Friday, 30 October 2009

*runs around frantically looking for 4 times 2 pairs of underpants*

I'm travelling today, so instead of my usual ruminations, I give you one of my favourite jokes of all time:


What's white and flies through the air?

...

...


The Coming of the Lord.


See you on Monday, my lovelies!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Chemical sister

Last night, before going to bed, I was sitting on the toilet (just setting the scene) and I told Babes, who was brushing his teeth, that my life is a lot easier if I can just have alcohol every night. If I have my first glass at five, making dinner is a lot more pleasant. Then my second glass when I sit down to eat makes the neverending "don't play with your food" go by so much quicker. In fact, half the time I don't care they're playing with their food, and I'm just having a giggle with the kids. These two glasses are enough to get through an evening without stress. They are enough to help me through my part of the bedtime routine as well. They just take the edge off, so I can be more present with the kids and the urge to criticise is replaced by the urge to tell stories, sing songs and generally have a good time.

Add to this a cup of tea first thing in the morning "to wake up." Then another mid-morning "to warm up." Another one with lunch, and one while blogging. Then a cup after the school run during homework time. I'm not talking camomile tea. It's proper strong British tea. I drink it all day and often all night.

I've always been scared of pills, drugs, mood-altering, mind-altering substances, but who exactly am I kidding here? I love me some chemicals. Just the legal, over-the-counter ones.

I'd been resisting the alcohol lately. Didn't buy beer, only had a glass with friends, never on a regular night at home. A few days ago I thought fuck that and the last three nights I had a few drinks again. Man, oh man, it was like coming home. Everything is better. I'm such an uptight person, and a couple of drinks unwind me so beautifully. I'm sure the kids would agree.

This is all very much on my mind, because for various reasons I have decided to go back to my non-drinking state (starting tomorrow ;-) ) and to cut out the regular tea (also starting tomorrow ;-) ). I'm not even sure it's so clever. Surely people (me, for example) use these mind-altering substances for a reason. Tea keeps me going without consuming any sugar (caffeine, I love you), and alcohol is my friend (my friend, I tell you). Who exactly am I doing a favour by cutting them out?

Any thoughts? Also - if anyone could tell me how to stay awake without tea or sugar, and sane after five o'clock without alcohol, please tell me?

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Gay Porn part III

You know how people have been recreating their favourite movie scenes with Lego? Well, my daughter gave me a great idea this week. Her favourite cuddly toys at the moment are these guys - Bumba:



and Bumbalu:



They are clowns (I know - you would never have guessed) and they have their own TV show. It's pretty good, if you're a one year old. Every time the yellow dude walks a tightrope, the commenter goes "Bumba does dangerous tricks. He is a very cool clown," but I reckon that's quite funny, so Bumba and me we're cool.

Part of this show goes "Bumba and Bumbalu are the greatest friends" and then they cuddle. Marie has been recreating this scene, making them cuddle and kiss. In this, my very own Week of Gay Porn, that obviously made me pick these two cool and loving guys for my very own remake of Brokeback Mountain!

I have decided to cast Bumba in the role of Ennis and Bumbalu in the role of Jack. Here they are, in the scene where Ennis and Jack ride up the mountain together:



Next up, the scene in which Ennis is surprised by a bear next to the river. I have cast Bumba's friend Nanadu in the supporting role of the bear.



Conveniently enough, Bumba and Bumbalu are circus clowns, so they have their own tent! Here they are, replaying a dinner scene around the fire. If Bumbalu has an uncomfortable smirk on his face, that's because he's being held upright by a gorilla in his butt.



And, finally, that scene in the tent:



I hope you have all enjoyed my little reenactment of Brokeback Mountain. I think we should give a big round of applause to Bumba and Bumbalu for their efforts, and also to my children who had a bad case of "I want to play with what you're playing with" but managed to keep their hands off.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

My retail life is shit

So I had a small meltdown in the supermarket today. When I came out of the lift from the roof parking lot, I was greeted by a guy with a pneumatic drill, hacking out the tiles at the entrance not five feet away from me. I think I popped an eardrum, but what offended me more was that I was accompanied by my one year old and she's fragile, dammit. I was so stunned that I didn't just get the lift back up (I wanted to get away from the big noise, and the fastest way to do that was to get into the shop), then walking into the shop I was greeted by three ladders in the first two isles. I cracked and walked-ran out of the shop. I may or may not have cried in the parking lot. I'm not going back until they're all done. I'm also writing a letter of complaint to the head office and I'm putting my name on it. I had been scared to do this because my name is on my loyalty card, but they've gone too far. That will show them. *shakes fist in the air*

