Sunday, July 29, 2007

It's wonderful the workings of a bicycle.

There is a phrase used in Ireland, (not so much these days, and probably only in country areas), 'It's wonderful the workings of a wheelbarrow'. I have absolutely no idea what it means, but it came to mind today as I was pondering the wonder of bicycles in our home.

Never underestimate the power of a lowly two wheeled mode of transport - for it has been exalted in my mind to a place of the highest possible honour.

Since July 2006 we have tried, over and over and over again to potty train Miss E. July last year she was 3 months off her second birthday and was showing classic 'readiness' signs and encouraged by her Pediatrician's advice at her 18 month appointment to act when these signs appeared, we started potty training. And so ensued a year's worth of false starts and frustration, soggy carpets and lots of bad words!

We have tried stickers, reward charts, M&Ms, making a big deal of it, not making a big deal of it - nothing worked. While her mind certainly showed that she understood the concept of going to the potty like everyone else, her body did otherwise, over and over and so we had a ritual of cleaning up wet underpants and patches in the carpet, on the tile, or wherever she chose to eliminate her pee (despite only going on the pot 5 minutes beforehand!).

Having exhausted what I considered to be all 'non bribe' avenues - we brought out the big 'carrot and stick' last week - the carrot being a bicycle, and the stick being 'you have to keep your pants clean and dry'.

Well there it went - that elusive click, click, clicking that I have been waiting for for a year - CLICK, PING, LIGHT BULB moment, whatever you want to call it - but after a full week and only one minor accident (due to novelty of a new bathroom step and lots of running water!) I am declaring that a brand shiny new Dora the Explorer Bike and 'hemlet' the secret of our potty training success! (She's even dry at night but I'm not chancing no diapers overnight for a wee while longer).

I have a very chuffed little girl who tells me that she's a big girl now with her dry underpants, and we have a very happy, and less stressed mommy!

It is wonderful the workings of a bicycle!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

My Ever Observant Daughter

A conversation between my almost 3 year old, and my sister in law (much better endowed than I!)

Miss E: "Auntie Rachael"

Rachael: "Yes Miss E?"

Miss E: "You've got nice milks"

Friday, July 20, 2007

My Future Career

Forget all that stuff I said here, last night while on a major internet browse I have discovered my calling to megabucks!

Having read Megan's post about her boys' birthdays, and that she's having a joint party for them I realised that since my kids' birthdays are 2 weeks apart in October, a joint party sounded like a great idea. So, because as a mother of two small kids, with a depleted pantry in need of restocking, I have nothing else to do, I sat and browsed birthday websites for inspiration. I was hoping to find a gender neutral theme - there aren't many.

Anyway - I started looking at cakes, and remembering the British cake designer and baker Jane Asher, (she's also an actress you know - my kind of girl - a Jack Jane of all Trades!) I googled her. Found this fabulous site and started looking around.

Miss E is big into Cinderella right now - and I found this gorgeous cake in Asher's custom cakes line and know Miss E would LOVE it.

Ambitious? Absolutely - but I love a little challenge and since I make these dollies from scratch with salt dough, I figure I have the dexterity and (eventually) the skill to do it!

So I'm thinking to myself that I would love to give this a try - if not for the October birthday - then for some other birthday in the future.

Then, I glanced at how much Jane Asher charges for this cake and my urge to try it gets a whole lot stronger.

Look at how much it costs!

Four Hundred and Fifteen Pounds! - that in dollars at today's exchange rate is a whopping $852!

It serves 40-45 people small portions. My wedding cake served over 100 people, decent portions and it cost nowhere near that!

Good on you Jane Asher. Don't worry about branching out in the US though, I think I'll have it covered!

(Before all you real cake artists and fancy bakers get all irate on me, I know there's a lot of hard work that goes into making those cakes - hours of fine detailing etc etc etc - I'm still thinking I can do it though ;-) )

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Like Paris Isn't Enough?

