You might be excused for thinking that I’ve turned into one of those super moms who having totally got their shit together, piss everyone else off by suggesting how they too could organize their lives, rather than being the totally inadequate beings that they are. Fear not, I am still one of the inadequates and this post is more about how bat shit crazy I am than a helpful lifestyle lesson.

So lists! I’m sort of famous for mine in our house, particularly for big events like Christmas, parties, vacations etc. I mostly make them because when I get stressed my brain turns to mush through lack of sleep and nervous exhaustion. Making a list means that I can stop trying to get my shit together and simply work in a brainless fashion, taking each item in turn and completing it without much thought process.

Mostly the lists are sensible and logical and serve their purpose, which is to ensure that all important tasks or perquisites are completed and any disastrous consequences avoided, like the time we went on our first family trip to Disney and I left the camera at home and flushed my iphone down the airplane toilet (but that’s a story for another day!) But sometimes I have to admit they get a little silly, like when I take post it notes and attach them to serving dishes so I don’t forget what I wanted to serve in which dish.

Today I’m afraid was one of those silly days, as you can see from my list.










Was it likely that I would have forgotten to do any one of these items? Not really! Would the children have been running around naked had I not put away the 3 days of folded laundry in the basket? Of course not! And would the house of Chivers crumbled to the ground if come the end of dinnertime the dishwasher was not ready to receive the dirty dishes? I think not! But good lord, without the use of a list and a pink highlighter pen, how would I have been able to prove that I achieved anything today?


As a parent I take a pretty laid back, no nonsense approach to raising my kids.  After all I was brought up in an era where mumps and measles were a right of passage, allergies simply did not exist, you were sent outside to play from dawn to dusk with nothing more than a skipping rope and a tennis ball for entertainment, “why?” was responded to with, “because I said so” and the sooner you learned that life wasn’t fair the better.

Why is it then, that I find myself dealing with the world’s most high maintenance dog?  And it’s not just the time and effort, but the cost too.  We adopted our scruffy looking mutt from the shelter and Mo delighted in telling us how advantageous this was, since ‘mixed breeds’ were so much healthier.  Pah!

It all started with the food allergies. First get a dog, then pick up a 100lb bag of generic brand food for next to nothing, right?  Wrong!  Seems Muttster is allergic to pretty much every grain, protein, diary and everything in between, except for venison and sweet potato.  Seriously, when was the last time you ate venison on a regular basis?  And what do most kids do when eating?  Drop crumbs!  And what do dogs do with those crumbs?  Hoover them up!  So lets add in the cost of poop bags, lots and lots of poop bags.

Next, following on from a couple of raging ear infections we found out that Muttster has seasonal allergies.  Now remind me, where do dogs originate?  Ah yes from wolves, living out in the wild.  So what serious flaw in the evolutionary process turns them into something that requires a daily dose of antihistamine?

And so onto the last of my precious pooch’s issues.  He’s always been a little on the high energy, crazy side, which is why he goes to doggy day care a couple of times a week (seriously who comes up with this shit?), to work out all that doggy energy.  But lately this craziness has developed into something where, well to put it bluntly he’s mental!  Highly-strung and nervous, he has started to have deranged, flip out episodes involving crazy eyes, excessive barking and much showing of scary teeth, mainly aimed at unfortunate strangers who enter our home.  With his family, he is the sweetest, softest dog you can imagine.  You should see the torment that Flo puts him through and he has never once flinched, but the time had come to seek professional advice in the form of a dog trainer.  After working with her for just a couple of weeks, she finally decided that whilst behavior adjustment would help, maybe Muttster needed a little something extra.   So, to the final installment in what feels like a punked version of pet ownership, Muttster is now taking what can only be described as doggy Prozac.  Let’s just hope 2 years down the line I’m not putting him in rehab for his drug addiction problem.

Footnote: I have chosen to hide the true identity of our dog by giving him a false name.  This is just in case his doggy friends find out about his issues and treat him differently at day care!


This summer was an equal parts lazy, busy, too short, super fun antidote to a year of hard work at school.  But with it came a challenge.  Not a new one, but an old one that resurfaced its ugly head and tested both my sanity and patience.  The reappearance of bed wetting.

I am a very analytical person, something that has left me with a whole heap of frustration as a mother, since logic doesn’t always come into it!  However as this is something we haven’t had to deal with in such a long time, I figured if I could simply locate the root of the problem and fix that, all would be good.

