Monday, September 29, 2008


Places Monkey has chosen to sleep at bedtime over the past two weeks:
• In the car
• On the floor in the guest room, beside the spare bed
• In the spare bed
• Under the spare bed
• On the rocking chair in the nursery
• At the end of his brother's bed
• On the floor beside his brother’s bed
• In Mummy and Daddy’s bed (numerous times)
• On the big couch in the living room
• On the small couch in the living room
• On the floor in the living room
• On the couch in the playroom
• Under the Thomas train table in the playroom

Places Monkey has refused to go to sleep:
• His own bloody new big boy bed!

No nights lounging in front of the TV soaking up all the fab new fall shows for me. Oh no. Every night I’ve been playing a new game with my second born: musical beds. And so far I’m totally losing. Or should that be, I'm a total loser?

Give me strength for the week ahead....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You've Got Mail

Opening up my email inbox today, I was excited to see 13 new messages. “Ohhh what gossip from friends?” I thought as I clicked on mousey.
Nada. None. Nope. Not one. Nothing. Not ONE email was from a living, breathing friend. It was all junk mail landing with a big fat ‘splat!’ in my inbox.

How did these companies get my email address? Isn’t it enough that I’m plagued by advertising interrupting my TV shows every five minutes with their in-yer-face commercials? (Thank the lordy for DVR) My mailbox over-flows daily with flyers for this grocer and pamphlets for that car dealer and coupons for goodness knows what. (Tsk, think of the paper wastage advertisers!) I can’t even enjoy the radio in the car without some booming voice yelling at me to ‘buy’ 'buy’ 'buy'! (Plug in the ipod.)

And now this. Despite me setting my junk mail filters, somehow these advertisers have broken in and are ready to pounce. These guys either have mummy-cams set up in my home and think they know me well, or they randomly hacked into my life anyway. Whatever, I’ve got some stuff to say back to my intruders….

· From: Tri Slim
Subject: Lose up to 30 pounds in 30 days
Have you been spying on me and my late night snacking?

· From: Acai Cleanse
Subject: Oprah’s Superfood of the year
Ever since the James Frey book debacle, like I’m going to ever trust what Oprah rates!

· From:
Subject: Spend Less with New Discount brand Products
Will you deliver to the USA? Didn’t think so.

· From: High Success
Subject: Quit your boring job and become a google millionaire!
Don’t think HD and boys would accept my resignation if I tried to quit. And it’s not boring. Well, not much. Though the housework part, I’d happily swap for googling any day.

· From: Michael Vincent
Subject: I found you a new job
Err, stop stalking me Michael. You infiltrate my inbox every day. Get a new job yourself!

· From: Finally Here
Subject: Better for weight loss than any other anti-oxidant! How the French eat lots of fat, but stay skinny and live longer than anyone!
Finally here? Like I’ve been waiting for this email ALL MY LIFE! Based on what research is this statement about the French true I ask? Maybe blogger friends, Petite Anglaise and Tarte Tartan can shed some light on this for me?

· From: HealthcareBilling
Subject: A brighter future starts with a Medical Billing Degree!
Excuse me? Are you seriously implying you have to get a DEGREE to send out bills for doctor visits??? Is this an April fool?

· From: Acai Free Trial Kit
Subject: Lose 20lbs instantly the Brangelina Way!
Is this a free pair of fingers for sticking down my throat then?

· From: Saks Fifth Avenue
Subject: Louboutin: More Fall Styles
Oh sigh. In another life, with another budget, I’d love to be sashaying about in my new fall Louboutins. Sorry Saks, think you’ll find you have more success targeting this customer with Uggs.

· From: Quality Kitchen Remodeling
Subject: Transform Your Kitchen with Sears
Ok, so this one caught me eye, as we are planning a new kitchen. But, right now, my kitchen would be transformed with a mop, bucket and some bleach. Oh and a spare pair of hands to pick up all the cheerios and rice krispies that have become embedded between the tiles.

· From: Janie and Jack
Subject: Up to 50% off! An autumn sale Not to be missed!
Ahh, now I love this children’s clothes store. But even at 50% off, they’ll still have me paying $30 for a sweater. Email me again after payday…

· From: VistaBusi8nessCards
Subject: 250 Full Color Business cards
Hmm. Lack of actual business ownership is a problem here. Though I could get a card for my line of work.
It might read, “SUPERMUM/MOM FOR HIRE” Available 24/7. Great rates! Specialises in: Thomas the Tank Engine, Cadbury’s, Greys Anatomy, GeoTrax, Fireman Sam, Jay Jay the Jet Plane, getting boys to aim in the bowl, wiping bottoms, chopping melon, cooking pasta, playing hide and seek and floor wrestling. (Note: the last one I charge extra for)

· From: First National
Subject: Your spending power has been increased!
Oh great. But, more importantly, what about my net worth?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Camel Toe Ted

It’s only 40 days to go until THE BIG event: Halloween. The children have been buzzing about what costume they will wear since, err, August (!) and some of my neighbourhood Moms have been talking about what their kids will be wearing since, err, August. Not this Mum though. I was still looking at swim shorts.

