Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I am lovely and beautiful!

The great Beth at It's my good life sent me not one but 2 awards last week. The Lovely Award and the Beautiful Blogger award. I love the design of both of them. I keep thinking the Beautiful Blogger award would make a lovely tattoo.

To accept the award, I need to reveal 7 things about me and tag 15 (not a small task) lovely bloggers. So, here's my list:

- I had my hair at all lengths imaginable. From the down to my bum length to a very short pixie crop. I tend to get it cut short, only to let it grow back again. Until I get bored and get it cut again.

- I'm a sucker for vampires stories. I find that there is something incredibly sexy about vampires. The real vampire stories are about love and not just blood sucking.

- I can cross stich. I was taught by my grand mother and took it back up when I was expecting Noelie. Never finished it though and the project is under my bed gathering dust.

- I'm a smoker. No, I'm not proud of it. Yes, I know it's bad for me. No, I don't smoke around the children. I didn't know how to include it in a post, now it's done.

- I would love to take up yoga and learn sign language.

- I was once bitten by a spider while I slept. I thought it was just a spot but after 3 days one side of my face was so swollen that I had to go to the doctors. I still have the bite mark.

- I studied Latin for 6 years. I was told by my teacher not to bother turn up for the exam (that's how good I was *cough cough*). I still managed to mark a fairly decent 13/20. I still don't know how.

I now need to find 15 bloggers to pass this onto. If you already have received it, I apologize.

Jen at Autism, the King and I.

Caroline at Last of the Mojitos

Emma at Young and Younger

BNM at BareNakedMummy

Looking for Blue Sky

Hot Cross Mum

Mummy Mania

Nappy Valley Girl at Nappy Valley in New York

Heather at Notes from Lapland

Very Bored in Catalunya

Mummy Bear at She was not at all domestic

Susie at New Day New Lesson


Sandy at Baby Baby

Chic Mama

Hope you enjoy revealing more about yourselves! I'm looking forward to reading it!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What's in a name?

Nowadays, you can call your child pretty much what you want. From Apple to Pilot Inspektor (I'm serious, check it out!), to more conventional names. The choice is endless. There are hundreds of baby name books out there. You can make it more original by playing with the spelling, you can find some obscure ancient name if you wish.

I have always liked names that are not too common. I like my children to be unique. But I wouldn't go as far as picking some of the names that celebrities do. Being in a multinational family, choosing your child's name can be quite tricky as you want to make sure that both sides can pronounce it properly. This pretty much ruled out a majority of Celtic names. Even with tweaking out the spelling, you can not escape the fact that Saoirse sounds like 'take the cat out' in French (Sors chat), or that Roisin would end up being pronounced Raisin. And the other way around. Some French names just sound horrible with an English accent.

I have to admit though, that I was a bit shocked here at the lack of originality of some people when it comes to names. No offense intended but how many people from the same family can bear the same name? I think that naming your baby after their mother, father, uncle, aunt, grandmother etc is rather unoriginal (unless they had an original name to start with). I'm not saying that it shouldn't be done, each to their own as my mother in law would say. I do understand there is a sense of legacy behind it but I believe that that legacy can be passed on through a second name as easily as it is with a first one. Marie's second name is a variation on my own great grandmother's name. So I'm not knocking the whole 'naming after somebody' thing. I'm just saying it's not for me. And it does make for rather confusing conversations sometimes.

Picking Marie's name was easy. I had always wanted to use that name for a girl. It is a character in one of my favourite books and there was no convincing me of naming her anything but. It is an international name of neither French nor Celtic origin that can be pronounced easily in both languages.

When it came to Noelie (not her real name), we settled for a Celtic name but that could easily be read and said with a French accent. It is actually of French origin but with a Celtic spelling. We were walking around the shops at Christmas time and both seen this personalized Christmas card. And we both liked the name. It was as easy as that. We just stumbled upon it.

