Monday, January 28, 2013

This is the Sperm and This is the Egg

Recently, my daughters have been asking questions.

For example, last week Nature Girl asked, "What does 'sex' mean?"

The day after, Sweet Rose, after noticing a package of mini-pads on my dresser, asked, "Why does Mommy put giant band-aids in her underwear?"

My husband was the unfortunate recipient of both questions, but he answered both smoothly, much to my surprise and delight.

I realized, it was time to step-up. They're getting older and they deserve to start learning some specifics. So, we read age appropriate books on the topic. OK, the truth is that I left the books out mixed with some others from the library they had asked for, let them read them, then nonchalantly asked them if they had any questions. They did and I answered them. I was thrilled with how comfortable we three girls could discuss body parts and reproduction!

I wrote an article for Parent Society about it that I'll link to as soon as it is published. In the meantime, we're all comfortable with what they've learned and where they're at. My husband is especially pleased with the fact that he doesn't have to take part in the discussions. Though he can't always avoid exposure...

Yesterday, at our newly introduced family Sunday brunch, Nature Girl started playing with her toothpick and her egg (see picture; that's her egg). She waved the toothpick around in one hand, motioning toward the egg and said, "I'm a sperm! I'm a sperm and I'm going to break through the egg!"

Then, she proceeded to poke through the hard shell of the egg with her toothpick and celebrate her sperm's success. My husband and I nearly died laughing (the quiet kind where you nearly choke on your food trying not to laugh and silent tears stream down your face because it's important the kids can integrate this new knowledge through play without embarrassment).

It was so good. So funny, sweet and innocent. And affirming the relationships we're forging with our children - confident, trusting, loving. I'm so happy.

What's your funniest or most embarrassing "Birds and Bees" moment?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Conjunctivitis Strikes Again... Times Three!

Crusty, Swollen, Red Eyes
are the tell-tale symptoms
I know that "Pink Eye" is a common thing among school-age children, but I don't recall ever having it nor had my own children until we moved here. I'm not blaming England, of course. That would be ridiculous. Yet, within a week after our arrival both The Boy and Nature Girl had it.

With just 3 days of school under his belt, The Boy brought it (and a cold for everyone) home again over the weekend. He missed school Monday (when he fell asleep on the way, I knew I had to keep him home). He's all better now, but both of the girls have it.

We're having a home-school day because Nature Girl's eyes are crusty and swollen; Sweet Rose is on day 3, but she missed school yesterday because of it and a terrible cough and she had a fever last night (related or not? Who knows with her), so she's home today as well. Why should I drag the girls to school (a 10 to 15 minute drive and then a short walk in the freezing cold from the street I'm not supposed to park on) to drop The Boy off when he'll just cry (but only for a few minutes) and it isn't necessary that he go - it's playschool, not a structured preschool.

I am putting the children to aid with the task of disinfecting our house. They'll be armed with paper towels and germ-killing spray for door knobs and light-switches. Bedding is being washed at the hottest temperatures and toys will have to be sprayed as well.

It's frustrating that my second week of having 3 kids in school 3 days a week turned out to be full of sick kids, extra cleaning and only 1 day to myself (though I was amazingly productive in those 5.5 short hours!). I write this post as a means to vent so that I don't take my frustration out on my poor kids and to put my mind in a positive space by 'talking' to a friend (that's you :) and finding some joy in being able to spend more time with my sweet children.

Thanks for reading; you've got a great shoulder! Now, off to clean!
(Need to know more about Conjunctivitis? I'm curious like that too, so here you go!)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Knorr Gravy Pots Review & Recipe

I love being a Bzzagent! I get to review all sorts of wonderful things that I might not otherwise try and this time it's all about gravy! Born and bred in Michigan, I'm a true meat and potato girl and there's nothing I love more than a thick, rich gravy poured generously over my mash. I love gravy so much that when I was a kid, my dad would ask me, "Going to have any potatoes with your gravy, Tam?"

As an adult, often the only time I have gravy is when I'm back at my parents' house for a holiday dinner. I just can't be bothered to spend so much time making gravy for my family - they just aren't that into gravy... until now.

BzzAgent sent me Knorr's new Gravy Pots to try in Chicken and Beef. I never turn down an opportunity, but I must admit I was skeptical. We rarely use any ready-made products in this house. We love to cook and we enjoy the time it takes to make something amazing. Yet, the Gravy Pots arrived during my "Try Something New" dinner week with the kids. Each night that week they had to try something they had never had before, whether it was a new vegetable, a new dish or... gravy!