That is all.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Never underestimate the power of repetition

So I may have mentioned before that exercise is a little beneficial when it comes to my mood. Yeah, duh. And then I'm all "but my baby's sick so I can't go out of the house" and then Babes is all "but I'm home now so you can go to the gym" (and you can practically hear his brain screaming "please will you fucking get in the car and go work out, you are being a bitch, won't you think of the CHILDREN!") and I'm all "but it's late and I've been running after the kids all day and I'd rather have a glass of wine and read some blogs" and then next thing you know that glass of wine has become a beer and crisps with a side of chocolate biscuit, it's a week later and I'm crying because no one likes me and my legs are too short for my jeans.

So - a little letter:
To anyone out there who is depressed,
Also to me, in about four weeks' time when I'm being a moron again,

Please do have the therapies. They are good. Especially the ones where you talk and blame your parents or the pope or the government. Also, have the medication if you need it. It can help you cope. Especially with those little bastards who insist on shouting "mummy" at the top of their voices a million times a day. But after all that? Find yourself a sport. Do it three times a week, for at least half an hour. Ideally an hour. Doesn't matter what, as long as you love it can bear it.

There's only one rule: you must (MUST) break a sweat. Your heart rate has to be up the entire time. I get mine to 150 and keep it there. It doesn't matter what you do. Gardening works, but not careful pruning. I mean taking out a tree trunk, or weeding vigorously. Cleaning works, but not gently dusting the piano. You have to scrub and bend and go up and down the stairs. A lot. I suppose sex would work, but only the extremely frantic kind and in the more "challenging" positions, and crucially you'd have to find a partner willing and able to keep up with you at high intensity for forty minutes three times a week, so good luck with that if that's your preferred option.

My personal favourite is the exercise bike at the gym. I take my little mp3-player and I program it with all my favourite up-tempo juvenile and/or sexy songs. And holy crap does it ever work. I am new. NEW, I tell you.

Go forth and exercise. I implore you. Think of the CHILDREN.

Mwa
xxx

Friday, 23 October 2009

Gay Porn part II, My Supermarket part III & Internet, I ♥ You part LXXVI

  • I think I may have to elaborate on my love for Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar a little. While I do love my gay porn, and who doesn't really, in this case I'm talking true everlasting love. With a side of scorching lust, of course - of course. But love. Of the heart-burning, can't stop thinking about them, they are better than gin kind of love.



    Actually, there may be a bit of the gay porn thing to it as well. In fact, after the enthusiastic reactions I got, I'm thinking of starting another website dedicated solely to gay porn. I'm sure no one has ever thought of that before. Think of the money I could make, having discovered this unfulfilled need.
  • In my series "a look at my supermarket", which I'm sure is why you keep coming back to read my blog, dear readers (nothing to do with the gay porn, of course), I have another picture round for you. First of all I must admit to still going to that wretched place. I know we decided together I was to shun the place and vote with my wallet, and I have been diversifying, but sometimes you just need your usual stuff, you know? Today, I had to go past men with blowtorches and there was a lot of drilling going on behind a curtain. (The curtain is a certain form of progress, I must admit.)
    This was the scene in the vegetable isle:



    Yes, that man is balancing on a little ledge, his feet half sticking out over the vegetables below, his head bent awkwardly away from to the strip lighting. (Side note: don't you think that's a cool shot? I took it surreptitiously with my phone, and the perspective came out all nice.) I have another shot of him with a wire hanging down into the celery and the carrots:



    And then there's the eggs and tea. I'm not sure how you're meant to get to the fruit teas. There was a bucket of paint on top of this scaffolding, but no one using it:



  • And finally, I feel the need to mention, once again, how much I ♥ all of you lovely internet people who come here and read, and who comment, and whose blogs I read. On days when I'm stuck indoors with a sick kid you pretty much save my life, over and over again. And you're funny. And pretty, and sexy. And my BFF. Oh, and is that a new shirt you're wearing? I like what you've done to your hair.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Fight or flight

