Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Edith the pixie

So today Dylan decided he wanted to be the new Nicki Clarke, and Edith got to be his first model. However, I don't think he should settle for this career path just yet, as he really only got a few clumps in very random places, down to about a 1/4 inch. He also decided to do this whilst we were in bed, so you can imagine our faces when we discovered Dylans efforts. Overjoyed is not the word!

So, a trip to CV day spa followed, and some wonderful work by the young lady who works there. Now here is the result:

Martin is responsible for the words above. Here's my take:

Every time I look at Edith I simultaneously want to cry about her hair and beat Dylan for doing it to her. She looks like she's been scalped, and it will take six months (minimum) before she starts to look like a little girl again. I'm furious!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I'm sitting here alone in my front room feeling all sick and sorry for myself. Then I think of my amazing brother-in-law Blaine and realize that I ought to stop feeling sorry for myself. It's just a little asthma attack. Boo hoo. And it's getting better too. But the healing process seems to be more painful than the actual attack sometimes, with the clearing of the airways and the headache from overdosing/coming off the medication.

Christmas was an amazing day. Seriously, it was so good this year. The kids were well behaved and reasonably un-whiny. Church was good and brief. The gifts were thoughtful and appreciated. The food was amazing. The company was delightful. The only downside was my cold, which effectively masked my asthma attack until we left my in-laws' house. I hadn't realized it was that bad until it was too late. But I'm glad we went there anyway, because we had a fantastic time.

My saintly mother-in-law borrowed a carpet cleaner and they cleaned all their downstairs carpets before we came over. Then they "hoovered" the floor every day until Christmas. The dog was banished to the back room. Her efforts were really appreciated, and it really did help. I was glad to be at hers, eating an amazing Christmas dinner off her good china. Laurie (and Cathy) did all the cooking, and it was a perfect meal. I contributed the Christmas pudding, panettone bread and butter pudding, mince pies, and a cheeseball.

Please see Facebook for more photos, but here are a few highlights:

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wow, it's nearly here!

Yesterday was the shortest day of the year. The day that I look forward to even more than Christmas since we moved to England. Dark at 3:30pm is just plain pants, but the days will all get longer from here on out!

I seriously can't believe that Christmas is almost here. I'm not stressing about it--I'm totally ready for it, actually. The gifts are all wrapped, the Christmas pudding is waiting in the cupboard, the mincemeat is maturing. Christmas eve is going to be chilled out and all about making the front room look magical. And cleaning the rest of the house so I'm not grumpy and stressed out on the day.

We've had a really nice week. Dylan's last day at school was Tuesday. Martin had the day off on Wednesday, which was nice. Yesterday we drove over to Penistone (near Sheffield) to visit Noelle in her new house. We made gingerbread houses, and had a wonderful time. Today we are having a birthday lunch for my mother-in-law. Her birthday is on the 25th, and sharing a birthday with Jesus means she doesn't get much of a birthday celebration. We're hoping she'll consent to opening her presents early, so we can celebrate HER instead of Christmas, but that remains to be seen. Then tomorrow the kids and I will be taking our turn to clean the church, baking mince pies and the Mundays (minus Lewis, who is working) will be joining us for a Christmas Eve feast of pizza and oven chips.

Christmas day is going to be busy, as well. Of course, there is the whole opening gifts thing. We'll have Skype up so Grandma Cook can watch the gift orgy. Then we're off for a short church service, and over to the Gilbert grandparents' house for lunch and even more gifts. Whew--I can hardly wait for boxing day. We have nothing planned, so Martin and I can just spend some time together relaxing. We both need it pretty bad. Especially Martin, who has been working 60+ hours a week in the run-up to Christmas. It seems like the whole town have been eating, drinking, and being merry at Stables. He hasn't been home before midnight all month. Bless him!

So there's the schedule and update. Loving this busy time--can't wait to see everyone open their gifts on Sunday. But the thing I'm most looking forward to is Martin's week off work next month. It's so nice when I actually get to have my husband at home and all to myself!

Monday, December 19, 2011


And these ones are definitely for the better.