I stumbled upon the Victoria Beckham Reality TV show on NBC last night. Of course it drew me in like the train wreck it was, and I watched it 'til the end. I don't think I'll repeat that mistake, but curiousity got the better of me this time.

I class 'Posh' in the same category as I put Paris Hilton - famous for being famous, rather than for any talent they have or any positive contribution they have to make to the world. I don't understand the obsession with either.

What struck me were these things about Victoria:

  • Her vocabulary is disappointingly limited - everything was basically 'May- Ja' - No doubt a British 'in word' for great, good, awesome or whatever - but terribly annoying when it's the only positive adjective one appears to use.

  • She is actually quite pretty when she smiles. Why then on every magazine cover featuring her that I see as I stand in line at the grocery store (because you know I'm not buying a mag for Posh Spice!), is she pouting and looking thoroughly miserable?

  • She shouldn't wear ridiculously high heels. She had such an ungainly gait and resembled a newborn foal (albeit that the foal's legs would be more shapely), or baby deer venturing out on their first steps - without that 'awww' factor that a newborn quadruped is likely to elicit!

  • She is apparently sadly lacking in any real ambition in life. Having accepted an invitation from a neighbour to attend a ladies luncheon and excited to meet some friends - she arrived to find a gaggle of cackling Beverly Hills Hags whose total Plastic Surgery bill has to have been well into the millions. One of these ladies did a freaky impression of a Dolphin for her - nice!

    Posh's verdict? 'These ladies are May-Ja and I want to be just like them when I'm older' - At this point I'm screaming at the TV - RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Career Change

Before you think I'm going to ditch my prestigious position as steward of my household and family, fear not. I have been tagged for a fun meme by Sara, about the careers I might choose if I had the opportunity to spend a 1 year internship in any company or field. Here are my top 5 choices:

  1. The US President - because anyone is bound to do a better job than the current incumbent and his party, right? (Did I just say that out loud? Do I hear the sound of crickets out there as supportive conservatives among you have run away? Sorry!)

    On second thoughts, maybe I'm too apologetic to be a President.

  2. Computer software engineer - because each of my three siblings do this and I feel like the odd one out! And, then I'd have a clue about computers and all that good stuff and I wouldn't have to annoy them to take remote control of my PC over the internet to fix my techy problems!

  3. A chef - I like to cook, but I run out of ideas very quickly and so my repertoire is limited - only don't put me under the tutelage of Gordon Ramsey, while his food may be delicious, I'm not sure I could take being on the receiving end of his temper!

  4. Disney Imagineer - I love Disney, always have and have long thought it would be so cool to work for them. I'd even consider working in Disney World but fear that finding out that Cinderella doesn't really live in that castle, might be more than I can take.

  5. Travel Reporter - so that I could jet set around the world on someone else's dime!

I don't usually tag others for memes, but I will for this one since I am willing to bet that the following people can come up with some fun hypothetical careers, or tell us about something they'd always wished they could do!

Jenny from Absolutely Bananas
Brillig from T'was Brillig
Megan from Velveteen Mind (because she tagged me for my very first meme, and I like returning favours ;) )
Moodswingingmommy at Am I Mad or am I Just a Mommy?, because she's up to her eyes preparing to sell her house and hasn't been blogging much - maybe a meme will help her keep her hand in?
The Good Woman from My Wee Scottish Blog - again, returning that tagging favour!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Baby Food Recall

What is with all these baby and child product recalls? Here is the lastest, Gerber recalls its Organic Rice and Oatmeal Cereal for babies.

I have both cereals, both with the codes recalled. My baby is older, and is now managing lumpier foods so even if this cereal had a tendency to clump I'm sure it wouldn't have been a choking hazard for him, but still! This after the peanut butter, the Thomas Trains, the Baby Einstein exersaucer piece, and countless other items?

I'm thinking manufacturers need to get a bit tighter with their quality control.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Nobody warned me about the guilt.

