Monday, November 30, 2009

Lovely day for pulling staples out the floor.

1 - litres of coca cola consumed by yours truly today.

1.5 - bars of chocolate eaten (so far).

2 - splinters in my hand that I'm too tired to remove.

3 - times I thought about opening the wine in the fridge and realized it wasn't even 2 pm. yet.

4 - mentions to J that there will be no more renovations ever again. Ever.

5 - unsuccessful attempts at sitting down. Haha. Yeah, no.

6 - times I tried to open the fridge and was instead swiping the air because it wasn't there.

7 - times I tried to open the dishwasher and was instead swiping the air because it wasn't there.

8 - desperate efforts to remove dust particles by vacuuming the air.

9 - occasions I discovered Oliver trying to eat things off the floor in the nick of time.

10 - hours until we start all over again.

12 - times I tripped over the dog who made it his goal to always be in my path today.

15 - drawers I personally removed and carried downstairs.

68 - staples I pulled from the floor. Yeah that's a nice job.

0 - number of times I plan on renovating again in the near future.


Someone please tell me something nice that happened to them today?
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

If you don't hear from me for a few days...

It's because I've been ensconced in the pile of rubble and dust that used to be my kitchen floor.

Hey hon, I've changed my mind, can we keep the tile after all?

Or because I've been taken in for questioning about unusual activity in my bank account (it's not my fault - I have to do something when I'm forced out of the house all day).

Or because the really attractive face mask I was wearing earlier to clear the rubble has become permanently attached to my face with dust and sweat and I'm having it surgically removed.

Or because I've had it with renovations and decided it would just be easier to move.
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

The renovations just go on and on and on.

There's something about the threat of change that makes me a little giddy. Not that having new floor installed is really that big a change. And I do want so badly to be rid of the carpet that has suffered years of assault from kids and dogs and spills and stains.

Maybe it's the still-fresh memories of our last renovations that have put me in this temporary trance. Whatever it is, I'm not loving the sight of these forty or so boxes of wood in my living room right now.


Because in the next five days, everything has to come out of the house so that the floor can be laid. Every little thing.

Some people, when faced with a big task, dive in right away. Like J, he's a diver. Other people (ahem) become lethargic at the prospect of the mountain of work and instead of facing it, wander off in search of any other distraction.

J is good at this. I'm not.

When we were getting ready to move from England to Canada, he became project manager extraordinaire, sorting out our belongings, selling things, giving things away, packing up the rest to bring. He filled out all the paperwork. He organized the shipping of our possessions, even ordering the boxes to pack everything in.

I'm sure I helped somehow...

And then there were the basement renovations last year. I don't even want to replay that nightmare in my head.

But anyway. It has to be done. And it'll be nice. Wish me luck...
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Should have stayed in bed kind of a day

Today was one of those days - the crap on a stick kind of day that makes me wish I'd stayed in bed away from the world. The kind of day where I'm glad I have a blog to pour out my rantings and where you will wish I didn't.

I woke up, got the kids dressed and fed and we headed out to the weekly play program both boys are enrolled in. The session was rolling along nicely - as nicely as a room with fifteen kids under the age of four can be - until it was time to sit together to sing wind-down songs. Oliver decided this would be a perfect opportunity to lurch at me like a flying goblin and take a bite at my boob.

Like, imagine a baby alligator coming at you and wrapping his teeth around your areola. It took all my motherly might not to yell something profane in the middle of "the wheels on the bus...". And then I actually looked down my top to check my nipple was still there.

It was.

Back at home I answered a call from the company delivering our new flooring. The driver informed me he was on his way. Thirty minutes later he pulled up outside and began unloading box after massive box onto my kitchen floor.

As I stood watching the boxes pile up, I realized useful things like the cooker and dishwasher were being obscured. For a second I envisaged take out and paper plates for the next week and a half. Which would be okay in theory if we didn't have two kids.

"Um. Is there any chance you could take these boxes downstairs?" I asked.

The guy, breathless from lugging boxes that I later discovered weighed about a thousand pounds each, looked at me somewhat bewildered and I could tell he was thinking about strangling me with his bare hands.

"No." He panted. "It's just me. And there's another forty of these boxes to bring in."

"Forty! Oh!"

"Yeah."

And then I started to get in a bit of a flap, because I'm super helpful and practical in these situations. The guy helped me figure out where to put the boxes so they wouldn't ruin my life for the next week.

While the boxes were being unloaded my mother-in-law called to offer to watch the kids while I took my car to get its winter tires fitted. Which I needed to do. Because driving in this city in winter without winter tires is kind of like jumping off a bridge and hoping you don't die.

I called the mechanic to ask if they could fit me in.

"Not a problem. We can fit you in now if you come right away."

Great. I rushed down there.

"Yeah, we can see you in a few hours."

"I just spoke to someone who said you could see me right away?"

