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Oh the British, in the SummerGrowing up in Northern California, I was used to plenty of sunshine. But people are not so lucky in the UK. And when the weather gets hot, they go a little crazy. And by 'a bit crazy', I mean the lose their minds and go CRAY-ZEE. And Brits keep talking about the sun having its hat on, whatever that means.

I have previously written about some eccentricities of Brits as well offering some American-British translation, but I thought I'd focus a post on the heatwave (happening this week). If you are new to the UK, please be warned. And if you have been living in the UK for many years, as I have, you may even begin to start acting a bit heat-crazy yourself.

1. British people start stripping off. From very large men in too-small shorts walking down the road, to my kids refusing to wear clothes at home. You would think it was 40C, but it's only 27C.Oh the British Heatwave

2. All meals are eaten outside. In the garden, the BBQ becomes king. Or else you have a picnic on any patch of grass you can find.

Oh the British, HeatwaveOh the British, in the Summer

3. It's an excuse for drinking even more alcohol than usual, preferably outside. And Brits love drinking booze in tins.

Oh the British, in the Summer Oh the British, in the Summer

4. Gardens are turned into waterparks. Health and safety be damned.

Oh the British, in the Summer Oh the British, in the Summer

5. All meals consist of sausages and ice cream.Oh the British, HeatwaveOh the British, in the Summer

6. British people will drive hours to the nearest beach. Who cares if the sand is covered in pebbles and the ocean is too cold to swim in. They're going to the beach, dammit.

Oh the British, in the Summer

7. And then the rains come, and are often accompanied by thunder and lightning and even hail.

Oh the British, in the Summer

 

 

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The Burden of Breastfeeding

When I was first pregnant, I would imagine holding my precious newborn baby in my arms, gazing at the person I had created. I wanted to do everything right for my girl, from having a natural birth to breastfeeding.  All the research said that breast is best. For the baby, and for the mother. What I didn't expect was how tough it would be to breastfeed my baby.

You may have read that my natural birth turned to a caesarean section when my daughter proved determined to be breech. It was tough enough dealing with the c-section, the shame and the pain. I didn't expect that it would take a few days for my milk to come in, and by then Moozles was hungry and jaundiced. At the hospital we had to give her formula from a little spoon. It was such a stressful time, and I just wanted to go home.

But the midwives at St Thomas' Hospital, London, did not want me to leave. They kept pressuring me to breastfeeding, even using the pump. But nothing. No milk would come. They told me that I would not get such support at home, that the hospital was the best place for me. Normally one will be discharged from the hospital 3-4 days after their c-section, if there are no complications. I stayed for five days. On the fourth day, the midwife said that my heart rate was high and that I needed to remain in the hospital. And even on that fifth day, they wanted me to remain but Husband and I were united and strong that we would not be staying another night.

At home, my milk came in. But by then Moozles wanted nothing to do with my breasts. She screamed every time I tried to bring her close to me. It hurt my heart. So Husband went to Mothercare and bought a breastfeeding pump and a breastfeeding book. That evening Husband used the new breast pump to withdraw my milk. I remember the pain of the first pump. He had to do it for me (luckily it wasn't a manual pump) as I was crying in agony. But we were able to finally feed our baby with breastmilk. But it was not how I had imagined it.

For one week, I expressed my breast milk for Moozles. And she continued to reject my breast. I planned to quit breastfeeding after the first three weeks. I knew I could not continue with the heart break. The only positive for me was that Husband was getting the opportunity to feed our baby. But then, we followed a tip from the breastfeeding book. I used nipple shields, and all of a sudden Moozles would take the milk from my breast. It was not exactly how I had pictured it, but it was more like the idealised version. I decided to give myself small goals--breastfeed for two months, then four, then six, then we would see. I used the nipple shields until she was five months old, and then I breastfed normally until she was almost one.

I am so glad that I breastfed my daughter (and later my son). But I never felt like I was a better mum than the mothers who fed their babies formula. I think some people don't realise that breastfeeding has its own problems, and many of us struggle and feel inadequate. As mothers, we put enough pressure on ourselves. We do not need other mothers or health professionals putting unnecessary stress. Whether we breastfeed or bottle feed, surely it is about doing what is best for our child and ourselves. As long as a child is well fed, it should not matter where their milk is made. As long as it is given with love.

