Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Shamelessly homesick!

"Now, nobody's sayin that Hill Country Texas is the Garden of Eden, but it's been a good home to us, to me - Frank GALLAGHER Josie Bisett - and me kids, who am proud of! 'Cause every single one of them reminds me a little... of me."
In case you're wondering, this is NOT me. This is Frank Gallagher, the Shameless lead character in the classic Brit hit show. 

We've all been a bit homesick at some point, right? You know, that feeling you get after 10 days legged out on the beach in Magaluf or Cancun, when you start yearning for one or two home comforts, like your own (arse contoured) couch, Eastenders, or a cup of Tetley's brew - for example. For me, it's a bag of greasy chips, for the hubs, it's his Tex Mex.

It's great to get away - but even better getting home!

It can feel like something is gnawing away at your innards (like hunger pains) creating a hole that can't be filled by food - believe me, I've tried. Usually it's in the pit of your tummy - but sometimes it works its way up into your chest - and eventually your throat. That's when it gets so bad that tears are sprung.

At least that's what it's like for me. But I can't go 'home' at least not yet. In any case 'home' is not really my home anymore.

OK, so at the moment I am officially in that 'postnatal' phase. My hormones are raging - so maybe the world is not really coming to an end (thanks for that bit of insight husband dearest). 

But that's not really 'it'. 

True, I've had a similar feeling of melancholy come over me after the birth of all three babies. Not initially, though. I'm on cloud nine for the first fortnight, but then a more sober emotion sets in. It happens when I realize that THEY are not coming...

My family that is, the blood relatives.

This time the hunger pains are more acute. Each time I look at my beautiful baby girl I can't help a feeling of regret. I can't work out if it's me or them who are missing out.

The hubs lived unhappily in Hawaii for six months. Night after night he would watch that gorgeous romantic sunset, alone. It turns out, the most beautiful experiences in the world aren't quite so great when you can't share them with the ones you love.

I'm not saying the magic is lost (exactly), But how much greater would it feel to be able to show this lovely little lassy off to my mum and dad?

Perhaps it hasn't stung quite so bad in the past because I've known there'd be another chance. But this could be our LAST newborn experience. And my family are all 5,000 air miles away - they might as well be on another planet.

I know, I know! Cry me a river - right? Serves me right for marrying Texas Pete!

ANYWAY. To make up for missing my own Brit family I've adopted an on-screen British Northern family (a tad bit more dysfunctional than my own), the Gallaghers! Thanks to them I've been shamelessly entertained no end for the past few weeks.

Shameless's Steve is so yummy! 
The hubs and I were living in the UK when Shameless first hit the TV screens - how we managed to miss out on this Channel 4 masterpiece series, I'll never know! 

Nearly a decade on and living across the pond, instant NetFlix is bringing Shameless shenanigans into our home for the first time and right in the nick of time!  

We've always watched back to back episodes of old TV series, while yoga ball-bouncing our newborns during the night. The first baby got Everybody Loves Raymond and Yes, Dear! on TBS - that was back in the day we were still willing to fork out for digital TV! Our second kid was subjugated to the entire series of Roseanne on NetFlix (he needed a LOT of bouncing) - lucky Momma!

But this go around there's only British comedy on the menu. I wonder which kid will have the best sense of humo(u)r?

I've got to say, it's been great getting back to Britain (even if it's not really 'for real') - although, maybe it's only serving to make me more homesick! They're only running series 1-3 currently on NetFlix (Series 10 is just about to start back across the pond.) and sadly they've already written some of my new found 'family' out. Now I'm got even more people to miss! 

btw, this isn't just a shameless punt to get my folks over here! Well, maybe it is a little......

Friday, August 31, 2012

All quiet on the western front......

Since the little lady put in an appearance, my bloggie focus (what little bit I have time and brain for these days) has been 'spent' relaying my postnatal pleasantries on Across The Pond's sister blog Go Momma!; however, while things have all been quiet on the western 'blog' front - so to speak - my freaky deaky spider post of long ago Daddies Freakin' Out! (still an August post, though... What a manic month it's been!) has picked me up one or two pats on the back....

Look who's blogging now!
Yay - nothing like a few big-me-ups to get me back 'in the game'!

I was already rockin' and rollin' on a blog post for Across the Pond. It came to me this morning while I was snoozing in bed with baby suckling by my side. I unplugged my milk-guzzling mite as soon as she'd allow and snook away to scribble down all I could remember (while sitting on the john)...

Did you really need to know that? YES - it's the only way I can convey just how manic my life has gotten of late...

