Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fools in April.

Let's play give me a clue! I'll describe the symptoms I've been dealing with over the past few days, and you take a guess at the diagnosis.

Yes?

Ready?

- I've disinfected my house about ten times.
- I've done an abnormally large amount of laundry.
- I have washed my hands so many times they're raw.
- I've used about seventy thousand Lysol wipes and pieces of kitchen towel.
- I have thanked my stomach for being like a steel tank.

Did you guess?

Yup.

Stomach flu. Which, really, should just die and leave me alone forever.

And so, because I presently lack the energy and time to write the posts that are floating around my brain, instead I'm going to recount some of the best April Fool's Day pranks ever played.


Spaghetti Tree Hoax: a famous 3-minute hoax report broadcast on April Fool's Day in 1957 by the BBC current affairs programme Panorama. It told a tale of a family in southern Switzerland harvesting spaghetti from the fictitious spaghetti tree, broadcast at a time when this Italian dish was not widely eaten in the UK and some Britons were unaware spaghetti is a pasta made from wheat flour and water. Hundreds of viewers phoned into the BBC, either to say the story was not true, or wondering about it, with some even asking how to grow their own spaghetti trees.

Left Handed Whoppers
: In 1998, Burger King ran an ad in USA Today, saying that people could get a Whopper for left-handed people whose condiments were designed to drip out of the right side. Not only did customers order the new burgers, but some specifically requested the "old", right-handed burger.

Smell-o-vision
: In 1965, the BBC purported to conduct a trial of a new technology allowing the transmission of odor over the airwaves to all viewers. Many viewers reportedly contacted the BBC to report the trial's success.

Taco Liberty Bell: In 1996, Taco Bell took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times announcing that they had purchased the Liberty Bell to "reduce the country's debt" and renamed it the "Taco Liberty Bell."

Water on Mars
: In 2005 a news story was posted on the official NASA website purporting to have pictures of water on Mars. The picture actually was just a picture of a glass of water on a Mars candy bar.

Vacation on Mars: Expedia ran a prank on 1 April 2009, offering flights to Mars.

Colour TV: In 1962 the Swedish national television did a 5-minute special on how one could get colour TV by placing a nylon stocking in front of the TV. A rather in-depth description on the physics behind the phenomena was included.


References from Wikepedia.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_Fools%27_Day
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Friday, March 26, 2010

Child for a day.

As I watched my toddler dangling a fork of spaghetti above his mouth as though he were a fire-eater, I imagined what it must be like to be a child (because I'm too old to actually remember). To never have to worry about things like money, health, responsibilities; to react on impulse to everything without fear of consequence; to live with your emotions out front instead of guarded and controlled.

It's such an amazing time, being a kid. We start out as these reckless beings, just figuring out how to exist in the world, and because we're young and innocent, we're forgiven many mistakes, because they're just a part of our education.

And then, somewhere along the way, we become more and more constrained as the rules of life push against us and restrict us further and further until we're these formal, anonymous people, avoiding each other's eye contact in a doctor's waiting room.

But imagine if, for just a day, you could behave like a kid again. What would you do?

I would..

I would go to one of those indoor playgrounds and throw myself in the ball pit. And maybe just roll around there for a bit. Or, better, find a bouncy castle and jump around for thirty minutes.

I'd scream if I stubbed my toe or caught my finger in a door, instead of holding my emotions in and pretending I was okay. And then, I'd feel sorry for myself for at least ten minutes afterward.

I'd go to the grocery store, and instead of shopping according to my list, I'd whiz around, flinging everything I really wanted into the cart: olives, cheese, donuts, candies, bottles of pop, magazines. Maybe cackling along the way too. And at the till, instead of engaging in small talk about the weather with the cashier, I'd shake my head petulantly and refuse to talk, because I didn't feel like talking about the weather.

I'd skip along the sidewalk, singing, instead of walking conservatively and trying not to make eye contact with strangers passing by.

I'd blurt out whatever was on my mind, the minute it occurred to me.

I'd drop everything in the middle of the day and declare I don't feel like doing this anymore, and go lie down on my bed with my blanket and a book.

I'd eat pudding with my hands. In fact, I'd eat everything with my hands.


Oh imagine the fun you could have if you were a child again... if only for a day.
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The cheat foods I use.

I love cooking. Sautéing onions and garlic in a pan of butter and olive oil is almost on a par with getting a pedicure (weird, I know). Stealing the first slice of meat off a roasted chicken or beef is like swimming in an outdoor pool with a view of the ocean. Okay, not quite that great, but you get the picture: I love cooking.