The Burden of Breastfeeding

 

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The Shame of a C-SectionMoozles, my first-born, turns seven tomorrow. But rather than writing a post gushing about how much I love her (I obviously do), I thought I would share her birth story since April is C-Section Awareness Month. When I was pregnant with Moozles, rather than doing NCT classes, we paid handsomely for hypnobirthing classes. I had my mind, and heart, set on a natural birth. That's right, no epidural, just breathing and panting like the cavewomen did.

But my body, and my baby, had other ideas. I remember, a few days after going on maternity leave, feeling my baby moving around like she was trying to turn around. But she just could not manage it. When I next saw the midwife, she told me that the baby was in position. But I told her that the baby was breech. I could feel her head pressed against my ribs. The midwife disagreed but I was insistent, so she referred me to the consultant midwife for a scan. When the consultant midwife performed the scan, she saw that my baby was indeed breech. I burst into tears. I knew my baby was breech. But I did not want it to be true. I did not want a caesarean section. I felt like my body had let myself down. That I had let my baby down. I felt such shame and sadness.

Sometimes, when a baby is breech, the consultant will try to move the baby around. But in my case, they did not think there would be enough room. I have a bicornuate uterus, which means that I have a little wall near the middle of my womb. This means that my babies have a little less room when they are close to term. This makes it harder for them to turn around, leading to being breech.

Two weeks later, Moozles was born by elective c-section on the 22nd April at St. Thomas' Hospital in London (the first pic below is a bit bloody, be warned). No, I did not go into labour. But I still gave birth. And I became a mother that day. After I recovered from my c-section, I started going to baby groups and meeting other new mums. And the shame returned when I told other mums that I had had a c-section. I did not read blogs back then. I didn't have any irreverent mummy blogs who I could turn to, who could tell me that c-sections did not make me less of a mother. It took some time before I grew to accept my situation.

There is no longer any sadness or shame. Time has that effect. I can look back and just be grateful that my daughter had a stress-free arrival into the world.

The Shame of a C-Section The Shame of a C-Section The Shame of a C-Section The Shame of a C-Section

Happy birthday to my sweet little girl. xx

 

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What's the matter with pink?

I'm not talking about the pop princess, Pink, singer of hit songs such as 'Raise Your Glass' and 'Just Give Me A Reason'. I'm talking about the colour pink. Apparently, when I wasn't paying attention, pink became a villain. Apparently girls shouldn't like pink. Pink means we're too girly. Pink means we won't be taken seriously. Pink means we're not equal to men.

Traditionally, little girls were dressed in pink. Pink frilly dresses, that they had to keep clean, and pink bows in their hair, which they had to keep tidy. But the dresses, over time, have changed in colour. And dresses have changed to jeans and dungarees (that's overalls to my American friends). And now little girls can wear anything.

But with the opportunity to wear anything, there has come a backlash against pink. People are now having baby girls and are only buying clothes that come in yellow, grey or rainbow. Plus now there are dresses with dinosaurs, trucks and pirates. This is all well and good, but what if your child doesn't like those things? Sure, when they are babies they will wear whatever you put them in. But a toddler is a different story. They want control - of their food and toys and clothes.

So what do you do when your stylish monochrome-clad little girl wants to wear pink? Is it something to argue about? Do you tell her that there are no pink dresses in her size? Do you settle for fuchsia rather than a pale pink? Can you accept that wearing pink dresses won't limit your daughter's potential? She can still be a scientist or an engineer or even the Prime Minister. My girl loves pink. Pink clothes, pink shoes, pink walls, pink bed. And I don't believe that will hold her back. As long as Moozles knows that it is what's on the inside that counts, she can wear whatever she wants.

 

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My son, Dubz, is 2 1/2 years old. He's at this super funny, super cute, super crazy phase. Life with him is never boring. And it's certainly never quiet. In fact, life with a toddler must be what life is like with a rock star.

1. Rock stars are always jamming. Toddlers love jam. Jam sandwiches. Jam on toast. Jam straight out of the jar, if you accidentally leave the jar of jam on the dining table, which leads to jam on their fingers, clothes, hair, the furniture and the walls. This also goes for Nutella and Marmite.

Toddlers are like Rock Stars

2. Rock stars keep unsociable hours. Toddlers never want to sleep either. Instead of partying at night, they want cuddles or sneaky episodes of Peppa Pig. And when you have important things to do during the day, now that's when they want to sleep.

Toddlers are like Rock Stars Toddlers are like Rock Stars Toddlers are like Rock Stars

3. Rock stars have groupies who follow them around and take care of their every need. Toddlers have groupies, called mums, who follows them around, wiping their noses and bums, making sure they are in constant supply of food and cuddles.

