Monday, 27 October 2014

Moving on

I never thought I would witness my fingers typing this sentence.

It's cold and very wet. Each time I go out - I have to try to make myself as waterproof as possible. And I hate it. There, I typed it and it's true.

I normally celebrate the cold. It means wearing lovely warm jackets, skivvies, warm socks (no need to paint my toe nails), sleeping with a duvet, drinking port... the list goes on.

I used to love the fact I could cover up bumps and lumps for a good season. I didn't mind that my European skin would turn off white (OK, fleuro).

Where has this grumpy woman come from? Close to a decade in cold, wet, dark, lovely London and I rarely complained about the weather (well, only London's summers, which I found unbearable).

What is this sudden change? Is it age? Is it because of the children?

It's not because it gets dark early.  Greece is an 'any time' city.  Children's activities begin at 6 pm. Doctor appointments can be at 8 pm.  Going out at night with your children is normal (its not normal to be out and about between 3-5 siesta time though!).

It's the rain and the cold. I can manage the cold by layering up. But I really, honestly can't stand being wet and cold. I become a sulky two year old when this happens. So much so that I put myself in the naughty corner for some much needed time out.

I never found this a problem in London (not the naughty corner, the wet and cold). Why? Because as much we Londoners like to complain, and complain about the weather, I rarely found myself ankle high in water.



I am not a short person, but this gal of almost average height is sick of jumping impossibly big puddles, running a mile the minute a car is about to drive through a puddle that is threatening to become a lake.

Unlike many here, we prefer to walk to most places. It's the only exercise we get, it's free, and it means I don't have to pack a suitcase of clothes for Little Miss (aka Port a Volcano).

So, rather than spend an entire season in time out, we're taking action. We are moving. It's been decided.  The wet is too much for this walking family.  We going to higher ground, a city and area with a better drainage system (can't wait to communicate that criteria to the real estate agent).

It's time to get some boxes, de clutter, and prep the girls for a new adventure. I am sorry to leave this sleepy beach side suburb. I have made some lovely friends, the girls are happy and we have a very nice home.

Another chapter of our European adventure is almost written. We're catching the next wave out, and are hoping we'll be dumped on higher, warmer, dryer ground.

Image: "Wet Shoes" by Apolonia courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Monday, 20 October 2014

Fine dining

There are lots of things I love about Greece.

One thing is the food. There is only one word to describe it, delicious.

Another is how child friendly it is.  Greeks absolutely love children, and children that receive their love and adoration are happy little campers.  My cherubs suck up the attention like a sponge does water.

Before moving to Greece, eating out would be a stressful initiative (for me mostly).   Sensing my anxiety, my cherubs would turn ‘Chucky’ throwing food and morphing cutlery, glasses and plates into deadly weapons.

In Greece it’s a more relaxed affair.  Staff and patrons are used to children wondering around restaurants and tavernas.  A broken glass is a problem only because staff worry that the bits of glass are dangerous, not because it was broken in the first place.

We recently were in Athens and dined at the Hotel Grande Bretagne’s GB Roof Garden Restaurant.

My old stress levels returned.  I couldn't shake my old mantra ‘dining out and children don’t mix.’

The first twenty minutes went well.  Cherub one and two sat quietly drawing and chomping on the bread. We ordered.  Drinks came. Nothing broken, nothing spilt. I started to relax.


Little Miss announced she wanted to do a number two.  In a nappy.  Little Miss has been out of nappies for nearly a year.

Mr Lucky sagely advised to let her win this one. Child friendly restaurant aside, we didn't want an epic meltdown and one was brewing.   Little Miss, The Baby (who views any toilet visit like a treat in a candy shop) and I wondered over to the toilet.

Thirty minutes later, Little Miss couldn't decide between toilet or a number two in a nappy.  There were tears (mostly mine). There were sighs (mostly mine). There were low ‘I am serious stop this’ messages  ( mine,  all being ignored). The toilet was nice, clean and upmarket but I didn't want to be there anymore. I was close to a tantrum myself.

The upside was the Baby was happy playing with the toilet paper and in the 30 minutes we had been hiding in the toilet, Mr Lucky ate his meal in peace – a first since we had the children.

