Monday, 15 December 2014

Fight on a flight

Last week we flew from Thessaloniki to Athens. It is a one hour flight. We thought it would be a good way to see if Little Miss had overcome her inability to fly with ease. A short trial flight would be ok.

Well. We are optimists afterall.

It was on hour of hell for all the surrounding passengers. Fortunately it was ten minutes of sheer terror for Little Miss. So, while we didn't win any prizes in the fabulous family stakes, I was somewhat relieved that she freaked out for only ten minutes, rather than the entire flight.

Little Miss has largely lost her 'Port a Volcano' status. It has been replaced with a 'Meltdown on anything that moves' title.

We sat her in her own seat near the window. She turned pale and started hyperventilating. We hadn't yet put on our belts so we swapped seats thinking she would be happier between mum and dad.

This made it worse. She absolutely freaked out. The air hostess came over to help. I asked if she could sit on my lap with a belt. The air hostess refused.  Little Miss continued to scream, kick, hyperventilate. Snot, tears and sweat were airborne.

We tried to calm her down. We tried to bribe her. We tried to tell her off. Nothing worked. She was possessed. Other travellers looked on in pity, fear - thankfully I was too busy trying to calm Little Miss to notice if anyone looked on in disguist.


The screams were awful. All I could hear was 'Mummy hold me.'

Another hostess came over and gave me a belt.  Little Miss was prompty put on my lap. The exorcism sorry, baby belt worked.

Little Miss was all smiles. The hostess told us she would have to report the incident, and suggested we not fly again until Little Miss overcame her fear.


We sighed with relief, thankful that we had not been thrown off the flight. The passengers also sighed hoping the rest of the flight would be peaceful. Then, Little Miss started singing. For the entire flight.

We still are not sure whether Little Miss was fighting sitting on her own, or fighting because she was scared.

Eitherway, I am not game to find out again.  We caught the train back to Thessaloniki.  Five and a half hours of happy child for me, beats even ten minutes of distraught unhappy Little Miss.

Is she spoilt? Perhaps.

Image "Aircraft Silhouette" by satit_srihin courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.




Monday, 8 December 2014

There were three in the bed

Bedtime. We three pile into Little Miss' single bed.

I pull out three stories. We argue over which to read first.

At the end of story time, it's lights out. No moving The Baby into her cot. No, mama does not give her cherubs a kiss goodnight, and confidently walks out the door.

Mama balances on the edge of the single bed until Little Miss and The Baby fall asleep. The trundle is pulled out. There is a good chance Little Miss or The Baby will end up sleeping on it at some point in the night.

Little Miss and The Baby insist on sleeping together. They hold hands until they fall asleep.  It's lovely.

What isn't lovely is that they want me to lie with them and cuddle both of them equally. If I so much as move, they stir. At any time of the night.
 
A toilet break is a luxury.  A good night's sleep is a dream.

Last night both fell asleep quickly.  I moved The Baby to the trundle successfully and tip toed out. I was so ecstatic that I went to bed, my bed, immediately. I didn't bother telling Mr Lucky. I was too excited to be reacquainted with my own bed and pillow.

It didn't last long. I tossed and turned. Something was wrong. I peaked into their room to find Little Miss and moved to the trundle and was cuddling the baby.  I crept out and back to my bed.

At about three, I heard The Baby crying out for me.  I ran (read my previous blog entitled Jealousy to understand why).  I swiftly picked her up and we lay down on Little Miss' bed.

At five I felt Little Miss pulling at me.  We were back to position one, Little Miss against the wall, The Baby in the middle, and mama hanging on for dear life on the edge.

I sighed and the nursery rhyme came to mind 'There were three in the bed and the little one said roll over!'

Patience is what I am told. Two more years and they won't want you...that's a long time.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Doll camp.

As a child, I don 't remember being scared of my toys. Except the time my aunt gave me a clown, and my sisters and cousins would dangle it in front of my face when I slept - reenacting a scene from Poltergeist the movie.

Their giggling would wake me up and I would scream in terror as the clown grinned at me.

It wasn't an evil looking clown. It was kind of cute.  But the movie, and my sisters actions made me hide it in the cupboard and one day, I threw it out. Nobody noticed the clown went missing.

As I often lie awake in my daughters' room, I look around and watch as dusk turns to dawn my daughters toys gradually morph in my mind from innocent dolls to a gang of undesirables. There are three dolls I  pay attention to. They are on my watch.



