Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tastes like Chicken

I love food. I love shopping for it, cooking it, reading about it, thinking about it and eating it. In fact, I love it so much that I kind-of want to marry it and then French kiss it a lot. Oh whoops, did I take that too far? Sorry. Where was I? Food. Yes. Yum.

I don't really know where the food passion/obsession came from, but I do know that my Mom is a fantastic cook, and I always felt like cooking was a big part of my life. (Except in college, when there was not so much cooking and more take-out. Specifically, chicken-cheese-steak subs and deep-dish pizza. Which explains why I look like I do in graduation photos. Thank you, Philly's Best.) For me, a perfect day would include a trip to a food market and an inspirational dinner out, at the least (also included: a lazy morning in with the with kids, a run, a manicure and winning the lottery.) I'll tell you what is NOT included: cooking kids' dinner.

OK, yes, I know I could do one meal for everyone and wouldn't that be more convenient and we could eat as a family and give ourselves time to digest instead of eating at 9pm all while teaching my children to eat real food and blah, blah, blah, please shut up now. But that is never, ever going to happen until the kids can stay up past 7:30 pm without turning into goblins and/or without ruining the precious few hours that husband and I have alone (which we spend in front of the TV, like nature intended.)

So kids' dinner at 5:30 it is, and it is a bitch. It's trying to make something healthy and vegetable-ful without giving them chicken, pasta and peas every single day. Sometimes we vary it up and do broccoli. Or rice if we want to be really crazy. Because M does not like meat (even if you call it chicken, and I am not above lying) and O does not like carrots. M does not like sauces or little bits of green things. O does not like eggs or ketchup. M does not like ham. O loves it. Luckily, both kids like sodium and high fructose corn syrup so baked beans are a win! We finish with yogurt.

Once you make the food, there is the daily battle of getting them to eat it within 45 minutes (M) and without putting it all over the table to see how it feels smeared on wood (O). Anyway, I think you get my point. And if you don't, feel free to come visit. Whoever gets the kids to eat curry gets to keep them. 

Next time: Join me as I try to explain to Husband why I've run away to live with a ball of fresh buffalo milk mozzarella and some delicious focaccia.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy Mother's Day. Here are some antidepressants.

The builders are here, starting work on the conservatory we are adding to the back of the house. Which means that I will have to go out and buy more tea bags. I know it's a whole English cliche with builders and tea, but seriously, these guys have been through 4 pots since this morning, each cup with about 3 sugars, yet no one has been inside to go to the bathroom. So yeah, fingers crossed for the plants.

Luckily, the music selection is fantastic. I don't know what I was expecting, but so far they seem to be listening to a radio station that focuses on 70's/80's soft rock.  We heard "Everywhere" by Fleetwood Mac, "Hazard" by Richard Marx and something from Genesis. Next up: Simon and Garfunkel. The best part is that they are singing along. (I am not making this up. There is a guy on the deck crooning "Smooth Operator.")

Despite the great tunes, we are looking forward to having it completed. The decking out back is now off-limits, and due to a not-super-smart decision I made about not going to the playground, I'm now trying to keep the kids entertained inside without resorting to television.  So far this afternoon, we've played "Eating Kind-Of Junk-y Snacks That Are Labeled Healthy," "Hide the Coin in Your Mouth," and "Throwing the Ball at the TV - 10 Points if You Don't Scratch the Screen."

Speaking of television (Oh sweet, sweet television), apparently it's Mother's Day on Sunday. I found this out while watching a commercial selling DVDs that were suggested as Mother's Day gifts.  High on their list: The Lovely Bones. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but isn't this movie about someone's dead child? Because unless you are planning on accompanying that gift with a nice card decorated in Cymbalta, I might think twice about the purchase.  

OK, kids have moved on to "Remove the Cushions From the Couch and Jump Until Someone Starts Crying." Better go. Also, I have some errands to run, and I think Father's Day is also coming up soon. I bet Husband will love Dying Young.

Next time: How to speed up the job search process so that I can be back at work before potty training starts and therefore hand that odious task off to someone else.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Don't miss this post. It's deep and meaningful.

I'm back. Did you miss me? Wait. Don't answer that.

As I've been lying awake the past couple nights, fighting jet lag, I had some really great ideas for blog posts, so I made sure to jot down a few notes to remind myself of them once I had the chance to start typing things up. The notes read:

"we're back. survival. comfort of journey analogy? returning from family trip. travel experience with kids. bodily functions."

Um, OK. Those notes are not super helpful. Apparently one needs to be a little more descriptive in late-night note-taking (or else get some bigger paper, because the post-it was limiting.) Sorry to say that I now cannot remember a single word of the FABULOUSLY INTERESTING stories I was going to share, nor the DEEP AND MEANINGFUL INSIGHTS I had about our trip. However, I am pretty sure "bodily functions" refers to some sort of poop explosion (courtesy of O) and a taxi barf-fest (thank you, M.) So there you go.

