Apr
16

Let me start by saying that I am very fortunate to have 2 healthy (they need to be) and kind-hearted in-laws, who once a year go above and beyond the call of duty to stay home alone with Flo and Mo, allowing hubby and I to take a much needed break.  I look forward to these breaks like a 7 year old looks forward to Christmas.  Everything about them is a rare treat.

Of course I look forward to sleeping late in a bed not occupied by 2 small (and usually fighting) children with Dora playing as background noise.  Having time to get ready to go out without first having to make chicken nuggets for dinner, give the kids a bath and put them to bed, leaving me 20 minutes to decide what I’m going to wear, have a shower and dry my hair.  Stopping for a glass of wine in the afternoon following a leisurely stroll through the shops, where I don’t spend the entire time trying to stop Flo trying on six-inch heels.  My heart literally flutters with excitement just at the thought.

But even before we board the plane, the vacation has begun. When packing, I do not need to determine first what kid related paraphernalia can not be lived without, such as Spotty Dog or every Backyardigans DVD ever made, before deciding how many pairs of shoes I can take.

The airport no longer requires my calculating a mathematical equation, taking into account distance, speed and potential obstacles, in order to determine the last minute I can take the children to the bathroom before we have to board the plane, thereby eliminating the panic of needing a bathroom break during the no seat belt sign.

And sitting on a plane for 4 hours, with nothing to do, but sleep or read.  No bottom wiping, no snack getting, no fight refereeing, no “muuuuuuuuumy”.  So why then am I sitting here thinking, “hmm, what shall I do now?”  I’ve finished both my book and People magazine, I’ve had my complimentary drink, there are still 2 hours of flight time left and I’m bored.  Yes bored, it’s an unfamiliar emotion to me, one that if I really try I can just about recall prior to having children.  I could start a new book, hubby has even offered me his iPad for a game of Angry Birds, but nothing can distract me.  Every five minutes, my internal (and much to the amusement and soon annoyance of hubby, sometimes external) voice is saying, “how much longer is it going to be?”

Frankly I’m a little annoyed with myself.  I have it, that illusive thing that all moms crave – peace and quiet, time to think, time to just sit and relax.  And I have reverted to my fidgety and short-attention-spanned, Flo and Mo aged self.

And now that this blog is written, I’m back to the clock watching.  So what do you think, would the pilot be very annoyed if I just popped up to the front and asked, “are we there yet?”

P.S. just to add to my misery, a doddery old man decided to feign illness in order to get a non scheduled drop off in Vegas thereby delaying us by more than an hour.  He better have won big!

 

Mar
23

For this week’s topic I would like to discuss child related injuries. I’m not talking about injuries that children sustain e.g. by shoving a pencil up their nose or hanging upside down on wet monkey bars using only their teeth, I’m talking about the injuries we moms sustain as a result of having children.

We all know and expect the usual ones. Our bodies are never quite the same following pregnancy and childbirth, the onset of wrinkles seems to follow immediately after giving birth from worry and lack of sleep and don’t even get me started on the mental scars from stress, guilt and constantly asking ourselves “did I do the right thing there?” But I’ve discovered over the last few months that there are other dangers lurking around every corner.

My first was during the Christmas holidays when I threw myself and Flo down the stairs. Distracted by the snuggling, cuddly, sleepy girl I was carrying, I missed the last step.  The result of which was a badly sprained ankle that prevented me from performing my best Rock Band Wii groove over the holidays and for the months following.

The second occurred two weeks ago and started off so innocuously that it’s hard to believe I have arrived at where I am today. Whist carrying Flo’s empty (and pretty light) stroller up the stairs behind me, whilst simultaneously holding her hand in front of me to prevent her slipping on the stairs, I managed to injure my back. What started off as a mild pain turned into an ‘I can’t think straight, someone please knock me unconscious with a large blunt object’ pain.

You’ll understand that as a mom, being slowed down by a little excruciating pain is not an option. I tried an acetaminophen/ibuprofen combo in enough quantities to floor an elephant – it did nothing. I tried a chiropractor but despite all the cracking and popping (which he assured me was a good thing) the pain persisted. As a last ditch attempt at relief I went for a deep tissue massage which although it started off promising enough with lavender oil and soothing music, it was all just a nasty ruse and turned out to be more like a form of torture.

There is however light at the end of the tunnel, I have discovered a miracle cure. A glass or five two of wine or vodka or both, works wonders for the pain – or perhaps I just get to a point where I no longer care.

