Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Award Time

Oh my gosh! Guess what? I’ve only been blogging for a month (or maybe two) and I’ve been given an award! A Lovely Blog award. I don’t know what I did to get it. I mean, I have achieved a certain amount of notoriety, being the British Mummy Bloggers 500th member and all, but even so. A blogging award! I can’t believe it, I am so excited.

Let me see. Looks like there are some rules attached. I need to link back to the person who gave it to me. Hmm, how does that work? Ah, Brits In Bosnia. I didn’t know they read me! Who are they anyway? Can’t work out how to do that link thing either. Oh well. Wonder why they gave me the award? I wonder what the criteria are? Can anybody get an award? Do you need to qualify for something? Have Brits In Bosnia been trawling the blogosphere hunting down the blogs that they liked the best? Of all the blogs they chose me!

Hang on a second. I’m supposed to pass this award on. Who can I pass it on to? Anyone? Anyone I want? But, doesn’t that make it more of a chain letter than an award? Is it just a case that someone has made a pretty picture (and it is very pretty I must say) and turned it into a bloggy chain letter? It’s not really like the Oscars is it? I’ve just been looking at some other blogs. Looks like lots of people have got this award already. Am I the only one without it? Does that mean I’m the last one? That I don’t actually have any friends? I feel like I’m back in school. The new kid on the playground. Like the time everyone else was plaiting luminous coloured plastic threads into keyrings, and I didn’t know what they were doing. By the time I had bought some and worked out what the trick was, the other kids had all moved onto Cat’s Cradle, or Hula Hooping or whatever was next in the craze game.

(a little later). I’m back. Sorry about that. I’ve decided to look at these awards in a different way. Yes, I think they are a bit chain letter like. But I guess that they are also a way for bloggers to say that they like someone else’s blog. And if anyone is reading Brits In Bosnia’s blog then maybe they will come and read mine too. So, I’m not going to pass it on right now as I can’t quite work out how to do those link things, but I am going to say thank you very much for my award and I pass it to you, my readers, in appreciation.

Fraught Mummy, at Brits in Bosnia, has been Dee in this post.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hip, hip, hippie, hooray!

Hello lovelies! How are we all today? Is it just me or is being a mummy the best thing in the whole wide world? I mean, don't you just spring out of bed with a smile on your face, even at 5am, because you just can't wait to see your precious children's angelic countenances? It really makes it all worth it, doesn't it?

Anyhoo, so I woke up in a jolly mood as usual this morning and ushered the children into the bathroom, one by one, to do their business. Again, I don't know about you but I like to keep an eye on what's coming out of them. I care deeply about what goes INTO them so why would I not care about what comes out? Poo is both funny and fascinating, don't you think?

Next, we headed downstairs to have our yoghurt and granola, both of which I made myself, from scratch. It was no big thing really, it only requires that you hand-grind organic oats from your allotment, add some raw Fairtrade cane sugar from the Ugandan farmer two towns over and honey from your bee colony, bake in a clay wood-fired oven for 30 minutes and serve with milk freshly squeezed from your goat. So easy, and delicious to boot!

Getting all four children dressed was next on the agenda. An hour's knitting was all it took to produce durable and fashionable outfits for them all. I'm quick with my needles, I am! I get a real sense of satisfaction at working with my hands and sticking it to Mothercare and Next. The synthetic materials and corporate logos are just too much for me to bear. Besides, my boys love their wooly knickerbockers and mohair jumpers, they wouldn't know what to do with mainstream clothing.Ugh!

