Stop me if it gets too racy

We have a little joke in our house. I say to Mr B “Stop me if this is getting too racy for you” and that’s funny (yes, it is) because I will in actual fact have been wittering on about something so mundane I will have almost talked myself into a trance.

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Go Kart, Gil Elvgren

And Mr B, well, let’s just assume that he is imagining that he is somewhere far away where there isn’t someone talking about how annoying a white kitchen sink is because it stains so easily… and how tea bags should really go straight in the compost… tea bags leave stains… actually the compost needs to go out…

I don’t know when I started talking drivel. Here’s an excerpt from this morning if you can face it. Me to Mr B:

“… so you know the new cereal that we bought at the shop yesterday? Yeah. Turns out that they aren’t as interesting as we, I, thought they were going to be. They are just like Weetabix but a different brand. I thought that they were going to be more like bite-sized Weetabix, but actually they are the sameish size. Not exactly the same shape. More square. Less bevelled. But really just the same as Weetabix (now I am wondering in my head, not out loud, how they compare on price). But different. Blimey, how many times can I say Weetabix in a sentence, eh? Anyway they look nice. Bibsey ate them. With strawberries. We just broke them up into bite-sized pieces… 

OK, so stop me if this is getting too racy.”

I can’t think of any more examples off the top of my head you’ll be disappointed to hear. But I will keep you posted. In fact, pop your email in my subscribe box on the right and you need never miss one my irrelevant, yet racy, posts again.

So, in the interests of keeping it brief, and to stop myself from entering the realms of the overly racy, I’m going to leave it there. But I do have a question:

Does anyone else do this? Or, do you speak only in short relevant sentences, being in possession of razor-sharp minds and enough self control to keep your inner monologue INNER?

10 habits of the highly normal and moderately happy

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Here is me not doing my yoga daily and there is probably a glass of cava out of shot

Oh my f*cking goodness (can’t say God, ‘cos ‘my Mum reads my blog’)! If I see another post in my bloody timeline advising me of the ‘habits’ of people who are apparently excelling on every level in life that you could think of, and then some that they just made up, I might have to stab the internet.

It’s my own silly fault of course for ‘Liking’ so much do-goody, worthy, and healthier-than-thou bollocks on Facebook.

Here is what has passed in front of my eyes in the last week or so:

  • How to make everyone want you – Yes, really. As if this would ever be a desirable state of affairs.
  • How to fall in love with yourself – Frankly, narcissistic.
  • How the energy in your home is making you sad and 5 ways to fix it – Just get the vacuum out and hoover up all toys, dust, dirty socks and toast crumbs. Job done.
  • 10 habits of debt free/highly successful/happy/healthy/creative people – To be all these things at once would be unnatural, right? Unhealthy, actually.
  • 7 ways to live longer – OK, this is a good idea but so hidden in amongst all the rest of the stuff about trying to fall in love with yourself, and getting the whole world to fall in love with you too, that the chances of achieving this seem minimal.
  • 101 ways to get organised – Piss off! Just Piss off!

and on and on… until I am convinced that I am dull and unlovable, living in a cluttered home that sucks my very life force from me and in desperate need of an extreme makeover. Ha ha! Not really.

And finally the coup de grâce: How to make your Facebook page more meaningful. I have no words, people. But of course I have words and here they are: if I wanted to imbue something, anything, with ‘meaning’, I would NOT be starting with my Facebook page.

After four years of motherhood and nearly five years of struggling to make my way, with my man, in Spain, a strange suspicion is dawning on me which is that I might well be able to do whatever I set my mind to do; just as long as I don’t set my mind to do anything ridiculous. This feeling, albeit 20 years late, is very liberating.

So in celebration of my recognition of my glorious adequacy to face life’s challenges, and be the very best me that I can be on a good day, here is my bloody list. No ‘power mantras’ necessary, folks!

1. Eat what you like.

2. Drink what you like.

3. Spend time with people that you like.

4. When you have to spend time with people that you don’t like, drink more of what you like and eat their food. You might even end up liking them (oh, God forbid that you should end up actually liking the very people that you have been professing to detest for all this time. Who will you bitch about now?), or at least understanding them a little better.

5. Get up as late as you can feasibly get away with and if it looks like your partner/wife/husband is going to perform breakfast duties with the kid/s just keep your eyes closed and pretend to be asleep.

6. Dance as much as you can, to the music that you like, with the people that you like; or on your own and in front of the mirror, if you like. It works for Bibsey, my four year old daughter, so it can work for you.

7. Stay up late if you like. Tomorrow may be harder for it, but staying up late is one of few benefits of no longer being a kid alongside being able to eat chocolate and ice cream whenever you like (see point #1). Plus, of course, the kids are in bed.

8. Don’t spend all your money and time on fancy potions and lotions. Coconut oil pretty much covers it all, inside and out. And don’t bother with your bikini line until you are absolutely, definitely sure that you are 100% going to the beach TOMORROW or you will run the risk of missing your perfect window of beach readiness.

9. If you are up for it, say so. If not, just keep your eyes closed and pretend to be asleep.

10. Be grateful. Every day.

To those of you who struggle and strive for some semblance of normal and happy, whatever that is, every day. Good luck.

Day of the gecko

There are some days in Spain when you just know that the critters are out in force.

On these days you need to watch your step, keep your eyes peeled and always check the overhead  and under loo seat situation before settling yourself for a moment. There is only one thing worse than finding yourself in mid-stream (or whatever) on the loo and realising that there is no loo roll and that is discovering that you are sitting directly under some dingly-dangly, enormous mother f*cker of a an incy wincy spider, who definitely wants to eat you, and having nowhere to run.