But since we're on the topic of poop (sort-of), I need to ask a serious question.
What is the purpose of swim diapers? Because as far as I can tell those things do not work.

Problem 1: They don't retain liquids. I know this is unavoidable, and frankly, with the super absorbency of today's diapers, there is a serious risk that your child would immediately soak up all the pool water so that everyone else is left flailing in a puddle on the floor tiles while you stand there holding a baby with a bottom the size of Texas. But it's less of an issue than Problem 2.

Problem 2 (and this is truly unfortunate): They don't retain solids either. I mean, in THEORY they hold stuff in, so you are probably making your fellow swimmers feel better about sharing the pool with a small child. But in practice, that stuff dissipates faster than a group of teenagers at a kegger where the cops show up.
(I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to whoever was swimming at the hotel with us on Tuesday morning. Our bad.)
Am I missing something? Is there some sort of button I didn't fasten? Should I be using duct tape in conjunction with it? I just don't get it.

Overall, we had a really great time in New Orleans, and I'm sure I will remember more details as I get a few more posts up. Apparently there was some crazy lady in her pajamas in the lobby the first night, shouting at the manager to hurry up and get room service to deliver the warm milk we ordered 40 minutes ago because her kid was freaking out and if it doesn't show up soon she is going to SEND HIM DOWN TO THE FRONT DESK TO SLEEP WITH YOU. God. People are so unreasonable.

In other news, M took a close look at my teeth last night (as I was helping her brush hers) and said, "Mummy, your teeth sure are yellow." I thanked her and told her not to worry because I had a nice big glass of wine downstairs that would probably turn them purple instead. Kids are such gems.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Today was take 2 on removing the scaffolding from the back of our house. We are on our second roofing company, trying to repair a leak that drips water onto a space in the ceiling directly above our bed. Or more precisely, directly above my head as I lie there not sleeping. Because there is nothing like the sound of a leak to make me sit bolt upright at 2 a.m., turn on the light, wake up Husband and start freaking out about how the ceiling will probably cave in and all the books from the bookshelf on the floor above will come raining down on my head and kill me. Husband loves it when I do this. He is a sound sleeper and rational human being, so he appreciates the fact that I wake him up to participate in my paranoia.

Turns out, it rains a lot in England. So it was really in the best interest of married life to get this fixed, which our current roofer assures us has been done. We'll see. I guess I'll have to wait for another 10 minutes or so until it rains again to test it out.

Little O is obviously disappointed because the scaffolding is now gone, so he lost his backyard climbing frame. He really liked to scale the bars up to the 2nd floor. HA HA! I jest. Stop calling child services. We almost always caught him before he got to the eighth rung.

Now that the leak is "fixed" we can move on with our house plans, which include putting a conservatory onto the back so the kids can have a play room to put all their plastic crap toys in. Like many people in England we live in a "terraced" house, so space is at a premium. Terraced means sharing both side walls with our neighbors, like a town house. Houses that don't share any walls are called "selfish." No wait, I mean "detached." The fact that they have to name it gives you some sense of how rare it is.

Anyway, it will be nice to have a little bit more space downstairs so the living room can stop doubling as a Lego building factory/soft gym. (I ended up upholstering the coffee table, so now when M and O jump onto it from the couch, we don't have to take them to the emergency room.)

In other news, we are headed to the US in a couple days for my brother's wedding. Yahoo! We are all excited about what will surely be a great celebration. I, personally, am also very much looking forward to the long trans-Atlantic + connecting flights. It's always special when you get to combine your fear of flying with the joys of parenting two small children in an enclosed space for an extended period of time. In fact, I bet it will be almost as much fun as lying in bed listening to the leak.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

License to complain

Our insurance company just sent us our car insurance policy, which is helpfully renewed automatically without us needing to do anything. How nice of them. Except for the fact that they removed me from the policy last May, with no notice, so I've been driving around uninsured for 10 months. And now they won't put me back on until I get a UK driver's license. Which involves completely re-starting the driving process, COMPUTER TESTS, IN-CAR LESSONS AND ALL. Kill me now.

For whatever reason, the UK will not exchange a US license for a UK one. The crazy French and Italian drivers, sure! Come use our roads! But any US driver has to retake the test within 12 months of arriving here. It doesn't matter if you've been driving for 30 minutes or 30 years, you start from scratch.

I have a problem with this, because seriously? What's so wonderful about the system here? To begin with, EVERYONE IS DRIVING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD. You can't turn right on red, and they have these ridiculous zebra crossings where you have to stop at the whim of any pedestrian that feels like going to the other side of the road. You wouldn't want anyone to walk an extra 10 feet for an intersection. A large percentage of roads in our area are not even wide enough for 2 cars, yet they allow you to park on the sides. And don't even get me started on the location of the steering wheel.

