Monthly Archives: January 2015

January: the good

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So January is gone and we can no longer wish people happy new year.

Here is the summary of the good bits of my year so far:

* I read two books: Gone Girl and The Shock of the Fall. spoiler alert, don’t read the below if you are planning to read these books.

The first one was a very easy read, despite being a very weird plot. Everybody knows about Gone Girl, right? It’s a good book, well written and it’s hard to stop reading it (although I only read opinions of girls who read it – I wonder what men think about it: “a book about an idiot who
lets a crazy bitch control his life; so unrealistic and dumb”). But the end made me think it was written for a film (or a TV series), leaving it open for a sequence. Are there people as crazy as Amy in real life? I’m sure there are, loads, even worse, but what are the odds she will find the perfect match and lead a life together to the point of having a sick life and have a family (kids and all) like “normal” people would do? It makes me wonder if those kids that shoot random people at schools and malls are children of the Amys & Nicks of this world. I need to watch the film now. Or do I?
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The second one took me by surprise. I am used to reading books with lots of action going on: crimes, love stories, betrayal, jealousy, mystery, etc. The Shock of the Fall is nothing like that – it’s the story of a boy who lost his brother when they were both quite young and he felt guilty about his death and went a bit… crazy. But in a very ordinary way. Unlike Gone Girl, it’s a history that can happen to any of us, and in fact it does. It was very slow in the beginning and quite hard to be motivated and carry on reading, but I don’t like leaving a book unfinished and I’m glad I went all the way through with it. It made me think about several things: how parents deal with their children – protecting the “special” child, being hard on the “normal” one (we don’t need to go that far: how many people resent their parents for favouring a sibling?), dealing with the loss of someone close, a life changing event (the death of a brother and feeling guilty about it) triggering a dormant condition (the narrator is schizophrenic – was he schizophrenic from birth or was it something that developed because of his personal tragedy? I no nothing about schizophrenia). The ending was a bit… too optimistic for my liking. I mean, for 10 years he had been struggling with the death of his brother, he was ready to jump off a cliff to join him and after just a couple of hours chatting to an old acquaintance he had a “click” and understood what had to be done to give this chapter of his life a “closure” and bury his brother for good in his mind? Maybe it is all possible and it just take a simple gesture or something a stranger tells us to click and change our lives for good, but because I’ve never been through something like this, I’m a bit cynical about it all?
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* The girls moved to their bedrooms for good. Laura used to sleep with us, Beatrice used to come to our bed in the middle of the night (or sometimes sleep with us the whole night). Not only they are sharing the bedroom but also sharing the bed! It’s mean, I know, but since they are used to sharing the bed with us, I thought it would be easier if they were close to each other.

How is it going? Good. It’s no
miracle, no walk in the park, but it’s no tragedy either. Normally Mr. C and I put them to sleep together – he tells a story (or reads a book or both), I breastfeed Beatrice, we turn the lights off and leave the room when they sleep. Beatrice always takes longer; Laura is off within 5 minutes; Beatrice can take 30 minutes on a good day. Some days are better than others – today (31st jan), they both were sleeping by 8pm after putting them in bed after 7.30pm. So pretty easy. Some days they will sleep at 9pm, sometimes 10pm. A couple of nights ago, Beatrice only settled at midnight! In our bed! But she clearly wasn’t feeling well. So I think this is life with kids: usually is ok once you get into a routine, but you will have a couple of hiccups on the way and these are the ones we tend to remember.

It’s worth mentioning that several nights (most of them) they will both show up in our bedroom – Laura usually taking Bea by her hand – in the middle of the night (after 2am). I usually take them both back to their bed and stay with them until the fall asleep. The last couple of nights I was so exhausted that I left them in our bed. It’s ok, I suppose, if it’s not the norm.

* I organised my bedroom and the kitchen and have been maintaining some order. Every night (90% of the time since the kitchen was tidied up) I wash the dished, dry them, put them away, clean the sink and the counter, put stuff in the cupboard. Not always I have the energy to put the rubbish out (too cold). I’m quite pleased with myself. Mind you: there is still a bit of a mess around and they are not “magazine worthy” rooms, but I’m more than ok with that for now.