Much has been written lately by me, and on other blogs about the advice, questions, comments etc that people randomly spew at you when you're pregnant, and when you have young babies/kids.

What nobody warns you about however, is the guilt.

When I raise my voice a little higher than is necessary because Miss E pees on the carpet for the nth time - GUILT.

When I clip her legs for yet another potentially harmful swat, kick, throw or blow at her baby brother, because reasoning, pleading, and calmly and consistently exercising the time out option, never work - GUILT.

When I start drinking Aloe Vera juice to help with my persistent recurring patches of eczema on my arms, fingers and eyelids without first checking if it's okay while breastfeeding. When my baby squirms in discomfort, seems unsettled and cranky, off his food and I then check about the Aloe Vera and discover that it is contraindicated when breastfeeding because it causes cramping and diarrhea in breastfed babies - MAJOR GUILT!

When I am exploring preschool for Miss E because I think she'll benefit from a couple of hours, a couple of days a week away from us, playing in a different setting, interacting with peers etc, but then honestly admit that I think I'll benefit from it more - GUILT.

When I see my baby boy accomplish a new task, and realise that he's been doing it for a while and I have no idea when he started and remembering that with his sister I practically documented every new wave of her hand - GUILT.

That Miss E has terrible sleeping habits, reinforced by the fact that by the time 'bed-time' comes I am so tired that I take the path of least resistance and don't enforce a bedtime routine because I can't face the crying or the tantrums and so I lie with her, or let her run around til she's tired enough to fall asleep and carry her into bed. That I further reinforce bad sleeping habits by letting her into our bed when she comes during the night and then proceeds to kick and toss because she's too warm, or she's too uncomfortable and we all end up with a crap night's sleep. That I give in to 3am demands for a cup of milk because who the heck wants a screaming match in the middle of the night? - and I dread to think the effect this will have on her teeth - GUILT.

When I listen to others tell me about potty training 'she's so smart, she'll get it in no time', 'it'll just click with her', 'she really should be trained by now','it's just like training a dog, you need to take her to the potty every 30 minutes', 'insert your own annoying potty training tips here, ad infinitum', when instead, I should have listened to my daughter and realised that for whatever reason it's not clicking with her, and she's not ready. That instead of having unreasonable expectations of her, it won't be the end of the world if she's not potty trained by her third birthday, nor does it matter that she's still in diapers and all of her little friends are not - GUILT.

That Miss E has just said 'Shit' after dropping her crackers and cheese on the floor - because she hears me say that all too frequently - GUILT.

These examples only scratch the surface of what brings 'mommy guilt' on a daily basis. Knowing about it beforehand would probably do little to lessen it's effect on me, but at least I could have expected it. Maybe this guilt is a good thing - although feeling guilty about these things makes me feel like a crap mom, perhaps not feeling guilty about them would make me an even worse mom? At least if I feel guilty, and uncomfortable - I'm more likely to change and do better.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

So, are you done then? continued ....

I couldn't resist this follow up to my last post.

I had my appointment with the dental hygienist this morning for my cleaning. My regular hygienist wasn't there so I met someone new. Lovely lady, very chatty and friendly.

(On a side note, sitting in the dentist's chair wearing a linen shirt and scratchy lace bra straps, 2 days after having your back sunburned at the beach because you were so busy making sure your kids didn't get burned that you forgot to reapply sunblock to your own back - eh, kinda painful!)

We got chatting about me staying at home with the children, went through the usual small talk around this 'oh you're so fortunate to stay at home, bet they keep you busy, it's the hardest job in the world' etc, etc, etc. With a mouth full of latex covered fingers and metal implements, my responses were 'uh huh', 'uh huh' and 'uh huh'!

So the inevitable question - 'what do you have?' I tell her an almost 3 year old girl, and a 9 month old boy to which she exclaimed 'A boy and a girl - yay! - So that's you done then'.