But, and it's a BIG BUT (I said "but" not "butt"!), I have two young kids, school work, and a job I'm about to start. Therefore I have little time to indulge in this thing I love to do.

And so, sometimes, I cheat. Because I like easy and easy likes me.

I thought I'd share some of my cheat foods with you. And maybe you could tell me some of yours.


Spiced Couscous


This is so yummy and easy - you just add a cup of hot water and it's ready in five minutes. I serve it with roast chicken, vegetables and plum chutney.


Steak Seasoning


I've used this on chicken, fish, vegetables, as a body scrub (kidding) - everything except, um, steak. I know, it's not refined, it's not classy, but do I care?


Pasta Sauce.

It's a pantry staple - because in a pinch you can just heat it in a pan and pour it over some pasta.


Ravioli.


I like prepared ravioli because it's good for kids and adults and you just need to add sauce and salad.


Cake Mix.


Can I just recommend one thing? Get a vanilla, yellow, or white cake mix, and add a tin of pumpkin pure in place of water. It's not healthy and it's not low fat, but it is SO tasty! (I can't remember where I found this recipe - it may be from another blog, so apologies if it was yours!)


Pudding.

I'm not sure whether it's because I secretly enjoy it, or whether it's because I enjoy watching my fourteen-month old smear it all over his face, but I like pudding.



I was not paid for any of the product mentions in this post. They're just my opinions.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Just keep swimming.

Three quarters of the way through my labour with Oliver, I turned to Jesse and between contractions told him I can't do this any more.

But of course I did, because there was no alternative.

Sometimes it's like that in life, I think. Not quite as dramatic as giving birth, but more like a great big sigh at all the chores that replenish themselves daily.

But you keep going, going, going... because there's no alternative.

Sometimes I'm amazed that I just keep going. Aren't you?

I keep on taking laundry, and folding it, and putting it in people's drawers, every single day.

I keep on clearing plates, loading the dishwasher, unloading it, washing dishes that need to be washed by hand.

I keep on lying on the floor in an awkward face-down position so that I can reach under the sofa to pull out toys that will otherwise be forever lost under clusters of dust and dog hair.

I keep on cooking food for everyone (it's not always healthy food, and sometimes it's fast food from a fast food place, but whatever, it's always there).

I keep on doing all these simple things that go unnoticed but which keep the the household functioning.

And it's time spent performing ordinary tasks - not hours spent writing a business report that will later be seen and praised by my boss. They won't earn me a rise, or a promotion, or anything. Simply the right to carry on and do the same thing tomorrow.

But they're important, these things I do. They keep the invisible machine running.

And therefore I have decided that I am freaking awesome. Because I keep going, doing the mundane, boring things that need to be done.

And therefore, you are freaking awesome too.

You keep on going, all the time, doing things that sometimes you'd rather stick your head in the toilet and flush the chain than do. But you do them all the same.

Your awesomeness deserves more recognition.

That is all.
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Three Little Pigs and the over zealous storyteller.

I love to be creative, especially when it comes to playing with the kids, or helping them learn.

Unfortunately, sometimes I get a bit carried away.

Take, for instance, this drawing I did yesterday to tell the story of the Three Little Pigs. I thought it would be fun to draw it, rather than just reading it from the book.

However...

This is what resulted.



The truth is, I couldn't exactly remember the entire story of the Three Little Pigs...

So, to start with, each pig had a name...


Bernard, Jerry, and Arnie. Bernard was wearing a bow tie, though I've no idea why.

Bernard tried to build his house with straw.


Which, duh, was blown away by the Big Bad Wolf.

Here is the Wolf.


Then Bernard went squealing to Jerry, who decided he would build them a house with twigs.


These dumb pigs never learn do they.

Then Bernard and Jerry went squealing to Arnie, who cleverly decided to build his house with bricks.


And this, here, is the wheelbarrow that was used to deliver the bricks to build the house.


(What? That totally IS a wheelbarrow!)

I didn't make it to the end of the story because my kids walked off bearing looks of disgust, and later returned to vandalize my picture with pen scribbles.

And don't even ask me about the fish at the bottom...
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Over-stretched like an elastic band around an elephant.

Ever feel like you're wading in the ocean, struggling to keep your head above water because you're being pulled down by the bag of rocks that's strapped to your ankle? While at the same time holding a conversation with the woman next to you about the weather as if everything's fine and under control?

I feel like that at the moment. Trying to keep up with my life.