Sitting on the pot is a parent's sanctuary - but even THAT is not really all THAT sacred in our house. If I'm really 'lucky' both my boys will want to sit on their singing potties at my feet while I'm busy in there, and Daddy leans on the doorjamb cleaning his teeth.

It's really OK - I sort of like the moral support... sometimes.

This morning; however, they were all three tied up at the table with their Rice Krispies, so I happened to steal five minutes (five - at a push!) to draft a blog. Yay for me and my super efficient morning - and all this before I'd even taken a swig of my Java!

Anyway - this post isn't THAT post. This is a double whammy THANK YOU post dedicated to Kerri from Mummy and the Monsters and Michele from follow me home. These lovely ladies have given Across the Pond (and hence me... heehee) two smashing awards for me to sport on my sidebar!

This might not be the first time my blogging has gotten me a wee bit of recognition - however, it's a definite first for Across The Pond, a cross cultural Mommy blog that I am fiercely fond of!

Go Momma! nearly always steals the show - but only down to its more racy content! I've played with the idea of combining my two top reads, but I just can't find a good enough reason to do it. The upshot of this is, I'm allowed to get nominated for the same award TWICE!

Those of you (a wondrous few) that follow both my blogs may have seen my Go Momma! post titled 'Go Momma!', which has me jumping through 11 hoops to receive my Liebster Blog Award. Well, here we go again - but stick with me! These 11 questions are very different, so you might just find out something new.......

Ah-hem. First the rules:

Liebster Award rules (if you choose to honor the Liebstar legacy):

1) Answer my 11 questions

2) Think of 11 questions of your own
3) Choose 11 worthy bloggers (who have fewer than 200 followers) to lavish some love on!

So, Kerri from  Mummy and the Monsters , here's what I have to say.......

1. What do you love most about blogging?

I LOVE that blogging gives me an outlet to write! I've always wanted to write - and I've attempted to 'write' in the past - but it's hard to find a reason. I'm not talking about a topic or a muse - I've got ideas coming out of my ears! The reason? Instant validation!!

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Who the hell cares?

Nobody really writes just for themselves, do they? Blogging gets my writing out there with the click of a button. The way I see it, my words are far better off working their way around the web than locked away inside some dusty dog-eared journal in the attic.

And - whether the reception is warm or frosty - the reward is instantaneous! In the aftermath of clicking 'publish' silence speaks volumes. Pageviews and comments are a bloggers' wages and don't I love em'!!

2. What is your favourite season and why?

Autumn - and that goes for BOTH sides of the pond (although over here they call it 'fall' of course)! 

In Texas the unbearable heat of summer finally breaks and outdoor living really begins. Oh, the joys of a deck and a grill, and hammocks! 

When I think of Autumn back 'home' this little Harvest Festival ditty springs to mind: 

Autumn days, when the grass is jewelled

And the silk inside a chestnut shell
Jet planes are meeting in the air to be refuelled
All these things I love so well
So I mustn’t forget
No, I mustn’t forget
To say a great big thank you
I mustn’t forget.
Most of all I love that it's the 'Holiday' season (and no...I'm not talking about packing a case and flying to Benidorm or Majorca!), starting with Halloween (and bonfire night back 'home'), then there's the magical build up to Christmas - made all the more magical with my fledgling family!
3. Where do you get your ideas for your blog posts?

My kids, my family, my friends, my dogs - pretty much anything and EVERYTHING that happens around me! When I lay down in bed on a night all the days events swirl around in my head and I usually have one or two blog post ideas that I just have to jot down. Obviously all these ideas don't make it to 'publish'.

4. Tea or coffee?

There's a time and a place for BOTH. However, this does seem to depend on which side of the pond I'm residing. Back 'home' there's a burning need for tea - nothing quite soaks up the grease from a Full English brekkie or a plate of fish and chips the same way! There's also a scarcity of proper coffee pots and a surplus of that nasty freeze-dried Nescafe. I know - I'm a coffee snob! I grew up on that nasty s**t - I didn't know any better! Here, in Texas, I love LOVE my coffee pot. I've always got coffee on the go. I still like my cuppa' in the evening. We're limited to Twinings or PG Tips - but when you're desperate for a brew  (and I'm talking hot black Tea with a splash of milk) even Lipton will do!

5. Who inspires you?

My friends mainly, but two in particular stand out and deserve a 'shout out'. 
They are both Scottish - but don't hold that against em'! 

Firstly, my close gal pal (see Skyebird and Jules) who, although she blogs rarely these days, inspired me to start blogging in the first place. This lady also helped me find the courage to chase my happiness. I owe a lot to her today!