However, as all the shops have been full of all things Halloween since, err, August, recently it has been hard to avoid the impending dive into costume choices and sweet treats. So, this weekend, I caved in. Leaving it until the last minute (as some Moms round here would believe) we took Cheeky and Monkey off to Target (sort of a cross between Woolies and BHS) to purchase their ghoulish threads before they all sold out.

Cheeky had his eye on a Storm Trooper costume. He’s been carrying round a costume catalogue since, err, August (he’s gotten sooo American – it’s all about which ‘holiday’ we’ll be celebrating next.) Anyway, the Trooper costume he picked out was $50. Fifty bucks? I don’t think so. And as I skipped the sewing gene, we looked for a cheaper alternative to buy.

The Trooper costume in Target was $19.99. Still plenty, but I wouldn’t mind as much if he only wore it once, or worse still and more likely, refuses to wear it at all on the BIG night.

With younger son, Monkey, the costume thing is more of an issue. Last year he was still so little we could put him in anything and he wouldn’t complain. (He was a very cute Tigger.) This year, at two, he has an opinion and can say the word, ‘No!’ Ironically, or aptly, he chose a monkey costume. And after some wrangling, I got him in it and he looked so sweet I couldn’t stop kissing him.

Halloween is one of the holidays here that I really enjoy. (Nothing to do with the fact it means a stash more chocolate in the house, honest.) I love it because it’s just so American and it makes me so happy to be in America on that night. They really go for it, so much more than I ever experienced living in England.

Last year, Halloween on our street was just like that scene in ET where he’s dressed up as a ghost and all the costumed kids are running up and down driveways, shouting ‘Trick or Treat?’ Except, as far as I was aware, we had no extra terrestrials or cameramen floating about.

My point is, it was so magical I felt like I was in a movie. House after house had carved lit pumpkins glowing on their porches, some pumped out ghostly tunes. Houses were decorated with spider webs, (I actually didn’t have to buy any fake ones, seeings as we have a pesky arachnid who weaves enormous webs over my front windows.) Some put fake grave stones on their front grass; others string little pumpkin shaped lights over their garages. There were purple path lights, fake spiders on the brickwork and plastic skeletons hanging out from upstairs windows.

It looked like a film set. It looked brilliant.

But most of all, Trick or Treat Night brings a smile to my face because of one Mom who, I shall forever refer to as Camel Toe. She’s an All American Mom of four and she takes this costume business very seriously. She joins in too. Her disguise of choice? A teddy bear. A very authentic teddy bear. She has brown paws, a soft and fluffy belly and a shiny black nose.

So authentic, there must be a tiny, naked, shivering teddy bear somewhere in her house, crying for his lost fur. Because her costume is about 10 sizes too small for her. Worse still, it rides up in that place where, lady or man, you just don’t want your clothes drawing attention.

'Camel toe' or 'camel balls', you've heard of it, right? Some people call it 'moose knuckle', other synonyms are 'cats paw' or 'deer hoof'. (US TV host Conan O'Brien even has a character called 'Cameltoe Annie' on his show.) Whatever you call it, one thing is for certain: it's not a good look!

I find it hard to maintain eye contact with Camel Toe Ted on Halloween. The urge to stare in horror right at her squashed lady pocket is overwhelming. Never mind the ghouls and gravestones, she's definitely the scariest thing on the street. Am hoping 2008 will be the year that she treats herself to a bigger costume. Or buys herself a mirror. I’ll be sure keep you posted…

Photo credit: Travisleebutton,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Is it Me?

Or do I have,'LOONS ARE WELCOME HERE' tattooed upon my forehead? I've been staring in the mirror, exfoliating vigorously (I even dared to get really close. With my contacts in.) But I just can't see the words that surely must be etched above my brows, else why would another one have popped by to ruin my day? (Note to self: Book a brow wax. Urgently.)

I find it disconcerting that I seem to have more loons (lunatics) in my life of late than I have diamonds. Recently, I have blogged how these very special people have taken centre stage in my life during, Act One: Scene Five:
Lovin' The Loons and Act Three: Scene Two: God's Good Work?

To me, the lights were down, the applause long gone and the theatre had been shut up for the night. Silly me for trying to leave the show early. The Loons did an encore. Today. At the school drop-off.

Naturally, the car park (parking lot) is always busy at drop-off and pick-up. Cars line up with Moms/Mums looking left and right for their chance to pounce upon a space. I joined the line of shiny automobiles and waited my turn.

