Friday, 29 April 2011

Looking in the fridge

There's this meme going around showing the inside of bloggers' fridges, and I thought I would add mine because I don't get fridges that are full of fresh food. Mine just has condiments and booze. Whenever I end up accidentally stuffing my fridge with perishables, they end up perishing (fancy that!) and go in the bin.

butter, cheese, drinks
There's a horribly moist bag of carrots in the drawer at the bottom. It was put there by Babes who does randomly put fresh things in the fridge without having a clear plan for when to use them. He can throw them out as well. There's half a bag of lettuce in the top, slowly liquefying as well. I think I may have bought that one. Babes can still throw it out.

The Coke Light is there just because girlfriends have complained I didn't have any in the house. I don't touch that poison. Unlike the gin, which is a poison I will happily ingest.

(Another thing that surprised me was how little alcohol some people had in their fridges.)

The middle shelf has had Royal Wedding supplies: smoked salmon and champagne.

eggs, sauces, drinks, some jam

Now I'm wondering about those people with fridges full of fresh things: are they just excellent planners or do they throw out a lot of food? Maybe they aren't ladies of leasure like I am, walking my sleeping baby around the local shops every afternoon buying the ingredients for that evening's meal. (Even when I was working I would go to the shops after work most days because of my inability/unwillingness to plan. I'm sure I will do the same when I go back to work.)

I keep thinking I shouldn't post this (because it's dull) but then I have loved snooping in everyone's fridges. If you haven't joined in yet, do! (Because I'm nosy. Really really nosy. And I want to know about the fresh produce vs alcohol ratio in all your fridges.)

My Royal Wedding: it may happen tomorrow

  • Watching the Wedding of the Century with my amazing sister, may her migraines go fuck themselves, my mobile phone went off just as Wills and Kate were starting to say their vows. It was the creche, saying that Charlie had a bit of a sore throat. I followed the rest of the service on the car radio. Which is notoriously good at conveying the cheeky smiles of bridegrooms and the demure batting of brides' eyelashes. And all I could think was "Must get baby now."
  • Tonight, watching the highlights on the BBC, Charlie started crying and needed me upstairs at the exact same point in the service. I have given up on watching it for today. I'm giving it one more go tomorrow (Jack has demanded to see the recorded highlights because he was at school during the wedding) but if it goes wrong again then I will just have to accept it's not to be.
  • I was back for the kisses!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

I know you know the secret and you now know that I know you know the secret so tell me already

I'd been doing so well with the not-eating-crap and the not-drinking-sugar-bombs. Until this afternoon, when I relapsed spectacularly and had a tonic water followed by a whole lot of chocolate covered peanuts (the devil's droppings, my people - the devil's droppings). Then this evening I had a whole lot of white wine and crisps. I'm not counting the pizza I had for breakfast because a) it was last night's reheated and therefore I was being kind to the planet while also saving money and b) I only had a couple of slices.

(I never noticed how much "peanuts" sounds like "penis" until now - wow!)
(The wine may have something to do with the peanuts-penis thing. Not sure that will seem quite so amazing in the morning.) (I do love my brackets. (As you know.) (And especially so when I've had wine, apparently.))

Aaaanyways... I obviously need a better plan. Because
  1. I want to be able to get into my summer dresses in a month's time.
    I'm not joining the other mums at Jack's school in their insanity: they are all buying new fancy clothes for the whole family, just to wear to their kid's communion. My children have great outfits they wore to my brother's wedding in February, as do I for that matter, and I doubt anyone will be mortally wounded by wearing the same outfit a second time.
  2. I am so very fed up with my only fitting pair of jeans.
    I would also like to wear one of my T-shirts and not have it ride up on my hips or belly. That would be just wonderful. As a corollary to the last point (have I mentioned I'm a mathematician?) I would like to add that I am not buying a whole new wardrobe. I have perfectly good clothes just sitting waiting for me to arrive at the perfectly normal weight I was at pre-giant baby. I'm five kilos off. This is doable, and it's not like I'm anorexic or anything. I just want my body back.
  3. My liver is kind of precious to me.

So, dearest dearest people I love and adore. Tell me: what do you do to stop the cravings? What do you do when you want to eat all the pies but really you shouldn't? The cup of tea trick is wearing thin.

