Family feud: how my (female) in-Laws get on my nerves

6 Oct

 I have known her for about a decade. I have enough stories that I think that I’d have enough material to fill a book. I did some research as I was keen to find out whether I was the only one. I mainly found woman complaining about their brother’s wife. If you were to ask my sister-in-law, you’d hear that I am a shit stirrer (at some point she accused me of trying to turn her and my brother against their father because I had given her some advice. As it turns out, I was right. She caught up with a year later but never apologised. She probably forgot) disrespectful and ungrateful (here is a list of some of the compliments she told me: inconsiderate, egotistical, unsupportive, selfish, having absolutely no empathy) I am perfectly aware of the fact that it is only the tip of the iceberg as she does a tendency to talk behind people’s back; this is how she talks about her other sister-in-law (her husband’s brother’s sister)As her family listens to her and not me, I am now a pariah, I am the black sheep Actually, they never made me feel like I was anything other than an outsider, mother-in-law included despite the fact that she had repeatedly assured me that I was her daughter (not like her daughter, her daughter). Whether she meant it or not (she probably did), her actions betrayed her and, to be perfectly honest, she never fooled anyone (my mother used to laugh everytime my mother-in-law told her that). She automatically sides with her children against me (yes, she gets involved even if it is none of her business in the first place) even when my arguments are valid. She doesn’t bother listening to my side of the story or if she does, she dismisses my arguments as being nonsense. True story. My husband had once promised to look after our toddler so that I could go to a graduation party. Yet he decided that he had better thing to do so he called his mother. She got cross with me because I didn’t want to ask her to help as my husband had promised he would do it. Her response was : “Promises can be broken”. Basically, I was being unreasonable. Who cared that I was hurt that he couldn’t that for me, especially that, in almost two years, I had only asked him twice?Another time, she spent the whole weekend abusing me (I was lazy and ungrateful because my husband works so hard and I don’t) because my husband and I had had an argument and she only cared to listen to his side of the story. Not only is she biased but she has to get involved. Let me tell you that it never helps. She always aggravates the situation. 

Now there are a couple of things you need to know: first of all, I moved to be with my husband (then boyfriend) from France to Australia so I have no other family (mine I know to be reliable andtrustworthy) in the vicinity. The second thing that I should add is even her family thinks that she can be a bitch sometimes (not my words but her own mother’s). Finally, even before she met me, my sister-in-law told my husband (who was then my boyfriend) that she didn’t like me, I was untrustworthy because I was using him… Let me stress that she thought that BEFORE she met me in the flesh. Therefore, to put it bluntly, nothing I have done or said has ever been good enough for her. George Bernard Shaw wrote: “The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it.” Well, I can totally relate to this. Last thing I did was to ask her why she was asking us to give her $60 for something that was going to cost roughly $10. I didn’t abuse her, criticise her, I kept my message as factual as possible. She answered that I was going to far and that she refused to argue about that. If I had chosen to argue about it, my message would have been entirely different. The worst thing is that my question was reasonable and she had a valid response but she chose to be offended. With her, it doesn’t matter what I say or how I say it, it will always be twisted and used against me. The problem wasn’t the message but the messenger.

This family specialises in the passive aggressive behaviour. If something bothers them, they don’t talk about it, they let it pester until they lash out at someone for something beyond trivial AND they bitch about people’s back which means that, in my case, no discussion is possible. It is always my fault. Not that I haven’t tried: I wrote a letter to my mother-in-law after the infamous weekend. To summarise it, I wrote that she had hurt my feelings. Her answer was that she was sorry I was feeling that way. For those who wouldn’t understand why it can be offended, it basically meant she wasn’t feeling sorry for what she had done and said; she was refusing to take responsibility for it (I need to add that I had apologised for being grumpy all weekend). 

On another occasion, I was the one waving the white flag. Now, I need to add that it is easier for me to express my feelings in writing (avoids me getting all emotional and say things I might regret), my sister-in-law responded that she couldn’t be bothered reading message. I confess I can be stubborn but I thought as I was the one who had taken the first step, she could at least make the effort to do it my way. Another time, she again misinterpreted one of my messages (I seriously don’t understand how she managed to understand what she did but let’s move on). She ended up lecturing me. I ended up answering that I found this condescending and I didn’t like it. Her answer was and, I am not kidding: “Just move on!”