They are like the rough kids in the playground.  I stare, I watch, I wait, I observe. I am ready. If they make one wrong move and even hint at hurting my cherubs, like a panther I am ready to attack.

One is a Minstrel doll, handmade.  If you lift it's dress, it has my mothers name sewn into it's belly, like an amateur tattoo after a drunk night out. Scary and weird.

The other two are little girls, that have curly hair, hats and are in eighteen century dresses. When they have batteries, they sing American skipping (or jump) rope nursery rhymes.

I haven't been able to make out the rhyme, but am convinced one is from the 1940's (Charlie Chaplin went to France).  Read the lyrics, and you will understand why the dolls do not have batteries. I am not ready to talk to my 1.5 and 3.5 year olds asking me about World War 11.

The girls don't play with the Minstrel doll. They get the two girls down, and play with them for about two minutes.  One has lost an arm in battle. And still, I don't pity it.  I am suspicious. They look like they're going to attack, like  possessed dolls in a horror movie.

I have decided that when we move (in a few weeks), we're sending these three dolls on holiday to the same camp the clown went to. One far far away, never to return (and if they do, we won't be here).

I feel a shudder as I make my decision. Paranoia? Yes, Overacting exhausted mind? Absolutely.  I wonder if the girls will notice.

Image: "Crying Doll" by Theeradech Sanin. Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net


Monday, 24 November 2014

Fear of the smiling blob

The children are playing independently, I have an opportunity to meet my personal deadline for a blog.

I am stuck for what to write.

The last two weeks I have been lying awake between 1 am and 6 am, my mind swirling with ideas, funny anecdotes, plans for adventures. And today, now that I have time and space to think.. nothing.

This state of paralysis has to to with the fact that last night, for the first time in a long time, I fell into such a deep slumber, despite sharing a single bed with Little Miss that the back of my nose and throat are sore after a deep heartfelt and continuous snore.

I silently breathe a sigh of relief. I am currently sporting a Madonna 80's hairstyle. The no longer subtle regrowth, hair in desperate need of a cut and treatment, combined with a constant snore can't be attractive. Mr Lucky hasn't noticed (rather commented - that is why he is Mr Lucky).  The sigh has slowly turned from relief to worry.



Having had a good night sleep means my mind has finally had time to rest. Switch off, relax. This makes me uncomfortable.

How is it that I am more organised, creative and composed when I am absolutely exhausted and sleep deprived?  I get excited when I wake up and challenge the day with a multiple of tasks (menial and sometimes fun) and feel satisfied when all are achieved.

I blog, keep house (well try to), cook (again, I spend time in the kitchen, what I produce is edible but certainly not dinner party appropriate). I play with the children, I work, I do coffee with friends, I take the children to parks, activities, museums. I confuse Mr Lucky by complaining I am tired but can't seem to stand still for a second.  All on about three hours sleep a day.

I have a new worry.  When I have had a good night's sleep I am a walking relaxed zombie with little ability to do anything constructive.  I worry - what will happen when my body and mind finally wake up one day and say - enough.  We are tired. We can't keep up with this grueling exhausting lifestyle?

Will I become a relaxed, mindless, smiling person, with good hair, who doesn't snore, but who is unproductive and who is (my greatest fear)... just a blob?

Image: Smiling Girl Face, courtesy of ClipArtBest.com

Monday, 17 November 2014

Soundtrack to silence?

I wonder how I would feel having a screen shoved up against my face while the world whirls by backwards? I would probably scream uncontrollably too. And not for fun.

No, I am not talking about being on a ride at a show.

Last night I saw a woman pushing her Stoke pushchair with determination.  Facing her was her baby, howling at the top of his lungs.  I have been there. I don't own a Stoke, but have had that look of determination on my face.

That, please don't approach me or give me a look of pity - I have things that need to get done and baby howling combined with a compassionate face may very much result in me wanting to get into a corner, curl up and cry.

But then she did something that threw me.  She stopped, sighed, grabbed something that was hiding the baby's face, touched it a few times.  During this time, the baby had stopped crying.

I had a sneaky peak into the pushchair and saw the baby was about 9 months old. He was also very cute.

Curious, I continued watching, expecting her to go through the process of elimination drill I normally follow when dealing with a howling child.   Cold? Wet? Hungry? Tired? Bored?

After fiddling with the thing that had been hiding the baby's face, she put it back on the pushchair, dangling in front of the baby.  The baby starting howling again.  She sighed and walked on.