Secondly our transatlantic self-employed and self-made buddy (see owner of Present & Personal). Watching him pave his own pathway to success (and Twitter fame) over the past five years has been inspirational to say the least.

Both these friends have helped me figure out a few things about myself (and the hubs) - and they've both given my bloggie alter-ego a *clap right when it was needed!

*clap: Scottish for stroke. Crazy - huh?

I could keep going. So many of my Mommy pals would make the list. I watch and learn from them all the time - I only wish they were blogging about it too!

6. What was the last film you watched?

Crash - the 2005 movie set in the aftermath of 9/11 New York (not the effed-up flick that featured folks f***ing over mangled metal and bodies after crashing their cars). I watched it on instant Netflix the other night (while rocking our newborn to sleep).  A very sobering film! Is everybody really a 'racist' when they're running scared? I laughed (aw, c'mon - the Chinaman stuck under the car was pretty funny), I cried - and it's still making me think. The mark of a great movie! 

 7. What do you dislike most about blogging?

That I can't be 100% candid with my content! 

In spite of how open and honest my very personal blogging may come across to the 'masses', there's a virtual library of censored content that I just can't put 'out there'. It may be a shocker to some, but, even in my TMI posts, I'm holding a little of myself back!

There's a level of exposure that I don't feel comfortable crossing on behalf of my hubs or the kids. They aren't named, but it doesn't take a genius to work out their identities - even our big-kid isn't fooling anyone with his Batman mask! My hubs gets to veto what he doesn't like (Daddy censorship - what do YOU think?), but the kids are too young to object - so I have to be 'objectionable' for them.

I also HATE offending anyone. So sadly some really REALLY funny s**t is just a big FAT blogging no-no, unfortunatelyI've toyed with the idea of creating an underground blog for those really personal, or potentially offensive blogs that I just can't help but write. Wait a few years. Perhaps I'm saving the real meaty stuff for my book! 

8. Describe your morning routine.


9. What's your top blogging tip?

Same as Dory's advice: Just keep writing! Write ANYTHING even when you can't think of ANYTHING - the good stuff will work its way back out of you eventually.

10. If you could be a super hero for a day what would your super power be?
Evie stopping time.
Is flying a given? I've got a cape right? If I can already fly then I want to be able to stop time too - like Evie used to do on that kids show Out of This World. THAT was pretty neat!

11. What three words best describe you?

out-going, achievement-orientated, motherly  (did I cheat with the hyphens?)

PHEW! So now it's my turn! And I'd like to lavish the Liebster love on these lucky eleven bloggers:

The SAHM Confessions
the teeny tiny mommy.
Saturday Morning Ogre Mum
Little Mommy Diary
Delightfully Ludicrous
The Motivated Fat Girl
Morning Coffee Confessions
Big Girl Panties
The Adventures of Not Supermom
Mother of the Pack
Refrigerator Memories

And MY questions for you are:

1. Tell me about a time you were really homesick.
2. Did you grow up with siblings, how was it?
3. Do you still live in the same area you grew up?
4. If you could live ANYWHERE, where would it be?
5. What would you think if your child emigrated to a different country?
6. What's your favourite TV show and why?
7. Christmas, love it or hate it?
8. What do you think of natural med-free childbirth?
9. Would you spank your children?
10. Is there anything that you regret?
11. Name a song you've ever played over and over on repeat- why that song?

I can't wait to read your answers - make sure to send me your links!

One down, one to go...........

This award seems to have a bit of a beauty focus, so the fact that I've been awarded it puts a massive question mark against its legitimacy!

See, I'm that Momma that goes back to bed in the-day-before-yesterday's clothes! I can count the number of showers I've taken since the birth on one hand - less than half that number includes washing my hair!

A real conversation between me and the hubs this morning:

Hubs: "Hmmmmm, you smell nice. What perfume are you wearing?"
Momma: "Soap."

The most I do (these days) with my (not really) red mop, is drag a brush through it before it frizz-dries, then pull it back in a pony. But, as my brush is lost somewhere under the abyss of diapers, burp cloths, onsies and other baby paraphernalia cluttering every surface in the house, I've had to master my own Little Mermaid fork-combing technique!!

I don't wear make-up. I've tried - I'm far too lazy to keep it up, and I'm just not that good at it! A bit of clear mascara and some lip gloss on special occasions (like my wedding) is about all I can handle.

I love my dangly earrings - but the babies have put a stop to that passion!

As far as beauty blogging - it's not really my thing; however, I'm not opposed to covering beauty topics if they're in context to my blog post. For example I touch on vajazzing in TMI Friday!waxing in keeping your hedges trimmed... and pedicures in wax that tash!

