Friday, November 28, 2008
As those of you who've read my blog before know, I'm not exactly Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen. (Or in the bedroom for that matter, if recent headlines are to be believed!)
Well, that all changed this week as I donned the Cath (Kidston apron) and for the first time since living in the US, hosted a Thanksgiving dinner.
Two other Brit families and the Mom/Mum household got together to celebrate this American holiday, complete with the traditional bird and all the trimmings.
I am thankful for the close friends we have made since living here - the other Brits and us who get together on days in the US calendar usually reserved for family time. With our families across the pond, we tend to search each other out and become 'family' for those days. It's really nice and means we aren't alone on these special holidays.
So this year there were 11 mouths to feed at my house for Thanksgiving. 'Eek!' said I after I offered to host. That's one big bird we need.
And one big bird I purchased, then had to Google, 'How to cook a Thanksgiving Turkey' to ensure I didn't give my guests food poisoning.
The five small people had their own little table, next to ours, which Superdad (aka Him Downstairs) duly decorated with paper hats and stickers for the kids (all boys aged 2-5) to decorate whilst the bird crisped. They were happy chappies - dinner, crafts, a movie in PJs and a sleepover beckoned. (As you can predict, five little boys in one bedroom = not much sleep and plenty of giggling!)
I must admit, I was little apprehensive about cooking this holiday meal. When you're not exactly Delia Smith/Rachael Ray in the kitchen, taking on the task of cooking for 11, can bring you out in a mild 'glow' (OK, very clammy hands and a sweaty back. Nice.)
Too many peas? Not enough brocoli? How many roasties? How many minutes per pound? All that maths had me reaching for the Merlot.
Plus, this year there was the added worry of BlogToFit. Having been inspired by the two Daves and Tara to take my eating bull by the horns and wrestle myself free of its calorie inducing ways, I wasn't sure how I was going to cope with the red wine trying to seduce me and the banoffee pie screaming, 'Eat me, NOW!' Let alone being able to refuse the dripping butter glistening atop the green beans.
Thanksgiving was fast becoming a landslide into food temptation.
There was only one thing to do.
Take a break.
Have a day off.
After all, I've been really good all week. (No exorbitance with the cookies and only fruit munched after 7pm.)
Heck - a big roast won't kill me will it?
So, with the pressure off, I relaxed and enjoyed every last mouthful of my big bird and yummy dessert. I didn't beat myself up that it was a meal of excess, but congratulated myself for not having seconds. Although the table was bursting, I didn't eat myself into a coma and felt much better than I usually do after a holiday dinner. For that I thank BlofToFit. Without their inspiration and the support from the community of fellow bloggers who, like me, are attempting to take those all important small first steps into a healthier and fitter lifestyle, my Thanksgiving day would have been a calorific food mountain.
Instead, it was more of a gentle hill. And I'll all about an amiable stroll than arduous mountaineering.
I have to confess I did indulge in a post-dinner Magherita (err and a few gin and tonics.) Yes, I had the hangover I deserved. But those calories didn't count did they?
pic: cartoon by Rebekah Failla and Artie Romero
Monday, November 24, 2008
Your Majesty, please can you help me with my pyjamas?
Hurray! My Family Hierarchy Bootcamp for Toddlers worked!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
So, there I was last night, watching Madonna Veronice Louise Ciccone of Michigan, rock her broken heart at Ford Field, Detroit. A rare performance in her hometown. (FYI - born in Bay City, but her family home is less than a mile from my house).
A show I definitely did not want to miss.
But a show that left me feeling fat, frumpy and deeply uncool at not too far off 40.
This woman is 50. Yes, 5.0. FIFTY! And she leapt, skipped, danced, bumped and grinded around that stage for 2 1/2 hours like she had the energy of my toddlers.