At first I assumed that a switch to more physical activities coupled with later nights was the culprit, she was clearly too exhausted to wake up.  So we took it down a notch and went back to school night bedtimes.  Uh uh!

Perhaps fluids, too much fluids late a night.  So amid the anguished cries of “but I’m soooooooo thirsty,” I only allowed a sip or two of water at bedtime and tried to encourage drinking earlier in the day (water for the child, not alcohol for me I have to clarify).  Uh uh!

So as all neurotic and clinically insane mothers do, I took to the Internet for clues, because we all know how reliable that is as a source.  Here I learned that stress could be a factor.  So I inquired as to whether she was worried about something maybe school, the expression on her face read “No, but should I be?” Great !

Flo and I were determined that there would be no return to nighttime diapers, this thing simply had to be beaten and since logic clearly had not worked I went with the, only solution I had left.  The chart and sticker system.  And whilst I hate to count my chickens, so far those crazy colored little gems have worked their magic once again.

I wonder if sticker power could get socks and underwear put in the laundry basket too?


To say that last year was a slow writing year for me would be an understatement (not including the mindless drivel I posted on Facebook, at that I did a pretty stellar job).

At the beginning of the year I decided that with both kids in school all day for the first time, this would be the year I would write my second novel.  But then I decided to give myself 3 months off to recoup, relax and establish a new routine first.  What I actually managed to do was fill my day with a bunch of stuff, that I still have no idea how I found time to do before.  By this point the thought of writing an entire book just seemed too huge to contemplate and then simply writing anything, even a short blog entry became an impossible challenge.  I guess that’s the definition of writers block.

At first the realization of how little I had done left me feeling pretty crappy and disappointed in myself, but the reality was, I had just given myself too daunting a goal to achieve.  I also realized that all this negativity was not  going to be the catalyst I needed to move forward.  I therefore decided to reflect first on what I had achieved last year.

For example, I managed to laundry often enough that Mo and Flo never had to go to school commando.  I also managed to shop for and feed my family enough nutritious meals that not one of them got scurvy.   But most importantly I managed to survive what was mentally a much tougher transition than I had realized it would be, without allowing myself to fall headfirst into a vat of dirty sweat pant, non showering self pity.  Because whilst I joked about shoving Flo through the school  doors with a breezy, “see you later I’m off to enjoy 8 hours of uninterrupted peace and quiet,” in fact it was quite a deeply unsettling change for me.  Not just missing hanging out with Flo, but how it changed how I viewed my role. The lack of tangible goals and successes is something that has always left me struggling to recognize my value as a SAHM and taking the childcare element out of a big chunk of my day made this even more challenging.

So onto next year.  Whilst I realize that it is still more constructive to set goals ahead of time rather than retrofit them to suit what I actually did, this year I have decided to set my self up for success rather than failure.  So instead I’m going to set myself a promise, to write every week.  Sometimes it may be a little, sometimes it may be a lot, but in the process I hope to rediscover my love of writing and my creative voice.  And hey, I might even send the kids to school in clean socks too!


It occurred to me today that my primary role in life is to fill and empty things.  Today for example:

  • I filled the car with children and a dog, I took them to school and doggy day care and emptied it again
  • I went to various shops and filled the car with bags, got home and took the bags inside, thus emptying it again
  • At home I emptied the dryer and filled it with the wet washing (that had sat there since yesterday)
  • Having emptied the washing machine of clean laundry I filled it with dirty laundry
  • The clothes that I removed from the drier I folded neatly, I then took a laundry basket and filled it with the folded laundry
  • Tomorrow I will empty this basket and put away the laundry, by which point there will be more piles of dirty laundry with which I can refill it
  • I also emptied the dishwasher this morning and then filled it with the pile of waiting dirty dishes
  • Just now I filled my vacuum cleaner with various bits of paper, crackers and dog hair and then emptied the disgusting mix into the trash
  • The trash can by this point was full, so I emptied it and no doubt tomorrow I will fill it again whilst walking around cleaning up after my children

And now I must dash, so that I can again fill the car with children and a dog, empty it once more and then fill the, by now tired, starving children and crazy barking dog with food.

So Happy Mothers Day to all and may your Sunday involve nothing more than filling your mind with a good book and your bellies with chocolate and wine!


People in Chicago often stop to tell us how much they love Mo and Flo’s English accents and they are always astonished to hear that both girls were actually born here.  So although both the Hubby and I are English, the girls are technically American or at least only half English.   Mo however, for some reason, is very attached to her English heritage.

