You know you haven’t blogged in a while when you can’t recall your password to access the site. This feels like going to the gym after a long muscle vacation. Where do I begin?! Perhaps I should stretch.
Christmas had descended and now long gone upon London and all the streets were twinkling and sparkling. Rumor had it that London was stupendous in all of Christmas’ glory and this time, the rumors were true to their word. The streets were bedazzled with all things Christmas. Shops had elaborate displays in their windows and simply walking the sidewalks was festive and you almost didn’t care that the person ahead of you was walking incredibly slow or anti-seredipitously moving left when you wanted to move left, and then moving right when you wanted to move right to go around them. Normally, I see red when this happens and this stems from my sun-baked stroller-pushing days on the cobble-stone streets of Milan when I had to navigate amongst Italians who are never in a rush anywhere unless they’re behind the wheel of a car. I am unfortunately incapable of walking slow and often look like I am trying to act casual after poaching something off a shelf from a store, but yet still walking fast to ensure my escape. Regardless, Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year because I feel a calm come over me in the streets and London streets don’t disappoint. Thank you, Baby Jesus.
Skating rinks popped up in certain parts of London and they thawed away in early January therefore we took the kiddos a few times and it was so, so much fun. These rinks are breathtaking examples of organization and the coveted method of Keeping Order. At the top of the hour, you leave your shoes, slide on your rented skates and do your thing all while trying to resist the persuasive pull of gravity onto the hard cold ice. Then, at 50 minutes past the hour, an announcement is made and everyone is asked to leave the frozen premises. A wall of ‘ice marshals’ prevents you from skating further and I wouldn’t even dream of trying to skittle past them to attempt one more lap of skating serenity because let’s face it, no one has ever attempted a break away by doing a shuffle. (Recall, my skating skills are akin to a zombie-saunter with my arms out in front of me or to the side. Put plaid on me and call me a scare crow. Spooky indeed.). You exit off the ice via a different path from which you entered and there you return your skates and put your shoes on again. Meanwhile, the ice is being cleared and the next group of skaters is ready to go where you first entered the ice. The process was smooth and seamless and has all the qualities of being on a nature program on Discovery Channel for the world to see how lineups are to be done.
Hyde Park plays host to a Christmas-themed park that continues to grow with each passing year and it is called Winter Wonderland. Surely King Henry VIIIth wouldn’t approve of his original hunting territory now being an annual host to carnival rides, mulled wine, a Christmas market, a circus, a skating rink, and heaps of portable toilets, but obviously it does not matter. If he was alive today, he probably would have still eaten too many sausages (or pigeons) on the grounds and gotten scurvy anyways. (Apparently, such was the physical demise of this Tudor Babe. Rumour had it he was quite handsome in his youth but then his leg injury made him gain weight and his strong diet of meat depleted his vitamin C and ruined him.) Back at the carnival, the grounds are filled to capacity with both the young and old, the famous and like us, the commoner. As the sun sets it gets cooler quickly on the grounds but this does not deter the crowds-instead, the line ups for mulled wine or hot chocolate got proportionally longer and the fun blazed on. Winter Wonderland started in 2007 and every year the venue size gets larger and larger. Already we look forward to next winter’s showcase and having the opportunity to eat my weight in marzipan, (a sad but deliciously true story.)
The kids had a month off from school and as the end of term approached, I realised they really need this break. My Albino Hulk is starting to flex his stubborn muscles and his persistence is astonishing. Everything these days gets sorted and done by way of my pleading, which turns into negotiations, which then becomes me caving in-I could never work for the UN. Yet at school, he’s stellar and an exemplary angel. I’m thrilled he’s so good and it amuses me that he has come to this realisation himself that at school he can hang a halo above his head but at home, he is as smooth as refrigerated butter to deal with. Often I get lost in my negotiating babble because like any parent, I’m usually doing three different things at once and so my threats fall on confused ears when I say something along the lines of ‘if you don’t start getting dressed, I will not allow you to eat paperclips anymore!’. This was one morning where the Albino Hulk suddenly forgot how to dress himself and he persistently insisted I dress him. Naturally, the clock was urgently indicating it was time to head out the door seven minutes ago but yet my yells asking him to hurry did nothing. Meanwhile, I had some quick papers to organise for the PTA and hence was using paper clips to sort my piles. Instead of threatening to take away sweets, I forbid him from eating plastic-coated pieces of metal. This flustered me more and hence I stomped over to dress him quickly, giving him what he wanted in the first place. Albino Hulk 1543: Momma -32.
Then there was the morning I poured them cereal before school but foolishly I prepared a bowl with a brand that he wasn’t in the mood for that day and somehow I didn’t get the mental memo. He cried and wouldn’t eat the cereal I made, regardless of what I said or how loud I yelled. This lasted 20 minutes and negotiating and dealing with him resulted in hot flashes and raised voices, from me. Applying wallpaper while wearing thick wool mittens would have been less aggravating and frustrating. In the end, I quickly ate the soggy oats he didn’t want and poured him something else and I’m pretty sure he smirked through every bite of his breakfast. A while ago I read a fantastic book called ‘How to talk so kids will listen, and listen so kids will talk‘ which reads almost like a parent manual and in my opinion, every parent should have one handy. I think I need a refresher.
