Sunday, May 31, 2009

Weekend over already?

Things that made it go by too quickly:



1 part Pimm's
2 parts sprite
Lemon wedges

Good food.

Seriously - try this recipe, it's good.

Barbecued marinated shrimp
Mix 4 crushed garlic cloves, 1 seeded and chopped small red chilli and 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and pour over raw shrimp (I had about 20). Marinade for 30 minutes.

Thread shrimp onto skewers (if they're bamboo remember to soak in water for a few hours first), sprinkle with salt and cook for 2-3 minutes each side. Serve with lime wedges.

Music that reminds me of summer.

5 Years Time (Sun Sun Sun) - Noah And The Whale

And, I received thi
s award from Kris at Hands, House and Heart Full.

Thanks Kris!

I'm supposed to name 7 things I love, and then pass the award on to 7 bloggers, but I'm just doing 5. Because 5 feels like a better number to me (plus I noticed the numbers have varied over the award's history).

5 things I love
  1. The weekend - especially when it's warm, and everyone takes their naps when they're supposed to
  2. Dancing with Matthew
  3. Oliver's crazy big smile that could make even the sourest person laugh
  4. Early afternoon cocktails
  5. Sharing delicious food with family and friends

5 great bloggers
  1. Carmen at About a girl
  2. Loukia at Lou Lou's Views
  3. Crystall at Blahbitty Blahs
  4. Ann at Ann Again.. and again
  5. Brooke at Sprouts in the House

(and, um, now you're supposed to pass it on...)
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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Teenage tantrums

I witnessed a rather shocking moment in Starbucks the other day. (I realize a lot of my posts start.. "I was in Starbucks and...". Just to clarify - this is a mere indication of my impulsive tendency to buy expensive coffee, not some poorly concealed effort to promote Starbucks) I was enjoying a latte on one of my mornings off, watching the amalgam of people: young hip moms - accompanied either by chubby babies in Bugaboos, or pre-school girls in expensive dresses and crocs; retired people sipping cappuccinos and doing the people-watching thing; middle-aged business men huddled over a lap top, squinting at a chart of figures; students hunched intently over their MacBook (how do students afford Macs anyway?).

It was all calm and peaceful and pleasant, when suddenly I heard "you are REALLY starting to irritate me." I turned to see a girl, late teens, glaring at a middle aged woman who looked kind of like an older, grayer version of the girl - who I could only assume was her mother. The mother was trying to grab some papers from the girl's hand and the girl kept pulling them away from her - kind of like when your kid is teasing your dog with a chew toy and the dog is getting really mad and looks like he's going to bite him.

A sort of intrigued hush fell around the room. Everyone pretended to get on with their business, while the argument continued. Although I couldn't hear all the details of the conversation that followed, I could hear the tension rising between them. Eventually the girl stood up, slightly red-faced, stuffing her things into her bag and saying "No. No. You can't tell me what to do. I'm leaving now." The girl walked off and the older woman stood up, completely exasperated, yelling "Get back here. GET BACK HERE! NOW!" She kept saying it, over and over, while her daughter strutted out of the store. By this point everyone in the cafe had given up the pretense of not watching, and was staring open-mouthed at the mother.

I have no idea what caused the argument or who was to blame, but as I watched the mother I wondered, first - what could be bad enough to cause a public scene like that? And, second - bloody hell - teenagers! No one has a baby thinking "ooh I can't wait to have a teenager." You have a baby because you want a baby - a cute, plump, cooing, smiling little bundle of joy. And one day they're not anymore. Scary, isn't it? Right now I'd take a toddler tantrum over a teenage one any day.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This mom blogging thing...

Question for you mom and dad bloggers. Do you ever feel weird about it - this blogging thing?

I do. Sometimes. Sometimes I feel odd about the fact that pieces of my life are out there, floating around cyberspace, available for anyone to see. I mean, anyone could be reading. My mailman. Someone from Australia that I've never met. An ex-boyfriend. Shudder.

The thing with mom blogs is, they aren't like other types of blog - like politics blogs, or technical blogs, for instance, where there's no emotional attachment to the content. Parent blogs are filled with snippets of lives - stories about families, photos of kids, opinions on various parenting issues.