I felt all the responses I wanted to say rise in me - but did I use them? Of course not - her hands and tools were back in my mouth so I just smiled and nodded!


Friday, July 6, 2007

So, are you done then?

I came across this Blog Blast while reading a post on Playgroups are no Place for Children and had to join in. The folks at The Parent Bloggers Network want to know what those annoying pregnancy and new mom related questions are that get up our noses. There are so many - I could be here all day listing them, and no doubt they will be the questions that got up everyone else's nose too! You'd think that once mothers have had a child that they would stop with the offending queries, but sadly I found the very people asking these stupid questions, are people who should know better - recently pregnant women and moms!

I have to narrow this down to the single most annoying question, so I'll skip past all the 'you're due when? Are you having twins? Where'd she get the red hair? Are you going to have an epidural? Are you going to have him circumcised? (how is this anyone's business???), and arrive at the one question that bothers me the most - and I use the present tense, because people still ask me this, all. the. time!

'So, are you done then?'

Are you done having kids? Wow, a boy and a girl - how great! Are you finished now that you've got one of each?


Why do people do this? Why are people so concerned about the size of my family, about my reproductive choices? Even the nurse at my first OB appointment with my second pregnancy asked me was I going to have my tubes tied? Whaaaa?

Maybe I'm too reserved and old fashioned to think that this is nobody else's business? Really, it bugs the life out of me. Maybe it's because I'm Catholic and have grown up with the understanding that it's not really us that make that decision, and that we're not meant to take extreme measures to prevent another life coming into our family? Why do people, strangers a lot of the time, think that I'm going to discuss whether or not we have more kids with them, much less discuss any 'procedures' we may or may not have done to prevent more kids! I had barely considered whether we'd be likely to have more kids myself or even discussed it with my husband when my son was a newborn, the time when these questions increased in frequency. All I ever wanted to say was 'Buzz the heck off and mind your own business'.

Really - the range of people who have asked me this question go from friends, the grocery store check out lady, the man that sprays the house for bugs once a year, to the elderly neighbour who can barely speak English but managed in a few brief words accompanied by a lot of gesticulating towards her abdomen to ask if I'd had an operation to stop more babies?


Or... maybe the reason this question bothers me so, so much is that I have yet to reconcile in myself that we are not likely to have any more kids? Maybe that question hits close to a raw nerve in me? One that knows I'm keen to have more than two children but that issues like my age, finances, patience (and lack thereof at times and feeling utterly incompetent as a mother to the two I have) and a reluctant husband mean that in all likelihood, we probably are done.

I want to scream at people to stop being nosy. To stop peering into what is a sensitive issue for me, to define for themselves where that line of interfering in other people's decisions is, and stay well on the other side of it! In reality, all I do is shrug and say 'Oh who knows?' 'Never say never', 'Maybe some day we'll have another', and all that other 'wishy-washy' stuff.

If you have questions that bothered you - join in the Blog Blast and tell us about it, and like me,

Don’t you wish you could have just handed them this?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

More 'Fascinating' Facts

I've been tagged by Lady Macleod to complete this seven facts meme. I know I've been doing a lot of meme's lately, but since my computer has been hijacked most days by our visitors who are apparently addicted to Bebo, this meme is just what I need to get a wee blog post out and make sure nobody forgets about me!

So here goes with 7 facts about moi!

1. Potty training truly makes me feel like a complete failure as a mother. And I am terrified because it's my daughter I'm training first, and everyone says boys are harder to train. What? Harder than this? We're knocking on almost a year of stopping and starting with the potty training. She'll be 3 in October, at this rate I'll be potty training both kids at the same time! I know people recommend waiting 'til they're ready, but seriously - she should be ready about now!

2. My family read my blog, but never comment on it. So, maybe they are just maintaining distance, or they're just humouring me with the 'that's nice dear' attitude, or, they're bored to the point of having nothing to say! My in-laws don't know this blog exists. That's the way I'd like it to stay.