I made chicken and mashed potatoes and topped my plate with the Chicken Gravy Pot. I prepared it according to package directions and didn't add any extras. It was so good! The Boy gobbled it all up, Nature Girl ate without complaint and even my challenging eater, Little Rose, loved it! I was so delighted.

I tried the beef pot last week and wasn't as impressed. It lacked a little something, so I gave it to it! Last night we made an amazing Roast Beef (thank you, Scotland), Yorkshire Pudding (the kids loved this English tradition) and a beautiful Potato Mash to go along with it. I wanted to try the Beef Gravy Pot again and spruce it up for our Sunday Roast.

I took:

  • 300ml Reserved Potato Water (When you go to drain your potatoes for mashing, keep this amount of water from the pot)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 quarter of a medium-sized onion, chopped
  • 1 sprig of fresh Rosemary, bruised and chopped
  • 1 Knorr Beef Gravy Pot
  • Sea Salt & Pepper (to your taste)

Then, I:
  • Sauteed the chopped Rosemary in approximately 1 tbsp of Olive Oil until it started to get tender
  • Added the garlic and onion and a splash of potato water to keep the Rosemary from scorching
  • Once the onion began to golden, I added about 1 tsp of freshly ground pepper and a pinch of salt
  • Saute until tender, adding another splash of potato water when necessary.
  • Add 250ml of the potato water (this should be warm) and your Knorr Gravy Beef Pot 
  • Whisk until combined and let it boil gently for 1 minute. 
  • Set your gravy aside to rest until you serve it over a gorgeous roast and mash!

It was delicious! I couldn't be happier to utilize such a quick, easy and tasty alternative to homemade gravy.
It tasted great as lunch the next day, too!

*** I'm a BzzAgent and received free samples of this product to try. You can learn more at or 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Snow School!

Snowball Fight!
The snow is piling up on bushes and buds pushing through this typically mild English winter. School was cancelled just as flakes began to fall, as head teachers noted the drive home would be too dangerous for teachers and students alike.

Happily, the children made snow angels, snow balls and tracks through a backyard blanketed in white. Though this would be nothing more than a mild inconvenience in Michigan, it puts an unequipped area into a virtual standstill.

When the coats and gloves and boots were too wet to remain on their small, chilled bodies, we turned to computer games, books, monster-making projects and plenty of hugs and cuddles.

The Boy did well in preschool this week, though I left him crying both Tuesday and Thursday. He came out the door at 3 o'clock happy, smiling and jumping! He loves the full set of Cars toys he gets to play with there, but his favorite thing? His teacher. He is so sweet.

I spent the quiet days catching up on household necessities and figuring out taxes and residence visas. So much paperwork it will make my eyes bleed when I fill it all out! More productively, in my opinion, were the minutes spent writing posts, paid articles and voraciously pouring over videos and interviews of transformational leaders, learning about EFT, The Work and of course, The Passion Test materials. I'll tell you more about all of those in future posts and on the new website I'm working on: Don't bother visiting yet! It will be under construction for a few more months.

I'm now leaning toward switching from a March training in India to a May training in Tel Aviv. To do either, I need to get my peer-backing campaign posted! I'm half-way there. The goal is to go live by Thursday next week, so watch for it, share it, and hopefully, contribute toward it!

But now, it is time to put it all away for the weekend and enjoy precious family and leisure time. Little Rose has her first play-date tomorrow and I'm hoping to escape to see Les Miserables! Wish me luck; I'll need it.

Have a beautiful weekend.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The First Day of the Next Phase of my Life

It felt strange to walk back to the car by myself. For the first time in 7 years there is no child in my care. Sure, I've had babysitters here and there, I worked at the wine store or ran a wine-tasting and left the kids in someone else's care, but this feels very different.

All three of my children are in school.

I came home, cleaned the kitchen, made the pasta sauce for tonight's dinner, did some laundry, read e-mails, wrote a blog post and read a few others all in a span of 3 hours. I still have another hour and half before heading back to school and I've already accomplished more than I usually do in 2 days.

The one who started me on my motherhood journey
Nature Girl at 3 weeks (now she's 7!)
You have a life before you become a mother. Then, once you have a baby, being a mother becomes your life.

I've gone through all of the early childhood phases now. I've had three pregnancies, three beautiful babies, three periods of newborn sleeplessness, three first foods, three first teeth, three first steps with the help of table edges or nice baby walkers turning them into little sprinters... I've breastfed, I've bottle-fed, I've been spit up on, peed on and changed many messy diapers.

