Learning How To Blog

Learning How To Blog

Today marks my one-year anniversary of blogging; my blogiversary. The year has flown by. I had started a blog on Blogger three years before, but hadn’t actually had the nerve to write anything. So one night, impulsively, I came up with a new name, a design, and wrote this post. I think I probably only had six or seven readers the first month, but I really enjoyed the writing.

I had almost no idea how blogging works. I didn’t do any linkys, or take many photos. I didn’t sign up to Britmums or Mumsnet or Tots100. But I wrote. And often not very eloquently. My blog was my diary. Then in December, whilst recuperating from a laparoscopy, something clicked. I started writing more regularly, figured out how to join linkys and started to publicise my blog posts on Twitter. In April 2014, I was short-listed for a Brilliance in Blogging award in the category of Fresh Voice. Though I did not make the finals (and completely did not expect to), I was given new-found confidence. I went self-hosted (in WordPress) in June, and have enjoyed blogging more with each passing month.

I had been feeling isolated as a SAHM, and blogging made me feel part of a community. Especially as an expat, it is easy to feel different and isolated. I am lucky to have such a wonderful husband and two such spirited children. And I am lucky that I actually love living in the UK. But sometimes I just want to chat about random crap, and my two-year old just wants to eat toast and watch Mr Tumble. At the time, Dubz was only one and didn’t talk or watch television.

So, for anyone thinking about blogging or who is new to blogging, here are some things that I have learned in the past year.

1. Write because you want to write. There are thousands and thousands of parenting blogs on the market. Don’t just write because you think you might get free stuff. Write because you have something to share, something to share and/or something to record.

2. Use a spell check. It can be so irrritating to find misspelled word after misspelled word. Also, read your post out loud. This gives a good indication to how well your sentences flow.

3. Learn what blogging entails. Tots100 have lots of great blogging tutorials, so go have a look. Britmums is also a fab blogging network and its blogging how-tos are extremely helpful. I have also found the Newbie Class from Potty Mouthed Mummy to be a lifesaver.

4. Make friends. Many of us began blogging to fill an empty space in our lives. Writing, reviewing, going to events–yes, these can all be fun. But get on Twitter or Facebook. Chat. Butt in on conversations. Get to know the people who follow you and who you follow.

Enough of my reflection and advice. I just want to say thank you to everyone who has read my blog (whether you were there for the first post or if you discovered me last week). Thank you for your tweets and comments. And for filling up the little empty space in my life. xx

 

Oh The British Talk Funny

Due to the enormous success of my post Oh The British, I felt compelled to write a follow-up post. And by enormous success, I mean that all of my six regular readers found the post semi-entertaining. So to you devoted readers, I dedicate this post.

One major advantage of moving to the UK from the USA is that you don’t have to learn a new language. Or so you would think. Though English is spoken in both countries, British and American English can be quite different. So for anyone new to the UK or planning a visit, here is a helpful (but far from comprehensive) guide. This would also be helpful to a Brit visiting the USA.

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American and British English

American English: Hello! Hi!

British English: Hiya! Helloooo!

 

AE: Wassup? What’s the haps?

BE: All right? How are you?

 

AE: When will it stop raining?

BE: What a lovely day, it has only rained for three hours.

 

AE: Where is a McDonald’s?

BE: Look at all those Americans going to the MaccyDs (pronounced MackyDees).

 

AE: I’m amazed at all the sexy men hanging out in the Fish & Chips restaurant.

BE: I’m gobsmacked at all the fit blokes in the chippy.

 

AE: I’m going to bed now. I’m drunk after drinking those beers at the old bar.

BE: I’m off to Bedfordshire. I’m pissed after downing those pints at the pub.

 

AE: Goodbye. Peace out.

BE: Ta. Ta ta. Tara. Cheerio.

 

Here are some of my favourite British words/phrases:

Easy peasy Lemon squeezy = Easy
Ace = great
Chin wag = chat
Taking the piss = making fun of someone/something
Wonky = crooked or unbalanced (as in a wonky haircut)
Kip = nap
Well = very (used as an adverb). Ex: That bloke is well dodgy = That man is very sketchy (not to be trusted)
Wanker = someone who jacks himself off, and is therefore a bit of an a**hole.
To have a butchers = to have a look
Gutted = bummed or upset
Knackered/Cream Crackered = tired, but I think knackered is more adult
Mates = friends/homies

 

 

Here are some commonly used terms that are handy to know:

Loo/Toilet = restroom/bathroom
Brolly = Umbrella
Quid = £ (pound = currency)
Rubbish = garbage/trash
Fringe = bangs
Pants/knickers = underpants/underwear
Trousers = pants
Arse/Bum/Bottom = butt
Fanny = vagina
Lift = elevator
Pavement = sidewalk
Ta/Cheers = thank you

 

I hope this helps! Cheerio homies!

