Archive | November, 2009

The new regime

23 Nov

The hubby and I decided this week that we should have a budget. We tend to spend money like it’s water. Part of the problem is that I just don’t understand the value of the American dollar, having never earned a wage here. The best way to understand any currency is, I think, to have a job you hate, that pays a low wage. Then when you go shopping or out to eat or something, you think “This thing is the equivalent of three hours of work. Do I really need it?” The answer then is undoubtedly “No”. The other part of the problem is the hubby (and I) are not used to supporting more than one person on one wage. So, money trickles through our hands like it’s water.

So, a new regime had to be implemented. Even if the American recession is over. Out came the pen and paper. I made a menu for the week and we went to the supermarket with a list! Something I’m not sure I’ve ever really done. We came out of the supermarket in under an hour! And spent less than $100! Usually we’re there for an hour and a half, buy everything we see and have a little heart attack at the register. This whole list thing, coupled with the weekly menu is a revelation. I don’t have to spend a half an hour standing in front of the fridge, wondering what to make for dinner. It’s all planned. And most things can be changed relatively easy. This week the menu looked like this:

Wednesday lunch: toasted sandwich

dinner: Roast chicken and veg

Thursday lunch: chicken salad sandwich

dinner: gyoza

Friday lunch: at hubby’s work, Thanksgiving party

dinner: chicken curry

Saturday lunch: Thanksgiving party leftovers

dinner: roast pork

Sunday lunch: pork sandwiches

dinner: bolognese

Monday lunch: bolognese

dinner: fish pie

Tuesday – we’re off on holidays. To South Carolina for Thanksgiving.

Except for Friday, when there was a major malfunction in the kitchen and we had to go out, to save me from a meltdown, it all went very well. (What happened? There was confusion over coconut milk and cream of coconut, leading to a sickeningly sweet curry that made me want to cry.)

I’m hoping that we can keep this up. It’s very satisfying. Like a challenge. And I like a challenge. In fact, I think I’m going to challenge myself to some housework by writing out a schedule for it. Not just yet. After my holidays. Have to go and pack. See you next week! (The in-laws only have dial up, and I don’t have the patience for it).

Friday Five!

20 Nov

Five things “we” “made” yesterday (if the words “we” and “made” are true!):

  • some lovely new pictures for daddy, a collaborative effort, involving Thomas and some other trains.The fun lasted a good 15 minutes. A brilliant idea from Slugs on the Refrigerator. I’m thinking next time some stamping with his animals (the toy ones! The toy ones!), as I’m too lazy for the whole potato stamping mallarkey. I think we’ll need poster paints for that though. Do finger paints freak anyone else out? I certainly don’t remember them from my childhood. Gooey yuckiness. Apparently they taste awful too. There was much yucking from the little turtle when he gave them a go. The results:Geniusness! And surprisingly easy to clean up after. His trains needed a good washing anyway!
  • Gyoza. Wontons? Yumminess! Time consuming yumminess! It took me ages to figure out how to fold them. The Japanese wrappers are round, these were square. Not noticing the difference, in any real way, I couldn’t understand why they weren’t coming out in the shape I wanted them to! Needless to say, if I’d had round wrappers, these would be very professional-looking indeed. Restaurant quality 😉 The “recipe” is minced pork, half a raw egg, and some chopped onions, mixed together. Put some of this mixture into a wonton wrapper and brush the edges with the other half of the egg, so it’ll stay together. Fold as you like. Cover the bottom of the pan with water, a couple of mm deep and add a drop of oil. Put in the wontons and cover. 5- 10 minutes or so, until the water has evaporated and the oil gives you a crispy bottom (on your wontons!). Or you can deep fry them. Serve with dipping sauce – soy, vinegar and Chinese five-spice. Put the excess wonton wrappers in a ziploc bag in the fridge, where you won’t come upon them again until the New year, when they’ve shrivelled up beyond all recognition. Or maybe that’s just me. (If you make  them before you cook them, cover them with a damp (clean) dishtowel before you put them in the fridge, to stop them from getting dessicated).
  • Potato balls. My contribution for the thanksgiving party at the hubby’s office. I did want to make these, but couldn’t find an icing bag and nearly had a meltdown on Wednesday when my ingenious plastic bag with icing nozzle squeezed in one corner didn’t work. So potato balls it had to be. How could you go wrong with potatoes, bacon, onion and cheese (cheddar, parmesan and cream) covered in breadcrumbs? Well, they might be a bit dry. I have to find some kind of dipping sauce for them. Cream cheese-y business? Ketchup?
  • A “water park”. A small boy and a hose. Genius!
  • A happy boy.

