Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Himself with the parenting win

I've got to give props to my hubby for the latest in successful application of reverse psychology to our children.

The girls have always been pretty good about eating, and we talk a lot about good food versus junk food, but as they get older, junk food becomes more and more tantalizing. We've been hearing a lot of demands for cookies or candy or cupcakes (why do those all start with C?). Dev, in particular, has been rushing through dinner in order to get dessert, and then compaining half an hour later that she's hungry. Our standard response to that is suck it up, cupcake*, but Himself has come up with a genius approach to solve the problem.

I was complaining a couple of months ago about how big the girls were getting, and it evolved into a joke about wanting to keep them as small as possible and not let them grow up. Boo would ask to be carried in our arms like a baby (i.e. squashed up as small as possible with her knees against her chin), and would then spontaneously stretch out, prompting cries of "Look at how big you're getting!" Himself took this joke and has brilliantly applied it to dinner:

"Girls, you don't want to eat that broccoli, it will make you grow too fast. Here, eat some more bread or some candy instead, so you stay nice and small." (of course not actually offering them candy)

Girls gleefully chow down on broccoli, with accompanying squeals of "Daddy! Look what I'm doing!" and "Daddy, I finished all my broccoli!" before piling more on to their plates and gobbling it up. This approach has now worked with rice, pea pods, carrots, chicken, pork, and just about everything else. Devil still isn't very interested in tomatoes, and Boo is still interested in anything that can't move off of her plate fast enough to escape her clutches, but we are getting a lot more of "Look how big I'm getting", and a lot less of "I want dessert!" So chalk up one serious victory to Daddy. I just hope they don't figure out the catch too soon!

* well, that's my standard response at least.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Election day

For the second time in as many years, I am watching a major political campaign come to an end. It's been absolutely fascinating, as an American, to watch this campaign, as it is so different and yet somehow familiar at the same time.

First big difference: length of campaign. Unlike the States, where the Presidential campaign basically begins right after the mid-term elections (and therefore lasts about two years), the British elections were announced in February. The campaign is a whopping six weeks long (plus or minus). I cannot begin to express how refreshing this is. Although, I will admit to being very entertained by the caption on the front page of the Metro this morning, referencing the apparent exhaustion of the party leaders (my internal dialogue: Pussies! Have a latte and get over it) after their extensive campaigning. Given that the articles also reference the end of the campaign as being yesterday, I have not much sympathy - in the US the campaign seems to continue on, even after the polls have closed on election day.

Second big difference: campaign? What campaign? Maybe it's because we live in a solidly Conservative* constituency, but this campaign has been invisble. No one puts signs on their lawns**, no one accosts you on the street, there aren't any big rallies. We have gotten a few leaflets through the letter box, but most of those have been from the whackadoos***. It's all very restrained and polite and British.

Third big difference: if you ask someone which party they'll be voting for, they will lie. Well, first of all, you never ask how someone will vote. But if asked, they may tell you the exact opposite of what they intend. Or say they're undecided. Or slam the door in your face. Which makes the polls that everyone keeps referring to more or less completely useless. That, however, is not that different from the US.

Fourth big difference: voting for a party, not a candidate. This explains why the campaigns can be so short - people vote for a party. The public face of that party is the person most likely to be Prime Minister if that party wins an outright majority in Parliament, but they personally are not running. This year's campaign seems to be inducing some cognitive dissonance in the voting public however, as it is the first time there have been televised debates. The rationale behind this in the past was the desire to avoid having the election come down to personalities instead of party manifestos (which are extensive). The debates may have changed the dynamic of the election, but most people seem to have enjoyed them.

Fifth (big) difference: today's Metro include the odds on the parties from several different bookmakers. Hunh?

However, there are a number of things that have been quite familiar, in a kind of heartwarming way. Like "bigot-gate". And the swooning over Nick Clegg, which sounds so much like the rhetoric about Obama that it's a bit eerie. The general consensus is that the likely result is a hung Parliament, which means that some of the smaller parties may end up with quite a bit of influence over who becomes Prime Minister. In any event, I'm finding it quite fascinating, and I will be watching the results roll in tonight with great interest.

* The three major political parties are Labour (current leading party), the Conservatives (aka Tories) and the Liberal Democrats. From the American perspective, they're all Democrats and, in some instances, outright flaming Socialists.
** Lawns, walls, front gardens, what have you. Nobody really has a lawn.
*** the four hundred teensy tiny parties, including Plaid Cymru, the UK Independence Party, the Scottish National Party, the Green Party, the BNP (scary!), etc, etc.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

One year

At this exact moment, one year ago today, the girls were fast asleep in our friends' spare room, and we were enjoying a lovely dinner with perhaps far too much wine. We'd been in the UK for twelve hours, arriving after a harrowing travel adventure, and had the clothes on our back and our passports, nothing more. A couple of weeks later, we had some of our stuff, and Himself had started at his new office. The girls and I had a bit of a rough transition*, going from fulltime work/daycare to fulltime stay at home parent/kids.

We explored the local playgrounds, eventually got internet access, went to various and sundry castles. We went to the land of haggis, and the land of Cycling and Sunflowers. We went "home". The girls started school. I started work, with an attendent shift in my aerobic activity.

The girls had their first real autumn. We had a real London Christmas, complete with snow.

In the new year, we visited a new continent, got driver's licenses, and have truly settled in to our new home.

Looking back, it seems impossible to reconcile the stress and adjustment of those last weeks in Houston/first weeks in London with how smoothly things are going now**. I knew at the time that it would all work out, but that thought doesn't exactly make it any easier at the time.

The girls are blossoming. They've grown an incredible amount; Dev is reading (!) and loving school, Boo is still pathologically independent, and so, so sweet. Himself is enjoying his work, and I'm enjoying mine when I'm actually there to get anything done. More importantly, I am enjoying having the opportunity to both work and do more Mom stuff then I could do working full-time in Houston. It is a gift, and I'm happy to take advantage of it as much as I can. It seems impossible that a whole year has already gone by, but I guess that's what happens when you're busy doing other things.

* To say the least!
** I have now really and truly screwed myself with that statement.