I realised suddenly that we were going to be late for our homeschooling cooperative meetup if we didn't really hurry. Seeing as we don't believe in cars or anything powered by fuel or fuel derivatives, we set to walking at a fast clip. Exercise, fresh air and a clear conscience. It's so freeing! The older two can walk just fine but the younger ones need a bit of help so I packed the two year old onto my back with a handwoven Asian shawl that I got from my healer and nutritionist and put the baby in a basket made with branches from Christmas trees that had been ruthlessly murdered in the name of Christianity last December. It's such a disgrace, what people will do just to follow some silly "tradition." I strapped the basket to my head, like the women in the African village where I spent my gap year taught me to do. It's much easier to do here in the West, of course, because we're not constantly having to duck and hide from rival tribe members on horseback. We are so spoiled, I tell you. Makes you really disgusted when you see people riding around in cars and on bicycles, taking it all for granted and thinking they're the most special people on the planet.

After two hours, we finally arrived at the designated place. Sugar! The homeschool cooperative meetup had been cancelled! The children were getting thirsty and the toddler was wriggling to get down from the shawl so when I spotted a Cafe Nero across the road, I have to admit it was rather tempting to go inside. I walked the length of the high street looking for an independently owned cafe but there appeared to be none. 'Tis a pity, I say, when one can't even find a cup of coffee without sacrificing one's soul to the devil. But the children were looking rather pale and sweaty and so I gave in to their demands for juice and a snack at Cafe Nero. I settled down with my chai tea and the children had orange juice that I'm sure had suspicious-looking preservatives and E numbers in it. No matter though, we'll just do a 24-hour cleanse starting tomorrow to get it out of their systems.

The baby began to cry and was obviously in need of some mother's milk. I unbuttoned my blouse and began to feed her while holding up flashcards for the other children. Every sit-down is an opportunity for learning, I always say. Idle minds make idle citizens! I guess I got engrossed in the flashcards a bit too much though, because suddenly I sensed some murmuring and stares in my direction. I looked down and saw that little Fawn had pulled my entire breast out of my shirt! I began to tuck it away but then thought No, I will NOT cover up. It is perfectly normal and natural and if people don't like it, tough! I think it's important to make a bold statement every time you breastfeed in public. Those mothers who say they're just doing what needs to be done and aren't trying to be political are talking bollocks. They know as well as I do that the babies could wait to be fed, really, but people like us just enjoy disrupting everyone's otherwise peaceful and non-obscene existence. It's the anarchist in me, I guess.

We finally made it back home and the children are napping in the canvas yurt. We don't have man-made power here on our farm so I'm sending this message to you while my donkey, Eddie Murphy, turns a great big wheel that generates electricity as and when we need it. Pretty cool, hey? Want not, waste not! I'd best go now though, dinner is in the clay oven and the last time I burnt the lentils, Phoenix (my life partner) got terribly upset and we had to go to a couple's retreat to work it out. I guess he thought the lentils represented our relationship and that I'd burnt it on purpose or something. I'm still not sure what that was about but his feelings are all that matter so I do my best to be sensitive of them.

Cheerio, my darlings! Oh, and one last thing. If you don't see me coming by your blog from now on, it means you started running ads or doing giveaways. I cannot reconcile sponsorship with the beauty and anguish of mummy blogging, therefore I will not be able to read your corporate-owned thoughts anymore. But please do pass on my URL to anyone who doesn't share your reprehensible views. Ta!

The Noble Savage has been Dee in this post.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Being an Expat: Out of This World?

My daughter came home from school this afternoon with a tattoo. It had been a prize for something. They give the children little prizes and treats the whole time here – it drives me nuts. Anyway, she said that the teacher had told her “stick to your face”. I didn’t want her to have a tattoo on her face, for heaven’s sake, so I was just persuading her to put it on her arm, when I saw what it was. It was a picture of a cross, with the motto “stick to your faith”.

Well, I was outraged. I don’t like the whole tattoo, body art thing on a 6 year old in any case, but that aside, the school isn’t a religious one, and I just felt the teacher was making huge assumptions. I mean, this might be the Bible Belt, but brain-washing young children through tattoo slogans, that is a bit Below the Belt. I was going to phone the Principal straightaway, and tell her how I felt. I think a school should be a haven of cultural sensitivity, as well as an establishment of learning. And I am well-placed to know, since my husband is a university lecturer, and if that is what universities strive to be, then so should elementary schools. You can't start too young.