Last year, Cathy and I took the kids swimming in Cleethorpes. Edith ran away from me instead of jumping back in the pool when I lifted her out, and I wasn't near a ladder. I tried to lift myself out of the pool where I was, but I couldn't do it. OUCH!

This morning, I swam laps instead of doing my lower body blast at the gym (feeling a bit under the weather). Mid-way through my 45 minute session, I decided to do a little experiment. Guess what--my upper body strength is now good enough that I can lift myself out of the pool.

I was also unable, just a few months ago, to swim across the pool underwater. My lung capacity was so bad that I could barely make it half way. Now I can go all the way across with breath to spare.

I like that my body is starting to be capable of doing all I ask of it again. Especially because I am starting to actually be demanding.

I'm looking forward to January, when I can be all self-righteous with the New Years Resolution gym members. Hah--I've been coming at least three times a week for the past year, you slackers! Try to keep up :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a two-year-old in the house...

Edith has finally realized that she is two, and should therefore be acting "terrible."

Boy, when this child makes up her mind about something she doesn't do it by half. Overnight she has turned into a screaming, tantrum-throwing little harridan! We have spent so much of the past two days (and nights, as well) butting heads that I no longer even want to look at her, let alone allow her to sit on my lap or have a cuddle.

The "fun" reached it's peak at 3:30 this morning, when she woke up and started screaming that she wanted to go downstairs. After an unfruitful attempt to get her to go back to sleep, I took her downstairs and deposited her with very little ceremony on the sofa in the dark. I then informed her that the rest of the family were going to sleep (she having rudely awakened all of us) and that she should tell me when she was ready to go back to bed.

10 minutes of screaming later, she told me she wanted to go back to bed.

We didn't hear a peep out of her for the rest of the night. Not until Dylan woke her up at about 7:30am, at which point she promptly started moaning and whining again, and pretty much hasn't stopped all day.

I still remember nearly every moment of my labor with Dylan and Edith both, but I had rather mercifully blocked out how awful the terrible twos can be. This kind of seals the deal--I do not want to have to do this again with another child. I am done.

Now I just hope that Edith is as well!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A new look...

I took Edith to Frenchy's today to get her first "proper" haircut.

I also took her to Frenchy's to get her very first ever haircut--just her bangs.

Man, that girl loves being in a beauty salon!

You should have seen her--my wriggly little two-and-a-half year old, perched on that seat for 20 minutes while she not only got her hair bobbed and her bangs trimmed, but also had it round-brushed dry.

She looks so sweet. I'm hoping that when Martin reads this post he will post one of the pictures he took of her (hint hint). She doesn't look like a baby any more. She looks like a big girl now. It makes my heart swell with pride to see her becoming so independent and grown up, at the exact same time that my heart breaks to say goodbye to my little baby.

In other news, Dylan is doing better about Patches. He can talk about him without bursting into tears now, which is a relief. Weirdly, I seem to be the one who is having the hardest time coping. I keep expecting to see him waiting at the window for me to let him in the house. I keep thinking that I'll give him the milk the kids didn't drink at breakfast. I keep looking at his favorite chair, expecting to see him curled up there. Then I remember that he's died, and I get all sad again. I can't stop thinking about his poor broken little body, buried out behind the house in the cold instead of curled up and purring at the foot of my bed, keeping my feet warm while we wait for Martin to come home.

I've had pets before, and lost pets before. We only had Patches for a few months. But he was such a lovely cat, and I honestly miss him more than any other cat I've ever had. I keep thinking about all the things I could have done to keep the accident from happening. I keep hoping that it wasn't him--that another cat who looked a lot like him died that night. I don't know why it's so hard this time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Goodbye, Patches...

We rewarded Dylan's very good behavior at school lately with a trip to the cinema to watch "Puss In Boots," and had a wonderful time. But when we got home, disaster struck.

Patches ran in front of a car just as we were getting the kids out. He died almost instantly.

Martin put his body behind the retaining wall of the house next door so we could get the kids in the house and decide how to deal with the situation. We decided that it would be best to just tell them the truth, and boy was it difficult!