Me and my friend (sat not quite in the Gods) weren't surprised at her showmanship. I mean, she is all all about theatrics. What had us digging deeper into our popcorn was the vast difference in what we've achieved body and health-wise these past 10 years, since we last saw her play live, and what Madonna's achieved.
We felt old. Much older. We have baby fat. Plenty of it. We were out of breath climbing the stairs at the parking lot. She looks younger. Fitter. And definitely skinnier.
I know all celebs are skinnier and smaller in real life than they look on the TV or an album cover. I've interviewed enough of them to realise that you rarely make the A list until you're pocket-sized. (Except of course, if you're a model.)
But this woman, The Material Girl, is Pollyanna on uppers.
I've cooked spaghetti thicker than her thighs.
We couldn't take our eyes off her thighs. And nor could all the men in the audience either. Gay or straight. Her thighs pay homage to diet, exercise and expensive body treatments.
I wonder if Kabbalah gets you great thighs too? (Join and get a free pair of spaghetti legs every time?!)
What I did observe though, to my great relief, was that she did sit down three times. Ah, see old age does affect us all. Even multi-millionaire pop icons.
She still obviously would kick all our ar*es at the gym. She certainly gave her 'teenage' dancers a run for the money in the energy stakes.
But she definitely took her looming divorce rage out on that stage. It was a show tinged with angry moves. Lots of thrashing the floor (and not just in the Spanish dancing which accompanied La Isla Bonita). And even 'fake' tears during an acoustic version of You Must Love Me (Am I the only Madonna fan, who loved her in Evita?) The old romantic in me, likes to think she was singing this to Guy in an attempt to save her marriage, but the realist says that she was singing it to us, her audience and fans, in another insecure cry for lifelong audulation. Such is the psyche of an artiste.
Whatever was going on under her costume (not much, consider how lacking in coverage those shorts were) one thing stands out from last nights show..
I have, unwillingly, become an unfit, unhealthy, lazy-arsed, 30-something, who hasn't exerted as much physical energy in the past 2 1/2 years as Madge did in those 2 1/2 hours.
I've got old without really taking note of it, acknowledging it or changing my lifestyle accordingly to accomodate this ageing process.
And as much as I try to remain hip, cool, fit and young, who am I trying to kid? I mean, me and my friends approach to last night was so 'Mumsie' it was embarassing.
We emptied our wallets of excess credit cards and pics of our kids - in case we got robbed.
We charged our phones - in case we needed to make an emergency call.
We took two maps - one in case we got lost on the roads and one in case we got lost inside the venue.
We located the bathrooms straight away - thankfully near enough our seats so we didn't miss too much of the show when our bladders gave out.
We rang home twice - to tell hubbies we'd got there without being shot (Well this is Detroit). And the second time, to tell them the car hadn't been vandalised and we hadn't been carjacked when we were leaving.
We didn't drink - alcohol.
We ate popcorn - kill me now!
We wore jumpers - enough said.
Jeez - the last time I saw her (at Earls Court, London) I smoked, boozed and danced my way through her concert. All inhibitions thrown to the wind and I did every move to Vogue. This time, I tapped my toes, not wanting to annoy the lady next to me with any invasion into her 'dance space' and got mildly annoyed at a girl two rows infront who stood up and busted dance moves that kept blocking my view of the big screen.
So, that's it. I'm done hurtling into middle age with my middle age spread. Things are going to change in Mom/Mum land. They have to.
I am, wait for it, going to get fit! I am going to put away the supersize box of cookies and opt for a smaller pack. With fruit. If Madonna can leap around at 50 like an Oompa-Loompa, then so can I.
Alright, that might be a tad overambitious, but I am going to join the loose-some-pounds party with the wonderfully inspriational blogcrew at BlogToFit.
I can't promise to step on the scales all that often, but I can promise to cut out some of the cr*p from my diet and to use my legs for something other than putting up on the couch.