 

Seychelles Mama
 
Photo credit: phasinphoto, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Union of Motherhood, Draft Two

For those of you who read the The Union of Motherhood, Draft One, I thought it would only be fair to let my children make any amendments as they saw fit. Moozles is six years old and her little brother Dubz is just two. Dubz, has been a bit slow to adopt the English language and prefers grunting like his cavemen ancestors. My daughter is in year one, and can read and write quite well, so she has offered to look over the constitution. So, over to Moozles. 

 

Second Draft of the Constitution of the Union of Motherhood.
 
1. While Motherhood is a full-time job (whether you work in paid employment for any of the time), every Mother will have at least one three hours during the hours of 11pm-6am to sleep. Stop being such a lazy bones!
 
2. Every Mother will have two private weepee/poo breaks each day. This is fine, just do it when we’re asleep. Stop being such a drama queen. Also, Mum you have lived in this country for 13 years. People say wee not pee. You are so embarrassing!
 
3. Once a week, all Mothers get to finish our breakfast and not share it with anyone. You’re always telling me to share. Who’s the greedy guts now?! 
 
4. Each day, between the hours of 7am-7pm, will contain 10 continuous secondsminutes of peace. This means no fighting, shrieking, crying, rough-housing or pulling on Mummy’s clothing/legs/hair. There can be quiet talking at this time. If you wanted quiet, you shouldn’t have had kids.
 
5. If the child can speak, then they are required once a week to proclaim their love and devotion to their Mother. If the child utters the words, ‘you are the best/smartest/kindest/prettiest Mother in the world’ then they are entitled to encroach on one of your private weepee breaks. Easy. You’re always saying how sweet I am.
 
6. If the child is between the ages of 8-18, they must bring their Mother tea in bed once a week. If they do not, the Mother is entitled to an additional daily private weepee/poo break. I’m only six, but I would love to bring you tea. Please, please, please! I wouldn’t drop it all over the floor, I promise.
 
7. Once a week the child must profusely praise their Mother’s cooking. Again, easy! You ARE the best cook in the world. No one makes sausages and pasta pesto like you Mummy.
 
8. Every time the child says ‘I hate you’ or ‘I wish you weren’t my Mother’, the Mother is entitled to an extra two private weepee breaks. I can’t help it when I say those things. I get mad and I’m only little. Why do you have to tell people on your blog about me?
 
9. Whenever the Mother is ill, she will be entitled to 12 hours of sickness care. Considering that Mothers spend thousands of Pounds/Dollars/Euro on baby equipment and clothing, all major baby shops should employ Sickness Representatives who go into homes and take care of children whilst the Mothers rest. No way. I only want you. Daddy is a good back-up and sometimes Granny and Grandpa. But that’s it.
 
10. Every Mother’s Day/Mothering Sunday, children will make sure that their Mothers are adequately acknowledged. The acknowledgments will include, but are not limited to, cards, breakfast in bed and a foot massage. I’ll make you a beautiful card with A LOT of glitter and glue. I’ll remind Daddy that you like waffles and foot rubs.
In return for adhering to these guidelines, Mothers agree to give their children unconditional love and devotion. Children who are in violation of the Union rules, will be subject to Striking. Mothers can strike up to two days per calendar year. At this time, no meals will be cooked, no laundry cleaned and put away, no bedtime songs sung and no books read. Ouchies will continue to be kissed better during medical emergencies. I don’t know what a strike is. Like in bowling? I love bowling. Can we go bowling this weekend?


This contract can be amended to include Fathers. Good point. And probably for all mummies, even ones who have real jobs and wear new shoes (isn’t that what you always go on about, never getting to buy shoes?) Can I go watch ‘Frozen’ now? I haven’t seen it since the weekend.

 

Who IS Godzilla?

