Monday, 16 May 2011

"Happy Birthday Auntie Ba!"

Lucky girl doesn't look a day over eighteen...(jealous?  moi?)
Okay there is a part of me that is doing this because as a big sister I simply can't resist the urge to tease - especially on a such a public scale.  My sister is seriously going to kill me when she reads this blog post (which hopefully she won't do until much later in the day when she has been plied with so many treats and alcoholic beverages that she finds it touching and amusing - as opposed to mortifying and completely uncalled for!)

But you see I simply couldn't let today go by without proclaiming to all and sundry just how fabulous my sister is (and why Egg and Dumpie are the luckiest little boys on the planet to have her as their 'Auntie'....)

Here is my Top Ten List as to WHY Auntie Ba (totally) rules:

1.  Since they were born she has been like a second mother to the monsters (and dare I say it, at times a far superior one - given her untold devotion and insistence on bubble baths and hot meals when I was simply too exhausted to care).

2.  She has kept them from being illiterate and mistakenly corralled into a 'Special Ed' class (it was my sis who first noticed that we had neglected to teach Egg basic counting, letters of the alphabet and to identify colours - too thrilled had we been by Egg's nightly naked post-bath dancing ritual to Goldfrapp's 'Supernature' album that we failed to notice that basic skills were perhaps being ignored.)

3.  She is one of the few people who still willingly accompany me to cafe's without the least show of embarrassment for my particular ordering style and subsequent disgruntled-ness (is that a word?) when my hot beverage is invariably made incorrectly ("Sorry to bother you but there is just a wee bit too much milk in here - so let me tell you again exactly how I would like it done okay?"...)

4.  She never makes fun of me when I purchase yet another 'Ra-ra skirt', despite the fact that I am technically way to old to be wearing one.

5.  She has the most impeccable taste in film and music and is always surprising me with something amazing that I can't believe I've never heard or seen (like the other day when she made me watch the most excellent "Last Night" with Keira Knightly...brilliant film for so many reasons)

6.  She is kindest person I know and gives to a fault - mostly of herself.  If I were to add up the number of hours and days and weeks she has tirelessly stepped in the fill the parenting gap I so often leave open ("Just popping out to the shops for a wee bit"..."Do you mind if I just have a bath?"..."Pretty please could you give Dumpie his fifth bath of the day - I just can't face it"...etc.) I would never show my face in public again for the shame of it.

7.  She has lost count of the number of times one (or both!) of the monsters have crawled into bed with her during the night and crammed their stinky little toes into her face while she pointlessly attempted sleep, made a wee in her bed, or woken her up at the break of dawn to start chatting about which 'treats' they would like her to procure for them that day (in fact Dumpie is currently snoring away in her bed right now...)

8.  She is the one who always finds the BEST presents for birthdays and goes to great lengths to ensure that no one goes to bed on their special day without falling asleep next to the thing they coveted most.  (To that end, Dumpie spent this evening listing possible presents for his Auntie Ba:  "Sparkly star dress...a watch...lipstick" etc. but then kind of dropped the ball when he gamely offered up, "A bin?....some hair elastics?")

9.  She is F-ing FUNNY.  End of.  No one can make me laugh like my sister.  She is the wittiest person I know and that's when she's not even trying to be.  She deserves her own comic.  Her insanely hilarious insights are unparalleled and I feel sorry for people who don't have her in their lives on a daily basis and hence aren't privy to her totally unique, utterly spot on and so-funny-they-almost-make-me-wee utterances.

10.  I'd be lost without her.  She is my sounding partner in crime...and so much more.  She has been sister, auntie, best friend, marriage therapist, beauty consultant, resident health expert, travel agent, fashion advisor, life coach, confidante, and guardian angel.



Mama, Dada, Egg and Dumpie xxxx

Thursday, 12 May 2011

The Long-Awaited Catch Up (Or 'Why I Have Been So Lame')

Can i GET anymore tanned?  Time to leave Florida (sigh)...