Now, you're probably thinking where is she going with the whole naming thing. It's easy. A baby is soon to be born (no, not mine) to a close family member. And I recently asked about the name of the baby. Some people like to keep it quiet until after the birth, some will tell you beforehand. So out of curiosity, I just asked. And I was told. I was told the first name, which is a perfectly normal and conventional name. However, I was shocked. And my shock came from the fact that it is basically just the abbreviation of Noelie's real name. The most common and natural abbreviation of it. Now, we don't call her by that but I'm sure that some day somebody will shorten her name to that. It did annoy me a bit, and I told Mr Foodie about it. It didn't seem to phase him much. Yes they are very similar names but we chose the name first so it's not a big deal.

Later on in the day, Mr Foodie went out with Marie to visit a close family friend. And while he was there, he sent me a text. First and second names of the baby to come. And my face just dropped. They had picked a second name which was also perfectly normal and conventional. It took me the whole of about 20 seconds to come up with this though. If you put the 2 names together and you say it a bit fast, you end up with Noelie's real name. Not a variation of it, just that, her name. I later found out the mum to be had always wanted to use that name for a girl. So it sounds to me like she settled for the closest thing. And it annoys me because I want my child to be unique. I don't want her to, even remotely, share her first name with a close family member less than a year younger than her. I understand I have no say in what people call their own children, and I don't pretend to, but I would have thought that this wasn't the done thing, at least not without consulting first.

What do you think? Am I overreacting? Have you turned down names because a close friend or relative had already picked it? Did you name your child after a family member? Did you consult with them first?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thank You!

Every Friday, the great Chic Mama counts her blessings with a Friday Gratitude post. This is a wonderful idea which she has taken to a whole new level with creating the 'Gratitude Award'. I believe it does help to put things in perspective and helps you look at the positive happening in our lives, and even for just a moment, forget about all the negative that might occupy our minds. So, in order to accept this beautiful award, I believe we have to list things that we are grateful for this week.
I'm grateful for:

- The past week. I'm grateful for the whole lot of last week. The weather has been great. Mr Foodie was off work for a couple of days and we really made the most of it. We went into town 3 times this week (bear in mind we never really go into town, the only times are usually court appearances so not really good times). I am on top of the washing, the house doesn't look like a bomb hit it and I have had time to cook and try my hand at new things (like this!). So all in all a wonderful week.

- Noelie. She has been great. She is half crawling now (she only uses one leg to push herself around). She has loved being wheeled around town and smiling away at whoever was pushing her. Her fits of laughter when her sister plays with her have just made my days. She is trying to communicate a lot more with us and has full blown unintelligible conversations with us.

- Marie. Like her sister, she has been very good this week. She has just finished her 4th Harry Potter book and I'm really proud of her (it is a huge book and she only turned 7 two months ago.) We baked bread together. She has been very helpful around the house and with her sister. We went to the zoo today and she had a great time. I only wish her two front teeth which she lost two months ago would start growing!

- Mr Foodie. If you read this blog regularly, you know that I am forever grateful to Mr Foodie. What he has done for me and Marie took a lot of courage and determination. I am also grateful for the good times we have shared this week. Not being in work, he was able to help around with the girls and the house which was a welcome relief for me.

- The wonderful hands of Noelie's godmother. For Christmas, Mr Foodie got me a full hour for a reflexology treatment with Noelie's godmother. Me being me, I kept putting it back and back. Until yesterday, when he pushed me to book it for today. She has recently opened her own reflexology business in town (if you want the details, just drop me an email here). So I went in today, and it was the most deeply relaxing experience, I have had in a while. At times, her hands felt like feathers. Something to be repeated!

- The weather. I don't know who I am supposed to thank for that one. But whoever it is, please keep it going. I have loved opening my wardrobe and smelling the wonderful smell that comes with outdoors dried clothes. I have loved just sitting out on a blanket outside with Marie and Noelie, trying to prevent her from eating the grass.

I will now tag other great bloggers and ask them what are you grateful for?
- Beth at My Good Life.
- Caroline at Last of the Mojitos.
What are you grateful for?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Gallery: Pride

I'm not the photographer of the family. My dad is. In my younger years, he could always be found cleaning his camera, and he takes beautiful pictures. He still does but less frequently now. However, he is retiring at the end of the year and plans on taking it up again. for his birthday, we offered him a gadget that converts slides and negatives and transfers them onto your PC. That should keep him occupied for a bit since he has more than 1000 pictures to transfer. Some I will be delighted to see again, some probably not so much.

