Seven Reasons Americans Should Be Thankful They’re American

According to Boo, aged 7.

Please note, Boo has never actually been to the States, so her reasoning may not be the most sound. Apologies in advance.

They have the best cartoons.

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Boo is obsessed with Netflix. The Powerpuff Girls, Regular Show, Monster High – all the ‘good’ stuff is American.

To be honest though, it’s more like the little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead: when it’s good it’s very very good, but when it’s bad it’s horrid. And when Boo says ‘good’, well, taste of a 7-year-old leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve spent far too many hours of my life with some Monster High/Barbie DVD playing for Boo’s benefit. And I’m not getting that time back ever.

That said, there’s always time for The Powerpuff Girls.

They make the best films.

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Boo: Is Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs American?

Me: Yep.

Boo: Then America makes the best films.

Why that one film sums up all film produced ever I have no idea. But looking at her DVD collection you can’t argue with the dominance of the States.

They have cool words and accent.

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‘They speak English, so it’s good because you don’t have to learn another language, but then some words are different – like ‘jell-o’ – and then other words like ‘awesome’ sound better with an American accent.’

Such is the effect of the dominance of cartoons and film on her that this is seen as preferable. But then, we come from Norfolk and the local accent isn’t so pretty, so maybe it’s a fair argument. (Although, obviously, I sound like Mary Poppins rather than a Norfolk vowel-strangler…or at least that’s what I’m going to claim. Although that disparity between that and reality might be why I hate to hear my own voice.)

Their Disneyland is bigger.

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And it doesn’t always rain there. True. Not always. Although it did when the Gluestick family went to DisneyWorld back in 2005. Which is just our luck.

IMG_1430.JPG Please let this be true too!

One day I’ll hopefully get to take her there and it will blow Disneyland Paris out of the water. If Disney would like to provide us with said trip then I’m more than happy to blog favourably about it. Just saying.

They get to pick what weather they want without having to go to a different country.

IMG_1429.JPGHmmm. Not that it looks particularly enticing from that picture, just a diverse collection of ‘yikes!’

I’m not really sure she appreciates how big the country is, but if you can have bits that are hot and sunny and bits that have snow at the same time as each other then that’s impressive. Especially when you’re in the middle of several months that are best described as ‘grey’.

‘And they get hurricanes,’ Fair point, although I’m not sure whether in Boo’s mind that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

School is so much cooler.

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‘They don’t have to wear uniforms with ties and they have lockers and cheerleaders.’

When I was a kid, American school seemed better than ours for the exact same reasons. But then we got Hogwarts, so surely the UK wins, actually. So, a dilemma: do I make her watch Harry Potter but risk her then wanting to be part of a public school system that I can’t afford (and which doesn’t actually provide classes in magic). Or do I show her Grease and Glee and have her thinking that everyone spontaneously bursts into song every five seconds but has to stay at school until they’re in their 30s? (Which could go either way because I still wouldn’t mind going to William McKinley High…and not as a teacher.)

They get a day off that we don’t

IMG_1426.JPG The turkey obviously saw my last post. Sorry about that.

‘They had a holiday today and I had to go to school. No wonder they’re thankful.’

To my American readers, I hope you had a great day. You guys are AWESOME!

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The Santa Clause

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Boo: Y’know, when it comes to Christmas presents, I think lots of presents are better than just one.

Me: Oh, why’s that?

(Thinking it’ll be because it takes longer to open them or something.)

Boo: Well, if you only ask for one big thing but then Santa thinks you’ve been naughty then you don’t get anything, even if you’ve only been naughty a little bit. But if you’re a little bit naughty but you’ve asked for lots of little things, then you’ll only lose one thing per naughty thing, so you’ll still get lots of things and you probably won’t notice what’s missing.

Guess whose asked for lots of little things this year?

She does have a point though.

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Christmas Spirit

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In exactly one month’s time it shall be Christmas Eve night and I shall be stressing over how Noodles and Boo won’t go to sleep because they’re too excited, how I’ve forgotten something vital for the next couple of days and the shops are all shut or how I wish I’d wrapped my gifts as I’d bought them rather than leaving it til the last minute and risking running out of wrapping paper. I’ll be upset that ‘Santa’ in our house will be behind the Santa we’ll have tracked all day online. I’ll be grouchy and feeling put-upon, but at the same time it’s part of the Christmas ritual. And besides, there will be Baileys.

IMG_1255.JPG Share?! Not likely!

