10 September, 2017


So, this week I had my first brush with xenophobia.  Being an American in the UK, of course I've heard the jokes, been called "the Yank", been asked ridiculous questions about what Texas is like, but I'd never run into a genuinely hateful attitude about my heritage.

White privilege?  Of course.  I had a conversation about it with someone I work with, he has it so regularly as to be able to recount a story from literally two weeks ago.  I feel a little silly even talking about it in terms of racism, as the rest of the behaviour aimed at me by this particular individual was so much more serious.  It's just... that part really shook me.

We've been so happy with our neighbourhood since we moved here seven years ago.  The neighbours to one side are so lovely, never a problem, they're family now.  Other people in the street are friendly, say hello and stop for a chat if we pass each other.  When we get a new family, I go over and introduce myself, explain that I'm a caterer and don't work traditional hours so I'm home if they need anything.  This particular family has been very stand-offish since that original meeting, so I pretty much let go of the hopes we'd be really friendly and just settled for a smile and a nod if we encounter them in passing.

Our street has sparse parking, which means if I have someone coming over I tend to pull the car out of the drive and park in the street as I have a parking pass for that very purpose.  That way the visitor can use the driveway without having to use a temporary pass, it's just easier.  Plus, a lot of the people that visit us have babies these days, it's just easier for them to be parked by the door.  That notwithstanding, I have the right to park in the road in any permit holder parking bay, as I am a permit holder.  The family I'm referencing has a bay outside their house that is a public bay, but they seem to see it as their personal reserved spot.  They accosted our lovely neighbours for putting one of their cars there so they could clean the driveway, came over to the house screaming and swearing about it, and said "you think you're better than us because you own your home and we're in a council house".  Nothing could be further from the truth in this particular case.

On Friday night, we'd made impromptu plans with a friend to come and park at our house so we could all walk into town and get dinner together.  The older kids had had their first few days of school, we don't get to see each other in the week anymore, and we wanted to catch up.  My friend called when she left her house, so I popped out to move the car so she could use the drive.  A few minutes later I glanced out the window to see if she'd arrived yet, and to my surprise I saw a car parked across the bottom of our drive, blocking the access entirely.  As Himself was walking across the park and I was in the house with the kids, I asked him to knock at the neighbours the car belonged to and ask them to move their car so my friend could get into the drive.  Turns out it wasn't that easy.

She launched into a tirade about how she figures I put my car in "her spot" on purpose to be nasty, how I'm a mega bitch that looks at her like she's trash when we pass in the park, how we're crappy neighbours... I hear the shouting from the front door and immediately grabbed the car keys and went over to attempt to defuse the situation.  When I finally got a word in edgewise I offered to move the car so she could get hers out of our driveway and into the place she was so adamant was hers.  She flat refused, said she was going out in a while and she was leaving the car there until she felt like moving it.  After several attempts to get her to change her mind (honestly thinking at first she was kidding, because how ridiculous?!) I finally asked her if she'd rather I called parking enforcement to give her a ticket for parking there.  She said to go ahead, so I did.  After I'd called, my friend and Himself and all the kids headed into town for dinner.

When we got home, her car was still across the drive.  When she finally did move it, I immediately went out to put our car in our driveway.  When I got out to go inside, her husband was outside staring at me.  He shouted "do we have a problem??" so I walked over to attempt to smooth things over, hoping he might be more reasonable than his wife.  Let's just say, that wasn't the case.  He started off shouting, saying his wife had told him I'd stormed over screaming earlier.  When I said that wasn't the case, he asked if I was calling his wife a liar... eye roll.  I continued attempting to assure him that we weren't using that spot to annoy them, that I'm in that spot so infrequently I'm confused how they're so angry, that I don't want to have a fight with neighbours and that I wanted to fix the situation... he wouldn't let me get a whole sentence out.  He continued yelling at me, getting more and more aggressive with his body language, and finally said "send your husband out and I'll sort him out over in the park".  At this point, I abandoned hope and headed back to the house.  He then screamed "why don't you f*ck off back home".  I responded that I am home.  He shouted something about him being British and how I have no right to be here.  I slammed the door.

Himself went out and attempted to calm things down.  Apparently I have the wrong plumbing to be spoken to as a human being, because the guy stopped screaming.  He even admitted to Himself that his wife is a hothead.  He maintained that we're horrible neighbours, that I'm a mega bitch, and that we're incredibly rude to park in front of their house... in the residents parking bay... for anyone with a permit...  They eventually parted ways and we ended our day.

