Archive for October 2010
You know how it is – for years we had nothing to look forward to bar the weekly double-bill of Casualty on BBC Prime, then six events come along together.
Well, it feels like that from where I’m yawning this afternoon.
DH and I were just getting our social life back when I fell pregnant with DS. DD was three and a half and we had the energy to start going out again. I remember sitting outside in a bar at the Madinat, ordering hot chocolate and toasted sandwiches at midnight after a comedy show we’d gone to see; watching the people, the lights, the action of a life I hadn’t felt a part of since before I’d fallen pregnant with DD in 2004.
“Just think,” I said to DH. “We’re about to lose all this for another two years.”
“Two years?” He snorted into his beer. “If we’re lucky.”
I know other people manage to pop out babies and continue living life to the full, but that’s not me. I have a deep sense of self-preservation (or a need for sleep) that stops me from burning the candle at both ends. I just can’t stand feeling whacked all the time.
So this week, after no social life to speak of for at least two years, I suddenly find myself committed to four nights out – three of them consecutively. I haven’t lived it up so much since I was 25.
The question is: CAN I still live it up like I’m 25 or, by Saturday night, will I be snoring into my soup at The Riv?
As it’s something I’ve been doing one and off for the past five years, people often ask me about Hypoxi. Does it work? How does it work? Do I recommend it?
Well, I’ve had amazing results, but I don’t recommend it. I don’t recommend it because it doesn’t work for everyone. There are also some nutritional guidelines you have to follow on Hypoxi days and, if you don’t, it won’t work.
I’ve just completed nine sessions (Dhs 900), taken over three weeks. They sell it in courses of 18 sessions in Dubai but I’ve learned that my body only responds to the first nine. After that, the law of diminishing returns applies: it’s just not worth the effort. It’s not a difficult thing to do – you sit on a stationary bike and pedal gently for 30 minutes while a vacuum sucks the blood to your problem areas. I find it really, really tedious, not to mention sweaty but, for me, it’s a proven way to burn fat fast, so it’s worth it. To understand how it works, click here.
So, how did I do?
According to the “boss”, who measured me at the start: I did incredibly well. According to her, I lost 36cms in total off my tummy, hips and thighs.
But when she was measuring me on Day 1, I noticed she was holding the measuring tape loosely to give a falsely high measurement so the transformation would be more impressive. I double-checked my measurements at home and found she had added 9cms to my waist!!
According my own measurements, I lost a total of 11.5cms, which, while not as impressive as 36cms, is not bad for three weeks’ work. I’m not ready for lipo yet…
So DD, rich with the spoils from the tooth fairy, naturally wanted to go and spend her 10 Dirhams. Understanding her excitement, I agreed to take her to our local shops to pick something. They’re not the best shops, but there’s a supermarket and a book shop. I thought I could steer her in the direction of some pens, stickers or notepads, all of which she’s obsessed with right now.
It would have been mean, I thought, to ask her to buy me a copy of Grazia.
So she got dressed ‘like a grown-up’ with her party shoes and handbag, into which she put her purse containing the Dhs 10, and off we went. I’d forgotten there’s a trinkets stall at the shopping centre – it proved to have a lot of potential. We looked – and rejected – all sorts of hair clips, keyrings and sparkly bangles before heading off to the book shop, where we looked at – and rejected – a lot more stuff before settling on some stickers and a packet of coloured construction paper, which I agreed to buy alongside her stickers.
DD handed over the money and insisted on carrying the goods back to the car. But, as we drove off, she started to weep. Big, fat tears slid down her cheeks: her stickers were lost. Somehow, holding both them and the construction paper had been too much, and the stickers had slipped out of her grasp. I parked the car again, and went back to the shops to look.
The stickers were nowhere.
I didn’t want DD to think I’ll replace anything that she loses (she has to learn to be responsible for her actions) but, on the other hand, they were special stickers from the tooth fairy. So I did what any soppy mother would do: I bought another set.
“Found them!” I lied back at the car, and all was well.
Until the next day, when DD found the “lost” stickers where they’d falled on the floor of the car.
I watched her face as the penny slowly dropped.
“Mummy… you lied about finding them, didn’t you?” she asked. “Mummy, that’s terrible.”
DD finally lost a tooth. After wobbling a tiny bit for a long time, then a lot for a little time, then leaning precariously at a 45˚ angle for a few days, causing DD to sob in terror at the anticipated blood and gore losing it was going to entail, the first milk tooth finally came out.
I wasn’t there for the momentous occasion.
DD called me from my friend’s mobile phone when she was picked up from school.
“Mummy, I’m SO sorry. I lost my tooth,” she said.
I clucked congratulations down the line; it quite brought a tear to my eye as it seems like only yesterday I sat up in the night with her as she got the tooth in the first place.
“No, really, mummy! I really lost it! I don’t have it for the tooth fairy!”
