Sunday, May 30, 2010

A gothic childens tale?

Geekyboy was in full frustrated toddler mood again yesterday morning, so geekydaddy picked up a much loved book, drew him over to his lap, and started to read in an attempt to banish the poutiness.

I was listening in, and this is what I heard:

"brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?" he began

He was interrupted by a small grumpy voice. "no. Thatsa black bear"

Geekydaddy, corrected, began again. "black bear black bear what do you see? I see a red bird ..."

The interrupter struck once more "no, thatsa black bird"

And the story was thus rewritten by a dark and moody two year old boy. We encountered a black bird, a black duck, a black horse, a black frog, all the way to the end of the story where we found a black goldfish.

It got me thinking that maybe this could be a new book in the otherwise colorful franchise of panda bears, chameleons and polar bears. A darker story for the prematurely goth toddler in your life.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone because my daughter has commandeered my laptop

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The little changes

Children seem to grow up too slowly and yet too fast at the same time. "When will he be able to feed himself with a spoon?", "when will she be able to wait for thirty seconds for my attention?" I have wondered stuck in a whirling moment, afraid I'll never again have time to draw a deep breath.

Then one day you realize that there has been a paradigm shift in the family, and without your really noticing it the kids have become completely different people.

I had a revelation like this last weekend. A visit from Geekydaddy's parents pulled us out of our weekend rut of groceries, laundry and the occasional playground trip, and saw us shopping at the Apple store, riding the cable cars and eating in restaurants. One of these was even a sushi restaurant that did not offer crayons and a 'colour in' menu. (sushi is a cheap and ubiquitous lunch option here in San Francisco, I feel I must add lest you think we are ridiculously pretentious).

Geekygirl at four has developed a new composure and sense of perspective. She managed a great recovery from accidentally biting her tongue along with her maguro nigiri. A cuddle and a quick mop of tears with a napkin and she went back to her meal, something that would have been unfathomable just a few months ago. Geekyboy, at 27 months is hitting the textbook oppositional stage, but even so managed to sit in his chair for the duration of lunch. We managed some cheery conversation and the kids were delighted with the polite waiters and colourful food. I had to stop and pinch myself, lunch out with the kids was actually an enjoyable experience.

Dealing with tantrums the second time around doesn't seem so hard, either. The force of tiny person anger seems less alien and terrifying now that I have seen first hand that it really is just a normal phase, that will eventually pass. Geekyboy is rather funny when he loses the plot. It is almost as if he has read that textbook on toddler behaviour and is dutifully going about the process, but really, all that drama just isn't his thing, and he can't be bothered putting too much effort into it before returning to his sunny self.

Yesterday though we did have a good meltdown. I offered a choice of mac and cheese or ravioli, out of a box or a can resepctively, and he chose both. I draw the line at serving pasta with a side of pasta, so decided to offer only the ravioli.

That was most emphatically not OK. A cannonball sized mound of playdough was hurled, then the box of kid cookware was upended over the kitchen floor. Geekyboy got a time out.

I'm very impressed by how well he handles his time out, he sits in the imaginary confines of the naughty chair, rattling the back of it and shouting "I break this chair. I no like time out" for a minute, a very impressive use of language to express emotion on such a little lad, I feel. By the time his two minutes are up he is usually back to his chatty self, and tells me one of this weeks facts, a favourite being "mummy, octopus is an ocean animal"

I've developed a new conversational tactic, giving Geekyboy the thrill of being able to correct me, and this time i responded with

" and a cow, that's an ocean animal, right?"

"noooo! A cow is a standing up animal not a swimming animal!" he told me. "a starfish is an ocean animal". After getting through sharks, crabs, whales and dolphins he, fortunately as yet unaware of the vast biodiversity of our seas, declared "that's all the ocean animals", then truly returned to good spirits, he tucked into his ravioli.

Though maybe with this ocean obsession I should have offered sushi again.

Here he is at the restaurant showing off his one chopstick technique

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

fast friends

A photo post for the gallery

One of the lovely things about daycare and preschool is watching the children's friendships emerge. Geekygirl has been with the same core group of kids since she was an infant, and with the careful guidance of the teachers who do a great and very patient job of teaching their savage natured charges respect for each other, these kids have formed strong, real and caring friendships.