"Tsk tsk tsk." Tutted the man, shaking his head disapprovingly. "They should not have told you that. No no. That's naughty."

"Okay well please can you just do it as soon as possible?"

"We'll do what we can ma'am." He said not looking confident.

Fine. It needed to be done. I wandered off for a few hours. Luckily there was a Chapters and a Starbucks within walking distance.

Two hours later, unable to reach the center to find out the status of the tires, I wandered back in the dark.

"Hello?" I said over the counter. "Is my car ready?"

"Um. Not quite."

Sigh. Sigh. Long sigh.

Thirty minutes later I watched a mechanic who looked about thirteen, drive, or rather skid my car out of the garage and park it within an inch of its life. I was out of there with my winter tires.

Done. Done. Done.

The only consolation at the end of a day like today? Wine. And chocolate.
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Conversations of an ordinary day.

~

Me: Hi. I'm expecting my flooring to be delivered today. Is it still happening?
Flooring man: Um. Let me check... Uh. No.
Me: Shi-oot. Really?
Flooring man: It's scheduled for tomorrow.
Me: Um, but I was told today. I canceled my plans to be here. All day.
Flooring man: Yeah. Sorry. No. Tomorrow morning.
Me: But I'm not here tomorrow morning. That's why I scheduled it for Monday.
Flooring man: Oh. Um.
Me: Yeah.
Flooring man: Hmm.
Me: Hmm?
Flooring man: Hmm. Well. When can you be there?
Me: Tomorrow afternoon.
Flooring man: Um. Uh. Hmm. Um. Tomorrow afternoon... tomorrow afternoon.... Um... Errr... Dum, dum, de dum, dum, de dum.... Let's see.... Tomorrow afternoon.... Um... Yeah.
Me: Yeah?
Flooring man: Yeah...

~

UPS delivery woman:
Knocks on door.
Dog: Bark Bark Bark BARK! BARK! BARK!
Me: Shut up Bongo!
Matthew: Shuddup Bongo!
Me: Matthew don't say that!
Matthew: Okay.
Me: Hello! Sorry, it's okay he's friendly.
UPS delivery woman: Um. Okay. Drops parcel and runs.

~

Me: Hello?
Silence... Silence... Silence
Me: Hello? Hello?
Call center person with thick accent:
Hellooo. My name is Sandra McLaferty. I am calling from XYZ Mobility. I would like to tell you about a new plan we're offering....
Me: Excuse me. Is this a sales call?
Call center person with thick accent: Well, I'm just calling to let you know about this new...
Oliver, in my other arm, starts screaming.
Call center person with thick accent: ...and for a short time you can...
Me: I CAN'T HEAR YOU. MY BABY IS SCREAMING.
Call center person with thick accent: It would reduce your phone bills by....
Me: I'M SORRY BUT WHATEVER IT IS I DON'T WANT IT.
Call center person with thick accent: Oh, well, but I also wanted to let you know about...
Me: OKAY. GOODBYE.
Click.

~

Me: Oliver, let go of my leg please.
Oliver: Maa!
Me: Oliver, don't bite my leg.
Oliver: Baa!
Me: Oliver, please don't bite my - OUCH! For the love of.... AGH!
Oliver: Haaa! Haaa!
Me: Oliver, don't climb up my leg. Please don't climb.
Oliver: Heee! Heee!
Me: Oliver, what do you want from me?
Oliver: Hooo. Heee. Haaa!

~
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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Community

A few years ago when I was pregnant with Matthew and thousands of miles from home, I realized I had no real community around me. Aside from the occasional chat with a neighbour and a few work colleagues, I had no friends in the city. I decided something had to change.

I needed people.

With a little effort I was lucky enough to meet a group of women at just the right time - all of us pregnant with our first children. We quickly became close friends, meeting every week with our new babies and our under-eye bags and our stories.

Seriously, God knows what I would have done without them these past few years.

I've never been good at asking for things. I'm still not. I like to project an I-don't-need-any-help-I-can-do-it-on-my-own-thank-you-very-much image. It wasn't until I was forced to admit I needed help that I finally did.

Even then, I was all... no no I'll be okay, I can still drive across the city, pick up groceries and make dinner for everyone despite not having slept for two weeks...

Then someone smacked me upside the head and said Sarah, guess what? You're not Superwoman!

When I gave birth to Oliver 19 months later, having a community around me became even more important. I needed people even more this time. I needed favours. I needed friends to talk to on the phone when I was having a really bad day. I couldn't do it alone.

Despite my natural desire to be self-reliant, I gave in to needing people, to needing a community. And when I needed them, they were there, dropping off dinners, bringing coffee, watching the kids so I could nap, helping me out in whatever way they could.

I was overwhelmed by their kindness. And it changed me.

I realized that being this independent, disconnected person wasn't as great as I'd imagined.

Then earlier this year I stumbled into another community - the blogging community. If I'd known there were so many great connections and friends to be made I would have been here years ago.