But anyway, one month to go. Surely it’s ok to start feeling that warm festive tingle, the anticipation of all that’s to come? The diary’s filling up, the TV ads have had me blubbing at the sheer sentimentality and I’ve got the shopping in hand. (‘Don’t go overboard,’ Teflon Man says every year. Pah to that! Although it’s mostly his excuse to buy crap presents, so I guess we all have our priorities.) It’s all kicking off and I love Christmas. I should be gagging to don a Christmas jumper and get all merry. (Yep, more Baileys!)

Except I’ve sort of just felt flat. Despite the omnipresence of Jamie’n’Jools/Nigella/Kirstie Allsopp (a bloody annoying British Holy Trinity of Martha Stewart-ness) and their perfect Christmas suggestions.

IMG_1256.JPG Whaddya mean you don’t use the convertible exclusively to get the tree home?!

Despite the town’s Christmas lights being switched on and caroles being played by a brass band and Boo meeting ‘Elsa’ and being all thrilled.

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Despite normal stuff being jettisoned from shop shelves in favour of gift sets for those in need of a desperate present. Despite having made office party menu choices and Secret Santa selection. Despite panto tickets having been pinned to the pin board.

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Despite having bought my Christmas dress.

Despite all of this I’ve just felt a bit Bah, Humbug.

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But surely the weekend was to change that. A necessary trip to London for Boo on Saturday gave us the opportunity to see the Christmas lights on Regent Street and Oxford Street and then Grandy came up with the suggestion of visiting Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. What could get me to feel some festive spirit more than a Winter Wonderland?

Except, it turns out that London on a Saturday afternoon in the run-up to Christmas is nothing like a scene from Love Actually.

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No, it’s more like a mosh pit!

Outside Hamley’s:

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At the Winter Wonderland:

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It’s amazing how nimbly a toddler can dart through a crowd too! A septuagenarian with a pushchair, not so much. And because Grandy is a somewhat-deaf septuagenarian it meant we lost him for a couple of hours. I was literally contemplating going home without him and hoping he’d eventually think to check his text messages. With the focus on not also losing smaller clan members and balking at the daylight robbery in operation (¬£8 for Boo and I to go in the funhouse, ¬£5 per go on the sideshow games – I wished I’d had Gru’s firepower to win a fluffy unicorn!) I wasn’t feeling the festive warm-and-fuzzies.

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Oh, and a festive bus ride along Oxford Street isn’t as wonderful as it looks in the John Lewis advert.

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No lovelorn penguins for me, just a woman having a go at me for not being able to put Noodles’ buggy in the allocated pushchair area what with it being rammed with shoppers and all. (‘You should get them to move for the health and safety of the children.’ But, then, she deemed it better for her 4-year-old daughter to swing from the bannister of the staircase rather than having her sit on a step on the staircase like I suggested. You know when you want to tell someone to take their head out of their arse? Well, that. And I’m not sure that’s the true spirit of Christmas.)

But then, in the early hours of this morning I found myself awake and with a definite Christmas feeling. But not one induced by mulled wine and pine needles, nor familial joviality and over-spending. No, I awoke with a sore throat. The same sore throat feeling I’d have every Christmas a child! I felt as though I was 6 again and waiting in the dark for the present-rustling of Santa.

So now I’m ready to launch myself at the season! Get me a set of fairy lights and a jumper with a Christmas pudding on it and I’m there. Just excuse the husky voice and irritating cough. Maybe a glass of Baileys will soothe it.

Now, that’s definitely my idea of Christmas spirit!

A Promise

I promise that I will do my best, to be true to myself and develop my beliefs, to serve the Queen and my community, to help other people and to keep the Brownie Guide law.

Boo made her Brownie promise tonight and became an official Brownie.

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I don’t think she could have been more excited if she’d tried!

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They were some big things she promised tonight though and she took them to heart even if I’m not sure that she fully appreciates them yet.

Therefore, I would like to make my own promise to Boo, because family life gets tough as you grow up, particularly as you become more independent. Therefore:

I promise that I will do my best. To be truthful about most things (some stuff I will claim creative licence on for now) and to be open-minded about your beliefs (unless it involves inappropriate pastimes/boyfriends/tattoos/piercings). To serve you and the rest of the family, in as much as I’ll be there for you and provide for you, not that I’ll pick up your crap from the sofa when you’re capable of doing it yourself. To help you without smothering you or driving you insane. And to keep you being you, on the right side of the Law.

Which isn’t easy because, y’know, teenagers! But all little people have to go through that tunnel. She’s a good kid though. And I’ve got a few years yet until my words come back to bite me on the backside. In the meantime, here’s hoping the Brownies helps steer her onto the right path too.