But anyway, today I have decided to take part in The Gallery. Tara at Sticky Fingers started this 8 weeks ago, challenging all of us to put pictures on our blogs following her prompts. This week is: 7 deadly sins. Up to a few hours ago, I didn't even consider taking part. But now I do. This morning, I have decided to try and bake some bread for the very first time. Don't ask me why. It's one of those things. I get an idea in my head and I have to do it. So I tried. So right on queue, comes the bit that links it to The Gallery. I am really proud of myself. My first ever attempt at bread, not only looks passably correct, but it also tastes lovely too. It even got the approval of Noelie who went for a second bit! So, even though Pride is a deadly sin, I will enjoy that feeling of Pride and probably a bit of Gluttony too, while I eat my home made bread!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

We have lift-off but I'm stranded.

No, before anybody gets their hopes up, I'm not talking about the ash cloud. I just couldn't resist the bad joke. I'm not being mean, I am myself affected by Mother Nature reminding us that we are nothing compared to her. My cousin was meant to come and visit for a week on wednesday and as things stand, it doesn't look like it's going to happen. I'm glad we didn't tell Marie and had planned it to be a surprise for her as she would have been very disapointed.

What I mean is that Noelie has finally found a way of moving around. A rather unusual way, but it seems to work nonetheless. After a few weeks of endless frustration, she is finally able to get herself from point A to point B (but not too far). Has she started to walk I hear you say? No. Is she bumming her way around the place? Nope. Crawling then? Wrong again. She is not walking yet, despite really really wanting to. She doesn't bum around, she doesn't crawl. She has mastered a quite surprising technique that I had never seen before. She spins her way around on her belly, pausing sometimes to lick the floor before resuming her travels. Not quite the fastest way from A to B, not quite the direct way from A to B but it works for her. It does help to ease her frustration a bit. And mine. She has been coming up in leaps and bounds in the past week, with 2 more teeth making their appearance, pretending to be on the phone and adding a new word to her vocabulary. Who would have thought that one of her first words would be 'poo' in french?

On another topic, in solidarity with the thousands of travellers stranded everywhere around the world, I have decided (unconsciously) to strand myself in town this morning. After dropping Marie off to school, Mr Foodie and myself (and the baby of course) made our way into town. Mr Foodie had some very important union related business to attend to and we had decided that I would spend some time in town until he was finished. In the car, I asked Mr Foodie for the Starbucks card, so I could go and get myself a lovely cup of coffee and abandon myself to one of my favourite activities, people watching. After dropping him off ( I think I'm going to open a taxi service, what do you think?), I drove to a car park, took the ticket, went up and up and up and up looking for a space. I finally found one and parked. I took the buggy out etc. And went to put the ticket in my wallet. Only I couldn't find my wallet. I had forgotten it at home. I frantically sent a text to Mr Foodie, hoping that SuperFoodie would be able to help me somehow. No luck, his phone was already off. I didn't have a penny on me, no debit or credit card, and no Starbucks card either as he hadn't given it to me earlier. Nothing at all, not even to pay for the car park, let alone go for a coffee somewhere. So I walked around town for about an hour. I nearly laughed when a homeless man asked me for spare change because at that precise moment, he probably had more in his cup than I had on me. I sent a text to friend of mine who works in town, maybe she could lend me some money. It was her day off. So here I was, stranded in town. I took the opportunity to walk around Brown Thomas, knowing that since I didn't have a bit of plastic or cash on me, I wouldn't spend anything (on a normal day, I just avoid the place altogether, it depresses me to see all those lovely things that I can't afford). I went into some other shops, found lots of lovely things that I couldn't buy of course, even if I could afford it. Eventually, I had a brain wave. My passport was in my bag! I don't usually carry my passport around with me but having needed it sometime last week, it was still there. So I took myself off to the bank and withdrew some money. I could at least have that cup of coffee I had been dreaming of since the morning. The ultimate irony: at the exact moment I stepped out of the bank, my phone rang. Mr Foodie was finished and on his way to meet me. So the lovely epicurean morning I had dreamt off was never to be. Ah well, maybe next time?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Not that strong.