This weekend was the preschool annual family picnic. I was the 'official photographer' for the event (that's what you get roped into if you turn up regularly with a big old camera around your neck!), so I spent a lovely afternoon following the kids and eavesdropping on their games.

It was so sweet to see the enthusiasm with which Geekygirl's friends greeted her as we arrived at the picnic, despite having seen her only two days before at school. The friends were excited by the novelty of being together in this new environment, a lovely sunny park dappled by majestic old trees.

In this picture the three musketeers are on a dinosaur hunt, having just decoded a secret message hidden under a rock. They played for at least two hours, making a home base at the foot of the largest tree, then taking it in turns to lead the adventure, inspiring each other with their flights of fancy and engaging in complicated role play. There were no fights or squabbles, no parental intervention. Just the children, completely engaged with one another and their imaginary world. It was quite fascinating to watch, and it took me far back into my own childhood, I can still remember some of the 'worlds' my friends and I used to play in.

I'm pleased with the way I managed to capture the fluid energy of the kids in motion in this picture, look at the intent pace of the kid in front, and how Geekygirl (in the striped pants) is effortlessly negotiating the gnarled tree roots, hands out to balance her .

I decided to suck up to Tara, host of this wonderful prompt and avid tree lover, by also posting a pic of the beautiful tree that was the center of the afternoon's games. There is nothing quite like the conjunction of fast friends, a big old tree and a sunny day.

quick change

Geekygirl loves to change her clothes. At home on the weekend she will wear five, six, even ten different outfits in a day. This leaves me confused as to which items of clothing are clean and which really need to be washed, but otherwise it doesn't really bother me. My only rule is that once she has got dressed on a weekday morning there are to be no last minute changes as we are all trying to get out of the house.

She is a preschooler now, four and a bit years old, but still needs to wear a pull up at night. I know lots of kids her age are dry at night, but she really doesn't seem capable yet, she is a deep sleeper and just doesn't wake up when she needs to pee. The fact that one can buy 'pull up' type diapers for kids way bigger than she is makes me think that this isn't unsusual, so I'm not too worried.

What was worrying me was that she would often have accidents at preschool. Quite often at naptime she would wake up with wet clothes, something that never happens at home. The school were encouraging her to pee before going down for nap and she always did. Then her teacher noticed that often she wasn't actually even asleep when these accidents happened. This had me a bit flummoxed. Why would a kid who had been potty trained for over a year pee her pants almost every day, specifically at nap time? I was constantly bringing new 'spare clothes' to keep in her cubby at school, Geekygirl obligingly slecting a new cache every Monday morning.

I was about to make an appointment to talk to her doctor about this odd behavior, then I had a flash of insight. What was the end result of all these accidents? Geekygirl got to change into her spare clothes!

I picked her up to find, yet again, that she was attired in a different set of clothes than those in which she left the house, and with a plastic bag of soaked clothes to take home. This time I asked her "Geekygirl, I was wondering, did you go pee pee on your clothes on purpose so that you could change into your spare ones?"

"yes" she told me. "I like to change my clothes after nap time"

"You know, maybe, instead of going pee, you could just ask teacher S if you can change your clothes?" I suggested, catching the teachers eye as he nodded furiously in agreement.

"Geekygirl, you can change your clothes whevever you like" he assured her.

So the problem is solved. Geekygirl changes her clothes after nap time, and I no longer have a bag of soggy clothes to wash every day. When I pick her up now she is still always in different clothes than she left the house in, but she says to me proudly "Mummy I didn't go pee pee on my clothes. I just decided to change them!"

Children are strange little creatures, aren't they? It had simply never occurred to her to ask if she could change her clothes. In her four year old mind's logic, the rule at preschool was that if clothes were wet or soiled you would change into your spare ones, so therefore if she wanted to change into her spare clothes she must first soil them!

.I'm going to pick up a few more child psychology books. This little incident gave me a glimpse of insight into what a bizarre and fascinating place the mind of a child really is!