And hopefully, like the two Daves and Tara, in a few months, I will be fitter and healthier than I am now. If I lose weight, that'll be a bonus. As Tara says, it's 'baby steps' and if I can do some of those steps to the soundtrack of the Material Girl then it'll be Like A Prayer answered for me.
Come on over with me and get that party started!
Monday, November 17, 2008
1. Bank - sign forms.
2. Boys haircut asap.
3. Post Office - post parcel, buy stamps.
4. Send off gas bill payment.
Shouldn't be too hard to achieve, should it?
Achieving #4 went without a hitch. Even I can't mess up writing a cheque and putting a sealed envelope in the mailbox. Well, almost. I put the envelope in after the post had been collected, thus missing today's mail. Then I forgot to take the bill to the main post office when attempting #3, therefore missing my second chance at getting the bill started on its little journey.
Don't fret Big Gas Company, my payment is in the mailbox for tomorrow's collection. I promise.
#2 was priority. I figured I should get what I anticipated to be the hardest errand, over with first.
However, getting both their hair cut turned out to be not that big of a deal. Littlest boy, Monkey, went first, and granted, there was a certain amount of objection to the water spritzer and the kids coverall. (He chose the much more chic chocolate brown one to wear instead of the one emblazened with Mickey Mouse. This child has taste. My work is done!) But he sat quietly and still (most of the time) on my lap and had me gobsmacked at his co-operativeness.
I put this down to the fact that the hairdresser was extremely cute and her big brown eyes definitely worked their magic on my two year old's mini babe radar. Older boy, Cheeky, even sang along to the ABC song with her, such was her power of persuasiveness. That and the fact that she plied them with butter cookies throughout their time in her 'Magic' chair.
Anyway, Mummy paid the tip and left on a high. Proud of my boys for being so good and also chuffed that for once, their hair hadn't been butchered and it looked exactly as I'd asked for: trimmed, but not too remand centre short. I am a fan of the longer locks.
Careful not to be smug, (I run too many errands with my boys to get cocky about good behaviour in public) we left the hairdressers and went to the Post Office. Time to do errand #3.
Wish I hadn't bloody bothered. This was an unmitigated DISASTER. They burst through the doors and ran round and round the counter in the middle of the room (the place where you write your address labels, can't find a pen, lose your keys, drop your cellphone, realise you forgot your wallet etc. You know?) I attempted to control them at the same time as stuffing my package in a padded envelope.
I tried diversion tactics. Hey boys, how about you go look at those airplane posters over there? I suggested.
While my eyes were averted and busy helping me fill out the Customs Declaration form, they boys wrecked the US Mail historic poster display and got told off by Mummy and the postmaster.
Monkey then decided he was off. Literally. He bolted for the door declaring it was time to eat. He had a point.
I went chasing after him causing me to lose my place in line, which totally peed me off as you can imagine.
The boys big finale however was when Mummy finally got served. The following debate about parcel tape ensued:
Me: Sorry I haven't taped the parcel. Could you?
Cashier: Well, we don't usually...
Me: But I had to buy the envelope here. i'm not going to take it all the way home to tape it, then come all the way back am I?
Cashier: We are not supposed to tape customers parcels.
Me: Could you make an exception please?
Cashier: Errr, well...
Me: Pass me that tape and I'll do it then!
Cashier: Ok, I'll make an exception. But only because we already have some tape open. Really you should buy your own roll.
Me: (inwardly) Arrrrgggghhhh!
And then the boys (accidentally) pulled over the whole, let me say it again, The Whole, display of envelopes and mailing boxes. My inward 'Argghh' went stadium and before I knew it my scream was audiable in the Post Office car park.
We paid and left. Fast. And I forgot to buy the blinking stamps.
I almost abandoned errand #1, fearing a trip to the bank would just about finish me off. But the forms had to be signed and I'd promised Him Downstairs I'd do it. Today. So we drove there amid serious discussion on how to behave properly in public places.
Me: Hands in pockets or by your sides please boys! Do not touch anything!