First of all, I would like to thank everybody for their lovely comments on my last post. They really touched me.

I'm not good with praise, never have been. Anytime somebody pays me a compliment, I am quick to play it down. It makes me feel uncomfortable, I feel like I don't deserve it. There is always something I could have done better, I could have dealt with in a better way. And I feel like I need to explain that really, what we have been through, as tough as it was, was nothing exceptional, really. A lot of people go through it. I couldn't have done it without Mr Foodie. If anything, he deserves more praise than I do. He carried us all through it.

Some people think I am strong. I am not. All I did was let instinct take over. Fight or flight. I chose flight that day. I did fight though. I had been fighting for a long time. For as long as Marie had been alive. Against a lot of things. Fighting against my better judgement too. Things gradually heated up. Mentally, I became a shadow of myself. I was walking on egg shells. Trying to please, when the only thing that could satisfy I could not offer. I couldn't speak freely. I hid everything that was going on for years from my parents, my family, my friends. I was hiding behind a mask. When I opened up, it all came pouring out. To Mr Foodie, a virtual stranger. Such an appropriate term, virtual as it all happened through our computers. Stranger as I had never met him in person. I realized that I had to do something, that life was not worth living that way. And I took a first step, and the steps turned quickly into a run. I ran away. How is that being strong, I ask you?

Whatever happened afterwards was just consequences really, of that decision to run away. I put us in that position. I had to deal with it. We had to deal with it. I was never alone in dealing with anything. Mr Foodie was there all the way, he was thrown in at the deep end and took all my battles on (and he still does). So if anybody deserves to be called strong, he is. Not me.

I think that post also made me sound a bit paranoid. I feel the need to explain. Although I am not 100% comfortable in my area, I am not living like a recluse. I do go out, I do live a normal life. I don't look over my shoulder all the time. I just try and stay clear of some areas. I go there sometimes and nothing has ever happened. I haven't bumped into any of them. And even if I did, I'm not even sure anything would happen. I would just get a rush of adrenaline and feel unsettled probably. I probably would get a look and, if I'm really unlucky, I would get called some unsavoury name. Nothing life threatening. But moving will help avoid that stress, the probability that I will be put in an unsettling position. Sometime, distance is all that is needed.

The human mind is something quite incredible. Time helps smooth the corners of those hard memories. It puts them somewhere at the back of your brain and helps you get on with life. A while back, we were watching some program on the tv about repossessions (I know not very uplifting), and Mr Foodie turned around to me and said: 'I can't imagine what it would feel like to get your car repossessed like that.' He was serious but we looked at each other, and burst into laughter. Not that getting your car repossessed is anything to laugh at, far from it. But for the fact, that we know what it feels like because it did happen to me. We had just simply 'forgotten' about it. And I take this as a good sign. A sign that all that has happened is now in the past and some parts of it we can now even laugh about. Those tough times are part of us and of our past, they will NOT be an active part of our future!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Have to keep on moving.

When I lived in France, I moved once in 18 years and I don't even remember it. My parents had bought a plot of land and built the house on it when I was about 6. They have lived there ever since. I go back there every summer. I don't know where that urge to move, live somewhere else came from. All I knew is that I didn't want to live in France.

Then I made what some people consider the ultimate move. I have moved from France to Ireland. When I first came here back, some dozen years ago, it was a big deal. I was only 18 and there was no such thing as mobile phones. The Internet wasn't as widespread as it is now. My parents used to call me once a week for a mere 15 minutes. I was an au pair, trying to improve my English. Being a foreigner in this country back then was still something quite 'exotic'. There weren't as many of us. And you couldn't help but be noticed. The plan was to live here for a year, go back to college for another one and then move to Australia for a year or so. It didn't happen. I stayed here, found a job and never left.

Here, I moved a few times. I stayed with 2 families as an au pair. There were issues with the first one. The kids used to spit on me when I was getting them up to go to school. I couldn't understand why a Stay at home mum would need an au pair to look after her children. Things didn't work out and I moved to another family where I stayed until the end of my contract.

