Are You Sure You Want To Invite Me To Your House?

Your first thought when good friends invite you over for a meal at their house – ‘Hooray! I can’t wait to see them’. But if your friend doesn’t have a child/only has a baby or older children, then a second thought runs through your mind,  ‘Damn, their house is going to be trouble’.

People who don’t have children or who have infants, do not know the pitfalls of having a toddler running around. People with older children have forgotten all about it. No one takes time out to toddler-proof their homes ahead of a visit with friends. But those of you with children between the ages of 10-42 months will know what I am talking about.

There are actions that you can undertake that will reduce the headaches and suffering that may otherwise occur. If you have invited over friends who have a toddler, here are…

Some tips to toddler-proof your house to save you and your guests some stress:

1. Put away sharp knives. I can’t tell you how many houses we’ve been in that have had huge, sharp knives on the edge of dining tables, on a coffee table, at the bottom of a butcher’s block and even on the kitchen floor. Seriously. On. The. Floor.

2. Blow out those candles. Yes, lighting a candle can be quite nice and relaxing. But arriving at a house covered in lit candles when you have a two year old? My heart begins fluttering as I picture my toddler a) burning down your house or b) getting third-degree burns on his hands and face.

3. Move your bottles. I understand you like to display your valuable wine bottles on a low shelf or on the floor. But maybe you could keep them up high so that hundreds of pounds worth of wine don’t stain your carpet? And remember, my family lives on one income, we will not be reimbursing you.

4. Hide your sweets. I appreciate that you want to be welcoming, but a giant bowl of candy and chocolate? Have you ever met a child? Do you not care if my child get hyped up and shrieks the entire drive home (all whilst being covered in wine)?

5. Pick up the pens. A pen or a marker in the hands of a toddler who doesn’t have paper? Neither you or I want my child to write all over your walls.But how can I stop my lightning quick toddler if he finds a pen while we have our backs turned for half a second (cause that is all it will take)?

6. Be prepared for the mess. You would be surprised how quickly a small child can destroy a room. I always try to tidy up after my children, but many people say not to worry. I hope they are not huddled in a corner, in tears, after our departure.

Are you sure you want to Invite Me To Your House?

If after all this, you still want to invite me over. Just tell me a time (that obviously does not interfere with my child’s nap time or bedtime) and I will see you there.


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)

So, I Have Two Kids, What On Earth Do I Do Now?

So, I Have Two Kids, What Do I Do Now?Continuing from my previous post, So you are thinking about having a second child?, today I am helping you navigate the murky waters of what you do once you actually have two children. 

So, I have two kids, what on earth DO I do now?

1. Don’t panic. Your partner’s leave is over and you find yourself alone. But. Not. Alone. Never. Alone. It’s okay, they’re not the enemy, they are the beautiful human beings that you made/adopted/won in a poker game.

2. Be organised. That means you know what you will be feeding your eldest for lunch and dinner, before they have eaten their breakfast. I was lucky enough to have a husband who would cook our dinners – he make extra which I would then feed our daughter the next day. This would make life a lot easier the next evening. The more organised you are, the less stressed you will feel. Have nappies, wipes and spare baby clothes in several rooms of your home.

3. Never run out of food or nappies. If you live near a shop, that could mean a daily walk for groceries. If you have to drive or take public transport, it can be a faff (especially in those first days) to do food shopping. Get your food delivered. Or have your partner go to the shops a couple of times a week. Just make sure that you never run out.

4. While we’re talking about food, always have plenty of snacks. Especially if you are breastfeeding, but also for your eldest (who is bound to feel starving as soon as you start breastfeeding/changing a nappy). When you get groceries in, make sure you put together snack boxes of cut up fruit or veg ready in the fridge. And oatcakes. Oatcakes have saved the day many times in our house.

5. Don’t do too much. You might be used to taking your eldest to a different playgroup/class everyday, but times have changed. Pick his/her favourite activity and spend the other quietly and casually, especially in the first couple of months. You’re not going to scar your eldest by having a quieter life. Promise.

6. Don’t try to be a superhero or a martyr. There are no points for taking care of two kids, cleaning the house and having dinner ready on the table for your partner. There will be days when you will wear your pyjamas all day. There are days you get dressed, but forget to brush your teeth or hair. There will be days when you eat take-away or ready meals. And feel free to let your partner come home from work and cook dinner while you put your feet up/shower.

7. Don’t be afraid to put on the telly. I was so strict about my daughter watching television. But when her baby brother arrived, I realised I needed a diversion tactic for the MANY hours I spent breastfeeding.