(Only problem with the blogging friends I've made is, they live too bloody far away from me! One day, with luck, I'll meet some of you for a coffee or a martini.)

Last week I witnessed scores of bloggers pull together for Anissa Mayhew. I've never met Anissa, but over the last week I've come to know her through all of the wonderful posts, tweets and messages people have written about her.

Isn't it amazing? I don't know Anissa, and it doesn't matter. Technology has allowed me to sit at home in my pajamas and think about some small way I might be able to help her family - even if it's just a prayer to start with.

Friends of Anissa, and people that don't even know her, are coming together to help, because that's what communities do.

If this year has taught me one thing, it's that community is so, so important. Because people need people. And because there's nothing like the feeling of being able to help someone else when they need it most. And because if I can pass on this lesson to my kids, then they too will grow up being part of something good.
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Teenage Toddler

Remember when you were a teenager and your parents would try to be cool or funny and say things like "groovy!" and "snazzy!" and you would look at them with that blank stare that teenagers are so good at and roll your eyes, hoping no one else was there to witness your embarrassment?

Remember that?

Well apparently we're not waiting for the teen years here. We're starting. Right. Now. Toddler style. With a side of slouch and sarcasm.

I noticed this new teen toddler behaviour the other day when I was singing to Avril Levigne in the car. We were going through downtown and I was belting out "Keeeeep Hooolding Oo-oo-oon. Cus you know we'll make it through we'll make it through..."

When I heard a somber little voice from the back of the car.

"Mama."

I carried on since I was driving.

"Juuuuust staa-aay stro-oo-oong"

Then I heard it again as we pulled up to the lights.

"Mama." His voice was quite serious.

I turned to look at him. His deadpan expression told me he was not impressed with my singing.

"No Mama." He said very seriously and then turned to look out the window.

I laughed to myself. It was kind of cute and amusing to see him expressing his distaste. And then, pushing my luck, I continued, a little louder.

"Nothin' you can do. Nothin' you can say. There's no other way-"

And simultaneously he began barking his orders.

"Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama! No Mama! No Mama!"

As I pulled into a parking spot I caught sight of Matthew giggling to himself despite his sincerity.

That's when I realized, I'm so going to be an embarrassing mum. I just hope he can still laugh about it when he's fourteen.
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

This meme is going to be so good you'll want to eat it.

@PartyMummy said if I didn't do her meme she was going to spread nasty rumors about me. So okay alright then.

1. Name someone with the same birthday as you. Gianni Versace and Maria Callas. Stylish and talented people were born on that day.

2. Where was your first kiss? In Italy. I was 14 and the Italian boy I was making "friends" with launched himself at me without warning and tried to suck my tongue from my head. My Dad proceeded to chase him around the vineyard with a stick.

3. Have you ever seriously vandalized someone else's property? What the hell kind of question is that? I'm a laydee.

4. Have you ever hit someone of the opposite sex? I once lobbed a hairbrush at an ex-boyfriend when I was mad. It missed him and dented the wall. Lucky for him he was fast.

5. Have you ever sung in front of a large number of people? Yes. Too many times.

6. What's the first thing you notice about your preferred sex? Their mood.

7. What really turns you off? Long toenails.

8. What do you order at Starbucks? A non-fat latte, a kid's milk and a piece of banana loaf.

9. What is your biggest mistake? Not consuming enough chocolate and wine.

10. Have you ever hurt yourself on purpose? Does having a baby count?

11. Say something totally random about yourself. I would rather cut off my hair than be stuck on a desert island without lip balm.

12. Has anyone ever said you looked like a celebrity? Sophie Ellis-Baxter and Martine McCutcheon (I think they wanted something from me).

13. Do you still watch kiddie movies or TV shows? I like Disney Pixar movies. But don't put Max & Ruby near me for the love of God.

14. Did you have braces? No.

15. Are you comfortable with your height? Yes. I'm 5'8".

16. What is the most romantic thing someone of the preferred sex has done for you? My husband is pretty cool. He'll let me lie in at the weekend and has driven to restaurants at unreasonable times of the night to satisfy my pregnancy cravings. Awww.

17. When do you know it's love? When your partner listens to you talking seductive pirate talk for too long at bedtime and doesn't make you sleep on the sofa or try to muffle you with a pillow.

18. Do you speak any other languages? French pas tres bien zut alors.

19. Have you ever been to tanning salon? Yes. Once years ago. I lay there thinking, what the hell am I doing? Then got up and never went back.

20. Have you ever ridden in a limo? No. It's not an ambition of mine.

21. What's something that really annoys you? Victoria's Secret ads.

22. What's something you really like? Winning the lottery.

23. Can you dance? No.

24. Have you ever been rushed by an ambulance into the emergency room? No.

25. Tag 5 people!

@MetropolitanMum
@SeattleDad
Mwa
@ewiller
@maternaltales
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

10 reasons not to wait until you're thinner to buy new clothes.