I was left gob smacked. The baby had it's own tablet.  The unmistakable opening soundtrack for 'Cars' the movie was heard as she walked passed.



I didn't know what to feel or  think.  I try not to judge other parents parenting style, as I am a walking contradiction.  I had and hold views that are interchangeable depending on a range of elements I am faced with. I am not one to judge.

You never know what goes on behind closed doors. You never know the temperament of a child, the stress the parents or child is under, let alone the background to what you've just walked into or witnessed.

In spite of this, what I witnessed just didn't connect well with me.  What about you?

Image: "Connected Tablet Touch Screen Shows Communications And Connecti" by Stuart Miles courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.


Monday, 10 November 2014

Eventless but full.

Last week Mr Lucky and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary.

We didn't do anything remarkable to mark the occasion.  We went out to our favorite restaurant for dinner with the kids. It was nice but nothing to rave about.

We generally break tradition - rarely giving each other gifts appropriate for the number of years we are married. Thankfully. Buying lace for Mr Lucky would have been interesting.

As a side note, I only know we should have exchanged a lace gift - as I researched it for this particular blog. Otherwise I would have remained in the dark.

Thirteen years have flown. In those years we have moved three countries, produced two beautiful children, have each fought illnesses we probably both wondered quietly if we would ever get healthy again,

So here we are. Certainly not at the end of our separate and combined adventures in life.



I can't remember what we did or how we celebrated each and every anniversary.

Last year we had both kids so sick - we stayed in. One year we went to a fancy restaurant. Another year we planned to go to a nice hotel for the weekend but had to cancel last minute when an uncle passed suddenly. The other anniversaries have merged and morphed into forgotten experiences.

This is not to say it has been boring! We have grown together and separately, clashed, met individual goals and achievements, and we have had some colossal failures too. Throw in some boring times, quiet times and stressful times - our life together has been a cocktail of experiences, emotions and adventures.

Of course I wouldn't have it any other way.

But now I can't stop thinking perhaps I should have bought Mr Lucky some lace, to whether this introduced an interesting new chapter in our book of combined adventure.

Image: "Heart Character Means Valentine's Day And Affection" by Stuart Miles courtesy of FreeDigital Photos.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Jealousy

I have a serious case of green eyed monster. I can't shake it. It's getting bigger, uglier and hungrier by the second.

Try as I might to rationalise, calm it down, and tell it to go away, it won't. Like a raging bull, this monster is out of control. OUT OF CONTROL I say!

The Baby has an obvious preference for Mr Lucky.  She falls over, she runs to Mr. Lucky. She wakes up in the middle of night howling, only Mr.Lucky can calm her down. She wants to play, it's Mr Lucky.

I know I sound like Jan Brady but I can't help but say  'Mr Lucky, Mr Lucky, Mr Lucky!'

The clever little bugger comes to me for feeding, nappy changes, baths and when absolutely desperate for a sleep and Mr Lucky isn't around for wind down. That is it.

I feel used, useless and a little embarrassed / ashamed to admit I have been doing Jan Brady for weeks - am mortified (particularly as I would have preferred to be cool, hip, well liked and popular Marcia).

Little Miss is slowly starting to break the Velcro strip and become independent. I almost have one leg free. I expected that, she is getting older and realises I am there when she wants me, I am not going away. But my hip and leg is bare, waiting for The Baby to occupy it, wanting 'Mummy only'.

Sure she loves me, of course she is happy to see me and wants cuddles and kisses sometimes, but Mr Lucky is definitely the favorite.

'Oh Mr Lucky, Mr Lucky, Mr Lucky' I groan, and not in a nice way.

Enjoy it! friends say when I moan. It's so much more difficult when both kids want your attention.

That makes absolute sense doesn't it?  And Mr Lucky deserves a bit of affection. Little Miss shoots her love arrows mostly my way so it's only right.

Hang on. Wait. Did I hear The Baby call for 'Mama?'

I think she did. I have to go shake the green eyed monster off and swap it for my 'Super Mama' outfit (a Marcia Brady outfit wouldn't cut it for this scene).

The Baby is crying and Mr Lucky is sleeping through her tears (how, I will never know.  She has a seriously loud cry).

Off to save the day and win her over (hopefully) and with each stomp, I hope to shake off the green and the monster for good.


Image: "A Cartoon Frankenstein Monster" by Mister GC.  Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net




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.