Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Same old, same old

We're all back under one roof again. The Queenager spent a glorious 5 weeks at Northwestern University (half an hour away but she had to stay on campus the whole time). The Man-Child has had an incredible summer with golf camps and rock school, and of course two weeks on his own in the house while me and the other two came to England. The Ball & Chain stayed in Chicago to supervise, and M-C played high school golf almost every day, but the freedom was heaven to him.

For a lot of the time it was just me and the Little Guy (now 7) in the house. Yesterday he looked around, looked at me and, totally deadpan, said:

"Well, there's no doubt they're back".

Oh yes. The evidence is all there:

- 3 pairs of giagantic size 14 shoes in the hallway. They don't even fit under the hallstand like everyone else's - not that their owner has even tried.

- Wet towels all over the place. (I have decided not even to touch the ones lying on their beds - sleeping on a damp mattress might do the trick.)

- a fridge that's devoid of food no matter how many times I replenish supplies.

- computers and Internet left on all night. (Big consequences there.)

- all the mugs in the kitchen have vanished.

- TVs tuned to Top Gear or America's Top Model. (The fact they've seen every single episode seems to be beside the point.)

- pungent odours coming from one room and overpowering scents from the other.

School starts next week so I'll stay off their backs for the moment!

Expat Mum

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Is It Any Better Now That He Is Not A Teen?

My eldest has turned twenty today. The first of my five children to have crossed over from the teen years into ?????? adulthood.

All I want to know is where the heck have these last twenty years flown?

I was only six months older than him when I gave birth to him. Those good old years when I was still naive enough to think I knew everything.

Not much has changed since yesterday. My son is still an amazing person with a great heart. A person who can also at times behave a bit like a spoiled child. (Can you tell that I am still annoyed about him not giving me a kiss hello the other night because he was too tired and needed to go to bed. Uh huh, that extra two seconds of sleep is going to make a real big difference. On the other hand, he is probably nicer than I was at his age....)

To answer my own question, no it's not any better that my eldest is not a teen anymore. Aside from it meaning that I am getting older, as any parent will attest to, as much as you love and trust your kids, you always have that little special part in your heart to think and worry about and for them.

So Happy 20th Birthday kiddo.

Your smile lights up any room. (No matter what you are wearing.)

Your sense of style is all your own.

(Since I am not taking credit for the less than successful, I won't take credit for the successful either.)

You might see the world from your own unique vantage point.

But you know how much you are loved and you know how proud we are of you.

May you find your way in life. A path that brings you joy, serenity, peace, love, health, wealth and of course the dream car you have been pining for since you were three. (No, sorry, we didn't buy you a car for your birthday.)
And for now, enjoy thinking that you know everything.

I will now head off to drown my sorrows at growing old.

Susie @ NewDayNewLesson

Monday, 23 August 2010

Starting Out...

Auntie Gwen said it first - Last week was immensely stressful, and not just for our wee (nowadays often ridiculously tall!) bairns...

I'm blogging over at MINE this week about how Grizz did on Results Day, and also what happens next.

Bring on the empty nest! (Wipes away tear...)

This is just the start for us again, is it not? Not unlike the first day at school, when we snapped them for posterity fresh in their school uniforms, new collars chafing on tender necks, shiny shoes polished to within an inch of their lives...

Now we get to start worrying about them all over again, as they embark upon even more independent living; Finding a place of their own; Cleaning house and doing laundry for themselves (Heaven forbid, or we'll be paying even more for fumigation than we do now!); Going out hunting for food all by themselves in the world; Making even tougher decisions - To go to lectures, or stay in bed!

And this time it's costing us an arm and a leg to keep them there. I don't begrudge one penny of it. For me, this time is about growing up even more than they have to date; It's about finding out who they are, making new friends, stretching their minds, learning about what makes other tick... Yes, I know it's also about drinking and partying, but as long as he devotes just as much energy to studying, I can be very tolerant.

Of course, I did chuckle to myself after I'd hacked into Grizz's e-mail account to check that he had his place at Uni to study Geography, and I noted that his first ever compulsory Field Trip in the new term involves a stay at a draughty and exposed, northerly coastal caravan park only around forty miles from our home!

Oh, the adventure!

Great luck to all of you whose children are starting out in the autumn and those taking gap years too, or who are lucky enough to be starting apprenticeships and jobs...

Blessings all. Wherever they are going in life.

Thursday, 19 August 2010


This morning after a very sleepless night, the Eldest Beautiful Daughter and I went to school to collect her A2 results. We timed it just to arrive at 8am as they opened the doors.

It's quite startling to a middle aged Mummy to see so many of these teenager creatures at such a time. Who knew they were capable of morning? As the tension level wasn't quite high enough, a box of the school's results had been mistakenly delivered to a local 6th form College, this meant we had to wait for the box to come back. After 11 minutes we're allowed in, it did feel like a fortnight but my watch told me differently and who am I to disagree?

The actual exam results are quite difficult to read and I'm not talking about my middle aged at arms length squinting type hard to read, just hard to decipher and I'm a teacher for feck's sake, could they not just put in bold across the top - Your A2 result is level...
Much less stressful, all round, I feel. Yes, I do agree, if I was in charge everything would be much better, so glad you're with me on that.

Eventually we worked out the she had indeed achieved the magic B C C required to secure her place, so in a few weeks time the Eldest Beautiful Daughter will be off to the place where they take all my money and she gets to perfect her drinking technique. And if we're really lucky she'll get a degree too.