There's a feeling I get in times of extreme emotion. It's a very physical event. My breathing stops, and my whole body freezes. I get a tingling in all my extremities. In fact, it's more than a tingling. It's like an electrical current goes through all of my fingers and all of my toes. And the top of my head. I've had this feeling quite a few times this month. Generally I get it in situations of fear:
  • When I nearly careened into a car in front of me which had to brake suddenly for another car.
  • About two minutes after taking this picture



    when Marie tumbled head-over-feet down five of those steps. (She was fine.)
  • When Jack wasn't in the line of children coming out of his school. (Silly misunderstanding, quickly cleared up.)
Sometimes it is prompted by embarrassment:
  • When I realised I was starting to tell a story I wasn't meant to be telling. (I stopped in time. Yay!)
And then sometimes it's pure lust:
  • That scene in the tent in Brokeback Mountain. On a big screen. Oh boy. And oh boy. Yes, oh both boys. That must be a serious contender for sexiest ever scene in movie history.


I guess I'm a bit tense these days. On tenterhooks. Highly sensitive. Whatever. My fight or flight response is too quick to appear. I need to remember to breathe, take a minute, be in the now. I'm just not sure where to start. Here, and now, I suppose.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Commercial differences

Jack came home all excited yesterday, telling me we should go and pick up his new watch urgently, because it would only be available until today. This was the first I'd heard of any watch. His teacher had handed out coupons to the children and told them about the time limit on it. I shall show you part of the flyer - I'm not giving the company involved the satisfaction of free advertising.



Of course once you open up this most colourful and alluring booklet, it turns out that this "free" watch will only be handed over in return for all your personal data, and two euros fifty. The shoe retailer behind the scheme has also very charitably included a five euro voucher, just in case you were to decide to buy some shoes when you get there. Apparently the shoe chain sponsored the school's cross country event, so now we should all just smile prettily and put up with this.

Jack's school has a history of questionable judgements like this. A few weeks back, he assured me I should buy a local newspaper, a rightist rag I wouldn't buy or want to be seen with. Apparently, he was 'in it.' Along with 25,000 other primary one children. Every year, they publish class pictures of all primary one classes. We're going to be goaded into buying another permutation of the same picture soon anyway. I was not amused. The other mothers did not see my problem. Whatever.

So after the newspaper incident, and again after the recent stopwatch incident, I carefully and at length explained to my five year old why, in fact, I disagreed with his beloved teacher and principal, and why I will not be buying into some cynical marketing ploy designed to separate us from our money and common sense. (The first time I explained this, we were walking down the street, and I got some very strange looks from another mother for talking to a five year old and a one year old about "cynical commercial ploys" - how are they ever going to learn those words if I don't use them, I ask you.) I'm lucky Jack's a clever boy and he understands what I'm trying to say, but at some level I'm sure he's very disappointed in me for not just going along with it like most parents and forking out the (admittedly small amount of) cash so that he can have his coveted keepsakes. I just can't bring myself to reward any company for such a scheme. Call me naive, but I would like schools to be little oases from the commercial madness going on everywhere else in the world.

The PTA should be the place to go with my concerns, and believe me, I tried. In fact, I have turned that PTA meeting into another little film. (It's short, it's snappy.) Again, I may have dramatised the proceedings a little.



Am I making something out of nothing? I still haven't found a single parent at that school who agrees with me, so I'm starting to think I may be overreacting.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Blurgh

I'm not feeling very human today. I think that night at the hospital has caught up with me now the adrenaline has worn off. I've also not got to the gym in a while and being on sick kid duty means I haven't really left the house much. On days like this I just want to curl up in bed and not come out for another week. Instead, I think I will make myself a cup of tea and take my chances with daytime tv until naptime is over. Or have a nap myself.

Anyone know a good joke? I need a giggle.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Just plain grateful for it all

On Saturday night, I said to my mother-in-law that I had a hunch I may end up in the emergency room with my youngest that night. She'd only had a temperature for less than twenty-four hours, and had no symptoms other than having lost her voice. And yet, my mum-o-meter was set to mild alarm. Funny how it does that.

Just after two in the morning, I woke up to pitiful crying from next door, and went to check on Marie. She could hardly breathe and when I picked her up, she vomited up an almighty amount of phlegm. Her temperature had shot up and she was breathing quite badly. In my mind, a replay started of the night a few years back when Jack had similar symptoms and ended up admitted to hospital for pseudocroup, or whatever it's called in English - I'm not sure.

I took Marie to hospital. I apologised profusely to the staff for not waiting another few hours, but they assured me I'd been right to come in because it's better not to take a chance if a child can't breathe properly. The croup was ruled out quite soon, but there was a worry for a while it may be pneumonia. After X-rays, though, it turned out to be bronchitis, and everything-above-that-itis as well. We were sent home with a prescription for an aerosol machine and antibiotics.