No dirty nappy and no number two to flush away, we returned to the restaurant hungry and exhausted.  The chef, not wanting us to eat a cold meal  prepared three fresh ones (no, there was no reheating!)

The Baby, Little Miss and I had lovely meals. We had all worked up an appetite for this one and it was worth the wait.

After thanking the chef (profusely) for an absolutely lovely meal, he came out with the saying commonly heard in Greece. ‘They are children, you need strength, but enjoy them.’

Have I mentioned how much I love living in Greece?

Image: "Dining Table" by Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, 17 October 2014

Chompers and coffee.

Little Miss had all her teeth very early on.  She can tolerate pain. I don't ever remember hearing her grizzle or complain.

The application of gels and administering pain relief to help her through teething was irregular. So much so that when The Baby gets a new tooth or is in pain, it takes me a while to figure out just what is going on. 

Like an crazed dog she hooks on to anything she can sink her teeth or gums into and she does not let go.  

We went out for coffee yesterday at a seaside cafe. She refused to get out of the pushchair.  She sat, head down with a scowl for what felt like an hour. 

There was quiet. There was solitude. I was able to look out at the sea, breathe and let my shoulders relax for a while.  It was like having a massage without needing to shower to wash off the oil.  Bliss.

I drank my coffee in peace. And then, a nagging something started to flush out any feelings of peace and calm. 

Was I having a reaction to the coffee? I couldn't remember if I asked for decaf (yes, sadly I have to drink decaf otherwise I have a reaction and act as though I haven some illegal drug to get me in the mood to go dancing all night. It's scary - and not just for me).

Then it hit me. The Baby was in pain. Serious debilitating pain. She was so miserable (but seriously cute) sitting there, sulking, head down, bottom lip pouting.

A rub of gel on her gums, combined with some teething powder and pain relief made the scowl disappear in twenty minutes and she became happy smiley giggly baby.

The transformation was amazing. Coffee cup  overturned (but not broken). Biscuits thrown all over the floor. Giggling noisy baby was back.  

And so was my guilt.  All mums have heard the saying. If it's quiet and they're not sleeping, and not doing something naughty, something is wrong.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

A Jabbing good time.

I confess quite easily to having a few phobias.  They're nothing to be proud of, they're things that need to be worked through.

  • I am a germaphobiac.. If I was a more confident person, I would happily wear surgical gloves and masks on public transport, I would have all public toilets cleaned before my use. Anti bacterial hand gel and wipes are in my close circle of friends.
  • I suffer from TOTPAS (you will need to read a previous blog entitled TOTPAS and Balloons  to learn more about this serious ailment).
  • I would prefer to be under anesthetic when visiting the dentist (so much so that I obsessively clean my teeth to avoid ever needing to visit.
  • I hate taking my cherubs to the doctor to be immunised. I find it incredibly stressful so much so that Mr Lucy normally does the honors and I sit in reception my arms open wide waiting to console and cuddle.
It was The Baby and Little Miss' immunisation day yesterday.  I was so worked up about this double whammy that Little Miss sniffed the tension the moment she woke up.  She decided to make the day even more difficult by having a tantrum every three minutes throughout the day.



We went to the surgery. The Baby had fallen asleep on the way so I felt even worse  when we woke her for the jab.

I had briefed Little Miss, and after an initial 'No, that will not happen' she was calm and happy.  

It was The Baby's turn first.  I asked to sit outside,  but The Baby wanted me!  A first, she normally prefers Mr Lucky. I consented, teared (the doctor laughed) and then it happened.  The jab. The Baby howled.  Oh how she howled, and then....she didn't want me she turned to Mr Lucky. I teared some more. 

I pulled myself together. Little Miss was next.  I was waiting for Little Miss to kick off. Together the howls of The Baby and Little Miss make even the world's most dedicated loud music heavy metal lover request for a moment of silence.

She sat calmly, the jab went in, she didn't flinch. She didn't cry I almost passed out in surprise.
.
We went to the children's cafe (that serves alcohol) for a celebratory drink and play.

It's all over now, until next month. We have more jabs scheduled. (Sigh).


Image: 3d Doctor And Patient" by jscreationzs, courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, 13 October 2014

Comfort blogging

Last week was unusual. Filled with genuine highs and laughs and a very big punch in face low.

