its all good in hollywood, aint so great in blighty

We have been back in England for 6 days and we have experienced extreme wet weather, cold, mud, ill dogs, ill children, tired children and a tired and stressed out dad. Baby boy was sick this eve all over his bed thanks to yet another bug he picked up at nursery. He had only been back at nursery for one week last time when he got the ear infection. It is thoroughly depressing.

So I am going to retreat into holiday memories once again in this blog post and today I am going to mention highlights of our visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. By far the best experience that day, was the stunt show it was amazing, explosions, car jumps, high octane thrills. I loved seeing my son and daughter utterly captivated with both their jaws wide open like they were trying to catch flies. My daughter didn’t know what to think when Lightning McQueen drove on stage – to ascertain whether or not he was real she kept watching his mouth to see if it was moving. Baby boy wasn’t that scientific, he was just glad to see them ‘in the flesh’. After the event we had a picture taken with them and I wasn’t sure how baby boy would react to the roar of their engines – he loved it. He kept leaning towards Mater’s engine to get a closer look.

We also enjoyed The Muppets 4d show, during which the Muppets came out into the theatre while the film was playing – another kid jaw-dropping moment. Hubby and I enjoyed the Aerosmith rollercoaster, which was mostly in the dark and incredibly fast. The great thing about being parents is that you get to use the single rider entrance while the other half looks after the children – great for queue jumping. I think the best times are had when parents get to be big kids too. My fave moment was seeing my too cool for school daughter staring at Lightning McQueen in utter amazement and seeing my hubby finally ‘at home’ watching cars and explosions (being a petrol head as wllI was very happy too). We would have liked to have a go at the Nascar driving experience with Richard Petty, but they can’t fix child seats in the back.

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Send me back across the pond, with the UK press

I am feeling like stirring up some political controversy tonight, it has been a while. My daughter cried tonight because she was missing America. My daughter was experiencing withdrawal symptoms from living on the opposite side of the pond. I too would like to return to our holiday in Florida. It was bliss.

I hate England, particularly at the moment. It is dark, wet, grey, soggy and depressing. Whereas Florida (or Orlando and Fort Lauderdale to be specific) was blue, bright, sunny and warm (OK sometime it was a bit chilly with that polar wind moving in from the North but the sun remained high in the sky where it should be). To retain the sunshine in our house I am buying more than our normal supply of Tropicana inspired by our trip between Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, when we passed row upon row upon row of heavily laden orange trees. In the depot there were trailers filled to the brim with ripe fruit – yum.

So I hear you ask when am I going to mention politics. Well there are a few things about American politics that irritate me. The main one being that the Government seem ‘OK’ with certain kinds of terrorism. In the past it was the IRA, when every time Gerry Adam appeared on the news in America he was being welcomed with open arms and congratulated. Meanwhile his party was killing and maiming British civilians. In Israel, the UK press report the ongoing suffering of Palestinians trying to live alongside the Jewish people. Yes Jewish people come under attack from Palestinian extremists but nothing like the atrocities the Jewish people inflict on the Palestinians. So when we see this we scratch our heads when in America there is an unwillingness by the Government to attack the Jewish government for their crimes. I believe this is a media problem. The easiest way to put it is that I seem to trust the UK media more than the US media for providing a fairer report and a more balanced assessment of conflicts and international issues. I am of course aware that all media are inevitably biased but it is to what extent. In the UK our press are less afraid to criticise Government. This in turn affects public opinion, as I discovered when communicating to a fellow blogger, N American Jew (memyselfandkids) who seemed to be completely unwilling to consider the Palestinian point of view as reported in the UK media. I don’t know what he was more blinded by, ignorance or faith. I am not religious I just believe in human rights regardless of country of origin or place of worship and when rights are being compromised or abused, I care.

Bu regardless of the country, politics does not put humans first, so I cannot level this criticism at America when the UK has the worst history in the world for infringing human rights and abusing people from other cultures and religions.

I think what I am really trying to say is that I wish Americans were more liberal in their politics and not such a closed book on thinking.

So bring back America (well Florida at least as I have yet to explore the other states), its massive highways, confusing crossroads (think I do prefer the roundabout system), crude advertising, massive cars and amazing customer service (although tipping is a tad annoying if you are tight English gits like us).

