Weekend Writing (or my weekly whinge)

I really didn’t want the last post I wrote to become a self-fulfilling prophecy – but it kinda has. Just a smidge. A teeny tiny widgeon.

It has rained non-stop for three days and a pluviophile I’m not, especially if I have to leave the house. I loathe being wet. My hair gets frizzy, my glasses get fogged up and smudgy, and there’s a generally lingering dampness around which just grates my gears. Grey is an accent colour, London, not something to colour winter with. Just sayin’. 

#bonfirenight #fireworks #nanowrimo #november #autumn

But I am grateful the rain let up for a few hours last night so we could watch the most fabulous Bonfire Night fireworks display at the park. It was spectacularificious! We stood there catching flies and cricking our necks, and then came home and had cherry Coke floats. (OK, that was just me.)

NaNoWriMo is kicking my pants in terms of wordage, but I’m actually fired up. I have notes, and scenes, and a timeline. Now I just have to get more sentences out and string all these things together and I’ll have a book-thingummy with about 50,000 words. Never underestimate latent Catholic guilt to spur you into action, as my husband always says. 

And I’m tired. Bone tired. Weary. My knees hurt. My back hurts. My wrist hurts. If this is what old age looks like, count me out. Actually, maybe I won’t have to do as much in my old age, because after this MBA, maybe I’ll earn so much money I’ll be able to employ me some hot young things to run errands, so maybe let’s leave old age on the table for a while.

Contributing to the dystopia is my precious DD, whom, in her usual charming way, has auditioned successfully for every darn activity which involves singing, dancing and a costume between now and Christmas. I have to come up with a Victorian lady-disguised-as-a-maid costume by next Monday. Now sensible me went to eBay, but silly me asked DD for her opinion. Of course, I got the lecture on how the fabric didn’t look authentic and could I not just whip her up one like I’ve always done? Sure. I was starting to feel decadent with six hours of sleep every night. No problem.

But in between all this whinging, I’ve found time to sneak in some red, green & gold bits. I’m rationing myself because we’ve still got Husband’s birthday aka Thanksgiving to come, but after that, it’s open season and the Yuletide is going to fart glitter all over me. Watch this space! Or not, in case you’re not a holiday person. Whatever. You have been warned!

How has your week been? 

Things Kids Say: Thursday #3

School picture day, that annual event which causes a fair amount of entertainment in this household. DD always threatens to pull some hilarious poses, and I’m never sure until the proofs come through.

The morning of picture day dawns, stormy and grey.

comics-151341_1280DD: Hey, Ma, can you help me with my hair, please?

Me: Sure, what were you thinking?

DD: Well, 40s pin curls.

Me: I think that might be a bit much to pull off this morning. Anything else?

DD: Yeah, how about that hairdo that Mia did for me on that shoot?

Me: Mia the professional hairstylist with two assistants?

DD: I’m sensing that’s a NO. What were YOU thinking?

Me: More like up or down. Ponytail or not.

DD: (eye roll & sigh) Fine. Good thing I have personality to make these pictures interesting.

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FLÂNER…part deux

So in my previous post, we were on the Batobus heading to Notre-Dame & Île Saint-Louis. We disembarked the Batobus on the Rive Gauche (check my French!) and took in the breathtaking view. DD was marginally disappointed not to see Esmerelda, Quasimodo or indeed, ANY talking gargoyles, but the abundance of historical information everywhere went some way to mollifying her. Damn you, Disney!

Clicking on each photo will take you to a larger one in a new tab…

#notredame #paris #france

900 years old and she’s still got it!

#notredame #wedding #paris #france #travel

Random couples at every tourist spot in town, being photographed. No other wedding party members ever present. Entertaining!

We walked over the Pont Saint-Louis, arbitrated lunch choices, and ended up in a tiny Italian restaurant which seemed to meet with the all-important thumbs up from the children. We had to sprint back to the Batobus to head to the Louvre. Sensibly, we didn’t actually go INSIDE – I’ve seen the Mona Lisa and it’s tiny. I didn’t want to risk DD’s wrath after a 30-minute-queue-to-shuffle-past. We just walked around the grounds and took photos of the children in crazy poses. We are SO cultured.

#louvre #paris #france

I loved the symmetry of these lampposts.

#louvre #paris #france #tuileries

Statue in the Jardin Tuileries – BB & I assumed this same position later that night.

#france #paris #tuileries #sculpture #garden #museum

Rather captivating unnamed sculpture on our way out of the Jardin des Tuileries.

Next stop: do we make it to Angelina’s for patisserie? Do we acquire an iconic Galeries Lafayette shopping bag? 