I couldn't sleep.  I kept replaying the scene over and over in my head.  It was all so unreal, the fight in the first place (because honestly, who deals with things that way?!) but also the way he puffed up and loomed over me, shouting and swearing, and the final shot about "go home".  When I got to work the next morning and chatted it over with a few friends I decided that I'd call the non-emergency police line and report the incident just so it'd be on file in case anything happens in future.  I figured I'd get a reference number to file away and that would be that.  Not so much.  Turns out that the fact he was physically threatening both in body language toward me and verbally toward my husband added to the xenophobic comment rated us an in home visit from the local police to take our statement.  Turns out that on top of that, if I'd decided we wanted to go that route, the police officer that attended us would go arrest the guy right that second for the racist comment.  They take that sort of thing pretty seriously.

Obviously we decided not to have anybody arrested.  We still have to live here, and I can't imagine where we'd end up if we went that route.  We decided to leave it as having reported it, and the police officer informed us that if they attempt to make us uncomfortable or become aggressive in the next six months we could change our minds and have him picked up.  I felt better just knowing the authorities had the information and that we have the extra cushion of time over the coming months to see how things go.  Was I nervous walking to work yesterday?  Yes.  Did I look over my shoulder to see if they were watching?  Yes.

Will I get over it?  Yes.

05 May, 2017

The struggle is real.

So, this morning both kids were up at half five.  This in itself isn't exactly noteworthy, as it's happened frequently enough in the past that we're pretty used to it.  What is worth noting is that this morning, apparently I lost my ever-loving mind.

The kids were both dressed, provided with breakfast, and playing nicely together (for a change), so I decided in my ill-timed optimistic state of mind that I'd pop upstairs and get started on one of the myriad jobs I'd set for my morning sans bratlets.  I got stuck in sorting through bits in the bedroom, feeling massively productive and accomplished.  This should have been my first red flag.

The occasional shriek from downstairs notwithstanding, I motored through the sorting and made quite a dent in the chaos.  I ruthlessly tossed out stuff that had been hanging around in the bedroom for goodness knows how long.  I cleaned surfaces, chased dust and cobwebs, put things in their rightful places.

That's when I heard the elephant ascending the staircase.

Said elephant this morning was hers truly, the Madam, and the tidings she bore were not exactly auspicious.  In her delicate paws she clutched the cheery red lid of the toy teapot that inhabits the bratlets' play kitchen.  In the cheery red lid of the toy teapot was a puddle of blue goo.  Said blue goo turned out upon further inspection to be toothpaste.

I'm sure you can guess how quickly I made it downstairs to inspect the damage.  Damage there was.  Not only had the boy beast put toothpaste in the teapot, he had also been in the sink in the bathroom.  The tap was still running, and the puddles in the floor showed exactly where he'd been as his feet (now without the socks he'd been previously wearing as he'd soaked them during his travels) had left trails for me to follow.  With a towel, of course.  He'd poured water in every available container he could get his hands on.

It took me a solid twenty minutes to clean up the carnage he'd created, almost exactly the amount of time it had taken him to make it in the first place.  I'm still pretty sure it wasn't worth the tidying spree I'd managed upstairs, and I'm pretty sure I won't attempt it again anytime soon.

Lessons learned?  I can't turn my back.  I can't look away.  He cannot be trusted.

Le sigh.

17 April, 2017

I ate'nt dead.

It's been a while.  Like a year and a half while.  I know, believe me, I know.

Mostly, it's been a case of.. well, a case of this.

The Dervish.  The Whirlwind.  The Destructor.

The Dude.

From emptying any container of any liquid he finds on any available surface to attempting to drop a deuce on the playground in Black Park, the kid keeps me on my toes.  He's not done any permanent damage (yet), so I guess I should count my blessings.

The She Beast, you know, this one...

... she's doing remarkably well, considering.  There's still high drama should She be crossed, but school is going swimmingly and she's growing up at a terrifying rate.

Himself is still kicking as well, working his usual magic for the companies in whose financial pies he waggles his fingers.  Plus, he's becoming quite the silver fox, so bonus points for yours truly.

My life is about par for the course.  Hands full with bratlets, serving as parent governor at Madam's school, working Saturdays at a local barbershop since just before my last post on here, catering the occasional job, winding down my role with the NCT after over five years volunteering.  I'm trying to decide where I go next, as in September the manchild starts school (and where did that time go??) so I'll have time to work properly again.  Work at what?  There's the question mark.  Guess it's time for some serious planning.  I'll keep you posted, hopefully in less than a year and a half this time.

09 February, 2016

Parenting the boy beast.

