The Big Chop

This was my son yesterday. Happy and carefree with his lovely hair. I had received pressure from various people, but especially Husband, to cut his hair. I wasn’t fussed that people sometimes mistake him for a girl. 

But I understood where Husband was coming from when he said that Dubz looked messy. So today we took him to a children’s hair salon in South Wimbledon for his first haircut.
Dubz was not impressed with the chair that looked like a car. And even watching In The Night Garden and eating a biscuit could not get him to calm down. He screamed and cried. Husband and I had to hold him down. Oh the trauma. For him and me. For 25 minutes.

I had to keep staring at Dubz in the car, because he looks so different. But a few hours later, I am enjoying seeing his ears and the back of his neck for the first time in ages. I’ll tell you one thing, we are not going for another haircut for at least a year. At least. 

Yes, he looks a bit older than what I am used to. But he is still my baby boy. 

Christmas Pressies

I see Christmas as a magical time for spending with one’s family. Presents come into it, but is not a main part. With less than five weeks until Christmas, I am about to begin my Christmas shopping. I love buying gifts for others, but am not overly fussed with receiving gifts. And I want to instill that love of giving, rather than getting, to my children. I asked my daughter if she would mind only getting one gift from Mummy and Daddy so that we could buy some gifts for children whose families do not have much money. Being the dear that she is, she said it was a good idea.

I have just been researching giving to underprivileged children in the UK. For some reason, it is not something I have ever seen advertised. In the States, the Marines have a Toys for Tots program that arranges for gifts to be distributed to children from low income families in time for Christmas. This is a well publicized event. In the UK, I couldn’t really tell you what charities are targeted specifically for Christmas. I understand that charities might not want to ‘waste’ money on advertising, but surely they would get more from people if the general public knew about their programs. I would love to know how much charities pay chuggers to (often) obnoxiously harass people on the street.  

I finally discovered that The Salvation Army accepts toys at various Superdrug locations. So as you all start, or continue, to buy Christmas presents, if you have a little spare cash please order/buy something for a child who won’t have much this Christmas. 

More information can be found on the Salvation Army’s website: http://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/uki/christmas-present-appeal

Parent Teacher Chat, Autumn 2013

Last week, Husband and I met with Moozles’ teacher for the first parent teacher chat of Year One. I wasn’t worried about any learning issues. My daughter loves reading and writing. But there have been some behavioural issues. Apparently, my daughter’s class has quite the group of feisty females. My daughter included. Of the 14 girls in Moozles’ class, there are several subgroups. Unfortunately, the head girl in my daughter’s group sometimes ices her out. This has led to my daughter getting frustrated and angry and even biting other children on two occasions. 

I, of course, burst into tears when the teacher told me about the biting (last month). My daughter doesn’t even hit her 18-month old brother, and he is pretty rough. It is difficult not to feel like a failure when you find out your child is acting out. Especially when you have given up employment to devote yourself to raising your children. It made me wonder whether I should get a job before I screw up my kids even more.

I spoke to my daughter and explained to her that biting does not make people want to hang out with you. I have also explained that if someone does not want to play with you, then you should find someone else to play with. This seems to have worked, and things have improved in the past month. But there are still many days when Moozles tells me that her friends have not wanted to play with her so she found someone else to play with. I am happy that she is listening. But there is still a part of me that hurts. Why shouldn’t some of the girls want to play with my daughter? She is sweet and feisty. Yes, she can be a bit weird. But what 5-year old isn’t a bit weird?!

So, I will try to hope that things improve. Until then, Moozles has given up on biting in favour of boxing. Watch out mean girls!


Rub A Dub Dub

I think a before-bedtime bath is a lovely way to wind down and let a child know that the day is over. My five and a half year old had a bath almost every night of her life until two months before her fifth birthday. Then her baby brother started crawling, and all bets were off.

My son wrecks havoc in the bathtub, never sitting. He sometimes squats but mainly walks around and destroys everything in his path. He loves it, though. My daughter will have a bath with her brother once a week, but she does not enjoy the ruckus. She likes to ‘make tea’ and sing songs in the bath. She does not enjoy being pushed around and have toys thrown at her head.

I’ve tried giving them their baths separately, but my son tries to climb in when it’s not his turn. Nine months later, my kids have one bath during the week and one at the weekend. Is it bad to bathe one’s children only twice a week? Am I a monster? How often do you bathe your children?

Moves Like Mary (Berry)

As a Stay-At-Home-Mum, I feel like I should be a able to bake lovely cakes and biscuits. My five year old, Moozles, loves baking. I say baking, but really she likes cracking eggs and mixing everything up. For years I have tried baking, and always fallen short. Earlier this year, a mummy friend gave me her recipe for a lemon drizzle cake. It came out perfectly the first time I made it. This was my first introduction to a Mary Berry recipe. I had watched Mary Berry on The Great British Bake-Off but never knew why she was such a legend. After making the lemon drizzle cake, I bought one of her baking cookbooks. I have made several of the recipes and am almost-always pleased by the results.