I hope if you were collecting results today, you got what you needed. Much love from your

auntiegwen xxx

Friday, 6 August 2010

On love...

Do you find yourself forgetting how adorable young children can be?

When you're wrangling teens, it's a lot like herding cats, except occasionally cats are more obedient, more vocal, eat a lot less, and don't demand that you fill their cars up with petrol...

Grizz has returned from his hols in Zante, having a) with his gang of 18 mates, been pulled over by the Police on wrongful suspicion of assault b) being accused as a group of hitting girls, by a gang of 'Scousers' c) being robbed of $100 (circa 60 Euros, but I can't find the Euro button), by the owner of their hotel for dirt allegedly left by his mates on three pillowcases. He refused to give them back their passports unless Grizz paid up for all of them... d) having carried one of his stone-cold unconscious mates back to the hotel after a frightful night out e) having more new friends on his Facebook account than Paris Hilton f) having almost run out of money in the first week g) having, for the first time ever in his life, decked someone h) having survived...

I can breathe now, I find. Now he's back in Blighty.

And my colleague brought her sort-of grand-daughter, (her partner's GD), in to the office this week, and we oohed and aahed like only mothers can, at the antics of two year old Freya, who is oh so pretty, darling compliant, friendly, smiling, chatty and loving...

And we go right back into caring parent mode, do we not - I removed a dangerous stapler from Freya's hands as she roamed across the desk anchored by her reins, giving her a fluffy spotty material covered box instead, (our Suggestion Box, don't ask, it's never been used!) to play with and some assorted desk-top teddies...

When I left for lunch, Freya was tutored to say, in the most sweet voice, "Bye, bye Fhina!", between mouthfuls of chicken and ham from her lunch-box...

There was quite the lump in my throat.

It never really goes away, does it?

Our fears for their welfare.

Our caring about them and how they fare in life.

Our love...

Monday, 2 August 2010

I love you...

I know this isn't original, it's a piece I found in a link I clicked on that took me to Stanford Edu...

At the time, I was reading a thread on a forum about a 17 year old girl, who was crying that she was just desperate to have children.

More experienced (and probably world-weary) parents pointed this article out to her.

My apologies if you have already read it some place else.

I loved it! The thoughts that particularly chimed with me involved never being able to read a newspaper in, oh, thirteen years, and learning to dress an octopus... Except my octopus could also arch his back making it almost impossible to put an article of clothing upon him!


" ..Preparation for parenthood...

It's not just a matter of reading books and decorating the nursery. Here are 12 simple tests for expectant parents to take to prepare themselves for the real-life experience of being a mother or father.

1. Women: To prepare for maternity, put on a dressing gown and stick a pillowcase filled with beans down the front. Leave it there for 9 months. After 9 months, take out 10% of the beans.
Men: To prepare for paternity, go to the local drug store, tip the contents of your wallet on the counter, and tell the pharmacist to help himself. Then go to the supermarket. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office. Go home. Pick up the paper. Read it for the last time.

2. Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who are already parents and berate them about their methods of discipline, lack of patience, appallingly low tolerance levels, and how they have allowed their children to run wild. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's sleeping habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior. Enjoy it -- it'll be the last time in your life that you will have all the answers.

3. To discover how the nights will feel, walk around the living room from 5 pm to 10 pm carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious noise) playing loudly. At 10 pm, put the bag down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1 am. Put the alarm on for 3 am. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2 am and make a drink. Go to bed at 2:45 am. Get up again at 3 am when the alarm goes off. Sing songs in the dark until 4 am. Put the alarm on for 5 am. Get up. Make breakfast. Keep this up for 5 years. Look cheerful.

4. Can you stand the mess children make? To find out, first smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer. Stick your fingers in the flower beds, then rub them on the clean walls. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

5. Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems: first buy an octopus and a bag made out of loose mesh. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out. Time allowed for this: all morning.

6. Take an egg carton, using a pair of scissors and a pot of paint, turn it into an alligator. Now take the tube from a roll of toilet paper. Using only Scotch tape and a piece of foil, turn it into an attractive Christmas candle. Last, take a milk carton, a ping pong ball, and an empty packet of Cocoa Pops and make an exact replica of the Eiffel Tower. Congratulations! You have just qualified for a place on the play group committee.

7. Forget the BMW and buy a station wagon. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there. Get a dime. Stick it in the cassette player. Take a family-size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seats. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car. There. Perfect.

8. Get ready to go out. Wait outside the bathroom for half an hour. Go out the front door. Come in again. Go out. Come back in. Go out again. Walk down the front path. Walk back up it. Walk down it again. Walk very slowly down the road for 5 minutes. Stop to inspect minutely every cigarette butt, piece of used chewing gum, dirty tissue, and dead insect along the way. Retrace your steps. Scream that you've had as much as you can stand until the neighbors come out and stare at you. Give up and go back into the house. You are now just about ready to try taking a small child for a walk.

9. Always repeat everything you say at least five times.

10. Go to your local supermarket. Take with you the nearest thing you can find to a preschool child -- a fully-grown goat is excellent. If you intend to have more than one child, take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goats eat or destroy. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

11. Hollow out a melon. Make a small hole in the side. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone. Tip the rest into your lap, making sure a lot of it falls on the floor. You are now ready to feed a 12-month-old baby.

12. Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street, Barney, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

When you find yourself singing "I Love You" at work, you finally qualify as a parent".