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.

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