I am blogging every day for Unicef, so if you like this blog, please donate here.

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Captivated by Jamaica

I have just heard that the company advertising the job I applied for last minute before I went away, have invited me for interview next week. Eek! It has been almost 4 years since I had am interview so am already anxious. Its also a big job and would be a big jump for me. The job is an opportunity for a complete lifestyle change. I am not afraid of change, in fact I embrace it. But there is always a part of you that wonders whether it is change for good. I will leave fate to decide that dilemma.

So, back to the holiday. I am going to re-visit our time in Jamaica. We were only there a few hours but it was enough time to really give us a taste of what a wonderful country Jamaica is full of even more wonderful people. We met a man called Merik who took us to a church so that we could understand the history of the country’s freedom from slavery and the significant role the church played in providing education and accommodation to get Jamaica’s people back on their feet after the tyranny of the slave trade. We then visited a school called St Peters and my daughter very much enjoyed talking and playing with the children. My baby son was being dragged round by the older kids who instantly wanted him to be their baby and they enjoyed playing with our buggy. I rescued him by taking him into the cool rooms of the nursery and chatting to the teachers while he interacted with children more his own size. One of the teachers asked me for a donation to fix the roof, which I gladly gave her. The children we saw were beautiful and very happy. I did have concerns over the security though. The children were playing in the garden in front of the school and the gate to the main road directly outside the school was open. I felt like I had to have eyes in the back of my head to keep a watch out for my children and the others. We were the only young family amongst a group of old Americans (it was a cruise excursion after all) and I did find it a tad disturbing that all these old people (and there were quite a few as another tour bus had arrived outside the school too) were milling around taking pictures of the children like they were some tourist attraction. The truth is they were a tourist attraction and the teachers welcomed us with open arms. A couple of younger children after a while found it all a bit overwhelming and I took one young chap to the teacher as he was crying out for his Mum. Of course the school no doubt get a welcome cash injection for accepting tourists, I suppose it is a necessary evil. But I wouldn’t like buses of tourists coming in to my children’s school every week to take random pictures of them. As parents in Britain you have to fill in a load of forms to permit the school to take pictures of your child, gates are locked and there is a coded entry system to gain access. There were similarities though, the way the classes were organised with draws and learning materials suspended and pinned around walls and ceilings to keep the children engaged. The projects the children were working on were similar. The one key difference was there was only one class for 90 children – and we balk at class sizes of 30.

We also drove past Usain Bolt’s secondary school, which he still uses for training. It is good that despite his fame he has remained in Jamaica to support his country and they recognise that and are immensely proud of his achievements.

We visited an old sugar cane estate and learnt about the history of the sugar trade and what happened once the ruling classes left. It is interesting that Jamaica has retained a similar local Government system to Britain, it is bizarre in such a hot country to hear words such as ‘parishes’ and random names you would normally expect to find only in Devon such as ‘Trelawny’.

Finally we met a lovely lady called Sunshine, who braided my daughter’s hair and put a hair wrap in mind, a work college joked that the Jamaican sunshine was trapped inside the braids. Sunshine gave us her email address and my daughter is really keen to email a picture of her with her uncle  who is of Jamaican origin although he has never been to Jamaica. I hope to return there with him as I definitely want to explore more of this fascinating country.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef – please donate here of you like reading this blog.

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Dos and Donts at Disney

It turns out last night’s search for a mini break did the job in lifting my Dad’s spirits when I spoke to him this morning. He called my daughter to wish her a happy birthday and although he said that we shouldn’t feel the need to treat them, I could tell he was looking forward to discussing when and where they should go with my stepmum.

So to reconvene what happened before and during the trip, first my husband got his back waxed. He isn’t that hairy despite his hairy gorilla-like behaviour, so it was a tad excessive to charge him £40 for the removal of 10 hairs. Especially when he developed a rash, as I did, when I was waxed. I don’t know what’s worse, hair or raised red bumps.