I noticed a car ahead of me pulled in to the side. The driver was gazing away from the parking spaces and looking towards the school doors. She didn't have her warning lights on. She wasn't indicating for the space about to become available to us, either. She looked 'parked.' I pulled past her and swung in.

"Ohh, we're nice and close to my classroom this time Mummy. Are we in those yellow lines?" Cheeky asks from his position as Backseat Driver. (Clearly, he'd been paying attention when, on his first day last week, the teacher had given us a mini lecture entitled, How To Park Safely at School'.)

How stupid can parents be?

Very, apparently. Because, as I'm getting Cheeky and Monkey out of the car, the Mom unloading her offspring next to me says," I hate to comment," 'But you're clearly going to aren't you?' I think. "But did you not see me sitting there waiting for that space?" She asks. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realise you were," I said, all smiles. I'm thinking, 'Why is she bothering to voice this? She got another space, right next to me!'

But she wasn't going to let this go. Oh no. Of course she wasn't. She was another fully paid-up member of the chorus line of Loons that seem to be attracted to me, like a toddler to tantrums.

"But I was right there!" She is now gesticulating furiously at the place where I had passed her. "I was clearly waiting for this spot. I mean, come on!"

Cheeky and Monkey are looking up at us, confused as to what is going on. I wanted to kneel down with them, become pint-sized and say with inappropriate toddler honesty, 'Why are you shouting at me? And why do you have a big fat black hair coming out of that BIG ROUND HORRIBLE black spot on your face?'

But instead, I said, "Well I'm really sorry. You weren't indicating for the space. I didn't know you were waiting." "I was right there!" she continues to unlease her tirade upon me, enjoying her moment in the limelight. "It's just not necessary to do that to me," she says, shuffling her children towards the school.

I hang back, not wanting the other Moms to think I am a fully-paid up member of The Loon Association of Dramatics. But she's not going to give up, this one.

"You really are out of line!" She is shouting over her shoulder at me now. Someone pass the straight jacket.

Not wanting to cause anymore of a scene (a British philosophy I've noticed many Americans don't seem to share) I apologise AGAIN and repeat the fact that I didn't realise that she was waiting, "You got a good space after all, no big deal."

She stops in her tracks and swivels round in her Crocs," No big deal to you but, THAT WAS MY SPACE!" (Am guessing by this outburst, she won't be inviting me to join her Knit Night anytime soon.)

I have lost the will to live, so I don't bother to answer back. Instead, I march Cheeky to his classroom, kiss him goodbye and get the hell out of Loonsville (carefully avoiding not to ram her car in anger as I reverse.)

When I get back home, there is a message on the answerphone telling me we've won a free home security system. Am all smiles again. We never win anything! Can't wait to get it installed, then I can lock myself inside, safe in the knowledge that if any more Loons come knocking, the alarm bells will definitely ring.

Photo Credit:

Monday, September 15, 2008

God's Good Work?

Sunday was Him Downstairs’ birthday. An event Cheeky and Monkey have been looking forward to since the last family birthday was over back in June. For the obvious reason that the chance to eat birthday cake again couldn't come to soon.

HD had requested his first birthday present take up at least three hours of his morning (a lie in). So when the sound of little feet stampeding towards our bedroom came at the ungodly hour of 6.26am, he took a dive under the duvet and yours truly stumbled around in the dark.

6.34am:Can we give daddy his cake now?” “No darling," Yawn. "Let Daddy sleep for a bit longer.
7.00am:I want to give Daddy his present now! And can we have the cake yet?
7.15am:I don’t want bran flakes. I want cake!

And so it went on, me on clock watch, them on cake watch. At 10 to 10 I thought, ‘Sod this.’ We lit the candles, grabbed the presents and filled a breakfast tray full of tea and Frosties (HD’s favourite). He was woken by a rousting chorus of ‘Happy Birthday!’ and two small background singers chanting; “Cake! Cake!"

I tell you, the man had it made. The boys clamored onto the bed, thrusting their cards and gifts under his nose and Cheeky proceeded to feed Daddy his cereal and plaster him with kisses. He’s smart that boy. I had him sussed: 1) Feed Daddy the sugar-laden cereal and I’ll be able to sneak in a few spoonfuls for myself and 2) He’ll be so chuffed with kisses and gifts he’ll let me eat cake!

It was a sweet morning (except for the bags under my eyes and the yawning threatening to make appear bored with the whole event). The boys had made Daddy his very own tea cup to take to work and covered it with their handprints and messages of love. (Ok, I ‘fess up: I did the writing bit). Daddy was thrilled and sufficiently elated to let us all eat cake in bed.

The second birthday request was to go out for brunch. It was here we ran into Sin City.