I was at a playgroup this morning, chatting with a bunch of mums. One of them commented that she wore the same thing all the time because she still had baby weight to loose and didn't want to waste money on new clothes until the weight was gone. We all - every single one of us in the room - laughed understandingly. We've all been in that situation.

Well. I say enough of this silliness.

Enough waiting for the left-over baby weight to disappear. Enough imagining you'll wake up two sizes slimmer in the morning. And let's face it - the holidays are coming. And who the hell looses weight over the holidays? Not me. I usually gain three pounds from all the cookies and plum pudding with brandy butter.

My friends might confirm that I'm rather persuasive. If I'm shopping with you, I will find 101 reasons why you should definitely buy the thing you've got your eye on. Honestly, I'm relentless.

So, here are my 10 reasons why you should stop waiting and buy yourself a new outfit this week.

1. The idea that you're wasting money buying clothes because you're going to loose weight is silly (unless you honestly are). Be realistic - how long is it going to take you to reach your ideal weight? Me? Well, let's see... ideally I'd like to be my pre-baby weight again (10 lbs less) and then another 10 lbs would be nice. So that would be, um, about a year? Am I going to wait a whole miserable year to buy myself something? Nope.

2. Oh yes you do deserve it! I often feel like I'll deserve new clothes when I've lost weight. No! No no no. You deserve them now.

3. Never mind that those old stores you used to shop in make you look like a stuffed potato. Sod them and their skinny bitch clothes. Find another store with proper sizes.

4. Shopping is also time off for you. Tell your family you will need a couple of hours to go shopping alone, then, as well as the treats, you'll get a little time to yourself, which is almost as good as the treat itself.

5. Shopping needn't cost a fortune. Like the woman in my playgroup this morning, I don't like spending a lot on something temporary. But these days there are lots of places to buy clothes inexpensively - outlets, concessions stores and even superstores. You just need to do a little hunting around.

6. Starbucks. Because obviously you can't make a coherent choice without a latte.

7. If you really really insist on not buying new clothes, accessories work too. And accessories will fit you whatever size you are. And who doesn't love bags, scarves, shoes, sunglasses, brooches, bracelets, hats, etc?

8. You'll be doing a great service to charities that need clothes when you hand over your garments that no longer fit in a year's time.

9. The thrill. You know - the feeling you get when you pay for that pretty thing and walk away with it in your bag? Don't deprive yourself just because of a few lousy pounds.

10. And most importantly. New clothes are good for your health. It's true I tell you! (but don't quote me on that) When I wear new clothes, I feel better about myself, and therefore I start taking better care of myself - what I eat, drink, etc., and eventually this good cycle begins to start to rub off on my overall health. No really!


Image from www.everydaypeoplecartoons.com


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Sunday, November 15, 2009

When companies masquerade as friends.

Lots of us proudly display the Blog With Integrity badge on our blogs. And we've seen the new FTC regulations. And as a parent blogger, or mum blogger, or whatever you want to call me (I'm not fussy), I've a pretty good sense of what's acceptable content for my blog and what's not.

I don't gush about a product and fail to mention I've been paid to do so. I don't rave about something that truthfully sucks because I'm being compensated. I don't lie to my readers. (oh, um, except maybe sometimes regarding age and weight... forgive me?)

It's quite clear to me how to blog with integrity.

But for some there is still concern that the lines between honest blogging and advertising are blurry. Especially when it comes to companies plying bloggers with fancy trips and free stuff in the hopes they'll share positive product reviews with their thousands of followers.

As the LA Times article noted yesterday, this type of marketing is shrewd, yes. It's advertising in a nontraditional sense.

But I for one don't find it confusing.

The bloggers who attended the Nestlé event told us they were going and why. And therefore I wasn't surprised when I saw tweets and blog posts about the event and about Nestlé products.

For the record I don't like Nestle. I decided years ago not to buy their products after reading about the company's shady operations with regard to infant formula in the third world. You know the story by now if you didn't before.

But anyway, my point is, I didn't find it confusing. I knew the bloggers were attending an event intended to promote a brand.

And quite frankly if Cadbury's invited me to a weekend of chocolate eating, fancy hotels and naked slaves... oh wait that's my fantasy, what was I saying? and wonderful alone time, do you think I'd say no because I blog with integrity? Hell no. I'd tell you folks about it, and then I'd hop on that plane and head for the chocolate. Obviously.

I don't find it confusing when companies ask influential bloggers to attend lavish events in the hopes they'll tell their followers about it.

Nor do I find it confusing when bloggers talk about the details of an event they're attending or a product they're reviewing.

You know what I DO find confusing?

Companies that masquerade as people, or worse - friends.

Recently I watched a company use Twitter to infiltrate the mum blogging community as "one of us". The tweeter in question acted like a friend, an individual, not like a company.

