Meet Dave – a Movie Review

“Single Sentence Movie Review.”

“Eddie Murphy, the icon for social skills training, what not to do, how and why, with too many giggles to count.”

I mean to write a movie review for the film with Rowan Atkinson, as Mr. Bean, a while back, because that’s when it first happened. In fact I would go so far as to suggest that Mr. Bean has a blanket effect, regardless of the movie title, regardless of the number of words, the nature of the plot, the complexity of the language. His body language, gestures and facial expressions ping directly into the psyche.

Whilst my daughter squirms in excruciating embarrassment, the kind where you have to squint your eyes and peer out from behind a pillow, the boys, my boys, are rolling on the floor squealing with delight, spurting tears of unadulterated laughter. They’re so loud and raucous that the script is buried.

Hence last night, those same noises shook my home as they watched “Meet Dave.”

Don’t quote me here, but there is some combination of ‘boy,’ ‘social skills’ and developmental age that induces mass funny. I can’t tell you what that developmental age is, but it’s certainly worth experimentation.

First warning – some Tom and Jerry style violence that may cause consternation in some.
Second warning – the concept of a body being invading by small beings may provoke endless existential questions.
Third warning – guaranteed to invoke scripting.
One final word of advice. Do you remember visiting the zoo and trolling over to the monkey house? On one occasion there was a disturbance, feeding time perhaps, and the monkeys went wild leaping, gamboling and calling in a frenzied party animal style? Well that’s what it was like in our house, the best aerobic workout you could ask for which ensures a solid night’s sleep. Remove all breakables from the room in advance.

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Flu Season –just a lot of hot air

Flu Season –just a lot of hot air
The birthday date approaches with only two of us sporting coughs, colds and possibly flu.  The sniffles snuffle through the  family as I keep a close eye upon who may or may not be the next victim. I watch for sniffers and  snufflers.  I'm close at hand with the thermometer for any potential hot heads.  I'm stuffed full of tissues ready to plug any leaks.  When I hear a different one splutter I pounce, “ooo dear, it sounds as if you've caught his cold.”
“I am not be cold.”
“No I meant that you've caught his bugs, you're ill, contaminated.”
“No!  Not ill.  I am need my birthday.”
“I know dear but you do seem to have a bit of a cough.”
“It not be cough, it be surplus extra borrowed airy  in my mouth parts.”
“Yeah, he don bin borrow my air,” chimes in his older defender.
“Yeah,…….and now it done bin jump back out agin, it's a jump air not a cough.”

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SOOC Smiley Saturday

Slurping Life

I first came across cornbread at the age of 35 when we first arrived in America and enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast with our pals.

Cornbread is a traditional accompaniment on this occasion but uncommon, relatively speaking, worldwide. Since I am, was, and always will be, a big bread fan, I was keen to sample this new type of unfamiliar fare. I was less keen to try the sweet potato pie but my pals were already aware that I am pudding averse. I would be more than happy to consume every morsel of bread whilst other's poisoned themselves with sweeties.

As we gathered at the table, gave thanks and shared, I beamed around at my pals. I could already tell that this holiday, Thanksgiving, would become my favourite holiday. We began munching and chatting with bon homie until I took my first welcome bite of cornbread and promptly froze. My mouth was invaded with …….what was it? Cake! I had cake in my mouth and the remnants of gravy. Gravy and cake. Turkey and cake. This could not be. Whichever way I looked at it, this was the worst case of “cognitive dissonance” I had experienced in a long while.

I checked the faces of all the other pilgrims, some foreign, some native and some American. Everyone else was just fine and dandy, with no doodles and a few Yankees. I was perplexed. Could it be that I was the only person who realized that dessert was being consumed during the main course. Could it be that I had the dud, that all the other cornbreads were made of corn and I had the only cake? It seemed unlikely. I made sure that my expression registered 'yum' and resisted the urge to spit.

Thereafter I forswore cornbread, once experienced, forever changed. Another American pal advised me that I had been subjected to Jiffy which was not deemed to be authentic. Because I am also an open minded type of a person, I submitted to a second sampling several years later, because it was homemade, because it would be delicious, because it would be quite different from my first experience, although it wasn't.

Thusly, I confirmed my first instinct, just so no, politely, to the cornbread.

Years have passed since that daunting first flush and second supping, when my son returns home from school. During his day at school, the last day before Thanksgiving, some awfully inspired person had the wherewithal to organize a thankful gift to the family in the presentation of a cornbread mix, beautifully and artistically presented I might add.

