I was reading Not Knowing The Colour of Your Wife's Underwear Could Get You Deported today in the Huffington Post. Apparently, quite a few immigrants are being detained due to them possibly marrying for convenience (i.e. a passport). Some of the people getting caught out don't seem to know their wife's bra size, or the colour of her underpants or her National Insurance number. Wait, what? Are those the important things that tell you if someone has truly married for love?
Quite often my blog is 'Dubz this' and 'Moozles that', but this week I wanted to write a little post about Husband. Recently we have been so busy that we haven't been having our monthly date nights. In fact, we haven't had one since March. This week we had a friend visiting from the USA, so we left the kids with the babysitter and we went out on a school night. That's right, a school night.
We had a great time catching up with our friend. And yes, I love a good cocktail. But it was also nice just being out away from the kids and not talking about them all night. It was a huge reminder how important it is for us to go out on a regular basis, with or without friends. Sometimes, when you're a parent you forget about who you are outside of work and home.
But we all need nights outs. I love a Friday night on the sofa watching Netflix. Who doesn't?! But sometimes it is nice to hang out with your partner, whilst wearing a bra and proper clothes (and not just pajamas). And when you've brushed your hair and are wearing clean clothes? Your partner is as pleased as when you used to wear tight dresses and high heels (I actually used to!). And yes you can have dates at home, but there is something about leaving the house which encourages you to focus on more than just your children and the errands that you need to run. Do you make the time to go on regular dates with your partner? Or do you make dates at home work for you?
In a world of Instagram and Facebook bombarding you with perfect lives, do you ever feel like others have the perfect relationship that you want? Husbands bringing wives flowers for no reason. Wives showing no signs of a post-baby tummy wearing a slinky dress for a night out with hubby. But people show what they want to show. Not many women would show you the two pairs of spanx she has worn to flatten out her lumps and bumps. Not many men would take a photo of their dirty pants (underwear) that they have left on the floor.
And do you really need the truth behind someone else's relationship to make yourself feel more satisfied with your own? The thing is, it doesn't matter what others portray. It doesn't matter what is the truth and what is a filtered view. Your own relationship is what matters. Focus on your partner, focus on your relationship. Too many times we concentrate on others, measuring ourselves negatively.
So I thought I would share the above photo. Husband and I at my best friend's wedding. Looking happy, but shiny. We do not have a perfect relationship. We don't go on glamourous dates (not often anyway). He leaves his pants on the floor by the bed. I am a control freak. We bicker about silly things. We argue about money. But this is our relationship. And it means more than anyone else's idea of perfection.
I am linking up to Mum Turned Mom, where 'Reality' is this week's topic of The Prompt. Why not pop on over to see more thoughts on reality.
Valentine's Day is a different kind of day when you're married with kids. Although, to be honest, I don't think children make a huge difference in my Valentine's plans. Husband and I have been together for almost 14 years. We went out to restaurants our first three or four Valentine's Day, then we stopped. I love the idea of a special day celebrating one's love. But I dislike the mass market feel of Valentine's.
I remember being single and always feeling like such a wally on Valentine's Day. At least when I was young, there wasn't Facebook bombarding you with everyone's flowers and jewellery. I think when you're in a happy relationship, you don't really care about gifts, though it is always nice to feel that your other half still cherishes you and wants to make you feel special.
I don't like the idea of not doing anything for Valentine's. So I went a little crazy making heart-shaped food. We had heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast. And I made an array of heart-shaped cakes and treats for dinner. And every year, Husband makes an extra nice dinner for the two of us (this year we had sirloin steak, courgette fries and potatoes). We eat at the table and talk like grown-ups. Then we go into the living room, watch Netflix and ignore each other. That's my idea of a perfect Valentine's Day.
Once a year, Husband and I have a mini-break away from our children. And although we always have a great time, there are so many emotions that we go through as we plan, enjoy and recover from our time away. It got me thinking about the five stages of grief, and how tough it can be to focus on what we're actually feeling.
1. Denial - You or your partner bring up the idea of going away for a night or two, without your children. But can it work? When will you go? And when you have a free weekend, which grandparent can you
con sweet-talk into watching the kids? And how will the children handle a night (or three!) away from Mummy?