She expertly gathered a large following on Twitter, building camaraderie by talking about common parenting problems and asking for advice. The marketing was so subtle it was barely noticeable.

I'm referring to the tweeter who's goal was to promote a film about a mom blogger...

The film's overall marketing campaign was very creative, enlisting popular mom bloggers to help promote the movie. The bloggers involved were open and honest about their participation and I respect them for that. I have no issue with this aspect of the movie's marketing strategy.

When the film came out in late October, and the job promoting it on Twitter was done, the tweeter - the brand - vanished. Friend and tweeter no more. Adios amigos.

You see, this is confusing, to me. Blurry.

Why?

Because when I cannot differentiate between a company marketing a product, and a friend, I have an issue.

I've seen other brands use social media to market to their audience in a more direct manner. They'll present special offers, discounts, sneak previews, reviews, contests. To me there's a big difference between this kind of open, honest advertising and the kind that involves pretending to be pals over tweets.

Something about it just doesn't sit right - the sneakiness of it, the dishonesty of behaving like a friend, holding real conversations about people's families, building fake relationships. All in the name of profit, not friendship.

I guess for me, advertising and friendship are two things that can never be combined.

But that's just my opinion. What do you think?
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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Facebook for Pirates

I've discovered a new way to enjoy Facebook. A way that stops me from gouging my eyes out when I read so-and-so person I was friends with fifteen years ago's status update that says something like "Fifi is going to the mall to look for some curtain hangers and then might have a sandwich at the mall and then is going to drive home and have a cup of tea and hopefully it won't rain today because she wants to hang her laundry out and also...". Cut.

Yes dudes, I know there's a way of blocking people, or their updates or whatever, but honestly I don't have the energy or inclination to work it out. So, usually I just hold my breath and scroll through the rubbish to get to my actual friends' updates, which I like. Because they're my actual fiends.

Anyway. The other day, I found a way to like Facebook. It happened by accident. Our computer malfunctioned and when I logged on to Facebook, everything was written in Pirate talk.

My profile said. Th' saucy wench Sarah be usin' Ye olde Facebook with the tongue o' English Pirate.

I knew immediately I was going to prefer this way to the old way.

What be troublin' ye? It asked me.

I be findin' this 'ere Facebook mighty vexin' like a son of a biscuit eater... I replied.

What be troublin' ye?
It asked again.

I been a swashbucklin' with wenches all day and still there be no booty to see
...

What be troublin' ye?

I done run out o' things pirate to say to ye now so get ye to the plank ye rascal scallywag.

Then it told me 15 shots o' rum ago, Cap'n Simon has had one too many.

This be pleasin' to my eye!
I clicked in approval.

35 shots o' rum ago, Lady Brenda... likes her husband's meatballs.

Arrr! I clicked.

Thar be more... It said.

It asked me if I wanted to Scrawl upon 'er plank in reference to a long lost colleague. Much better than poking her.


Image from timtim.com


Unfortunately I'm incapable of letting go of things I'm amused by, and so continued my pirate renditions at bedtime. There was at least twenty minutes of smutty pirate jokes. Which apparently was a painfully long time. J told me my pirate accent was not a turn on because I sounded kind of like an English farmer from the West Country. Which - what the hell?


To turn Pirate English on, go to the bottom left of your Facebook page, click English (US or UK), and switch to English (Pirate).
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lady Mama's Résumé

It's been a long time since I've looked at my résumé. About five years. When I finally retrieved it from my hard drive the other day, I chuckled at the ambitious words I used to describe myself, the long list of skills and achievements, the many many jobs, the blow by blow account of my education. Really fascinating stuff.

Then I tried to re-write it, to bring it up to date. This is what I really wanted to write.

*************************************************************

Lady Mama's Résumé

Background

Started as corporate ladder climber, schmoozing clients (getting them drunk), wowing bosses with amazing business-winning talents (cleavage), strutting around with important looking documents (gossip rags wrapped in fax paper).

Then took short hiatus in career to raise children. Expanded vocabulary to include words to Dora The Explorer, developed amazing strength in upper arms from carrying babies and toddlers around all day, grew extra pair of eyes in back of head to catch children trying to pour nail varnish over dog - very useful for paying close attention to detail.

Skills

Fast worker: I can change a diaper in thirty seconds flat. Beat that.

Multi-tasker:
I can cook dinner, wipe down surfaces, vacuum, hold a baby, talk on the phone, drink wine and email all at the same time. Impressive huh?

Efficient:
I have honed my domestic skills to that of a 1950's housewife. Dinner on the table, house cleaned, slick of lipstick, children sweet and happy and ready to welcome daddy home. Yeah that one was a lie.

Not deterred by hard work:
I have been up to my elbows in poo and pee and remained as steadfast as a soldier. Also, I have gone for months with no more than three hours of sleep at a time and still been able to recite the words to all the songs from The Sound of Music (my husband loves when I do that).