So in summary:

  1. Having children can seriously damage your health.
  2. They age you, by at least 5 years for every one of theirs, both inside and out (which combining Flo and Mo makes me around 90 years old – I certainly feel it).
  3. Deep tissue massage is not a treat or relaxing in any way. It is in fact a form of physical abuse.
  4. Alcohol is a far more effective form of pain relief than either acetaminophen or ibuprofen, so whatever ails you, pour yourself a glass, it’s doctors orders.

Mar
04

Last evening I came to the realization that all two enemies need in order to reach peaceful reconciliation, is a common foe over which to unite. If you’ve ever studied history or watched daytime soap operas you may have known this already. I probably did too, but what really brought it home was a pretty spectacular mommy meltdown.

Mo and Flo love each other. I know this and occasionally I even get a glimpse of it when they have a sneaky hug or kiss. But man, can those two fight. The hours between 8:30am and 4:00pm are pretty quiet around here, except for the occasional 2 year old tantrum over the “no chocolate brownies before 9am” rule. The hours before and after Mo’s school time however, are often akin to world war 3.

Mo you see, is an evil dictator who thinks that if she yells at Flo with enough force and authority, she will become her compliant servant. Flo unfortunately is a rebel, who when peaceful protest fails, is prepared to use violence to get her own way (pinching and slapping are common and once under extreme circumstances, biting was deployed – not a good day!) I’ve tried all the usual tricks. Taking turns – “why don’t we let Flo finish her turn and then you can have the bike.” Empathy – “how do you think you would feel if Mo took your favorite coloring book and colored on every page?” Nothing seems to work.

So when the arguing, which had been bubbling under the surface all the way home in the car, started 5 minutes after walking through the door last evening, I reached crack point, total red mist time and I snapped. The words “that’s it, I’ve had it,” were uttered at high volume. I’m pretty sure my face turned almost purple, I know my head felt like it was literally going to explode, there may have even been steam coming from my ears. Children were banished to separate rooms and mommy went to another room to count to a trillion, billion.

The result? A miracle, within minutes, realizing that this new enemy was even more extreme and volatile than themselves, Mo and Flo joined forces and formed a plan. They played quietly, negotiating terms for peaceful coexistence and left mommy alone until her face went back to normal.

So I guess Dr Phil is right, (who me? Watch Dr Phil? No!), to be a good parent and get your kids to behave you don’t need to be their friend, you must be their mortal enemy!

p.s. it lasted all of 30 minutes before negotiations broke down and battle once again commenced!

Feb
18

Big news in the Chivers household.  After an 8+ year process, during which I have given birth to 2 American citizens, my husband and I are now Green Card holders.   Quite rightly this will be a big cause for celebration, except that – I now have to get a dog!  Not a USCIS requirement, I’ve simply run out of excuses.

From practically the first time she saw an episode of Blues Clues, Mo has been dog mad.  At one point it was quite literally almost impossible to get a single word out of her other than woof.  When she started school one of the kids was heard to say, I really like Mo, but I hate those dogs!  She is obsessed.  Whilst other girls fill their dress-up boxes with princess outfits and jewels, hers is filled with assorted dog ears, masks and costumes.  She reads dog books, makes dog pictures, watches dog movies, eats dog snacks – well not quite, but I bet she would if she could.

We have bought her all kinds of expensive and impressive electronic versions that bark, wag their tails, do tricks, even pee, but she is not to be swayed.  She wants the real, tail wagging, trick performing, leg cocking deal!

My original excuse was that having cared for two babies with their stinky diapers, I had already dealt with all the poop I was going to in this lifetime.  But even the chore of having to pick up poop herself will not deter her.

When Flo was born we argued that we couldn’t get a dog while she was a baby.  Then as she grew, surreptitiously whispering into Flo’s ear, “not too close in case he bites”, every time we came within 3 foot of a dog, helped enforce the argument that it wasn’t fair to get a dog when Flo was so scared of them.  But Mo outsmarted me, as Flo got older and started to crave the attention of Mo, she would grace Flo with her company, but only to play doggies.  And when Flo cried she would sneak Flo, one of her cutest, softest toy dogs.  She’s a master strategist, I never stood a chance.

Finally, when she was around 5 or 6, with all arguments exhausted I simply bought myself some time.  “You can have one when you’re 7, when you’ll be old enough to look after it.  Man that 7 year old birthday came around quick.  “So I’m going to be 7 soon, when are we getting a dog?”

I guess around this time, the hubby and I were probably knee deep in the frustratingly slow process of our Green Card applications and my next argument presented itself like an epiphany.   “You know it wouldn’t really be fair for us to get a dog until we know for absolute certain that we can stay in the US.  Just imagine how upsetting it would be to have to leave it behind or how sad the dog would be to be taken to the adoption center.”  Cruel beyond words, I know, but I was desperate.