When I started my blog last year, it was to give myself a creative space - a page where I could empty out my thoughts at a time when there was no other outlet. I wasn't thinking too much about who was reading, I just did it because I enjoyed it.

I sort of drifted in and out of blogging for a while, half wondering whether it was worth continuing. Then a friend mentioned she was reading, and enjoying it, and I thought, oh - there is a purpose, a reason to keep writing. People will actually read the thing, and maybe respond.

So, realizing I was being a bit of a loner and should probably snap out of it, I started looking around at other mom / dad blogs*, to see what they were doing. There are LOTS. Thousands. Yes, I naively had no idea how many. Some of them were extremely pretty with fancy designs. Some had lots of followers. Some were actually making a living off their blog.

One of the things that shocked me (here we go again with the naivety) was the nasty comments that some of these very popular mom blogs received. I mean really nasty. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of people read these blogs every day - tracking their life, watching their kids grow up, interacting with them. And I think it's that - the thought that someone can publish their life online, using their experiences and their thoughts to draw a crowd - and it's so vulnerable, so exposed.

Parenting is such a sensitive subject, maybe THE most sensitive subject in the world, so those spiteful comments can really hurt.

Maybe it's because I'm late to blogging - I don't fully understand the inner workings of the blogosphere yet. I don't know what terms like "RSS Feed" mean, or what a "meme" is. I'm not even on Twitter. Shock! (and I'm still alive.)

Maybe it's because I'm a sensitive soul who could be compared to a mother lion ferociously guarding her cubs from the world, ready to rip a limb off anyone that even remotely tries to harm her babes.

Maybe I should be quiet now and just keep blogging.

*There should be a blog word for mom blogs - don't you think? Mogs? Mlogs? Bloms?
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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Demoted in the looking-after-everyone ranks

Warm weather at the weekend means two things: working in the garden, and getting outside with the kids, without having to actually go anywhere (which is genius because anything is more appealing than venturing out with two kids under the age of two with their various diaper / feeding / napping demands).

But being outside means I become super paranoid about sun and skin. In between pulling up weeds (the extent of my gardening efforts this year) I ran around smearing sun screen on every inch of exposed baby/toddler skin, putting hats back on heads a thousand times, and trying to manoeuver little people into shaded areas that keep on shifting around the garden. I have two fair-haired, fair-skinned boys, and the thought of their delicate young skin being burnt makes me very uneasy.

While I was making sure they were protected, I kind of forgot about me - in particular my knees and shoulders which are now a little roasted.

It's so typical - to put the kids first and completely forget to give myself the same kind of care and attention. It's like that for so many things... Food, for instance: I'm meticulous about making sure Matthew has enough fruits and vegetables in his diet, along with proteins, carbs and a little fat. But when it comes to me, sometimes I'll go a whole day without even a glimpse of a piece of fruit.

And sleep: I can be almost militant about bedtimes and naps (although Matthew rarely naps these days). Because I know how important sleep is for development and overall health. Me - I rarely get to bed before midnight, and then am lucky if I get more than 4 or 5 hours (interrupted) over the course of the night.

Funny how, somewhere along the line, I decided to forgo my needs for the sake of theirs. Maybe that's just part of the deal when you have young kids. Something has to give, and of course they always come first. And there isn't enough time in the day to fit everything in. (I can come up with excuses all day)

I'll eat tomorrow and I'll sleep when I'm dead...

How about you?
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Friday, May 22, 2009

How to stay calm when your toddler does things that make you want to rip your hair out

I think I need one of those security cameras that cover every corner of the house at all times. Because strange things happen when I'm not watching:

- Pen marks mysteriously appear on our leather footstool (and later, after several arduous attempts to remove them, are looking like they'll be there forever)

- Matthew is found siting quietly in his room with diaper rash cream smeared across his face camouflage-style, licking the white paste off of his fingers like it's peanut butter.

- Contents of bathroom drawers are spilled out onto the surrounding area and later located in other miscellaneous hiding places.

But with 2 or more kids you can't always be watching all of them...

