Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The USA = Too Sweet

The one distinct thing I noticed this trip back to the US is how sweet and artificial a lot of my favourite things tasted. I really love that here in England the food is more organic. Corn syrup/fructose, etc. is not used here at all so things are  not as sweet/sugary as they are in the US.

Two things I loved in the US were Schweppes ginger ale and Tostitos Hint of Lime Tortilla Chips. I was even partial to Bud Light Lime. So we bought all of the above. The ginger ale was so sweet I couldn't drink it. The chips and beer tasted too artificial. We were some kind of disappointed.

But then I noticed how huge the fruit and vegetables were - all perfect, huge, brightly coloured, etc. You won't find that in England. Not all of the food here is organic, mind you, much of it is grown by corporations and manipulated by man. However, it just tastes better. I was hesitant to buy the veg and fruit at our regular groceries in NY and PA, instead I opted to buy at farmer's markets and organic instead. It was more expensive but worth it.

I'm not a huge health nut, by any means. I was just really surprised at the difference. It had been nearly a year since I was state-side so it all just kind of hit me - hard. I also couldn't believe how much more expensive everything was. You  have to be some kind of rich to feed a family of four well! England may be much more expensive in many ways, but not food.

Essentially, the point of this post is to say that I'm becoming much more aware of what we're eating. I want healthy kids who enjoy good food and I've been knocking myself out trying to create that for them  here. I think it will be a challenge when I get back to keep junk food and easy, prepared meals out of their diet. 

Right now their favourite treat is Swedish meatballs (I used to buy them, now I make them in bulk and freeze) and mac n' cheese that I make myself (the cheese here is to die for!). And we make our  own homemade pizzas (including crust) every Friday night. The kids and Fen have pineapple and ham. I mix it up a little.

If you're interested in any of the recipes let me know. I'm happy to share. Just leave a comment with your email or send me an email: jollyoldengland@gmail.com

Friday, August 26, 2011

Supermom - I don't have to be one! Whew!

 Two nights ago NBC Nightly News had a segment on the myth of the Supermom. It stated that while working moms will have better mental health, they are at risk of being more depressed that stay at home moms. It also stated it's okay to try and do it all, as long as your happy and balanced. But too many women try to do it all and just end up miserable. .

  While this might not be exciting to many, it was exciting to me. I've been doing WAY too much. I'm not miserable - but I'm stretched too thin. I've basically been burning the candle at both ends: working long hours, running the house, doing the cleaning, taking care of kids, traveling all over, attending my sister's funeral, worrying about the hurricane that ripped through the Bahamas (everyone is fine - one of the cars...not so much) and then bracing myself for my husbands very busy travel schedule for the next few months. Cate doesn't start school until late September (yikes) either. So I have to do it all.

I don't wanna. I need a break.So I'm giving myself one.

Here's my new thinking:

So what if the house isn't really unpacked. The pictures can go up later.
Do I really need to do laundry every single day? It's okay to send it out.
I'm taking Friday's off. No working. Not even email.
It's okay to read something that isn't work related.
No one is going to break in and steal our stuff or hold us hostage - go to sleep already.
Crayon markings on the wall/floor/rug/furniture can wait to be cleaned off
Sometimes mac n cheese with frozen chicken nuggets is okay two days in a row for dinner
Email can wait an hour or two - play with the kids
It's fine if I miss a business call during dinner
No working past 10pm.
I don't need to vacuum EVERY day
Shop for the groceries online and have them delivered. I don't need to venture out
I don't have to join the PTA if I don't want to. I have enough to do already
Water will evaporate - I dont' need to mop up rainwater the second it hits the floor
Throw pillows are over rated - I dont need them. And I can make the curtains next month
Bathroom renovation can wait until February
Drinking a glass of wine at night alone is okay. So is chocolate
If they kids go to bed late, without baths once in a while - it's OKAY.