As with most family holidays, there were many highs and a few lows. The lowest point being the one day I had planned to be perfect -isn’t it always the way? It was the one day I had scheduled activities in advance for my daughter’s ‘holiday’ birthday. At mid-day she was scheduled to have a princess makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Downtown Disney, followed by a trip to Magic Kingdom and dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table in the castle. I was very lucky to get this slot as it was the only one available that week (as most people book months in advance). I soon found out the reason why – it was the wrong side of the ‘wishes’ fireworks. If I can give you one piece of advice when booking the Royal Table, book it before 8pm. Any later and you have to desperately find an entrance to the castle once the fireworks have finished, which takes at least 15 minutes for the cast members to clear the barricades around the castle and check for any fireworks on the floor surrounding the castle. This is 15 minutes too long when you have a tired and very hungry princess and a tired and very grumpy king (or Dad). He was already mad at me for not getting to MK until later in the day and was reeling at the cost of entry when we were only going to be in the park for a few hours. But all the advice on the blogs told me to not attempt a full day at MK plus electric parade and fireworks at night – it would be too much. This would have been fine in theory if we had enjoyed a relaxing morning, not leaving the hotel until it was time for the mid-day princess appointment at the Boutique. However, my husband and father decided to spend the morning returning the hire car to the airport to get a slightly smaller car to make a saving on hire charges. They made it sound simple, we all go to the airport, swap the cars and drive on to the princess Boutique. In reality we got lost, flustered, had a whole load of hassle with the paperwork when we got there and ended up being late for the Bobbidi Boutique. We arrived already tired and flustered. Afterwards, my daughter participated in the princess parade, which was wonderful but after it finished we did not have enough energy to embark on a journey to MK, so went to the Rainforest Café for a drink, only for hubby to then panic that we were going to order food at an ‘extortionate’ price. He then proceeded to harangue me over my decision not to do MK til later and why I booked dinner so late. It was a one-sided argument as I was avoiding confrontation while my Dad and stepmum quietly observed as I received a ‘telling off’. When we finally arrived at MK around 4pm, my hubby then had to buy the Disney pass for the week, which, at $800, was not cheap. Once he parted with the cash he spent our entire visit at MK brooding over the cost while I ignored him and kept positive for my daughter’s sake.

Suppressing emotions and pressure doesn’t last for long and I was feeling quite tearful when Minnie Mouse gave me an extra hug when I said the last time I saw her I was 8 years old. On the flip-side, the electrical parade was amazing and a lovely cast member called Gene ensured we had a good viewing spot. Later at the castle, my daughter was almost falling asleep by the time we were led to our table, but received a beautiful photograph of her with Cinderella and enjoyed meeting all the other princesses. Baby boy didn’t see any of it as he was out for the count and unfortunately my Dad and stepmum had to dine elsewhere as I couldn’t get a table big enough for all of us. As we left the castle, my daughter dressed as Princess Merida from Brave, said “ugh, that food was disgusting”!

We would have enjoyed it so much more had my hubby not been in such a foul mood and the hire car and late table booking debacle notz happened. But despite all this, it was still an amazing experience, just not what I had in mind. It just goes to show that the most happy and enjoyable days are the ones that aren’t planned at all, they just happen.

I am blogging for UNICEF, if you enjoyed this post please donate to the charity here.

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Why I am not that fond of cats

Tablets still have a way to go. I am having to redo this post after nearly completing my draft because the tablet saw my attempts at copying and pasting to mean right click, select all and then replace with just one letter! Aahh, I couldn’t undo and then went to the posts menu to try and retrieve it and it had gone.

So, the crux of my post before the blooming tablet so rudely deleted it was that my Dad is feeling low after returning from holiday, not because of the general blues like myself, but because his friend has died and the cat ate her kittens. Yes you heard me the mummy cat ate all four of her kittens. Disgusting isn’t it. I think one she actually digested, the others she just left to die in her bed. My stepmum is being very sympathetic as the cat is only 9 months old (it was an accident and yes they are getting her spade). I have never heard of this before but then I am not part of the feline cat club and having observed how cruel they can be with their prey, nothing surprises me.

But my Dad was too sad to speak to me on the phone earlier and I feel awful that he is so low after returning from such a lovely holiday that he and my stepmum paid for. So I am going to postpone the reports on the trip for tomorrow so that I can have a little time to find a nice little mini break for them as a way of saying thank you and to cheer them up.