And the thing is, all of these undertakings are done with the upmost cheerfulness (most of the time). So, despite wanting to rip out my hair, I try to stay calm.

So how do you stay calm during these moments?

Open a bottle of wine at 11 a.m. and start drinking. Take a few deep breaths a la these breathing exercises, and remember that this will probably only last a few years.

Happy Friday.
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Monday, May 18, 2009

You say tomayto, I say tomahto

My toddler, Matthew, is obsessed with the movie Cars at the moment. Several times a day, he gets this look about him, like he's just remembered something very important, and begins his drone... "cars?" ... "CARRRS?" ... "CARRRRRS?!!" And if he can locate the remote control he'll grab that and thrust it at me enthusiastically, to emphasize the urgency of his request. (Lucky for me it's Cars and not some awful kids show designed to torture parents... like Barney.)

Besides the movie, our house is filled with Cars-the-movie merchandise, toy cars, parking garages, ramps, ride-on cars and other car-related things. Cars are literally everywhere we turn. I can't open a kitchen cupboard or put on a shoe without finding one. So the word cars is probably mentioned - oh, maybe one hundred times a day.

With all the talk of cars, we've noticed Matthew is developing an English accent, like me. He doesn't say "carrrs" (with a heavy R), he says "cahhhs". It's cute, but I don't want him to develop a British accent. Because what happens when he goes to school and doesn't sound like the other kids? What if they pick on him for having a strange accent?

I worry about these things...

So a few weeks ago I started to rethink the way I say certain words to him. Like, yep you guessed it, "cars". I began to stress the R. CaRs. Even though it made me cringe to hear myself say it. Then it was "tomato" - from "to-mah-to" to "to-may-to". This received quite a few raised eyebrows.

Then I thought about "banana"... "ban-ah-na" to "ba-naa-na". I tried it a few times but the sound of me saying ba-naa-na was farcical. If you've seen the movie Traffic - the one where Catherine Zeta-Jones attempts an American accent - it was kind of like that. A bit disturbing really.

And then there's "water", "bottle", "bath"... It goes on and on. By this point I would have sounded part Irish, part American, part Jamaican. So I stopped the silliness. It was pretty ridiculous, after all. Matthew will have to learn his own language. Maybe it'll take a while to get it right. Maybe once he starts pre-school next year he'll acquire more of a Canadian accent... Maybe if he listens to his Dad enough...
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mother of 2, last seen running for the hills in shiny new Nikes

The last time I bought running shoes was probably about three years ago. I had no idea that once the rubber outsole wears down, the shoes are basically useless for running - which is why my legs have been in pain for the last few weeks. Duh.

On the advice of a couple of friends I went to the Running Room for a proper fitting. The assistant studied my feet, watched me walk up and down the store, noted that I have low arches (which I already knew) and had me try on three different pairs, all of which felt heavenly compared to the ones I've been wearing.

I went for these Nike Air Zooms.

And oh I am in love with these runners. They feel dreamy on my feet. As I bounced along the running path this afternoon I thought... oooh now I can run.

As it turns out, running shoes aren't just running shoes anymore. These swanky runners have a little pocket under the insole, where you can hook up a sensor that connects to your i-pod, which tells you how far you've run, how many calories you've burned and your time. You can even choose "power songs" when you need motivation... (I'm wondering what these power songs are though, and who chose them?)

So now I have technology in my shoes. What next? Will it really make a difference - all this fancy stuff? Probably not, but as I mentioned before, I like all the stuff. Even as I paid for my runners, I couldn't help noticing all the fancy running accessories - things I didn't know existed: waist belts with water bottle holder, watches with built-in heart rate monitors, arm band i-pod holders. All of which are, of course, completely impractical for me. I had to leave quickly before there was an incident with my debit card.
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Friday, May 15, 2009

Burning the baby weight

This morning, while I was standing in line trying to decide whether to have a bagel with cream cheese or a piece of banana loaf, a little conversation was going on in my head. The two controversial voices - Hungry and Willpower - were at each other's throats.