Once more ensconced in the bosom of our respective families here in Toronto, Canada, (it being nearly two years since we were last here), it has dawned on me that I have yet to make good on my promise of a proper 'catch up' on my blog. We arrived here a week ago and (as it always does when one is enjoying oneself) the time has literally flown by in a flurry of dinners, drives, visits, name it.
But I am a woman of my word (or I'd like to believe I am) and thus what follows is a CONDENSED VERSION of what I like to think of as "So what the heck happened AFTER Panama?"
Looking like butter wouldn't melt (all three of them).  Ha.
First off, I do recall mentioning that two amazing things happened recently.  No, I am not pregnant, nor did I win any sort of lottery or get asked to host the next series of the rather dire 'Britain's Got Talent'.

Rather, I allowed a tiny piece of roasted bird flesh (turkey) to pass my vegetarian lips on Easter.  I have been a fairly hardcore vegetarian for about fifteen years or so, and only in the past few years have i deemed fish (of the battered and fried variety mostly - and usually after one too many glasses of ice cold sauvignon blanc it must be said) mildly acceptable.  But this was the first time I ventured out of Pescatarian waters and hence, a bit of a milestone.

Did I like it?  No.  Despite my father being one of the best cooks in the world, the texture of the meat was off-putting.  But was I proud of myself for overcoming years of revulsion and doing it?  Yep.  Still, Nando's and Swiss Chalet have nothing to worry about for the time being.  I'm still a 'Veggie'.  You shan't find me lurking in butcher's shops anytime soon, haggling for the best cuts of beef or anything.
My two favourite men (three if you include Bacon)
The second bit of astounding news was that the husband overcame years of protestations ("Over my dead body are our kids ever going to go to Disney World") to suggest that...we take the monsters to Disney World(!) before we left Florida for good.

I can't say I wasn't shocked.  We have always argued vehemently on this subject.  Having personally been to Disney World something like seventeen times growing up (spoiled? moi?) there was no way I was going to deprive the monsters of at least one chance to experience the 'Magic Kingdom'...even if it is an over-hyped, over-priced temple to fluff and western materialism.

However the husband has bad memories of his visit(s) there, citing the rate at which his father's wallet was emptied (as overpriced food and tat was purchased), as being one of the main reasons.  Fair enough I suppose, but when the husband embarks each year to Glastonbury for the world's biggest music festival, he probably spends the same amount as a family of four would fork over for the privilege of riding Pirates of the Caribbean umpteen times. So....

So we went.  My father declined the offer to accompany us, and thus just the four of us took off one morning for the short hour and a half ride to Disney.  I don't know what I expected, but certainly more than the happy yet blase reaction which followed the handing over of the $332 U.S. dollars entry fee (gulp) upon arrival.  The husband and I caught ourselves chattering away like inane idiots, "Look you guys, there's Goofy!  Wow - is that Dumbo?!  Who wants to go into the Haunted Mansion?  Isn't it scaaaary looking?!" etc.
"Come on damn it!  Each minute here is costing us around £1.17"
In retrospect, perhaps the Pirates of the Caribbean swords were misjudged...
The monsters, it has to be said, seemed bemused at our forced frivolity, and though they good-naturedly  tried to summon up the requisite joy and amazement we appeared to be gagging for, there just seemed to be something missing.  It wasn't until a few days later that I realised that perhaps the problem was that the boys have had so many REAL LIFE adventures in the past year or so, that no amount of robotic singing puppets, lurching rides through poorly constructed tableaus, or costume-clad actors suffering under the weight of fake fur in the hot Floridian sun, have a chance of competing against giant paper mache dragons (Bali), powdered paint fights on 'Holi' (Goa) or flying past rice paddies and fields on the back of a motorcycle (Bali/Goa) know?
We've been there, done it, bought the let's get the heck.  out.  
For Easter in Florida we took the boys to a giant 5000 egg Easter Egg Hunt.  It was insane.  Luckily it was divided up by age groups and I got saddled with Dumps while the husband happily took off with Egg (who, it has to be said, was traumatised when we got there and discovered that most of the other children were wielding pretty wooden baskets for collecting their loot - not two tatty Walmart bags Mama had dug out from the boot of the car...oops).  Luckily Dada wandered off and was able to procure two baskets for the boys, whilst simultaneously stuffing the Walmart bags in his shorts pocket and casting me a disparaging eye.  I should have known that my 'be confident and strong - it doesn't matter what you have but who you are!' speech would not have much effect on a six year old.
I still say using old plastic Walmart bags would have 'built character'...

