My life in google

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I often wonder how our parents managed without google. I mean, when you think about it, it’s just extraordinary. You can have an answer to any random question that comes to mind in a matter of seconds. At the risk of sounding like my Nan, I remember a time when you could spend a whole film agonising over where you’d seen that bit-part actor in scene 1 before.

“COME ON! He was in that thing we watched in 1999 – with that girl. You were eating gummy bears. Or maybe dolly mixtures. COME ON!”

If you were lucky, the answer came to you about 2 weeks later, otherwise you might never recover from the frustration. Nowadays, one quick click on IMDB will tell you who the actor is, where he went to school and what brand of washing up liquid he buys.

Step away from the screen
When Elysia was a newborn, my phone was surgically attached to my hand (who am I kidding? I still have palpitations if it’s out of my sight for 3 seconds…) Most google questions started with ‘is it normal…’

  • Is it normal for a baby to feed every 20 minutes?
  • Is it normal for a baby to cry for 6 hours without stopping?
  • Is it normal to want to dropkick your husband for bringing you the wrong flavour of hula hoops?
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Is it normal to put a dress over a sleepsuit?!(In my defence it was Christmas!)

Or my personal favourite as a new Mum – ‘how do I?’

  • How do I express milk?
  • How do I survive on 45 seconds sleep?
  • How do I dress a baby without squashing its head?

I drove myself mad with my googling. Contradictory answers, peer pressure from smug Mums with babies that slept all night from day 1, reviews for rubbish baby products that no-one needs. While I’m grateful that there was always a back-lit screen to keep me company at 4am, looking back I was so caught up in finding the right answers that I missed the opportunity to relax a bit and just use my own judgement.

Answer me this…
Four years later, I think I have a healthier relationship with google. But I still ask a lot of strange questions. Here are the last 5 things I googled (genuinely!) and the story behind them:

Can you juice chili peppers?

chili
If you’ve read my previous blogs, you’ll know that I’m really into juicing for health. I rarely use recipes anymore as I’ve developed a pretty good understanding of what works well together. Every morning we have an eye-watering ginger ‘shot’ which consists of juiced pineapple, lemon (with peel) and a huge claw of ginger. My brain wondered what other ingredients would have such an intense effect. Turns out that you can, indeed, juice chilis and not only that, thanks to an active ingredient called Capsaicin, it helps to speed up your metabolism and decrease your appetite. Probably not one to share with the children though…

How are tobacco stocks performing?

tobacco
A totally bizarre question from a life-long anti-smoker. I was writing an article for a client about ethical investment strategies and needed to know how some of the ‘sin’ stocks were doing for a bit of balance.

Being a freelance writer, I get to know a little bit about a lot of subjects. Thanks to my last few assignments, I know how nursing homes are regulated, what the different shapes of conservatories are and how early you need to get up to run a veg box business. I’m a veritable fountain of random knowledge that I’ll probably never need again…

Can humans actually digest sweetcorn?

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Blake eats a ridiculous amount of sweetcorn. I was wondering whether this was a pointless exercise as it seems to…ahem…reappear the next day. No more explanation needed. The answer appears to be that we can’t digest it very well but apparently that’s not a bad thing as we need insoluble fibre to feed good gut bacteria. I’ll add that to the random knowledge fountain.

Why does a wasp sting you?

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My friend Jamie has a theory that a wasp won’t sting you unless you actually squash it a bit. I think that wasps are more sinister and will sting you for a laugh and to impress their hard wasp mates. Google says we’re both wrong and they will sting you if you annoy them or flap about near them not just because you squash them. Incidentally, I also found out that they can summon for back-up just by changing their wing beating pattern! So they’re basically a gang. I’m not taking any chances and will continue to run in the opposite direction when I see one.

Where was Harry Houdini born?

Harry Houdini Image
This week Mitchell managed to get himself on our local radio station. He called into the Radio Exe morning show to take part in their ‘cash dash’ where you have 30 seconds to answer 5 questions of increasing difficulty to win £1000. He got to question 5 where the Alan Partridge-esque host asked him, “Where was Harry Houdini born?” I mean, for goodness sake, does anyone actually know the answer to that?!! He ventured a random guess at ‘Cardiff’ but it turned out to be ‘Budapest’ (why, of course!!) I’d already spent the £1000 in my head. Stupid quiz. I googled the answer to check that we didn’t have some kind of legal come back. Still, we’ll remember the answer forever now so that should be totally useful…

Where would I be without google to answer all of this?
My fall back position would be to ask my Dad. But I can guarantee that his answers to the above would be:

  1. Forget it. Just eat chicken (despite the fact I’ve been vegetarian for over 30 years, he hasn’t quite accepted it).
  2. I don’t know but I can give you a tip for the 3.30 at Aintree.
  3. You don’t get this problem with ice cream and Kit Kats.
  4. Do I look like David Attenborough?
  5. Ask your Mum.

With answers of this quality, it’s got to be 5-0 to google. So come on, what was the last thing you googled and why?