Positive attitude:
I am as bright and breezy as a sunshiny day every morning when my kids force me to get up out of bed at 7 a.m. with their yelling.

Strategic thinker:
I've devised a number of mummy-needs-quiet-time hiding places around my house: in the bathroom, in my closet, behind the couch, or in the laundry hamper if I curl up really small and don't move.

Salary expectation


If you give me a quiet office, an endless supply of coffee, a lunch break, and pay for childcare, I'll do it for near free.

References

Matthew or Oliver.

*************************************************************




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Remembering them

I love these old photographs of my grandparents, taken during the war (WWII).

My Grandfather. Unfortunately I never met him, but I've heard
he was a wonderful man. I just know that I would have loved him lots.


Nana and Granddad on their wedding day.
I still miss you and think of you every day Nana. x


My Grandfather in Italy, 1946.


Marching Wrens (where my Nana served).



Today I remember those I knew and those I did not and those who died sacrificing their lives for our freedom.

You are not and never will be forgotten.
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Monday, November 9, 2009

Domestically Deceptive

When it comes to household chores, I like short cuts. I detest housework and would rather spend my spare minutes emailing, blogging, twittering or googling things like "can I train my dog to make coffee?". And though I love taking the time to cook a proper dinner, it's sometimes too much work at the end of a long day.

So I thought I'd share some of my short cuts with you.


Pimp your food: Montreal steak seasoning.

Image from www.simplyorganicfoods.com

This product has saved dinner time from a drab death on a number of occasions this year. When I have lacked energy or inspiration, I've used steak seasoning on almost everything - chicken, beef, fish, vegetables. Add a side and, done.

I spent all day making this: Pasta sauce in a jar.



I always, without fail, have a bottled tomato sauce in my cupboard. If all else fails, I dump the jar over some pasta, make a quick salad and whamerelli - dinner.

It's-a not so bad, it's-a nice-a place: Frozen pizza.
Image from www.oetker.ca

Frozen pizza. So lazy and naughty, and yet so easy and tasty. That's why I figure that pizza with spinach, really, is a winner all round. It has spinach on it for gawd sake. Enough said.

Pong be gone: Lemons.

Image from beautifullyused.com

I always have lemons in my fridge. If I've been handling raw fish, I squeeze some lemons straight onto my hands, or straight onto any surface or even into the garbage and the smell is gone. Shazaa.

Grease your parts: Olive Oil.

Image from www.plomaricity.gr

I hate dry skin and am obsessed with always having hand cream and lip balm nearby. Especially in the kitchen where I'm washing my hands every other minute. My husband thinks I'm OCD but that's another story. If neither cream or balm are available, I use olive oil and it works very well.

Are you staring at those deodorant marks on my top? Baby wipes.

Image from www.greenbeginnings.co.uk

There's a reason to lug baby wipes around in your bag, other than bottom/face/hand wiping. Baby wipes miraculously remove those bastard little white streaks that appear on your clothes when you're frantically trying to get dressed before your deodorant has had time to dry because your kids are attempting to murder each other and the dog.


None of the pimping of products in this post was paid for in any way, shape or form.
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Sunday, November 8, 2009

This is why I don't shop with other people.

On Saturday J and I were presented with a rare opportunity to go out for the morning alone. Just us, no kids. And since we're about to enter the next phase of house renovations happy fun times, we decided to go in search of a new a sofa.

J and I have similar taste in furniture. We studied design at the same university in London and we share a love of modern, graphic prints and simple, clean lines. So usually, we're on the same page when it comes to furniture.

Usually.

But on Saturday I wasn't in the mood for modern. As we circuited the glossy showroom with its angular chairs and contemporary fabrics, all I could think was, bachelor pad bachelor pad bachelor pad. Not, family living room with kids and dogs and spills and tears and curling up on the sofa with a cup of tea and a book.

Damn suburban life - ruiner of good taste and style.

"I don't like anything."
"Nothing?"
"Nothing."
"Nothing at all?"
"Nothing at all."

As we trekked around various other furniture stores, what followed was a string of stubbornness, pouting, sighing, shuddering, laughing, stomping. (All J.)

Here's the thing. I love shopping. Doesn't matter what for - clothes, shoes, coffee tables, books, earthenware casserole dishes, handbags, salt and pepper shakers, plastic containers - whatever. It's always the same contented feeling that results. The rush of satisfaction that the shiny new thing is mine. Mine! (Cackling)


It's a warm fuzzy happy jolly time.

But you know what's not such a fuzzy happy jolly time? Me shopping with other people. When I shop with other people, I am a bloody nightmare on hissy wheels.

Why am I a nightmare on hissy wheels?

Well.

1. I'm a selfish shopper. I don't want to be considerate while I'm shopping. I'm considerate in all other areas of life. Shopping is My Selfish Thing.