The only time my sister-in-law was actually interested in me was when my mother passed away. She even convinced to train for a half marathon that she was going to attempt as well. For the first time in seven years, we finally had something in common. Every time we caught up she was giving me advice about how to train and how to run (I already knew that but said nothing as I appreciated her input). For once, it looked like we were finally starting to get along… That was until she suffered from an infected appendix and she underwent an appendectomy, thus being unable to participate in the race. From then on, every time I saw her, she was complaining about not being able to run. It is difficult to convey the tone but she made me feel guilty about being able to do it and, on several occasions, I was very close to tell her I wasn’t going to do it, in the name of our newfound friendship. Now, I have to add that if one can do something and she can’t, the rule is that she doesn’t feel happy for them (it’s not just me hence the fact that her own family sees her as a bitch sometimes). My husband was offered a job a year ago. It involved a decent pay rise. When he told her, she couldn’t feel happy for him. She lectured him about what it would be like (example: if you want a high paying job, you need to be prepared to be working long hours blah blah blah). She criticised him for accepting to sell his soul to the highest bidder (that wasn’t the main reason he wanted to accept this job. Let us say it was only a bonus), and concluded that the corporate world is all rotten (therefore everyone involved In the corporate world was too) and she didn’t like it. It is safe to say that she has no personally experience of the corporate world, only prejudices. I couldn’t believe my ears. She was guilt-tripping her own brother.

She is a person who is capable of literally abusing you because she doesn’t like the gift you got her for her birthday. She is a person who is capable of making her mother cry over something trivial and not feel guilty about it. She is a person who constantly complains about how hard she has it so that people do things her own way. She is a person who once told me that, unless I was asked, I wasn’t allowed to give my opinion (considering the fact that I am never asked, it basically means that she couldn’t care less about my opinion). She is a person who uses guilt as a weapon and belittles people (even her own family). 

In conclusion, I am always wrong and I am the bad guy.

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Bear ate my finger

20 Sep

Last night, my son woke up screaming and crying. As my husband was much faster than me (and, as I was too lazy to get up), he went to his room to help him settle back to sleep. Unfortunately, it was Maman, aka me, that Tom wanted to see, so I had to move my lazy bum to go give him a cuddle.
This morning, my son got up, drew the curtains, looked out of the window and said: “Bear’s gone”. As my husband knows a lot about child psychology, he responded that there never had been any bears and that it had all been in his head. I later found out that there was indeed a bear in Tom’s room and that it had been trying to take a bite out of his fingers. Luckily, Tom chased it away. The bear is now in the woods and is probably to scared to come back.
We have been watching Comptines à mimer and one of the nursery rhymes is about a whale that has got an appetite for fingers
It is not this version as, in the one we’ve got as there is no character mining gestures the child is to copy. This one, however, isn’t too bad either as it has the lyrics.
The other reason the bear wanted to eat the finger is that, last week, I had to take Tom to the doctor because he had a blister filled with pus ( there’s probably a medical term for that but I don’t know it) which means that whatever had caused that blister (splinter or bug bite), the wound had become infected. For the first time in my life, I was told by the doctor that he was glad and relieved that I had brought Tom! After five days on antibiotics, his finger is looking much better but he still has a scab… That’s the finger the bear tried to eat!
Now, why was it a bear???? I am not sure, Tom only said :” Nounours mangé mine doigt” (I know, his grammar is appalling).
Could it be because he’s been watching this Animal Boogie? (I’ve ordered the book which is on its way but, in the meantime, we’ve had to watch the video). Or could the reason be that Tom has a couple of nounours(teddy bears) in his room? (He also has a yellow and blue giraffe and a freaky-looking hedgehog, so why the bear, then?)
Imagine the headlines:” a three-year old was attacked by a bear in an Australian suburban house. It was reported that it only ate the boy’s fingers”. Now, that is a bit silly, isn’t.
Strangely enough, I discovered this commercial

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In this video, Tom would be the second character!

Les petits poissons

18 Sep

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The nursery rhyme goes like this:

Les petits poissons dans l’eau nagent nagent nagent nagent nagent,
Les petits poissons dans l’eau nagent aussi bien que les gros.

Les petits, les gros, nagent comme il faut.
Les gros, les petits nagent bien aussi.

Les petits poissons dans l’eau nagent aussi bien que les gros.