Things Kids Say: Thursday #2

I apologise if you’ve seen this on my Twitter or Facebook feed already, but it has to be re-shared. If you’ve got corkers to share, do join in via the linky on E’s post.

comics-151341_12809yo: Hey, Ma, you know how bad things sometime happen to good people?
Me: Yessssss
9yo: Well, you gotta help me fish my socks outta the toilet.

Why, oh, why, are her socks in the toilet? In her haste to be efficient, she confused the loo for the wash basket. Easily done, one is fabric and has a seaside motif, the other is porcelain and not covered in shells. Yep, definitely interchangeable.

Recently, all I seem to do is put out fires and chase myself. I find myself muttering, ticking off check-lists in my head. I had a mini-meltdown at work this morning over nothing work-related because I am just so weary. It’s bone-deep. I need help.

WHOA. I need help. (This is a bit of an epiphany for me, self-proclaimed Superwoman!)

So I am going to look for an extra pair of hands a few days a week to lighten the load. I cannot do it all. I just can’t. But first, I’m going to bed so I can be well-rested for my flâner dans les rues de Paris this weekend!

Are you Superwoman/Wonderwoman/crazy lady? Can you juggle everything? What’s the first thing that takes a hit off your priority list when you’re struggling? Is it you?

Have a wonderful Friday, and follow me on Instagram if you want to see my photos from Paris ❤

Weekdays are exhausting, and weekends are exhausting!

Weekends are slightly less exhausting this autumn because DD has scaled back her activities on the weekend in order to take on additional ballet training during the week. This just means weekdays are a little more exhausting, so I could have done without the two school meetings this week (painful at the best of times, but worse because they were the first ones minus the Breton Bestie). Worse yet, the focus was the nuclear arms race that is Getting Your Child Into The Best State School in Two Years’ Time. I’m deadly serious. It’s cray-cray. But I’ll save that insanity for another post, and return to my weekend.

Our new routine on a Saturday is a lie-in, homework for all of us (well, doing accounts & expenses for the grown ups), then lunch, then DD to class and me to a coffee-shop to abuse the free WiFi and to catch up on the blogosphere.

This Saturday, I got itchy feet and chose to look for some new magazines to read. Clearly, my colleagues have set the bar very high, because I found nothing of interest. As in, zip, zilch, nada. I did discover Uppercase magazine online later last night, which I found quite exciting, but I really felt a little saddened by the fact that there’s so much crap out there to make us feel lesser, inadequate, un-shiny and imperfect. The experience left me feeling grumpy and jaded, but blessed to have the job I have, and to be able to help get some good content and material to market. Small wins.

friendship

Today was a little more emotionally charged. We were invited to a pre-farewell party for a good friend – yes, you heard that right. Pre-farewell. It was wonderful to catch up with friends we haven’t seen in a while and we even got party bags, but the sickening reality is, after 6 years, this friend has finished her term with her employer, and has to return to Australia. AUSTRALIA. That’s a whole different continent and a whole different hemisphere and a crazy-long flight to get there! This also means that Thanksgivings are going to be small, quiet affairs going forward (who da thunk that a mutual love of American holidays would bring an Icelander and an Australian together?). She’s the ‘aunt’ that DD has had most contact with over the last 6 years, so DD is sad, too. As much as I love where I live, I’m getting too old and cranky to make new friends now. The old ones fit me just right. Sigh.

So for now, I’m looking forward to seeing the Breton Bestie in three weeks (cue a rendition of ‘I Love Paris’) – we’re going to walk, and talk, and I’m going to enjoy the wonder of my daughter discovering Paris. I can’t wait to see her face when we she sees Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and Galleries Lafayette for the first time. When we return to London, we’ll have my ‘second’ parents visiting from the States for a few days. I haven’t seen them for five years so this is a treat! And then we’re having  a final Thanksgiving/family dinner with DD’s honorary aunt. Did y’all not know London Thanksgiving falls between Canadian and American Thanksgiving? Heathens! 😀

What do your weekends look like? Who bears the brunt of chauffeuring the family to clubs and activities? Any good magazine recommendation (digital or print)?

Let’s Talk About Sex, baby!

#chicks #sexed #birdsandbees #tweenMy regular readers can’t have missed the fact that I’m raising a tween. Most days, she’s pretty darn awesome. Some days she’s your average budding hormonal pre-teen. Every day with her is entertaining, and I can safely say I’ve done more personal questioning and growing in the last nine years than I did in all the years before I became her mother.

One of the agreements my husband and I made early on was that we were always going to be open and as honest as we could be. We were not going to shy away from the tricky topics (like sex). I read Maria’s article, 10 Easy Ways to Talk with Your Daughter about Sex, when DD was about three, and I thought, “Yes! We’re doing this.”

