Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Halloween Cuties

Last year, I told you about some differences in the way that Halloween is celebrated in the US and the UK. I'd say that Halloween has become slightly more prevalent than last year, so it seems that the holiday is slowly becoming more of a "thing" here. They still haven't managed to figure out adorable children's costumes. There isn't much selection and they mostly still skew towards the creepy/scary.

Creepy child's clown costume in Asda

There are a few options for babies, but nothing great- mostly just sleepers with skeletons printed on them. It goes without saying that people here don't make a big deal of dressing up their babies in adorable costumes (or even better, family theme costumes!) like this:

my cousin with her adorable little lobster

As I've been deprived of participating in the right of passage, I'm going to share with you some adorable costumes that I might have picked if we were in the States. You're welcome.

Yes, they're mostly animal. They are all from Target. (But then you know how I feel about Target.) They're all super-adorable. Feel free to share pictures of adorable babies dressed up so I can live vicariously!

What's the cutest baby costume you've ever seen?

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Cheerful Sunday

Busy times make me a bad blogger, but this little swoop in Linus' hair at the nape of his neck always makes me feel happy.

(edited to fix the picture!)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


Having a baby is awesome for many reasons. One of them is that people are generally super-friendly and nice when they see you with a baby. Not a trip to the grocery store goes by where I'm not stopped by someone wanting to admire Linus. It's nice. It breaks down those walls and makes society a nicer place. You can share a smile and a few nice words.

How could you resist stopping to say hello?

Sometimes, though, I'm left feeling not so warm and fuzzy after these encounters. There are two types of encounters that leave me with that not-so fresh feeling.

1. People who see a baby as an excuse to offer unsolicited advice.
2. People who follow some pre-programmed script of "things to say to a baby".

The first type is to be expected. I don't mind a little bit of friendly advice. I usually smile politely and go about my way. I'm free to either ignore or apply the advice as I choose. Sometimes, however, people go to far. I was walking into the store the other day, wearing Linus in the sling when an older gentleman stopped me to admire my boy. I happily obliged. Linus is teething and so had been chewing his hand a bit, making it slightly discoloured. No big deal. The man said "Why is his hand so blue?!" I explained that he'd been chewing on it a bit. The man started feeling Linus' arms, legs and cheeks (basically the only parts of his body not covered by the sling). I'm not hugely bothered by people touching Linus most of the time, but this was a bit much! He said to me "He's too cold". I politely explained that, in the sling, snuggled up to my body he was quite warm and cosy. The man kept feeling Linus and said, "No. No. He needs more clothes." I started to feel irritated and defensive. I was about to state again that he was fine when I realized something magical. I didn't need to keep standing there, talking to this stranger. As he continued to explain my parenting shortcomings, I simply smiled and walked into the store- away from him. He trailed off and looked after me, like I'd been rude. It was very liberating! I wasn't rude to him, but I didn't stand there taking flack from someone who doesn't know me or my son.

The second type is infuriating in a different way. Almost everyone has scripts and social norms that they are programmed to enact. It's a fact of life. I'd never noticed how strong they are until I had Linus. I cannot tell you how many times people with older children say "Ohh, they're lovely when they're that age! (indicating Linus) Not like when they're older! (indicating their own kids) What a nightmare!" Which never fails to make me sad. I truly hope that I always find Linus as delightful as I do now. I would hate to think that I might ever describe him as anything close to a nightmare, especially in front of him! Do these people really mean it? Or is it just something people say. Most of the times, when these scripts are said in passing I politely smile and go about my day.

Sometimes, I feel the need to push back and challenge the norm. The other day at the Children's Centre one of the lovely women that works there was holding Linus and giving him a cuddle while I put my coat on and got sorted to leave. She's a very nice lady and was complimenting Linus' snazzy hat. The conversation went something like this.