Here is the video we watch at home. It is taken from “Comptines à mimer: jeux de doigts” which we own. For some time, I was jealous of all the great English nursery rhymes because they tend to be a lot more engaging than the French ones and, one day, I stumbled upon this DVD. It revolutionised my life… Well, not really, but it is a great to have finally found songs (I already knew some of them), in French, that would make my son sing (badly, I’m afraid) and move to the music. The cartoon characters show the moves and we just need to do like them. For my son, who is a kinaesthetic /visual learner, it is great. He gets to see and do!!!

My son looooooves this nursery rhyme. I am not sure why. I don’t think he’s that interested in fish. Could it be because he loves to swim and each time his nana mentions taking him to the swimming pool, she compares him to a fish. He’s a natural in the water, he must have been some kind of aquatic creature in one of his previous lives.
He also loves to paint, draw, glue all sorts of things on a piece of paper so I decided we would create a picture to illustrate the song.

We use some bubble wrap to create the aquatic background. A few squirts of different shades of blue on the bubble wrap. Place a sheet of paper on the bubble wrap, apply some pressure, remove the sheet and voila!

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When the paint is dry, glue fish, starfish, octopi, seahorses, or whatever sea creature your child (or you) like.
I drew our fish onto some coloured paper. Then, I cut out the shapes. I also drew some circles for the eyes and cut them as well. My son chose the “shapes” (provided I could draw them- I attempted to draw a seahorse, it looked awful) and the colours. He then glued all the sea creatures and seaweed on the aquatic background he had previously painted.
Here is the end result:

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Not too bad, is it? To quote Mr Maker, “(we)’ll be able to frame it”.
Next step, verse two. It is about birds.

Mum, can you do this?

10 Sep

I had a couple of minutes to myself while my seven month-old was chewing on a spoon -where the hell did this spoon come from anyway?- so I had a quick look at Facebook to see whether something interesting was happening to my manifold friends… And I saw this cartoon

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Yes, I can say that I can relate.
The joys of having kids are innumerable, to be honest. I wouldn’t change anything, swap them or return them to the store.
That being said, raising kids is a very demanding and exhausting and demanding job.
Let me introduce you to the baby:

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So happy! No, wait, he’s changed his mind.

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He’s got two obsessions: the first one involves putting stuff in his mouth- especially paper and Hugo’s food (although he never had the opportunity to put any of Hugo’s food in his mouth, he’d chocke) to the point that I’m wondering whether he might not be suffering from pica. I believe that is second obsession consists in annoying his big brother. One minute, he’s happy playing with, say, a spoon and the next he decides that he’d rather play with what Tom is playing with, thus starting a conflict and a screaming contest.
That brings me to the almost three-year old. Why doesn’t he ever want to share? Everything is “mine, my turn, me”. Talking about being self-absorbed! He does have a point, though as we didn’t really buy the baby new toys thinking he would be more than happy to play with the ones Tom used to play with when he was a baby.
With two and three-year olds, everything takes longer because there is a huge amount of negotiating, threatening, sometimes, begging. Living with a toddler can be very frustrating: “you don’t want to eat your dinner? Well, there’s nothing else.” “Don’t play in the sand/mud, you just had your bath.”, “you’re a big boy, you can walk.” “What do you mean, you don’t want to have a bath?”, and half an hour later ” Get out of your bath!”, “I tell you what, you stay next to mummy and you’ll get a sticker” (that almost never happens) “, ” Good helping (when you’ve just spent half an hour weeding and he puts the weeds back on the flowerbed). Why don’t you put them in the wheelbarrow?”, “You’ve done pipi in the toilet, good job. Try to do caca too and you’ll get another sticker”, “it’s ok, accidents happen. Next time, tell mummy if you want to do caca otherwise I’ll make you clean your underpants”, “You want me to read you a story? Just sit still and listen” etc. Yesterday, he found his lion costume so he wanted to put it on (not wear it!).

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How adorable. Here is what happened two minutes later:

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He took it off. In other words, we spent more time dressing him (why do kids have to wriggle so much when getting dressed or changed) than he spent wearing his lion costume.
He has also decided to come to the toilet with me to cheer me on. Ok, it is a bit of a shock but I do need to go to the toilet, I’m only human. In a way, I’m ok with that as he gets to see where pipi and caca go but I can’t say I enjoy having an audience.
Nonetheless, being a mother is a very rewarding job as well. Yesterday, he looked at me, gave me a big kiss and said: “je t’aime, maman”!