The impact of the low made me feel like a flat tyre rotating on a long steady road. The sound of a dead thump repeating itself over and over again.

The extreme high of reconnecting with people, experiences, love and the promise of a new adventure pumped some air into the tyre and the sound of the dead thump wasn't as deafening.


A serious ‘one to one prep talk to myself’ combined with a few laughs with my two cherubs and Mr Lucky normally snaps me out of the low but for the first time in a long time, I haven't been able to shake it.  

This low has made me want to run it out get my heart pumping, start sweating it out, return home to shower it all away. Of course I visualise the running thing.

Being a role model (note, the emphasis on role and not model) to my children, an individual that can deal with anything thrown my way - my comfort eating technique stopped a long time ago. Truth is, my metabolism can't take that form of punishment anymore, but importantly I don't want the cherubs to think that stuffing your face for comfort is the answer.

So, this week, I opted to give my fingers a work out and blog to purge the low in a new way.

Great news for me, perhaps not so great for my few readers.  A few potential 'woe is me' blogs to read through. Apologies in advance.

I have heard of comfort eaters before but never have I heard of comfort bloggers. Have I started something new?


Image: Flat Tire Of Old Car by Toa55 courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Monday, 6 October 2014

Jackpot

Mr Lucky and I met and fell in love in Greece nearly nineteen years ago.  We hold a village in Thrace responsible.

It is a small friendly village largely untouched by the outside world.  A few nature lovers looking for an eco friendly holiday come here to relax, fall in love with the countryside or take ride bikes, go horse riding or trek.

Called Tychero, a direct translation means lucky but mix it up a little as a turn of phrase it also means fate.

We returned to Tychero with our two mini me’s (my girls) to find Tychero largely unchanged. Sure, the  financial crisis has hit it hard, empty shops and a few residents appearing a little frazzled. But this current look is reminiscent of any Greek village, town or city. The village and it’s inhabitants continue to retain it’s beauty, warmth, and charm.



We decided last minute to drive to Tychero.  We booked the hotel the night before. We hadn't had contact with anyone in the village for close to twenty years.

We went to the hotel and asked after some old friends. We went to our room and relaxed for a few hours. Refreshed we walked into the foyer of the hotel to find an old friend waiting for us.

From that second onward our visit to this lovely town was filled with good food, great company and a whole host of new experiences that made us form new fond memories.   We became further entrenched in the footprint of the village. And we were ecstatic to be able to do it.

It was here I gave my heart away and took a leap of fate. I decided to throw caution to the wind and see where it took me.

Nineteen years later I blew back into town, a little rounder, older, greyer and a definitely happier risk taker. I have had a whole host of experiences, adventures and laughs in the years between the time I left and returned.

There are certainties in life like death and taxes.  Love, experience and good fortune are like the lottery.  You win some, you lose some.  But I have hit the jackpot.

The heart I gave away continues to be nurtured, cared for and filled by the person I gave it to. Together we laugh and go on adventures and continue to be in love. Like the town, I have been Lucky.

Monday, 29 September 2014

The boys and girls in blue.

I have talked about my uniform fetish in an earlier blogs entitled ‘A call out’. I can’t help but raise it again.  

I am often fascinated by people in uniform. They are so perfectly groomed. Shoes shiny, shirts tucked in. Hair in place.  In my mind there is an air of mystery around somebody in uniform.

You just can’t tell what type of person is under the cloth.  Are they kind, approachable, funny, strict, creative?

Are they as clean cut as their uniform suggests? If I visited them at home, would I enter a home so pristine and in such order that even I the germaphobiac would think the sterile environment was a bit suss?

I always want to crack and unravel the mystique. 

Police officers fascinate me largely because these law enforcers require a combination I think of humor, empathy, strength, bravery and importantly intellectual and emotional maturity.  



Requirements that I think are missing from the list of essentials on a police officer’s job description.

By way of testing my theory – I approach as many police officers as possible with questions (real questions that require an answer, I am not a law enforcer time distract-er). I have done this in each and every country I have lived in and traveled to.

To date, police officers in the UK are winning Mummyfried’s 'Police Officer Capability' tally.  They consistently and constantly amaze me with their patience, empathy humor, and approach-ability, bravery (they don’t carry guns and go up against armed bandits constantly).