Hungry: Oh yum, bagel and cream cheese. Well I did miss lunch today so it's all good.
Willpower: What!? Don't even think about it lady. You have weight to loose. I swear if you even raise the edge of a cream cheese bagel to your mouth you will become a huge lardy fatso for the rest of your life.

Hungry: Oh come on! Give me a break! I
just had a baby four months ago... So all the weight hasn't come off yet.. It'll come off. I just need a little more time.
Willpower: Ha! That's what you think you weakling. Maybe instead of standing in this high-calorie food queue you should be busting your behind on a running track somewhere.
Hungry: Shut up Willpower you killjoy. I'm getting the cream cheese.

The thing about loosing the baby weight is, it doesn't always melt away like you imagined it would. Not even if you were slim before you got pregnant. Not even if you breastfeed (because all the books claim breastfeeding is great for weightloss. Um no). Not even if you plead with the universe to magically strip off a few pounds while you're asleep. Not even after you've tried for the fifth time in the same week to squeeze into the old skinny jeans that really honestly did used to fit.

Oh, unless you're like Heidi Klum, who walked a Victoria's Secret catwalk in a bikini just two months after giving birth to her son with not a trace of excess flesh in sight.

Unfortunately I am not like Heidi Klum. So I'm resigned to the fact that there is only one way I can get back to my old self. Working out. Hard-core style. Regrettably those brisk walks to the park with the stroller are not cutting it. Nor are the energetic sprints up and down the stairs with the laundry.

So here's to my mission to loose 15 lbs. I'm clinging to the fact that all this working out will earn me the right to indulge in the occasional (i.e. every other night) wine and chocolate. That's true, right?
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I'm pumped about tonight's episode - the season finale of Lost. I'm a little bit of a Lost geek. It's J's fault because he dragged me into it with his unstoppable curiosity and love of the show. Many a night following Lost have we sat up discussing the episode - analyzing the plot, the characters, predicting future outcomes, trying to figure out what the numbers mean... And when I say discussing, what I mean is, J explains to me what just happened and I feign interest while really falling asleep.

I find there are two categories of Lost viewer: those, like me, who watch languidly, only half understanding what's going on most of the time, every so often completely flummoxed, but are okay with that and have no burning desire to get to the bottom of it; and then there's those who are really into it, absorbing every tiny thing, piecing the story together, anticipating the revelations. There's a whole world of online Lost mania to be experienced, if you're so inclined.

For me, there's another reason to get pumped. My (not so) secret Lost crush - Sawyer. It used to be Jack but now he irritates me because he's a pompous ass. (It's okay - J has a (not so) secret Lost crush on Kate. Yeah, she's alright I suppose) So okay, even if I'm not completely up on what's happening, there's always Sawyer.

But, despite the excitement I'm somewhat irritated because once the show's over, it's over for almost a year. And I'm sure, in true Lost form, the writers will end the show on a cliffhanger. Which will result in me pulling a face (from confusion and too much wine) and yelling something at the TV.
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Monday, May 11, 2009

Formula for Mother's Day success

Pampering + Alone Time = Very Happy Mother's Day (or any other day, come to think of it)

It all got off to a good start: I slept until 8:30, while J entertained the kids. I was served a latte and two small squirmy boys who snuggled with me under the duvet while I opened my gift and a card that was "signed" in red crayon by Matthew and Oliver.

Later that morning I stepped out into the sunshine, on my own. A few heavenly hours were spent sipping coffee, reading and browsing stores. Then a warm afternoon in the garden, with chalk pictures, wagon rides and ice cream.

Dinner was a tasty feast of shrimp creole, fresh salad and strawberries and mango. And, when the kids were in bed and everything was peaceful, we sat out in the garden, watching the sun go down, drinking the last of the wine.

I couldn't have asked for a better day.
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Friday, May 8, 2009

Boyfriend jeans

I keep reading about this trend - boyfriend jeans. It's where you get a smelly, tatty old pair of your boyfriend's jeans and, um, wear them. And blazers too - if there's one lying around - preferably with chunky shoulders that make you look really awkward. The bigger and more ridiculous looking, the better, apparently.