Don’t worry fellow bloggers, I haven’t forgotten the subjects I need to cover in the upcoming blogs, starting off with why waxing isn’t good for women or men pre holiday and the highs and lows of Disney, Universal and the Caribbean cruise.

This blog is for Unicef so if you like reading it please donate to Unicef here. (I will now plug in my rather useless detachable keyboard to attempt select, copy and paste attempt number 2).

Thanks for reading.

Thanks for reading.

Returning from paradise the Disney, Universal, Caribbean cruise experience

We are back and I am now in mourning following the end of our two week break to Florida and the Caribbean courtesy of my Dad and Stepmum who shared the experience with us. There were times when I wanted to divorce my entire family and chuck baby boy off the plane/boat/ride or whatever mode of transport we happened to be on when he kicked off. But those moments were rare and I just drank in all the precious moments with everyone wishing I could just press pause. On the eve of the first week back to reality, I really don’t want things to return to the normal routine. As my daughter said when she went to bed tonight, “it feels weird not sharing a bed with baby bro” (as we had been in the same room together as a family dividing 2 beds between us over 2 weeks). Although sometimes this was a little too much (with baby boy and big sis rubbing each other up the wrong way reaching deafening noise levels in nanoseconds). It was actually enjoyably intimate.

We were all inspired by the countries visited, so much so that I want to visit them again. I have also flirted with the idea of living on the states and have started browsing job sites for vacancies.  There are many aspects of the American way of life that appeal.

When we landed back in the UK, it was cold and grey. As we headed to the car park the heavens opened and it rained hard. It was then our car decided not to start as the battery had gone flat over the past 2 weeks of being stationary. It was then that I started craving a return flight back to the sunshine state, a feeling that sits at the pit of my stomach a bit like feeling homesick, although I am physically home – my spirit has remained in the states.

To combat this rather shitty feeling, I am going to review the highs and lows of the trip over the next few days. Until then please check out my page on unicef’s site and see how I am doing through fundraising via this blog. For every day of downtime, pay £1 in offline fees to UNICEF. So for this trip I have been offline for 16 days! If you want to add your donation visit my Unicef page on the Unicef site.

Thanks for reading.

Its late

Its late, I have just filled out a job application after a day trying to work from home and look after a baby boy with a high temperature. We are due to fly out of here on Saturday and I really hope that a) baby boy is feeling better (straight on the phone to the Docs tomorrow morning for stronger antibiotics); b) everyone is feeling a little less tired and more energised; c) that I can finally get some sleep by finally clearing all the thoughts in my head (like that will ever happen).

I will be packing tomorrow night so this will be my last blog for a few days. More money will go to Unicef in offline fees so that can only be a good thing. 

I blog every day to raise money for Unicef, if you can help the campaign and donate, visit my page on Unicef’s site.

Sorry for the incredibly short post tonight but I will make up for it with stories of my travels.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Giving life events the ‘nudge’

I have been contacted by Save the Children to sign a petition to encourage William Hague MP and the UN to ensure the protection of children during Syria’s conflict by negotiating the following three point plan at the peace talks taking place later this month, they are:

– Not to prevent life-saving aid from reaching children

– Do not target, or use for military use, hospitals and health facilities

– Do not use explosive devices in populated areas

It took less than a minute to sign the petition so if you can add your name to it and help Save the Children reach 10,000 signatures please visit the petition site here.

Earlier today I experienced the number one problem of working Mums – an ill child at nursery. Turns out he has an ear infection and thank God for my Doctor and antibiotics, which will hopefully kick-in in time for our flight on Saturday. I am amazed at how quickly his temperature shoots up and relieved that calpol, a must have in any mum’s arsenal of life’s must have’s, quickly brings it back down again. I cant imagine what it must be like for mothers who have nothing but water to ease a fever.

It highlighted the problems I may have if I decided to go for a new job opportunity that has cropped up. It means more hours, less time with the family, but potentially a better lifestyle long-term and eases the earning pressure off my husband. So do you opt for the short-term or long-term? My answer is to apply and let fate do the rest. I am a great one for giving things a little ‘nudge’ and then like a river, just go with the flow of events.