Edith was pretty oblivious, but Dylan was heartbroken. We took them out to see his body and stroke him one last time (there was no blood). Then we buried him out back, said what we would miss about him, and said a prayer. Dylan was sobbing the whole time, and he didn't stop until we put him to bed.

We'll all miss our little cat.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Hooray for English weather!

December 2006

December 2011

Both of these photos were taken before heading down to the Lincoln Christmas Market. I am SO happy that I live in a cold, gray, humid country sometimes!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Moving on...

Yesterday was a beautiful day.

Ok, so the day itself wasn't that great. Dylan's school was closed, so both kids were home with me all day. I spent the whole day either cooking or cleaning, and tackled the mending pile once the kids had gone to bed. But the nature of the cleaning job was fantastic.

It's official--the kids' toys have all been moved up to their bedroom!


I've been looking forward to this day since the moment I discovered I was expecting a second baby and realized my children would only be 19 months apart.

I told the kids we had to get rid of some toys or Santa wouldn't be able to bring them any new ones for Christmas. They were surprisingly helpful and accommodating after that.

Another great thing about yesterday is that I took all of the unwanted stuff to the charity shop. I got rid of a lot of stuff!

I struggle against myself all the time. My mother is a hoarder-big style. Seriously, yo! I've seen the way her garage and bedroom have filled up over the years, and the way it spills over into the house.

My design aesthetic is more, um, sparse. Pretty much, I like my house to look ever so slightly like nobody lives in it. That hasn't been possible for the past 4 years. We're on our way there now!

So I want to get rid of all the "extra" stuff, but I've seen the way that holding onto stuff can come in handy. I've watched my mom go to the garage or the laundry room and pull something out of a box that is EXACTLY right for a last minute project.

I want to have all the benefits of a hoarder, but none of the mess.

So what does this mean? It means I am currently trying to organize everything. And quickly, before this mood goes away!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


We didn't celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday because Martin was in Manchester. But I gave thanks all the same, because he had an unexpected night off. We spent the evening chilling out together and catching up on Glee. AWESOME!

We will be having our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. It was going to be a pretty empty house (or so we thought) so we invited the Mundays over. But it turns out that Martin had told his parents the wrong day, and they will be able to make it after all. So now we have 8 adults and 5 children coming 'round for dinner tomorrow. Eek!

I'm actually pretty excited about it. The house will be bursting at the seams and will feel more like a "proper" Thanksgiving because of it. I love it when the house is full of people that I love. It makes me feel more like I'm at home.

I turned cartoons on for Dylan during Edith's nap, and I got almost all of my prep for tomorrow evening finished. The pumpkin pie is finished, and it looks like it might be my best one yet (for all that it's made from butternut squash instead of pumpkin). The sweet potatoes are parboiled and ready for roasting. The gammon is in the fridge and ready to cook. The turkey is defrosting. The vegetables for the veggie platter are all peeled and chopped. The potatoes are sitting in water, ready to boil & mash. The seasoning is ready for the home-made stuffing, and the bread has been cubed. Did I mention that the bread is home-made? I just need to get some dip, carrots, and green beans from Tesco and all systems are go.

I'm pretty happy to NOT be doing Christmas dinner this year.

Anyway, it's the Barton Christmas fair today, and the kids and I shall be wandering around town looking at all the stalls and seeing the Christmas lights switched on. I can hardly wait for the roasted chestnuts!

The little madame is awake, so I'll sign off for now. Pictures of the Christmas market to come soon!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Waste not, want not...

I'm feeling very into reducing, re-using, and recycling today.

I repaired a pair of work-out trousers this afternoon.  They had holes in them, so I sewed the holes up and put a patch on where the fabric was wearing thin.

I also made my own facial cleanser, with honey, glycerine, and castile soap.

But my favorite project was the one I did for Edith.  Sure, I could have made a kitchen scrubber when my Body Shop loofah bit the dust, but it was a lot of very pink fabric, and it was screaming "TUTU" to me.  So I stripped some pretty pink elastic from an old nursing bra of mine, got out the sewing machine, wound a bobbin, threaded the machine, sewed a single seam, threaded the elastic, and now Edith is prancing around the house like a ballerina.

