Monday, 30 September 2013

Things causing my hackles to rise today #1: Overly twee shower gel

I am particularly easily wound up today and it's not even 10am yet.  There's going to be a rant #2 later - that's how irritated and grumpy I am.

This is what hacked me off as I strolled around Waitrose earlier: (wait, lets take a moment here to roll our eyes at what a cliched yummy mummy I have become; strolling around Waitrose indeed).

Overly Twee Shower Gel.  Now, I've probably just got PMT or something, but it sent me into a near murderous rage.  This is why:

1. I do not want to be instructed to do anything by my shower gel.

2. I'm supposed to take a slice of mango and make a sunny day.  This is not actually possible.  I could take a slice of mango and pretend it's a sunny day: one in which I am eating mango.  But I would still be in Cheshire, where it rains all the time.  Also, I am feeling a bit panicky about where I'm going to take the slice of mango from.  The fruit and veg section of Waitrose, I'm guessing.  Which is a bit...shoplifty?  Also, just the one slice?  What's going to happen to the rest of the mango? Are we now expected to take knives into Waitrose so we can shoplift a perfect sliver of mango in order to conjure up a sunny day?

3. "Be funny".  Are you kidding me?  No pressure or anything, just BE FUNNY.  What if you're not funny? Or what if you are funny but having a bad day?  This makes me think of when friends introduce me to someone.  "This is Lisa. She's really funny", they say, eyes desperately imploring me to say something funny to prove them right.  I'm not really funny, I'm just unfortunate and tell a good story, OK shower gel?  With a less positive spin, I'd be tragic.  Stupid mango shower gel, forcing me to trivialize my problems in the name of humour.

4. "Be funny...paint some freckles on your teddy."  Well, first of all, I think I'd have been tempted to use a semicolon there instead of an ellipsis, but even more provoking is the pointless instruction to paint freckles on a teddy.  First of all, that's going to be difficult as teddy bears are furry, and I don't think fur and paint is going to work, especially if one is painting such fine details as freckles.  But also, who decided that painting freckles on a teddy is the definition of funny?  At best it is...baffling and infantile, perhaps? (Note better use of an ellipsis).
5. Somebody got paid to write that drivel.  I am bitter: I also write drivel and I bet they get paid more than me.

6. Not only did somebody get paid to write it, lots of people higher up in the company must have thought it was good, felt that it summed up their brand and approved it.  This makes me want to weep.

7. Nowhere on the bottle does it warn you that it smells like the collective morning after vomit of a Taboo drinking hen party.  Wait, can you still buy Taboo or is that a 90s reference that anyone under the age of 30 won't get?

8. This bottle is just one in a whole range of shower gel with this cutesy, pointless nonsense printed on the bottles (the range also includes: "Strawberry Sundae: A Very Wild Shower Gel", which tells us that "the strawberry and the buttercup met in the garden and fell in love. That's sweet" Uhuh. Not to mention NAUSEATING AND SOMETHING THAT COULD NOT HAPPEN, EVER).  And this range is just one in a sea of shower gel making companies which insist on writing nonsense on their packaging.  Stop it.  All of you.  Or at the very least, pay me to do it instead.

I'll be back later with rant #2, which is about bears again.  Bloody bears.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Nasalguard Cold & Flu Block - update and giveaway

I thought you'd all like a little update on how I've been getting on with Nasalguard Cold & Flu Block.  To re-cap, it's a cream gel that you run under your nose and surrounding area a few times a day to reduce the likelihood of getting ill from colds and the flu virus.  It's drug free, so it suitable for pregnant women and children, and the company says it works by trapping and blocking airbourne viruses.

I've been using it for nearly a full month now, and, as baffled as I am by the results and as skeptical as I was, I have to admit that it seems to work.  My husband and son have snotted and coughed their way through the month, as have all the children at the preschool I work at, and I haven't had so much as a sniffle.  This could be coincidence, but it would be an enormous one, as I have never got through September without at least one cold before and am usually floored by one by the end of the first week of the schools re-opening.  I don't know how it works - the scientific explanation seems a bit woolly to me, but even if it's just a placebo effect or mind over matter or something, it has worked for me so far and I will continue to use it.  Looks like it's time for me to eat my hat.

But before that, I have a tube of Cold & Flu Block to give away (currently retailing for £11.99 in Boots), so if any of you fancy giving it a try, fill in the Rafflecopter form below and try your luck.  You too could be cold free and munching on a sombrero in no time.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

I'm not Spanish; I'm just socially awkward.

There's a bit of a scenario building up at the moment and I feel I need to make a public statement before it gets even more out of hand than it already is.