I often think that police officers in Australia and in the US should spend a minimum of three months in countries like the UK to deal with diversity at its peak.

This one incident however has put the Greek officers in serious running for the winning country.

We were in a traffic jam during peak hour and we were fast approaching dinner time. There was little way of getting out. We were in a taxi.  Mr Lucky and I were mentally willing the meter to slow down.

Going the opposite way but nearly parallel to us was a police van.  It too was stuck in traffic.  Little Miss was about to kick off and have an absolute meltdown. We must have looked terrified.

For the next half hour the officers pulled faces, played games, turned the sirens on and off and eventually got out of the van and gave Little Miss a lolly.

The meter didn't stop. The tantrum was averted. We drove out of that jam with a smiley Little Miss, the police officers got a genuine thank you, the taxi driver a hefty fare without a headache and Mr Lucky and I sighed with relief.

What’s your feel good uniform story (keep it clean!) ?

Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Monday, 22 September 2014

Born Again

A friend and I recently exchanged war stories about our families.  We slowly, tentatively revealed our scars.  I think she showed me all of hers. I couldn’t. Mine are far too deep, too many to show all at once.

I glossed over some recent incidences, the last ones that prompted me to yell ‘Enough’ for that final time. She didn’t say much. She is a great believer that people come into and out of our lives for a reason.  So too do all experiences, good and bad.

Sometimes I think she is an earth angel. Here to bring support, guidance and honesty.  Other times I think she is just a good new friend. Either way, I am happy she is in my life.

 ‘You were simply born into the wrong family’ she said.

What a revelation. Honestly. I had never thought about it that way.

I agreed and realised that is the simplest, nicest and most honest way to describe my relationship with my family.

I don’t share their life values. I don’t agree with their rules, judgments and lifestyle. Their behavior, treatment and value systems are out of whack with mine.

Having read thousands of books, talked to many, wasted years of my life agonizing and wondering ‘what the hell?’ – this simple sentence sums up my entire family life experience neatly.

I don’t talk about them or the situation often, but some are curious and ask. Knowing somebody’s background gives a person depth. Knowing mine gives a person insight into those occasional dark moments, momentary sad silences and hopefully rare odd behavior.

I used to struggle to describe my family without attracting pity or strange looks. I would either lie and say they were great or I would say the truth…. a second with my family is like being in a real live version of the movie Saw, and each and every sequel.  Of late, they started to affect me physically. My body reacted badly each time we spoke or communicated.

‘Born into the wrong family’ says the above in a nicer, simpler less dramatic way.

Having found the right description, I also say a sad goodbye to the family I was born into. There were some, very few, good times.  Somewhere in that darkness, when in the public eye there was a sense of unity and of course love.  That is why my experience is hard to believe for some. Regardless, those few times I cherish.  I still love you but in all honesty, I really seriously don’t want to and can’t be a part of you anymore.  My physical and emotional well being is just too important.

I am embracing the family I created. The family not just limited to my beautiful happy wholesome naughty cheeky children.  My children and I have grandma’s and grand pa’s aunts’ and uncles, some that have no blood or marriage ties but are bonded and blended together with laughter, love and life.

A family that argues but forgives, a family with faults, but tries to improve them, a family that has different opinions, lifestyles and views  and celebrates these rather than frown on them in disapproval.

Farewell wrong family, hello positive bright future and family! I am born again.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Ying and Ying?

‘Even after so many years, you’re all loved up’ a friend once yelled at me.

Her accusation resonated for some time. Should I feel guilty? Happy? What prompted her to say such a thing with such contempt?  When I asked, she said she could just tell that we got along well and she wanted the same thing.  I didn’t know how to answer that.

Mr Lucky and I are loved up. We are very different in many ways, and at the same time quite similar. We still are individuals in our own right.  And yes, of course it’s not always a  given, we work at it. Well, Mr Lucky is truly a patient man.  He often waits for me to remove my foot from my mouth, only to shake his head in disbelief as I replace it with the other.   He is not perfect either. He shakes his head when I swap feet. That is wrong.

