Yesterday brought me back to nearly 10 years ago when I used to travel everyday to central London to work.
It was Tuesday morning 8.30am, shop not open yet, where the city is waking up and welcomes the glamorous and well dressed, the perfect hair that took ages to tame into place this morning, the click clonk of pointy heals, and the scent of freshly applied makeup and perfume they leave behind.
A quick look at the windows shops where they will probably come back to to kill a lunch time hour to take a closer look at the beautiful handbags they’re walking past. Maybe try on a bit of the latest fashion and leave behind the best part of their monthly wage.
For a minute I missed this badly. The morning commute holding a paper and a hot coffee, staring at the window, the sun shining at the London skyline as if saying welcome.
I am not sure I would do it again though, not now with young children anyway, but it felt good and envigoring.
The reason we were there mixing with a crowd that’s not used to a family sharing the pavement with them so early on a week day was because we were heading to the US Embassy for our visa interview. In itself it was quite an experience and a lengthy one…
But four hours of bureaucracy, armed with UNO game, books and colouring pens we left feeling empty but relieved and happy to be granted the outcome we were hoping for.
So the first things was to celebrate while trying to realise the enormity of what had just happened and how it was now official that our life was set to change.
Finally we are able to put a date in the diary, book flights, a removal company, find a house… and approach a whole new world the other side of an ocean.
Each time I watch this TV ad I can’t help thinking that it doesn’t just apply to our roads but also to our everyday life. Everywhere. Anywhere.
Why is it that all of us feel it’s okay to judge and teach lessons. We see the surface of events and assume someone is on a mission to spoil our day. We spoil our own day ourselves by the way we react.
We discount the fact that maybe some actions are the results of someone’s bad day. Bad news received? having to deal with the hardship life may throw at them? Maybe someone else has been unpleasant to them already and you are taking the consequences…
Life is so much nicer when we share considering thoughts, peace and care for one another. Arguments die with a calm response. Stress levels lower with a smile shared.
**that was my wisdom hour for you**
I have spent the last few days with my sister and nephew and it has been awesome.
We have been miles apart for such a long time now that it is starting to really hit us how different our lives have become. I am feeling very grateful that it hasn’t separated us even if at times it makes it hard to understand each other.
Only the Channel seperates our two countries (and there will be an ocean soon) but this is enough to make us feel very different. Sometimes it takes a lot patience and tolerance for both of us to not blow fire in each others face but with age comes wisdom and we are becoming rather good at holding it together.
Thankfully what there is most of when we are together are secrets shared, laughter and silliness. It never takes us very much to go back to being teenagers doing each others hair, pinching makeup, painting nails and swapping shoes and handbags.
The new distance will be feeling huge at times but hopefully we will be able to visit each other regularly.
Today is the boys last day of school before the Summer and probably, if everything goes according to plan, their last day at this school.
Today is a difficult day.
I am trying to hold on to the idea that good things are coming. All the opportunities that the boys will have in Chicago, the sports they will have access to and just the lifestyle in general, but today my heart is heavy.
I am looking at who and what we are leaving behind, at the lovely school that the boys adore, the friendships that have evolved and grown tighter since Reception…
Today all I am seeing is this chapter closing.
The home, our home, where I have had my babies with the floors that have seen their first steps, this home is in the process of being purchased by another family. I am selling what we can’t take with us and handing over our belongings to someone else is truly painful. All this bits and pieces have a piece of our family history, like the lamp I purchased for E’s nursery even before he was born…
So I know this is the beginning of something good and exciting but today I am only seeing the end of something that has been amazing and life defining.
The boys at the end of Yr1 and Yr2
Since we came back from Chicago, random little things that we have come across while in the US have been popping to my mind. Those little things will no doubt become the norm after a couple months spend there but for now here is what I noticed in Chicago…
– Toilets or restrooms offer next to no privacy. Maybe someone will give me a good enough reason why every single toilets I have visited while there have this gap of about half an inch all around the door? Not that I am worried people would stop and peek through the hole but you don’t even need to be obvious to see all you don’t want to see! It didn’t take me long to catch a sight I really didn’t want to catch, right in the mirror reflection while washing my hands. Enough said!