Lovely Lady: (to Linus) Don't you look handsome? I love you're little hat!
Me: Thank you! His Daddy picked it out.
LL: Awww, how nice. (to Linus) Were you looking for a girlfriend at play group today? Is that why you look so smart?
we both laugh
LL: (stage whispers to Linus) No one will ever love you like mummy.
Me: (to Linus)That's true! I love you very much.
LL: (still to Linus) And no girl will ever take care of you are love you as much as mummy.
Me: We do hope someday he meets someone to love who makes him very happy. Just like mommy and daddy do for each other.
LL: (giving me an odd look) But she still won't be as good as mummy. Because no one loves you as much as she does. Even if daddy tells you different, don't believe him.
Me: Oh, I think Daddy feels the same way as I do.
LL: (frustrated that I'm not following along with the "No Girl Will Ever Live Up to Mommy" script) I bet mummy will give you everything you want and never deny you anything, because that's how mummy's are with their little boys.
Me: Oh, daddy's the softy at our house. I'm sure I'm going to have to be the "heavy".
LL: My little boy comes to me and our little girl goes to our daddy. That's how it is.
Me: Well, I'm sure all our kids will go do daddy. He's a pushover. (said with affection!)

The nice woman seemed so confused by my refusal to play along with her script. It was clear that she had had this conversation with other people and that ours was not going the way she wanted. I wasn't intentionally being difficult... (well maybe a little!) I realize, right now, Linus can't understand these conversations, but someday he will. I want him to know that we love him and don't think he's a nightmare. I want him to know that we hope he meets someone who loves him as much as I love Daddy (and who he loves as much as Daddy loves me). I want him to know that it's ok to have opinions and thoughts that don't follow the script.

When do you deviate from "the script"?

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Cheerful Sunday

This week's Reason to Be Cheerful is a glimpse into some more of my crazy.

This morning, as I folded laundry, I made this face.

I explained to Ross, who was looking at me like I was crazy. That I love the way freshly laundered and tumble-dried men's shirts smell. Specifically undershirts. They smell manly and wonderful and I buried my nose in Ross' about 5 times before finally folding it. 

Fun fact: Despite the fact that we use completely different laundry detergent, Ross' shirts smell exactly the same as my dad's do.

Friday, 12 October 2012

A 3 hour tour

Every once in a while I still come across a cultural reference that doesn't translate. It doesn't happen often, but now that I've made some friends it's happening more often. Ross' knowledge base isn't necessarily typical of a British person- especially of his age, so now that I'm regularly conversing with other people I find that it's a whole new world.

The other day I was at the park with a group of my mom friends having a little picnic. One of the boys had a very cute bucket hat on. Sort of like this:

As all babies and the blissfully mentally unburdened do, he had a look of carefree cheer on his sweet face. I took one look at him and proclaimed that he looked like Gilligan. 

His mother looked at me and replied that she didn't know what I was talking about. "Gilligan? Gilligan's Island?" I queried. Nope. I turned to the rest of the group and asked, sure that Clare must just be lacking this info through some sort of bizarre blip. Blank looks all around.

My mouth fell open and I spluttered in disbelief. Even my rousing rendition of the iconic theme tune did nothing but tinge their blank looks with bemusement. 

It just blows my mind that such huge cultural references like this are completely lost on a large chunk of the population and that there are equally large gaps in my knowledge from the other view point.

What's the biggest clunker of a cultural reference you've ever dropped on a group?

Thursday, 11 October 2012


I've always given people nicknames. I've always had a bit of a knack for it. It's like a gift.

Example: I had a boyfriend many moons ago who I gave the name "Seamus". His real name was Michael. Don't ask me why. (Well, I guess you can ask. It was before we started dating, he was a friend of my roommate's and I could never remember his name so I just pulled a random one out of thin air.) Even years later other people now call him Seamus. People I never even met. It just stuck.

Strangely, given this gift of mine, I've never had a nickname for Ross. I mean, I call him "honey" and "babe" and other common terms of endearment, but no unique-to-him names have ever been on the scene. This still surprises me. I've had a few random nicknames from him ("Pigeon Knuckles" springs to mind), but nothing terribly long-term. They tend to be inspired by nothing much at all and change frequently.

This pattern has continued with Linus. I stick to "Line" and "Sweet Bean". Ross uses a whole ever-changing assortment.

Father/son hat swap

Most mornings, Ross gets up to get Linus. I lie in bed, trying to pretend I'm still getting a precious few minutes more of sleep. Really, though, I'm listening to the monitor on my nightstand to hear my one of my favourite exchanges. Each morning, Ross greets our son: "Good morning, <insert nickname>!" He either laughs with Linus if he's found him in a good mood or picks him up and consoles him if he's angry or grumpy. The interaction is always smile-inducing, but the nickname is my favourite part. 