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Tears and treasure

A good friend of mine lost their Dad this week. ‘Lost’ is a euphemism of course. And it’s not a very good one. If someone is lost, there’s always the hope that they will be found.

It’s so hard to know what to say. Nothing seems quite right. I try to imagine what I’d want people to say to me. What might help me to process the unthinkable. But my brain just won’t go there.

Parents are supposed to always be there. Waiting for us to call and rant about some trivial aspect of our lives. Of course, our rational minds know that no-one lives forever. But something primal tells us that the rules won’t apply to us or our families.

My Dad, the legend.
My own Dad is a complete liability. He talks too loudly about inappropriate subjects in public. He gets annoyed if a stranger breathes the wrong way. His idol is Nigel Farage. But I love him to the ends of the earth (Dad that is, not Nigel Farage, he can jog on).

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See what I mean??!

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It’s not easy being green

Since I started writing this blog, I’ve been stopped in the street quite a few times. Mainly for directions. But also for advice. I see you raising a sceptical eyebrow. Rest assured, it’s clearly not for parenting advice.

Most of my new friends and neighbours are intrigued by one of the facts that I listed in my ‘about me’ section. The one about losing 3 stones in 3 months. It’s totally true. For those of you who never had the pleasure of meeting ‘fat Julie’ as my friend Helen now refers to her, here she is:

She looks like she ate ‘new Julie’. So how did I do it? It’s a long story – one originally shared on my health website Vanilla Revolution (RIP!) – so if you’re a long-time reader or a long-suffering friend, feel free to skip this one. But if you’re curious, this is the story of how I turned my life upside down. Continue reading

Growing up is hard to do

hulkBlake is on the cusp of the ‘terrible twos’. In the past couple of weeks I’ve noticed a distinct Bruce Banner-style change in my tiny man. He’s evolving from a compliant little duckling, following me around everywhere with a cheeky smile, to something more akin to a surly teenager. “No!” is swiftly becoming his favourite word. In fact he’s started saying “no” before I’ve even asked him a question. I enjoy throwing him a curve ball every now and again:

“Do you want ice cream? Oh, such a shame, I have to take your first answer…” Continue reading

Reasons (not) to be cheerful

bread-749848_1280I’m normally a very happy person. The kind of girl you’d want around if you were having a rubbish day. But today I’m feeling grumpy and having a bad day of my own. Before I wake up tomorrow and get cheerful again (and I always do, it’s almost a curse!), I’m going to capture the things that have turned me into a bear with a sore head.

1. Sleep (lack of)
I haven’t slept more than 4 hours for the past 3 nights. On Tuesday night I had a rare night out and didn’t get to bed until midnight. Then my son woke up at 3am. To start the day. Wowzers. That was my punishment for being a “dirty stop-out” as my 95 year old Nan would say. The fact that there was no alcohol involved and I was just out chatting with friends is neither here nor there. Dirty stop-outs will always get their come-uppance. Especially if they have a 2 year old.

2. Ill child
Turns out that the reason Blake was up at such a horrid hour was a viral infection making him feel grim and sleepless. And misery loves company so I haven’t been allowed to sleep either. He just wanders around making sad mewing noises and asking for a “duddle” (cuddle). He hasn’t mastered the ‘c’ sound yet so he pronounces his own name as “Blair”. People must assume we are great admirers of either Lionel or Tony depending on their generation.

The increase in cuddles has meant that I’m behind on everything – housework, writing, winning a Nobel prize. I know people say that you must treasure cuddles while they’re young. And I do. Honestly! But seeing the tidal wave of mundane tasks gathering to a crest is another reason that I’m grumpy. Continue reading

The Princess and the Poo

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This image might be weird but it struck me as kind of poignant. Look at all those beautiful Disney princesses. Languishing on the top of the toilet. Once destined to live happily ever after, dancing with princes and getting enthusiastic forest creatures to do their housework for them. Now they have to sit on the back of our toilet so they can keep my 4 year old company when she goes for a poo.

Life doesn’t always go the way you plan it. I know that when I imagined being a mother, very little of it matched the reality that I now find myself in. Like the Disney princesses, I find that I have way more to do with poo than I’d choose.

Side note from my brain: “Are you seriously writing a blog post about poo? Don’t you remember the time that you hid your colleague’s Facebook posts because she was always describing the contents of her baby’s nappy? What the hell has happened to you? Have some self-respect!
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Welcome to paradise..?

So here it is. My first blog post. Actually that’s a lie. I used to have a healthy recipe and lifestyle blog. But I couldn’t keep up with the weekly recipes. There’s only so much you can do with spinach.

I have no idea how they do it. You know, those bloggers who have full-time jobs but are forever popping up with a new mung-bean chocolate brownie recipe everyday. I’d imagine most of them are just changing one ingredient in someone else’s mung-bean brownie recipe and claiming it as their own. If in doubt, add cinnamon.

A recipe for chaos
Anyway, I probably won’t be posting many recipes this time round. Instead, I’ll be sharing extracts of my new life. I escaped the claws of corporate London for an idyllic, tranquil life freelancing from our new home in Devon. Except my husband and kids came with me so there’s nothing tranquil about it at all.
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