So for now, despite our relief at finally knowing we’re here for good, I’m trying to keep my glee on the down low.   But eventually she will ask the question “do you have that thing yet that says we can stay?” and being the responsible parent I am, I will be unable to lie and then my friends it’s game over!  Unless – “Hello little doggy – oh hang on my eyes are watering, my nose is itching – oh no I must be allergic!”

Feb
11

Last week was my birthday and as some of you know, it didn’t go exactly as planned.  With a Feburary 2nd birthday I’m used to sharing my big day with a certain furry little fella (for those of you not familiar with Groundhog Day, it’s a yearly event when a meteorological rodent predicts the early arrival or not of Spring!) This year however, it got quite literally overshadowed by great big snow clouds.  So big in fact that come birthday morning we had, according to the news, 20 inches of snow on the ground.   Add a fair bit of drifting to that and you have one holy mess.

So this was how my birthday was supposed to go:

  1. Children sleep freakishly late while I get to have a cup of tea and a shower in peace
  2. I open an array of expensive thoughtfully selected gifts
  3. After dropping Mo at school and Flo into a Bubbles class, I sit for a whole kid-less hour with my kindle
  4. I relax at home until school pickup time, doing as little as humanly possible
  5. Husband comes home early with cupcakes, we all sing “Happy Birthday”
  6. I spend a luxurious amount of time getting ready for a fancy birthday meal with my dear hubby.

Perfect!

Here’s what actually happened:

  1. Mo comes bounding into my room at 6:00am, beyond excitement at the fact that it’s a snow day and she gets to stay home for my birthday
  2. I sit watching the snow, praying that at some point it will stop and that the snow plows will clear all the snow in time for me to still make it out for my meal
  3. Restaurant calls to cancel reservation (and no they can’t book us in next weekend there is a 6 week waiting list.  I KNOW, THAT’S WHY I BOOKED 2 MONTHS AGO!)
  4. I spend and hour and a half clearing the snow, which has drifted in places to approximately 6 ft  (ok, probably more like 3ft but it felt like 6ft!)
  5. Husband regrettably informs me that everything is closed, cupcakes not an option, therefore I:
    • Make my own birthday cake (with lots and lots and lots of help from Flo and Mo!)
    • Decorate (badly) my own birthday cake
    • Clean up the chaos of making my own birthday cake (think explosion in a cake factory)
  6. I make my own birthday dinner and watch TV with hubby.

Ok, before you all bring out the violins – on the plus side:

  1. I got a pair of very cool wellies with fleece welly socks which came in very handy when cleaning the snow
  2. The birthday cake whilst classically Chivers family crap (see picture) was chocolatey and delicious
  3. There was wine and champagne to drink and paté and cheese for nibbles
  4. The children managed to not fight for almost a whole day (they saved it up for the next day – but you can’t have it all)
  5. I still got to spend the whole evening with my darling husband drinking plenty of fine wine, because I didn’t have to get up to take the kids to school in the morning and his flight to New York the next day was cancelled.

But listen, whoever is upstairs deciding the fate of things to come, next year is a big one, a birthday with a zero on the end of it (and that’s all I’m saying).  You may deliver snow for Christmas, bring it on for January, but if you dump 2 ft of snow on my doorstep next February 2nd, I will not be happy (and I’m guessing Punxsutawney Phil could live without it too).

Jan
25

A couple of weeks ago, Mo came home all excited.  The high point of school life had arrived – it was Volcano project time.  The transition from Year 2 to Year 3 (1st – 2nd grade) can be a difficult one, when the real hard work of serious learning begins.  But what softens the blow, is simply the prospect of doing the Volcano project.

Now I may not be one of those super fun moms who run wildly around the park with their kids playing hide and seek or tag.  Or the kind of mom who bakes with her kids every weekend.  But I do like a good craft project and (even if I do say so myself) I can be pretty creative in this area.  With plans to use paper mache, poster paint, tissue paper, pipe cleaners and cotton wool, here was some homework I could finally get excited about.

Let me just start by saying, I am a self-confessed control freak.  I admit it.  I like things done a certain way.  Nothing puts the fear of God into me like the words “can I help?”  Hell, I have 2 trees at Christmas, the one that I decorate that’s on the main floor of the house and the one the kids decorate in the basement (and I even move the decorations on that one when they’re asleep!)  But I try.  I really, really try to let them do things their way.  I’m just not very good at it.

“Look Mo, if you squeeze the paper this way, you get most of the paste out instead of it pouring all over the base.”