Also: I would kill for the golden tip that tells me how to get rid of this tummy. I wouldn't believe my friends when they said baby number three would change my body more than the previous two, but they were right and I hate to admit it. I've never had a belly before. (Huge arse? Yes. Tree trunk thighs? Yes. Pot belly? No. Not until now, that is.) So please tell me you know the secret way to lose the stomach and then share it and I will come and lick your feet. Or I will come and not lick your feet. Whichever you would consider more of a reward.

PS: Magic solutions only. Don't even think of suggesting will power or sit ups. That is not cool.

    Wednesday, 27 April 2011


    • When I booked a weekend away in Friesland with friends, I was fully expecting to be freezing for the whole time there. I did not expect a near-tropical holiday.
      It was excellent. The children got to have their first proper beach experience - paddling around, building sandcastles, carrying buckets of water.

    • on the move

      My baby crawls and likes to chew his daddy's boots. Sometimes he gets to munch them for a while before I catch him.

    • chipped

      I need to tidy up my nails but can't decide which colour to go with. Maybe I'll just restore them as they are. The blue is more rock chick, the pink more princessy. I'm not telling anyone that the reason I paint my nails in the first place is that it stops me chewing the skin on the side of my fingers.
    • I have finally stopped breastfeeding. Well, I do sometimes find myself shoving a boob in Charlie's face when he's having trouble sleeping but there is no actual feeding going on, so I call that a proper end. I'm loving having my body back. I'm finally eating better, eating less (losing some of that baby weight), drinking more (and just about bloody time, too) so all is good. I can sleep on my front again without soaking the mattress.
      Now I just need to clear out that messy nursery and move Charlie's cot in there so I don't wake up every time he snorts, coughs, moves, breathes, sleeps too quietly, tries to crawl out of the room, drops his dummy, looks for his dummy, or reinserts his dummy.

    Wednesday, 20 April 2011

    Screw the planet with Mwa

    I have realised that on this blog I have now sung the praises of many activities to be performed in the shower, which strictly speaking do not need a shower for the performing thereof.
    Today - not unsurprisingly in the shower - it struck me that I am being rather irresponsible in this time of planetary peril. I am advocating the wanton waste of both water and energy, and I am doing so in a public forum. But then I thought "Fuck that, compared to exploding nuclear power plants and burning BP platforms, I am merely misusing a tiny drop of a very large radioactive and very oily ocean." So here are some more things you could do in the shower, if you love showers as much as I do:
    • Socialise. Put a friend or relative on the toilet, or take them in the shower with you. Be sure to take a bottle of wine and some salami. Do not take crisps; they go soggy.
    • Educate your children. Be prepared for the lessons to be about biology or personal hygiene.
    • Write a novel. Hang a pad of paper above the waterline. Be prepared for the story to be about biology or personal hygiene.
    • Ponder the major questions of humanity and make that Nobel prize winning breakthrough discovery. Be prepared for any great insight to be about biology or personal hygiene.
    • Sleep, if you don't have a blanket. The water will keep you warm all night. Make sure to keep your head out of the water.
    This educational post was brought to you by the Committee for Rapid Acceleration of Pollution (CRAP), which aims to give the environment just that little extra push so that everyone can stop worrying about climate change and we can finally see what we have to deal with.

    You're welcome.

    Monday, 18 April 2011

    Too much biology (Part II): the TMI edition

    Funny thing: you know how I've been thinking my moods are all chemical?