Anyway, in spite of being a beauty fraud, I am more than ecstatic to accept The Laine Blogger Award. Thank you, Michele from the bottom of my heart for thinking of me!

Here are the 'rules' (a little laxer than the Liebster's - and thank the Lord for that!):

1. Answer the five questions (same ones that I've answered).
2. Pass it on to 5 more bloggers.

So, my good friend Michele from follow me home, here goes 'nothing'....

1. What is your current beauty obsession?

I don't really do beauty obsessions. I do, however, have a beauty paranoia. I actually blogged about it back in June in wax that tash! That's the only 'beauty' related post I've ever written in 'Across The Pond'. I find myself pulling on my not-so-imaginary girl-tash throughout the day. Last month - before giving birth to the bambino - the hubs and I were wandering around the Market Booths here in our small town Texas when we stumbled across a lady selling a girl-tash removal tool, a spring with a handle, which basically does the same thing as the Indian threading technique - snags and rips out your lip hair from the roots!! Her (torture) instruments were only $10 a pop (half the price of the R.E.M SPRING - more reasonably priced on Amazon, see below)- so God only knows why I didn't snatch her hand off - probably because it hurt like the bejesus when she tested it out on a few of my tash hairs!! I think I'll stick with the humiliation of being waxed at the Pedi place here in town - at least it's over in one tug!

2. What is the one beauty item you wished you owned?

I've always wanted one of those blackhead extractors - you know, the little metal tool with loops on either end. They're not that pricey so I don't really know why I haven't ever bitten the bullet... OK, I probably do know why - it would become an obsession, and I'd make an absolute mess out of my face! I honestly don't know if those deep facials (where they pull out a million blackheads you never knew you had) do more harm than good. But doesn't it feel good to 'pop' one of those suckers outta there! I love it when the hubs lets me work on his back, unfortunately it's my back that has the goods! You can tell we've reached our seven year anniversary (this coming Monday!) when grooming each other like a pair of chimps is what passes for a good time round here!

3. What is your favourite topic to read or write about?

I like anything that is personal and real.

4. What inspired you to become a blogger?

My bezzie mate started a blog Skyebird and Jules and I thought, 'Cool, I could do that!'

5. What nail polish are you wearing now?

I'm still sporting the chipped remnants of my turquoise toes that I got from the pedi place here in town, back in July before I had my baby.

Perhaps I need one of those springy thingies for my toes!
Fortunately I managed to palm 'The Humiliator' (see wax that tash!) off on my willing British buddy. He took quite a shining to her and her toe cheese!

Wowzers! That took a fair bit of blogging - but we're almost there now (if any of you are still with me) - so finally, in the spirit of 'Laine' (whomever that might be), I'd like to pass this 'beauty' Blogger Award on to these five beautiful bloggers:

Mod Mom Beyond IndieDom
Menopausal Mother
Lipstick, Margaritas and Hairspray
The Mommy Chronicles
Entirely Emily

Congratulations ladies. Happy Blogging and don't forget to let me know when you post your answers!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Daddies Freakin' Out!

......a smattering of our deck squatters!
For many months now we've had squatters - hundreds of them - sleeping outside up in rafters of the deck. Despite my aversion to creepy-crawlies - especially ones found in Texas - these long limbed spider-like daddies I kind of dig!

I first saw a bunch of them clustered on the back of our extension door over two years ago and immediately recoiled in horror. Luckily I was with an old seasoned Texas lady at the time, who convinced me straight away that they were 'friends' and that they would take care of the other nasties for me.

My imagination had me dreaming up scenarios where thousands of these daddy long-legs would pack hunt the poisonous pests and gobble them up leaving no trace.

Yes - these protectors are definitely welcome to hang out at our house.

The fantasy seemed to support what is apparently the biggest spider-myth out there:

"daddy long-legs are one of the most poisonous spiders, but their fangs are too short to bite humans."

I'd heard this myth years ago - applied to the British daddy long-legs variety - and after what my old Texan gal pal had told me about my new friendly squatters, it all seemed to add up.

I've never attempted to get rid of the Texan gangly critters since I realized their super powers. But until this year I never had to house-share with them.

This year they're everywhere!

Our deck was completed at the back end of last fall, and like most creepers, we didn't see hide nor hair of the (not-really-a-spider) spiders until it started warming up again this spring.

Then all of a sudden our squatters were back- and they'd brought all their friends with them....

The first time I saw them huddled on our front porch, high up in the rafters and on the cabin siding I was gobsmacked at how many there were. I was even more stunned when they all started 'freakin out' together as our Daddy (short-legs) likes to put it!