I sensed the panic in her voice. Her friends had gotten five Dirhams (£1) per tooth. FIVE DIRHAMS!
When she got home, we went over the logistics of when, where, and how it got lost. I’m very good at finding things. I was thinking I might nip down to the school and find the tooth. I wanted it more than she did; they’re precious to me, those little teeth.
“I was in the playground,” she said. “The grassy one… I had my tooth during snack and we only play there after snack. Actually, I only noticed it when I was eating my manakish. And I had that for lunch. I was eating my manakish and Best Friend asked me when my tooth had fallen out and I felt it and it wasn’t there!”
With a sinking feeling, I realised she’d most likely swallowed it with a bite of manakish. And yes, I love her, but no, I am not going through her pooh looking for it.
DD was inconsolable about the tooth fairy. I explained that, like Santa, the tooth fairy just “knew”. Still, DD wrote a note of apology explaining what had happened, popped it under her pillow and went to sleep determined to grin all night so any passing tooth fairy could see the gap.
Meantime, DH and I argued over how much to leave. I told him five Dirhams was the going rate and you really don’t want to upset the apple cart with the other mums. He wanted to give her Dhs 100 (£15). We agreed on Dhs 10.
I slipped it under her pillow with a note from the tooth fairy saying how she’d found the tooth at school and it was safe in her little bag now. In the morning, both DH and I went to wake her up.
Her face, on reading the note from the tooth fairy and finding the money was one of those moments I’ll never forget. Her excitement and wonder than the tooth fairy had come, had found her tooth AND had left money was one of the highlights of my life as a mum so far.
Now I just have to defend myself to the other mums for paying over the market rate…
Today’s the day I had the new floor laid in the family room. I make it sound like I’ve been waiting ages for it but, actually, I emailed the floor company about 4pm yesterday and finally agreed to the quote I’d sat on for a week (hoping they’d add some discount to help me make up my mind), and they started at 9am this morning.
‘Why do you want to change it, anyway?’ asked my mum. ‘You only just put the other one down.’
Well, that was five years and two children ago and that’s about 100 years in “Dubai years”. Not only is the five-year-old laminate a bit scratched, it’s also a very dated orange colour (I think it’s “beech”). It looks a bit like a school gym or a basketball court.
More importantly, it’ll clash with the new sofa.
So this morning it was a bit touch and go for a while as the flooring team all stood around looking at the old laminate floor and talking among themselves in a worried tone of voice. Finally one of the workmen spoke to me.
‘You want this floor removed?’ he asked.
I nodded. I really don’t want three layers of flooring (ceramic tile + laminate + new floor) – we’ll be touching the ceiling soon. I had actually mentioned it in my email to them yesterday. More worried voices; some phone calls to HQ.
‘Is there a problem?’ I asked.
Three Indian heads wobbled back and forth and three sets of teeth gleamed at me. I had no idea what they meant so I poured them each a glass of water and left the room smiling. In this country, you have to have faith.
The new floor was down by 1pm.
Since I moved DS to a nursery closer to home, I’ve effectively gained two hours a day: two hours I now no longer spend sitting in traffic. I’d thought that this would enable me to get loads more done – more work, more hobbies, some sport. You know: print out all the digital photos, put them in albums, get up to date on the kids’ scrapbooks, do a comprehensive wardrobe edit, take dance classes, go riding, ice-skating, get my pilot’s license, finish the novel, get a book deal… all those things.
But no. Like most Housewives, I still run from task to task throughout the day, my unpedicured feet barely hitting the ground as I keep all the plates spinning in the air.
So, what is it that’s eating at my time? I decided to take stock. I work three mornings a week; the two mornings that I’m “off” only equate to six hours in total or, if you’re talking shop hours, four, as nothing opens before 10am and I have to pick up DS by 12pm.
In my four hours a week I’m doing a few house projects. Obviously there’s the ongoing business of the sofa, which on a ‘time equals money’ basis is proving to be very expensive.
To match the new sofa, I’m putting down new flooring in the family room. I’m also trying to choose new flooring for the rest of the house (another year living with Emaar beige ceramic tiles and grey grouting could quite possibly drive me to insanity). I’ve ordered plantation shutters for the bedrooms. I’m trying to get ceiling fans both bought and fixed in several rooms. None of these things are easy; each requires multiple trips to the other side of the Moon; conversations in Gibberish; and a degree in patience.
Oh, and then the water heater in the bedroom started leaking. Just a steady drip-drip. I ignored it for a few days (it’s in the shower, after all – how much damage can a leak in the shower do?), then Gerlie mentioned it and I felt I had to get it sorted before it bursts in the middle of the night, sweeping the sleeping children away in a tsunami of scalding hot water. So that meant getting the plumbers round. Twice.