Friday, May 21, 2010

T is for....

To set the scene for the little conversation I want to share, I should let you know that Geekygirls preschool class has 10 boys and two girls at the moment, so you can imagine there is a lot of roughhousing and action figure related play. The teacher is also male. It is a fun group of kids, and Geekygirl loves it, she can play "batgirl saves the transformers" with the best of them.

This is something I overheard at preschool pick up yesterday:

Rowan's  Dad was chatting to Teacher S "What is the theme for show and tell tomorrow?" he asked

Teacher S. "Either something related to the theme of the month, which is nature, or something beginning with the letter of the week, which is T. We're really trying to discourage the boys from bringing superheros and transformers for show and tell"

Rowan, who was listening, chimes in: "Teacher S, Transformers begin with the letter T!"

I think had been a long day for Teacher S. who was no doubt thinking "Damn, why did we teach these kids the alphabet?!"

He replied with a sigh.

"Oh, yes. Well, I guess you can bring a transformer. But try to find something related to nature next week".


Thursday, May 20, 2010

two memes with one stone

Thanks to the lovely Troutie for considering me a kreativ blogger, and the  inspiring Mothership for calling me beautiful. I had fun with this, thanks very much for tagging me.


1) Thank the person who has given you the award.
2) Copy the logo and place it on your blog. 
3) Link the person who has nominated you for the award. 
4)Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
5) Nominate 7 other people


Thank the person who gave you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic!
4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

Here are seven fascinating facts about Geekymummy:

1) I am a huge fan of musicals. Especially those by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.  I should probably be ashamed of this, but I'm almost 40 years old and I'm finally comfortable with my cheesy taste.  Evita. Jesus Christ Superstar. Miss Saigon. Chess. Blood Brothers.  Cats. Les Miserables (most especially Les Miserables). Aspects of love. Rent. Chicago. Mamma Mia. I've seen them all and more, some of them many times, from the nosebleed seats and from the stalls (where I am proud to say I was once sprayed with Micheal Ball's saliva). I own many West End and Broadway cast recordings, on vinyl, tape and CD, from the Evita concept album, through the Broadway cast recording of Rent to the Mamma Mia soundtrack. My sister and I spent hours of our teenage years belting out "On My Own", Don't Cry for me Argentina" "I know him so Well" and "Tell me on a Sunday" either accompanied by my sister's piano playing or in front of the mirror on the upstairs landing with hairbrush microphones.

2) I was in the school choir. It wasn't a Glee style "show choir", it was more of a Verdi and Benjamin Britten kind of a choir, but it was fun all the same. At the peak of our fame we had a segment on an episode of that epitome of cool TV programming, the religious music show "Highway"., in which we and the late Sir Harry Secombe sang a hymn in a  chilly bandstand by the river. We did compete once, in an Eisteddfod (I think that is Welsh for "Sectionals"), which was fantastic fun. We had a professional recording session of the songs we performed there, and I am just now wondering where that tape is. I'd love to listen to it again,.Some of the soloists (I wasn't a soloist, I was just an alto in the choir) performed some show tunes  quite brilliantly on the recording, and in fact out star singer was called Rachel, so maybe it was just a tiny bit like Glee after all.

3) I realized that Geekydaddy was the man for me when I found out that he owned the three disc symphonic recording of Les Miserables. I was completely convinced while on a road trip through Utah we listened through the whole thing, and I discovered that not only did he know all the lyrics, he even cried when Eponine died.

4) I'm not a great television watcher. Occasionally though, I do get completely swept up in a show. The last broadcast show that had me waiting for each episode with baited breath was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a show with a name so stupid I couldn't bring myself to watch it for two seasons. Then one day I accidentally caught an episode and I was hooked. And yes, of course I loved the musical episode "Once More with Feeling".

5) Much like with television, I am not a big follower of popular music these days either, though I used to be an avid recorder of the top 40 of a Sunday evening. I listen to the radio, enjoy current music but never really know who the newer (ie more recent than about 1995) artists actually are.  Then I heard Lady Gaga. Over and over again I found myself doing my "driving dance", which involves tapping my hands on the wheel and bouncing about in my seat while keeping my foot steady(ish) on the gas pedal. I downloaded the "Fame Monster" album, and I have become a die hard fan. Inadvertently the kids have too, and whenever they get into the car they ask to hear "pappa pappa pappa ratzti" over and over again.