This left us to find a pharmacy at four in the morning. I felt bad enough waking up the poor on-call pharmacist in the middle of the night, and felt worse when it became obvious that she was scared to have us at her door. You have to feel bad for people forced to do the kind of job where they know they're a prime target for junkie hold-ups. I think I conveyed my eternal gratitude to her, though - I hope that meant something. I was so happy to get my little girl some medicine, finally, to open up her airways a bit.

She still sounds AWFUL today, rattling and wheezing, but her temperature has gone down at least. It's weekends like these I feel so very very grateful that we don't live in a poor part of Africa or in the jungle somewhere far from a doctor. In fact, I'm very happy not to be poor in America. I honestly don't get what's to debate. Anyway, I don't want to preach today. I'm just being grateful.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Marge, I must learn to love you better

I'm a tea drinker, a result of my years spent in the UK, and being married to a Scot. We import our tea, and drink it religiously. To sustain this habit, we need a whole cupboard full of mugs. I have some favourites (my "Supermum" mug, the one that says I NY, the one with the butterfly), and the mugs I use when no others are available (the chipped one, the small ones, and the free mug that came with a pack of biscuits). And then there's one mug I never use:



I have nothing against the Simpsons - we have the rest of the family's mugshots (sorry) too and I use them very happily. I'm drinking from Bart right now. The problem I have is that I'm still mighty conflicted about being a housewife, and Marge is the ultimate ├╝berhousewife among housewives.

When Babes and I first agreed that I could stay at home and look after Jack, I warned him that I would do all that was in my power to look after that boy, but there was no way I wanted to be solely responsible for the household chores as well. I know this attitude horrifies many stay-at-home-mums, but that's how I felt, and that's kind of how I still feel. I realise I'm at home, and therefore there are a whole lot of chores I must do (preparing food, changing nappies, tidying up) and some that make sense timing-wise for me to do (the shopping, the cooking, the odd bath). I don't do too bad with these things. Really. I could do better, but the children are loved and taken care of, the shopping gets done most of the time, and I sort dinner more often than not. This week, in fact, I've been a rather good little housewife. I've caught up on some laundry, have tidied the bedrooms extra well, and today I'm giving up my gym and alone time to clean up the house for our guests tonight. (Just as soon as I stop blogging.)

And yet, I cannot relax into this new role I seem to have been marked with. I cling to the idea that this is a temporary set-up, until I go back to work. I'm kidding myself, because while I will go back to work at some point, I know I will only work part time so I can be around for homework and cuddles and how-was-your-day. I admire women who can do it all, but I know I can't. I only have limited energy, am too prone to nerves and not-coping and I would chuck my full-time job the moment one of my kids was home with a sniffle. (Yes, I realise I'm bloody lucky to be able to stay at home. Babes had better not divorce me, I tell you.)

In my mindfulness class (is this turning into my very own version of "this one time, at band camp"?), we were taught that we could reframe housework in our minds by feeling the connection to our ancestors, who had to do the same chores. The lovely Ms. Moon was talking about just this thought today, only much more eloquently, so for a more poetic explanation of the feeling I would like to achieve, I will send you here. The reframing is not working so far. I try to think of my ancestors, but it just makes me feel sorry for previous generations, and more grateful for my washing machine and dishwasher.

Today, though, I vow to try once more to embrace my household chores and feel at one with the universe. I'm going to keep in mind all of you, dear readers, and the manual work you surely must do. If previous generations don't do the trick for me, I will give the here and now a shot. And I will try to love Marge better, because I truly believe I cannot love myself as I should until I can drink my tea happily from that mug.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

I'll show you mine, if you show me yours

I've been pondering if I should share with my dear readers one of my most embarrassing memories. I like being honest on my blog because I like reading other honest blogs. Only, I'm not sure what can be achieved by sharing this particular memory. It's cringeworthy, but not all that funny. I think. Of course, I'm still embarrassed, so I'm not sure if I'm the best judge. The benefit of a warts-and-all blog is of course that we can all see that behind closed doors most people are just as clueless as us. (You are, right? Tell me you are.) They make mistakes and relay them so that we can relax about ours. That thought is not helping me so much just now.