    • I had an overwhelming urge to do the washing, practise the piano, tidy the living room.
    • I phoned around until I had six children playing in the back garden. Gave them ice creams, took them out for a walk allowing the three year olds to take their dolls in buggies.
    • I went outside after dinner to scrub the terrace clean from seven until ten. The neighbours must think I've finally lost that last marble. The mosquitoes were eating me, it got dark, my back was killing me - it didn't matter, I switched the floodlights on and kept going. (Rhi, I swear it wasn't because you're coming over. I'm not that crazy. Not that you're not worth cleaning the terrace for, of course. It's just that we've got this christening coming up and a barbeque. No, really, I didn't mean to insult you. Ah - whatever. I did it for you. Whatever makes you happy.)
    • Then in the shower I finally remembered (I've been meaning to for ages) to take my toothbrush and toothpaste in. There is no better feeling than to brush your teeth in the shower. Really. If you haven't done it you should try it. I only do it a couple of times a year to keep it special, I love it that much.
    • Out of the shower, I did some more laundry. At half past ten in the fucking evening! Do you know how unusual that is for me, people? I normally keep shorter hours than a unionised Greek street sweeper.
    • I've also been feeling very loving to one and all. I kissed all six of the children in the garden earlier, was very happy to cook my family a tasty meal, was already waiting for Babes to get home at five o'clock.
    • I seriously kept thinking all afternoon "Six kids would be lovely. Look at me, being all motherly to six kids." (Knowing all the while that really I don't want six kids. I do want some sleep at some point in the faraway future.)

    Thinking over my day in the shower, I thought I must note this down in my Period Tracker App - yes, seriously, I told you TMI but you wouldn't listen - on my beloved iPhone. (I have been noting down my moods to see if there is a pattern to my sad and happy days.) I came downstairs and selected "Hyper" on the Mood Menu. When I saved it, I checked the calendar to see if it had registered.You know what? The calendar says I should be ovulating.

    Isn't nature just the cleverest thing? Well, except now I'm onto it so I can foil its clever plan. (Ha! This egg will stay unfertilised! Take that, nature!)

    Thursday, 14 April 2011

    By the time you read this I will hopefully be in bed

    My dearest dearest people,

    So book club was amazing! Ten(-ish) literate women in a room with cheese, wine, tea and fresh hot brownies. It was heaven. I hadn't realised how much I'd missed having semi-serious, semi-intellectual conversations with other adults. Fair enough, my kids are very clever, but conversations with a clever three or six year old are still of a different nature. Thrilling - yes - but in different way.

    I had managed to read about 216 pages of the book in the end (I took the children to the playground during naptime and had a final big read) and that was just fine. As you all suggested, lots of people had given up, never bought the book, or only read reviews. It was still a glorious night.

    There is something about Anglo-Saxon culture which makes it easier to fit into a new group. Flemish people will stand back and assess you for the first twenty or so times you meet. After that they will be your friend and accept you, but it takes an awfully long time. English speakers, and especially the expat variety, seem to start off with a more welcoming attitude. Even if it's fake (and I'm not kidding myself, it very well may be), it still makes it much easier to cope with new social settings. I felt very welcome in any case.

    I'm sorry for the late report on the book club meeting after telling you all I was worried about going. Life is attacking me from so many sides just now, I can't keep up, and I definitely can't keep up with daily blog posts. Charlie is teething and Marie has an ear infection, so I get about an hour's sleep a night. It's also the holidays so there are trips to the park, sleepovers, pancakes to bake. I do miss you all very much, but the inspiration is simply not there because my brain switches off any chance it gets. Literally. I was sitting in a playcafe earlier and I fell asleep on my chair in the middle of all the noise. Just now it seems like I've been this tired forever and there will never be an end to it. I know rationally that that isn't true and that my senses and my inspiration will return, but I'm not feeling it. Until they do return, know that I love you all and that I haven't willingly deserted you.

    From your most devoted yet utterly fatigued blogger,

    Monday, 11 April 2011

    I bet there's an illegal drug that could help me with this problem

    I have read only 88 pages of my book club book, so now I'm not sure if I should go tomorrow. It would not look so good to turn up to my very first book club meeting having read only a quarter of the book. If I put in an extra-special effort, I can probably manage another 40 pages or so, but I can hardly spend all day with my nose in a book during the Easter holidays with three kids at home.

    I am genuinely trying to read every chance I get, but I am just too predictable: I fall asleep every fricking time. But then again you try reading the relatively small print of even a very entertaining and well-written paperback (because my falling asleep is absolutely no reflection on the content; this is turning out to be one damn fine piece of literature) - but you just try it after not sleeping another bloody night, a walk with two bicycling children, a couple of hours of heavy gardening, a trip to the garden center with a baby strapped to your chest and two other kids to marshal, and then to top it off a quick outing with those same three children to the supermarket - allowing them to scan all the produce and put it in their miniature cart. I bet you'd be snoring within minutes, too.