Lets start with a bit of background information:

You should know that I'm a bit of a klutz.  I walk into doors and slip on banana skins and stuff.  This is the source of much hilarity for my friends and family, because when standing still, I don't look particularly unwieldy.  One might even imagine that I am serene and graceful.  The reality is that I am like a puppy at that awkward phase where their legs are too long for their bodies and they trip over themselves and knock things over all the time. "Sorry.  Sorry about that. I'll just wipe that up for you shall I? Oh God, sorry, not again."

Not only am I physically clumsy, I'm also completely socially inept.  I'm fine with people I know well, and I am perfectly capable of public speaking, but I blunder and stutter through the rest of my life like a cross between Mr Bean and Hugh Grant's character in Four Weddings and a Funeral.  Here are a few choice examples for your delight:

1. Due to a slight misunderstanding and not wanting to upset an old woman who'd got the wrong phone number, I pretended to be her granddaughter (who had the same name as me - please say that you can see how this occurred) and arranged to meet her to go shopping. Even though my grandmothers were both dead so it couldn't possibly have been them on the phone.  I can't think about this too much because I start imagining scenarios in which she might have been diagnosed with dementia because she was so convinced that she spoke to her granddaughter, who, of course, knew nothing about it.  Guilt.

2. I accidentally moved next door to someone who I had had a - liaison, shall we say - with, because on viewing the flat, I was struck with how familiar the surrounding area felt and how I felt like I'd been there before and how, in that case, it must be a sign from above telling me that it was my new home.  Turned out that I had been there before: In the front bedroom of the house next door. Now I looked like a stalker setting up a spy camp. Excellent.

3. I sat through a work appraisal with one hand covered in the excrement of a child that I'd just helped to clean up after a toilet issue (I was a teaching assistant at this point), rather than pointing out that I was, in fact, covered in shit and just needed to wash it off.  I really do wonder about this one, and where my brain was at the time.

As you can see, most of these issues were caused by that most British of traits - the fear of causing somebody else embarrassment.  Which makes it mildly ironic that I find myself in my current situation.  Read on...

Over a year ago I went for a run, wearing my husband's Italy football shirt. I stopped at the local shop for a bottle of water on the way back.  The man in the shop is foreign (no idea where from) and doesn't speak very good English, but is very friendly.

"Aha!" he said, spotting my t-shirt. "Italian! I knew you are not from here. You are Italian, yes?"

To be fair to him, he's not the first person to make this assumption.  I have dark hair, pale skin and very prominent cheekbones.  I do look fairly European I suppose.

"No, I'm just English", I replied.

Somehow he heard this as "No, I'm Spanish."

"Espana! Of course! We are both foreign here, yes? A very good country."

At this point, Hugh Grant took over and I decided that, rather than tell him that he had misheard, I'd just smile and nod.

I forgot about this exchange until I needed to use the shop again a month or so later and was greeted with a cheery "Hola!" as I approached the till.

I genuinely assumed that he'd just forget who I was, but every time I went in after that I'd think I was just about getting away with it, when he'd slip a reference to "my country" or a "buenos dias" in there, and we'd be back to square one.  By this point, I was too far down the route of no return to admit that he'd misheard me and that I am not, in fact, from Spain.  So, OK. I'd just pretend to be Spanish every time I went into the shop to save embarrassment.  What harm could it do?  No harm at all really, but it was getting pretty awkward a few months ago because he'd started buying in a range of tapas in order to make me feel more at home and I had to buy it.

You'd think it couldn't get any worse, wouldn't you?  But it could.  Because Rory discovered Dora the Explorer on TV a few months ago and is addicted to it.  For those not in the know, Dora the Explorer is a Hispanic American (I think - I don't know much about this culture, so could be wrong) and very annoying girl on an American TV show. She speaks both English and...well, I'm not even sure.  Could be Spanish. Could be Portuguese. I'm sure someone can tell me.  She's bilingual anyway.  Rory is very taken with her, and, amusingly, by copying her, he has convinced himself that he can speak fluent Spanish.  This is hilarious to listen to as he jabbers away, making up most of the words and punctuating them with the occasional genuine one. It's a lot like the episode of Friends in which Joey speaks French.

So, last time we were in the shop, Rory spotted a Dora the Explorer magazine and started waving it about in excitement, counting to 10 in Spanish and then launching into a particularly theatrical bout of semi-Hispanic gibberish.  Shop Owner Man was very impressed with this and beckoned his wife over to listen to "the clever boy who speaks two languages so young".  As a result, Rory now tells random strangers that he is half Spanish.

I really thought that this was the peak of the problem and that I was just never going to be able to go into the shop again, but the other day, I was approached in the playground by a mum that I vaguely recognized.  "I didn't know you were from Spain", she said.  Ah yes, she was in the shop while Rory was giving his linguistic performance.  "Hahaha, well, um, actually I'm from..." ("...Watford, and it's all just a hilarious misunderstanding", was what I meant to say, but at that point we were interrupted by the children having to line up, so I never got to explain).