It's all just so unreasonable.

OK. I feel better now, thanks. Sorry for the French and Italian shot. That was cheap. You guys are really great drivers.

Anyway, if you need me, I'll be on the bus. Or perhaps walking in a zigzag pattern back and forth across the street. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Maybe I should be a chauffeur. Or possibly not.

Yesterday was M's ballet class at the pub. This is, frankly, a very good set-up for both of us. It's within walking distance, she gets to wear pink, and I can choose from a selection of delicious beverages. (Although usually I get hot tea. I know. BORING. Seriously, why are you even here listening to me? You could be somewhere else, watching paint dry!) The place gets packed with moms and siblings and strollers, and any remaining real customers finish their pints in record time because it's pretty much like trying to have a relaxing drink at a daycare.  

More often than not, I chat with a friend about my job search. She asks me how it's going, and I tell her about the latest interview and why that job isn't QUITE right. This has been going on for awhile now. Since last April to be exact, so you could forgive someone for thinking that it's almost as though I don't want a job. But I do! Something challenging and at a more senior level than my last role. Except part-time. But well-paid! But flexible with hours. But varied and interesting! Also, working from home occasionally would be great. But I'm really competent and can be there on Wednesdays from 10-2! Hire me!

It doesn't help that I don't know exactly what I want to do. Ad sales (my background. Meh.)? Graphic design? Cooking? Marketing? Personal training? PR? I even went to see a career counselor to do one of those aptitude test thingys. It was...not helpful. Mostly it showed that I have a variety of interests (well, that narrows it down) and that I should steer clear of anything involving spatial awareness (so, not architect.) Anyway, Husband had already helpfully pointed the spacial thing out using our car as Exhibit A. To which I say, whatever. IT'S VERY HARD TO SEE HOW FAR THE TOLLBOOTH IS WHEN YOU ARE DRIVING AN ENGLISH CAR IN FRANCE. Also, parking lots in England are REALLY SMALL. You try getting around that pillar.   

So, I don't know. Work. Yeah.

On a side note: I still have my poinsettia from Christmas. Maybe I can find a job caring for out of season plants. Except, God, I wish the poinsettia would die already. It's awkward and Christmas-y in that corner of the living room.

On another side note: I sent M to school dressed like a fairy. It's science week and the theme was "things that fly." What? That totally counts.

UPDATE: My mother would like to point out that spacial is more commonly spelled "spatial." I used both. I mean, obviously I was just trying to cover my bases and was in no way careless. That would be, well, careless. Thank you.
- The Management

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Self disclosure

Well, then. Blogging. Ok. Welcome! I would start out by saying that I'm a 30-something American woman married to a 40-something Englishman with 2 half-English, half-American kids (amazing how that works!) living in the suburbs of London and trying to figure out what to do with my life. Work? Stay home? Go back to school for something or another? Go for a run? Nap? Cookie? Mmmm, cookie. But I'm pretty sure it's only my mother reading this, so I won't. Hi, Mom!

Also, I just want to admit a couple of things before I get going.

Confession 1: There will probably be cursing. Not as in, "A pox on your house!" but more as in "shit, my children are behaving like assholes." There. I said it. Now that we've broken the ice on that one, don't you feel better?  

Confession 2: My palms are a little bit sweaty as I type this. Mostly because, wow, blogging requires so many more WORDS than status updates. You should see the size of this white box I'm typing in! Phew. I keep having flashbacks to days when school papers were due, and I'd have only 3.5 pages typed up when 5 were required, and that's when you

s t a r t  r e a l l y  m e s s i n g  w i t h  t h e

s p a c i n g  a n d  h o p e  t h a t  n o  o n e  n o t i c e s . 

That's it for confessions because let's be honest: A blog is like one big, long confession. And I like it. Self disclosure! Maybe next time I'll talk about my first-ever spray tan or getting eyebrow threading. Or about how I think I might have some sort of addiction to job hunting and getting a second interview. Or about how my children are behaving like assholes. Ha ha! Just kidding! I love them and motherhood is bliss.

Or maybe I will explore such important conundrums as "why the tissues in the tiny little travel packs are SO EFF-ING BIG AND THICK that you could probably tile your bathroom with them and they only like to put about 5 of them in there so you are always running out and frankly, on the go is when I tend to need tissues MOST URGENTLY, but yet the ones in the boxes at home are so flimsy and badly made that they leave little bits of tissue dust on your counter when you yank them out." (It's my blog. I can use run-on sentences if I feel like it.)

Now would probably also be good time to confess that I am a neat freak who has issues with things like tissue dust.

C  o  m  e   b  a  c  k   s  o  o  n  .