Try not to, laugh, but my husband is getting his first wax treatment tomorrow (I know it is hysterical). He is going for the back but was tempted by the beautician into having his eyebrows too. I will let you know the results tomorrow 😊

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef – it would be great if you could donate to this campaign – any contribution would make my day.

Thanks for reading.

 

Out in the cold and wet

England is soggy. The ground is so saturated with water that every step you take is ‘squelch, squelch, squelch’. Outside is muddy, inside is muddy, trees are dripping, noses are dripping and the skies are grey. My husband is a tree surgeon and earlier this morning, I gazed out of my office window and looked at the hail stones bouncing off the grass in this atrocious weather and wondered whether my husband was out in it. Apparently he was at the top of a very tall tree. He said he thought about getting out of the tree and waiting for it to calm down but he knew the climb back up again in soaking wet gear would be even worse. So he carried on sawing as the hail stones pelted onto his helmet.

Its at times like these when, more than ever, my thoughts turn to the homeless and the cold impossible situations they must find themselves in. The charity Crisis looks after the homeless and tries to find a way out from the streets. Their website features case studies of people who have ended up on the streets for a variety of different reasons. Some people do it to escape abuse, others because of severe financial circumstances. One story tells of a young man who was so cold he contemplated sleeping in a bin to create a barrier from the cold that had seeped into his bones.

Every Christmas the lady that runs my son’s nursery helps out at Crisis to provide food, warmth, shelter and counselling services to the homeless over Christmas. This year they successfully managed to find homes and jobs for over 80 homeless people in the centre that she worked in. However they could only provide places for 350 homeless as opposed to 450, because they did not have enough volunteers. If I can get childcare this year, I hope to volunteer this Christmas. The charity put out their appeal for volunteers around October time so put it in your diary to check put their website if you fancy helping too.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef – see my page on Unicef’s site here and please donate if you can.

Thanks for reading.

Darwins female model

If you haven’t seen Ben Stiller’s ‘the secret life of Walter Mitty’ yet then do your soul a favour and go see it.

Without giving too much away, it shows how each of us are on a journey, which is slightly chaotic as you never know what is going to happen in life. I explained to my daughter earlier that if there is one thing I have learned in my 30 plus years, it is that there is no such thing as a ‘normal’ person. We are all nuts in our unique ways – some are nuts for good and some are nuts for bad. The trick is to ‘let your freak flag fly’.

I am slightly nuttier than usual because I am not getting much sleep, mainly through excitement in the build up to our holiday of a lifetime this weekend. I haven’t been to Disney world sine the 80s and I can’t wait to be there again, albeit slightly older – but I haven’t changed that much. Through the brilliant advice of blogs like ‘allgoodinmommyhood’ I have become slightly obsessive over Disney prep and planning but I have left it rather late. So I was so pleased when I was able to get my daughter a birthday meal at Cinderellas royal table in the castle and a pamper session at the bibbidi bobbidi boutique. I don’t know who is more excited me or her.

In anticipation of week 2 of our holiday in the Caribbean, I had my first ever wax treatment today – I took the plunge and had everything off. Well actually, I was glad I didn’t go for the Brazilian as my pain threshold wasn’t that high, but even so it was liberating to walk out of the salon as smooth as a baby (and slightly smarting). I am quite hairy for a lady. The beautician actually indicated on me where her natural bikini line is and it is a country mile from mine, which is half way down my thighs like a pair of side burns. Its almost as if whoever decides on your sex at conception was indecisive with me and opted for the ‘girl’ button at the last minute leaving little time for big bust genes and minimal body hair genes to work their magic. Whenever you see an illustration of Darwin’s evolution theory you always see the gorilla turn into the guy. Well if they ever wanted to be politically correct and show the same process with a female then my body, pre wax treatment, would demonstrate the ‘transition’ phase very well. I get hair on the tops of my feet, around my belly button and on my top lip…..eurgh! I hear you exclaim.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. I aim to make at least a pound a day for the charity so if you can donate that would be fab, visit Unicef’s site here.

Thanks for reading.