Monthly Archives: May 2012

Travel Thursday; A Giraffe In China


People seemed to like the pictures I put up of China last week far more than I thought they would. So, for better or worse, I thought today I’ll put up a few more.

All of these photos were also taken in and around Beijing.

I think the thing that stands out in my mind most from my time spent travelling around China, was that it made me actually feel sympathy for celebrities.

In China, if you are a foreigner, you stand out. Everywhere I went people would point and stare. The whole street would get quiet and everything seemed to stop, people whispering as I walked by. I can’t even remember how many times I was stopped and asked to have my picture taken with people.

That wasn’t so bad, but what bothered me was seeing people taking pictures of me from far away. I even had one woman who came up to me later and showed me the pictures she had taken of me from about two stories up as I had walked around some historical sight or another, completely unaware of her snapping away.

Tim had said he was worried about something happening to me, but on one of our phone calls, I described what the experience was like, being a visitor in China.

I compared myself to a giraffe.

That’s exactly how I felt, like some strange giraffe just walking down the street. I suppose you would stop and stare too at that odd sight, maybe even take a picture to show to your friends later.

I even started wearing sunglasses all the time. That way you can see everyone staring at you, but they can’t see what you’re looking at.

It was very surreal.

I can’t help but laugh when I think of how Tim might cope with the attention, if I ever manage to drag him there. Josh too. That poor kid is just so blonde….










Food Fights


I’m going to have, as Tim would say, a bit of a whinge.

In American terms, I’m going to complain.

This weekend, I went to a baby shower. My very first in England. And it might possibly be my last, as I probably won’t be receiving any more invites after my performance.

It was all very British. Very civil. Very quiet. Very polite.

Then I overheard one woman telling the others how she is “appalled” when she goes to the store and sees mothers dumping jars of baby food into their carts.

How dare these women feed their children jars of baby food (gasp!) when there is so much fresh produce available for them to make their own baby food.

Now I realise that people who know me will find this ironic because, I admit, I was one of those mothers. I spent hours steaming and pureeing, cooking and freezing all of Josh’s baby food. Nothing but the freshest produce for my baby. An irony which is not lost on me as Josh, from about 16 months, refused to eat any of my cooking, yet somehow manages to survive on fruit and peanut butter sandwiches.

But I digress.

This woman was criticising other women, other mothers, when she doesn’t even know the reason why they feed their children jars of baby food. Maybe they work. Maybe they have five other children to cook for. Maybe they’re going camping. Who knows.

But whatever their reason, in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter? Do we really have that little support and empathy towards one another as mothers, that we sit around criticising them for feeding their baby food from a jar?

She then continued on, telling how on her train commute, she sees a woman and her son. The boy is about three and every morning the woman gives him one of those packets of baby food. You know the kind. Ella’s organic something or other.

And every evening, she again sees the boy eating another packet on the way home.

I had enough at this point and said something.

I was just picturing the mother of this boy, probably stressed and tired after a day of working, which she does, by the way, to provide for her family, and giving him a snack. It’s not as if he never eats “real food” (which was the implication this woman at the shower was making). In fact, I’d be willing to bet good money that this little boy does not walk around all day, sucking down these packets like some astronaut.

And I can think of a lot worse things she could be feeding him.

It was a lot quieter at the party after I gave my opinion.

At least it means I’ll probably have more free weekends now.

New Shoes


My family have noticed that Josh has been wearing, what would appear to be, the same shoes since he was 12 months old.

I have assured them that I bought two pairs of the same shoes in different sizes, and have not in fact, been binding his feet, as has been suggested.

About a month ago, I went and bought Josh a new pair of shoes. This went disastrously, and I sent the video to my family who thought it was pretty funny.

Basically, when I put the new shoes on him, Josh refused to walk. He stood, like a statue, in the middle of the room. And when he did eventually deign to walk in his new shoes, it was in tiny inching shuffles across the floor.

But now with this warm weather we’ve been having, I had to go and get him some sandals.

I didn’t have high hopes.

And what do you know…

He did the same thing all over again.

After his tantrum was over, I think he knew he had overreacted.


I think he then tried to make it up to me by going around the house and trying on every other pair of shoes he could find.



It worked.

And so, new shoes firmly on, we had a wonderful Saturday.

We went for a walk.


Picked flowers and blew on dandelions.




Played on the swings.


And even ate some ice cream.





We then went to a birthday party for one of Josh’s friends.


What a fun Saturday.


And all in his new shoes.

Travel Thursday


Between all the Wordless Wednesdays and Photo Fridays, I’ve been getting a little bit restless.

I have always loved to travel, and I have always done a lot of travelling.

Well, up until this year really. Even when Josh was a baby, we still went out to California. The poor guy has done that 11 hour flight four times already (I suppose eight if you count each way), and he’s not even two yet.

But this year we haven’t gone anywhere, unless you count Birmingham… and I don’t.

So I thought, just to reiterate how important travel is to me and how someday I hope Josh will love to travel (and hopefully enjoy looking at all Mom’s pictures), I decided to do a “Travel Thursday” if you will. Maybe a “reminiscing about travelling” title would be more explanatory, but oh well.