I won’t even start on the saga of the kitchen, which it turns out was done wrongly in January and is about to be scraped back to basics and resprayed from scratch…
On reflection, maybe I’m fitting quite a lot into my four hours a week.
It’s no secret that I’m still trying to shift the 1-2 stubborn kilos I put on while in England this summer. The evidence, after all, is there for all to see as my lardy thighs wobble to the school gates each day. First I tackled it my usual way – through diet. The favoured DDH diet means eating as little as possible, with a nod towards low GI. I am pretty disciplined, not to mention vegetarian and a reasonable cook, so it usually works. It’s not rocket science: eat less and, when you eat, eat things that are low-fat; eat beans, pulses and fresh vegetables, rather than fatty things.
But, this time, it hasn’t worked. The 1-2kgs fluctuates – some days it’s there, some days it’s a bit smaller – but it’s always still there.
So I’ve stepped up the plan of attack. For the past three weeks, the thighs have been subjected to exercise at least five days a week. And, when I say exercise, I don’t mean bouncing round the park with a personal trainer, doing karate chops at each other and shouting ‘Hiiii-ya!’ into the children’s play area. I mean brisk walking; a little running under cover of bushes, when nobody can see; some roller-blading much to the amusement of the park gardeners; some dynamic exercises on the PowerPlate; and now a concerted attack via Hypoxi-therapy.
In addition, I’ve started to eat protein. Uh. I’m a quasi-vegetarian, really i.e. I will eat fish when I have to. I’ve bought tuna steaks, griddled them and choked them down with salad, trying not to gag. I’ve laid off any biscuits, cakes, pastries, crisps and snacks. It’s as far from my preferred diet of cheesy potatoes and wine as you can possibly get.
After all this, I expect results. Today I stood on the scales. I was up 1kg. 1kg more than I weighed before I started the attack. I whinged to DH as he tried to leave for work.
‘But weight always goes up before it goes down,’ he said revving the gas-guzzler and looking quite lovely in his shirt, tie and Ray-Bans.
It’s a line he’s said before. (‘How sweet that you believe him,’ said a friend when I told her last time. ‘I mean, he’s a professional xxxx who knows nothing about weight and diet, and yet you still believe him.’)
This morning, I looked at DH and he knew he was rumbled. We both laughed.
‘Well, maybe it doesn’t,’ he said. ‘But it’s what you want to hear, isn’t it?’
A man who understands me well. DH, you’re the best. X
It’s been two weeks since I last spoke with the sofa company. They should at least have finished the frame and stuffing by now and be in need of the fabric; I haven’t really chosen one yet. So I called them for a status update. No joy.
So I called the mobile number of the really helpful production guy. Despite being in Abu Dhabi, he was, again, really helpful.
‘Your sofa? Ah yes, I remember! When are you coming in? We need to get started.’
Pause while I digested.
‘Yes, ma’am, there’s a measurement I’m not sure about so I asked Rashid to call you? Two weeks ago?’
Rashid didn’t call.
‘But you’ve made the frame, no?’‘No. Not started ma’am.’[I’ll omit my responses in which I needed him to clarify this another four times while I went through denial, disbelief, grief and finally acceptance]‘Come to factory, ma’am,’ he said. ‘Best you come.’He bombed it back from Abu Dhabi. I went to the factory.
The production guy, he really is good. He had me sitting on different chairs, discussing 2cms here and there to make sure we get the perfect sofa. We measured everything again. I began to doubt my initial plans. Did I really want modern? Flat armrests? Or did I want a more classic shape, a brocade fabric? I got a headache.
I had taken in my Pottery Barn fabric samples – sand and stone in Oxford cotton.
‘Oh!’ he said. ‘We have similar.’ And, after 48 books of polyester, we found similar. I prepared to bring three fabric books home for colour-matching and DH’s approval.
‘I’ll come too,’ said the nice production guy. I’d mentioned my old sofa; he wanted to see it in the flesh, given the new one is largely based upon the old one.
He came to the house. I made him chai. We measured the old sofa. We finalised the new measurements. We discussed stripping the old sofa and re-making, recovering and re-stuffing it. The cost was almost the same as starting afresh with a more modern shape.
I’m hoping he’ll start on the new one in the morning. Inshalla we’ll have it by Christmas.
A while ago I wrote a blog about how I’d like a Range Rover. It made my friends laugh, and probably made the rest of you think how shallow I was. As it happened, I couldn’t buy a Range Rover as I needed a 7-seater for all the kids I pick up in my supreme efforts at car-pooling each week.
Anyway, I illustrated the blog with a pic of a stretch Range Rover, joking that it would be the perfect car for school pick-up.
You won’t believe what pulled up outside the school gates today. You won’t…
And, as if that wasn’t enough, a stretch Hummer arrived two minutes later. God love Dubai, a city where kids get picked up in stretch limos.