He presents it to me.

I peer for a closer look.

“We can……….make it…….together……for tomorrow?” I look into liquid eyes of gentle innocent enquiry.
“Er… you like cornbread?”
“I don know.”
“Ah…..well……I'm sure that we'll squeeze it in somewhere,” I offer as I envisage my oven already overflowing with a turkey and “thirteen accompanying vegetables.” The finely tuned countdown schedule, carefully honed over the last decade.

Maybe it's time for a shake-up? What is the purpose of cooking thirteen different vegetables that no-one eats? How much better to serve cornbread and turkey, which should have a fair to middling chance of consumption?

So it's probably true to say that some people have to endure a life time of eating humble pie, but I swear it's still a lot better than cornbread.

Now if you'll excuse me I need to go and investigate the scream, “O.k. bullet butt, come and get some!”

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Personal hygeine – dietary change

She whispers because she is considerate and kind, “Mom?”
“Yes dear?”
“I don't wannabe mean or nuthin……”
“Have you noticed?”
“Noticed what dear?”
“Well he kinda smells…….funny.”
“Funny? What kind of funny?”
“You know.”
“Actually, I really don't.”
“I don't know how to describe it.”
“Have a go dear.”
“Well……..he always smells the same……but now……he smells…….he doesn't smell like him.”
We look at him, both of us as he blinks beneath our stare, wide eyed innocence but with remarkably big ears, “you are fink I stink?”
“No, of course not dear.”
“No I never said you stink, honest.”
“What am I being den?”
I lean forward to sniff him, “don't be smell me!” he protests with vehemence. “I want to see if it's you that smells or possibly your clothes?”
“My cloves are not be smell.”
His older, semi silent brother adds his contribution, “he don smell of old Goldfish no more.”
Now whilst I'm not certain what an old Goldfish smells like, I can confirm that he doesn't smell of baked cheesey crumbs any more, stale or “fresh.”

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Happy Thanks – the icing on the cake

When I was pregnant with my second child, another girl, I enrolled in an aerobics instructor course. I did this because everyone told me that if I ever exercised, I would love it. I knew I would not love it, ever, so I took the course to prove that love would forever be absent.

When I was pregnant with my third child, I bought one of those new fangled runner's strollers, so that I could run with my two smaller children, and prove to everyone that running was totally hateful, pointless and shrinks your stature as your legs wear out faster than nature intended.

When I was pregnant with my fourth child, my husband gave me a pottery wheel for our wedding anniversary, for some laudable reason best known to himself. I had never had anything to do with clay or pottery. He claimed that it would provide a static creative outlet, and anyway, he had enrolled in a pottery classes in England every year, for several years. The logic, as usual, escaped me, but I knuckled under and hunched myself over my ever increasing bump to make bowls, mass production style.

He was right. It was creative and I remained static but when that last baby finally arrived, I quickly discovered that it was impossible to spend 20 minutes in the garage alone with clay and leave three small children unsupervised. I also learned that after a day with three small children, I lacked the energy to go out into the garage at night when they were all asleep.

I decided that I needed another, non-child related activity, a cheap one that would provide a creative outlet. It had to be something that was indoors, small and something that could occupy one minute or three minutes, here and there, there and here. I opted for cake decorations, sugarpaste because it was a bit like mini sculpture. I would start small. I would practice. By the time the children reached school age maybe I could start a little business enterprise? Something that would not impact too greatly upon my maternal duties.

I had worried that I wouldn't be able to 'do' boys. Boys were always a case of 'boys will be boys.' I had lots of experience in de-sensitizing boys. My first victim was my little brother. Given my parents traditionally conservative gene pool, it was my job to tackle the nurture ratio. My sister and I worked on him tirelessly, for over a decade, fashioning him into the perfect male for the modern woman. It was a startling success, until puberty, then all was sadly lost as he reverted to type, because 'girls don't like nice guys.'

As it turned out, I had worried needlessly. My boys were affectionate, demonstrative and cuddly. They were the most sensitive boys I had ever come across. They were sensitive to a pin drop, domestic appliances in general and had a horror un-domestic wild bears which some foolish people refer to as teddies. Who were these people that maligned boys so callously and stereotyped them with falsehood?