Happily seated in our little booth enjoying eggs (mine poached, the boys' scrambled and HD’s absent: he doesn’t do eggs) we noticed a cute elderly couple sat opposite, smiling and nodding at the boys as they threw crayons round the table and bacon off the table. (The boys, not the seniors.) We were not-so happily engaged in the business of eating out with toddlers that later, I didn’t notice the blue-haired lady approach my side.

Excuse me," she said grabbing my elbow as my eggs were midway into my mouth. “ Let me give you this.” She thrust a piece of paper under my nose and on top of my plate. Caught too off-balance to take in all the words printed on her paper, I merely noticed the Ariel rounded MT bold ones at the top that read, ‘Lord hear Our Prayer’.

Oh no.

There was I foolishly thinking she’d come over to pay me a compliment on my parenting skills.

"Will you join us?” she asked, a little too close for my comfort.

My brain, as scrambled as the children’s eggs, spontaneously combusted and I plumped for the first Get Out Of Jail card I could muster. “I’m sorry," I said. "We don’t believe in God."

Strictly speaking, this isn’t true. I do believe. In something. My firstborn was christened in a lovely Oxfordshire church in England. HD and I sang ‘Lord of All Hopefulness’ under God’s gaze on our wedding day. But since we moved Stateside, I have struggled to find the right place for us to worship Him Above. Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Episcopal, Christian, Methodist, Pentecost there are so very many churches in our city, I am totally confused as to which one is closest to The Church of England that I know and err, (sorry Mum, sorry God) tolerate.

So, I’ve gone and avoided the issue. The lack of religious education in the local state school system does bother me, but mainly because I miss not going to the school Nativity play at Christmas. And Christmas? That really bothers me. Do the children round here realise 25th December represents more than mountains of plastic tat? I just can’t get into the swing of being politically correct and saying, ‘Happy Holidays’. It’s still, ‘Merry Christmas,’ that spills from my lips as the snow falls. Michiganders forgive me because to them I’m just ‘the crazy English woman with her funny ways.’

Anyway, Granny is truly shocked at my response. I’m hoping it hasn’t sent her pacemaker into overdrive (if she has one). She leans right into our booth and very loudly proclaims, “You’ll be very sorry!” And with that she’s already got God on the Cell Phone and telling him to refuse my family entrance at the Pearly Gates.

HD is baffled, but not defenseless. "Our religious choices are our business!” he calls after Granny. “Tsk,” he tuts. “Talk about trying to ruin a nice birthday breakfast!"

And with that we finish up our eggs and walk straight out into Sin City.

Photo Credit:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lovin' The Loons!

I wasn't planning on this being the next subject for a post, (you'll be pleased to hear btw, that HD has finally taken of his Daddy Day Care Crown to mop his poor exhausted brow.) However, yesterday I got an email from one of my fellow Brit Sunday Brunch Gang (SBG) friends that made me laugh so much I almost had to reach for a Maxima Underpad.

The subject line read: Craigslist Looney!

This was going to be good.

You see, this friend and I have spent much of our Mid-West summer selling anything that's not nailed down in our homes on Craigslist. Tired of being Desperate-For-Our-Own-Cash-Housewives, we wanted to make a little financial contribution to our households, plus buy ourselves some bloody nice shoes!

So, we rooted round our respective homes grabbing any old junk we hadn't used in five minutes, photographed it, uploaded it onto the 'For Sale' classifieds on Craigslist and a few emails and knocks on the door later, there we were, dollars in our hands.

"Boys! You haven't played with that tractor since yesterday. Can Mummy sell it?"

I'm telling you, it was addictive. HD feared he'd come home to an empty house, literally, I was so into the swing of clearing-out-the clutter. People will buy any old crap. But they were buying our old crap!

Obviously buying and selling this way means you might encounter the odd loon (lunatic) ringing your doorbell. But we took precautions. Both my girlfriend and I were careful never to be home alone if it was a man coming to pick up the item. We both used to tell each other if we had a 'Craigslister' on the way over, and we called a little later to make sure we had not been murdered or our homes ransacked. (Not that either of us had much left in our houses now to be honest!)

Anyway, my favourite Craigslist Loons as I have dubbed them, were:

1) The 50-something lady that drove 15 miles to come look at my living room ceramic-based, cream-shaded lamps (which had photos and measurements on the advert) only to declare, "I was really after smaller pink bedroom ones in a Regency style." She then went on to ask my advice on a range of topics, including posting personal ads."I put an advert in my local paper asking for an exercise buddy," she said. "But all I got was calls from strange men. Do you think I should try the personals in Craigslist?" "Errr no!" I replied, wanting to add, 'Do I look like someone who has expertise in the field of pimping?

2) The 30-something man that wanted my $4 'coffee-for-one' Cafetiere so much that he was prepared to pay $10 for because I couldn't find any change. He beamed: "Am just so pleased to find one this small! Clearly, he needs to get himself some friends.