Today is one of those days. We have had two incidents already and it is only 10.15. The day is young and the bichos, or creapy crawlies, are many.

Lurking seven-legged spider of doom

Lurking seven-legged spider of doom

I blame the wind actually. Recently it has been whipping around the mountainside with a kind of mad ferocity that I have never experienced before. It sends kids and dogs a little bit loopy and I find it impossible to have a simple conversation or even a single thought when the wind is howling like it does here.

It has caused much destruction in its wake, the least of which was to literally rip off our garden gates, and the worst of which was to cause and spread a number of fires in the valley and on the hillsides over the weekend. High winds, dry land and arcing electricity lines proved to be a rather combustive combination. All is calm and not on fire now though thankfully.

However, the wind seems to have quite literally blown away the cobwebs and as a result made homeless an army of eight-legged beasties. Yes, I am exaggerating. It’s what I do. Don’t judge me and just take a look at this gorgeous specimen on the right. She only has seven legs actually. Wind damage maybe?

Here's our friendly gecko corpse, we shall love him and call him Husky

Here’s our friendly desiccated gecko corpse, we shall love him and call him Husky

The spider was not the first though. The first was the desiccated gecko corpse that fell out of Bibsey’s bedroom curtains this morning as I swept them open with a flourish to greet the new and not so windy day. Please put aside for one moment, if you can, your questions about how a gecko could remain dead and undetected in the curtains long enough to become a husk of its former self, and concentrate on the real story, which is of course about Bibsey and the gecko.

“What’s that Mummy?” she asked as it flew out of the curtains and landed like a dry leaf on the bedroom tiles “And why are its eyes so black?”. Quickly overcoming my initial irrational horror of flying reptile corpses, I was at once alive to the threat of future bedtime gecko terror and quickly explained that these little critters were our friends and this one in particular had been eating all the flies and mosquitoes in her room.

I then went on to the subject of cause of death “I suspect that the gecko died because there are not enough bugs to eat in the winter. And of course Daddy bug sprays in your room, so…” I petered out. “So, Daddy killed the gecko. Or was it you?” she finished for me.

Oh dear, that was a can of bichos that we really didn’t need to open before school. The whole episode brought up quite a few interesting questions including the very current and most important pet question. As she left for school Bibsey announced “I’m going to have a gecko for a pet Daddy, and it is going to live in my bedroom and eat all the mosquitoes and it is going to love me”.

There will be more on the subject of pets later I suspect. I remain on full alert today as I know that the beasties do not just come in twos.

In the meantime I am reminded of that scene in Finding Nemo where Dory wants to keep a jellyfish as a pet. Here it is. Have a good day y’all and don’t forget to check under the loo seat!

A Little Girl in Spain

While Bibsey, growing more gorgeous by the day at the grand old age of 3 & 3/4, was in the bath last night I was chatting to her in Spanish – I try do this on the walk to school, at  meal times, in the car and at bathtime – and I was scrabbling for the word for hair (not a hard one I know, but I get it confused with word for skin and I have to think every time) and she said:

“Pelo. You know I can help you with being Spanish Mummy”

Here are our Two Little Girls in Spain

Two Little Girls in Spain – Bibsey with my friend’s little girl taking a walk through the pueblo

The switch has well and truly been switched. I may have better grammar and vocabulary than her (not for long), but she already has an innate understanding of the language and she knows that she is a ‘speaker’ and I am a ‘pretender’.

Really I couldn’t hope for anything more. As an expat parent you cannot help but wonder if you are doing the right thing by your children living far from family and expecting them to sink or swim in situations that you wouldn’t dream of throwing yourself into: Guardaría nursery and colégio primary school. It’s jungle out there.

Imagine starting a job in an office where everyone spoke a language of which really, apart from the probably erroneous mumblings of your parents, you had no knowledge! Sounds pretty challenging right?

If you are an expat bringing up children in Spain, or thinking about making the move, you may be interested in a wonderful e-book called A Little Girl in Spain, written by Helene Pattermann and illustrated by Katie Waple, a very talented friend of mine. Like me she lives with small children up a mountain in Spain. In fact she lives on the same mountain, but over an hour away on the other side in a small village near the Sierra Nevada ski resort.

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It is a bilingual book aimed at children aged 2-8 or thereabouts. This beautifully illustrated story offers something more than the typical ball = pelota cat = gato offered by some of the bilingual books on the market.

A Little Girl in Spain deals with a day in the life of a little English speaking girl growing up in a typical Spanish small town pueblo. The characters in the book speak either English or Spanish naturally, and the Little Girl asks such questions as why she says “hello” and her friends say “hola” and why the shops shut during the afternoon for siesta. The story follows her as she gets to grips with day-to-day village life and the Spanish language.

The Little Girl in Spain is a sweet character with whom expat children can easily identify. I am so proud and relieved that my daughter has met the challenges of her first term at school in Spain with gusto (despite a few bumps in the road), but it is clear that she knows that she is different and A Little Girl in Spain is someone that she recognises.

You can purchase A Little Girl in Spain as a pdf eBook on your computer, Android tablet or phone, Kindle, iPad or iPhone.

You can also find more of Katie’s work, including portraits and the most gorgeous custom made bookmarks and greeting cards, here at Watashino Arts.

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Custom made bookmarks: Harry Potter, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Little Red Riding Hood, The Gruffalo and many more