Them: Crying because Mummy was shouting.
Anyway, they cheered up slightly when we got to the bank because there were a few toys to play with. I breathed a sigh of relief as they situated themselves on the couch with the Abacus and a Dora book.
All was going well until Mr Bank Man took FOREVER to print off the forms and fill in his paperwork. Small boys can only find so much amusement with some wooden beads and one book. Had I remembered to bring a digger/airplane/train with me, we could have hung out in the bank all day.
Then Cheeky announced he needed the potty. A diversion. Hoorah! A nice lady showed us to the bathroom and we three locked the door behind us. Confined in a small space, we couldn't get into much trouble could we?
As I'm helping Cheeky with his 'toilette' Monkey spies a cabinet by the basin and opens it. It contains what I assume are the female staff members make-up bags and hair accessories. Before I can say, Flush and wash! he's opened two of the bags and has dropped compacts and lipsticks onto the floor.
I can feel the tears prick at the back of my eyes.
Why Me? I ask no-one in particular.
That's it. I'm so done running errands. So I scoop up the spilt make-up, hand it all in at the front desk, apologising profusely and I take the boys out to the car.
The forms can wait.
The glass of wine and the tears can't.
I think I failed the Teach My Children To Behave Well in Public lesson. Big time.
Friday, November 14, 2008
3. I have never been able to finish a copy of Watership Down or watch the movie to the end. It has me in floods of tears. Every. Single. Time.
4. My parents live in Spain. Up a mountain. So I don't have a 'home' to go to in the UK anymore. Sniff.
5. My first pet that I was solely responsible for (aged 6) was a goldfish named, 'Goldie.' Not very inventive, but he was actually named after a Blue Peter dog. I manged to kill him by over-feeding him. Luckily, I've had more success at raising children and they are both alive and well you'll be pleased to know.
6. When I was 13 I purchased a bottle of Sun-In from Boots in an attempt to lighten up (in so many more ways than one)! I didn't bother with the instructions, poured the lot on and blasted my mane with a hairdryer. My hair turned orange and I was the laughing stock of the school for the rest of that year, especially as I then permed my mop to try and disguise the bad dye job. The result was an uncanny resemble to orphan Annie.
Once, after getting invited to a prestigious UK music awards VIP after-show party, I rocked up in my bad jeans and and The Office Jumper, worn inside-out (probably to conceal the coffee stains). The jumper was a manky grey hoody promoting 1998 James Van Der Beek's terrible movie, Varsity Blues. Not being a slave to fashion, I merely looked like a slave to homelessness. It was not a fashion highlight and even my editor looked like he was ashamed to talk to me. (Were you ashamed of me too ACTTF)? I sooo should have gone for the Karen Millen frock and a pair of heels. No wonder I didn't pull Liam Gallagher....I still have the jumper. I still wear the jumper. It still rates 10/10 for comfort and doesn't look quite so out of place with PJs.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Smelling of shampoo and baby soap, Cheeky and Monkey were tucked up in bed for stories. Tonight I was on bedtime duty as Him Downstairs was off throwing himself round a soccer pitch in an attempt to keep fit.
I read them a book called Mommies Are For Counting Stars which is all about all the lovely things Mommies/Mummies do for their children. Lots of…
’A mommy knows how to kiss a boo-boo…’
’If you need an audience for your puppet show, a mommy will watch.’
’A mommy reminds you to say “thank you”..’
Then I turned the page and read…
’A mommy can look like a rose. A mommy can have a baby inside her.’
This one is accompanied by a drawing of the mommy in a maternity dress and a hat adorned with roses. (Personally, I have never whether ‘up the duff’ or not, worn a hat with a load of dead flowers on it, but each to their own.)
Anyway, Cheeky and Monkey who have been paying close attention (for once) to my words, stop me from turning the page.
Cheeky looks closely at the picture of the mommy’s swollen belly and asks, “Mummy, why is there a baby in her tummy?”