2. I'm unwaveringly definite about what I like and don't like.

3. If the product I love doesn't fit my budget, I say bugger the budget and get it anyway.

So, usually I shop solo. It's better that way.

But the sofa was a joint decision. So we went back and forth, each presenting our case for the best sofa. The sales staff stood back and watched as we negotiated and haggled (with each other).

And then finally the skies parted and we agreed on a sofa. A beautiful sofa that fit both of our requirements: modern and comfortable. One movies can be watched on underneath blankets. One guests will sit on after dinner. One I'll curl up on in the evening to relax after a long day.

So in the end, we worked it out.

But I'm choosing the cushions and the throw. On my own. Ha.



***My husband read this post and would like to point out that the final decision was not, in fact, a compromise, that actually I got my wretched way, as usual. And he added that he's going to take my advice about blowing the budget and spend twice what we agreed on a TV for the basement. Um.***



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Friday, November 6, 2009

Undisturbed sleep, I want to cover you in whipped cream and marry you.

A week ago I was more than tired. I was forgetting people's names. I was leaving keys in the front door. I was accusing my house of conspiring against me by hiding things I couldn't find. I began convincing myself it really was okay to wear white socks with black shoes because there were no black ones washed.

I had tried sleep training before and failed. On purpose, kind of, because my baby was my baby and I couldn't let go of his sweet needy cuddles. I continued giving in to his demands, two, three or four times a night, even though I knew my night visits were more about comfort than necessity.

Then my doctor asked me, matter of factly, what about you Sarah?

And I was like, huh?

She pointed to the cracks under the surface, sort of like the varicose veins you hope no one will notice.

Lately it's as though my brain cells have one by one been jumping ship with each sleepless night. And the thing is - I need those molecules of brainy goodness. Because I have two kids, a husband, friends, a life, interests, and soon, a career again. A career that requires brains for problem solving.

So, four nights ago, we put Oliver down in his bed, kissed him goodnight, and told him we'd see him in the morning. That night there were a few crying spells. Each time, we'd go in to check on him and make sure he was safe and warm. And then we left him.

And that first night, we slept. For SEVEN WHOLE HOURS.

Each night since then has been a little better, with less stirrings, and then last night - the fourth night, Oliver slept from 7 at night til 7 in the morning. Without a single peep.

Whoooooooooooooooooooo!
And again.
Whoooooooooooooooooooo!


Now I just need to make sure I don't get pregnant again any time soon.
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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The morning I agreed to do a TV interview

Yesterday morning at around 11:30 I arrived home from a playgroup, baby under one arm, diaper bag under the other, coaxing my toddler up the steps ahead of me. A normal morning.

Ignoring the mess I'd neglected to tidy earlier that morning, I put Oliver down for his nap and began simultaneously preparing lunch, calling my parents in England and checking email. Sometimes I am like wonder woman. Only without the super fit body. And the lycra leotard. And the super powers.

I noticed an email from a CBC reporter. He wanted to interview me about the H1N1 vaccine debacle. Minutes later I was on the phone giving him directions to my house, all cool and nonchalant, like, oh sure, I can do an interview for TV.

Um. What?

And then I realized I'd agreed to do an interview for television. In forty minutes. In my house - my house that looked like a nuclear disaster zone. No really. There were dishes in the sink, cereal bowls abandoned from breakfast beside spills of milk and rice krispies, toys and books on the floor, paperwork on every surface.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Why did I agree to this? Oh yes - sleep deprivation - I can blame that. Hahaha I'm insane.

So then I spent forty minutes tidying the house - obviously by tidying I mean shoving things into cupboards and drawers. I cursed a lot as I tidied. My toddler helped me by taking the things I had just put away back out and hurling them on the floor. And then he helped by emptying his juice box all over the sofa.

The reporter and camera man arrived and I was all ahaha, yes, I'm completely calm, everything's fine and my house is tidy and I'm not at all freaking out about being on TV.

And then, as I was getting my microphone attached, as if on cue, Matthew started yelling "HEEELLLP! HEEEELLP!" from his bedroom. (I had tried to put him down for a nap. What? No I didn't just lock him in his room - what kind of parent do you think I am?)

The interview was okay but I definitely won't be pursuing a career in television. You can watch it here.

Don't laugh! Okay laugh a bit.
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dear online thingies, I hate you I love you

Dear Twitter, please stop asking me to make lists. I don't understand why I need them. I don't have the energy to find out why I need them. I only just about made it onto Twitter in the first place. Please just let me Tweet in my own basic way in peace.

Dear Facebook, please stop telling me to poke people. I'll poke who I want, when I want. And by the way, when did you become so irritating?

Dear Google, please stop with the Waving. If I want to wave at someone, I'll wait for the mail man and wave at him from my window in my pajamas, even if it does scare the living crap out of him. In the mean time I'm happy not waving. And what the hell is Waving anyway?