Husband, who never goes away on business trips, was in Hong Kong last week for a conference. He brought back loads of gifts for the kids and me to alleviate the guilt of abandoning us since he missed us so much. One of the things he got for our two-year old, Dubz, was a little Godzilla toy. Neither of the kids knew who Godzilla was, but Dubz loves any creature who looks like they would say ‘roar’ or ‘argh’ or ‘ahhhh’ in a menacing way.
 
Moozles, who is six and very cheeky, had a couple of funny questions and comments about Godzilla.
 
Moozles: Godzilla is the son of God.
Me: Why do you think that?
Moozles: Because it’s in his name.
Me: Jesus is the son of God. Godzilla is just a monster.
Moozles: Oh.


Later…
Moozles: Godzilla and Jesus are brothers.
Me: NO, they are not. Godzilla is a made-up monster from an old movie.

 
A few minutes later…
Moozles: Daddy, we say Godzilla. Mummy says ‘Godziller’ because she’s American.

 
Hmph. Very cheeky. Very cheeky indeed!

Wot So Funee?

Oh The British

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.

10 Years of Wedded Bliss (Mostly, Cause Sometimes I Want to Murder Him)

10 Years of Wedded Bliss (Mostly, Cause Sometimes I Want to Murder Him)

Today is my 10-year wedding anniversary, so I thought I would take a trip down memory lane. People often ask me how I met my British husband so I thought I would write a post chronicling how I convinced Husband that he couldn’t live without me.

In April 2000, I left San Diego, California to study for a Master’s degree in Paris. To be perfectly honest, it was not the studying that interested me. I was 24 and wanted an adventure. And I fancied a romance with a Parisian man. I lived in a dorm-type accommodation with other foreign students. I stopped attending classes after a couple of weeks. I partied with my new friends. I spent my days exploring Paris and practicing my French. I did lots of flirting and even had a date with a Frenchman (who was so boring I had to dodge his phone calls for weeks after). 

But at the dorm, I had met a boy. A British boy. And a boy he was. He was 22, scruffy and awkward. But he was witty and funny and cute and sweet and generous. His room was three doors down from mine so we would chat and hang out loads. But I was too afraid to ruin our friendship, so I did not tell him how I felt. I did instigate a pact where we agreed to marry if we were still single when I turned 40 (and he turned 38), so I figured I could someday make him mine. I only lived in Paris for four months. My dad was having some health problems so I flew back to California, in July 2000, to be with him and my mom. The night before I flew back to the USA, after everyone was partied out, we were the last two awake. For hours. And for hours we talked, but nothing else. I kicked myself later for not being brave enough to kiss him.

We remained friends and emailed often. In June 2001, my British friend came to visit me in San Diego. There were so many butterflies when I saw him. But again, I was not brave enough to tell him how I felt. A few days after his arrival, we went to Arizona to visit another friend we had made in Paris. And there, my now-husband was fueled and emboldened by his birthday drinks, and kissed me. Apparently he had had a crush on me since Paris but had been worried about destroying our friendship.

We did the long-distance thing for 10 months, which included daily phone calls and three visits. In that time, I managed to finagle a two-year working holidaymaker visa. Before I moved to London in May 2002, Husband and I agreed that we would stay in the UK for three years then we would move to California. I am obviously not called Californian Mom in California, so you see how the story went.

Husband and I got married in 2004, at Coombe Abbey in Warwickshire. I can’t believe I managed to plan our wedding in eight months, while working full-time and getting my Master’s part-time. But it was lovely, and we enjoyed sharing such a special day with our family and friends.

We married on the day my visa expired. This probably looked more than a bit dodgy. And since my visa had expired, I had to leave the UK to get a spousal visa. So we had a mini-honeymoon in Vienna (we had our proper honeymoon in July, during my university holidays, in Kenya). After a nerve-wracking interview at the British Embassy, where I was terrifyingly quizzed on my new-Husband  (by myself in a tiny room, behind glass), I was granted a visa (despite not knowing the law qualification that Husband had attained).

Ten years after we were married, I am still madly in love with Husband. He is a wonderful friend and father. And despite sometimes wanting to murder him (like when I’m picking his pants up from the floor or when I’m trying to sleep and he’s snoring like a bear), I look forward to many more years with him.

10 Years of Wedded Bliss (Mostly, Cause Sometimes I Want to Murder Him) 10 Years of Wedded Bliss (Mostly, Cause Sometimes I Want to Murder Him)

My Exclamation Addiction!