8. Give your eldest quality time. When you have one baby, you can catch up on rest, sleep or housework during his/her nap times. But those nap times become the quality time you spend with your eldest. Ensure you have games and crafts handy. But if you are desperate for a catnap or shower, put on your old friend the television and don’t beat yourself up about it.

9. Take photos of BOTH kids. Not just the cute little baby. Remember, there’s someone there who is used to being the main focus in your pictures. 

10. Never leave your baby alone with your eldest child unless said child is at least four years old. I know several people who have found their two-year old sticking strange food/toys in their baby’s mouth. They’re just trying to be helpful, but you need to keep an eye on them.

11. Kids don’t need bathing every day. Fact. I remember my then four-year old in the bathtub splashing me, while I sat on the floor of the bathroom breastfeeding my newborn. Not comfy. And the post-bath drying/dressing can be so stressful.  My daughter never complained when she lost her daily baths, and she never started to smell stinky. And the change in routine did not keep her from going to sleep. I now give the kids a joint bath mid-week and then their daddy gives them a bath at the weekend. Two baths=my sanity.

12. Remember, you KNOW what you are doing. You have had a baby before. Trust your instincts. You got this. So enjoy this time. And remember you haven’t just brought home a new child for you, but a best friend for your first-born.

So, I Have Two Kids, What Do I Do Now?

So, you are thinking about having a second child?

So, you are thinking about having a second child?I have two wonderful little terrors children. Moozles will turn six in April and Dubz will turn two in May. The four-year age gap is a result of the indecision relating to having a second child (blogged about here). In the end, it has worked out well for us. But life is much trickier with two rather than just one child (I don’t even know how those of you with three or more children handle it–you’re basically superheroes in my eyes). 
But I thought I could offer a checklist to help those of you who are considering trying for another baby.
So, You are Thinking about Having a Second Child?
1. Do you enjoy regular trips to the grocery store? Four people eat A LOT more food than three people. And since my youngest boy is greedy a good eater, we have really noticed a huge difference in our grocery bill in the past year. During a normal week, I go food shopping three or four times.
2. Do you enjoy catering to the whims of not one, but two, egocentric people? More kids mean more people trying to boss you around and demanding more pudding.
3. Do you like not having spare cash? More kids mean more bills. Although many people resume working after they have a second child, some of us don’t. And when you subsist on one salary, there is rarely extra money for spa days and Jimmy Choos. And even if you go back to work, you’re spending loads of money on childcare and all the extra cash goes on the kids to help assuage your feelings of guilt.
4. Speaking of guilt, do you enjoy feeling guilty? Once there is more than one child in the mix, you start worrying about whether you are giving them the same amount of attention and trying to ensure that they both feel equally loved.
5. Do you like having a hectic schedule? More kids mean more schedules. Conflicting schedules. One wants to play (loudly) while the other wants to nap. One wants to sleep in, but you have to take the other to school. 
6. Do you enjoy feeling tired? You’ve finally started getting 7-8 hours sleep, then a freight train in the shape of a little baby runs over you. Back to the middle-of-the-night feedings and enduring teething pain-related grumpiness.
7. Do you like hearing the phrase ‘But Mummy, that’s MY toy!’? You will hear it. Often. Like really a lot.

8. Do you like having infrequent dates with your partner? Husband and I used to go on a date once a month when we only had our daughter. Since Dubz has come along, we maybe manage once every other month. And we used to go on a 3-4 day foreign mini-break once a year on our own. We managed one night last year. To Warwickshire. *sigh*
9. Do you enjoy lots of cuddles and kisses? When you have two, there always seems to be someone around who wants a cuddle and/or a kiss. Sometimes it’s lovely and sweet. Sometimes you are kissing the ouchy on a dirty foot. Okay, still sweet.

10. Speaking of cuddles, do you like children fighting over who gets a cuddle? Even if one is happily playing, if they see the other getting a cuddle then they come over to get in on the cuddling action. One good thing about having two kids, they fit quite nicely, one on each lap. Though there have been some instances of Dubz pulling his big sister’s hair and trying to push her off my lap so he can have me all to himself. I just remind myself that one day my kids will think they are too cool to cuddle me.

11. Do you enjoy some occasional quiet time to hop on Twitter or read some blogs? If you have two kids, they often play together and leave you in peace. Woohoo!

If you have answered yes to four or more questions, then toss those condoms, or bin those pills, because you are ready to have a second child!