There is only one way this can go now isn't there? And it's going to culminate in Rory and I dressed as flamenco dancers, having been asked to lead Spanish Day at school, isn't it?  Has anybody got any of those Muzzy foreign language tapes that are always being advertised? I think I'm going to need one.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The start of school - the end of four years.

So that's it: As of yesterday, my baby is in school full time.  He's been doing half days for a couple of weeks already, and so far he absolutely loves it.  Me?  Not so much.  The peace and quiet is glorious, and I can finally get on with all those things that I couldn't get on with while he was at home ("cleaning", says my husband, pointedly).  But having lived my life at the centre of hurricane Rory for over four years, I feel a little bit lost, a little bit pointless, and slightly unsure of myself.  I also miss the nefarious bugger, and putting on my boots without encountering any cottage cheese lurking in the toes is a bittersweet pleasure, as it only serves to remind me that this dairy produce subterfuge is on hold until October half term as the perpetrator is at school, charming his new teacher.

It seems like a good time for a retrospective post, looking back on my time as a stay at home mum.  It's quite telling that this blog began when Rory was two years old.  The time before that is a hazy mess in my memory, although I don't know if this was because I had postnatal depression or just because I'm spectacularly bad with babies.  I'm never having another one, so I'll never find out.  I sometimes think I ought to write more about those two years, especially the first couple of months, during which I was under the care of the emergency psychiatric team.  It could help others and it should be talked about, but I write under my real name, and I worry about the repercussions.  Thoughts, anyone?

From then on though, it's been all fun and games.  I've shared with you some expert tutorials to inspire you to do things with your children...

...we've discussed the joys that a child brings to your life...

...I've recounted the tale of The Great Toilet Paper Incident of 2010...


...I've had a serious think about how easy it is to airbrush your life...

...slagged off CBeebies a lot (and perved on Mister Maker)...

...and you've all become familiar with the inner workings of the inimitable Rory's mind...

So, the day before school started, I watched Show Me Show Me to bid farewell to Chris and Pui (yes, I've bitched about every single other CBeebies presenter, but I do love a bit of Chris and Pui), took Rory to the farm to poke goats with sticks and play on the tractors, then walked home with him, hand in hand, talking about our day, just like always.  I think that's what I'll always remember most about my time at home with him; not the chaos and the mess and the lack of money and the endless rainy days when we ran around making sheep noises with pairs of tights on our head just for something to do.  That little hand in mine: That's what I'm going to miss.  

Thanks kid.  It's been a blast.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

An End To Colds?

Effing colds.  How do they know that September's started?  I never get more than a week into September before I'm wading through a river of snot and coughing my lungs up.  Some might say that this is because I was a teacher/have a young child and all the kids going back to school lets the plague loose after 6 weeks of relative solitary confinement, but I know better: It's the curse of September. How else do you explain my husband going down with a hefty dose of man flu on the first day of the month?

From The first week of September on it's all downhill until April with cold after cold, flu, tummy bugs galore, ear infections and tonsilitis, and that's just me.  Don't get me started on everything that Rory catches and brings home.  Last year I got hold of a book called The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick and read it cover to cover in the hopes of finally banishing poor health from my household but despite following advice to run every morning, take cold showers and dunk my head in peroxide every morning (only did that once; smelled like public toilets all day), we were still ill for 7 months straight.

This year, I have another secret weapon: Nasalguard Cold & Flu Block.  This is a little tube of non-greasy ointment that you rub around your nostrils and above your top lip a few times a day.  It's supposed to trap, hold and immobilize airbourne viruses, which reduces the likelihood of you getting ill.  I don't know exactly how this works, actual magic I expect.  I'll poke my knowledgeable friend, Science Tim with a virtual internet stick after I publish this post to see if he can explain it in the comments for you all.  It has something called Polyquats in it.  I don't even know what they are, but if they're going to stop me getting ill, I can get on board with it.
The particularly good thing about this product is that it's completely drug free so is suitable for children and pregnant women to use, and anyone who's been pregnant and had a cold or flu at the same time will really appreciate how brilliant this is.

Does it work?  I don't know yet.  I've been using it since the start of September.  So far, my husband has had a horrendous cold and Rory has had the sniffles, and I haven't caught either, but it's early days.  I don't think I've ever got more than a week into September without coming down with something until this year though, so there might be something in it.  Tell you what; I'll report back in a few weeks with a progress report.  If it works and I manage to dodge all cold, I will be overjoyed.  And I will also eat a tiny bit of my hat because I'm a hardened skeptic.  Watch this space...

If you want to join me in Hat Eating Corner, Nasalguard Cold & Flu Block is available from Boots for £11.99 (I know, I know, but if it does actually work, it will be worth every penny):