– The Police at passport control are not willing nor happy to grant a smile, not even when an over excited 5 yr old puts a cuddly bear right in their face, shouting “look at my new BEAR!!!!”
– The suburbs of Chicago where we stayed for the week looks like Disneyland. The grass is manicured perfectly, no bush is not under strict growth control, no pond is not perfectly gorgeous, no duck is looking frumpy, no one is walking in the street which is also probably why everything is so clean everywhere. Oh and their street signs are out of Sesame Street.
– There’s a drive through for every occasion: chemist, cigarettes, Starbucks, ATM, school drop off and school pick up… There is no need to walk anywhere and if you want to walk somewhere then why would you?
– US citizen are extremely patriotic and they wear reminders of their country, states, etc, everywhere. They are proud to be American and you can see it on their tee shirts, jumpers, car tags, hats, flags…
– Food portions! Food portions! A plate feeds at least two and considering you don’t walk anywhere I may just double my size overnight!
– They love the British accent and they are happy to interrupt and tell you “Love the accent, too cute!” And this can simply happen when walking in the street (or while I am teary and hugging my husband at the airport saying goodbye).
– They are very friendly. I was told that, but really they ARE really friendly! They are smiley and enthusiastic. Nothing like the British gentle nod of the head when saying thank you. That’s a proper, forward thanks, smile and all.
– They never talk about the weather. Seriously one day we went to the zoo with the boys. The thermometer went to 37 degrees Celsius that day. It was hot and sticky and the day ended with a storm like a firework (I nearly cried so much I was scared) but not one person said at any one time “God it’s hot” or similar. And I was dying to share this simple sentence with someone, anyone but no, nothing was said at all!
So, is this the beginning of the culture shock?
Nous sommes rentrés de Chicago il y a quelques jours et plein de petits détails me reviennent en tête depuis ce retour. Des détails mineurs certes mais cependant qui laisse un effet surprise que je vais sûrement perdre l’espace de quelques mois passés là bas alors je tenais à en faire une liste…
– Les toilettes… Ils n’aiment pas garder ces moments privés que pour eux ou on dirait. Tous les toilettes, TOUS les toilettes dans lesquels je me suis rendue ont un encadrement de porte qui ne correspond pas à la porte. En gros il y a un espace d’au moins un cm tout autour ce qui laisse à qui veut bien la possibilité de partager ce moment d’intimité avec de parfaits étrangers. Degueu.
– La police au contrôle des passports n’est pas la pour plaisanter et mêmes pas un enfant surexcité qui leur met un ours en peluche en pleine face en criant “T’as vu comme il est beau mon nouvel ours Madame!!” ne leur fera décrocher un sourire.
– La banlieue de Chicago ou nous nous trouvions s’apparente à Disneyland. La pelouse est parfaitement tondue partout et il n’y a pas un voisin qui déçoit les autres et oublie de tondre la sienne. Les maisons sont faites pour apparaître anciennes mais apparaissent faites en plastic (et se chiffrent en millions de dollars). Les mares a canards sont propres et entretenues et on dirait que mêmes les canards sont millionaires.
– La taille des assiettes! Il faut le voir pour le croire, c’est tout a fait incroyable.
– Il y un drive in pour tout et pas simplement pour MC Do. Il y en a pour retirer de l’argent, pour commander un café, pour la pharmacie, pour acheter des cigarettes… et même pour déposer et venir chercher les mômes a l’école! Et si on pense qu’on ne marche nulle part et que les portions servies sont le double j’ai peur de doubler de taille l’espace de rien…
– Les américains sont fiers de leur pays, ils sont patriotiques jusqu’au bout. Entre les tee shirts qui indiquent le pays ou l’état, la voiture ou la maison avec les drapeaux, les serments…
– Ils adorent l’accent anglais et n’hésitent pas a vous arrêter dans la rue pour vous le dire. Ou même de séparer une étreinte comme à l’aéroport alors que je disais au revoir a mon mari, simplement pour vous dire que c’est “trop mignon”
– Ils sont sympathiques et enthousiastes ce qui je l’avoue me change du flegme anglais!
– Enfin ils ne se plaignent jamais du temps qu’il fait. Notre journée au zoo c’est faite sous 37 degrés et pas UNE seule personne n’a voulu se plaindre avec moi. Bonjour la frustration!