(Maybe this book was a bad idea. That’ll teach me to purchase before thoroughly reading every page.)
“Because that’s where babies grow darling” I say. (Am crossing my fingers no more questions will follow, but who am I trying to kid?)
Meanwhile, his brother, Monkey, is looking down his pyjama top and saying, ”Baby. Baby. Baby? This?”
“Yes boys, that mommy has a baby in her tummy, that's where babies grow.”
Cheeky looks at me in exasperation. “Don’t be silly mummy, babies don't go in our bellies. We don’t eat babies, do we Monkey?”
And his brother looks at me and says, “No eat baby Mama. No. No. Me baby?”
I can’t help smiling. “Yes, you’re right. We don’t eat babies.”
They wouldn’t taste good would they? I don’t want a baby in my tummy Mummy,” says Cheeky.
And with that, I wrap my babies in a bear hug, cover them in night-night kisses and assure them that in no way, will they ever have babies in their bellies. (Well, obviously not unless medical science gets that advanced in their reproductive lifetime, but that's not a conversation to get into with a 2 and 3 year old, is it?)
On the way out of the door, I dump Mommies Are For Counting Stars in the back of the closet. That was quite enough 'Where do babies come from?' talk for one night. I think I cleared it up quite well for them, don't you?
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
So, unsurprisingly since I last wrote, it’s been Halloween–a–go-go round our way. As my last post testified, the Mom/Mum household's schedule the last few weeks, has been full of parties to celebrate the ghouls and goblins in our lives. We’ve had a blast and it will be a Halloween we will always remember.
But, now it’s all over and today as the citizens of America were voting, we were using our day off to take down our gravestones, pumpkin lights and skeleton bones that Him Downstairs had buried in my flower-beds and to sweep up the invading leaves.
As Obama and McCain slogged it out, we sat on the front steps drinking tea and marveling at the 20oC sunshine.
But I digress, what I want to tell you is that, the biggest event on our street Friday night, wasn’t the little Batmen and Doras that came Trick or Treating for candy, it was the appearance of Camel Toe Mom, without her Camel Toe!
I wrote this post Camel Toe Ted about how a neighbour of mine insisted on wearing her Halloween costume too small, giving us all a good glimpse of her lady pocket. But now, with her VW Bonnet not making an appearance this Halloween. I have to report, the night wasn’t quite the same.
However, I was also relieved that I could make small talk with her and not blush in the shadows of the pumpkin light; this year’s Witch costume was far more appropriate for her than last years Teddy Bear.
The night was also a special one for me this year because one of my best friends from the UK was here to share in the Halloween fun. And for all you UK readers who marvel at the American’s penchant for an OTT Halloween, she totally reveled in it.
Our visit together was too short (she’s currently shopped out in Chicago and trying to squeeze through the crowds to get a glimpse of Obama at Grant Park) but it was a very special 48 hrs together that has left me yearning for a trip to the UK.
Most of the time I cope quite well being so very far from my closest girlfriends, but then I have a long phonecall with one of them, or a luxury face-to-face visit and my heart breaks all over again and once more I am a weeping in an airport saying ‘Goodbye’.
Some friendships fall by the wayside when you move abroad, like a snake sheds its skin, I’ve shed some friends (not for the want of trying to maintain regular contact I hasten to add.) But then you have your Golden Oldies. The friends that no matter what continent you live on and how infrequently you see one another, they will always have a place in your heart and you in theirs. To those friends, I say a silent thank you every day. Because it is them that keep me smiling and keep me sane in this crazy world of parenting, in this crazy country I now call ‘home.’
It also helps to keep the fires of friendship burning when they bring you over a job lot of Minstrels, Cadbury's Shots, Curly Wurlies, PG Tips, Branston Pickle and M&S Percy Pigs!
Now that’s what I call a Treat. Wake me up from my sugar coma at the weekend will you?