2. Anger - 'Damn my husband, I can't believe he expects me to book our entire mini-break plus do all the packing. Bastard!' But this stage is short-lived as you are so excited to be getting some time alone with your partner.
3. Bargaining - You are lying in your hotel bed. There is only a couple of hours until check-out. You have had a brilliant time with your partner, but it is virtually over and you have to get back to the madhouse you call home. You start bargaining with God, offering regular church attendance so that you can have another day without the kids. Atheists promise to start believing in God, all for another night in the hotel.
4. Depression - It. Is. Over. You are home and there are piles of laundry to be done. Who knows when you will get the chance again to nap at 3pm or eat at restaurants that don't have a children's menu.
5. Acceptance - You had a nice break away. Enjoy the memories and catch up with all that laundry. Besides, the children are happy to have you home. It's not so bad here after all.
I say a night, but Husband and I had about 26 hours in central London without the kids this weekend (not that we were counting every single, blissful, child-free hour). Once a year Husband and I get away, just the two of us. We are lucky that Husband's parents are very hands-on, and just plain wonderful grandparents. When we only had one child, we used to go abroad for a 2-3 night break each year (lovely places such as Berlin and Istanbul). But now that we have two children, and we survive on one salary, we only have a one-night break in the UK. But these breaks are important as we love these times together, getting to focus on one another.
Though we live in London, we decided to have our break in London this time. We were both feeling so tired, and did not want to bother with sightseeing. We knew that a night in London would mean great food and great napping. And we were not disappointed! We even managed to watch a film in Leicester Square (though it angered me to spend £32 for two tickets to the cinema). If you fancy a day/night in London, here are my recommendations:
Premier Inn Holborn - one of the newest Premier inns. It feels like a more expensive hotel than it is. It is surprisingly spacious (and sooo quiet) for a central London hotel, and has a comfy bed. There are pubs, restaurants and cafes in the near vicinity. Covent Garden is a 10-minute walk away. On the nearby Theobald's Road, you can catch a number of buses including the #38 to Piccadilly Circus or Victoria (it goes to Islington then Hackney in the other direction).
Ping Pong Dim Sum - Ping Pong is a London dim sum chain. Delicious food, yummy teas and cocktails. if you're not familiar with dim sum and dumplings, or are not a fan of seafood, try the duck spring rolls, char sui buns, roast pork puff and the spare ribs.
Hawksmoor - The Hawksmoor is another London chain, but they're opening a new restaurant in Manchester. It's a great steakhouse, but be prepared for your wallet to take a bashing. I especially loved my lobster starter and the salted caramel rolos for afters. The cocktails are gorgeous!
Hush Brasserie - Hush is a small two-restaurant chain. We skipped the hotel breakfast as I was desperate for pancakes. Husband remarked that the coffee was excellent and I can confirm that my pancakes were as delicious as they looked.
If you plan a stay in London, I definitely recommend the Holborn area (I worked there for years so am quite familiar with it). And if you don't need naps, you could grab some culture at the British Museum, go shopping in either Covent Garden or Oxford Street and have fun at the South Bank (the London Eye, SeaLife Aquarium and the Southbank Centre).
If you're reading this, you want to know. Don't you? Maybe you've already had a couple of tiffs. Maybe you clearly remember the bickering from last Christmas. But you know that along with the lovely, wonderful moments of Christmas, there will be silly arguing with your other half. Christmas can be so stressful, but I thought I would offer some tips on not allowing the stress negatively effect your love life. You may remember my tips on How to Survive the Weekend without Killing Your Partner, then this is
a rip-off quite similar.
1. Breathe - when your husband/boyfriend/partner asks why you haven't finished the Christmas shopping, just take a deep breath. Don't roll your eyes or call him a 'wanker'. It's not in the spirit of love, joy and Christmas. Take a deep breath then have a glass of Prosecco.
2. Communicate - when you partner expects you to do all the Christmas shopping and wrapping, buy/make the food and drinks for the big day, plus clean the house and keep up with the laundry, do not get angry. Speak to him. Ask him how he can help. And then add a few more jobs to that list. Then have a glass of Prosecco.
3. Forgive - when your partner criticises the gifts you have bought, the food you have made and the fact that the house still hasn't been cleaned, forgive his wankering wankitude (*possibly a made up word as no real words can fully describe his utter wanking behaviour). Still, forgive him as he has no idea how much work it takes to organise ANYTHING. Then have a glass of Prosecco.