* I’ve started a routine of putting cream every day: once on my body, after I have my shower (I’m not one of those who have showers in the morning; and I’m definitely not one of those who have two showers a day), before bedtime and twice on the face: mornings and evenings. My face has never been that pampered in its entire life in the UK. I haven’t bought any new or special product, I had a few that were sitting on the counter for ages and I’m just getting rid of them before I can actually look for specific ones. I’m not going to lie and say that I feel 5 years younger, yadda yadda, but my skin doesn’t feel like the autumn leaves anymore. I will admit: it’s such a boring routine, as boring as it gets; but a much needed one.

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I think these are the main achievements of January. I would have loved to have a longer list but I’m past this stage of trying to fit an elephant in a Beetle (the car; the metaphor makes sense in my head) and trying to accomplish too much. It only leads to frustration. So for February, I will try to carry on with the ones above and maybe add a couple of items to the list.

(to be continued)

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Every day conversation

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I drop Laura off and pick her up at school every Thursday. It’s a nice way to spend a few hours just the two of us , get to see other kids and parents (just see, I don’t talk to them) and have a five minute walk.

Our chat on the way home:

Laura: Mummy, imagine if you died…
Me: … hmmm…. I don’t think I want to imagine that.
Laura: It’s just pretend, mummy!
Me: Ok…
Laura: You died and someone took you to the hospital…
Me: errrrr… so, when you die, they don’t take you to the hospital.
Laura: Of course they do!
Me: No, you go to the hospital when you are ill. When you die, you go to the cemetery.
Laura: cenetewy?!
Me: Ce-Me-Te-Ry.
Laura: What’s that?!
Me: A place where they keep the bodies when they stop working; when they die. Remember when we went to say bye buy to vovô Mário? That was a cemetery.
Laura: No, vovô Mário is in the sky!
Me: … yes, he is. But his body is placed somewhere else.
Laura: hmmmm.
Me: It’s cold, isn’t it?

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2015/01/img_2678.jpg“Mummy, I’m gonna drive you crazy with my questions! huahuahuahua”

21 days project: surviving day 3

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I was meant to post yesterday, but Beatrice decided to have high temperature from Saturday to Sunday and you know how it is: life stops when your child is poorly.

I’m proud to say that my bedroom and the kitchen are still organised and looking tidy (especially compared to how they were). I didn’t have to tidy up much in the kitchen tonight, but yesterday I spent my 30 minutes sorting out stuff. It wasn’t too bad but I must admit that the evenings are now flying. It doesn’t help that the girls have pushed their bedtime by two hours and I lost two hours of me-time. Another thing to sort out.

In fact I’ve noticed that for every little thing I sort out, three other come
up. I suppose it’s so life doesn’t get boring.

Apart from the kitchen-bedroom thingy, here is another new good habit in the making: I’m trying to look after myself and every evening, after my long and (overly) warm shower, I’m putting on body lotion and face cream.

I must say that I’ve been pushing my luck and had never give a monkey to wrinkles. I don’t have that many, but the bastards are coming.

This is a selfie taken this morning (sponsored by apple *grin* just kidding), just after jumping out of bed, before washing up and brushing my teeth. 2015/01/img_2762.jpg
It’s not a great angle for what I’m trying to show, but you can see that despite loads of shitty nights, I don’t have awful baggy eyes. I’m now starting to have lines around my mouth and *touch wood* my forehead and eyes were spared of deep lines.

This is my baggy eye after 20 months (or maybe lots more) without decent night of sleep.2015/01/img_2771-0.jpgIt could have been much worse.

But I know it’s not going to be like this forever. My mum spent most of her life covering herself with moisturisers and face creams and she looks much younger that many 70 years old ladies out there. I want to be like that, but I might 15 years too late. I had this “click” that I’m now so close to my 40’s and there’s no turning back.