6) As you may glean from all of the above I was a sitting duck for the TV show Glee. I only picked up the show about five episodes ago but I am now seriously thinking of changing my name to Gleekymummy. This  past weeks episode, directed by Josh Whedon of Buffy fame, and featuring the song "I dreamed a dream" from Les Mis was a slice of TV heaven for me. Next week Gaga. Can it get any better?

7) I love to sing, in the car, in a choir, even (OK especially) karaoke. If I can hit that sweet spot of having had enough alcohol to get confidence but not so much that I lose all sense of pitch I'm not too bad, either. I keep meaning to join a choir or take some voice lessons, just for fun, when I have the time.  I turn 40 this year and I have a secret desire to  celebrate this by singing at Martunis, San Francisco's gay piano bar. I've been practicing this song (in the car) for the occasion. The song blew me away when I first heard it. Having only heard her dance hits I had no idea that Lady Gaga had an inner Broadway Diva.What do you think? Should I go for it?!

I love getting these memes, and I like the tagging part because I like to share blogs I love with others, but please, don't feel that you have to actually do the blooming thing,  they can be quite time consuming and it is not my intention to burden anyone!

Beautiful Blog to: TheMadHouse,  WAHM-BAM, MuddyNoSugar, Its a Mummy's life, FromStageDivesToStationWagonsTheSardineTinSleepisfortheweak, BabyBaby, and MochaBeanieMummy (no, this isn't 15, but I haven't got all night here)

Kreativ Blog to: SingleMummy, NobleSavage, lifewithMaggieandBen, ItsmyLife, DeerBaby, CalifLorna,  TheKingandEye,

Monday, May 17, 2010

Self portrait of Geekymummy as an urban hipster

Or hipstamatic, at least

It is gallery time again. I love Tara's prompts, they give me little seed ideas that occasionally crystallize into multifaceted blog posts.

My dear friend Stan took this picture of me last week, up on the roof deck of Medjool, a bar in San Francisco's Mission district. This neighbourhood is  "La Mission" of Benjamin Brat's enticing new film. A film that in my younger days I would have already seen, I'm sure, but now that I am no longer an urban hipster I will have to wait to see on DVD.  It is also a neighbourhood full of constant, yet constantly evolving ever hipper, cooler and tastier bars and restaurants. A place full of great memories.

Although it was taken recently this is a picture of who I used to be. Girl about town, frequenting those bars and restaurants. I love my life today, a life of work, kids and responsibilities, but I'm glad that I came to it a little late. Happy that I had those halcyon days between student hood and true adulthood when I was answerable to no one but myself, and there was time to form friendships and opinions over cocktails and long meandering conversations.  When I could while away a weekend browsing through the Mission thrift stores, take a nap, then head out in a newly acquired outlandish outfit to a bar we had just read about about in the SF Bay Guardian.

I feel old and frumpy when I go out in the Mission now. I look with fondness at the twenty somethings laughing away, so carefree in their achingly cool denim, one of a kind T shirts, fancy facial piercings and tattoos, safe in the knowledge that some day sooner than they think they too will be trying to negotiate a stroller up and down the hills.

Of course shortly after that photo was snapped, giddy at being out and about unencumbered by children, I tried to recapture my misspent youth with red wine and vodka cocktails. Lets just say I felt even older the next day!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The boys

Its gallery time again.

The theme is: Men. Pictures of the men in your life - dads, sons, uncles, teachers, partners, brothers.

I thought immediately of this snap I took of Geekydaddy and Geekyboy looking quite the stylish young men about town.

Note Geekydaddy's quite brilliantly geeky T shirt!

Sunday, May 9, 2010


The seasons are dashing past us. How did it get to be May? With summer just around the corner a nagging item on my "must do" list leapt to a priority. Swimming lessons. Scanning back over the blog I realized that this has been on the list for over a year. This weekend, I finally made good.