I then shared a house. I'll always remember cleaning one of the bedrooms after one the guys left and finding a piece of paper with chat up lines on it and their English translations. He was French and his English was far from good (that's what happens when you work in French all day and only socialize with French people after work). I had a great laugh picturing him in a pub, trying to chat a girl up, and slipping that piece of paper out, looking for the next thing to say.

Eventually I bought a house. I couldn't wait to be able to do whatever I wanted with it, paint the walls green today, red tomorrow, put my own touch to it. I bought things for that house, looked after it. So many expectations. And then a few years later, I had to move again. Flee it. With nothing but Marie in tow and the clothes on my back. I left all my possessions behind that day. Nothing mattered but my safety and Marie's. I went back to collect some things, things I could carry, some clothes, a few toys, my laptop. I left anything unnecessary or too bulky behind, books, Cd's, furniture. Everything I had worked hard for, I left. A few months later, just before it was sold I went back to collect more things but everything that belonged to me had been put in bin bags, out the back, subject to the elements. There wasn't much left, all my books had disappeared, all my Cd's were gone. The house was in a terrible state, broken counters, broken tiles, broken floor boards.

Some work colleagues put us up for a few months, but with 7 of us in a house, it quickly became too crowded. We were asked to leave, on New Year's Eve. 'Happy New Year to you, now could you please clear off?' Thanks to Mr Foodie, we found a roof. And literally that's what it was, the converted attic of a small bungalow. The first time I saw it, it took my breath away. Not in a good way. Shock. Realization that I went from having my own comfortable 3 bedroom house to this. That all I could afford was this roof. That all I could give Marie was this. It was tiny, three rooms, one after the other. I fought back tears (not very successfully though). We moved in anyway.We had no choice. Mr Foodie stayed with us, as I was afraid to stay on my own at night. 'Only until you feel more comfortable' was the deal. Since then, the only time we have been apart at night was when I went into hospital to give birth to Noelie and her short stint in hospital last October. The place grew on us. Marie slept in the bedroom and we slept on a makeshift bed, half sofa / half fold up bed. We had to tiptoe through Marie's bedroom to go to the bathroom if we needed to at night. We did her room up, we put glow in the dark stars on her ceiling. We made it our own and think about it with fond memories. We didn't have much money, we had to make do, but we were happy. It is now remembered fondly as 'the Roof'. My own house was sold eventually with a little profit made. And we left the Roof for the luxury of a 2 bedroom apartment. We had space, a lovely view of the city. But things went wrong again. Lifts were broken every second day, I was 6 months pregnant and couldn't see myself carrying a baby, a buggy, shopping and a 7 year old up 5 flights of stairs, cars were broken into in the underground car park, a non existent landlord. We decided to forfeit our deposit and moved back to the bungalow. But this time, not in the Roof, but in the house. This is where we are now. And we like it.

But we have decided to move again, at the end of the school year. Since I have lost my job, there is nothing to keep us here apart from Marie's school. Mr Foodie spends a small fortune in petrol and toll every month. Although we managed to get the rent down, it is still high for what we have. So from a financial perspective, we have decided to move on the other side of the city. There is also another perspective to it. We are somehow restricted here, I don't really like the area, there is always the probability of bumping into some people I don't want to bump into. I am not comfortable walking around the shopping centre in case I bump into them, I am not comfortable picking up Marie from school because I could bump into them. If they are looking for trouble, they know where to find me and at what time to find me there at. I am really looking forward to being free from all that stress and bad memories. We have started to look for a new place. Ideally, we would love a bungalow. We have told Marie about it and she is delighted to move. It is all a big adventure for her. So we are going to start packing, find a new house, a new school and start anew. But there is one thing to remember, the greater the expectations, the greater the fall. So I'm keeping my expectations low. Things have a way of working out.

This post was written as part of Josie's Writing Workshop over at Sleep is for the Weak. I wrote about prompt 1: 1. Tell me about a time you decided to move house. What prompted it? Did you want to move? What did you leave behind, and what did you find when you got there?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Another award!

I'm being showered with awards lately and I want to thank everybody who sent one my way. This last one is from Caroline at Last of the Mojitos and is just for fun. I've had my eye on it for a while (not for the graphics of it, mind you, but for the content). I have been drooling over other people's lists for the past few weeks and now it's my turn (well I hope some people share my taste, although I'm not that much into big big stars).