I don’t wear any make up so this face you see there is the face I wear everyday, all day. I can’t stand make up – I don’t like the feeling on having stuff on my face, I don’t like the thought of not being able to scratch my eyes without looking like a panda, I don’t like having to deep clean my face every evening to get rid of residues of make up. And on top of that, I don’t like how I look when I put make up on (most of the times, at least). But I feel like I should give it a go, make an extra effort and go for the basics – foundation to fix the cracks, a lipstick to add some colour. That’s it. I wonder if I should add this to my 21 days project or play by ear. Does make up give you spots? Anyone knows? (I might not be covered in wrinkles, but have have quite a few spots…)

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Wordpress app decided to stop working properly since yesterday. Very annoying as this is how I update this blog – in bed, fighting against tiredness and begging time to pass very slowly.

21 days: a (good) habit in the making

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Apparently it takes 21 days to create a habit. Just do something for 21 days and soon it will be part of your life as you were born with it. That’s the theory.

So here I am trying to create a new habit. A good one this time, as I’m full of bad ones.

Today I had a good day, for all the wrong reasons:

1) I had an extra two hours sleep, thanks to Mr. C who stayed with the girls. I needed this nap because the two came to our bed in the middle of the night and I took them back and stayed with them; I had a crappy night of sleep so hubby could rest and have energy to take them to the soft play near us.

2) He took them to the soft play in the morning and I stayed at home. To clean the house. I know lots of women that take this opportunity to meet with friends, have a massage or the nails done, or do nothing. I clean.

3) The cleaner was meant to come – she didn’t show up this week – but she was late and I had to ask her not to come. In the end it was good because I could do things at my pace.

4) Laura spent the afternoon at her friend’s house and Beatrice had a long nap. I could finish 70% of the work in the kitchen.

It’s the second weekend that we do that – he takes them out , I stay in, cleaning. I started with our bedroom. Fine, drawers and wardrobe need some love and attention, but it’s another full day worth of work. The bedroom hasn’t been messy since; not to the public’s eyes at least. Today was the kitchen. Eight bags full of rubbish and two bags full of stuff to give to charity. It still not great and there’s still some work to be done, but at least it is in a pretty decent state that can be easily maintained (so she hopes).

This is where the 21 day project start. I will try to dedicate half an hour of my evenings to keep the kitchen tidy – wash all dishes, dry them all, dry the sink, remove the rubbish, wipe the worktop, clean the microwave and the toaster. Then 15 minutes tidying up my clothes and ensuring the bedroom remains tidy. Next weekend I’m hoping to tackle the bathroom, and again, another 10 minutes to keep it clean. This will take less than an hour; pretty doable.

Living/dining, messy room, girls’ bedroom and guest’s bedroom are beasts that I’m scared of facing. I will probably work on the playroom and see how the maintenance of the kitchen-my bedroom-bathroom combo goes before I put too much effort in the others. I am actually considering taking time off work to deal with the beasts.

I’ll have to keep my progress here – in the shape of tiny posts – so I can track the birth of a habit. Bear with me.

Staring work: check out the mess behind me. This is just a tiny part of it. I also unclogged the sink and cleaned all the cupboards (got rid of old stuff, removed everything and cleaned inside). I didn’t clean the fridge or the oven (the hob was done); I only swept the floor, no proper scrub. 2015/01/img_2714.jpg
The things people collect: a drizzling pipe (whyyyyy?), a cake pop mould (which I’m planning to use) and a silicone cake tray written happy birthday… in French (whyyyyyy?). The first and the latter were freebies. I second one I bought.2015/01/img_2731.jpg
The final three bags of rubbish.2015/01/img_2735.jpg
Not too bad. Even Laura noticed. “Mummy, what happened here?”, “What do you mean?”, “the kitchen is magically sparkling clean”. This coming from a girl that doesn’t notice the chaos of the house.2015/01/img_2742.jpg
There’s still quite a lot on the table to be sorted, but I ran out of patience and energy. I have serious issues with this kitchen – I think it could have more storage (or I should have less crap), but I’m not planning in doing any work on it this year, so I have to work with what we’ve got.2015/01/img_2741.jpg
It is now to a level of mess and chaos I can live with. The “my house is clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy” type of house. At least the kitchen is.2015/01/img_2738.jpg

January blues

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They say that here in the North Hemisphere (or the UK? Or countries way too close to the north pole?) January is the gloomiest day of the year. It’s dark, cold, its days are short. People have no or little money after the holidays, they are not really refreshed from the break as it’s not really a break (from work, from school, yes, but not necessarily housework and surely not from family “work”).