(Now I’m off, before anyone asks me about all the tantrums and meltdowns we had in between these 15 minute idylls. And I have cookies in the oven and a carrot salad thing to make, because potato balls weren’t enough of an effort to make. Madness!)

Seething

19 Nov

I’m a bit mad today. Still. Remnants of yesterday. Want to hear why?

Well, yesterday we went to the Diaper Club. It’s run by the base, so all military parents and children. There was some kind of party, not sure because I don’t get the e-mails, even though I tried to join the stupid yahoo group three times!! That’s a different story though. Anyway, the little turtle was running around, having a whale of a time. I was playing blocks with other people’s children. And I hear “Hey! Hey! Hey! Get away! Get!” (think of how you would shout at a dog, if it were trying to take food off of a small child). The little turtle was going up to a small boy, about his age who had a cookie. He wasn’t doing anything to him. Just looking. Interested in seeing what he was eating, or whatever (did I say I have the nosiest child I’ve ever seen?) And he gets shooed away like a dog. I was soo mad. Mad enough not to be able to react. As well as that, the guy was in uniform and I have yet to overcome my awe fear respect regard for people in uniform (like I used to be with doctors and teachers, before I realised they were just people too and just as fallible as the rest of us). So I have spent the last 24 hours (on-and-off, you understand) formulating a response in my head! It goes like this

“Excuse me, was that my son you were talking to? …Well I would appreciate it if you didn’t speak to him like that again. He’s a small human being, not a dog, and should be treated as such. What you do with your own son is your own business, but I won’t have mine talked to like that, by anyone.”

Then maybe stomp away, indignantly. Without falling over or tripping.  I think if we had been anywhere else, and he hadn’t been in uniform I would have said it. Or something along those lines, any variations being the result of not having 24 hours to mull it over. See, the main problem is that I don’t know what’s appropriate when it comes to things associated with the hubby’s work. My military wife handbook has yet to arrive! And if it ever does, I am quite likely to ignore it. I told the hubby about this incident and he got quite mad, trying to identify the guy by asking me loads of questions. Man in uniform is what he got out of me. My powers of observation are not the best. I have yet to get used to looking at people’s chests to see what their names are. I look at their shoulders for their rank, without knowing what they mean (maybe that’s in the handbook?). I don’t want the hubby to do anything though. Like get the guy in trouble. I need to grow a  backbone and deal with these things myself, which he says I can do, but no shouting! I told him I don’t shout at strangers, only him, you see the regard for men in uniform doesn’t seem to extend to him, how would it, when I’m the one washing his uniforms and tripping over his boots? But I also have to be careful about who I give a piece of my mind to. You never know who you’re talking to. Eggshells and whatnot. Oh well, I suppose I’ll get used to all of this seething. Or my head will explode.One or the other.

Someday I’ll be big, and then I’ll be a ….

18 Nov

Ever since I read the writing prompts for this week from Sleep is for the Weak I’ve had this awful, awful song from a TV character in my childhood rolling around my head. It goes

Someday I’ll be big,

Someday I’ll big,

Someday I’ll be biiig,

And then I’ll be a farmer.