All you have to do is list 5 men (fictional or not) you 'so would' with. And tag 5 wonderful bloggers.

Number 1: Stefan Salvatore from 'Vampire Diaries' (Paul Wesley)

Soooooo would (love him to bite my neck).

Number 2: Adam Carter in Spooks (Rupert Penry-Jones)

Soooo would (not mind spying on him).

Number 3: Nino Quincampoix from Amelie (Mathieu Kassovitz)

 Soooooo would (I had to put a frenchie in there somewhere!).

Number 4: Noah 'Puck' Puckerman from Glee (Mark Salling)

Sooooooo would (I'll change my name to Caroline so he can sing Sweet Caroline to me)

Number 5: Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Sooooooo would (under any bridge).

So now, it's time to tag some people:

- Young Mummy at Young & Younger.

Ladies, it's now over to you!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Happy 101 meme

I've been tagged yet again! The great Caroline at Last of the Mojitos and the wonderful Chic Mama have both tagged me for the Happy 101 meme. Doesn't it look yummy?

Claiming this mouth watering badge couldn't be easier.1) List 10 things that make you happy.
2) Tag some people. And the lovely award is yours to keep.

So here is my list (in no particular order):

  1. My girls. Noelie is cutting her 3rd tooth and is becoming a real little person. Marie can be found buried in a book most of the time. She is finishing her 3rd Harry Potter now. She reminds me so much of myself at her age.
  2. Mr Foodie (when he behaves himself!). People often tell me that I have 3 kids at home and not only 2. But he has the ability to make me smile. And I just love watching him with the girls. And we never run out of conversations.
  3. My family. My parents just left after spending 5 days over here (hence why I have been so quiet). My mum is just a wonderful cook that puts me to shame, and my dad is the most calming presence I know.
  4. Our new cat, Nama. In just over a week, she has become part of the family.
  5. Sunshine. I can't wait to be able to spend most of my days with the backdoor open popping in and out and playing with the girls and Mr Foodie outside.
  6. Food. I love to cook and I love to eat. A very fitting comment my mum made the other day: We don't eat to live but live to eat. Sums it up just perfectly.
  7. Books. I love to loose myself in a book and forget about everything.
  8. Baths, along with a good book and a nice glass of wine. Bliss!
  9. A nice, clean and tidy house. I manage it (sometimes), I long for it (most of the time).
  10. When things go as planned. I like nothing better than when things run smoothly. I'm not very good at dealing with sudden changes.

So there you are, 10 things (amongst others) that make me happy.

I believe this meme has been going around for a while now and after looking after quite a few blogs, I can't seem to find anybody who hasn't done it yet. So if you haven't done it yet, well, consider yourself tagged.


Foodie Mummy.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A new addition to the family and other tails

I wish to apologize in advance. This post doesn't have just one topic but more than one. And they are absolutely not linked in anyway. Well maybe a little.

First I am very proud to announce that we have a new addition to the family. No I'm not pregnant. We just took in a poor stray cat. We had noticed a cat roaming around our back garden for the past few days. The day before yesterday, we realized that the poor cat was living in our shed. We assumed that it belonged to one of our neighbours. Yesterday morning I was woken up by the cat meowing at the door. I took pity on it and gave him something to eat. Marie came along and started pointing out that the poor cat was shivering. It was bitter outside indeed. Then, the cat proceeded to follow me around the house from outside. Like some kind of stalker. I went for a shower, the cat was at the bathroom window. I went to wash the dishes, the cat was at the kitchen window. I went to the girls bedroom, the cat was at the window. Quite spooky I must admit. So I placed a phone call to Mr Foodie and told him that the poor cat was cold and hungry. Now, Mr Foodie is not a lover of cats, he'd rather take a dog in anytime. But he agreed to let the cat in. That cat is the most placid cat I ever came across. I let the cat into the kitchen. And convinced Mr Foodie to keep her. And off I went to get cat essentials, litter box, food, collar, flea treatment etc...The cat roamed around the kitchen and sitting room. I kept a close eye on it with Noelie, not sure how she or the cat would react. Noelie got very excited. She tugged on the poor cat's tail, its ears and whiskers. The cat never blinked, or turned on her. All it wanted to do was get away. Marie, too, is delighted. She can't wait to go back to school and tell her teacher about he new cat. Now, I can only picture her teacher's face when she tells her the cat's name. The only condition Mr Foodie put on keeping the cat (apart from making sure it's not diseased, or aggressive etc of course) was to pick the name. So I hereby introduce the new addition to the family: Nama. I can hear the Irish grinding their teeth from here. For all the non Irish readers, you might not know what Nama is. Nama stands for National Assets Management Agency. In other words, it's the agency put in place this week that is going to allow the bankers to get out of the mess they created scoff free. Nama is going to pump billions of taxpayers money into the banks. You can read more about it on Irish Mammy on the run wonderful post. And as my mum said, Mr Foodie has quite a warped sense of humour, I know.