    Another stumbling block is the fact that it's an English book. I may sound all fluent to you (ahem) but English still is my second language and as a result I still read it at about half the speed I read Dutch books at, maybe even slower. Isn't that just the weirdest thing? I think in English, write in English, make love in English, watch TV in English and still my brain treats it as a poor relation to my "first language." Someone should tell my brain that its first language has been changed. Maybe I should go into my mind's "Setup Menu" and change the "Language" to "English (UK)." Or, more accurately, "English (UK, well, international with a dash of American - or shall we just call it confused?)."

    Babes just walked past me and asked me "Shouldn't you be reading?" How to explain I was blogging about not reading...

    Friday, 8 April 2011

    Busy me

    Hello my much-neglected people. I will just come right out and admit that I've been unfaithful to you. Not only have I put my children before the blog - we have a Connect Four contest going on which takes up rather a lot of time - I have also started to play the piano (I can play Greensleeves already!) and I've been out socialising in the sunshine.

    Luckily God punishes quickly but fairly, as they say over here, and I have once again been smitten with a feverish and snotty baby. (This is how you can tell I'm a true narcissist. I mean apart from the fact that I blog about my own life. The lesser, or wannabe, narcissist would have just felt sorry for the baby, or in extremis thought the baby was being punished - perhaps for pooping out of the side of his nappy. Not this woman. Even my baby's sickness is all about me!)

    I would promise to be more faithful to you from now, but while socialising in the sunshine I ran into a lovely English lady who very casually mentioned her expat book club, after which I wagged my tail and rode her leg until she invited me along to it. The next meeting is on Tuesday, and I have just in the last half hour taken delivery of the set book. I now have to read all 411 pages of Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Tuesday night, in between taking Charlie to the doctor, socialising some more, playing the piano and beating my children at Connect Four. But I still love you!

    Tuesday, 5 April 2011

    The ultimate weight loss solution

    I am sitting in my son's school for a meeting I don't want, about a first communion I didn't ask for, listening to a teacher I don't like and a principal who gives me a rash. Bleeding like a horse. In a dress which is probably a size too small right now, but it's my nicest clean one and after this bloody parent-teacher thing we're going on date night. Then this happens: the stick insect (mother) sitting on the bench next to me turns to me and asks
    Stick insect: So when's your baby due?
    See, that is not a good thing. Not under any circumstances, but especially not under already crappy circumstances. Definitely not when you aren't pregnant. At all. In fact, I am the opposite of pregnant. And I am supposed to go out on a date with my husband immediately after this conversation, in that very same dress.
    Me: I'm not pregnant.
    What else is there to say, really?
    Stick insect: Oh you will probably hate me forever now.
    Me: Of course I won't.
    (Of course I will - because you're an insensitive idiot.)
    Then she thinks she will fix the situation. In a brilliant fashion. By making it a million times worse.
    Stick insect: No, but it's really beautiful.
    Meaning my belly. Yes. She has the nerve to excuse herself by saying I have such a beautiful pregnant belly. After being told it isn't a pregnant belly. Thereby neatly stressing that really it does look very much like a pregnant belly, beautiful and everything.

    You'd think she'd shut up after that. But no. Bearing in mind that she looks like a stick insect - really, her belly is sticking to her back she's so lean - she then plunges the knife in one final time and gives it a good twist:
    Stick insect: It's just that I'm pregnant too.
    Not "too," you cow. You are pregnant only! I am not! Oh my fucking god what kind of farce have I landed in?

    I go in one final time trying to save the situation (while actually I should have just punched her squarely in the face by now):
    Me: This is what happens if you have three children. You're never quite the same again.
    And then she adds the lovely final thought, while looking at my "pregnant" stomach:
    Stick insect: Oh, this is my second - I'll definitely stop after that.
    Yeah. I turned away from her after that. It was a matter of self-protection.

    On the bright side, for once it was very easy to restrict myself to just a salad on our date. It didn't even cross my mind to have a starter or a dessert. She really should go into weight loss coaching, that woman. She'd make a killing. Or be killed. Whichever. (But I'm betting on the latter.)