3) The heavily pregnant and tattooed 20-something who hoisted my old solid wood coffee table onto the back of her pick-up truck, point blank refusing my help. I wasn't going to argue. She may have been eight months pregnant, but she was six feet tall and as we say in England, 'built like a brick shithouse'.

However, my trysts with Craigslist Loons paled into insignificance when I read my girlfriend's email. Here it is for you all to enjoy:

"OK - I've had my first craigslist nutter! I had a few emails from a lady wanting to buy my cat carrier box. She seemed very reasonable. Within seconds of sending her my phone number for directions she was on the phone - half an hour later I managed to get rid of her. Needless to say I arranged to be out when she was coming to look at the carrier, but left it on the porch for her. Yes, I was willing to risk her running off with the carrier without paying - she was that bad.
This is the email she sent after she had been and found (no doubt to her huge disappointment) that I was not here. She did actually buy the carrier so I guess there was a silver lining."

Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 3:27 PM
Subject: Re: Airline Approved Pet Carrier



I left you some websites for the pandemic that is looming. Those are government websites of disaster planners. They are talking worldwide in different languages on one of the sites. The websites inform military families how to ready themselves for the disaster. Even some disaster planners from the UK are discussing their plans. I thought you might find it interesting and helpful.

The government has warned about 4 million people in the USA to get ready for the 18 month disaster, but they have no intention of letting the general public know when it will start, not in the USA or the UK. And there is a media blackout.

The USA expects to lose 25% of the population, and the UK 30%, Russia and Norway expect 50% losses. It is so sad.

I like the cat carrier. It is just the right size for my medium sized cat. I have 3 cats. One small, one medium and 1 very large. They are fun. My 2 children are grown now, so I have time again for kitties.

Have a great fall season!

You see, even in our sleepy little suburban corner of the USA there's a Loon just waiting to make you wet your pants! I think we should invite her to join our Sunday Brunch Gang. She sounds like a right laugh.

Go on - share your Garage Sale/ Classified Ads/ Car Boot Sale loon stories. You know you want to...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Today I've been tagged by A Confused Take That Fan. So I have to answer these 7 questions then pass the taggie on to someone else. Not wanting to be a spoil sport, here goes..

1. Where were you ten years ago?
Living in Norf Laandon (Willesden Green) with ex-boyfriend and working on a teen mag. It was a big year for me as I got made redundant and dumped on the same day. Nice! But on the up-side, it was the year I got to be a VIP at Glastonbury and report from backstage. Having a bacon butty (bacon sandwich Brit-style) with my crush at the time, Pulp's Jarvis Cocker, is forever etched on my heart.

2. What's on your To-Do list today?
Forgetful mummy that I am, I actually really did make a 'To-do' list this morning. It reads:
* Book Cheeky's storytime class at the library. (Check, I achieved this by 9.30am. Get me.)
* Email / call Mum (Will do that after I've done this.)
* Buy Him Downstairs' birthday present (Almost done this one. Have been to the clay & paint studio where the boys made a special treat for Daddy.)
* Wash kitchen floor. (Didn't really need to write this one down as our feet are sticking to it, so the sound is constant reminder.)
* Do my blog. (Check. Well done me.)
* Defrost sausages. (I just got them out of the freezer. So that's an almost done.)
* Something yellow for pre-school. (Mustn't let Cheeky be the only child without a yellow object at school tomorrow. I'll grab a bag-tie later.)
* Cookies. (Ah, this one is a whole other blog. Suffice to say, I have my Bookclub meeting tonight and I have to bake something fresh to take along. Boxed cookies will get me thrown out. Seriously.)
Clearly if I am going to cross more off this list I need to move away from the computer!

3. What if you were a Billionaire?
Gosh I just can't imagine never having to worry about money. I do wonder though if we were billionaires, would me and Him Downstairs cease arguing? Or would we just row about who left the biggest pile of cash lying about? The sensible side of me says that if I became that rich I would obviously pay off all our debts and mortgage debts of our families and loved ones. The shopaholic side of me says we would go on several wonderful family holidays, employ a cleaner and part-time nanny and me and HD would go for some decadent weekends away, full of designer shopping and 5* food! Oh and I'd buy a nice country house in England for us to stay in when we visit, so we don't have to squash all four of us into my in laws house.

4. Five places you have lived?
UK: Norfolk, South London, North London, Henley-On-Thames. USA: South West Michigan.

5. Three bad habits?
Only three?!
* A bit too potty-mouthed at times. It's been tough giving up that kind of vocabulary in front of the little people.
* Late night snacking. This has got to stop because my Muffin Top is more like a Gateaux Gut right now.
* Too stubborn. It would take a personality bypass to sort that one out.