And so my little minx
Today you are finally six
And there could be no better things in life
Than the joy of no longer being five
Your world is made of pirates and spies
Mine is one where I sometime have to tell you porky pies
Like the one where I say that I am as excited as you
To see you rush through the years as quickly as you do
My boy with sweet big blue eyes
The sunshine that brightens up my sky
My handsome clever bunny
I am ever so proud to be your mummy
Keep learning and loving life the way you do
Because it has so much waiting for you
And as for us there are no bigger joy
Than watching you turn into this awesome boy
Happy 6th Birthday my gorgeous V!
I came back from Chicago on Friday morning and since then I have been trying to regain control. Control over my thoughts, my emotions, my body clock! Boy, my body clock… It would be not so much of a problem if I didn’t have to live with somebody else’s body clock who is trying to be awkward.
I was foolishly mislead by the first night back home.
I kept them awake all day and both gave up after a warm bath, dinner and hot chocolate at 6.30 pm. I carried two peacefully asleep little boys into bed and fell asleep at about 10 pm myself. Both boys slept until 8 am for one and 9.30 am for the second one. EASY!
Until last night when V decided to have a full blown party until 1.30 am and then we slept in until 9.30 and I spent the rest of the day hoping it wouldn’t happen again tonight. It didn’t, THANK GOD! He fell asleep at 9.30pm. I won’t get too excited because I simply refuse to jinx it, so please don’t get excited either.
I haven’t had much time since we came back for anything other than dealing with laundry, food shopping and regaining the love of my dog who I suspect would rather have kept his super dog sitter who stayed with him all week.
I am a bit daunted by the week ahead because I have a crazy tendency to over fill my diary.
Looking at it right now, I am about to burst into tears and roll around the floor. But I can’t because I am sailing the boat alone this week and aside of a school trip to which I volunteered (?!), my boy’s 6th birthday that I am trying to make special in the middle of complete chaos, the house sale which requires that I gather documents of all sorts and visit the solicitor, the council and god knows who else (soon to be discovered) and work, WORK!
Of course tiredness isn’t helping but…
I can do it.
I CAN DO IT!
version francaise a suivre
Nous sommes rentres de Chicago vendredi matin et depuis je suis en mission de regain de control. Le control de mes emotions, de mes pensees et de mon horloge biologique! En parlant d’horloge biologique, le probleme ne serait pas vraiment un probleme si je ne devais pas gerer l’horloge de quelqu’un d’autre, a savoir le plus jeune d’entre nous…
Tout se passait si bien, j’ai meme eu l’espace d’un instant l’audace de croire que j’etais une ninja du gerage de decalage horaire.
La premiere journee s’est passee comme par enchatement. Je les ai garde eveilles toute la journee et ils se sont paisiblement endormis apres un bon bain, leur repas et un chocolat chaud. Quand a moi je suis allee me coucher vers 22h.
Nous etions tous reveilles entre 8h (E et moi) et 9h30 (pour V mais pas sans les trompettes). Parfait, je me suis dit. Et ben non pas si parfait car le soir suivant, V nous a fait une java digne d’une rave party jusqu’a 1h30 du mat!
Il y a eu des pleurs, des cris, des calins, des pleurs encore et puis finalement j’ai eu le dernier mot en lui imposant un camisole humaine. Je l’ai plante dans mon lit en le serrant et finalement, FINALEMENT, il s’est endormi.
J’ai passe la journee a me demander s’il la rave party allait reprendre ce soir et bien non. Il s’est endormi a 21h30 mais je ne veux pas crier victoire trop rapidement.
Quant a moi je fais la liste de ma semaine a venir et si je me laisse aller je vais eclater en sanglots.
Entre la vente de la maison et des papiers a denicher je ne sais ou, les visite chez le notaire, a la mairie, la visite scolaire d’une synagogue, et les 6 ans du fetard a organiser au milieu de cette folie, j’ai envie de me rouler en boule et de pretendre que tout se fait tout seul…
Je vais commencer a traduire mon blog en francais pour la famille et les amis qui ne parlent pas ou peu l’anglais alore revenez nombreux
Never underestimate how life can take you to a completely different place in the blink of an eye.
Six months ago from today the year was ending in some sort of a bang (quite literally at some point) and we were drained, exhausted and running on empty.