Just how long do you think this will last?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chim chim-in-ey

This is the view from my kitchen window. I love it because it reminds me of this:

and this:
Those are Mary Poppins photos of Chim Chim Cheree. Everytime I look out my window I think of Mary Poppins and London:

When there's 'ardly no day nor 'ardly no night
There's things 'alf in shadow and 'alfway in light
On the rooftops of London coo, what a sight!

Chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey
Chim chim cher-ee!
When you're with a sweep you're in glad company
Nowhere is there a more 'appier crew
Than them wot sings, "Chim chim cher-ee, chim cher-oo!"  

I love it!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cate's Self Image

This summer at our lake cottage in Pennsylvania, Cate was admiring a photo of my Aunt Cate who passed away nine years ago. It's a lovely photo of my aunt as a young woman. Here's the conversation that followed:

Cate: Who's this, Mommy.

Me: That's my Aunt Cate. It's Mom Mom's sister.

Cate: She has my name?

Me: You have her name, actually.

Cate: She's very pretty.

Me: Yes she was.

Cate: Is she coming over?

Me: Oh, she's already here, honey.

Cate (looking around): Where?

Me: Everywhere.

Cate (looking skeptical): I don't see her.

Me: You will understand some day, sweetie. She would have LOVED you, that's for sure.

She nods in agreement.

Cate: I'm adorable.

Me: Yes you are!

And quite modest too!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Staying sane

My kids are driving me batty. I love them to pieces - both of them - separately. Together - not so much. In the past month or two the fighting has escalated to the level of WWF Smackdown.

For over a year Cate ruled the roost - she would slap X, knock him over, make him cry, etc. He was too small to retaliate so she spent a great deal of time in time out (where she would pout and say, 'I not sorry'. Fab). Then it leveled off - she left him alone, things were fine. And we moved.

Maybe it's because of the stress of moving, perhaps it's because I put them in the same room and they  share a bed time now. It could be that I've been really grief stricken over the death of my sister and have been a bit lax with time outs and playdates. Maybe it's combo of everything. But whatever it is - I'm approaching the end of my tether.

Cate still likes to grab X and knock him over, but he's rapidly approaching two and is a sturdy, tough little fella (like he had a choice!). He's done with being abused and now fights back. His weapon of choice: hair pulling and pinching. Those tiny chubby hands can certainly cause trouble! Often he'll just run up to Cate and pull her hair.

Once, when she grabbed his blanket, he turned beet red and went on the attach: with a bloody war cry (he gets that from his Samoan blood, I'm guessing) he charged Cate from behind, grabbing two fist fulls of her shirt, swirled her around, body slammed her and then yanked her pigtails with all his 24lbs of might. He meant business. I think Cate was more shocked than hurt but she now thinks twice about grabbing things out of his hand.

I am seriously running out of patience with this. I cannot turn my back for a second without one of them causing the other to cry, or tattle, or attack. It's driving me insane. I don't know how my mother did it - she had four of us - at one point she had three children under the age of 4. Granted she had full time help and was a lot less lenient than I apparently am (and boy she does she let me know about it).

As a child I recall Mom yelling at us to cut it out. I always thought, 'What's her problem?' I now get it. Her most effective line of control, 'I don't want to hear another word from any of you or I'm getting the belt.' That was enough to scare the bejesus out of us. We have a long hallway in our house and when we did push it too far my mother would come down that long, echo-y hallway (the ceiling is 22 feet high which just added to the terror) slapping one of my dad's belts on the wall. She never had to use the belt because the anticipation was punishment enough - by the time she showed up in the doorway we were all silent, sorry, and willing to make up.

My kids are too young for this tactic and I think the neighbours would wonder what the racket is going on in here if I did. Instead, I've watched multiple Super Nanny episodes, bought her book and I'm trying everything.