    Monday, 4 April 2011

    Too much biology

    (You've been warned.)

    I have this very vivid image in my head. If I was a filmmaker, then this is what I'd be making today:

    A girl/woman goes about her black and white cartoon life. She lives as in a daze, in greytones only, goes about her daily business from child playdate to school engagement to do the cooking - you know, the usual stay at home mummy thing. But she's all cute with pretty hair of course. You see her breastfeeding a little grey baby with pure white milk from black and white breasts. I think that would be a very pretty picture. But it would all be a bit sad. Then you see her go to sleep. After a much-interrupted night she drags her feet to the toilet. She sits down to do her morning pee (it's not porn - you don't see anything) still all in grey and then when she goes to wipe herself, the pure white toilet paper comes up bright red. This intense colour then bleeds (haha - get it?) into the rest of her world until everything is full of colour and she's living the same life as before exactly, doing exactly the same things, but now with interest and happiness instead of boredom and depression.
    - THE END -

    Isn't that strange? I've been so depressed the last week. I didn't want to do anything. I was irritable, did no housework at all (even less than I normally do), just wanted to be left alone all day. I didn't even want to go online or write and then it's really bad. I was starting to think that something was seriously wrong with me. And then this morning my period arrived - the first in nearly a year and a half - and it was as if my reset button had been pushed. The colours of the world were turned on, the sun came out (it was a bit cloudy but not so I'd notice) and all of a sudden I was functioning as if I was a regular person.

    I did have a moment of sadness because now my childbearing days are most probably officially over (never say never eh) but then I had the kind of day I normally read about in books. After going to the gym, I stood in the shower for a bit to take in just how beautifully the sun was shining onto the bathroom tiles. All day, I kept coming up with new blog post topics which I should have been able to think of all week but just didn't. Even my skin felt different, it was more alive somehow. I was happier in my body, and all compassionate to the other people in the gym - the old people, the plastic surgery junky, the fitness freaks, the sweet gay couple, the fat lady. (Actually, rereading all that, I must remember to ask Babes if he put any recreational drugs into my morning mug of tea.)

    Yesterday I was watching a repeat of Masterchef in the afternoon (it was Sunday) and the visiting judge Michel Roux Jr said something that resonated with me all the way into today. He said that fair enough he was very strict, but he was very happy to look for potential. Then this one candidate's dessert kind of flopped because it wouldn't stand up into its rigid round shape, but he didn't mind because the cook had attempted greatness by combining goat's cheese and vanilla and some other stuff and it tasted great. See, that made me very happy, so today I'm trying to see the potential in everyone, including myself. No "I'm so fat" - just "look at me being all restrained in my eating and giving it my all at the gym." Kindness works so much better as an attitude, also to oneself.

    It always amazes and horrifies me how absolutely determined I can be by my biology. Hormones can make me depressed, happy, friendly, monster-like. So can having too little sugar, too much sugar, too little sleep, too much alcohol, too little alcohol - you get the idea. Going to the gym for an hour buys me about two days of "up"ness - unless of course I am at the wrong part of my cycle or I neglect my diet or I don't sleep enough.

    At the moment, I do feel like sometimes being a mother is too much biology (a bit like Ms. Moon's "too much nature") - growing babies, expelling them, feeding them, preparing for potential new ones. Whenever you settle into one manifestation of your body, the next one comes along already. Next there will be menopause and old age - I feel like a silk worm or frogspawn or something. I could do with some stability for a bit - in my body and in my moods. That would be nice, and comforting.

    Feeling how very very chemical my happiness is, I see why taking happy pills makes so much sense, and I think again that taking hormones to control fertility is such a dangerous game. If you mess with the reset-button of the period, you mess with your chemical makeup which really means you're messing with the fundamentals. I'm not sure I would want to risk that again. In fact, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't.

    Of course if anyone ever dares to bring up this overpowering biological imperative with me, they will have their head bitten off - "up" day or not - because I will never admit to being such an animal that I can't override my basic instincts. "You on your period or something?" is never an appropriate question.

    (Please do comment - I'd love to know if you feel the same/completely differently, or any other thoughts. (Men dropping by to say "You on your period or something?": Ha ha, very clever.))