Now I'm talking embarrassing. The kind where it's now eleven years later and I still blush when I think about it in the privacy of my own car (that happened today). I'm not talking worth-a-giggle like the time I was waiting to sing mass with my college choir, went up to a priest and asked him if it was a special day because he was wearing purple, and he said "No, I'm the Archbishop of York." That was only mildly embarrassing. And I'm not talking funny-in-restrospect like the time I had explosive diarrhea in the echoing downstairs bathroom the first time I met my in-laws. I'm talking, well, see for yourself...

I was twenty-one. I was studying philosophy at a certain Scottish University (I would say which, but I don't want to embarrass the other party as well). I'd been there a few months, but I was having trouble settling in, and I was very keen to make a good impression on the other students. We were studying Hegel's Phenomenology in a very small class. I think there were only five other students, so we were all sitting in a very small circle around the lecturer. Before the lecture, he started to tell us a little story. Now anyone who has ever read Hegel will understand that this was a very welcome diversion. The more stories, the better.

So there we were, all listening intently... to the lecturer explaining that later that day he was going in for a vasectomy. Talk about awkward. He elaborated a little - the details have been erased from my memory but it was either about his fears or about the physical process, or both - after which he seemed to expect us to say something to him as well. All I could say (and to this day, I don't know why) was: "My parents know a guy who is a contratenor, and when he meets people, he introduces himself with his very high voice as "[Name], four children"", neatly highlighting his imminent admission to the brotherhood of men of questionable virility. A very long and embarrassed pause followed. Very long. Very very very long. And then we started to read Hegel.

So - would you like a go? I'd like to say it was cathartic, but it's mainly embarrassing all over again.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Because I have principles, dammit

One of the most popular Flemish children's TV shows is built around this guy:



He's a gnome called Plop. They've gone for the rather traditional approach here: old guy, white beard. Noddy he is not.

Now this programme is a very big deal in Belgium and the Netherlands, so much so that there are three (I kid you not) theme parks erected in his honour, with a fourth one under construction. They are in fact so popular they have released several songs, the most popular of which gets played at children's parties and weddings (groan) and most people know the dance routine. I WISH I was kidding. Just in case my humiliation of my fellow countrymen and neighbours hasn't gone far enough, here's a link to a video of a typical performance, which you must not feel obliged to watch. Unless you enjoy to watch the humiliation of other nations, in which case enjoy.

Now you would think that such a popular show would have all kinds of amazing things going for it, but no. It's the most traditional thing you could imagine, and hugely un-PC. They've either never heard of political correctness or they're doing it on purpose. I'm guessing it's the former. Let me show you how bad it is by introducing four of the six main characters.


This guy is called "Lazy". He's basically a narcoleptic. He keeps falling asleep, no matter what is going on. I'm sure the Belgian and Dutch narcoleptics societies will join me in thanking "Lazy" for all he has done to improve their image.


This gnome is called Smul in Dutch, which would translate somewhere between "Gobble" and "Feast", I guess. He's the overweight one. I don't think I need to say any more.



Next up are the two female characters. There are only two, compared to four main male characters. They are given a mere supportive role in the series, but somehow I don't think that would be a feminist's main objection to them. I introduce to you:


The main female character, called Kwebbel, which is a more derogatory term for "Chatter". She is always trying to say something, and always being told to be quiet by the other characters, because she "talks too much."


And then there's "Narrow", as in thin. She's constantly "making herself pretty" with make-up and smiling prettily. The male gnomes fight over her and do anything for her, while "Chatter" is put down and ignored. Charming.




Obviously I'm horrified at the whole thing. It's unacceptable. I should start a boycot. To expose children's impressionable minds to this drivel is a crime.

Only - Marie likes it, so some Saturday mornings we will watch it together. (Or she will watch while I snooze - pot-ay-to, pot-ah-to.) And we have some of the songs on CD. Oh, and I've done the dance a couple of times. The biscuits which are shamelessly promoted in the programme taste okay, really. And we've been to two of the theme parks.

Damn.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The glamour of my real life never fails to astound me

I'm thinking of ditching my real life avatar and moving online permanently. Who needs a body anyway? I bet online legs never need to get shaved.

My real life this morning started out in the Siberian wasteland that is our bathroom. When I'd finally thawed myself off the toilet, I came downstairs to Marie bringing me her "little green snot" (huge bogey) on the top of her index finger, and Jack sneezing all over our food every five minutes going "Mama, I sneezed", expecting a tissue on a golden platter or something. The box was less than a foot from his dripping infectious nose. This was followed by a half hour hunt for Marie's "other boot" through the black hole of despair where the children's clothes go to live when they're worn, but not dirty enough to go in the wash - only to find said boot later in a different part of the room entirely.