I distinctly remember a chum calling around to visit one day. On the kitchen counter, in my very small crampt kitchen, were a line of several icing projects in various stages of completion, cribs, flowers, a cornucopia. Because she was a chum, British, she was familiar with this kind of cake decoration, which is far less common in the States. She made an obvious observation:- “I just don't get it? How can you possibly make things out of sugar with three small children in the house?”
“Oh you know, here and there, there and here.”
“No, I mean……it's sugar…….the children?” I blinked as I thought. My daughter stole occasionally, but we had reached an understanding. I'd make an extra 'thing' for her to eat, as long as she didn't mangle everything else. It worked. I thought of the boys, both of them. They had never shown any interest in any of the nauseatingly cute animal creations, nor the mini computer for their Dad's birthday, nor the snake pit for their big sister. I had no explanation and even fewer clues.

I remembered idling at the table, when I was small and freckled and round, whilst my mother drank coffee with her pal once a week, on a Thursday, in the posh shop, whilst I stole sugar cubes with the stealth of the truly motivated. I would help choose the table, radar scanning, so that I could scour the sugar pots to ensure that I had the greatest feast available.

It was very curious.

I thought of all the many cakes I had fashioned, the preponderance of cribs because I belonged to a mum's club, where mums were always having additional babies. There was a rota to provide meals to new mums. I made my standard chicken pot pie and a chocolate ganache cake with a crib on top, to celebrate the new arrival. All those cribs, white, pink, blue or pale lemon yellow for the indeterminate. How can you tell if 'Taylor' is a boy or a girl? But of course boys would not be interested in cribs or babies would they?

I thought of my older boy, his adoration of new borns and toddlers who toddled at a slightly shorter height than him. My adorably sweet and tender son, with six dimples who could read before he was three.

There were so many little moments, insignificant alone but that together, pushed us to one inevitable conclusion. Like at the party. Was it the house warming or a birthday, I forget now. A houseful of friends to cater for, fifty or more. The sort of gathering where we hope to socialize but know that busyness will over shadow the ability to chat. I knew that my time would be divided between food production and carrying one, or more, of the boys. To save time, repeated questions and clogged foot traffic, I hung a sheet paper above the door jam. My friend grinned, “Oh Maddy! Don't you know the correct terminology? Can't you bring yourself to write 'restroom'?” she giggled as I hoiked up one sniveling boy and shifted his weight. He lifted his head, eyes drawn to new and delightful letters, “loo!” he pronounced. My friend's expression changed, registered surprise with a tinge of shock and a tincture of horror, “did he…..can he……..he didn't just read that did he?” I readjusted the wadded nappy bottom on my hip, uncomfortable in too many ways to list.

The cakes and decorations dwindled as our lives were impacted with a whole slew of new. Our time was spent traveling to therapists with unfamiliar agendas. But that was quite a while ago now, a while during which we all adjusted to a new reality.

Now, so many years later, I dust off icing bags and grab bags of sugar dust, I re-start an old project, cornucopias for Thanksgiving cakes. I make many, partly because I know that if I make 3 only one will survive, they're so fragile. I end up making more than a dozen, because thankfully my house has been invaded by a bunch of thieves, determined to scupper my chances.

p.s. Just for the record, ironically, the first person to ever mention the word 'autism' out loud, was my brother!

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Wordless Special Exposure Wednesday

5 Minutes for Special Needs

What relaxing position do you adopt to watch telly?

If you enjoy caption competitions and photographs, you may wish to nip along to“DJ Kirkby” over at “Chez Aspie” and test your brain power.

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Try tackling this Tuesday – Kitchen Angel

Try This Tuesday

First and foremost I would like to point out that my idea of a kitchen angel is someone who visits the house, creates a delicious meal, does all the washing up and then disappears. If they would happen to include baby sitting services so that I am at least in with a fighting chance of eating a morsel, then that's all to the good. This cheerful craft by comparison, comes in at a very poor second.

Let me just say at the outset, that when I was first given one of these creations as a gift, I was severely miffed, or rather, less than thrilled. Whilst I try not to look a gift horse in the mouth, at the same time, kitchen equipment never rates highly on my list of desirable. Strangely, these items are quite common in America, however I doubt whether they exist in Europe, except perhaps in the kitsch aisle. They would fall into the same category as “these.”

Unlikely as it may seem, the foreigner who gave this to me, was unaware that it was made with tea towels, an oven glove and a face cloth. He was under the mis-apprehension that it was a traditional dollop of Americana, a Christmas decoration for the kitchen, but that's just husband's for you.