So yes, those mornings are nice because I get a little extra rest. (On the really nice mornings, Ross goes ahead and changes Linus' diaper before bringing him to me for his morning feed.) Mostly, I love being an audio-voyeur into the love between my husband and son.

What's the best nicknames you've ever had?
Are you good at bestowing them? What's the best one you've given?

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Word of the Week


Definition: a leafy herb that tends to be polarizing (people either dig it or HATE it)
Used in a sentence: I love a nice pico de gallo with tomatoes, onion, and cilantrocoriander.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Very Eyebrow

You guys! I almost forgot to tell you my eyebrow story!
Are y'all ok?! Have you been on tenterhooks? (I spelled that right on the first try, by the way.) Forgive me.

I mentioned that Ross has great eyebrows. When he did stand up comedy, he prided himself on his ability to get laughs from a mere raising of the eyebrow. They're very expressive.

There is a group on Facebook that Ross belongs to. It basically exists to reminisce about a certain area of Manchester and what it used to be like. Ross family used to have a store in that part of town and his warehouse is still nearby. This group shares old pictures and can be a fun place to talk about the "good old days". Sadly, as is sometimes the case, reminiscing can turn to darker places. The "good old days" are rose-tinted and people begin to talk about how things were so much better once upon a time. Certain people- certain racial groups- are blamed for the downturn of the area.

When things start to get nasty in this way, Ross gets riled up. He's very cute when he's riled up. He splutters and fumes about people's ignorance and how ridiculous they are. It becomes a mini-personal mission to, if not reform the offenders, at least point out the folly of their ways. He doesn't engage in name-calling or directly point out their racism. He tends to use logic to point out their errors in thinking. He'll do things like point out that the very people accused of being responsible for the ruin of the area are some of the only ones willing to invest in it. 

One day, as he was working hard to broaden the hearts and minds of the people, a man took offence at his efforts. He started ranting about how "you can't say anything these days without PC do-gooders running wild". Ross continued his reasoned and logical rebuttal. The man then wrote that Ross must think he's better than other people because he's so "eyebrow". Yep, that's right. He accused my husband of being eyebrow. It was one heck of an insult. I guess, as the man simply wrote the word as he would have said it aloud... 'ighbrow. With a dropped "H". What would Henry Higgins say? Ross replied that he refused to apologize for having an education and the discussion moved on.

We, not surprisingly, have turned this into a bit- referring to things as "eyebrow" all the time now. An added bonus is that it seems to have finally helped Ross remember which is an eyelash and which is an eyebrow. Prior to this, he had a mental block and could never keep the two straight. So for entertainment value and educational value I'd like to thank this man.

Are you very eyebrow?
What's the funniest insult that's ever been hurled at you?

Monday, 1 October 2012

7 months

Dear Sweet Boy,

I've only just gotten used to telling people that you're 6 months old and now you're 7 months old! The time continues to fly by. I love spending time with you and getting to know your fun personality as it shows itself more.

You're really good at sitting up and moving around. You like to get into everything! You're still army crawling. You get up on all fours and rock sometimes, but still haven't figured out how to actually move in that position. You don't really need to though, because you're so fast and good at moving around in your own little way.

This month has held lots of new things. Not only have you started eating real food (which is super-fun, if a LOT of work!) but we've also finally made the switch to cloth diapers. So far we are really liking it! It's so much less wasteful, not to mention cheaper. It doesn't hurt that they look absolutely adorable. 

You're really into our faces and like to touch them and peer into our eyes. Usually you are gentle, but sometimes you get carried away and try to pull Daddy's nose off. You like to play and put your hand in my mouth while you're nursing and you love when I blow on your fingers. 

Going for Mommy's face

My favorite thing, I think, is that you are really starting to enjoy us. You get exciting when one of us comes into the room after having been away (even for a few minutes). Your face lights up and you let out a loud squeak of laughter. Sometimes when I'm holding you and Daddy comes in for a kiss you get so excited that you start flailing around, making it hard for Daddy to even give you that kiss. As ever, you two adore each other.

morning coffee buddies

You don't talk very much. You make infrequent, soft, babbling noises. I think you're going to starting talking more soon, though, as it seems to be increasing. You are the sweetest, more adorable, smartest, best little boy in the whole world in my opinion! Watching you change, grow, learn, and explore is just the coolest thing. 

Love you so much,