The rest of the day I'm planning to spend on the rescuscitation of this house in preparation for the babysitter coming tonight, with a toddler who is going to "help". I don't know what possessed me to get a local babysitter, and a former pupil of mine for good measure. I care too much about the state of my house when she comes. It doesn't have to sparkle, but I try to avoid vermin running around and too many dirty nappies in unexpected places. I should really get a foreigner instead. Preferably illegal. Far less likely to get the principal of the school where I want to work again in the future to hear of that six day old spaghetti still sitting in its pot in the kitchen. Maybe I could adopt a little Albanian family and get a cleaner and a handyman in the bargain.

Now my online life? Completely different kettle of electronic fish. My readership has positively exploded in the last couple of days (more than fifty visitors - hello there!) which is making my online persona very very happy. You sent me many comments, all of which made me smile, and none of which mentioned a little green snot. I've found some lovely new online friends - some of them even send me gay porn and frankly who can ask for more in a new online friend? Also, I am the Twitter friend of many many celebrities. Actually, I only follow them so far, but surely it's only a matter of time before they all follow me back.

Maybe when I move online, I should get some electronic kids and an electronic husband. We could have online bogeys and online sex (maybe not). Maybe I'll put some digital rice krispies on the digital floor of my digital house, for old time's sake. But no more ironing, no more cleaning, no more stepping in raisins that were left on the floor. Online nappies? Delete.

I don't know why, but writing all that just gave me an uncontrollable urge to go and cuddle my real-life daughter, bogeys and all. So, okay, maybe I won't move completely online. Yet. But real life? You have been warned.

Monday, 12 October 2009

In his defence, he was very tired

Inspired by masterpieces from Calif Lorna, Iota and London City Mum, I made my own movie. The (teeny tiny SHORT) film illustrates my delight at being named British Mummy Blogger of the Week by the very discerning Potty Mummy and Babes' reaction to this wonderful news.

Scene: My very Scottish husband Babes has been in the UK all weekend, and phones me from the ferry on his way back.

Disclaimer: Some of this phonecall has been dramatised slightly. For example, my husband and I are not cuddly toys.


Thank you very much, Potty Mummy. I appreciate it.

Friday, 9 October 2009

I'm nothing if not helpful

Okay, for those who don't know how to switch off word verification / captcha:

go to your blog settings
→ comments
→ show word verification, select "no"

My pleasure.

Or I could just get a life and read fewer blogs

So have you voted yet in my poll?
Yes, that poll → → →
I have been cursing blasted word verification hell daily for the last few months.



I was getting SOOO fed up with it. Then yesterday, @badassgeek tweeted the following



to which he got quite a few replies saying "but what about the spammers" so he rephrased it a little like so



Which got me wondering how many people out there actually need captcha in the first place. Hence - poll.

I used to have craptcha on my comments as well, because I didn't even know it was there, and I didn't know you could turn it off. I'm guessing quite a few people out there have it on for that reason. If so, dear person whose blog I read and comment on, please try turning it off for a while and see what happens? I turned mine off a while back, and I've since had five spam messages. Five. Easily ignored, not such a big deal. And not much trouble for me to deal with compared with making it much more annoying for people to comment.

I have noticed that the most popular blogs don't have it on, so I wonder how they deal with spam. Surely they get more of it, yet don't feel the need to inflict eye-stab inflicting boredom upon us. (Yes, I'm using the old "the cool crowd don't do it" argument. Whatever works, right?)

Obviously there's a reason this whole thing exists. Fair enough. If turning off captcha means you get hundreds of spam messages, please do leave it on. But does it for most people? And where's the line in the sand? How many spam messages are too much and warrant annoying your lovely readers? I am genuinely curious, not (just) having a go at people with captcha. What do you think? (And will you please switch it off if you don't need it? Pretty please? With a cherry on top?)

- I'm sure this post is bad blogging karma. I'm going to get spammed so bad this week I'll have to turn the blasted thing back on myself. -

Thursday, 8 October 2009

My baby's gone and I'm okay

This morning, I dropped Jack off at school with a mountain of luggage bigger than himself. He's going away to a farm for one night. We had strict instructions on what he had to take: two of everything, basically. Going away for ONE night, they had to take two pairs of trousers, two sets of pajamas, and so on. I would have sent him off with a pair of underpants and a toothbrush. Okay, and a sleeping bag. Not with a pillow and a pair of slippers.