I've taken care of sick babies, injured babies, sad toddlers and temper tantrums. I've read hundreds of books, sung hundreds of songs, and kissed those 3 pairs of cheeks thousands of times. I've been the blessed giver and receiver of hugs 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

Now... 18 hours of my week will be spent child-free. 18 hours. 3 days from 9am to 3pm I am on my own. I am no longer solely responsible for the care and education of my son. It is the first day of the next phase of my life.

Some women wonder what to do at this point in their lives, but I know. I am stepping into being my whole self. Wife, Mother and Woman - a trinity of the feminine. For years the balance has tipped heavily on the first two, but now it is the woman's turn to shine. Balance will be restored. "Mrs" and "Mommy" will make room again for "Tamara." In a few month's time I'll be a certified Passion Test Facilitator. I'll be coaching women like me to find and fulfill their greatest passions.

I love my roles as wife and mother. I love my family. But I am on fire to live a part of my life again just for me. The best part of it? The "just for me" bit is going to bring so much more to my family and to the world than if I continued to devote every waking moment to home, husband and children.

Watch me shine, people!

Monday, January 14, 2013

From Mud to Snow and Back Again

The weather has been very cold for the past few days. Freezing, even! The crisp chill in the air smells the same all over the world at 32˚F. If you're from anywhere that gets cold enough to snow regularly, you recognize the teasing scent of flakes well before they fall.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:
We awoke to a winter wonderland this morning. The white, dusty coat of snow surprised and delighted us. Just yesterday we went tromping through muddy fields in our Wellies and today we would have been better off with snow boots!

The milder weather inspires us to get out much more often than we did during our Michigan winters. It rains more than snows here and the temperature for the past month has typically hovered around 40˚F.

With an expansive forest just down the road from us, we've taken several Sundays to walk. The kids complain, whine and moan. They would rather stay home and play, but a reminder of the fun we had the last time gets them motivated. Me too. I have to admit that I'd rather stay warm and cozy cuddled up with a good book and a hot cup of coffee, but then I remember how our moods are boosted every time by an hour out in the fresh air and the stunning countryside.

So we go, mud and all. Last week Nature Girl lost her balance and fell right into it. It was thick and squishy and I had lots of laundry to do that afternoon (see The Boy's left leg in the picture?). And very dirty shoes as I only got my own pair of Wellingtons yesterday.

But I don't mind, because each time we go, amid the whining, there is joy. There is laughter and the wonder of spending time in nature. We are building memories of a wonderful childhood that will bond the three of them together forever.

I hear the whispers of their grown selves saying, "Remember how Mom and Papa would drag us out no matter how cold it was? Remember that time we had a picnic and it was so cold we had to eat with our gloves on? Remember when you fell in the mud?!"

Happy moments create happy memories and together they make happy children. As parents, we make so many mistakes, but hopefully most of them will be forgotten, nudged out of the shadows of our children's minds by all the moments we get just right. All the love, laughter and joy that we share will take the biggest space in their hearts.

Go make memories - play in the snow, or the mud, or the rain with your children (or Grandchildren!). Just play. And love.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Babysitting Nightmares

Well, it's Wednesday and that means it's time to link up with Mama Kat's Vlogging Workshop! This week I chose to talk about my worst babysitting job. I certainly hope you wouldn't do this to your babysitter... or your baby!

Remember to leave me a comment and tell me about yours!

Watch it on YouTube

Monday, January 7, 2013

It's the Little Things... Like Costco!

It's those little details that make you feel "at home." Like your favorite shops (look at my vocab converting from American English to UK English! "stores" in US, "Shops" in UK), foods and even laundry detergent. When I lived in Singapore, I had my mom send me boxes of Downy dryer sheets!

I've discovered I can get many of my favorites from Amazon grocery, but there's nothing quite like walking in to a familiar store, seeing familiar choices and discovering they taste the same as "at home." This weekend we discovered Costco is a mere 15-minute drive from our house!

We loaded up the 3 kids in our little Ford Fiesta and had an all-American afternoon! Pizza Hut for lunch (I could feel the grease at work within minutes!) and shopping at Costco!

We almost didn't get to join. The rules for membership are different here; you have to work for one of a short list of company types, like airlines, legal or education. Office furniture doesn't cut it, but fortunately my husband still had his US Costco card in his wallet and that got us our in! Hooray!

The man and I will probably never get to go together again; taking the kids is sheer torture for all of us. I probably won't be brave enough to drive there myself for a while because there are too many massive roundabouts and Reading (yes, like the Monopoly game!), where our closest Costco is located, is big-city compared to where I usually drive.

Nevertheless, finding Costco is like finding a little piece of "home" and the children, especially Nature Girl, enjoyed their ice cream like they haven't since our big move overseas! Thanks, Costco!