6. Snacks you like?
Oh go on, pass me the Cadbury's. If you must...

7. Who will you tag?
I will tag two of my favourite fellow Expat bloggers, A Brit Different (because she makes me laugh and very generously bestowed another award on me today) and Expat Mum because she's as harried as the rest of us and hopefully this will be little light relief for her.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Time Out

Today I put myself in time out. And not just a lousy minute for every year I’ve graced this earth (that’d be, err, cough cough, 21 minutes then, yes?) No, I put myself in five; let me say that with as much accentuation as I can, FIVE hours of glorious, wonderful, child-free, husband disengagement, Time Out!

I got a Sunday off. A rare and special treat, but one I thoroughly deserved. A little reward for surviving another season as my family's Chief Entertainment Director. So the Sunday Brunch Gang (a mixture of my Mum and Mom friends who I coerced into my little scheme) fled our respective homes whooping with joy at the prospect of spending time with each other where we could:

1) Actually finish a story without being interrupted by a small person’s request or breaking up a fight. (I guess we could've had a brawl just for laughs, but it was lunchtime and we couldn’t drink and drive and we didn’t want to mess up our ‘best clothes.’ We don’t get to wear them that often!)

2) Eat a whole meal, sitting throughout, whilst it was still warm and not have to share it with a family member.

3) Be in a restaurant without having crayons, paper and half of Toys R Us at the table.

4) Go to the bathroom, alone and with the door shut.

5) Not have to hear, 'Mummy/Mommy/Muuuummmeee/Moooommmeee!!!'

6) Leave a table without their being a ton of food under it and sticky finger marks all over the chairs and our clothes.

7) Drink a coke and not have to hide it.

8) And most importantly, order a dessert and not have to share it.

You get the picture. We were all desperate for a Time Out. So the husbands were given their orders and off we went to enjoy what the Americans do best: a big full fat caffeine loaded breakfast.

Him Downstairs was far too cocksure about manning the Entertainment Ship with no first mate. So confident, he even offered to watch my friend’s son too as her husband was having a midlife crisis and taking his Motorbike license test leaving her without babysitter.

She dropped her son off at ours...

“You sure you’re going to be OK?” we ask HD. Her son is Cheeky’s BF, thus we’ll be leaving my beloved with two rambunctious three year olds and Monkey, who is right in the middle of The Terrible Twos.

“We’re going to have a blast, aren’t we boys?” he says, getting out all the craft supplies. “Yeahhh, ye-hah!” the boys shriek in excitement, like he’s Disney World reincarnated.

“Do they do that for you when you get the paints out?” my friend asks me as we get into the car.

“No,” I reply. “They don’t even bloody notice!”

The brunch is lovely. Seven Mom/Mums let loose in dining and retail heaven with not a stroller at the end of our fingers or a toddler dragging at our heels. During breakfast (half of us on the eggs benedict & bacon, half of us on the French toast with fresh berries) phone calls from various husbands pepper our conversations. “He couldn’t find Aerial!” “He left the diaper-bag at Wal-Mart!” “He wants to know how much longer I’m going to be!”

My phone remained silent.

We paid our bill and went for a spot of retail therapy. We touched lovely knits in H&M. We tried on Fedora hats in For Love 21 (like Accessorize for UK chums) and we laughed over lipsticks in Nordstrom (Selfridges).

Still my phone didn’t ring.

Four o’clock came and most of out happy band of shoppers drifted back to their families.

“I’m calling him,” I said. A mild case of redundancy was starting to set in.

“Hi you,” he answers and I can hear the squeals of joy in the background.

“Everything OK?” I ask.

“What? Hang on. Yes, I am coming boys. Just talking to mummy. Yeah, we’re fine. Having a blast. No need to rush back. Stay out. Enjoy yourself.” Click. Brrrr...

“Alright?” my friend asks, seeing my jaw hit the ground.

“Yes. They’re fine,” I say. “Having a whale of a time apparently!”

And with that, I’m not having quite as much fun anymore. Obviously I totally commend HD on his ability to spend five hours straight with three toddlers and still be smiling at the end of it. But I am, let’s be honest, a bit put out. After all, I’m the Chief Entertainment Director in our family, aren’t I?

When I arrive home with two lovely purchases swinging from my arms, (I plumped for one of the lovely knits in H&M and a bottle of Eau Dynamisante) I am greeted by the sight of HD galloping round the garden riding the mop, with five other Knights of the Mom/Mum Household in his wake. (He’s acquired a couple of the neighbourhood kids such is his magnetism.) They are charging towards a homemade cardboard castle complete with working drawbridge and fully decorated with a rainbow’s worth of finger paints!

No-one’s noticed Mummy’s home...

“Hello!” I wave and am virtually thrown off balance by my firstborn (Cheeky) who’s making a stampede for the drawbridge on his very speedy broom.

“Watch out mummy. You’re in the way!” he shouts.

“Lovely to see you too,” I mutter.