Despite all the tricks he has up his sleeves for me, Lumberg, and most recently (and most frequently) towards our Little Miss Stubborn, he soothes me with his spontaneous cuddles and hugs. The other night I was ironing and watching the Tudors in my study, (I’m incredibly hooked because I just recently crawled out from under my rock and discovered this series, starring Henry Cavill. I find this part of English history extremely interesting, but I’m certain Cavill is 95% why I watch this program. I deny nothing.) Anyways, around midnight I heard the bedroom door open from their room. Sleepily and with the most epic bed-hair ever, he walked over to me, hugged me and told me he loved me (I’m referring to my Albino Hulk, not Cavill. Sigh.) Then he went back to bed. Maybe it was guilt coming over his little heart or perhaps it was just sleep walking. Regardless, I melted.
Lastly, over Christmas in church he kept whispering to me he didn’t want to be there and that he wanted to leave. He kept repeating this over and over and my whispered pleas to get him to listen and be quiet weren’t working. In between saying ‘Amen’ with the congregation, I had also attempted to barter new lego, a new car, seven chocolate bars and three nights where my Albino Hulk could stay up past his bed time, all for his silence during mass. Nothing worked UNTIL the choir in the church broke into a Christmas carol that he knew from school. Instantly he bowed his head, put his hands together as if to pray, and sang his little persistent heart out. Pavlov’s response is epically superb!!
Little Miss Stubborn is wonderful but I fear she is saving her stubbornness for her teen years. Right now, she is the easier munchkin to raise even if we have our disagreements on certain items, mainly clothing. She seems at times too mature and understanding for her age and in truth, it frightens me because I fear her arguments will be more logical than mine as she ages, especially if I keep uttering confusing disciplining commands. She has turned seven recently and for her birthday Lumberg and I decided to gift her an iPod nano because she loves music. I remember the days when I was her age and listened with pride to my music, sourced from my sporty yellow walkman. Though she won’t know the high-pitch doppler-effected whistle at the beginning and end of a tape or the slowed down lower-pitched music symptomatic of a drained battery, she will have her own memories to make from her own generation of music. Because she walks with her earphones on around the house, she forgets that I can hear her well and there is no need to yell when telling me a particular song is so good. (I am extremely excited to report both kiddos get jiggy to anything from BoneyM. They can’t help but stop whatever they are doing and start dancing to Rasputin, Night flight to Venus, etc. They may not want to speak polish to me, but this solidly proves my magic perogies have done their thing, and my kids will blend in on any polish ‘zabawa’ dance floor, should they ever go). She also sings at the top of her lungs all the time which makes me envious because it is already evident she is a better singer than me. With her, the goal of our parenting mission is to keep her young as long as we can. Right now, she’s easy. When the Albino Hulk has friends over, something is always being created or destroyed. When Little Miss Stubborn has friends over, she practices her dancing or cursive writing with them. It’s too easy! (Naturally I realize I will eat these words in a few words whens she’s a teen). But alas, she’s just growing up too fast, my little Chia pet, and looking at her at times makes me disbelieve that she is the same kiddo on my videos that I watch from 5-6 years ago. I recently volunteered as a parent chaperone on her class field trip to the British Museum. It was a fun day to see her interact as a separate individual from me with her peers and teacher and hearing her use words like ‘sarcophagus’ was way different than the words I taught her when she was 8 months old, (like, ‘mama’, ‘cookie’, or her first word ‘dada’).
Having just seen a friend’s six-day old baby a few days ago, I’m having one of those moments when you realize parenting/life/everything feels like a run-away train, hence the title of this entry borrowed from Elton John and if I were a character in a Disney movie, I would randomly start singing now to express my feelings. Since the kiddos have been born, I’ve been perpetually trying to keep up with educating them and showing them things in life, protecting them, taking them places, feeding them, and smothering them for us to relish every moment because soon we will be uncool in their eyes. When you stop to take a breath, or in my recent case, when you hold a tiny scrumptydillyumptious new born in your arms, only then do you realize how much work has been involved and how much time has passed. To me, it’s mind blowing. Any parent will cluck the most famous cliche of cliche’s and agree that their kids grow up far too fast. All I can hope for is that together with Lumberg, we’ve taken the time to lay down the proper tracks for our two speeding locomotives.
Maybe because it was the end of the year recently and the start of a new one always forces people to go into analysis-mode that I am sharing my ponderous thoughts. Perhaps it’s also because I’ve recently heard such incredibly sad stories of people’s struggles and losses, and hence this also feeds the reflection bug that has infected me. I guess if nothing else, they’re reminders to honestly enjoy all that you have. Personal stories aside, one just needs to go to a news website to read of all the struggles people face globally and at times, it’s all just too heavy. Not everyone has a happy ending like the ‘goodies’ (as my guys call them) in Disney movies. I think I’m going to take a break from the news for a bit. You should too, (and instead, come to this site more often. Ha!).