I have to admit I was tempted. How handy to have an emergency supply of such essentials for those days when the laundry is backed up and kitchen chaos reigns supreme. How fun to give my new American friends some traditional American gifts? How much better to demonstrate my assimilation into American culture?

I made half a dozen for my closest friends that they too would have an ally for their next domestic disaster. Would it surprise you to learn that my closest American pal packs up her kitchen angel with the rest of her Christmas decorations so that she can bring it out the next year? I suppose I should be grateful that she doesn't keep it in the kitchen. I'm thinking of reporting her to the Bureau of Un-American Activities as her maverick behaviour proves that she's really an alien.

However, I warmed to the idea of the kitchen angel because it indirectly provoked another gift, a little gem of an idea that has served me well for quite a few years. I noticed that my youngest son was quite partial to one red pot holder in particular. It has a fleecy red lining, soft and smooth. During my creative drive I would keep finding that this one pot holder kept disappearing. My son stole it to use as a hand protector and warming glove. At that time, he was still averse to the texture of paper.

One of the many difficulties that such people experience is an inability to open a paper wrapped gift, precisely because it is wrapped in paper which might as well be razor wire. Now I'll admit that he wasn't keen on presents either and was usually indifferent to the contents but that was nothing by comparison to the nightmare of tackling that paper barrier.

I can tell that you're a little doubtful, but I have proof. I think we are one of the few families I know,who still have a nearly full stocking five days into the New Year. Why? Because the gifts are wrapped in paper, that most hateful of substances ever created by modern or ancient man. Now I have yet to check out whether ancient man's papyrus or parchment paper has superior texture to our super smooth modern equivalent, but I'm open to ideas.

Meanwhile, the kitchen angel provoked another idea. Why not wrap all his presents in tea towels, preferably, old ratty soft tea towels only suitable for the rag bag? So that's exactly what I did, with miraculous results. Of course all the gifts were still inferior but at least we didn't have to wait until the New Year to make that discovery. So I would have to say, that when it comes to kitchen angels, maybe they do deserve a little soft cherished spot, in my psyche at least.

Since as there is no point in re-inventing the wheel, you can find sterling instructions for this project over “here,” at “my craft book.”

The only thing I would change is the note that’s attached to her neck, which reads as follows:-

I am your Kitchen Angel
I’ll watch over all you do,
Baking all those goodies,
And snitching one or two!

And if you ever tire of me,
Or some help is what your wish is,
Just untie my little ribbons,
And I’ll help you with the dishes!

Instead, my note would read:-

The real kitchen angel is fully booked until 2059,
here’s the sub.

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Best shot magic marker Monday

Hosted by “Tracy” at “Mother May I,” but the photo-picture below will whizz you right there with one click.

Just call me snap happy.

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Around this time of year, we make one of those 'thanksgiving trees.' For those unfamiliar with this American tradition, the children are given a tree with half a dozen leaves. They write on the leaves explaining what things, if any, they are thankful for. This simple, yet frightfully jolly good idea, appealed to my psyche. The reality however, was far from successful. One of my children had an aversion to the texture of paper. Both of them believed that all writing implements were tools of torture. I overcame the former objection by using foamies. The later was overcome but submitting myself to the role of scribe. All I needed then was to extricate suggestions. Most of the suggestions fell into the general category of 'nuffink.' When really pushed, or rather persuaded, they might manage 'Thomas' or Pachycephalosaurids, dependent upon which developmental stage they were at, by otherwise, it was an uphill struggle. I usually gave up after approximately seven minutes.

Every year they have managed more leaves. This year we made paper ones. This year they both wrote on the paper leaves themselves. We were still done in 7 minutes flat, but now they can tolerate 420 seconds of tedium. As I recap the glue I notice that my son has written an abbreviation on his leaf, an unfamiliar one.
“What does T P stand for dear?”
“Toilet paper.”
“You're thankful for toilet paper? But you only use flushable wipes, very expensive flushable wipes I might add!”
“So……why then?”
“It's a joke stoopid!”
Ooo the irony.

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Don’t fret……….yet

From back in the late Summer and into early Autumn

I dive into the house weighed down with several tones of groceries that will pre-cook in the car if I don't off-load them before the school run. I have approximately 20 minutes to put away the shopping, clear the decks and prepare my brain.