Toddlers are like Rock Stars

4. Rock stars act crazy and destroy hotel rooms. Toddlers are crazy and destroy hotel rooms, rooms in their homes and basically any room that they're in for longer than two minutes.

Toddlers are like Rock Stars

5. Rock stars like loud music. Toddlers like loud music too. They also think loud noise passes for music. The louder the better. Whether it's banging their toy guitar against your vintage nest of tables, or shaking their maracas in your face.

Toddlers are like Rock Stars Toddlers are like Rock Stars Toddlers are like Rock Stars Toddlers are like Rock Stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Rock stars have trouble controlling their bodily fluids. With the copious amounts of alcohol and/or drugs consumed, that's no surprise. Toddlers have little control over their bodily fluids. Whether they are vomitting on your new sofa, or weeing in your face (I have not included photos for this item, you are welcome).

7. Rock stars have a flair for fashion. Toddlers love to combine the most interesting pieces of clothing and accessories to make the 'perfect outfit', even if that means wearing sunglasses in the pitch black.

Toddlers are like Rock Stars Toddlers are like Rock StarsToddlers are like Rock Stars

8. Rock stars can act like big babies, putting on diva tantrums if they don't get what they want. Toddlers are basically big babies. And if you're in the thick of the terrible twos, then tantrums can be a daily occurrence. Whether you've buttered their toast incorrectly, or given them the 'wrong' cup, they will be vocal about your failings.

Toddlers are like Rock StarsToddlers are like Rock StarsToddlers are like Rock Stars

So, do any of these items sound familiar? Do you have your very own rock star at home?

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Moozles made it clear, from a very young age, who her favourite parent was. I'll give you a hint: it wasn't Daddy. At the weekends, she would tell him to go away, to go to work. She only wanted Mummy. And when we decided to have another child, I thought Husband would get his chance at being the favourite parent. It never occurred to me that I would be the favoured parent to both children.

Favourite Parent

Children are fickle creatures. One day they only want mummy to change their nappy, and the next day they are daddy's shadow. But as I am in the throes of the former, I thought I would offer some tips on what not to do.

1. Don't say things like 'Don't worry honey, I'm sure he/she loves you'. It just sounds like you're rubbing it in, says Husband.

2. Don't offer reasons as to why your child doesn't favour your partner. Husband doesn't find this helpful.

3. Don't offer your partner 'helpful' tips on how to make your child like them. According to Husband, that is very condescending.

4. Don't say things like 'I hope nothing ever happens to me, imagine how sad he/she would be if you were the only parent'. Husband says that is quite cruel.

5. Don't make sad noises and give your partner pitying looks when your child screams at their very presence. Apparently, it does not ease the pain, says Husband.

6. Don't laugh when your child hits and kicks if your partner tries to read him/her a story. Husband says that it is not funny.

I hope I have managed to shed some clarity on the subject. But if you want proper advice on dealing with not being the favourite parent, have a look at this Parent.Com article.

 

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Mommy Speed Dating

Has anyone seen the recent media buzz about Mommy Speed Dating? A room full of mums, all of whom are trying to find their new Mummy BFF. Of course something so cool would be happening in New York. But we're cool in the UK. So, let's get it going.

I didn't do NCT classes with either pregnancy, so I feel like I lost a big part of the British pregnancy friend-making process. I had to use my street skills to make friends--you know, be funny and sarky and keep a stash of chocolate bars to entice mums. It's a bit tedious going to playgroups and meeting mums at school and having to spend months figuring out who you want in your gang. Mummy Speed Dating would make life a lot easier.

If you had four minutes with each mum, what would you ask? This is how I would suss out my mummy friend soul mate.

BFF Checklist

1. Age Range 25-55.

2. Drinks copious amounts of tea or coffee. And when you are at their house, they      always offer you another cup.

3. Is not ashamed to eat the last biscuit or piece of cake, though will always politelyoffer it to me.

4. Never utters the phrase 'I'm so thin, my clothes just hang off me', nor do they say 'It's so annoying, I just eat and eat and never put on any weight'.

5. Does not have a perfect partner. I like to complain about my husband. Not all the   time (though he may disagree with that statement), but every once in a while. And I    like to hear that other people have partners who are messy or annoying or forgetful.

6. Loves chatting about a variety of subjects, not just how clever their children are.

7. Has a healthy appreciation of American culture. Doesn't say things like 'Americans  are taking over, ugh' or 'You're not bad, for an American'. You can make fun of my     accent, but be prepared for me to make fun of your accent too.