God Bless Bosco. Here he is, in all his glory, to take a bow

And God Bless Irish television in the early 1980s. Giving us something concrete to aspire to. I’m pretty sure there were other verses, but I can’t remember them. I’m still a bit hazy on farming. There were other occupations too, if I remember rightly. The farmer, though, he stuck in my head throughout the years, especially as it became less and less likely that I would actually become a farmer. When you’re three years old, anything is possible. As you get older and people start asking “What are you going to be when you grow up?” the possibilities begin to narrow a tad. You’re left standing there, mute, with that tune from Bosco playing in your head

Someday I’ll be big,

Someday I’ll be big,

Someday I’ll be biiig,

And then I’ll be a …..

Waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!!! A what? A what? A what? I need an answer. Waaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!

My stock answer was “A teacher”. I couldn’t imagine anything else. My life revolved around school and ever the work horse, I thought all of those holidays were something I’d quite like to hold on to. Forever.

I became a teacher, of sorts. More English Language Instructor, than teacher. I would hesitate to say that I “taught” anyone anything. Nor did I get the long holidays. It was fun. But I don’t miss it. People ask me if I’m going to teach here. “Nope.” Cue confusion. “What are you going to do?”

Someday I’ll be big,

Someday I’ll be big,

Someday I’ll be biiig,

And then I’ll be a …..

Oh God! I’m still not sure.

I like being what I am. I like being a mother. For now I have no career aspirations outside of that. But someday? Well, I’m trying not to live my life entirely in the future anymore. Someday I’ll do something, but today, tomorrow, and the day after that, I’ll be the best mother I can be.

I’ll be the mother that only I can be.

(This is writing prompt #1 Write about what you hope for ‘one day’ – As inspired by Not Such a Yummy Mummy’s beautiful post last week.)

The end of an era….

17 Nov

A very short era, I grant you. But an era nonetheless. My mother and aunt are heading back to Ireland today. Homeward bound. So myself and the hubby will no longer have live-in babysitters at our beck and call, allowing us to flit about Central Florida like teenagers or the carefree twenty-somethings we no longer are.  We have been revisiting our youth a little bit this past month. Or at least the pre-turtle days. And it was nice. I won’t deny that. Time for just the two of us. But we had no time for just the three of us. And I missed that. So, even though I’ll miss them a lot. I’m a little glad that they’re off. The house will be awful quiet though, they’re always up to some kind of devilment. But there’s no doubt that my mother, at least, will be back. Probably before I’ve had time to give the guest room a good clean up.

Friday Five

13 Nov

God, but I’ve been a moany old so and so lately. I annoy myself sometimes. So, in an effort to be a bit more upbeat, I have scoured the house to find things I’m happy about.

  • Christmas crochetMy happy little Christmas decorations. Just a couple of snowmen to put together and the consignment for my family will be done! Then I’ll have a week to get some done for the hubby’s family. Ideally, I would like to give them to them at Thanksgiving.  But I keep getting distracted by thoughts of salt dough and felt decorations I can might be able to make.Wedding pics
  • The wedding pictures I finally got around to hanging. They are half way up the stairs and make me smile every time I see them. I would like to have an entire wall of pictures, wherever we happen to be, of all of our family milestones. A “Family story” wall. Of course I’m already a bit behind on this. Oops. Books
  • My little pile of “birthday books”. Hopefully I’ll get to read them before my next one! 🙂Ribbons and things
  • Ribbons! For embellishing the hats on my snowmen. And also for another little project I’m brewing. Secretly, in case it doesn’t work.October 004
  • And these two. There isn’t a day that goes by that they don’t make me smile.

The parent of last resort

12 Nov

That’s me. And I don’t like it!

All I hear is

“Where’s the . . . ”

“Are there any . . .”

“Can he . . . ”

“Will he . . .”

“Did he . . .”

On and on and on.

Paradoxically, I sometimes get mad when I am not asked these things.

How and ever, I always, always, always get mad when asked these things by the hubby. That little vein on the side of my head starts to throb, to the tune of “You are a parent too, you are a parent too, you are a parent too . . .” On and on and on. Until I explode.