Talking about Mr Foodie, SuperFoodie has come out of his SuperFoodie cave once more. He has now decided to take on a big enemy: The Department of Social and Family affairs no less. I seem to be receiving every 3 to 4 months letters from the above asking me to confirm my children's school and doctor details. Failure to do so would result in my Children's Benefit being cut off. I duly send back the form every few months. After a while though, I talked about it with Mr Foodie's sister in law and other people. And it turns out that they don't receive such a form. Today, I received my 2nd form this year. And it just bugged me. So I decided to give them a call. One of my many disguises as FoodieGirl is that of an Irish woman. I sound like one. I don't have a French accent (to the disappointment of some people, to the amazement of others). Sometimes to the point when I'm asked to prove I'm French, usually in the form of 'Oh, Whereabouts in France do you come from? And I answer the question in my most pronounced French accent. So I called the Department of Social and Family affairs with my best Irish accent. I was happily surprised to wait only a few minutes. And I asked my question:
-' Why do I get that form every few months?'
-' Oh, everybody gets it.' was the answer.
-' None of my friends do.'
-' Well everybody will get it soon.'
And there I took my opponent by surprise:
-' Is it because I'm French?' and the answer was a plain Yes. Got her! Then she started muttering something along the lines of 'Well, I mean, you entered the country.' Which I did, more than 10 years ago!!! I thanked her for her help and hung up.
I then called the SuperFoodie phone, and told him all about it. SuperFoodie took the fight on from there, he called the Ministry of Social and family affairs and tore their argument of fraud avoidance to shreds. After all, Noelie is Irish. Marie is Irish. He is Irish. And the fact that it amounts to racial profiling really and is completely inefficient. If you're foreign and want to cheat the system, you can easily give somebody else's address and get them to fill it in and return it. And if you're Irish, well you don't have much to worry about since you don't get the form. So you could have left the country in search of greener pastures and still get Children's Benefit here. And if I'm not mistaken, that's fraud too, isn't it? Now SuperFoodie would like me to contact a solicitor, it might be worth a shot, what do you think?

Finally, I experienced the most humiliating experience this week. I went to collect my first unemployment benefit. See, again, in order to avoid frauds, you do not get that payment in the bank. Instead, you have to go and collect it at the Post Office. So, kids in tow, I went in. I can only describe it as confidence crushing, humiliating and I felt like crying. Once again, it could be because my name is not Irish, or it could just be me. The lady behind the counter was not particularly nasty, she didn't look like a witch or anything, she was just doing her job. I gave my card, I got the receipt and then she went on to count the money. Loud enough so I could hear. Loud enough so that anybody within earshot in the tiny post office could hear. And everybody knows what that amount means. And you walk away from the counter, and you might as well be wearing a big red arrow pointing down on your head, with the words Foreigner claiming Benefit here. Because I speak French to the girls you see, so people knew I was not Irish. I hated every single minute of it. It's probably all in my head. But having been self sufficient for years, it was quite a blow. It felt like taking somebody else's money. I was told to consider it like getting a small bit of the tax I have paid into this country back, and that with time it does get better. I hope so because I don't want to feel like this every week. As much as I am delighted to spend time with my girls and doing a good job at it, something in my head made me feel like a bit of a failure. And it's not a nice feeling.

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