Technophile

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I think Noodles may be indulging in too much screen time of one sort or another.

For one, he has a new favourite DVD: Charlie & Lola. Specifically, the My Best Best Friend episode, which he watches over and over. And over.

But it’s not just the TV that’s dominating his waking hours.

Me: Whose your best best friend, Noodles?

Noodles: Kindle.

Oh dear.

Time to get outside tomorrow, I think.

A Hand Bereft

Last night my right hand felt naked. There was a void, an emptiness, as – horror of horrors! – I’d lost my phone!!!

IMG_0966.JPGInsert phone here.

The moment when I went to my handbag and discovered my phone wasn’t there was (I’m ashamed to say) the same gut-wrenching lurch as when you turn around in a shop to discover your toddler has vanished.

Which way to turn? Which way to turn?

I traced my tracks. I’d definitely had it at work. I could picture picking it up as I cleared away at the end of the day (the fact being that I’m so attached to my phone that even when I’m not likely to need it I feel reassured to have it visible and within reach. Again I’m ashamed.)

But it was very definitely NOT in my bag. I pulled everything out: purse, key, cup-a-soup sachets and Graze tubs, make-up, more make-up, broken Remembrance Sunday poppy brooch, pens, hair clips…but NO PHONE!!!

I turned out the shopping. No sign.

It was obvious. There were three options:

1) In the rush to make a bid for freedom I’d left it at work. Nothing I can do. I’d just have to wait til Sunday morning.

2) It had fallen from my bag, squeezed out by my joyless lunch options and face-saving cosmetics. Which meant it would now be in the hands of the staff/customers of either the toy shop or make-up shop (because absolutely I had needed to buy yet more despite already having enough to squeeze a phone from my bag. In my defence, my nails look fabulous…although my hand still felt bereft).

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Hopefully with one phone call I could have it returned to me.

3) Some thieving arsehole had obviously taken it from my bag. I cursed myself for not making the most of the chance to turn it into the telecommunications version of Fort Knox. I was obviously going to have to call the police, get an incident number and file an insurance claim, resigning myself to losing all my photos and contacts. And having my bank accounts drained because obviously I store all of my passwords on my phone. Not all of them work, mind you, but that only flummoxes me as opposed to the master criminal who must have dipped into my bag.

I tried to call it. It didn’t ring. Part of me hoped my bag would make a noise and the phone had just temporarily turned invisible when I’d searched for it before. Even though I’m not sure Apple have thought to make that a feature of the iPhone 6, although you never know. It went straight to answerphone. Obviously it was Option 3. It had been stolen and switched off. Although sometimes I don’t get a reception at work, so Option 1 was still a possibility. And maybe the customer/shop staff had switched it off to save the battery whilst dithering about whether to keep it or hand it back.

There was still hope. But in my mind, what horrors could someone be reeking with my beloved phone!

Why do I have no clue how to use Find My iPhone?!*

The evening couldn’t have lasted longer. I couldn’t text my friend during Strictly. Obviously it turned out to be the most thrilling episode yet, but there way to text my excitement.

I couldn’t take a photo of Boo’s amazing hair-do from the princess party she went to.

And what to do without the world at my fingertips?! I couldn’t play my life-wasting games whilst waiting for the kids to get to sleep (and you can’t read a normal paper/book in the dark). I couldn’t Google-search every query. (Do you know a shortcut to crazy? Have a child ask you how many minions have names and not be able to Google the answer!)

I couldn’t check WordPress!!!

In the middle of the night I woke, convinced that I’d heard the buzz of a phone switched to silent and a call trying to come through. I was wrong. I couldn’t get back to sleep. Instead I hatched all possible scenarios for the morning, from best-case (it turned out to be at work) to worst-case (gone, all gone, and the insurance company hold me accountable).

This morning, for once, I didn’t long for a lie-in. I wanted to be up and out. Damn stupid Sunday trading hours!

I felt a bit sick as I walked across town towards the office.

Please be there. Please be there. But what if it’s not? Please be there!

And relief at the greeting I got:

‘Ah, we’ve been expecting you.’

Which would have been a bit scary-Bond-villain if it didn’t mean for certainty that my phone was there!!!! And there it was, sat on the side in the kitchen.

My mind’s at rest. My hand feels complete again.

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Happy day!!!

*****

*I actually wrote this post on Sunday morning, but had to schedule its publication whilst waiting for Eve to send me the last picture. However, whilst waiting, Apple just happened to send me this email:

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Coincidence? Or surveillance?!!!