8. Enjoys silliness. I like to joke. I don't like people giving me strange looks for   acting like I'm 12. I also think sarcasm, and often inappropriately sexual jokes, are  hilarious.

9. Watches crap telly. It's okay if you also watch serious stuff, but I'd like someone with whom I could discuss The Real Housewives.

10. Likes gin. Or vodka. Or wine. Oh, and I adore mojitos. Okay, any kind of alcohol   really. I don't drink often, but I do like the occasional night of booze and rude chat.It's okay if you're teetotal, but don't judge me for drinking too much and dancing on atable.

So, if you tick eight of the 10 points on my checklist, then we could be besties. Drop me a line, we'll have a mummy playdate and ride off into the softplay together. xx

Mama and More

 
* Photo credit: Natalie Chitwood

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There's Something Special about Mr Tumble

My youngest is two years old. And his greatest love, besides me, is Mr Tumble. Dubz watches 3-4 episodes of Something Special every day (please don't judge, but if you do then you can F*** right off). I don't think there is just one thing Dubz likes, but he seems especially enamored with Mr Tumble's red nose and the use of sign language.

But let me be clear, this is not a post bashing Mr Tumble. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I love Mr Tumble. He is kind and silly and funny. He makes my son laugh. And in the past few months, while Dubz has struggled to speak, Mr Tumble's sign language has engaged him. Dubz has begun to use some sign language and the words have finally come.

But when you've watched as many episodes of Something Special as I have, you inevitably have questions.

1. Home - Mr Tumble used to live in a big country manor with his extended family. But he has recently moved to a terrace house. Why has he moved? Did Lord Tumble gamble away the family fortune on a high stakes game of croquet? I know that many people have had to downsize and watch their pennies in this economy, but I wish I knew what exactly had happened.

2. Family - Mr Tumble has such a strange array of relatives. Granddad Tumble is a working class cockney. Lord Tumble is a posh aristocrat. Is Aunt Polly a relation by marriage? Why don't we know her surname? Fisherman Tumble and Cliff Tumble (the pop star) are also quite random. And what about Mr Tumble's parents? Did they die in a horrific clowning accident? Or are they travelling the world as international clown spies. Why are they never mentioned? I need to know.

3. Narrator - Who is the child speaking to Mr Tumble and Justin? Is he/she trapped in the telly? Or is he/she a figment of Mr Tumble's imagination? Instead of laughing along to Mr Tumble, should we consider calling a mental health professional?

4. Justin & Mr Tumble - Why can't there be an episode where Justin and Mr Tumble hang out? Why are they never in the same place? They seem to know each other, but never spend time together. It makes me wonder if Justin and Mr Tumble are perhaps the same person. Hmmmm.

5. First Names - What is Mr Tumble's first name? Gary? Rupert? Toby? He is awfully formal for a clown. Why don't we know everyone's full name (except for Cliff Tumble)? Is the Tumble name an alias? Are they all on the run from an international drug cartel?

If you, or anyone close to you, knows the answer to any of the above questions please contact me as soon as you can. I can't handle another night lying awake in bed and wondering.

 

 

*Photo credit: BBC website

 

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Have any of you ladies ever dated a Mummy's boy (that's Mama's boy for my American peeps)? Maybe you even married one? Well, I dated one for almost a year and it was one of the worst relationships I have ever been in. Part of it was that he was an arse, but another part was that he was a mummy's boy. He was 25 and still living with his mother. Nowadays, due to the high cost of housing, this is more common. But it wasn't so cool back then. I can't express how I loathed my morning walks of shame.

And now I have a son of my own. A sweet, affectionate, clingy mummy's boy. I know I must do whatever I can to help him grow up into his own man. I will be doing him a disservice if he cannot love another woman as much as he loves me. Obviously if he is gay, then this is a moot point as I will remain his number one gal. *smiles longingly*  So I thought I would write a guide to not raising a mummy's boy. I have no expertise, just a lot of natural know-it-all ways.