I managed to schedule a class for geekygirl at 8.30am, and geekboy at 9. We managed to get out of the house and to the class on time too. Geekygirl was excited but a little dubious about what was to come. She had actually been to classes at this same swimming school when she was an infant and we were diligent, overachieving parents of an only child, though she has no recollection of this, of course. I had prepared her for the fact that she would be going in the pool with an instructor, not in mummy's arms, but that Geekyboy would be going in the pool with a parent. I felt how hard this was for her to digest this. It must be tough to be the older child sometimes, must feel like parental rejection to see the younger kid getting what seems like preferential treatment.

Her class was first, so I'd hoped that I could at least sit close by and offer security and support from the side, but as it happened there was a cancellation in the 8.30 baby class, so it seemed sensible to take that slot for Geekyboy. Geekdaddy had forgotten his swimsuit so I had to go in with him.

This unexpected turn of events could have resulted in a huge meltdown. Geekygirl could have dissolved into a watery tantrum as she watched her brother being carried in my secure arms into the pool, while Geekydaddy and the lovely teacher tried to coax her in unsupported. But she didn't. She took a leap of faith onto the float that the teacher was holding, and let herself be guided out into the water. Wide eyed but listening to instruction, she started kicking herself along.

Geekyboy has splashed in the lake before, but this was his first formal class, poor neglected second child that he is. He wrapped his chubbly legs around my waist like a vice. "I no like the water, I no like swimming pool, its 'cary" he kept telling me. I agreed with him that indeed it was a bit scary, but that he was safe with mummy, and we joined the class,  all dads except me! The first exercise is one where they teach them the skills to get themselves out of the pool. He mastered this and figured class was over, running away along the side. It took a little persuading to get him back in.

People sometimes mock the sing song, happy clappy nature of these classes for infants, but the brilliance of the approach really became apparent to me as I watched its effects on Geekyboy. As soon as we started to sing the familiar tunes he relaxed. As the other kids followed the actions, he joined in with the comfortable rituals. By the time we got to the next part of the class, fetching toys from the side and putting them into the teachers big basket, he was enjoying it. When it came to walk along the big foam float and jump off into my arms he could hardly wait for it to be his turn, and he took a big leap into the water, going right under and popping up all slick hair and wet starfish eyelashes, laughing at the novelty of it all.

I was nervously keeping Geekygirl in sight as I bobbed and sang.  She seemed engaged and happy and I noticed her lovely inner smile of pride glancing across her face. Still, I was shocked when I turned toward a splash and saw my little girl "diving" from a kneeling position into the pool! Surfacing in the arms of the teacher, laughing, and going right back to do it again. And again!

It couldn't have gone better. We left the pool with that happy glow that comes with sucessfully pulling off a potentially traumatic outing. Even Geekyboys tears and wails of "want to go back in swimming pool" had a sweet irony. Nothing in the world quite beats that sense of achievement!

We felt so competent that we even took them for a post swimming pancake breakfast and pulled that off too.

I love the days when I feel good at this parenting thing!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Beauty in the ordinary

This is a post for the gallery, week 10. Tara asked Let's all paint a picture of the world we live in: The hidden bits, the bits you feel are special and people should know about. The bits people wouldn't necessarily see.
I think of a lot of my blog post ideas while commuting to work. I have driven from San Francisco to Hayward, a distance of exactly 30 miles, every week day for almost eight years. That is 120,000 miles, back and forth, each day unremarkable, but marking the passage of time nonetheless. Measuring a life in miles. Watching the sun catching the sparkling facets of my beautiful engagement ring.  Driving home in fearful tears, bleeding away a much wanted baby. Growing bigger and bigger in pregnancy with geekygirl and then geekyboy.  Struggling to focus on the road after months of sleepless nights. Frantically careening home because of forgotten breast pump parts, or a call from daycare about a sick child. On the same stretch of highways 101 and 92, over and over again, in a predictable daily rhythm. Still,  I almost never fail to enjoy the beauty of the drive.