So we’ve had free and frank talks over the years, giving her facts and separating the fiction. Well, I’ve done most of the talks – Husband Dear has been conveniently absent from the trickier ones. We also got her Girl to Girl: Real Questions and Honest Answers about Growing Up and I cannot praise it enough. She loves it, and it covers off far more than I would have thought to address.

Nothing could have prepared me for this conversation, though….

DD: Hey, Ma, when did you plan to get pregnant?

Me: Well, you’re living proof the Pill doesn’t always work, even when you follow the directions.

DD: So you were just having sex for fun?

Me: uhhhhhh……….

DD: Sex strikes me as a sweaty sort of activity, it just doesn’t seem like something you’d do for fun.

Me:…..uh……yeah……

DD: 1 – Me: 0

And by the time I had gathered my wits, she was on to the next topic. The saints preserve me!

If you’re laughing, I highly recommend ‘OMG, Where’s Her Penis?‘ by the awesome E. Feel free to share your parenting sex-talk woes in the comments, or leave links to other entertaining posts! I need to know I’m not alone in this…

Raising Tweens

I had a chance to observe some interesting parenting behaviours in action the other day. We live close to the largest shopping centre in Europe, so there are many, many people-watching opportunities if you’re so inclined.

I walked past a dad eating lunch, having a full-on, animated conversation with someone in a pram. When I got close enough to check, the baby girl in question was no more than 6 months old, arms and feet waving in delight as she babbled back to her besotted father. It zoomed me straight back to the ‘conversations’ Husband used to have with DD. I hope that father continues talking to his daughter as she gets older, building her confidence and resilience.

GAP was having its summer sale, so I wandered in there, partly lured by the denim, and partly by the music. It was very catchy and I found myself singing along as I browsed the racks for some new jeans. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a tall, dread-locked man doing the same as me, but definitely louder and with more movement! As he swung around, braids flying, I saw a little curly-haired princess in his arms, squealing with laughter, grabbing his neck, delighted to be ‘dancing’ with her daddy. I swear, my ovaries skipped a beat. I made my purchases and headed to H&M with a bounce in my step.

This is where all my happy bubbles were burst. I was looking through some athletic gear for DD when I overheard a young girl, about the same age as DD, on the other side of the rack, talking to her mother:

Girl: Oh, look, mum, this would work well.

Mum: Don’t be stupid, don’t look at the age. You need to look at the size. LOOK AT YOUR SIZE. Just look at it.

(At this stage, I’m shocked mute and wincing at the venom in the mother’s voice)

Girl: Mum, it’s cut bigger, I think I could fit into this.

Mum: I highly doubt it, I don’t know why you think you can. Have you looked at your size?

(I got bolder a took a peek over the rack. The girl in question had beautiful caramel skin, glossy hair, and a LITTLE bit of puppy fat…the bane of most pre-pubescent girls. Not that anything should warrant the mother speaking to her like that. EVER.)

Girl: Well, I’m going to take a chance and try it on.

Mum: Don’t come crying to me when you look ridiculous.

At this stage, I wanted to cry. I wanted to attack the mother. I wanted to cuddle the girl. Clearly, she had a backbone and tried on the clothes, but how much longer can she bear this verbal abuse without it having some awful effect on her?

#tween #girls #teenager #growingupDD and I are carefully negotiating the tween years together, which includes me reminding her of boundaries when she snaps at me and rolls her eyes (like she’s just done!). But my refrain has and will always be, “I’m on your side. I’m always on your side.” Which means that I may want to have strong words with you when I get home, but I will use all my superpowers to ensure there will NEVER be a public humiliation. She knows that both her parents will back her up. She will never face from us what that poor girl faced from her mother. Almost a day later, I’m still cringing as I type this.

Am I over-reacting? Do parents have a divine right to speak to their children like that? Are parents not responsible for a dependant child’s diet, and therefore, the child’s size? Does that mother not think her words are going to leave long-term scars?

I’d like to point out I have a daughter, so all my experience relates to raising females, but I think this is relevant for any child. 

Precious mornings

cuddlesI’m taking the chance in the quiet of this morning to admire my newest wrinkles, when a freshly-woken, rumpled little person tugs my hand and pulls me back to my bedroom. Wordlessly, she motions I should return to bed. I am quickly joined by her warmth, which curves itself into my body, nuzzling her way under my chin. I am chronically aware that these moments with her, just breathing, although a daily occurrence, can be rescinded at any moment now.

“Are you always going to want to cuddle?”

“Yes.”

“Even when you’re 14 and possibly taller than me?”

“Will you still be my mother?”

“Yes!”

“Well, then, yes, I’ll still want to cuddle.”

Please let these words be true.