Post-hunt spoils...
Why Egg's Easter Dinner was ruined...
Grandpa insisted on spoiling the boys rotten for Easter and let them choose whatever candies and chocolates they wanted in the store.  (Note to Grandpa:  'carte blanche' at Easter for a six and four year old will only result in a killer grocery bill and a heaving trolley.)
A small sampling of the Easter goodies on offer for the monsters...
Our last few days in Florida were spent doing 'repairs' on my father's condo.  The husband attempted to right at least some of the wrongs our boys had been responsible for, and in typical fashion the morning we were leaving, Dumpie, in one last final grand gesture, managed to break the closet door in the bedroom, pulling the whole thing off it's hinges with a great crack of the wood.  Nice.
Despite the carnage to his condo...Grandpa adores his little home wreckers
This could win a really bad photo competition...non?

Possible career opportunity for me in London should we run into financial difficulties?...
I suppose the biggest news was that while en route to Orlando airport, it was suddenly discovered that 'Bacon' the bear, Eggie's best friend and confidante, who has only spent two weeks apart from him in almost seven years, was missing.  Yep, turns out that in the rush of leaving, Bacon was somehow left behind, and seriously, I almost started crying when Eggie turned to me in the back seat, eyes wild with pain and fear as the realisation dawned on him, cried out, "Mama please don't say Bacon isn't here or I'm seriously going to freak out!"  Bless...

To his credit, despite an hour or so of sobbing, Egg has held up pretty well (though two nights ago at bedtime, big crocodile tears slipped out as he beseeched me to please get Bacon back for him).  Given that the husband somehow also managed to leave our only (shared I might add) Apple Mac power supply back there in Florida as well, there is even more of a likelihood that we will somehow figure out a way to remedy this disastrous situation.

And so life goes on.  The husband and I, although we are enjoying this last brief(ish) stop here in Canada before we head back to 'real life' and all that goes with it back in London, England, are aware that the real challenges lie ahead.

What will become of us?  Will we fit back into our lives, or find that WE are now a different shape and can no longer go back to how things were before we got the chance to see how many different versions of our lives can be had with just a little imagination and a lot of courage?

Hmm...should be interesting.
With stupid head gear and killer tans, we're ready to take on the future.  sorta.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Middle of the Night Ramblings From A Female Zombie...

So it's 3:07am and in mere hours we are due to depart for Orlando Airport and fly 3 hours to Toronto, Canada where we shall nestle in the bosoms of our respective families - or something like that - for the next month before (FINALLY!) heading back to London...

It has been amazing living here on the beach and spending time with my father.  Dumpie now declares openly that he has no intention of ever going back to London and intends to come back here to Florida and live "forever and ever" with his Grandpa.

I will miss my morning runs along the gorgeous beach, afternoons spent on a park bench reading while the monsters terrorise the local playground, popping across the road to the (giant) grocery store for a few sundries and returning hours later laden with bags full of crazy and amazing stuff(!), getting to know the staff at Abercrombie & Fitch on a personal basis (I kid you not - saw one of them on the news the other night commenting on a local fire), and basically indulging that hidden white-trashiness which I obviously can lay claim to.

Easter passed in a flurry of chocolate, freak outs (from the chocolate) and a big Easter feast rustled up by yours truly.  Since then, a few amazing things have happened.  But more on that later (tomorrow or the next day - promise - complete with pics from the past month, which will do a far better job of explaining just what the heck I've been up to these past few weeks.)

But for now, I sit, exhauseted, contemplating the horror which is three hours sleep, and too many things to fit in too few bags.  The usual then...