Also done today was a closet clear-out. I've bagged up a small grocery bag full to take to the charity shop and done some pre-emptive layering.

The project for tonight is to deep clean the kitchen and bathroom, then make some laundry powder.

Wow, for some reason I am feeling a bit organic supermom-ish. I'd better get some more stuff done before it wears off and I am back to being a slacker!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


We might have some good news in a few weeks' time.

It's not that we are selling our house.  Just wanted to throw that out there so nobody got their hopes up.  I can't go into detail right now, but I'll keep you posted.  I'll just say that we got an encouraging phone call yesterday and we'll know more later.

It's a busy week.  Tomorrow afternoon and evening are going to be especially interesting, with the kids being given their dinner and put to bed by Alice, our favorite babysitter.  It's the first time a non-family member has done the job, and it'll be interesting to see how it goes.  We're having to get creative with car usage and kid juggling as well.  It's just a small taste of things to come.  I don't know how my parents managed to juggle the schedules of 6 kids.  They must have had access to a time machine years before CERN announced that time travel IS (theoretically) possible.  Must have been the old blue Dodge Caravan.

Hey Velecia, do you remember the time Angie opened the van door at 7-11, it squeaked really loudly, you got embarrassed, and then you punched her?  How unsympathetic were we about your teen-aged angst?

Good times!

Gym update:  In the past 15 days, I have been to the gym 13 times.  Feeling, um, good?  No, actually.  Mostly just tired, but in a completely self-righteous, albeit sweaty, way!

So yeah, Castledyke Chat today, book club tomorrow, Martin in Manchester on Thursday, swimming with Edith and cinema with Emma on Friday, Barton Christmas Fair on Saturday, my Relief Society lesson and a late Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday.  No time to get bored this week :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

All about Dylan...

This kid is growing up so fast, and I just wanted to document the way he is right now.

Dylan is in the Reception class at Castledyke School.  He loves going to school every day, and I can actually threaten him with having to stay home instead of going to school if he is being naughty.  He is especially good at Math.  His teacher, Miss Richardson, calls him the class mathematician.  He loves numbers and counting, and they have started teaching him number sentences ahead of the rest of his class.  He also loves phonics, and is already reading on his own.  He sometimes needs help with tricky words, but he can sound out most words on his own.  He wants to be a scientist when he grows up.

I am constantly amazed by how smart he is!

Of course, with this intelligence comes a bit of social awkwardness.  Dylan still prefers to associate with grown-ups and will only play with children his age if he's told to.  But he is very kind to other children, and very friendly.  He's also very sensitive.  He loves cuddling and is wounded very easily if someone is mean to him.  He is especially bad when he is tired--not letting him choose the bedtime story will result in 4-year-old heartbreak!

Dylan is a bit of a scaredy cat.  He doesn't like to try new things and he is always very hesitant--with us.  If we want him to do something new and daring, we just need to make sure that there are older children around who are doing it.  Especially Esaias Munday, who he idolises!  

Dylan is a very good helper.  He doesn't like to tidy up, but he does help.  He is especially sensitive to real need, and when I am not well and need him to do things for me he always does them.  One of his favorite jobs is taking the recycling out to the bins.  He is also responsible for clearing his own place after meals and putting the cutlery on the table before meals, which he is brilliant at doing.

Ever since he was born, Dylan has been hard work.  Nobody can quite put their finger on why that is.  He is polite, well-mannered, kind, and intelligent.  He is very good at amusing himself if given a little direction.  But he is still exceptionally high maintenance.  

I adore my son though--watching him grow up is one of my chief pleasures, and I love how he is turning out (so far).

Saturday, November 12, 2011

We're doing it!

This week, Edith and I went to lunch with Cathy, Grandad, and the Gilbert Great Grandparents.  We also went shopping and swimming together.  We had drinks and snacks at Stables with Martin.

I am exhausted!