These are a few pictures I took during a trip to China. It was my last hurrah, if you will, before we settled down and began a family. Tim thought I was insane (though to be fair, he probably still does), but I grabbed my camera and my backpack and travelled around China for about a month. Sure it was hard and it was scary at times, but I’m so glad that I took the plunge and just did it.

It was an incredible experience.

I hope you enjoy these few pictures, which were all taken in Beijing.

And Josh if you’re reading this in a few years, I can’t wait to go and explore some of this big world with you.







Sunshine and Tired Legs


We have sun!

And not just sun but warm weather too!

We’re talking shorts and a t-shirt type warm weather!


I decided to take Josh on a bike ride to celebrate.



I tried to take some photos of us both on the bike with my iPhone, though they usually ended up cutting half of either mine or Josh’s face off.

Oh well. I’m sure you can tell he’s enjoying himself.


The bike ride ended up being a lot longer than I thought. It always seems like a good idea as your pedalling along, the wind in your hair, down little hills and enjoying the sunshine. Well, you have to eventually go home, and those hills are now uphill

Not as fun.

We were out for almost two hours on this bike ride. My legs are still shaking tonight.

But it was great fun to get out and enjoy the sun.

We came home and had some lunch. I am always at a loss on lunch ideas for Josh, usually that need to be made very quickly as we are rushing home from one activity or another and he is screaming at me to feed him.

But today I toasted a bagel, and spread some hummus on both pieces. I then filled it with turkey and some baby spinach. I ended up making one for myself too, it was that good.

And did I mention quick?


This evening, it was still nice and warm so we all, Tim, Josh and I, walked to the park to kick around a soccer ball.



We eventually came home and I tried out a new recipe for Greek inspired chicken breasts, which I found here.

They turned out really yummy and I’m sure this recipe will be going into the rotation.


So all in all, a very nice sunny day!

Farm Animal Cards


The rain is back.

As much as I enjoy my long walks with Josh, it is nice to occasionally have some indoor (i.e. warm and dry) time too.

In an effort to find something to keep him busy, I pulled out an idea I had read about on the blog Montessori MOMents.

The blog has so many great idea for fun activities to do with kids, and as Josh can name all the farm animals now, this seemed right up his alley.

Having read about this farm animal activity, I had already bought a tub of farm animals before, keeping it for the right moment. I’m sure you can get these type of little plastic animals anywhere.


Then I printed off the animal cards, using this link .


We laid out all the cards and Josh really did a good job of matching the plastic animals to the corresponding cards.




It was a nice little break and an activity I think we’ll be doing again.

While I’m on the subject of farm animals, I just thought I’d share a card we made for Josh’s cousin’s birthday.


Using some pink paint, Josh made a handprint onto a blank card.

While he continued painting, I tried to turn his handprint as best I could into a pig.




It’s nothing fancy, but I think it turned out ok. Hopefully they’ll be able to work out it’s a pig!

A Day Without Rain


I think I had my first encounter with a “tiger mother” yesterday.

Josh had swim lessons yesterday and we usually go out for lunch after. Mainly because by the time they end, I am far too lazy to go home and actually make lunch.

Josh was very good at his swimming lesson; we’ve had some tantrums in the past. But it always makes me laugh when we go swimming, thinking about all of the effort us parents put into it.

We pack all the equipment up: towels, bathing suits, water wings (or “arm bands” here in the UK), and of course snacks. Then there is the effort of schlepping all of this, along with the child of course, to the car. As soon as I open the door, Josh is usually off in the other direction begging for a “walk!” at this point.

Then comes driving to the pool and getting changed. The changing room is usually deafening with the sound of children crying, parents pleading with them to either “hold still!” or “move out of the way!” Then trying to get the water wings on the child and getting the child into the water.

Somedays are better than others….

Then there is the actual class, which mainly is a half hour of coaxing the poor screaming child to “kick” or “blow bubbles,” when they probably don’t even understand what these terms mean.

And then, you repeat the process all over again to make it back home.

You can’t help but laugh.

All this was going through my head when I met the tiger mother. Or she may not be. Either way, I am sure she is a loving mother, doing the best for her kids.

But as I sat drinking a soda and feeding my son a jam sandwich (it was on the kids menu; I think it’s a normal sandwich here in England, though obviously not a healthy one), nodding politely as I listened to this woman describe, in detail, the gymnastic accomplishments of her two year old son, I couldn’t help but be a bit tired of it all.


There is so much pressure on mothers to be perfect and raise perfect little angels. It’s maddening.

So I sat there, being lectured on how badly children eat nowadays and how her son only had chocolate for the first time a month ago. I didn’t say anything at the time, other than mumbling something like “kids will be kids,” whatever that means…

And sadly, as much as I was enjoying talking to this woman, she had to leave rather quickly, as her son proceeded to have a massive tantrum and try to climb away over a fence.

So you see, it happens to the best of us I suppose.

After that encounter, I was determined to get out and have a bit of fun with Josh. No special classes or anything fancy. Just a soccer ball and some open grassy fields.

And of course mud.


It was the first day in what feels like ages without any rain, so it was great to get out.


And I think Josh enjoyed himself too…