I didn’t make the phone call, though. I stopped and took a few deep breaths. Thank heavens for those NCT ante-natal classes and the breathing exercises! I calmed down, but it did make me think what a difficult job I have to do, raising a child in a foreign culture.

People underestimate how hard it is, being an expat. It’s not just remembering to say ‘tomaydo’ instead of ‘tomahto’, ‘dennist’ instead of ‘dentist’, or ‘refrigerator’ instead of ‘fridge’. It’s a question of adapting to a whole new way of life. It’s as if your whole physical, emotional, moral, religious, ethical and tactile sphere of operation has been turned upside down.

I thought of a rather good metaphor for this. If you moved from the northern to southern hemisphere, the very stars in the night sky would be different. I think they even move in the opposite direction. Your whole world has been literally turned upside-down. I am very aware of these things, as my husband Des is a university lecturer in Astro-physics.

I asked him what he thought, and he said

“Sweetie, I think you’re a bit confused. We’re still in the northern hemisphere. The US is in the northern hemisphere.”

I replied “I know that. Duuuh. It’s joined on to Canada, which is pretty much the North Pole. What I mean is that it is as if we had moved to South Africa, or New Zealand, or Australia, and are looking at the stars.”

Des clearly needed time to reflect. He pushed back his recliner, pulled his baseball cap down over his eyes, rubbed his big belly, belched loudly and said

“Hon, could you quit yabberin’ and get me another beer?”

So I went to the refrigerator and got him one. When a man needs a beer, a man needs a beer. My refrigerator. That’s a whole blog post in its own right. Its HUGE, and has a chilled water dispenser on the front, and an ice-maker inside. I’ll have to explain what that is another time (hint: there’s a clue in the name).

See what I mean? One minute you’re helping your daughter put on a tattoo, and the next, you’re questioning your place in the universe, and wondering how your husband found it so easy to transition from warm beer to cold, and realizing that only a few months ago, you had no idea what an ice-maker was. No, it’s not easy being an expat mum.

Iota Manhattan of Not wrong, just different has been Dee in this post.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I was approached by a company called So, Pleasure! and asked if I’d like to review one of their products. It’s called a baruvsope, and it’s to replace the pump-action handwash that you have in your bathroom. It’s meant to be more natural, and apparently it dates back centuries. It originated in ancient Persia, hence the exotic name, but at one time its use was widespread throughout Europe. My mum says she remembers it from her childhood.

Well, the baruvsope comes in a neat little packet, with instructions. You need a little dish to put it in, and I can see why that would be – it does leave a bit of a mess on the side of the basin. I tried the simple use first, which involves an action where you wet your hands, and then, holding the baruvsope between your hands, you rub them back and forth. Eventually you get a lather, and it smells nice. Then you have to put it down again, in the dish, and rinse off the lather. For more advanced users, there’s a movement that they described as ‘like rolling a fish over and over in your hands’, and this gets the lather going more quickly, but I didn’t master that. The baruvsope got very slippery, and kept leaping out of my hands.

So my verdict. On the plus side, it did leave my hands smelling nice, and I like the idea of the little china dish beside the basin, to add a touch of old-worldly charm to a bathroom. Baruvsope comes in different colours and fragrances, and they can be as exotic as you like. Looking through the So, Pleasure! Catalogue, I liked the look of the French Carbolique and the Egyptian Kohl Ta’ar. They sounded very sensuous and romantic.

On the minus side, I’m not sure I could relax as a mother, without the peace of mind that comes with using my anti-bacterial handwash or my alcohol-based hand sanitiser gel. I suppose if I had a baruvsope, I would probably wash with the handwash first, and then use the baruvsope afterwards, to give a nice fragrance to my hands. But as anyone with a baby will tell you, time for life’s little luxuries is scarce and I’m not sure I would really ever get into this habit. I don’t see it catching on with mums, to be honest.