So here we are, 13 days into January, another 18 days to go.

This is how my station is at 7.30am, just now:
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Unfortunately the photo doesn’t show the rain that is pouring right now. Proper rain, no messing about.

If it’s a given that most of us are very sad in January, it’s also a given that sleep deprived mothers are a bit unstable moody.

Until yesterday, I was completely exhausted, had lost all my faith in 2015 (already!), was feeling miserable about myself, and all that jazz. Today I woke up different. Still tired thanks to a headache that follows me every day since 2014. Not a single headache free in January so far. Despite the ache, I woke up different. I couldn’t get straight away what it was; all seemed the same (I could hear the rain outside). I looked around and I got it,
finally:

I had woken up with the alarm clock. Not a child calling me. In fact, no child called me the entire night. Not once. How I know that? I’m a light sleeper thanks to the evening calls; and I was waiting. I waited so long that I actually fell asleep. And then the alarm called me.

And all my faith in 2015 has been restored.

Every other day…

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… the girls have a bad night of sleep. One of them will wake up at least once in the middle of the night. Only I will hear and go to the rescue.

… Beatrice will throw a tantrum after not getting what she wants. And the other day she will throw herself on the floor, cry, beat Laura (also known as tantrum).

… Laura will shout and scream and throw things at us because she doesn’t get what she wants.

… I will have a headache at the end of the day. Every other day I’ll have a headache during the day.

… I feel like I should move somewhere warm, like Florida. And then I feel like the UK is the best place to be.

… I hate my job.

… I love my job.

… I want to redecorate the house.

… I want to sleep for 18 hours.

… I love cooking.

… I love looking after the house and deep cleaning it.

… I read a few pages of a book.

… I want to go back to school to learn something new.

… I sleep late. Or very late. Never early.

2015/01/img_2557.jpg I’m a celebrity, take me out of here!

2015/01/img_2659.jpg A colourful mess.

2015/01/img_2627.jpgNext holiday destination according to Laura.

2015/01/img_2583.jpgWhere’s Wally?

Who cares about planning anyway?

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In my mind, England (the UK?) is the land of planning. I remember being overwhelmed with all the planning required to meet friends, go to a concert or a play and travel. There was no such thing as “what are you doing now? Nothing? fancy a cinema/coffee/walk in the park?”

The reasons are various: firstly, most of my friends don’t leave close to me and takes about one to two hours (TFL permitting) to get anywhere. Secondly, people are just so eager to do stuff that tickets to shows and famous plays start selling a year before (or more) and are sold out in minutes. So there you have it – an event planned a year in advance and it’s not even a Christmas one. Then I think it has to do with the culture. People are so used to plan ahead that if you say “let’s do something tomorrow, they will probably say “tomorrow? errrrrr… let me check (my diary/with the other half/what phase of the moon we are now) and get back to you; I’m pretty sure we have something booked”. Sometimes you don’t even invite people for anything last minute because you are sure they can’t make it or you are not ready for such impromptu commitment.

But then, sometimes you want to plan thing ahead but people just won’t let you. Kids. Kids don’t let you plan anything ahead. Laura has been banging on for months and months (since her birthdays, really) that she wants a Frozen party. I ignore it for a while in the hopes that there will be another Disney princess taking over and she will change her mind. But until Christmas, it was all about “can I have a Frozen party?”.

So I started thinking about finding little Frozen items here and there and start gathering ideas to, for a change, don’t do anything so last minute (which will happen anyway, no matter how far I plan – but it’s more for the sake of getting anything on ebay from China that takes a month to be delivered).

And guess what has happened today? When asked what theme she wanted for her party, the answer was Hello Kitty!

So she will end up having a Frozen-Princess-Fairy-Lego-Hello Kitty-Pony-whatever crap is in fashion next Spring and everyone will be happy. Except me.

(I was thinking about ignoring the birthday party and going somewhere nice for a week in May, but I don’t think I can get away with it).