“No Mo, don’t scrunch so much, if you drape the paper this way it looks more like a mountain.”

“If the trees have fallen down here Mo, wouldn’t the lava flow more in this direction.”

“If you pull the cotton wool up like this Mo rather than into a ball, it looks more like steam rising.”

I just couldn’t help myself.  But it’s worse than that.  When Mo got bored of laying the paper mache on the upturned cup and went to play with her toys, I added a few bits to make it more mountain shaped.  And when she decided the painting was complete and went to watch TV, I touched up the unpainted areas.    But it was 90% all her own work, and I have to say I’m pretty proud of how my Mo’s volcano turned out.

Don’t forget, my book Baby (Tic, Tic) Boom can be purchased both in paperback on Amazon.com and now on the Kindle both in the US and UK. Go to the Book link at the top of the page to get a sneak peek of the first chapter.

Jan
14

Right now, my two year old and I are negotiating that difficult and complicated path to independence!  She is trying to prove her maturity and ability to make her own decisions, whilst still ensuring my time is 100% focused on her.   Whilst I am looking forward to that illusive “me time” that comes when your kids no longer need you ALL THE TIME, just so long as I still have complete control over everything she does.  We both, it seems, are seeking the impossible perfect balance.

Flo (as I will now refer to daughter number 2, my occasional pet name for her, daughter number 1 being Mo), has been asserting her independence for some time now.  For instance she will often insist when getting dressed, “do it myself,” and more recently has been picking out her own outfits.  Her ability to select items from her draw which when viewed alone are perfectly normal, but when combined by her fair hands bear an uncanny resemblance to a clown outfit, is remarkable.

She also believes that she is capable not only of going poop by herself, but also cleaning herself up afterwards.  Unfortunately not all the poop always manages to make it down the toilet, as I believe Daddy discovered last weekend when he went to help her, at least if the gagging sounds are anything to go by.  The paper blocked toilet and subsequent flooding a few weeks ago, can also attest to the fact that she still has some way to go in this area.

She is also somewhat deluded in her abilities in the kitchen.  I never realized how difficult it is to prepare a meal quietly, until I lived in fear of those dreaded words “me help!” She’s not bad at pizza, she manages to get tomato sauce over most of the base and some of the cheese even ends up on top, well the bits that don’t end up in her mouth, her hair, on the chair, the floor – need I go on?  And I think Daddy had more help than he could handle with the chicken chili, where stirring became, flick food all over the kitchen and a pinch of salt became a fist full.

But the biggest challenge is that she has clearly decided that now she is a “big girl”, she is capable of determining her own sleep needs.  Which simply put is, she doesn’t need any!  Nap time?  Forget about it!  Bed time?  Well Mo is up, you’re up, Daddy’s up, why am I going to bed?

However, this week we passed a major milestone.   Despite much protesting, Flo not only went to, but fully participated in and actually enjoyed her first pre-school-like class for a full 75 minutes, all by herself, while Mommy sat in the next room and read a book.  Nice!   And this, my friends, is only one step away from actual pre-school in September.  Five whole glorious “me time” filled mornings a week.  And if clown outfits, toilet mayhem and a messy kitchen is what gets me there, I’ll live with it.  The sleep thing? – Flo, we need to talk!

Dec
03

I’ve always appreciated my eldest’s lack of interest in glitz, glitter and glam – really I have!  I loved it, when she steadfastly refused all things frilly and pink whilst all her pre-school chums were dressed as Disney princesses.  I thought it endearing that when shown around American Girl Place with all those beautiful dolls and the endless rows of exquisite matching doll/girl outfits, all she wanted were the pets that come with them.   And right now at 7 years old when all her friends want to dress like the latest pop stars, I am proud (and I admit a little more than relieved), that I can’t get her out of a pair of comfy pants and a t-shirt.   She’s an individual, refusing to be swayed by peer pressure and the enticement of media advertising.

And yet……

I have come to realize that I feel like I missed out on the whole pretty, pink, princess thing.  It’s like this big girlie party that I wasn’t invited to.  But it’s ok, no need to panic, fortunately for me I had another girl, now 2 years old, who will get me in the door.  And so begins, Operation Girlie Girl.

It’s a covert operation.  So covert in fact, that I didn’t even realize myself for quite some time that it was underway.  It wasn’t until performing a traditional pre- Christmas ritual with my eldest daughter, whereby we sit pouring through the thousands of catalogues that come to our door (toy ones for her, fashion/jewelry ones for me), that I noticed myself doing the American Girl hard sell on my youngest daughter.   “Look,” I say, “you’ll like this one.  It has lots of pretty dolls and look at all the outfits.  Aren’t they lovely?”  I’ve often told people what a relief it is that my eldest never dragged me through the overcrowded store for hours upon hours selecting item after item, enough to make Daddy go pale at the cost.  And yet here I am, practically begging my youngest to fall in love with them.