I get it. I am here with the little turtle 12 hours a day while he’s at work. He’s shouldering the burden of providing for us while I raise our son the way we want him raised. I may even be a bit controlling about things, little things, even. Things that don’t really matter. Nevertheless, my ire is raised when he wanders around the house, like a lodger, asking where things are when they are where they’ve always been if he just opens his eyes! And asking if it’s time for the turtle to go to bed. Or not noticing that his nappy needs changing. I can live with these things though. They cause only minor spikes in my blood pressure. I get over it, eventually. (Did I ever tell you about how easy I am to live with? A dream. That’s me. As if you can’t tell.)

Being the parent of last resort though, that means I’m always on duty. Always.

I wanted the hubby to be in charge of putting the turtle to bed. I thought it would be a nice time for them to bond. Have time together without me sticking my oar in, or taking control (because even though I don’t want to be in charge all of the time it is very hard to relinquish that control). They need time together, without me.

It’s not working though. The turtle cries and cries and cries when daddy tries to put him to bed. Daddy doesn’t like to see him upset. He lasts about five minutes. So then it’s my turn. As the last member of the team standing, I feel an obligation to stick it out to the end. Singing “Twinkle, twinkle” umpteen times. Rocking him. Whatever it takes. Even when it feels like my legs are about to go from under me. Even when I’m so tired I can’t even speak. Even when he’s crying. You’ll hear me singing “Twinkle, twinkle little star . . .” On and on and on. Until my head explodes. I’m the parent of last resort, you see.

“Good boy”

9 Nov

I’m hearing this a lot lately. And it’s grating a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, the hubby and I praise the little turtle all the time. He’s our first born and, as such, is a little genius who must be told so at every available opportunity. Not only that, his geniusness gets documented photographically and videographically all the time. My poor Facebook account is heaving with photos and videos of some of the more mundane aspects of our lives. So, praise is good. Or at least present in our lives. I do wonder about too much praise and raising a needy little so and so, but for the moment at least, I can’t help it.

Why then is it grating on my nerves at the moment? Well I have my mother and my aunt staying. And they’re always at it. The especially annoying bit is the chorus of “Good boy” when he’s eating. I had just nagged cajoled convinced the hubby that praising him for eating was a slippery slope. That we wanted him to eat because he was hungry, not because it elicited praise from us. So, praising him for using his cutlery was ok, but praising him for clearing his plate when he wasn’t hungry was not. And to be fair to the hubby, he jumped on this bandwagon fairly lively, even explaining it to his parents when they praised the little turtle for eating. Why have I not done the same thing? Well, I just don’t have the energy. They’re only here for another week (and a bit). To bring it up now, well it might seem a bit churlish. They’ve done an awful lot of babysitting this past month, and I’m hoping they’ll do a bit more, so I’m grinning and bearing it. A month filled with praise for thisOctober 274isn’t going to put him up or down. Right????

What a difference a day makes….

6 Nov

Well, yesterday it would seem I was high on the joys of life. Or something. Not entirely sure. But I’m definitely over it today. So. Over. It.

Why?

The turtle and I go to a Creative Playtime “class” thing. On Friday mornings. In an effort to make friends. We haven’t been that successful yet, but anyway. It’s a mile or so down the road. Well within walking distance. Excellent. How and ever, this morning it was in a park 3 miles away. So I asked the hubby to leave us there before he went to work. And we would walk home. Good plan. Manageable. “No,” he said, “I’ll go into work for an hour. Then I’ll come home and bring you to the class. I’ll go too.” Hmm, I thought. “OK,” I said.

What do you think happened? I know you can see it coming. He called at 9:10 (class is at 9:30). He couldn’t make it. Something came up. He could try and pick us up a bit late. Would that be ok? Well, no. No, no, no, no, no. Today was going to be “exploration of texture” in paddling pools of spaghetti and whatnot (I forget the other things). There’s no point in being a half an hour late to that kind of thing. No point at all.