It only seems to take one daddy freakin' out - say, if a kid gets too close to the cluster - to set the rest of them off, then they all start bouncing in sync - it's the weirdest phenomenon.    

Before long I started to spot tall eerie shadows scurrying across our indoor carpets, and on the cabin wood floor. But even having encroached on the inside of our home I'm still not phased by them - I'm not so keen on having to sweep up their dead daily (I seem to find dead daddies all over the house - especially the screened in porch).

This year our ecosystem - inside the house - has had a bit of a shake up.

There have been more scorpions - which sadly scuppers my 'pack hunt' theory - but we've seen NO ants inside. None whatsoever.

The difference is remarkable - considering that this time last year we were fire-fighting ant infestations with fresh poison stations weekly. And this summer - with two snacking toddlers - we've got double the crumbs, and ice cream and sticky melon drops all over the shop!

It can only be the daddies doing their very best to earn bed and board.

So far they seem happy to sleep in their humongous cluster outside - only scattering their troops out to forage and scavenge inside the house when they need food. I think my affection for them would quickly evaporate if they attempted to relocate their hoards inside.

But wait, there's more.....

Daddy short-legs (a.k.a the hubs) has been working diligently this last week to set up a mini pump and pool outside for the kids. A few days ago, while all but Daddy were happy napping, he wriggled under the crawl space of the house extension to hook up the pump electrics.

The idea of crawling under the house freaks Momma out - critters or no critters. Ever since watching The Children of The Corn lower that house down onto that poor little old lady, I swore I'd never live in a house on stilts...      

So there our Daddy was - having crawled a good 6 feet or so (his height and then some) underneath the house - before he spotted one or two eerie shadowy movements on the floor in front of him. Then something made him raise his eyes to the underside of the floor just above him, and finally - with horror movie trepidation - he craned his neck around to look straight up.

And what do you think he saw.......?

Right above him, almost completely covering the floor insulation, were millions of our amiable ant hunters. The only thing standing between Daddy and 'The Daddies' was the chicken wire that holds the insulation in place. The same chicken wire brushing the top of Daddy's head - with holes large enough for tarantulas to crawl through, never mind a wiry limbed daddy-long-leg!

Daddy says:
"Multiply this by a thousand and you're still not even close!"
I would have screamed. Daddy - to his credit - did not (he didn't want to wake the babies - aww).

What a Daddy!

When they felt the presence of GIANT Daddy short-legs they all started freaking out together. Hoards and hoards of agitated arachnids bouncing furiously at Daddy's intrusion.

He finished the job - in spite of the 'freak out' going inside his head - and his heart beating ten to the dozen. The 'job' involved crawling a further 4 feet under the pulsing mother hub of what I now know (after my trusty Google research) to be Harvestmen.

In spite of maintaining an outward calm, Daddy fought for every ragged breath - coming close to hyperventilating each time his focus wandered from the task at hand to the cluster of creepy-crawlies over head and harrowingly out of sight.

He later admitted that if they'd have dropped and scurried over him he would have screamed like a little girl - even though he knew they were harmless enough.

Little did we realize that our hundreds of squatters on the deck are just the 'sentinel' harvestmen. Watchmen for the millions of harvestmen living underneath the house. No wonder they're taking care of the ants!

I wonder if they'll eat dog fleas too?

The dogs' usual flea meds suddenly don't seem to be holding up against the summer flea infestations outdoors  - and for the last couple of nights we've noticed the mutts scratching like crazy.

I'm sure I saw something jumping on the couch yesterday...

Hopefully the harvestmen will feast on the fleas (as well as the ants and the crumbs dropped by the boys) - and the new kitten will subsequently hunt the harvestmen, hopefully keeping their freaky-deaky population in check!

And if we're lucky the dogs won't devour the kitten..... but that's a whole other blog!

Of all the fascinating facts regarding our summer squatters that my Googling has come up with - the one that trips me out the most is that these prevalent harvestmen are apparently an endangered species here in Texas....

No freakin' way!

Whichever Texan determined harvestmen to be 'endangered' in this state must have been looking under the wrong house.

Just ask our Daddy short-legs...!

*A few home 'truths' about harvestmen - at least according to Google:

1. Harvestmen are not spiders (they are arachnids - like spiders and scorpions).

2. They are not poisonous.

3. They don't have any fangs - but can pinch you with their claws (agghhh).

4. Harvestmen are the Grandaddies of daddy long-legs (six-legged crane-flys and cellar spiders are also called daddy long-legs).  

5. They can emit a foul smell to ward off predators (much like another Daddy I know....).

6. If our Daddy short-legs was actually a daddy long-legs his legs would be 42 feet long!

Pretty cool, huh?