While we were all waving the kids off, there were several mothers and grandmothers who were crying their eyes out because their babies were going away for one single night. All the children are between five and seven. Only one child was crying. She'd never slept over anywhere before.

I just don't get the crying. Are they worried something is going to happen to them? I get that, but surely that could happen anytime - why cry now? Are they going to miss them? They're back tomorrow afternoon. No, I don't understand. Parents really come in all shapes and sizes.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

I love routine so much I have a falling-asleep-thought routine

Every night, just before I fall asleep, I open my eyes and look at the clock. I don't know why I have to do this, but I must. And on roughly two thirds of those nights, I think the following thoughts:
  • Oh, it's really close to the hour or the half hour. The television schedule must really be getting to me, if I read until the half hour and then put my book down. Talk about conditioned.
  • (Recent addition:) And I don't actually watch the TV any more since I discovered the internet.
  • There's my falling-asleep thought again. I'm so predictable.
  • Well, duh, of course it's really close to the hour or the half hour again. It is "really close to a half hour or hour" most of the time, because I think anything within ten minutes is "close". And therefore there are only ten minutes in each half hour which are not.
    (I actually think a graphic representation of this truth, in the form of the following timeline:)



  • Actually, how about the tenth minute before and after? Do I include them? How does this affect my graph and do I end up with more or less than two thirds of the time?
  • This is crazy.
  • (Another recent addition:) Must blog about this. Sure, I think that every night, and I always forget in the morning.
  • zzzzz...
The other roughly one third of my nights, I do not think any of these thoughts. I don't even think "I'm not having my usual thoughts because it's not close to the hour or the half hour."

(With special thanks to Babes for providing the graphics, which are a very good representation of my sleepy-thought-timeline - he even used the exact colour of green.)

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Dirty little secret

I am scared to admit it because of the awful reactions I always get, but - here it comes - (please don't hate me now)
I think the world is stupid when it comes to Bono.
That's right, people. My opinion. Out there. Take it or leave it.



As I see it, most of the people I know have two opinions when it comes to Bono. Here they are:
  1. He's a musical genius and should be revered.
  2. He thinks he's Jesus and should be ridiculed.
Wrong! Uh-huh! What are they thinking?

The correct opinions are:
  1. How the fuck does he get people to like his music? He whines. "One, one, ooooone." Whatever, dude.
  2. He uses his money, time and influence for the very best causes and genuinely tries to make this world a better place. Very funny. Ehm, no. Very cool, in fact.
Bono, you're lovely. Just don't sing.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Reconstruction of a Sunday - or Why PMT is so much fun for me and all who live with me

All of Sunday went roughly like this:
annoyed - happy - angry - apologizing - loving my hair - sad - bouncing - diet going well - unloved - sleeping - irate - apologizing - annoyed - smiley - sarcastic - looking great - impatient - FAT - what the fuck is my hair doing - hiding - stuffing my face
All of that, every hour, stuck on repeat. Happy day. For all of us.

What makes it even worse is that it always comes just a couple of days after ovul-YAY!-tion, for maximum contrast. From over the moon and full of energy to poxy hell on legs. As usual, it took me about twelve hours to realize what was going on. Before that, I'm always convinced everyone's got so annoying all of a sudden.

Today WILL be better. Self-reflection and a tin of mackerel should do the trick.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Fuckr

I've been wanting a slightly more sophisticated way to edit and upload pictures for a while, so I thought I would finally join Flickr. (I'm an early adopter, I know.)



Their first impression on me was pretty bad. I was appalled that they make you join Yahoo first. If this is a way to get more people to like Yahoo, it certainly didn't work on me. I find them even more annoying than I already did, and have decided to not even go look at their main page to see what exactly I'm annoyed about. Ha! It would have been so much cleverer to make Flickr and Yahoo accounts interchangeable - same result, far less irritation.



Next surprise? You can CHEAT like there's no tomorrow. I just thought I would add a little border to my pictures, perhaps a little caption underneath. I've cropped pictures before myself. With Flickr? You can make photos sharper, brighter, crop them, change them any way you want. (At least, you can after the editing software has finished loading - it takes forever.) I already knew I shouldn't believe anything I see online, but shit it's much worse than I thought. I'm sure this is all common knowledge and I was being naive, but I'm shocked nonetheless.