So my conclusion is that I might buy a baruvsope as a novel gift for a friend, an intriguing peek into a world of luxury items that time has forgotten, but I don’t see myself as a regular user.

Iota Manhattan of Not wrong, just different has been Dee in this post.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Designer Changing Bag Giveaway!!

Luckily for me, when the traumatic incident that I told you about in my last post happened, I had my new Camille Burgoyne brown and turquoise all-in-five changing bag with me. PHEW!! Click on this link if you'd like to see the range, and if you send me a blank cheque, I'll enter you into my competition for one. The first 5 blank cheques I get will win, but I'll still fill in and bank the others, so don't worry if you're not reading this blog post within the first hour of it being published. I like a competition where everyone gets something. Must be the party-planning Mummy in me! I helped my sister organise my niece’s party, which I had at my home because oh, that's just so much nicer than paying “other people” at “a venue” to entertain your children (although that's fine too, if you want to do that). I made sure that all the children won a game, and then EVERYONE got a prize!!

But I digress. Back to the Camille Burgoyne bags. They are just GREAT!!! Take it from me. You open the top, and you put everything you need inside: nappies, wipes, sudocrem, rattley toy to keep Baby amused while you are doing the business. Everything fits!!! That is what good design is ALL about! Every mummy should have a Camille Burgoyne bag, and HERE'S YOUR CHANCE!!!

Iota Manhattan of Not wrong, just different has been Dee in this post.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A trip to the “poo-permarket”


Have any of you other more experienced mums had that dreadful experience? You know... You're in the checkout queue, and all of a sudden, you're wondering if the eggs in the box on the conveyor belt are past their sell-by date and have just cracked? Then you notice someone behind you turn to their neighbour and point at your child. OH NO!!!!!!! Your child has pooed!!!!! What can you do???!

I finished packing my bags, and paid, and then asked if there was a public loo. The cashier said there wasn't - it’s only a small, local supermarket - but I could use the staff loo. So I had to get the manager to escort me, and he was busy, so I had to wait FIVE minutes. I mean, don't people know the meaning of customer service these days? Poor little Shortcake's bottom! Five minutes is enough to make her sore. She's got such sensitive skin! Anyone got any tips on the best nappy rash creams? My health visitor just says to use Sudocrem, and it works really well, but I'm a bit worried about all those chemicals.

Anyway, I marched past the sniffy woman in the queue. I knew that I'd say something rude to her, if I opened my mouth, so I just put my nose in the air and walked past. And Shortcake gave her such an adorable smile that I’ve no doubt her heart just melted, but I didn’t deign to turn my head and look. I changed Shortcake on the floor of the staff loo (Imagine! No changing table in the staff loo! I’m going to email the NCT about that one). Thank goodness for the handy fold-away Changeroo mat that I always carry with me. WHAT did people do before these were invented? Then with Shortcake all spick and span, I went to collect my trolley which luckily was still there, as the kind manager had offered to watch it for me, and we headed off to the car. The whole thing had only taken 20 minutes, which I was pleased about, as I really would have felt bad if the manager had had to watch the trolley longer than that. It’s probably quite a busy job.

The best thing about the whole experience was this. I’ve come so far as a mother, as a mummy! If you’d told me a few years ago about this incident, I’d have died. I would have cringed at the thought of my child pooing in public, and not just anywhere in public, but in a supermarket where fresh food is on display. “Yeurrrgh, disgusting!!!” I’d have said. But now I am pretty used to the kind of humiliation that motherhood involves, and I just smile to myself, and know that it is totally just so worth it when I give Shortcake a cuddle and she gives me one back. And I’m not one for blowing my own trumpet, but I just have to say that I was pleased with myself with the way I dealt with it. In my early days, I think I’d have run out to the car and driven home as quickly as possible with Shortcake, poo or no poo, or maybe I’d have burst into tears. But these days, I’m soooo much more confident, and that’s a very good feeling.

Does anyone else have any supermarket stories to share?

Iota Manhattan of Not wrong, just different has been Dee in this post.


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