Would love suggestions on how to help my children get along and play together. In all my dreams of being a mother, never did this scenario pop up. Neither did the sleepless nights (Cate is still jet lagged and comes into our room nightly to wake me up). Either way - if you have any ideas, solutions, suggestions, hints or comments: just bring it! I'm open for anything (that includes wine - you can bring that too!)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bad Blogger

I've been really slack with the blogging of late. Granted I was traveling and I did have a funeral to attend. But I've just felt sluggish about blogging and, frankly, just not in the mood.

Next month is the 2 year anniversary of 'Cross the Pond. I can't quit now! I was just feeling a little down and uninspired.So I started reading my blog from the beginning and now I remember why I wanted to do this in the first place.

Now that I'm recharged I'm going to start blogging like I used to. Starting tomorrow...!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Home Sweet London

We landed in London yesterday and it was really, really nice to be back home. Home meaning: where all our stuff is and where we consider our home. I refer to home as: London, Nassau or New York. Depends on the mood and how it applies to the moment. Right now, home is London.

I feel like I'm starting over again. We're in a new place, Cate is starting a new school, some of my dearest friends have left London and I can no longer call my sister daily. So there's some adjusting to do.

We still haven't even unpacked and organized our flat yet from our move. We moved, three weeks later we left and a month later we're back - with the unpacked boxes and artwork stacked in a corner waiting to be hung. There are knick knacks in need of a place, clothing to be sorted, hung or folded and put away; kitchen to organize, bathroom to paint, stuff to do, always stuff to do.

And I don't feel like doing any of it. Ah well, all in due course. Right now, I attack the laundry. I should be done by 2015.

It's nice to be home, though.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

This is modern London?

I leave London for three weeks and this is what happens? I've been following the riots online and through sensational American television and I'm just stunned. I've been concerned about returning to a crazy city but have been assured our 'hood is all right. I read that they closed the Hampstead High Street stores early the past few days and that really set me on alert.

Rioting and looting is something I don't understand at all. I understand frustration at have social services taken away and being unhappy with your station in life, but attacking your own city, your home, destroying your neighbours property and businesses, stealing things in a free-for-all frenzy is just barbaric.How 14th century of them.

The socialized system in England has its benefits and its flaws, its not perfect, certainly. I don't have any answers on how to fix it. But here's a little glimpse into ONE family I know (her children  used to go to school with Cate.) A lovely lady, around 25 years old, has three children 2-7 years old. She has a live in boyfriend. Neither is working. She cannot work because she has a 2 year old to care for and can't afford daycare. She is on the dole. She receives council housing and a monthly stipend that is to feed, clothe and care for her and her three children. Her boyfriend went to trade school to become a security guard/bouncer. When he was offered a job for £8 an hour as a bouncer, he turned it down. It wasn't enough money for him to get off his ass and support his family. He doesn't have any source of income and takes his girlfriend's monthly government cash (that's right - she is paid in cash - no food stamps, or checks, etc.) to spend on cigarettes and beer, his iphone, etc. She scrapes by trying to keep enough food on the table and her kids happy. She cannot do anything for herself. Yet she keeps this loser around and let's him call the shots. He doesn't help with the kids - he doesn't pick them up from school or watch the little one so she can go to the store alone. He does NOTHING. He wants more but won't go out to find a job for himself.

My council tax and income tax pays for him. This enrages me on two levels. She's smart and could work but is stuck in a pattern that she can't break free from - so why not dump the loser and do better? And he can coast in the system with no urgency to get a job. He is the mentality of the rioters - feeling like the world owes him something just for existing but doesn't want to do anything for himself (in my opinion)

This to me is a clear indication that the UK needs to restructure how they deal with the unemployed, etc. As I said, I have no answers - but would be very interested in hearing what other people think about this.

I could go on and on but this is not a political blog so I'll keep it mild. I just know that I am forever striving to do better for myself and my children. I only want the best education, care, food, and experiences for them. We moved to London to explore a new culture and travel through Europe so our children would be more worldly (and because Fen and I have wanderlust - always have). Why wouldn't everyone want the same, or simliar for their children? Doesn't everyone want their kids to do better than they did? I do. How 'bout you?