Another thing that shouldn't surprise me was how much they are trying to push their paid services. The free upload limit is tiny (less than 100 of my photos a month) and a lot of editing tools are "premium" ones, yet they are displayed all the time to tempt you to buy the full service. It's annoying because you have to scroll through all the paid options to get to the free ones. And because it makes the whole site feel very unwelcoming if you don't upgrade.



Then there's the difficulty of getting the pictures actually into Blogger. Flickr will let you link your Flickr account to your Blogger account, but I couldn't get it to do more than one picture at a time. Then I had a problem getting Blogger to load pictures from Flickr directly. I worked it out in the end, but it sure was an exercise in staying calm under pressure. (I may have failed that one, actually.)



I tried out some of the features. We went for a walk in the park this morning, so I used the spoils of that expedition for the pictures. Enjoy, but remember they are a big fat lie! -- I promise I won't lie pictorially in the future now I've discovered this. Or if I do, I will tell you about it.

How do you all deal with pictures? Can you help me with some software or websites I should try or avoid? I'm a novice, so go easy on me.

Friday, 2 October 2009

In awe of the flower

I was exercising earlier and at the same time I was meditating. Now the exercise and the meditation were not going so well, so I tried a clever trick my guru taught me: I thought about a lake, and thought about how I could be like that lake. -- Now, I'm sure there is a long and venerable tradition of thinking how you're like a lake, and I apologize in advance for violating the idea. This is in no way Mr Nobel's fault, or Jon Kabat-Zinn's who probably teaches the same thing - I change and embellish as I see fit. So - back to the exercise bike. My thoughts went roughly like this:
A lake just lies there, between the hills. No matter what happens around it - traffic, building works, children playing - the lake is, and just keeps being. In fact, no matter what happens to the lake - heavy winds, rain, boats racing across - the lake is, and just keeps being.
That always calms me down. I love the lake. Next up: the mountain:
The mountain is strong, tall, indestructible. Weather and nature affect it, but through the years, the mountain stays where it is, staying strong and tall and indestructible. It is solid on the ground, cannot be moved by any force.
I'm not sure I get the mountain entirely. I should maybe look that one up again. It makes me feel more stable, but I seem to remember it being a more powerful experience before. Now we come to my favourite: the flower.
A flower is fragile, it can so easily be broken. However, it grows with hope and courage. It dares to come up out of the ground, against all odds, and puts so much energy into becoming beautiful, and being exactly what it is. It has roots in the earth and grows up into the air, and it does so with complete conviction. It is all flowerness and nothing else. It dares to be its vulnerable self.
Of the three images, I find the flower the most powerful and the most meaningful in my life. You should try it sometime. It's such a joy.

--

I was worried about getting the above ideas all wrong, so I went for a little Google search journey, and ended up here:



It is a video of Jon Kabat-Zinn giving an introduction to mindfulness. It is a sublime pleasure to watch. If you happen to be able to find an hour today in which you can sit quietly and watch this, it will be a little present of joy and light to yourself. As it was to me.

As an added bonus, it made me stop worrying about getting the images exactly right. My experience, credit duly given - it is what it is.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

I should bake you a pie

My dear, dear, dearest finest interweb,

If I wasn't with Babes, I'd French you.

You know how I was complaining about the ironing the other day? I was SHOCKED to learn from the comments how many people don't iron. When I was a student, I used to iron only the bare necessities, and then somehow I started ironing lots of stuff because that's what grown-ups do. At least that's what the grown-ups I know do. Isn't that just the stupidest reason you ever heard for doing something? I used to iron T-shirts, all trousers, some jumpers (sweaters to the Americans?), vests and even (I'm a bit ashamed about this one) pajamas. I have mentioned before that I can be a little bit anal. Before I had children, I even ironed tea towels and bed sheets.

No more! And I thank you profoundly. As do my children, and my children's children I'm sure. We are liberated from the time-consuming, life-sucking, mind-eroding chore that is the ironing. And will be for evermore.*

I have photographic illustration material of my life change! You must be so grateful. Save it for the comments.

This is what I was planning on ironing:



This is what I eliminated from the pile:



Yes, we all had Nothing Left To Wear. What of it?

And this is what I'm going to iron anyway:



But that must be about one twentieth of what I would have ironed otherwise. So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU dear internet.

* Except for cotton shirts, very creased trousers, skirts, party dresses and anything linen. But apart from that we're done for evermore. Oh, and maybe the odd tablecloth. And handkerchiefs. But apart from that? Done. For evermore.