Because we arrived in Greece as an already made family as opposed to a growing one (which is what we were in the UK), not many ask how long we’ve been together, or where we met etc. Perhaps we’re not that interesting, or it’s a question nobody asks because frankly – who cares?

You can imagine my surprise when the technician installing our internet turned to me and said ‘ You and your husband really get along don’t you?’  I smiled, thinking, you have just met me. You know nothing about me or Mr Lucky.  I could be a husband beater and he could be living here at home in absolute terror, or I could be his girlfriend visiting while his wife popped out.

When he left, I asked Mr Lucky why he thought the technician said what he said.  Mr Lucky and he had had a little conversation when I was not in the room. It wasn’t at all similar to what we had discussed when he was installing the internet – so his comment left us baffled.

Perhaps he has seen us out? We pondered. Perhaps he knows people that know us.  We reasoned. We let it go and let the afternoon pass.

Little Miss came home from nursery and pointed to Mr Lucky’s t-shirt and said ‘What does that say?’

‘Ramones, it’s a band’ Mr Lucky replied. Little Miss ran off to play satisfied.

The afternoon merged into evening and as we sat around the dinner table, Little Miss turned to me and said ‘I know what that says’ pointing to Mr Lucky’s t-shirt. It says Ramones.’ We both smiled thinking what a good memory she had.

To my horror – she turned to me and said ‘Your t-shirt says the same thing mummy’

When the mundane of day to day life takes up all your attention – it’s a scary when you look up and realise that you and your partner have been wearing identical t-shirts all day.  Good taste aside, a sense of embarrassment hits you like a hard slap – in addition to being ‘matchy  matchy’ you’ve been out and about together holding hands like two loved up teenagers.  Your shame threatens to go into overload and you promise to yourself never ever leave the house again. Almost in lock down, I glare at Mr Lucky. It’s his fault, of course.

Simultaneously our mouths open ‘How could you not have noticed’ we yell.  Blood drains from our faces.  The screaming begins. It’s like hearing a chapel filled with the possessed during a exorcism. I smile (not with evil). The accusations are different. We’re not using the same words. We haven’t morphed into one, we are not completing each other’s sentences. We are angry with each other. Really angry, We’re not that compatible. Phew.


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Boy, sorry by George, It’s a miracle!

Two things have prevented me from blogging, and importantly blogging about this particular issue…

1 The heat.  Since May,  I have been very very busy taking advantage of the sun and hot weather. So much so that this normally  pasty white legged mother has turned golden brown. I have been hitting the beach hard, and trust me, it hasn’t hurt.

2. I have been in shock, this genuine state of disbelief has prevented me from writing.

OK, that is a bit of a stretch. The truth is, I haven’t been at all disciplined with my writing but give me a break – I still haven’t found my waist, time will tell if either discipline or my waistline is found.

Regardless, I have a miracle to report – albeit a few months late.  In April, the Baby had her first birthday. We wanted an adult type of party at a child friendly time (by child friendly time I really mean sticking to Baby’s routine).  We couldn’t find a venue that catered to both requirements. We had little choice but have the party at home.

This meant I was in charge of cleaning, entertainment (for the children) and cooking. Scary, not for me but for the guests coming to eat.  There was a great and likely risk that our guests would either leave hungry  or ill or both.

With this high probability, I decided to cheat a little and order some take away and dessert. I still had to prepare entree’s, nibbles, salads and main food accompaniments.

My wise decision to order take away and dessert meant there was a guarantee that some of the food on the table would be edible.

But , this is where a miracle took place.  Everything I prepared was delicious. I was asked for recipes, I was congratulated. And there was no confusion our guests could differentiate between what had been prepared and the takeaway.

My  mother in law called to tell me that the parents of one of our guests had told her that what I prepared was fantastic. Good  news and news of a miracle  travel all the way to Australia!

Mr Lucky and I couldn’t believe it.  Initially we thought the compliments were our guests being polite BUT too many people offered their thanks, and wanted recipes.

Milestones happen – lots of babies turn one, and for most families, the first birthday is usually a big big deal, and it was a big deal for us. But this first birthday was unusual for this little family of four – being congratulated for my cooking is a gynormously big first.

I am slowly getting over the shock, and summer is winding up (a little) so I may be up for blogging again soon.