My name is Californian Mum in London, and I’m an addict. I’m addicted to using exclamation marks. I use it in texts and emails. On Twitter. On my blog. When you talk to me in real life, you can hear the exclamation marks oozing out of my mouth! I can’t help it! I’m American! We’re an excitable people. 

But sometimes, when I am talking to a ‘full-stop Brit’ (for you Americans, British people call a ‘period’ a ‘full stop’) I can see them judging me. They are looking at me wondering why I am exclaiming when a full stop will do. But it won’t do. It just won’t do!

Exclamations are fine to use when showing excitement, extreme emotion or something you might shout. So get off my back British people! Just because I’m American, doesn’t mean that I don’t understand grammar and punctuation. In fact, I love it! I just love it!

This week I am linking up (for the first time!) to All About You which is co-hosted on Mother Wife Me, Mama and More, and City Girl at Heart.

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Expat Comfort Eating

I am not a 100% sure what British people think of as comfort foods. Baked beans on toast? Pies? Sausages and mash? As an American, I think of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, and specifically as a Californian, I think of burritos. Oh, and we really love breakfast/brunch. I’m talking French toast, waffles, buttermilk pancakes, and so forth. 

When I moved to London in 2002, American fare was hard to come by. And when you did find something, it just wasn’t as good as what you would expect in the U.S. I remember taking my then boyfriend-now Husband to meet my parents  in 2003. My parents stocked the fridge with my favourite treats. It was going home in so many ways.

Nowadays American foods are in great supply in London. I am not sure what it is like in the rest of the UK. Many supermarkets even have an American (or world) foods section. I often keep some Kraft Macaroni & Cheese in the kitchen cupboard. I don’t know why, or how, but something about this chalky cheese pasta in a box makes me feel happy.

I made some for lunch today but my son refused to even try it. He’s 22-months old, surely anything brightly orange should appeal. My five-year old daughter won’t touch the stuff either. What a shame. Maybe it’s an acquired taste like Salt & Vinegar crisps. Now that’s disgusting.

 

Seychelles Mama

The Prompt – Reflection

Though I normally post about average Stay-At-Home-Mum stuff, I actually started this blog to note my experiences as an Expat Mum. And this week I was really feeling how tough it is being an expat. I was dizzy and weak on Monday. Luckily Husband’s work can be flexible. So he took our daughter to school before he went to work. Then he came home in time to pick her up from her after-school club at 4pm, and took care of the kids until bedtime. If I lived near my mom, she could have come over and help. But she lives in the States, which is really of no help.

Sometimes I feel sad that I don’t have a family base we can rely on. Husband’s parents live in Warwickshire. They come to visit once every other month and sometimes more. But we don’t really have anyone who can drop everything and help. 

I know other people in similar boats, regardless of whether they are an expat. But how do other people do it? How do you handle raising children with very little help. After all, isn’t it supposed to take a village? 


mumturnedmom

Banana Cake with Chocolate Chips

 

I used to make Banana cake quite often when it was just the three of us. But my son, who is now 21-months old, loves bananas so we rarely have over-ripe bananas languishing in the fruit bowl. I haven’t baked banana bread in ages and I had a bit of a craving yesterday so I decided to use some just-ripe bananas.
 
A few months ago I found a recipe on the Guardian website for ‘How to Cook Perfect Banana Bread‘. I love The Guardian’s ‘How to cook the perfect…’ series (I can also vouch for their ‘perfect’ chocolate chip cookies). I have adapted the recipe a smidge as I used all my walnuts making Walnut Sandies two weeks ago. I substituted the walnuts for pieces of cooking chocolate. I also halved the recipe to make a one-pound loaf rather than the normal two. If I make the full amount, everyone gets a serving but I eat five servings on my own tonight. A one-pound loaf means the kids have pudding tonight plus I get a serving tonight and one for tomorrow. Husband doesn’t like banana bread (weirdo) so he won’t have any.


Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips
175g ripe bananas
90g plain flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
80g soft, light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp melted butter
45g of plain or dark chocolate (chips or pieces)

Preheat oven to 155C Fan-assisted or 170C Electric. Mash the bananas. Mix all the ingredients together, adding the salt and baking powder almost-to-last. I just use a spoon to mix it all up. I add the chocolate at the very end (if it’s mixed in too much it will sink to the bottom of the cake). I popped the mixture into a loaf tin, with a liner (so I don’t have to worry about greasing the tin). Bake the loaf for 35-40 minutes, depending on your oven. Then banana cake yumminess.
 

 

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