*** Though it might read like one, this is not a sponsored post by any means! I'm just sharing one of the little things that makes daily life better!

Friday, January 4, 2013

From Baby To Boy: A School Beginning

The alarm clock was not missed over our Christmas break. We all slept later, even my notoriously early riser, The Boy. Now that it's been ringing again since Wednesday, I realize he's just a light sleeper as the sun rises, hears my husband's alarm and quickly comes along proclaiming his hunger.

The girls have their alarm clocks ready, a gift from Santa. No digitals for my girls! They'll learn how to properly read a clock before relying on lazy glances at numbers that technology provided long ago.

School is back in session on Tuesday, when even The Boy starts settling in to preschool. He'll attend two short sessions next week: one hour on Tuesday and two hours on Thursday, before going all day M/T/Th the following week.

I'm excited, but like all moms watching their babies take a another step toward growing up, a little verklempt! I don't normally speak Yiddish, I'm not Jewish, but thanks to Saturday Night Live it's the best word I can think of to describe how my heart rises into my chest, blocks my throat and forces tears to my eyes.

Yes, I'm thrilled to reclaim time for myself, but I'm going to miss him. He's my baby, my playmate, my lunch date, my cuddle bug. I won't miss the mess-make, tantrum-thrower, food-refuser bits, but I will miss my boy. It's not just the 18 hours a week he won't be in my presence anymore, it's that he's no longer a baby or a toddler. He's taking that thrilling, painful first step away from me toward his independence.

This is our purpose as mothers - to raise our children so that eventually they no longer need us. It stings sometimes, doesn't it? But it's what we're meant to do. And the beauty in it is that our children will always need us. Not to tie their shoes, or cook them dinner or shuttle them here and there, but their hearts will always need us. They'll always and forever, as I do to my mom and dad today, look toward us for guidance, love, approval and the occasional loan! ;)

We are more than parents; we are life-guides, helping our children navigate the maze of life until they are old enough to try to figure it all out themselves. Yes, The Boy is only 3, but he's taking his first solo step. I'm pleased and proud, yet nostalgic.

Can you recall the moment when you knew your child was leaving his babyhood behind him (or her)? Tell me about it...
From Baby....

To Boy

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 New Year Resolutions - A Vlog

Happy New Year!

After a mini-break from the internet last week to spend some wonderful time with my family (and recover from a hard-hitting flu), I'm back online and linking up with Mama Kat to help you set attainable goals this year!

Watch, learn and let me know what your New Year Resolutions are for 2013!

New Year's Resolutions: 2012 Review

With my husband back to work, the girls finally catching up on NYE loss of sleep and the boy engrossed in a  Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode, it's time to review last year's resolutions before I set new goals for 2013.

Let's take a look at what I resolved last year and how I fared:

1. Lose final 5lbs, putting me back at my pre-baby weight of 125lbs.- Technical Failure.
Comments: In 2011, I lost 10lbs and had 5 more to go, which I did not exactly achieve in 2012. I did actually lose 5lbs, but they were the 5 I had gained during a rather stressful early summer. So, it's a wash and I still have those 5lbs to lose. However, I'm at a very healthy weight, so the 5lbs are a want and not a need at this point. Enough rationalizing for you?

2. Reduce my family's dietary intake of animal products to a maximum of 30% - Failure
Comments: This goal was inspired by the movie Forks Over Knives (Read my brief review here). It was a good goal, but ambushed by the fact that we are massive carnivores in this house and it simply wasn't realistic. That said, we did largely cut down our beef intake after moving to England, if only because it's very expensive and just doesn't taste as good. 

3. Be a published, author, in print. Success
Comments: Well, partial success. I self-published How Do You Sleep, Baby Dolphin? through Amazon's Create Space, so I'm not giving myself full credit for this. Still, it's in print, I've made some sales and that's an achievement. 

4. Earn a viable income from writing - Failure. 
Comments: I have greatly increased my writing income, by at least 300%, so there is improvement, but it is still not a viable income. It helps, but it doesn't pay the bills. 

5. Give my blog a face lift - Passed. 
Comments: I did give the blog a very mild face lift. More like a botox injection. It still needs work, but I'm not sure how much time and effort I want to put into it at this point. I'm busy clarifying goals right now and then we'll see. 

Overall Assessment - I'm slightly disappointed in my results this year, especially after how well I did the year before. However, it was a challenging year, to say the least. We reduced to focusing on the bottom three of Maslow's  hierarchy of needs. Hopefully this year we'll be able to surpass the basics, but those details will come later in my 2013 New Year's Resolution Vlog!

How did you do?