Yesterday, Dude took a nap without my having to physically hold him.  Well, he started that way, at least.  The period of Dude-free arms could have been used to do something like laundry (of which I did manage three loads yesterday) or something equally productive, but I decided to do something slightly more decadent.  I painted my nails.  *grin*  Base coat, a very pretty sage green colour, holographic glitter on a couple of fingers, top coat, and they looked marvellous.  Just as they were touch dry, Dude squawked, so I put the polish into the windowsill and held him while he finished his nap.

Perhaps now is a good time to cover Dude's history with nail polish.  Last summer, I came into the living room and could smell nail polish but couldn't for the life of me find the source.  Later that day when I went outside to get something from the car, I found the smashed debris of a bottle of my top coat on the driveway under the open window.  Cut to pre-Christmas, I painted my nails a festive shade of red and got interrupted before I could put the polish away as per usual.  That afternoon I walked in to find Dude with the open bottle of red clutched in his smeary little hand, streamers of colour over the couch, the wall, the window and his clothes.  I'd just had the sofas cleaned.

You'd think I'd have learned not to leave bottles within his (considerable) reach.

This morning, I popped out to the kitchen to get Dude a drink.  When I came back in, that old familiar smell assaulted my nostrils.   Clenched behind his back in an attempt to hide the evidence was a slightly open bottle of glitter.  Sparkly drops adorned the arm of the sofa and his hand.  While Jerkface mumbled "sorry, Mama" on loop I had to reclaim and close the bottle and run upstairs to get the polish remover and some cotton pads.

Needless to say, the polish has been put away.  I'm treating the now slightly jacked up finish on my right index finger (damaged in the cleanup) as my just rewards for leaving tools of destruction within range.

04 November, 2015


So, I've been convinced Dude was going to be weaned at least four times.  Once when he bit me so hard I looked down expecting to see a piece of my nipple missing.  Once when I went to Amsterdam for three days.  Once when he turned two.  Once when I went to Texas for five days.

Obviously, none of those times was "the time Dude was weaned".  The boy is, and always has been, a boob jockey.  You should see how happy his little face is when I get out of the shower.  He has been known to climb into my lap on the sofa, assume the position, tug at the neck of my shirt and demand "bees".  (Insert obligatory "bitty" joke here.)

Let me set the scene for the last couple of weeks in our house.  There has been the usual amount of coughing and spluttering, and just for fun we added in the obligatory flu immunisation.   This saw both kids spiking a fever on and off for a couple of days.  At one point, Dude walked past my lovely clean bra drying on the door handle into the kitchen, said "nose", and wiped a chunky green stripe onto the left cup.  Despite our offerings* to Atishoo, the god of colds and flus, the coughing and spluttering has only increased.  Madam spiked yet another fever last night, complaining of ear and neck pain, which of course saw us at the GP today.  And of course, they both have chest infections.

I haven't slept in... well, probably since Texas.  And due to various reasons (jet lag, tattoos, the usual...) that was the same amount of sleep, just in a different bed.  So despite my smug Thrive-popping assurances that I WILL NEVER GET SICK AGAIN... I got sick again.  Despite the fact that we are all sick, the fridge genie didn't get the memo that we were out of food, so we trundled along to Tesco.  We made it through fresh fruit and veg, got Himself's cream crackers and milk, and in my sneezing, sniffling, coughing stupor I found myself staring blankly at the wall of cold and flu meds.

I haven't spent any real time in this aisle in four years.  I've been either pregnant or breastfeeding since January of 2011, and unable to medicate myself with anything stronger than the occasional paracetamol.  That's when it hit me.  I don't think I've fed Dude this month.  This could be, this could finally be, "the time Dude was weaned".

So yes, I bought a packet of Beechams.  Yes, I swallowed one when we got home.  My nose has already stopped attempting to drown me.  I have a weird guilty feeling hovering somewhere above my head, though.  I've basically spent the last four years trying to do what was best for the bratlets, which usually meant ignoring what I needed, and this feels... selfish.  I know.  Believe me, I know.  He's over two, we've been really lucky that breastfeeding was so easy for me, and he got what he needed from me when he most needed it.  He's proven that when he's tired he will just lay down and go to sleep, no boobs required.

Guess it's just the end of an era.  Bring on the pharmaceuticals.

*Used kleenex, the moans and groans of the truly devout, and endless cups of tea.

23 September, 2015

Eight weeks.

So, yesterday marked the eight week milestone with my Thrive supplements.  I thought I'd update, as I've been pretty quiet about it since the first week or so.

Let's just start with the fact that I haven't lost any weight.  That said, it's not marketed as a weight loss product, that's just one of the side effects for some people.  Also, I've made really terrible food choices in the last couple of months.  *lol*  I'm still dealing with some depression and eating disorder issues, and those will take time to sort out.  Plus, I don't get regular unbroken sleep, which is one of the big things that people say matters with healthy weight loss.