Sheer curtains

30 Aug

I have got amazing sheer curtains. Saying that they are multifunction would be a euphemism.

Use 1: they can be used as curtains. Let’s face it, that’s why I got them first. I mean, when inside, we can see outside but, when outside, we can’t see what is going on inside. I didn’t use to suspect that they could do more until I had kids.

Use 2: wipe
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You can wipe your nose, your mouth or even objects.

Use 3: teething relief

Use 4: can be used to play peekaboo
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You can’t see me!
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You can see me!

Use 5: a bridal veil

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Use 6: protects your hand when you want to hit something.

Yoghurt cake

30 Aug

What do you do when your toddler wants a cake? You make him bake it.
As his attention span is pretty much as short as a the attention span of a jellyfish fish on steroids, I opted for a recipe I already knew by heart: the yoghurt cake. Why is it called the yoghurt cake? 1) there’s yoghurt and 2) we use the yoghurt tub to measure the ingredients. How clever. For that recipe, we need:
1 tub of yoghurt (125 ml)
4 eggs
3 measures of self-raising flour
2 measures of sugar
1/2 measure of vegetable oil or butter
A pinch of salt
A splash of vanilla essence
(Optional: some apple, pear cocoa, shredded coconut, etc)

Now, we were making a gluten-free version so instead of the 3 measures of flour, we opted for 2 measures of hazelnut meal, 1&1/2 measure of self-raising gluten-free flour, 1/2 a teaspoon of xantham gum, 2 tablespoons of baking powder
Turn the oven on. I turn mine on to 175•c ( I don’t know what it is in Fahrenheit) because, otherwise, the cake would burn before it starts rising. Grease a 20cm cake pan.
Separate the eggs.
Ask your child to whisk the yolk, then gradually add sugar, flour, yoghurt, oil (or butter), vanilla essence and whatever flavour you fancy. Yesterday, it was half vanilla, half cocoa. Make your child whisk and when he or she is busy looking at how pretty the fruit bowl is, make sure all the ingredients are mixed properly.
In the other bowl, add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and ask your little baker to hold the electric mixer and beat them until they’re white and fluffy.
Gradually combine the beaten egg whites with the cake batter. Now, you might want to show your child how to fold the egg whites in the batter as being to rough might burst the air bubbles and you would end up with a flat-ish cake.
Pour the batter in the pan, the pan in the oven and wait until it’s cooked (which would take between 30 to 40 minutes depending on your oven but you know how to check if your cake is cooked, right?)
When it is cooked, remove from the oven while explaining to your child that he has to wait a little bit longer because the cake is hot.
Unmold the cake and voila! All you’ve got left to do now is eat it.

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Not only does it teach basic maths skills but it’s a great way for them to learn patience and understand the concept of delayed gratification. He wanted cake but had to put forth effort and waiting.

Handprints

28 Aug

When you feel like killing your children, just stop and remember: you wanted them, you’ve got them!
Today, our art project was to make something to give papa on Father’s Day. Yeah, I know, I could buy him something and say it was from them, but I thought that giving him something they made especially for him would mean so much more to him… And would cost me so much less. I am not stingy at all, am I?
The idea is to print photos of our two little cherubs, get them to add their handprints on the paper and laminate our masterpiece. This sounds easy enough and shouldn’t take more than ten minutes…??? Think again, not if you want nice handprints (sure, it’s easy if you want only half a hand or a seven-digit hand). It’s such a shame I didn’t think about our failed artworks but here is how it went:
Take one: I thought I would start with the baby as getting him to keep him hand flat can be quite tricky. Result: 6 and a half fingers. Failed!
Take two: my almost three-year-old could do that in the dark so I’ll start with him. He didn’t spread his fingers so it didn’t look like a hand. Failed!
Take three: he didn’t have enough paint on his hand. Failed!
Take four and take five: he moved his hand so it looked like he had seven fingers. Failed!
It took us six attempts to have a nice handprint. However, I still need to repeat the same thing with my seven-month-old. Any suggestions on how to make him open his hand?

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Next year, he’s getting a box of chocolate for Father’s Day!
Anyway, I managed to convince the baby to open his hand and, although his handprint isn’t as clear as his brother, it doesn’t look that bad.

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Now all is left to do is wait until the paint dries and then I’ll be able to laminate it!