Between studying, family, my practicum which starts in a few weeks, training for the run I signed myself up for, and that other thing (that annoying housework thing that keeps rearing its ugly head every time I turn around) there's so little time at the end of the day it's not even funny.

I read somewhere that when you've too much on your plate you should ....

- Find thirty minutes a day to meditate or relax.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
- Sleep.
- Exercise.
- Start saying no to things.

Um.

What I do when I'm stressed is:

- Up my intake of carbs and sugar.
- Drink more coffee and tea.
- Panic.
- Find anything to do other than the thing I'm supposed to be doing.
- Deny the need to exercise.
- Keep saying yes to things I shouldn't in a state of delirium.

And someone told me that when you've got too much on your plate, you can only do some things well, but you can't do everything well.

Therefore, housework is on the lowest rung of the ladder and I will soon need to hire a team of cleaners to work for me full-time.

Sigh.

How do you cope when you feel like you're being overstretched by life?
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Don't love it, don't do it.

A few years ago I discovered a little secret about shopping for clothes. It's a simple thing that has saved me from wasting money on random garments that end up gathering dust at the back of the shelf: I only buy clothes if I love them.

I don't mean "love" as in - oh yeah I love that yellow sundress. But like - oh my gawd, I will cry and stamp my feet if that yellow sundress isn't hanging in my wardrobe when I wake up tomorrow morning.

I don't buy a lot of clothes. But the few pieces I do buy - I make sure I love. And guess what? I actually wear them. A sweater that I've worn to death. A pair of jeans I splurged on. And a tank top I bought in a sale at Old Navy for $2 last Autumn.

And when I decided to switch careers and started training as a massage therapist, I realized something: I had never really loved, wait - even liked my career before. I used to work for communications agencies as a project manager, and then later as a writer. The truth was, I never really enjoyed my work - I just didn't know it at the time.

But massage therapy, I enjoy. I love everything about it: the physical act of using my hands; the fact that I'm not sitting in front of a computer screen; the feeling of helping someone by relieving their stress, or pain.

I spent ten years of my life doing a job I didn't like - either because I didn't think I had any other options, or because I didn't have the courage to explore anything else.

And then I thought, this don't do it if you don't love it rule could apply to other things too.

Exercise, for instance. How many times have you heard people complain about not exercising because they can't bring themselves to go to the gym, or to an exercise class?

You know why they don't want to go to the gym?

Come closer... I'll whisper it in your ear... It's a little known secret...

The reason they can't motivate themselves to go is because THE GYM SUCKS. Sorry, people who like the gym, but, having been a compulsive gym-joiner / quitter myself for years, I've come to the conclusion that it's not for me because I didn't ever really enjoy it.

Last year I discovered (and believe me, I was shocked) that I liked running. It was one of the few times I got to be alone without interruption, listening to my music and having time to think. Plus, I felt so good after a run. Basically, I did it because I enjoyed it.


What about you? What things do you, or could you apply the don't do it if you don't love it approach to?
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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Mommyguard

I hate bullies.

Okay, no one likes bullies. Obviously. But I loathe them to the point where I will step in and take action, even if I'm not supposed to. Even if I don't know the victim, or the perpetrator.

I just won't put up with any such bullshit.

Especially when it comes to kids.

Since I became a parent, my hatred of bullies has deepened. I think about the future, and what if my kids had to deal with bullying. And, worse, what if I wasn't there to protect them?

Growing up, I was pretty lucky - I wasn't bullied, and I wasn't a bully. In fact, I'm not sure I even witnessed bullying (I attended a very small girls' school in rural England), until I was older - when I saw glimpses of it: through other people's stories, in the workplace, in relationships.

Of course, with adults, bullying is much more subtle - sometimes barely perceptible. Adult bullies have had ample time to hone their skills, after all.

After I had my first son, I noticed a new side of my personality developing: I was fiercely over-protective. Even during our first trips to the park, if another kid so much as shot a vaguely menacing look toward my toddler, I was at the ready. The Mommyguard.

And, now that my son is a pre-schooler, though I try to give him space to play independently and interact with other kids, I still feel an overwhelming urge to step in and protect him from everyone and everything.

As is evident from our trip to the playground last weekend. As I watched Matthew running across platforms and darting up and down the steps of the climbing frame, I noticed an older kid (he looked 5, maybe 6) trying to block his path by standing in front of him. Whichever way Matthew tried to go, the kid blocked him.

So, I marched walked up and plainly, but firmly told the kid to let my son pass, please. At my request, the kid stepped aside, watched Matthew run through, and then went off to play elsewhere.