It was then that I started to realize how much more I put her dresses than I did my eldest, how I encourage her to include lots of glitter in her pictures, that she has several baby dolls already and horror of horrors there is a tutu and princess t-shirt outfit hanging in her closet.  I could have just put a halt to the whole thing there and then, but there is something that draws me in.  And today when she pulled out a frilly princess dress and proudly floated around the room in it, I realized I was truly lost!  In the back of my mind I’m planning pink themed birthday parties, with fairy castles, hearts, glitter and far to much tulle.

And I know one day I will be sat in American Girl, having afternoon tea with a bunch of dolls and several overexcited, squealing 3 foot princesses saying to myself , “what the hell was I thinking”!  But for now I’m saying, bring on the tiaras!

Nov
05

Last week my daughter was off school and, as is customary in our house on a non-school night, she was allowed to stay up later than usual.  To fill this extra time we endured enjoyed a game of Puppy-opoly, that went on for several days and watched bonus episodes of the Backyardigans (in all their colorful, musical glory).  At the end of the week, as I poured myself a much needed glass of wine, I considered this late bedtime rule and thought, how and why did I come up with that?

Come to think of it how do we come up with any of our kid’s rules, the parenting law that we live by?  Quite frankly I sometimes think that overcome with the new power we are given as parents to make decisions about someone else’s life, we go a little crazy and just make random stuff up, because some of it just makes no sense!  For example:

Rule 1: If you eat a healthy dinner, you can ruin it with a sweet treat afterwards, the result of which is a hyper kid who will drive me nuts until bedtime!

Rule 2: You must be responsible and tidy your toys before bedtime.  This is in direct conflict with my goal to get you into bed as quickly as possible, whilst you try to find excuses to stay up.  End result?  I will end up helping you and it will take twice as long as if I had just done it myself.

Rule 3: Sunday dinner should be family dinner night at the dining room table.  This one involves me on my feet for several hours making some labor intensive traditional English Sunday meal for my husband, youngest and I, and an entirely different meal for my fussy 7 year old. I will then spend the next 15 minutes rapidly shoveling in forkfuls of my dinner whilst trying to keep both kids in their seats to eat theirs.  Eventually I will give up, excusing the kids to go play, my husband to go watch football and will sit by myself at the table with a glass of wine. (I have to confess, this is the one family rule I’m most lax about, I think you can see why!)

You know what I say, forget the rules.  Let chaos reign!  Let the lunatics children run the asylum house! Hey kids, you can decide what to have for dinner, in fact why not just make everyone ice-cream sundays, with sprinkles and chocolate sauce and I’ll have mine in a 2 hour long bath while you……. who cares, I’ll be in a locked bathroom!

P.s. would love to hear any crazy (hindsight is a great thing) rules you have in your house.

Oct
26

I am full of good intentions, regularly and frequently.  I know I should probably be 10-15 lbs lighter than I am.  I also know that if I simply gave up wine, or alcohol in general I would actually have to do very little else to lose this weight.   And at various times in the last couple of years I have planned on doing just this.

The problem is, every time I try to put this plan into action motherhood gets in my way.  Despite the fact that even a one piece bathing suit scares me to death/I can’t zip up my jeans/I’m going back home to visit family and friends 6 lbs heavier than when I last saw them, something always comes up that has me thinking, “oh god, just a few more hours to go until wine o’clock.”

Right now I’m at that time of the year when I start thinking about putting my, “make space for the holidays” diet into action.   It’s simple really, the holidays are just around the corner and with them all those foods I know I should not be eating; chocolate, pastries, vegetables cooked in oil, cheeses, chips and dips…ok I need to stop now, drool is not good for the keyboard.  But I have a cunning plan.  You see if I lose 6 to 8 lbs now, I can eat up to this number of extra calories over the holidays and I’m at least no worse off than I started.  Clever eh?!

So the plan is in place, non-stop salads and wine only on weekends (after all you’re not supposed to make any drastic changes to your diet without consulting a doctor right?) Except that…number 2 daughter hasn’t taken a daytime nap for me in at least two weeks.  Give up wine?  You must be joking, it’s the only thing keeping me sane!

So I guess I’ll just have to accept it.  Abstinence and kids just don’t mix.   What the hell, if I eat nothing but salad and keep running up and down the stairs in response to “Mommy!!!” perhaps I can have another glass!  Cheers!

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