I wouldn’t mind, but if we’d followed my plan and he had dropped us off before he went to work, we could have done it. Or if I had known more than 20 minutes before we were due to be there I could have walked and he could have picked us up.

So I’m mad. I’m still mad. Even though it’s 4:15 and this all happened this morning. Even though I may well have had an inkling that this would happen (this usually happens).

I should have known better.

I should be able to drive.

I shouldn’t feel so impotent and disappointed over the head of a daft playgroup that I don’t even really like.

What kind of world is it, when you can’t have your child slobber in a paddling pool full of spaghetti when you want to?

Life after 30

5 Nov

It’s my birthday. I’m 31. Shhhhhhhhhhh!

As my mother nicely put it yesterday “The only time you’ll see 30 again is on a door.” Isn’t she a pain in the bum lovely?

It’s funny how when you’re younger (i.e. twenty-something) your dreams of the future seem to go as far as 30. Then stop. Rather abruptly. Because you’ll be living your dream life by the time you’re 31, obviously.

So, the last time I formulated a life plan I was 23. I had just finished an MA in Anglo-Irish literature and was heading off to Japan to teach English. And my plan looked like this: I would teach in Japan for one year. Just one . Then I would go to a different country. Undecided. Then another and another and another, until I hit thirty (that magical number). Then  I would go back to Ireland and start my PhD. After which I would be snapped up for a Professorship. And live happily ever after. Husbands and children didn’t feature. Children because I had endometriosis (I say had, because I’m ‘cured’!?) and was told I had a 5% chance of conceiving naturally when I was 20, with chances likely to decrease as I got older. So no kids. And no husband, because of Catholic indoctrination, which got deeper into my psyche than I am ever really likely to admit – what’s the point of getting married if you’re not going to have children, I thought.

You’ve got to love a plan!

Then I hit 24, settled nicely in Japan. Getting my head, slowly, slowly around the language. And the thought of upping sticks to somewhere else? It gave me the shivers. When formulating my “plan” I had forgotten what it was like to be practically deaf, dumb and blind in a country where you couldn’t read, write, speak or understand the language. I wouldn’t mind but I had experienced that feeling before when I lived in Korea. But I had forgotten. The way you forget the unpleasant bits of pregnancy and childbirth. But when I was in the middle of it? I couldn’t face it again. All that effort. Ugh! No.

Laziness dictated that I stay in Japan for four and a half years. Where I met the hubby. By the time I left I had no more notion of doing a PhD than the man in the moon. I think I wanted to do one because I couldn’t figure out what else to do. I blatantly ignored the fact that I hate speaking in public. That it makes me want to puke. Surely I would get over that, if I put in all of the effort of doing a PhD. I would be more mature than that when I was older! Hahahaha.

I left Japan with the following “plan” – I would take a year off, to figure out what to do with myself, and see where me and the hubby were going. After that, I would find a career. Hahaha. I secretly harboured notions of going to live in India for a year on a volunteer program I had researched. Despite the fact that I hate hot weather and am allergic to the sun. That would all be fine. And living in rural India? A dream.

What is it they say? “Life happens while men plan”? Something like that anyway. And that’s what happened to me. My year off was coming to an end. I was panicking a bit about what I was going to do with my life. I was 29. Surely people knew what they were going to “do” with their lives by then? I was no more wiser than I was when I was 17 and filling out the university application thing. Panic. Panic. Panic. I was home again with my parents. My other half was on a different continent. Money running out fast. No prospect of a job. Panic. Panic. Panic.

Then I found out I was pregnant. And oddly, the panic subsided. I knew what I was going to “do”. I was going to have a baby.

The past two years have been hard. I won’t deny that. Especially trying to get my visa to come over here. Then having to organise a wedding. And move house a week later. With the turtle’s first birthday in the middle of all the madness. But I’m where I should be now.

There are no more”plans”. I don’t need them anymore. I’m doing something I love. And I wouldn’t change a thing. I have wobbles and bad days like everyone else. But I still wouldn’t change a thing.

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