As we only have cats, I worry unduly about the dog deposit on the lawn, as it's evidence of a breach of security rather than an additional chore. I am in mid freezer pack when I glance out of the window to see half a dozen semi clad youthful persons, together with their cars and several miles of open sleeping bags strewn across the drive way. My daughter has returned from her latest camping expedition. Her pals are also tree hugger types, immune to skin cancer, tidiness and laundry. Bronzed flesh, string sandals, dark locks and lashes, all a flutter between the young men and women determined to jeopardize my school run dash because they are an in-betweeny generation; childless and without any other notable responsibility other than continued growth. How can I reverse out of the garage with a hundred square foot of personal detritus scattered all over the tarmac?

I worry a tad about the missing Pokemon and Webkinz collections, as they are essential homework tools and I cannot imagine to where they have disappeared, en masse, without warning. I worry a smidge that the bikes will rust as they lie abandoned over the newly fully functioning sprinkler heads, as I just haven't squeezed in a dash to the garden today.

I worry a smatter that I haven't even considered implementing a comprehensive 'put your bikes away after use' campaign. I assume this is because I am still too stunned to appreciate that cycling has become part of our daily routine. No longer allergic to 'outside,' now addicted to exercising by bike.

I worry, but not unduly, that I shall forget to go out and hunt down 7 abandoned banana skins somewhere in the garden. Although al fresco eating was the original plan, I never imagined it would spread to snacks.

I worry a jot or two, but not unduly that I shall not be able to think of an alternative supper now that the tomatoes have all been squished by over enthusiastic cyclists. I consider the tomato tromping, with bare feet, akin to a wine maker's skill. An indication that the de-sensitization campaign for tactile defensiveness has been in part, generalized.

I believe it is entirely possible that I'll just keel over, overwhelmed, out scheduled and de-campainged. They'll find my inert body hours from now, stretched out on the floor from a stress induced heart attack brought on by ever mounting shock waves of 'new.' They'll all be completely bewildered. But you'll put them straight, right?

p.s. Obviously unnecessary, as it November so clearly I survived unscathed.

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SOOC Smiley Saturday – another brilliant idea by someone

Slurping Life

We have had food fights around here for many a long year, a battle of wills I thought. As usual, as it turned out, I thought quite wrongly. It was not a battle of wills but something quite different indeed. It was neophobia, a fear of new foods. Once I discovered this mind changing fact, I changed my mind, my attitude and my approach.

At that time my young wee neophobe was very fond of the alphabet and numbers. He also had any number of hard and fast rules. One of his hard and fast rules was that he would only eat or drink from particular pieces of crockery, one bowl and one plastic cup. As a busy old mum, I found this most inconvenient as I was always challenged in the washing up department. If the particular bowl or cup were unavailable, soaking perhaps, or in the dish washer, he quite simply would not eat or drink until they reappeared.

Being of a somewhat laxidaisical frame of mind in the housework department, I recalled that in my own youth I was also fond of a particular bowl, one iwht a rabbit at the bottom. The bowl would be full of whatever, but bit by bit, spoonful by spoonful, ever so gradually, the tide would fall and the bunny, in all it's gloriousness, would be revealed. With this recollection, I had yet another brilliant idea. I would fashion a bowl to tempt my neophobe to do likewise. It was genetic. It was bound to be a sure fired solution to the food problem. I played on his passion and exploited it ruthlessly.

Pottery is a time consuming business, but after a few weeks and several attempts, I eventually managed to produce a bowl with a tempting array of the alphabet on the rim and a semi icon on the bottom. On the bottom, under the food, were the letters 'E M P T Y.' How could anyone resist those adorable capitals, because as we all know, capitals are always especially adorable.

I presented the bowl, whilst empty to my youngest son and he was indeed delighted with the bowl, or rather the letters on the bowl. I permitted him to carry it around for a few days, clutched to his chest to familiarize himself with his new acquisition. He put dinosaurs in it, counted them in, counted them out. All was going spiffingly to plan.

One morning, inauguration morning, I filled the alphabet bowl with baby oatmeal, the gluten free, casein free variety of oatmeal that would clear out his little intestinal system, add no end of beneficial nutrition to his three only food diet and all would be well. I beamed at my beloved, soon to be no longer a neophobic son. He, on the other hand, did not look at me. He looked at his bowl, full of unaccustomed slime, but I had anticipated protest, I was used to the yelling, I knew he'd run away.

I did not know that he would upend the bowl and empty it. But I still have a lot to learn.

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