3. I'm struggling with this list because my mind is full of other stuff I wish I could blog about but can't because even though my in-laws don't know this blog exists, I'm too chicken to take the chance that they may stumble across it at some point. A real possibility exists that they may stumble across it considering that one of them is staying here for 5 weeks! Of course admitting that I have 'stuff' to blog about that involves in-laws, if they do come across the blog and read this, well I'll just be in trouble anyway ha ha!

4. 'Celebrities' I have seen include Joan Rivers outside Madame Toussaud's on 42nd Street in NYC, 'Sinbad' from Brookside at Glasgow Airport (only UK and Ireland readers will know who this is, sorry!) and John Bruton (former Irish Taoisach/Prime Minister) while waiting to board our US flight at Dublin Airport last month.

5. I love listening to Ladysmith Black Mambazo and have recently started searching for songs of theirs on the internet since I forgot to dig out the cd I had when I was back at home in Ireland. I've seen them in concert and they are a fun group to hear and see. Their version of 'Nkosi sikelel iafrika', the South African National Anthem is a delight to hear. Their harmonies, and the tone of their voices give me goose pimples. I also think I remember my Dad saying that the students at his school in Zambia(which despite many of my friends' assumptions to the contrary, is not part of South Africa) sang this - not sure, but I'm sure he'll correct me if I'm wrong.

6. I am eligible to apply for US citizenship soon but don't know exactly when. I should find out to see if I can get it through before November 2008 so that I can VOTE! You know, my wee vote could make all the difference, especially in Florida!

7. I cannot stand 'Westerns' as in Clint Eastwood, John Wayne type movies. This deep rooted hatred of this genre was cemented yesterday when Hubby and his future Brother-in-Law sat and watched 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' for what felt like hours! We got a reprieve while we all ate dinner, only for it to be switched back on again so they could watch the remainder. The mere sound of that 'doodle doodle dooooo, do-do-do' music is enough to give me the chills! BLEUGH!

Once again - feel free to say I tagged you if you're running low on blogging steam and you want to do this meme!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Comfort Zone Crossroads

Is there anything more irrational than fear of something that may never happen?

This fear tendency is one that holds me back at times. It’s that aversion to risk again.

Thing is, my husband is unhappy in his job – familiar story, works his butt off but is frustrated 1. that he doesn’t have decent staff to help him and 2. that he isn’t getting paid enough for what he does (who doesn’t have this feeling at times?).

He potentially has the opportunity to take over his current department, and run it as if it were his own business. This is something that a buddy of his has done successfully with another department. Naturally my husband sees the success his friend has had (business wise, and financially as a result) and he’s keen to do the same thing. I am keen to support him, and I’ve said those words out loud ‘whatever you want to do, I’ll support you 100%', and I really want to mean that 100%, but truthfully I’m scared. The ‘what ifs’ come crashing in on me:

What if it doesn’t work?
What if health insurance doesn’t work out?
What if I can’t do the books? (he tells everyone ‘Annie can just do my books!’)
What if you can’t hire any better staff than you already have?
What if you still hate what you’re doing anyway?
What if it doesn’t work?
What if it DOESN’T WORK?!

What I would love, is to say a whole lot of ‘why nots'

Why not take the risk and make it work?
Why not check out the insurance thing – other self employed people manage it?
Why not learn how to do the books?
Why not scout for and pay for decent help?
Why not give it your best shot and make it work?

I know that this is about moving out of my comfort zone. He is ready to jump right out of his and I don’t want to hold him back. Any time I’ve faced a ‘comfort zone crossroads’ before, and even when my instinct was to run fast back to that which I knew and understood and was comfortable with, I knew I had to push myself. When I did, things were always better, after an initial adjustment. I hope that this adventure, if he chooses to undertake it, will be the same, but the thought of it scares the pants off me!