At this stage all I wanted was to see the end of 2013 and start a new year. I had lost direction, purpose, drive, plans!
2014 had to be better. Much better. I felt it in my guts. Without fail by February we were given the opportunity to totally change our life and relocate to Chicago. The shock was followed by a frenetic dance. The excitement the prospect of a different life brought was second to none.
For the last few months nothing else has occupied my mind like this has.
I have grown lists longer than my arm. I am constantly adding to them and dealing with a new form of paperwork, a new appointment, a new person to inform or account to close every. single. day.
Somehow this has removed the emotional upheaval from the equation. However it came back to bite me in the bum this week.
We currently are in Chicago to visit the area and talk about emotional upheaval! In the last few days I have varied between “how cool is this place” to “I want to go HOME in England and never come back!”. Right now this is more “we can and we will do this and it will be great”.
We are ever so grateful to have the loveliest, most generous family here helping us settling. Friends who have done it before and who are giving us the most amazing practical and emotional support.
So yes, we can do this and we will do this. It will be great and it is a fresh start we needed. There will be tears, there will be a lot of people missed, there will be awkward and some stressful situations but in the end it will make sense and that’s all I want to take from this experience for now because I really need to keep ticking things off this list!
Do you want to build a showman… Have you seen Frozen? If you have, then you know exactly what this is all about! The boys and I have been singing the soundtrack over and over for weeks now! Well one of my boys and I really, the other one thinks he is too cool to sing in front of Mummy so he prefers to hide and sing anyway.
Just a week ago I felt that we were the only family left on this earth who hadn’t seen Frozen. And then pop in my inbox an invitation to attend an exclusive screening of the singalong version in a swanky hotel of Soho, followed by a Q&A with the Co-Writers and Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Bucks.
This was perfect timing, with E’s birthday the following day and C off for the day we decided to make it a big day out in the big smoke.
And it was following a game of UNO in the train, a visit to the Science Museum and a lunch at Pizza Express that we arrived at the hotel to enjoy some yummy cupcakes and a good chat with my lovely blogging friends, Lizzie of Mummy in Manolos (by the way you HAVE to check her review, Lizzie is an amazing illustrator and you have to see her illustration of Elsa) and Jacqui of Mummy’s Little Monkey.
Frozen is love story but between two sisters. Forget Prince Charming who saves the princess, these two strong female characters are in charge. And they are complex and fascinating characters.
You can’t help but love both of them. Anna is sweet, strong, funny, full of patience and tolerance for a sister who rejects her. Elsa is tormented, fragile, builds a protective ice tower around her. She wants to love and be loved but she is scared to give into these feelings and by doing so harm, the ones around her and especially her sister.
I am not sure what makes Frozen so special but it is, and I believe it is because of these two strong female characters.
Can I recommend you and everyone else to see it? YES! absolutely yes. You can purchase your copy of Frozen following this link.
Last Wednesday we braved the storm and the Tube strike to go and see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London. I love this theatre, it has something very intimate and it is fully charged with history. The last time we were there was to watch a performance of Shrek, but it was without the boys.
This time we took them with us. Their first West End show…
I was so excited about it, it was unbearable! I couldn’t wait to see their faces and hear their reactions…
The fact is that they were happy and excited but considerably less than me. Until they took a glimpse of the Oompa Loompas on a picture by the theatre entrance. The mood uplifted greatly and was set there and then. They now couldn’t wait either.
We sat comfortably and let the show begin!
As expected it was amazing. The whole cast was excellent, Charlie, Willy Wonka, Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt… and the Oompa Loompas were all totally brilliant…!
There is really two parts to the show: the before the break and the after the break.
Before the break it is all about setting the scene but unfortunately this is quite a slow process. E was mesmerised from start to finish but V got bored and ready to go home by the end of the first part… I was so worried it wasn’t going to be a good memory for him, but it all changed in the second part.
After the break it took off with a bang: splashes of colours, lively songs, fast paced story and the OOMPA LOOMPAS!!! As you guessed we liked the Oompa Loompas very much.
The second part totally made up for the slow start and I would definitely recommend the show as a family show however I have reservation for children under 7.
Disclaimer: we were offered 3 tickets out of 4 to watch the show