But Edith has been having a great time, and that's what matters.  Truth be told, I'm having a great time as well.  I love my daughter to distraction and am enjoying taking her out on her own.  Mostly because she is MUCH better behaved in public than Dylan was at her age.  We can actually have a very nice and civilized meal together in a restaurant and we both love shopping together (as long as I don't actually need to buy anything).  She likes to try on accessories...

I have also managed to go to the gym every day this week (except for today--my Zumba class was cancelled).  I decided to go early in the morning--about 7:30am.  It makes getting Dylan to school on time a bit stressful, but it gives me structure and a schedule.  I'm feeling good about my work-outs.  I was there twice yesterday.  Once for my workout and twice for Water Babies with Edith.

My saintly mother-in-law asked if she could have the kids over every other Saturday, and they were with her today.  It was nice to have a few hours to myself.  I didn't do anything exciting--just cleaned the kitchen and had a late lunch.  But it was still good.  I enjoy my outings with the kids, but I still struggle most Saturdays because we don't see Martin at all.  He goes in at 11am and doesn't come home until about 1am Sunday.  The kids are good company, but I miss my husband.

I've been thinking about the ways I've changed in the past 4 years or so.  When Dylan was a little baby, I was still a working girl.  I hadn't been on maternity leave for very long, and I was still adjusting (badly) to motherhood.  I had lots of interests outside of my home and family.  I didn't want to be home alone all day with my new baby, and I needed to be around other adults almost constantly so I wouldn't be bored out of my mind.  That's ALL changed now.  I am a career home-maker, and my focus is almost completely on what happens within my own home.  When told I can't talk about my kids, I find I often have nothing to say.  I could quite happily stay in my house and not talk to others for days.  My kids are my entertainment, and boy are they good at it!

This has changed the way I interact with other people a lot.  I find myself withdrawing from most of the friends I made in my early days of motherhood.  Well, most of my friends, really.  I very rarely make an effort to see other people, and it doesn't usually bother me.  Truth be told, I think I may be slightly agorophobic.  But every once in a while I feel the effects.  This weekend has been one of those times.  I've had a lovely couple of days, but am feeling very isolated.  This is when it would be nice to have family nearby.

Jeez--I've been such a negative Nancy lately.  Poor, poor pitiful me.  Wah, wah, whinge, sob.  I have such a wonderful life, and am very lucky and/or blessed.  I love my beautiful children and my wonderful husband.  We've built a life together here in England.  I am genuinely happy about 95% of the time.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I'm struggling, religiously speaking.

Church is becoming more and more difficult to attend.  We go every week, but Sunday is the only day we can all  spend together as a family and it feels like we're wasting it going to three hours of church (plus the round-trip hour long drive).  I spend the morning on my own with the kids so Martin can get some extra sleep.  Then I spend the afternoon napping so I can recover from the early morning.  We hardly see each other.  And while we are at church, it's an almost constant struggle to get the kids to sit still and be quiet.

We had a lesson a few weeks ago where we discussed our motives for church attendance.  I have been wondering why I go ever since.  Right now I just feel like I go because I always have.  It's just my Sunday tradition, like the way I always clean the kitchen on Thursdays.

Do I feel like a good Christian?  Frankly, no.

I just keep thinking about how much easier things would be if I could be, oh, I don't know, a lapsed Catholic. Church attendance on Easter and Christmas, plus weddings, funerals and christenings.  Sundays to ourselves with no time constraints and the chance to go on the occasional family outing.

Don't worry though, Mom.  We're still going.  Because I know this will pass, and I don't want to jeapordize my spiritual well-being just because I'm tired of not being able to go places as a family.

As Cliff Richard said on Women's Hour, "Having faith is NOT the 'soft option'(Oh yes, now receiving spiritual guidance from an ageing British pop star)."

I will continue to do things the hard way, in the hope that it is worth it in the end.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Poor Edith...

Dylan and I used to go EVERYWHERE together.  We went swimming two times a week.  We went for walks at Water's Edge.  We did errands in town.  We went to play groups.  We were hardly ever home!