It was a very small incident, of which Matthew had no understanding, yet it caused the over-protective guardian in me to rise up to the surface, ready to defend.

A few minutes later I caught the kid scowling staring at me. And I scowled stared right back at him. It probably wasn't the most mature thing to do (ya think!), but I was in full protector mode. I swear, if I'd had a jaw like a lion, I'd have snarled and bared my teeth.



I know, at some point, I will have to take a step back and learn to let my kids fend for themselves. Learning to stand up for oneself is an important part of growing up. I know this. But right now they're still babies to me. But maybe they always will be...

So when do I take a step back? And how?

How did you learn to loosen the reigns and let your kids learn to stand up for themselves?




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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mum, interrupted.

I'm not complaining - I'm just stating a fact: everything in my life is interrupted. That's just the way it is.

*leaves post half-written on laptop for thirty minutes to tend to someone calling from crib*

There are very few activities that I can get through without disruption.

For instance:

Dinner. The last time I ate dinner - as in a proper dinner, in which I consumed all the food on my plate in a leisurely, non-indigestion-causing way, was, I think, in 2007. Because my dinner time goes like this: I sit down, I get up for another fork or spoon. I sit down, I get up to pick up a bowl that's been tossed onto the floor. I sit down, I get up to get a cloth to wipe up a spill. I sit down, I almost get a bite of something, I get up for a yoghurt. I sit down, I stick a spoonful of food in someone's mouth. I take a bite. I get up.

Coffee. Remember drinking a whole cup without reheating it? Me either. I make a cup (or three) every morning. It's hot, delicious, and begging to be sipped in a quiet room with the morning's newspaper and the faint sound of the radio in the background. Instead, it's chugged, it's reheated, it's chugged, it's reheated. Finally I drink my cold coffee because, well, it's still coffee after all.

Sleep. I won't bother talking about sleep. I've bored you enough with my sleep problems.

Reading and writing. Even this blog post didn't get written without interruption. And often, I'll log on to someone else's blog, be interrupted, and forget I was ever on there. And then it will probably seem like I'm some kind of stalker who logs on to someone's blog and stays there for hours. And really, I'm not.

Talking on the phone
. Phone calls have become something of a comedy act. My phone conversations go something like this... "Hi, how are you? ... Oh hold on a minute... please don't do that to the dog! Leave him alone please ... so as I was saying ... oh gawd what have you done to my shoes? Oh no not the face cream! Argh ... so, yes, you were saying?.... ouch - that's mummy's hair! ... sorry, no it's okay, I don't need to go, that screaming is perfectly normal, don't worry ..."


I can't imagine my life without interruptions... can you?
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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My accent's all going a bit Pete Tong, eh?

Since I moved to Canada five years ago, I've tried really hard to keep my British accent. I'm proud of it, and also I enjoy confusing people with phrases like "what a jammy bugger!" (translation: what a lucky bugger), and "I wish they'd stop faffing around." (translation: I wish they'd stop wasting time).

Of course, there were certain language trends I couldn't avoid, in order to fit in. But still I retained my accent. Mostly.

And then when Matthew turned one he started talking, and before long, I noticed he was developing a distinct British accent.

His words didn't emphasize "R"s. For instance, cars was "cahhs" rather than "carrrs". Fork was "fawk" not forrrk". "Pahhk" rather than "parrk".

His "A"s were more "ahhh" than "aaa". Like, crahft, banahna, bahth.

And though it was cute to hear, I decided I wanted Matthew to have a Canadian accent, after all - he'll be attending school here, growing up here, all of that. Plus, you know, little punks kids can be mean about things like that.

So I started speaking a little Canadian myself. And I felt like a total prat. But I persevered (the things we do for our kids!). I kept at it for over a year, articulating words in way that was totally foreign. Adding emphasis to letters, changing the sounds of vowels, rolling words off my tongue.

And suddenly Matthew was sounding more Canadian.

But then, a few days ago, I was reading Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever out loud to the boys, and I realized: my accent is messed up. Or, in other words, completely bloody bonkers.

Despite my efforts, I fear it is now a big jumbled mix bag of dialects from all around the world - some places I've never even visited!

Example:

"Hey boys, aRe you ready for breakfast?" = Canadian.

"Would you like Rice Krispies or peanut butteR?" = Irish.

"Do you want a banahna with that?" = English.

"You want some wateR?" = Bangladeshi.

"We're going to pick Daddy up in the caR later dahling." = Australian.


You see?

Messed. Up.

So Matthew may end up with a Canadian accent, but I'm beginning to sound like an Aussie Canuck from Ireland.