HD spots me and canters over full of excitement at the wonderful day he’s had and very proud of the practically life-size second home they’ve built together. (He’s even got video footage for me to watch and 48 digi pics to mark said funtastic day.)

“Isn’t it great mummy?” Cheeky tethers his ‘horse’ to a turret. Yes, daddy’s even built them bloody turrets! “We’ve had so much fun!”

I know I should be pleased as punch. And I am. Sort of. I love the fact I’m married to a hands-on daddy. I love the fact that daddy loves craft because if I’m honest, even as a child, I’ve never been a ‘crafty’ kind of gal. But, I am definitely put out that the children appear to have had a far better time hanging out with daddy for five hours than they've had hanging out with me for four years! I feel demoted.

HD senses my woe. “We did miss you,” he says, giving me a kiss and a squeeze. Cheeky and Monkey reappear between turrets.

“Mummy,” says Cheeky. “Now you’re home, can you go and make us tea?”


I think it’s time I put Him Downstairs in Time Out don’t you?!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Why, Merci Buckets!

Imagine my surprise and delight this morning when I logged on and found that one of my favourite bloggers, Tara, at From Dawn Till Rusk has very generously given me my first ever blogging award! I hardly feel worthy being a newbie 'n' all. I wept with joy (well it is Friday and it's been an emotionally challenging week.) So, I've popped on my best bejewelled taffeta gown and a good shoe to graciously accept. Thank you very much!

I'm passing this award on to other bloggers I love, who leave me smiling and speechless at the sheer brilliance of their words. Go forth and let them brighten up your day.

A Brit Out of Water
Flower Fairies and Fairy Cakes
Auntie Gwen's Diary
Nappy Valley
The Potty Diaries
Not Enough Mud
A Confused Take That Fan

As usual there are bloggy rules to follow

1. Link to the giver.
2. Nominate up to seven other fab blogs and link to them.
3. Leave messages announcing their rise to greatness.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mummy Guilt

This morning didn’t start well.

“I don’t want to go to Jay-Jay camp, mummy.” said son #1 (Cheeky)
“But you love Jay-Jay,” I said. “I bet you’re going to make some cool airplanes.” “But I just want to stay here with you!” he pleaded, eyes starting to fill up.

Oh gawd. I didn’t chose my words wisely when I replied that he was going to have to go to Jay Jay camp because mummy had paid for it already and that it was surely going to be much more fun than hanging out with me at home.

You see, the thing is, he is obsessed with two things in his little 3 and ¾ yrs life: planes and trains. And Jay Jay The Jet Plane is one of his favourite shows on TV. (Not that he watches much TV mind. Well, not that much. Ok then, he’s bloody obsessed with TV and it’s all I can do to drag him away and get him out of the house!)

Back at the beginning of June, with the 12 week summer holiday looming, I did as all my US Mom friends seem to do and booked my square-eyed boy in for numerous camps. When in Rome after all...

So Cheeky has done ‘Stretch n Grow’ Camp and came out telling us where his biceps, triceps and abba-dabba-dominals were. He did ‘Pre-School Camp’ and made a fishing rod, a drum and a rather malnourished looking T-Rex. He went to 'Tumble Camp' and thankfully didn’t break his neck or arms learning to somersault and cartwheel.‘Buzz Camp?’ Yep – he was there! Though I’m not so sure how successful this one was, because when I picked him up, all the kids were sat watching Toy Story. And then there was ‘Zoo Train Camp’ which we did as a family - minus Him Downstairs. Someone has to go out to work to pay for all these camps after all.

In Zoo Train – a musical themed camp, me and the boys sang our way through the American version of Ally-Ally O (theirs is about a train, not a ship, which totally threw me.) We banged glockenspiels together and jingled bells bonding over our love for a good tune.

Actually, I have to pause here and be honest with you about Zoo Train. It was a bit of a disaster doing a class with both boys. Littlest boy (Monkey, aged 2 ¼) clung to my hip like a Monkey through every class. All this dancing and parading round the room with drums, maracas etc was near damn impossible as Monkey wouldn’t let go of me or his bells which he kept bashing me round the head with, whilst in my other hand I held a clacker I was trying to play and Cheeky, who decided if his brother was going to get a ride around the room, he sure as hell was too.

As usual I was the only Brit in the room (totally obvious because I kept singing about the Good Ship Ally Ally O and not a bloody train, I mean, since when has it been a train?) and all the other Moms were skipping along with their little ones totally in time and in tune with Mrs Andrew Lloyd Webber who was swinging her hips and rousing her class like we were in some terrible am-dram version of Cats.

There I was dragging my two dead weights around the room, dropping instruments and growling under my breath at them that we were here to enjoy ourselves, meet new friends and not stick like glue to mummy’s legs!

The Moms were glaring at me right from their perfectly manicured nails down to their perfectly pedicured toes. (Damn, I’d put shorts on and forgotten to shave my legs again!)