Then Edith came along, and the fun trips wound down as I couldn't take both kids anywhere on my own.  I knew Dylan had a good run of it, so even though I did feel a bit guilty, it was only a bit.

I swore that when Dylan started school I would take Edith fun places, too.  Then she started napping the whole time Dylan was at school so we spent a whole school year going nowhere.

It was shaping up to be that way this year, too.  Martin's split shift makes it difficult for me to take Edith anywhere if I want to see him as well.  But I've made an executive decision.  I need to take my daughter out to do fun stuff.

Sadly, it kind of involves saying, "Screw you, Martin.  I'll see you on Sunday."  We're going to have to do some juggling and creative scheduling.

I'm a little bit bitter about Martin's work schedule right now.  Bonfire night was tough.  Martin was working, of course, and I decided to take the kids for a walk to de-sensitize them to the fireworks.  We kept passing couples who were walking up to the town's bonfire, and it made me so sad.  I am married to the most wonderful man I've ever met.  I'm still crazy about him.  I think he's kind, funny, intelligent, hard working, and incredibly hot.  I have someone, but I still spend most of my time alone.  It's kind of pants.

Feeling a bit emotionally needy right now.  I just need to shake off this funk and get over it.  Martin's job is what it is, and I am glad he even has one!  But loneliness is, well, lonely.

Pretty deep, huh?  I need to stop waiting up for my husband and just go to bed.  Being tired does nothing for my cognitive skills.  But I DID just bust out "cognitive."  That's got to count for something at 11pm.

Saturday, November 05, 2011


Carving a couple of pumpkins

Edith having her first real make-up put on

Our Fairy Princess.  Martin will be buying a cricket bat in a few years' time to beat the boys away.

Dylan being "Kwazii-fied"

Awwww!  How cute are they?

We took the kids trick-or-treating on the way to Dylan's school disco.  Then we did a bit more trick-or-treating on the way home.  They LOVE Halloween!

A trip to Lincoln...

Martin took a few lunch shifts off during Dylan's half term break, and we used one of them to go to Lincoln.  We took the train down, which the kids loved.  Dylan listened to the Kids playlist on my iPod, and spent a lot of the journey singing along to The Smiths and Bob Marley.

We spent a healthy amount of time watching the swans, before heading up steep hill.

We had a little picnic at the cathedral once we got to the top.  Little troopers only stopped once or twice to rest. 
They enjoyed the cathedral.  They enjoyed the castle, too! 

Did you know that one of just two remaining copies of the Magna Carta are at Lincoln Castle?  I did.  Martin did not.  We saw it.  It was pretty cool.

Lincoln is such an amazing city.  The climb to the topmost tower in the castle is totally worth it for the view.

Friday, October 28, 2011


We have totally been rocking the half-term break!

Dylan has been of school all this week, and it's actually been really nice to have him home.  For one thing, I haven't had to push us all out the door by 8:45am.  Since the kids are up at 6am, you'd think that would be an easy task.  Not so much.  I think I am the only one in our little family with a desire for punctuality and a sense of urgency.

Anyway, we've gone to the cinema twice, helped a friend pack for her move, gone to the 20/21 gallery, spent the day in Lincoln, and NOT done baths every night.  We're all calm and relaxed.  I'm not reluctant to send Dylan back to school on Monday morning, but neither am I desperate to get him there.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I peeked...

I finally had a look at what the surgeon did to my foot on Tuesday, and no wonder it hurts!  He didn't just slice it open and root around for the glass--he removed a chunk of my foot about the size of the tip of my pinkie.  There's a hole in my foot that's probably half an inch deep.


The good news is that I am pain medication free and planning on taking the kids out today.  We've been a bit bored for the past 8 days and since I'm drug free now I can drive.  Probably.

I've also got talk and a lesson to give in church tomorrow.  No rest for the wicked, right?

Dylan learned about Diwali at school last week, and they had a party to celebrate Diwali and breaking up for half-term yesterday.  The kids were asked to bring sweet snacks to share with their classmates, so Dylan and Edith helped me make Snickerdoodles.  They did the adding and mixing, I did the measuring and the baking once they were in bed.  They love helping me bake.  Edith loves all cooking, and she is becoming a very good kitchen helper.