Dear makers of the Cadbury TV ad with the eyebrow twitching kids - what the hell were you thinking? I thought the days of cocaine inspired commercials were left behind in the nineties? I think my feelings on the absurdity of this ad may generate a whole other post. But really, it's a royal pain in the ass to have to switch channels every time my eyeballs are assaulted by this atrocity.

Dear Lost, hurry up and be on already.

Dear Firefox, why does everything seem so difficult with you? I ask you to do one simple web manoeuvre and you're all "Oh I don't feel like it today. I'm a bit under the weather. I think I'll just take a break and have a cup of cocoa". That's it. I've had it. I'm defecting to Safari.

Dear Apple, I still love you. Don't worry, I will never defect to the dark side.



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Monday, November 2, 2009

Sleep Training Round II

"Everything seems fine." Said the doctor, smiling at Oliver who was perched on the examination table tearing up the paper sheet and shoving the pieces into his mouth delightedly.

"Great." I said, beaming.

"And, he's sleeping through the night?" She said, nodding expectantly, as though this was a given.

"Um. No. Not even close." I said somewhat amused by the very thought.

"Oh. Oh! And he's nine months? Oh." She scribbled something on her pad. "So he gets up, what, once per night?"

"More like three or four times." I winced, recounting last night's bleary-eyed crib visits.

"Oh. You must be tired." She said eyeing me.

What is it that gave me away doc? The dark circles under my eyes or the fact that my sweater is on back to front?

"Yes. I'm very tired."

In fact, while you're here, would you mind holding my baby while I just lay down on this examination table so I can catch a few winks?

"Time to do sleep training." She said firmly, writing something else on her pad. I wondered if she was writing out instructions for me.

"Because you're tired, I can see. And you can't carry on like this, especially with two young kids to look after."

That was when I leaped up and roared "I'M TIRED WOMAN, NOT INCOMPETENT! I'VE DONE SLEEP TRAINING AND IT DIDN'T WORK DAMMIT! OKAY, HONESTLY, IT MIGHT HAVE WORKED BUT I WIMPED OUT... BUT ANYWAY, WHO THE HELL ARE YOU TO TELL ME WHAT TO DO? ROAR."

Okay I didn't roar any of that. Obviously. I'm British after all.

I nodded in agreement.

Because my doctor was right. Her words, though obvious, simple, were true. I have resisted sleep training, but now I need to sleep. Tonight. So that I can rejoin the land of conscious, alert people.

So, wish me luck as I embark on sleep training round II. For reals.

And then I promise to stop banging on about how tired I am and write about something else.
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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Letter to the Alberta Health Minister: H1N1 Vaccine Fail

Dear Ron Liepert, Health Minister for Alberta,

I am sitting here compiling a list of everything I am going to need for the next few weeks.

- Groceries and toiletries for 4 people.
- Six hundred diapers and wipes.
- Ten gallons of milk.
- Toys, games, crafts and dvds to keep us entertained.
- Vitamins to stay healthy.
- Hand sanitizer. Lots.

I will need these things because yesterday you announced there was no more H1N1 vaccine - that it had run out, before I was able to get to a clinic with my two young children. And therefore I will be avoiding taking my two little children to public places and will instead be staying home.

Hopefully more vaccine will be available soon, given that six months ago the results of a poll stated that between 48-55% of Albertans intended on getting the vaccine. To date only 10% of Albertans have been vaccinated.

And you did promise that everyone could have the vaccine. Remember?

You opened four clinics in Calgary last Monday. Four clinics. To serve more than 1 million people.

And it soon became clear there was no strategy in place to give priority to high risk individuals, despite Alberta's pandemic plan, which clearly states high risk people should be vaccinated first.


I did not take my children last week, because queuing with two children under the age of three for anywhere between two and seven hours would not have been possible. Instead I arranged for my husband to take a few hours off work next week, in the hopes that the queues would be shorter by then.

But then last night, I learned from a friend on Twitter that you had decided to close all Alberta clinics.

Some people are a bit upset by this.

Understandable if you think about it: Albertans have been stirred
into a swine flu fearing frenzy for the better part of the year. Then, when the clinics finally opened, they were too few and poorly managed. And high risk people were not given priority. And then, with little warning, they were closed.

So yes, people are pissed.

Your response was
"All I can point to is the fact we have 10 per cent of our population vaccinated, including all of those high risk categories, and we're not even into November yet."

I would be willing to place a wager that not all high risk categories have been vaccinated.

In the mean time, please send all the above supplies to me. Because there is no more vaccine for now. So I am going to be here, in my house with my two restless children, avoiding public places. Avoiding the flu that you spent so long telling me I needed to protect my family from.

And next time, perhaps after you have spent so many months whipping up public fear, you could have a little more foresight in your planning.

Yours sincerely,

Lady Mama


Cartoon from churchtimes.co.uk

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