Highway 92 crosses the Hayward-San Mateo Bridge. A poor cousin to the more famous bay spanners, the Golden Gate and the Bay Bridges, is is, nonetheless, quite attractive in its own right, ten miles of causeway that gives the sensation of driving across the glittering surface of the bay itself, pelicans flapping alongside.

Ten miles without on and off ramps can make for smooth sailing, commute wise, the only worry being the speed cops hidden at center span, especially since I travel in the opposite direction from most bay area commuters, but occasionally the wind blows over a big rig, or a horrid accident blocks the span, and unwitting victims are left trapped for hours, rocked by the wind and hoping that the seismic activity on our local faults remains calm until the accident can be cleared.  For this reason the San Mateo bridge is affectionately nicknamed "the S&M bridge".

Almost a year ago we considered moving away from the bay area. I realized that I wanted to capture in pictures this mundane but yet special part of my daily routine. So I balnced my little point and shoot camera on the steerring wheel and took a few shots. Probably not very safe, but I was quite pleased with the results.

Readers, please drive with me from San Francisco to Hayward and back. And yes, it is almost always this sunny.

in the middle of the bridge, Hayward bound

Coming back again, passing a big truck and hoping it doesn't blow over!

Back into San Francisco, in a pod of priuses (or is that Prii?)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Doomed to perpetual homesickness

I'm guest posting today over at A Mid Atlantic English.

I love her blog because she is my opposite twin, an American living in the UK. And she is a really good writer too. Hope you enjoy. (post added here too)

I remember distinctly when I realized that I had two homes. It was sometime in 1998, I had been living in San Francisco for a couple of years, and I was home in the UK visiting my family. A complicated series of events involving a Brazilian salsa bar, the American obsession with demanding photo ID to get into alcohol vending establishments, and the fact that an old style British passport doesn't fit well into the back pocket of a pair of hip hugging jeans had left me burdened with a new passport that didn't have the necessary Visa stamp to support my residence status..

I still kick myself for losing that lovely old style black British passport, ornamented with visas from former eastern block countries and with the twenty or so arabic stamps that are acquired when buying booze in Egypt.

In order to get myself back into the US I had a pile of paperwork from my university and an appointment at the US embassy.  I arrived at this appointment, waited in a long line in the rain in Grosvner square, handed my passport over and waited for the stamp that would allow me to go back to my new home. My passport was handed back to me a few hours later with “Visa denied” stamped across it. Apparently my university had erroneously retained the wrong one of the 6 or so carbon copies of my “form IA66”, and this rendered me ineligible for the Visa.

Thus began a spiral into the netherworld of immigration bureaucracy.

I was able to get the right papers express mailed to me, but the backlog for appointments at the Embassy was over six weeks, and the only way to get one was by phoning a number that cost about two pounds per minute. I sat on the pay phones in Selfridges on Oxford Street, on hold, until the phones were filled with my pound coins, and I was no closer to having an appointment.

I learned that crying on the steps of the Embassy to the nice looking young soldier with the big gun doesn't grant you an audience with anyone.

I marched the length of Oxford street, formerly one of my favourite streets in the whole world, from Marble Arch down to the Virgin Atlantic offices (at that time above the Virgin Megastore at Oxford Circus) several times, trying to change my flights and then to get another hearing at the Embassy.

 I remember distinctly when fully realized that San Francisco was my home. It was when I stopped for a consolation shopping spree in Top Shop, and I heard that Cardigans song, the one with the jaunty chorus “the Sunday sun shines down on San Francisco Bay”.  The song conjured me a picture of the bay, the bridges, the pale stucco houses jumbled on this hills behind and my cosy little room in my Victorian apartment, and I wanted to be back there so very very badly.  It hit me right there on quintessentially  English Oxford Street that England wasn't my only home.

I got the visa, after a Kafka-esque experience with a visa courier agency on Regent Street. The agent took my rejection letter, called a number only he had access to, explained my fate, and just as he was about to put the phone down in vain mentioned a 6 digit code printed in six point font on the bottom right margin of the letter. He read it to them and the voice at the embassy said. “Oh, if you have that code you can come back in tomorrow with the new paperwork”. I'm mystified to this day as to what exactly happened to my paperwork, but I returned home to San Francisco without further problems.