It’s not a bad thing, I’m just surprised how whole heartedly she embraces it.  Ask her what her nationality is and she will say quite simply that she is English.

I suppose because of this I’ve come to think of them as English girls, who just happen to be have been born in America.   In fact, it often worries me that given they will likely spend the rest of their lives here, that perhaps they’re not American enough.   We do our best to expose them to American culture and tradition even though we have no frame of reference ourselves.  We try to celebrate the 4th of July even though technically we were on the losing side and we cook a big turkey dinner for Thanksgiving that Mo refuses to eat!  And yet still, Mo in particular seems just as English as fish and chips and a good cup of tea.

Well last week was Shrove Tuesday, so I decided to indulge in the very English tradition of making pancakes.  Not the thick and fluffy American pancakes but the English/European crepe style ones.  It should have been right up Mo’s English alley!

Me, “So I thought I’d make pancakes because it’s Shrove Tuesday today.  We have them with lemon and sugar but I could spread some Nutella on yours if you’d prefer.”

Mo wrinkles her nose in disgust, “No thanks.  How about some regular ones like we have for breakfast with chocolate chips.”

And there she is, my American Girl!


Years ago this mommy blogger had a real job, and by that I mean one where I actually got paid and had evenings and weekends off.  I was a project manager, which meant not only was I responsible for managing my own time, but also that of several other individuals.  I’m not too modest to say that I was pretty darn good at it too..  I ran a tight ship and my tidy desk reflected my tidy mind.

And then I had kids!

I soon came to realize that, unlike a software project, babies could not be managed and after a brief spell of driving myself nuts trying, I relaxed my control a little, then a little more, then quite a lot actually.  Such that my days become something like this: oh no Mo has no clean pants for school and will have to wear yesterdays with yoghurt spilt on them, I forgot I was out of drinks for the lunch boxes, we were supposed to have left 5 minutes ago and Mo’s hair still looks like straw and I have no idea where anyone’s shoes are, I forgot to get the meat for tonight’s dinner at the super market, I forgot what tonight’s dinner was meant to be, what is all this stuff on my desk, why is there a bill there that was supposed to be paid last month, why do I have no clean clothes, where did that huge pile of laundry come from?  I could go on, but I won’t.

So my New Years resolution was to get organized and be proactive.  For the past 2 weeks I’ve been making lists, updating my calendar with important events and tasks, organizing lunches and laying out clothes for school the night before, sorting laundry so that by Friday afternoon I already have enough clothes for almost the entire week, dealing with chores as they arise and not putting them off.  And I am pleased to say that things have been running pretty smoothly.  I even took in extra shoe boxes for Flo’s current class project, for those parents who aren’t quite as organized as me.

For the first time in as long as I can remember I actually felt like I had by sh*^t together.  So as I walked into Flo’s class I was feeling pretty smug as I announced we were here nice an early to attend her student school breakfast, until that is her teacher pointed out that student breakfast wasn’t today but next Friday.   Ok, I give up!


I’ve always found writing my blog to be cathartic.  So the fact that I haven’t written one in over 9 months either means that life has been going swimmingly or that I have been majorly over sharing with friends, acquaintances and occasionally near strangers (sorry about that!).  But today I’m feeling sad and deserted, so today I am going to share with all of you.

I love Christmas, it is without a doubt, my favorite time of the year.  The lights, the excitement, the over (seriously over) indulging.  And this year was even better, as we shared it with my in-laws.  “Eeek,” I hear you scream, “how awful.”  But you see these aren’t your typical crusty oldies who sit around complaining about the youth of today, eating all your best biscuits and getting under your feet.  They’re the kind of oldies (sorry FIL/MIL) who are actually useful.  They’re here when I need them and go off and amuse themselves when I don’t, they vacuum and clean up, they’ll even look after my 2 overly energetic and crazy kids and even more overly energetic and crazy dog while the hubby and I take a mini break in a hotel, stay up late, bar crawl like we’re in our twenties again and then lay in bed until way past 7am.  Best of all, they’re actually really fun to hang out with, (unfortunately I didn’t get a video of Grandad getting down and funky to Wii Just Dance as proof, so you’ll have to just take my word for it).

But as of 3 hours ago they departed back to England and to top it all, my dear hubby is away on a business trip.  I’d like to say the house is quiet and empty, but I still have my 2 overly energetic crazy kids and one even more overly energetic and crazy dog, but there is definitely that feeling you get after a much anticipated party where the balloons have lost their lift and are barely bouncing themselves off the floor.