raising boys

How Not To Raise a Momma's Boy (or The Dos and Don'ts of Raising a Good Boyfriend)
1. Don't continually tell your son that no woman will ever love him as much as you do.
2. Don't keep wiping your son's ass/nose even though he is 10 years old.
3. Do teach your son how to cook and how to wash his own clothes. There is nothing like the gift of self-dependency. On a related not, teach him how to make a killer cocktail.
4. Don't iron your son's underpants. This is something no boy/man should ever get accustomed to.
5. Do not let your son think it is okay to wear white socks with dress shoes. This will never be in fashion. Never, I say.
6. Do teach your son the importance of foot rubs. If your son insists on watching sports, teach him that each match/game watched equates to one foot rub to be given. Obviously your son will need to practice on you so that he perfects his foot massage techniques. You are welcome future girlfriends/boyfriends!
7. Do let your son know that it is okay to cry or show emotion in front of others. It's a new age people. Men no longer have to be strong and silent. BUT, it is not okay to cry if you see a spider.
8. Do teach your son to compliment others. Whether you are being wooed or have been together 20 years, a lady likes to hear that she looks pretty. Do teach your son how to compliment. Acceptable: 'that's a nice dress, you look beautiful'. Not Acceptable: 'you're pretty, for a bigger girl'.
9. Do teach your son that only babies should act like babies. Babytalk is not cool. Unless you are a baby. Hearing a teenage boy talk to his mother in babytalk (or vice versa) makes me physically ill.
10. Do teach your son that there is no one like his mother. No point looking for perfection. 😉 But if he looks real hard, he may find someone pretty darn nice.

 

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Since I began blogging six months ago, my UK readership has been double that of my American readership. But in the last month my American readership has greatly increased. I'm not sure why. But it IS exciting. So I thought I would write a post geared towards my American readers (*waves excitedly*) to give some insight into British people. As for my British readers, sit back and enjoy the generalisations and sterotypes. Let me know if there are any with which you strongly agree or disagree. 

Obviously British people love tea, scones, chocolate and biscuits. But what else do you know about them?

1. British people love pork sausages. I mean, they LOVE them. For breakfast, lunch, dinner, BBQs. My kids prefer chipolatas, which are just thinner sausages. My Husband and kids eat a ridiculous amount of sausages per week. And if I forget to buy them one week, I get HELL. 

 

2. British people enjoy drinking in pubs (bars from the olden days). They go after work or on the weekends. Sometimes they go during their lunch breaks. At my first job in London, almost 12 years ago, my colleagues would go to the pub from 1pm-2pm every Friday afternoon. What?! I still don't get that, and I LOVE drinking. 3. British people love gin. And beer. And gin some more. When I lived in California, I always had tequila or vodka in my drinks shelf. Nowadays, it's gin. And Pimm's (a liquor you mix with lemonade and assorted pieces of fruit and cucumber). By the way, British lemonade is like Sprite and not what an American would consider to be lemonade. To clarify, Pimm's is so delicious and I don't know why we don't have it in The States. I could drink vats of it. On warm summer days, I will happily stand on a street corner outside a pub, inhaling bus fumes, drinking pitchers and pitchers of Pimms.

 

4. British people lose their minds on sunny days. There is so much cloud and rain, so when the sun comes out British people go crazy. People are wearing t-shirts and flipflops trying to absorb as much Vitamin D as possible. And when they go to pubs, everyone stands outside the pub soaking in the sun. It doesn't matter if it's a bit cold, you see everyone eating ice cream cones and all the paddlings pools are inflated. 

 

5. British people always seem to be standing in a queue (that's a line). They love waiting in line. You should see them on the street, waiting for a bus. It's crazy. I sometimes cut lines/queues, to my British Husband's horror. heehee

6. British people like the rain. They pretend they don't. But they're always going on about how the grass needs it. And they're obsessed with discussing the weather. And even if it's raining or hailing, Husband will drag me and the kids out to the zoo or some outdoor activity. I don't like to leave the house when it rains. My daughter is lucky that I still take her to school and pick up her when it is raining.

 

7. British people use funny words. They say 'ta' for thank you, 'cheerio' for goodbye, they call the bathroom the 'loo' and they call your butt 'bum'. And they say 'cheers' constantly. I reckon it's because it reminds them of drinking gin.

8. British people are polite. This is related to number five. They act nicely and courteously. Even when they're annoyed with you. Some people say that the British are cold but they just aren't immediately friendly. They're actually pretty nice. Not all of them obviously. Some British people are wankers (that's the American equivalent to a tool). But try finding me a country that doesn't have some wankers. 

9. British people like to curse. Sometimes in anger, sometimes for fun. Friends will call each other 'wanker', or tell each other to 'F**k off'. Husband's friends call each other the C word. You know what I'm talking about. I'm American and we don't say that word.

10. British people have dry, sarcastic humour. I like this. I'm sarcastic. British people get me. They don't at first, because they don't expect an American to be sarcastic. But then they get me.

Please note for the purposes of this blog post, people and characteristics have been oversimplified for the sake of your amusement.