It's all a bit confusing. Eh?
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Monday, March 1, 2010

Happy SITS day to me!

I'm excited to be the featured blogger on SITS today. Welcome everyone!

I came across SITS about a year ago when I was finding my feet as a blogger. My first thought was, dammit - I wish I'd thought of this! It is GENUIS. SITS (The Secret is in the Sauce) is an online community that brings bloggers together from all over the world and encourages support through commenting. And really, what blogger that doesn't like comments?

Which is why, if you haven't already, you should get over there - like, now. Go!

I've discovered many great blogs through SITS, and made a few friends too.





So yes, welcome!

A bit about this blog...

I started it when I was expecting my second son. Heavily pregnant, still carrying my first son on my hip, living in the middle of a half-renovated house thousands of miles away from my family in England, and with very good intentions of a natural birth, I needed an outlet for my desperate rantings deepest thoughts.

It's an honest take on the highs and lows of raising two small kids: the wonderful moments that bring happy tears to my eyes, and the ones that lead to me hiding in the laundry basket with a bottle of wine.

I talk about my experiences - sometimes in too much detail, but always from a real perspective, and always with a touch of humour. Because it's my belief that if you can't laugh at life, it's going to be a long, tough ride.

So, thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy - or identify, with what you read here.

Here are a few posts you might enjoy.

...and then I had kids

When did I become a sucker for tacky movie merchandise?

Chocaddition
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Love after kids.

We attended a pre-natal class before Matthew was born. You know, the one where you sit in a room with a group of other nervous pregnant couples, eager to learn everything you can about babies and how to keep them alive. Every week we sat through hours of classes on how to swaddle, how to apply diaper cream, how to breastfeed, and a ridiculous video from the eighties with a woman labouring in the shower while her husband sung "she'll be coming round the mountain when she comes!" (seriously wanted to wallop that guy).

They covered everything, except for one thing: how kids change your relationship. And forgive me, but that's a pretty big thing to skip over.

J and I have been together for 9 years - 6 of them married, 3 with children. It's hard to recall those early days - the ones where our relationship was just about us. The days when we'd take off on an impromptu date, or lie in bed til 11 on the weekend, or wander around an art gallery as though time was not an issue, sometimes seem so far away I almost wonder if I'd imagined them.

We could never have anticipated the number of changes our relationship would face after we had kids. Between sleep deprivation, and raising two small kids, and working, and studying, and little time alone - it's hard. Truly hard. But one thing of the best things we have going for us, is the desire to keep working at it.

That's why I think they should talk about it in these classes - to prepare couples.

I'm not suggesting they should scare them. (Hey you - you two over there with the gooey eyes. Listen up lovers, things are about to change. This sweet lovey-dovey thing you've got going on here is about to take a back seat for a while. You're going to be tired and cranky and emotional. Your wife's hair is going to fall out and her hands and feet are going to get bigger. Her stomach will resemble a bowl of custard and she'll develop maneuvers like an Olympian to dive into bed and under the covers before you see anything. And that's if either of you have the energy for sex. Because let's face it, the greedy goblins will have eaten up all that's left of your reserves long before the sweet nothings are whispered.)

I'm totally not saying they should do that.

But perhaps they could offer some helpful suggestions.

These would be my ideas.

Time alone. Line up grandparents and friends, find a babysitter - do whatever you need to but make sure you get a break together after the baby is born. Often. You'll probably spend the entire time talking about the baby but at least you'll get a break and some perspective.

Sex. Don't worry - no one wants to have sex right after they've had a baby. Give yourself some time. But then, when you're ready, get the sex back. In whatever capacity you can manage it - a quickie while the kids nap or a marathon in the evening. But make sure you get it back. You still need it. End.

Communication. People irritate each other. They do things their other half doesn't want them to. Or they forget things. Or they prioritize the wrong things. Or, sometimes, they'll just suck, basically. But, there's a small, simple secret that can save everything. TALKING. I swear, talking will solve most of your problems, as long as you do it, often.

Romance. An unexpected love note snuck into a pocket. A cup of tea delivered to your other half while they're enjoying a much needed lie-in. A new playlist on an i-pod. A surprise date. A tongue in the ear. Okay maybe not a tongue in the ear. Gross.

Gifts. Yes, okay, they're are not essential, but I like them. Who doesn't like presents? They're a gesture, and they show you think about your other half. And if, like me, your other half is easy to please - even a bar of chocolate will do! Bonus!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on what keeps a relationship alive after kids. What are your secrets?
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