To pull off this trend, you'll first need a boyfriend from whom to steal the jeans... hmm. Last time I had one of those I was yea high. See, if you have boyfriend jeans, you must therefore have an actual boyfriend, right? And that must mean you're, like, so cool.

But what do I know about fashion? Not much any more. I did once. Okay not really - but back in the day when I was studying design in London, I did attempt to claw my way up the ranks in the little fashion war that was going on with my fellow classmates. But I could never get it quite right. There were those that left me standing at the post, and then there were those so desperate to prove their individuality they were just absurd: one girl showed up to class with a string of Christmas lights under a black chiffon shirt. Honest, she did. I always wondered how she managed to illuminate those lights... must've been standing next to a socket or something...

Now, all I know is what I like. And usually I can tell when something looks good and when it doesn't. I've seen shots of A-list celebs sauntering around in their boyfriend jeans. Jennifer Aniston, Katie Holmes, Reese Witherspoon... And honestly, all I can think is UGLY. If it looks crap on them then who, exactly, does it look good on?

When did it stop becoming fashionable to look good?
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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

You know you're sleep deprived when

You leave the house forgetting you have a kid's band-aid visibly taped to your chest.

The cashier accidentally charges you twice what your groceries actually cost and you unblinkingly hand the money over.

You pour formula powder into a bottle that already contains mixed formula.

You answer the phone by saying "hi, I was just calling to let you know...".

You drive home with your coffee cup on the roof of the car.

You turn up for your doctor's appointment a whole hour early and then stand gawking at the receptionist as if she's mad.

You try to eat a ball of cotton wool thinking it's a marshmallow. *

*I didn't actually do this, but it wouldn't be totally out of place right now. Four months and counting. Sigh.
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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Saying goodbye is hard to do, if only for a few hours...

Twice a week, the baby sitter arrives at 9 a.m. and Matthew, like clockwork, starts his mini-tantrum. First he freezes, his brain tick-ticking. A look of realization passes over his face, his brow creases to a deep furrow, and his jaw drops into a low hissy "noooo" "noooo!". Poor Sasha. She's barely inside the door and he's spitting his hostile sounds at her. Matthew knows, you see, that her arrival signals my departure. It's like he thinks I'm trying to trick him, trying to ditch him.

So we - Sasha and me - spend the next twenty minutes trying to console him, as he lies on the floor, beating the carpet with his fists. We try to ply him with everything we can think of. Toys, books, food, milk, and finally, when all else fails, TV. And then I try to get out as quickly as possible. Because once I'm gone, I know he's fine. He gets over me pretty fast.

They spend the morning playing, taking trips to the park, and doing fun things. Far more fun things than are had on a regular day with me, of that I'm fairly sure. But still, the separation ordeal leaves me feeling anxious and guilty.

We've been together almost every day since he was born. We're practically inseparable. So it's not surprising that he demonstrates his hurt when I leave. Maybe he thinks I'm not coming back. He does the same with J too. Every morning when J leaves for work, he stands at the front window wailing "Daaaddyyy!!" "Daaadddyyy!!" over and over through the glass in the most heartbreaking little voice imaginable.

Baby Center says it's perfectly normal at this age - that learning to cope with separation is just one of the stresses toddlers have to learn to cope with as they grow. How sad I feel though, that my baby is growing up and learning to cope with life's stresses. When did he get to be so big?
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Monday, May 4, 2009


J asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day. I thought about what I'd like to do. Maybe lie in a bit in the morning. Maybe take off on my own for a few hours. Maybe a massage. Something indulgent.

This made me think about what I consider indulgent and what I used to consider indulgent before I had kids.

Before kids:
-Lying in bed until midday at the weekend.
-Reading a book without interruption for hours on end.
-Long leisurely breakfast in town with friends.
-Piano - playing and composing.
-Overspending on something beautiful and frivolous.
-Swim, sauna and steam room.
-And my favourite: taking off anywhere, whenever I fancied it, for as long as I liked. Imagine.

-Taking a hot shower in peace.
-Driving to the grocery store alone.
-Sleeping more than four hours in a row.
-Drinking a cup of coffee before it gets cold.
-And basically any opportunity to be alone for an hour.

So I guess I'll be pretty easy to please then.
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