, mewling but refusing to leave.
Was it a good film for adults? Erm, not great. I found it to be a strange mixture of dullness and frenetic activity. Alice was bland in a flouncy dress at the beginning, her journey took her to a place where she was able to be bland in armour.
Tim Burton has a signature style of gothic curiousness, but one day I would just like to see him try and film a common or garden cop movie with Bruce Willis. Alice in Wonderland was recycled Edward Scissorhands, crossed with The Nightmare Before Christmas crossed with more than a bit of Sweeney Todd (boy does Tim love his bouncing heads.)
He is clearly deeply in love with Johnny Depp, not so much so with his wife Helena Bonham-Carter. The camera lingered on Johnny Depp at every opportunity. Poor Helena was quite marvellous as the Red Queen, but at some point she should give in to the fact that no matter how ugly her husband makes her in each film, she is beautiful.
Matt Lucas was a small beacon of light as Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
All in all, I would not recommend this film to parents with children under 8. And in the same breath, I would not recommend this film to parents, unless you have had a couple of gins first and have a bit of a snooze.