Stepping down from my little emotional soap-box, since I last wrote, November and December breezed by in the blink of an eye. My school had me occupied but I can’t complain because I am genuinely interested in why we buy the plethora of things we buy. Lately, I walk by stores and consciously analyze their marketing communications and try to decipher if I could be convinced to buy their items. To Lumberg’s disappointment, (and my mother-in-law’s), I probably could. Easily. With my arms tied behind my back. Standing on one leg. I believe I could be convinced to buy the Ginsu knife without a problem.
Before Christmas, my in-laws were in town and my mother-in-law physically pulled me away from a pretty coat for Little Miss Stubborn I was hypnotically eyeing in John Lewis. It even had a (faux) fur collar, (and everything else such as pockets and buttons), and yet, she stood her ground and wasn’t moved by it like I was. Temporarily I forgot I bought Little Miss Stubborn a fabulous coat from Zara with a fur-lined hood and pockets a few weeks earlier. This did not matter. The sign said I needed this coat, and I obliged.
A good friend manages a marketing department for a large corporation and I find his stories about work simply fascinating. Like Cher, if I could turn back time, I’m starting to think I should have chosen marketing back in uni and done my academics differently. Then again, I still find geology and geophysics jaw-dropping fascinating, but perhaps it’s just that marketing suits me more. School runs until May and then I have a break for the summer which I am thoroughly enjoying. I think I may take a dance class or hunt down the bargains bins online for that coat from Zara in my free time.
That’s about it-since i wrote last, we had my in-laws in town as mentioned, several friends popping in from Milan, spent time with friends visiting from Toronto over the Christmas break, attended to school stuff, done some out of town day trips and little get aways, (if you go to Bournemouth, stay at the Green House. You will love it!), and just kept busy in London as one can do so easily. I’m thrilled to report that Rasputin, my ever-thriving and persistent orchid, has sprouted 11 bulbs of beautiful petals. This never happens to flora under my watch. And, finally, my eyebrows are no longer fraternal twins and now with dedicated tweezing time, they look more identical. It’s the little things in life, indeed!
To end, my last entry depicted my wacky ways when it comes to spiders and since then, I have evicted a nest of baby spiders from our house. This was no easy feat for me, but it had to be done. I may have mentioned that there was a single larger spider hanging outside our bedroom window for some time. To cope with her presence, I just kept my window closed more often and especially at night when I noticed she was more active. Then, once upon a middle of a week, I noticed she abandoned her post and for a few days and evenings wasn’t seen at the web. I declared a victory and opened my windows while making the bed one morning. When the cat is away, the mouse will play and of course I see the sadness in the fact that I am the mouse and the spider is the cat, but alas, I am not Steve Irwin and so, it goes like this. As I bent down to pick up a pillow off the floor, my eye caught what looked like a fluff of cotton balls underneath the part of window that rises, (here in London, our windows move vertically to open, and not left or right). Upon closer inspection, I realized the fluff of cotton was an epic nest, filled with a conglomerate of perhaps 30-40 teeny tiny spheres. Bitch! Not only did she invade my window on the outside of our house, but she also made spidey-love and now was setting up camp for her off spring.
I did the natural thing which was shutting my window with a thud and then pressing all my scone-given weight on it to squeeze the eggs to oblivion. Then I panicked because surely, squeezing a nest full of babies wasn’t the sharpest thing to do. Don’t they pop?! Popping implies eggs going everywhere. Egad! I left the window closed and ran about my day, pondering what to do. When I returned home later that afternoon, I decided to apply some bleach-gel from my cleaning supplies on the bottom of my window sill, and then lower the nest onto the glorious glob of disinfection. Well, the glob sort of liquified and before I knew it, I had bleach running everywhere. This however, prompted the momma-spider to come out of hiding and it made me audibly yelp because I was not expecting her. She really caught me by surprise because she was the size of my thumb nail and hence, clearly massive, and at this point, I felt awful. Here she was trying to defend her babies, and here I was, getting rid of them. But, I could not let my emotions cast a shadow on what I was to do, and hence I did carried on and eventually wiped away the rest of the nest, flushing it down the loo. My bravery awarded me ‘brava’ comments from my friend Nina, but also some disbelief from another friend named Rob who lives in happy unison with his Australian critters in his back yard. (But, he is looney because he likes the expanding family of red-backs in his back yard. If I had a yard of red-back spiders, the word of the day would be ‘fumigate’). Lumberg only laughed at me even though secretly he probably thought my spider phobia is reaching new heights, and the kids, well, they wanted to know what was for dinner after my stellar act of bravery.
Such is the sequel to my little spider story. I wish I didn’t hate them so much, but I do. Globally.
I hope to write in a week. Toodaloo!