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?
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?
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.html
) by 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?
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.
Okay, okay, I might be going overboard with my constant usage of ‘how do you like them…’ in my post titles. I just can’t stop myself. I will try to make this the last one, but I cannot make any guarantees.
Anyway, this half-term Husband has taken the week off and we’re spending a few days with my in-laws in Leamington Spa. Today we went to Cadbury World. Oh, the smell of chocolate being made. Heavenly. I never knew I could feel intoxicated by just a smell. They gave us lots of free chocolate plus my mother-in-law bought enough from the gift shop to feed a small village. I say a small village, but the six of us won’t have much trouble taking down four carrier bags of chocolate.
Growing up in America, I ate plenty of Hershey’s chocolate. I enjoyed it, but didn’t realise how lovely Cadburys is. It is so creamy. I still enjoy Hershey’s miniatures or kisses, on the odd occasion. But dairy milk, whole nut, flake, crunchie and creme eggs. Oh my. Today I tried a wispa for the first time. Yum. I could eat chocolate every day. Oh wait, I do. Maybe that’s why I’m still carrying two stone of baby weight. I am too ashamed to say how many chocolate bars I’ve eaten today (okay, five).
Off to have have another dairy milk.
A few days ago, I posted about my want of getting a pumpkin from an actual pumpkin patch. After extensive internet research, I found the closest thing to a pumpkin patch within a 30-45 minute drive of Southwest London. Yesterday afternoon we went to Crockford Bridge Farm near Weybridge in Surrey.
Not surprisingly, I heard several American accents at Crockford. I obviously wasn’t the only American looking for a piece of home. I couldn’t even find a pumpkin in central London 11 years ago and now there’s a pumpkin patch not too far away. Amazing. Crockford even had a few shelves in their farm shop dedicated to American groceries.
Dubz enjoyed running around crazily, Moozles enjoyed the playground. I searched for the ‘right’ pumpkin. To my husband’s annoyance, I can never just buy something. I have to make sure it is the ‘best one’. But in the end, I did manage to find the best pumpkin. I think this may be an American thing as my British girlfriends seem a lot more relaxed about their purchases. Can anyone confirm or deny?
Anyway, we had a fab day. And we will be turning our visit to Crockford Bridge Farm into an annual Halloween tradition. Do you have any Halloween traditions?
Earlier this week, my five-year old asked what we were doing for Bug Day. After some confused exchanges, she clarified that it was Insect Day. Aha! What she meant was Inset Day. Schools in the UK have five teacher training days per school year, taken on different days per different schools. At my daughter’s school, the inset day is normally the Friday before half-term. So, today we went to Chessington World of Adventures to take advantage of some half-term fun but with term-time lines. A grand time was had by all, I think it might become our Autumn Bug Day tradition.
|Selfies are the only way I make it in pics
|Chessington looking Halloweeny
|Cotton candy (that’s candy floss to Brits) seemed like a good idea until I had to wash and brush the sticky tangles from Moozles’ hair
|Dubz’s first taste of ketchup. He LOVED it!
|My husband, the bird whisperer
I was doing my usual in bed/needing to get up but don’t feel like it perusal of Facebook, and most of my American friends have posted pictures of their weekend trips to the pumpkin patch. For those of you not from America, we don’t buy our pumpkins from the supermarket or the fruiterer. We go to a pumpkin patch, which is basically a big field where they grow pumpkins. Sometimes they have little rides for the kids. But pumpkin patches aren’t just for families. Single people, couples, friends, most people get their pumpkins from them. I can’t explain it, but it’s fun.
We moved last year, and though we are still in Southwest London, we are bordering on Surrey. I think this may be the year we can find a sort of pumpkin patch. I’m sure there are a few places in Surrey that have masses of pumpkins to choose from. I’d really like to go look at a bunch of pumpkins, pick one or two out then come home and carve it. It is what I did with my parents, and I would like to do this with my children.
Is anyone else planning to get pumpkins to carve for Halloween? Does anybody know where I can find a pumpkin patch-type place in Surrey, not too far from London? If there is face-painting, my five-year old will be really sold on the idea.
Check out these American celebs at the pumpkin patch. Looks pretty fun, no?
Photo credit: PopSugar website