 

Being American, I had never eaten a Victoria Sponge cake until I moved to the UK. I’ve always been more of a chocolate cake type of gal. At the weekend I attempted my first Victoria Sponge. It was okay, but not as light and fluffy as I would like. I tried again today. Even though the recipe was in my cookbook, I used this recipe as it gave me the measurements for my six-inch cake pans (btw, success in looks and taste!): 
I am feeling quite proud of myself. So I thought I would share some of my tips for a better bake:
1. Use room temperature butter or margarine.
2. First put in all the dry ingredients, then add wet ingredient last before mixing.
3. Mixing by hand take a bit more time and effort but means you can avoid over-mixing (which leads to a denser cake).
4. Grease cake pans first so that once you’ve mixed the ingredients you can start baking right away.
5. Get used to your oven as your timing might differ from the recipe. I find that I normally have to add an extra five minutes to my bakes.
6. Never open the oven before the very end. Opening the oven cools the temperature which affects how much time the cake requires to be cooked.
 
Happy baking!

Gross Anatomy

Moozles is 5 1/2. From the times of potty training, we have always used the British terms of bum for bottom and wee for pee. And because my British husband didn’t know an alternative name for a vagina, we called it the front bum. But my daughter is now in Year One, so I want to let her know she has a vagina not a front bum. Husband is not a fan of that word and thinks it is too clinical. I think calling it a va-jay-jay is too American. Vag and coochy sound a bit gross.

What do other people call that area? Is there a British term? Or a term appropriate for children? This is not something I want to google in case ‘girl’s vagina’ results in the police coming to my door.

Social Media, aka Not So Lonely


I have really gotten into Twitter in the past year. I enjoy tweeting and reading tweets. And about six months ago, I really got into blogs. A few years ago, many parenting blogs were just mums gushing about how wonderful their babies were and the joy of motherhood. I get it, but who wants to read that day after day? I mostly read family-orientated blogs, but from moms and dads. Sure you get the joys of parenthood, but also the tribulations. There are the struggles of working, full-time or part-time, as well as staying at home and losing one’s career. I feel so connected to these people, though I have only been following their lives for a short time. 

I have also gotten into expat blogs. They didn’t have such things when I first moved here. What help that would have been. Sometimes it’s so lonely when you’re a foreigner and are thinking and acting differently to the others around you. Though the USA and the UK have less differences than most other countries, it still feels like a million miles away from what you know.

I remember feeling so isolated at my first job in the UK. It was a small office and everyone was British. People were nice and courteous. And we would sometimes pop to the local pub for a drink at lunchtime on a Friday. But there was a lack of warmth and silliness that was lacking. I missed my American colleagues. It took me about a year before I actually made a friend, and it got easier after that. But that first year was pretty lonely.

If you are an expat, how do you deal with living in another country? Do you use social media to keep in touch with family and friends back ‘home’? Or do you use it to make new friends in your adopted homeland?

One of ‘those’ Americans

When I first moved to London in 2002, I was quite self-conscious about being one of ‘those Americans’. You know the ones. They talk really loud in restaurants so everyone knows the status of their relationship or their day’s activities. They wear trainers (that’s sneakers or tennis shoes to my American brethren) to walk around London, as if they might join in a marathon at any moment. They are dressed very sensibly and never have an umbrella, but don’t need one as they are wearing a waterproof poncho.
 
One of the things I tried to tone down was my usage of American phrases. Nowadays, my sentences aren’t littered with ‘like’ or ‘awesome’ like they once were. But every once in a while, I bust out with ‘dude’ or pronounce ‘whatever’ in a valley girl accent. I’m not fussed anymore. I think it’s what happens when you have kids. You lose a lot of self-consciousness and are more happy with who you are. At least I am. Are you happy with who you are?

Not a Housewife

In the last week, there have been two things that have made me think of this old-fashioned and unwelcomed term of ‘housewife’. Last week, when the police officer was getting my details after the burglary, she asked my occupation. I am not sure what this has to do with being burgled, but I digress. Anyway, I said I didn’t have a job, that I was a ‘Stay At Home Mum’. She wrote ‘housewife’ on her form. I shuddered but didn’t say anything.

Yesterday I read this very articulate and entertaining blog (http://thewhimwhamlife.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/why-i-choose-to-be-stay-at-home-mom.htmlby Bonnie Ilyn, who has a similar dilemma. I wish I knew or could invent an amazing term that would encapsulate what a stay at home parent does but that doesn’t disparage those parents who work part-time or full-time. I used to work part-time when we only had our daughter. And it was hectic. And it doesn’t feel anymore relaxed now that we have two kids and I am at home every day.

I do work. Not in a paid job with colleagues and a boss who respect me. I work for little people who shriek and don’t believe in 9 to 5. I work solely for cuddles and kisses, which are abundant in my house. I won’t list everything I do, because many people do the same if not more. I keep the kids and the house ticking along. And to assuage the guilt of not working, I help out with the PTA. I am not a ‘housewife’. I am the Family Manager. I am the Director of Household. I am the Chief Executive of Domestic Bliss.

Time to update my CV. What is your occupation?

Goodbye Hallo Ween

Halloween went well. Mg daughter, Moozles, went to a schoolfriend’s house then trick-or-treating (six five-year old girls losing their minds with anticipation–talk about scary). Then we got home in time to trick-or-treat on our neighbouring streets with Moozles and her brother. We didn’t let Dubz have any candy since he is only 17-months old–he just loved getting to walk around at night. He is quite independent, so we didn’t take the stroller/buggy and he had a fab time wandering around.

This made me think how kids love going out after dark. We are normally quite strict about a 7pm/7.30pm bedtime at our house. What do other people do? Do you let your kids stay up at weekends, vacations or school holidays? Maybe I should be more relaxed? Apart from an occasional wedding or family party, my daughter hasn’t stayed up past 8pm very often.