4. Relax - before you know it, it will be Christmas Day. The food will be cooked, the gifts will have been opened and all the Prosecco will have been drunk by 3pm. Don't worry about doing dishes or cleaning up the wrapping paper/toy boxes. Have a nap once the Prosecco is all gone, and then your partner has to take care of everything. Muwharrrrr.
Happy Christmas folks! xx
It is getting to be that time of the year. Christmas tree time. Obviously you might have a tree now, if you prefer the artificial kind. But for 'real tree' lovers, it is almost time to head to the garden centre or a tree farm/lot to pick out the perfect Christmas tree. How do you know when you've found that tree? And what happens when your idea of a terrific tree differs to that of your partner's or your children?
These questions were brought up in one of the letters I receive from my readers. I thought I would share:Dear Californian Mum in London, My wife gets a little crazy around Christmas. She decorated every inch of the house two weeks ago. The only thing missing is the tree. This weekend we are going Christmas treeshopping. But I am not looking forward to it. Last year she spent over an hour at our local garden centre finding the 'right tree'. Meanwhile, the kids and I lost the will to live. How can I get my wife to take tree shopping less seriously? Hope you can help. Cheers, Chris K
Dear Chris K,
Christmas is a stressful time. Your wife just wants a nice tree. I am sure she does millions of lovely things for you and the children throughout the year. Here's your chance to do something nice. She wants Christmas to be special. Try being patient, like she is after picking your pants off the floor after the 100th time. So get over yourself.
Photo courtesy of DIY.com
Having a long-distance relationship can be pretty agonising. Especially in the beginning of a relationship. You know, when things are hot and heavy and you want to spend every minute in their arms? And instead you are chatting on the phone and feeling heart-broken. Thirteen years ago, after six blissful weeks together, Husband/then-Boyfriend went back to London and I stayed in San Diego.
We then spent 10 months apart before I was able to move to London. Oh, those 10 months. We squeezed in three visits in that time. We spoke every day on the phone. We emailed. But it was tough. But Husband did something special in the beginning of our long-distance relationship. He wrote me a love letter. And not just any love letter. The mother of all love letters. I think it was that letter that kept me steadfast. It is quite a leap of faith to move across the world for someone. To give up your life, your friends, your job.
Husband still sometimes writes me sweet, silly poems. But nothing will compare to that first letter. Nor do they have to. Our life is more than words on a paper. Though they are nice. Our life is now the realisation of that letter.
This week's theme for The Prompt is 'a letter...'; pop on over to MumturnedMom for more posts on this theme.
Since I have a blog and am a bit active on Twitter, sometimes people ask me for advice. They think, 'Oh that Californian Mum, she sure knows a lot about being a mum and a wife, I bet she has many pearls of wisdom to dispense'.* So when I received this email from a reader, I thought I would share:
Dear Californian Mum in London,
I love your blog, especially the advice on parenting for partners. My husband, George, is a wonderful father to our daughter Judy, but he is not very good at helping out around the house. I am a SAHM because I want to look after our daughter, not because I want to clean and tidy all day. Can you please tell me how to get him to do his share of housework without me having to nag him?
I feel your pain sista'. My Husband wouldn't notice if there was mould growing on his side of the bed. And if there are toys on the floor, he just walks over them or kicks them to the side. So here are some tips that will hopefully help your partner join in with the housework.
1. The house shouldn't always be tidy. How will your partner know that you need help if you kill yourself cleaning/tidying every day?
2. What's nagging? A term that men have come up with to make us feel bad for having good memories? I don't nag. I remind.
3. Communicate. Does your partner know how you feel? I don't mean when you scream 'pick up your damn pants off the floor you ass clown!'. But tell him, calmly, one evening over a
bottle glass of wine that you would prefer it if he takes a more active role in the housework.
4. Yes, you are a SAHM to be at home with your daughter, but you should do a few things around the house too. Come on, get off the sofa, stop watching Jeremy Kyle and start mopping. But really, don't just vaguely tell him to help. Men need guidance. Maybe your partner could be in charge of one thing - perhaps dishes or cooking?
If all else fails, hide the crisps and lager and then see how quick he starts doing the dishes.
*No one has ever thought this! No one asks me for advice. Ever. I am delusional.