Edith also slept with no pull-up on last night.  Dry at night--she is officially completely potty trained.

Where is their childhood going?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's official...

I am now a legal permanent resident of the United Kingdom!

We got the paperwork on Monday.

Martin has already started harassing me about getting a job.

NOT a rant...

Martin totally expected me to lambast the NHS after the past few days, but I'm not going to.

Monday was difficult.  I was fasting to have surgery.  My last food had been just shortly before midnight on Sunday night.  My very simple surgery kept being postponed.  I was told it had been cancelled at 9:30pm.  I hadn't even been allowed a drink of water since 6am.  I found it very difficult to be civil to the nursing staff on the Trauma Ward.  Martin took me home, and I had to be back in at 7:00 the next morning.

Tuesday was better.  I still had to wait until about 4pm, but actually got in to have the surgery.  They ended up just doing a local instead of general or spinal, and gave me IV morphine.  Oh my, I LOVE that stuff.  The OR team thought I was HILARIOUS after they gave me the drugs.  They had to hold me on the table while the surgeon removed the glass from my foot.

It took about seven minutes.

I was amazed by how small the piece of glass actually was.  It was just in a really bad place for walking--right on my heel where I place my foot when I'm walking.

Anyway, I slept off the pain killers and was discharged at 7:30pm.  My ride home got there about 9pm.  Home for 10pm, and a good night's sleep.  I'm still in pain because they really sliced me to get the glass out, but the wound feels better than the glass did.  I should be as good as new in a few days.  Just can't walk very well right now, and can't drive at all.  I think I'll spend the next two days slightly drugged and holding the sofa down.

So Monday was pants, but yesterday went very well.  I was frustrated with the NHS, but understood that my surgery was not critical and others needed to go first.  It's just hard to be pleasant when you've been stuck in the hospital with nothing to eat or drink for over 20 hours and then you get bumped.  Nobody's fault--just one of those incredibly irritating things...

I DID get to meet a very fun and feisty lady at the hospital.  She was 74 years old, a widow of five years with a new boyfriend.  She is so in love with him, and her face would light up every time she talked about him.  She broke her knee in two places, then mowed the lawn, cleaned the windows, did the ironing, got a bath, and was forced to the hospital by her boyfriend.  What a trooper!

Monday, October 17, 2011


It was the Primary presentation in Sacrament meeting yesterday.  I didn't actually get to watch it as I was roped in to playing the piano (kind of gutted, since it was Dylan's first one), but it was actually adorable.  The kids all sang beautifully and did really well with their talks and all their lines.  Dylan made me proud with his speaking parts.  Obviously, I couldn't tell if he sang or not.  Edith made me proud, too.  She sat on the stand until the presentation started, like a little angel.  Then she sat with Noelle and was extremely good during the program.  Martin had to sit with his Primary class on the stand.

The highlights of the program (for me):

Not messing up the piano on "Scripture Power"
When the youngest kids, Dylan included, did "Head, shoulders, knees and toes" to demonstrate wearing modest clothing
When Dylan then lifted his shirt up to his armpits and held it there for a good 30 seconds
The way Dylan was playing with his teacher's necklace and sparkly top and it looked like he was fondling her rather large bosoms for most of the presentation.

Oh yeah, my 4 year old kid basically looked like a big perv.

I love my son!

I spent the weekend very comfortably taking strong pain medication every 6 hours.  My pain has subsided quite a bit and I am currently pain pill free, but I am also fasting in preparation for surgery.  My heel doesn't hurt very much any more, but I still have to walk carefully and it DOES hurt if I catch it wrong.  Martin has encouraged me just to go in for the glass removal so I don't have to walk gingerly for the foreseeable future and won't have to be super careful about shoe shopping to make sure my glass heel doesn't get pushed on wrong.  He's right--I should just get it done while we're in England and it's free.  I just don't like that they will need to do either general anesthetic or a spinal block.  I'm plumping for spinal, because for some reason I think that would be less risky and seem less invasive.  And I've already had two successful surgeries with a spinal block, so I know they work very well for me!  Just waiting for the hospital to call me in.