It was here that I had my first job, that I learned to drive, that I made some of the dearest friends I will ever know, that I met and married my husband and gave birth to our children. I was here during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, here when Bush Jr didn't actually get elected in 2000, here on 9/11. I was here when we elected Barak Obama. (though I didn't actually vote, I did buy pizza for our get out the vote phone bank). For all its flaws, I love America.

But when I am back in England, or even when I watch an old episode of Inspector Morse, I feel a deep nostalgia and familiarity. I miss the self deprecating humor of Britain, the green mossiness of its countryside, the history and quirkiness of most of its buildings, taken completely for granted until I left, and the fantastic selection of chocolate bars and beer. I miss my family, and I envy my sister and brother their lovely English homes and the close, easy relationship they enjoy with my parents. I wish I could just pop the kids in the car and drive over to Grandma and Grandads for the day.

We toy with the idea of returning. I'd like the kids to do their GCSEs and A levels. The American high school experience doesn't seem rigorous enough, and I'm scared of its unfamiliarity and lack of uniforms. Coming 'home' to the UK would be like starting again in a new country in many ways though. I've been gone so long. John Major was prime minister when I left. I was away when Princess Diana died. When Tony Blair was elected. Through the foot and mouth epidemic. When the buses were bombed. I will be over here when London hosts the Olympics (I'll be cheering for Brits when I get the chance though!). I pick up “OK” magazine at the airport and I have no idea who any of the celebrities are.

I've never had a real job in England, or paid taxes. I've never driven there, or bought a house. Going back will be a culture shock. I still have days when I feel alien here (I am in fact a resident alien, a term which always brings to mind a civilized little green person with antennae), and ache to return to the UK, then there days where I swear I will cling to this little peninsula, somewhere over the rainbow at the end of the western world, with every ounce of strength I have.

Moving to another country is a leap of faith. Fourteen years ago I showed up in a city I had never before visited, with two suitcases and almost from that first glimpse of seas, spans and spires from the banking window of flight VS019, I found a home I didn't know I was missing. Wherever the rest of my life takes me, I will leave a big part of my heart in San Francisco. 

Saturday, May 1, 2010

ye cannae change the laws of physics

Geekyboy has hit the touchy twos. Offered two choices, he wants neither of them. His usual response to any request is 'no'. This can be a challenging stage for an "anything for an easy life" parent like myself. Want to stay in your pajamas all day, paint with your hands, eat playdough, drink bath water or wear your sister's Sleeping Beauty pull ups instead of your own diapers? That is fine by me.

Apparently though, this is when we are supposed to start setting boundaries. Fixed and sturdy ones that do not bend under the will of a toddler. This gives them security, so the experts say. It gives mum and dad a headache too, since we don't seem to have the temperament for calm consistency. I do have some hard and fast rules. For example I will only let my son leave his pajamas on all weekend if they are not soaked in urine. And I don't let him wear his pajamas out of the house either. At least not yet. I was inspired to do so in the future by a family we ran into at a museum this week. The kids, about the same age as mine, were all in their (admittedly very stylish) PJ's. I complimented them on their ingenuity, and their very nice mum, a fellow Brit in fact, shrugged and smiled.

This past weekend though, he ran up against one of the most fundamental and unchangeable rules of all.


We went the morning at the sledding hill, an unplowed section of road beside our cabin. On the first run down Geekyboy was thrilled with the speed and motion. When we slithered to a stop and I turned to pull him back up the hill he broke into hysterics. "No, no up the hill, DOWN the hill, DOWN THE HILL" he ranted. He was so disappointed and frustrated that we had to climb back up again before we could sled down.

There was nothing to do but persevere. And sure enough, he caught on. "Go down hill, go up hill, then go down again!" he chanted, finally figuring it out.

He is such a sweet boy, but this little incident made me realize what we are up against. Toddlers, they want to bend the very fabric of the universe to fit their will. No wonder we find them exhausting.

Here's a little sledding video, (I discovered iMovie), so you can share the thrill of Gravity!

sledding 2010 from geekymummy on Vimeo.