I've seen major changes, though, in the following:

  • The skin on my stomach and the backs of my arms doesn't feel thin and crepey anymore.  I've noticed firmer, more elastic skin, and for me those are major problem areas, so I'm pretty happy about it.
  • My hair is growing noticeably faster, as are my nails, and they're both healthier and stronger.
  • I quit smoking, cold turkey, over a month and a half ago and haven't had any cravings.  If I'm honest, the cravings went when I used Thrive from day one, it just took a little longer to kick the habit part.
  • I don't crave caffeine, and have only had a handful of coffees in the last eight weeks.  If you know me at all, you know that's a bit of a change.  *grin*  If I have one now it's not because I need it, it's because I just really want one because coffee is DELICIOUS.
  • I feel awake even when I'm tired, and I don't have the constant brain fog I'd become accustomed to.
  • Last, but definitely not least as this is the biggest deal for me, my kids have gotten sick three times since I started Thrive.  My husband caught dregs each time.  I got nothing.  NOTHING.  It's like my immune system is coated with teflon.  Bring it, winter germs.
I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes in the next few months.  I'm hoping that as the kids get older, the quality of sleep will improve and we'll all get more of it.  I can't imagine how I'll feel when I've fully paid back my sleep debt.

I'm not a hard sell kind of person.  I'm not going to fill my Facebook feed with daily pictures and slogans.  In fact, I find that really obnoxious.  A few of my friends having asked me about "the sticker on my arm" have tried Thrive.  It's been a day one effect for a few and some didn't feel it during the trial.  The people who felt it on day one have ordered their own, same as I did.  It's hard to put your faith (and money) in a product that doesn't make you feel something the minute you take it.  What I would say is that Thrive suggest you try the eight week "experience" because with some people it takes longer than just a couple of days for the effects to kick in.  The MLM aspect puts people off as well, mostly because of the pressure some people put on their social circle to buy what they're selling.

For me, I'm happy when Thrive works for people.  I feel so much better than I have in years, so I love when what works for me works for those around me.  I'm happy to talk about it if people have questions, I'm happy to give samples for people who want to try it.  I'm just not going to hold your nose and pour it down your throat.  *grin*

25 August, 2015

Karma, you b*tch.

So, today's our eight year wedding anniversary.  We've had a hell of a ride, and the last four years have been over the top crazy and amazing what with Madam and Dude joining our little troupe, but that's not what I'm going to talk about right now.

No, what I want to talk about is karma.  The vindictive b*tch.

This morning, while stripping the bed during Dude's morning ablutions, I saw a spider.  Let me elaborate.  I saw a huge, nightmare inducing, size of a compact car spider, on the bedroom wall.  I think my heart stopped for a moment, but when I regained use of my fear-frozen limbs, I managed to order the spider not to move and ran to the bathroom for a what even I have to admit was a ridiculously huge wad of loo roll with which to dispatch said beast.

When I ran back in, he was still there.  Staring at me.  Daring me to approach him.

I dared.

Yes, I made awful faces while I dealt with him.  Yes, I shuddered uncontrollably before, during and after the process.  Yes, I stared at the bin for a good three minutes to ensure I'd actually terminated the monster before I went back to stripping the bed.

Of course, my brain being what it is, I started ruminating on the nature of the age-old spider vs. human relationship.  My ecologically minded self is actually aware that spiders are necessary for the ecosystem.  I know, in my head, that the spiders here aren't the crazy, venom-eats-a-hole-in-your-skin kind I grew up avoiding like the plague.  Unfortunately, my fear has been too long nurtured to overcome when presented with a menacing fist-sized beastie in my bedroom.

So then, I start thinking about how a really horrible way to die would be by spider attack.  I have a mental image of myself, covered in spiders, pouring in and out of my ears, nose, mouth... this is my head, people.  It ain't pretty, but it's mine.  And I wonder how many spiders I've killed in my life.  And I wonder, do they talk about me?  Like, have secret meetings when all the humans are sleeping or distracted, and have a top ten list like the FBI's Most Wanted.  That's when I felt a tickle on my left (bare) shoulder.  I glanced over to brush off what I assumed was a stray hair.


I actually screamed out loud.  Like, hurt my throat, stupid blonde girl in a horror movie, probably made the neighbours think I was being murdered screamed.  I'm pretty sure I danced in place for a minute too.  And flapped my arms.

I dealt with that one too.  I couldn't risk that he'd hide somewhere and crawl into my ear in the night to lay eggs that would then hatch and pour out to devour my sleeping family.  I dealt, but I don't think my heart stopped racing for at least an hour.  And I keep looking at the ceilings.

You suck, karma.