On the bright side though, the Christmas tree is still on with lights ablaze, there is still plenty of wine, half a tin of chocolates, no one is here that I have to share it with and the diet doesn’t start until Monday.  Party on!


Ever noticed how kids just don’t fight fair?  This week Flo and I had a bit of a head to head and although she let me think I’d won the battle, it turns out I didn’t win the war.

When Flo started school I gave up my twice weekly sitter and with it my one ‘zen’ moment of the week when I went to yoga.  A whole 90 minutes where the only thing to focus on was, ‘you expect me to do what with my leg?’ instead of all that other day-to-day crap.  Unfortunately Flo’s mornings only school schedule, just didn’t fit in with my class.  However, I had a plan.  After the first term, once she had settled in, I would put her in for a full day just one day a week and get back to my yoga class.  And it was all going perfectly until this Tuesday when..

“Mummy, am I staying for lunch today?”  “Yes Flo, it’s mummy’s yoga class today.”  Ommm!

To which Flo crumples her face into agonizing despair and breaks down into uncontrollable, hysterical, heaving sobs.

“Noooo, I don’t want to go, I miss my friends, I don’t like lunch.”  At this point I could write a 10 page document on the complete exchange, but basically it went something like this:

a)    Me trying to convince Flo that she would have so much fun, her response to which was to cry hysterically,

b)   Me trying to ignore/downplay the whole thing, her response to which was to cry hysterically,

c)    Me trying to issue a fait accompli, making the whole thing pointless crying about, her response to which was to cry hysterically,

d)   Me trying to point out how unfair it was to ruin the one enjoyable thing I had each week, through her own selfishness (not my finest moment!!), her response to which .. ok I think you get the point.

Finally I managed to come up with what I thought was an excellent compromise.

“Ok Flo, so what if I tried to change the day you stay to Wednesday when Bob and Bit stay for lunch (Bob and Bit being Flo’s very best friends in the whole wide world). Flo nods with a thin watery smile through sobs.

“But if I do that, you will have to go to the gym kids club while I do yoga would that be ok.” More nodding.

So I organized with school to permanently change Flo’s full day and rearranged a number of my own plans.  Flo would get to spend the day will Bob and Bit (Flo’s very best friends in the whole wide world) and I would get to yoga.

Great! Except!

“Mummy do you have yoga today?” “No Flo, that’s next week, it’s lunch with Bob and Bit today remember.” “But I don’t want to go to lunch, I don’t like lunch, I don’t want to go to gym kids club, I miss you!”

Ommmm, must find peaceful place, Ommmm, must find peaceful place!


The other day Mo gleefully announced, “there are only 3 more months of the school year left.” What? No, wait.  The school year has barely started.  “No Mo,” I respond with just a mere hint of panic in my voice, “there are six months left.”

“But it’s March, mummy.” Oh yes right, it just feels like it was only just Christmas. Still, as Mo’s school mercifully follows the British school system, she’s actually in school until the Fourth of July, which by my calculations still gives me 4 months.    “But my teacher says, if you take out all the days off we’ll have mummy, there are 3 months worth of school left.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve only just managed to recover from last summer.  It’s genuinely taken me this long to get myself into a routine whereby the house only looks like disaster zone from Friday to Monday, all those ‘to do’ items that kept getting carried over week after week are finally cleared and I’m actually up to date on everyone’s dentist/doctor visits, including my own!   And as Flo only started school this year, it’s probably the first time in 3 years that I’ve been in this position.

The mere thought of 8 long weeks with 2 children who if bickering was an Olympic sport would be taking home the gold, is enough to turn me into a nail biting, hair pulling, eye twitching nervous wreck.  Not mention that this summer I will also be contending with our newly acquired crazy arsed puppy, who poops fifteen times a day (with frequent diarrhea), digs holes in my backyard you could bury a truck in and demands more of my attention than both Flo and Mo put together.

So ‘Mr Mo’s Teacher’, whilst only 3 months of school until you can kick back, sleep until noon and lie in the sun sipping a cold beer may be comforting to you, I think you’ll know from my harassed look at pick up time, it’s enough to put the fear of God into me.  There are FOUR months, in fact a whole one third of a year until you hand my dear darling Mo back to me full time.   Which should be plenty of time for me to get all the Prozac and booze required to survive!

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