Anyway, back to this morning.

After Zoo Train, I decided to change tactic and be all upbeat and positive about this last camp before school starts next week. But this morning we were running late (as always) and I kind of forgot to put on the nicety-nice line. Forgive me; I didn’t have time for my usual caffeine induced kick start to the morning.

So I ran round the house throwing toast in their mouths and flinging arms into T-shirts.

“But I don’t want to go…” wailed Cheeky.

“It’ll be fun. Come on. You’re going!” I barked (I know, I know). I strapped them into the car, with barely a chance to swallow their breakfast.

Cheeky is complaining about this camp all the way there, into the room and at the little table they’ve set out for the kids to do their make-an-airplane-craft.

Meanwhile, other son, Monkey, is chirping, “Jay Jay. Me Jay-Jay!” Then, crying, “ME JAY JAY!” as I drag him away from the camp. (Thankfully one of the camp leaders has engaged Monkey in the craft-making with cotton wool balls and he finally seems to be enjoying himself so I can leave.)

“You want to do Jay Jay camp?” I say to Monkey as we get back indoors.

“Yes, me Jay-Jay.”

“Right then. Jay Jay camp home-style for you then,” I reply. And I switch on the TV…

How many bad mummy points did I just accumulate?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The snip

This weekend was Labour Day over here. I mean Labor Day. Nothing to do with midwifes or the colour red, the first Monday in September is a federal holiday celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer. A holiday sought to create "a day off for the working citizens" had me deciding to have a night off from my Mom/Mum job, book a babysitter and drag Him Downstairs (HD) out.

We went to see stand-up comedian Chelsea Handler. For those of you untouched by Ms Handler, she has a late night show, Chelsea Lately on the E! Channel, which is full of hilarious commentary on life and celebrities. She’s basically the lady responsible for the decline in our sex life as we’re too busy chortling (giggling for my American friends) at her in bed.

Anyhow, off we went, picnic blanket in hand, to the ‘lawn seats’ area. That means at the back. We’re far too cheap to take on full-price tickets. HD went to the bar and returned with two nice plastic glasses of beer and we felt just like we were at Glastonbury (minus the mud, bands and tents, obviously). We actually felt youthful again too. (Though am sure the many students in the audience could spot the ‘PARENTS ON A NIGHT OUT!’ signs a mile off – drunk after one beer, sensible jumpers in case we got cold, knowing laughter at all the parenting/pregnancy jokes she made etc)

Anyway, particularly amusing to us was her take on dating an Englishman and his un-circumcised manhood.

“Why do all the men in your country refuse to get circumcised? she asks the Englishman. ”It’s repulsive. They look like (f*bleep*ing) aardvarks, and I really don’t appreciate it,” she rants.

We chortled on, remembering all the hospital papers we had to sign here when Monkey was born to prevent him from getting the automatic US snip. ”Don’t forget to tick the ‘No circumcision box’ our Brit friends warned us, “Else they’ll cut him before you can say ‘ouch’. This was obviously serious stuff.

After the show, we decided to line up to get our copy of her book, Are You There Chelsea? It’s me, Vodka’ autographed. A touch excited at the thought of meeting the lady who spends every night in our bedroom, I took my place in line. HD stood to the side, camera at the ready.

“Are you an English?” Chelsea said after I said hello.

“Yes, what gave it away haha?” I replied, (trying and failing to be witty with a professional comedian) A sweat formed in my palms because I kind of new what was coming next…

‘So, you’re a fan of the circumcised?” she said. Eyebrows around us rose.

“Err, umm yesss” I said all British and mortifyingly embarrassed.

“Well gimmie a high–five for the snip sister!” she yelled.

I found myself whooping and high-fiving with her. People had stopped exiting the area and were now looking at us. “Where’s your husband?” she continues. I, (sorry HD) pointed to him. “So, sir, you haven’t been circumcised?” she shouts to him, “and you bought your aardvark over here?”

At least 50+ people are now witnessing this exchange. “Shame on you sir!” Chelsea laughs. Although the light is fading, I can literally feel HD’s cheeks burning.

“Someone’s got to like it though eh?” Chelsea winks at me and the crowd laughs. I babble an unheard “Yes, err, of course, it’s lovely,” response (no-one’s interested in what I’m saying obviously) grab my signed book and make for HD as Chelsea turns her attentions to the next fan in line.

As we walk away, a stranger who’s been witness to this exchange about my husband’s pride and joy, gives HD a look as if to say, ‘you poor unclean Brit.’

“He does shower you know!” I snap in his defense.

Later, when we were tucked up in bed, HD says, “You don’t think it looks like an aardvark do you?” I didn’t have the heart to say I thought Chelsea had a point actually, so for marital harmony instead I plumped for, “I like aardvarks.”