All this drama just because of a small piece of glass on the piano room floor.  Oh well, at least this wasn't caused by my own rampant stupidity--it is purely an accident.  It wasn't even one of us who broke the glass in there--a shelf with glass items on it fell down.  Although Martin is the one who put the shelf up...

Friday, October 14, 2011


This morning at 8:05am, I stepped on a bit of glass.  Not only did I step on it, I pretty much ground my heel onto it.  One wasted trip to my GP's surgery and a fairly long trip to Accident & Emergency later, I STILL have a shard of glass stuck in my foot.  The ENP couldn't get the glass out, even with the aid of local anesthetic and a scalpel!

I'm going to be seeing someone in the orthopedics department, but not until Monday.  They think that the glass might work itself out before then, but if it doesn't I will have to go in for a little minor surgery to remove it.  In the mean time, I have to walk around with a bit of glass in my foot.  Well, not so much walk as hobble.  It's incredibly painful.

I'm pretty much stoned right now on the co-codamol they gave me after my c-section.  It just about makes the pain bearable.  Instead of sharp stabbing, it is more like a dull and constant ache.

Thank goodness for the NHS.  Flawed, but awesome all the same.  Because my trip to A&E cost me petrol money, and that's it.  No ER doctor charge, no charge for the anesthetic, no charge for the x-ray, no charge for the wound dressing, and no charge for the penicillin I was prescribed.  Plus, should I require minor surgery there will be no charge for that, either.

I learned today that U.S. residents who come over DO pay a small fee for NHS services--£72, whether it's x-rays on a broken leg or emergency surgery.  Pretty amazing though, huh?  I know plenty of people who'd love to only pay roughly $100 in total for a hospital visit.

I'm feeling very blessed today.  My wonderful husband took time off work to get me to the hospital, and he came home to help me get the kids into bed tonight.  My gorgeous kids quite happily watched a movie and ate popcorn this evening while I kept my feet up.  And I'm loving the drugs.  I don't take pain relief very often, but I'm glad it's available when I need it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Losing my religion...

About two weeks ago, Dylan informed me that they say a prayer in school every day at Assembly.  I was furious!

I was never opposed to all prayer in schools.  A lot of us would say prayers together before drill team competitions, volleyball games, plays and the like.  But I AM against the entire school coming together and praying.

It's not like I am against prayer.  We have taught both our children to pray.  I'm just worried that he's learning the "wrong" kind of prayers.

I was actually that parent who spoke to his teacher about it at parents' night--demanding to know all the details and asking why I wasn't informed they were doing it.    After all, it's a State school, not a Church of England school.  She actually offered to take him out of the room during the prayer if I felt it necessary.

Isn't that funny?  We probably go to church more in one week than most of the people at his school go to in a year, and I'm the one who pitched a (mini) fit about prayers in Assembly...

Maybe I'm too American in this regard.  I was raised to believe in a separation of Church and State, and anything other than that just seems wrong.

At any rate, I am not making Dylan leave Assembly for prayers.  I am just informed now, so I can do religious damage control at home if needs be.  I want him praying the way I teach him, not the way his school Head teaches him.

I can't wait to get Dylan in an American school.  NOT because they are superior to English schools, mind you.  Just because I am more familiar with what goes on over there than I am over here.  It's all so, well, foreign!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Dylan, you must be from the Caribbean...

...'cause Jamaican me crazy!

Seriously, I love my son.  He's cute, gorgeous, and too smart for his own good.  But the kid is bugging the crap out of me right now.  He's going through this really whiny phase at the minute, and he is EXCEPTIONALLY needy when Martin is at home.  He's also becoming quite pedantic, which is bad news for his sister.  Poor Edith gets shouted at when she says anything wrong, and she's only 2 years old.  It makes for a pretty long Saturday.

I'm struggling to get through the evenings at the minute.  Don't know why, but I have been very short tempered of late.  I'd blame it on PMS, but thanks to my Mirena, I have no menstrual cycle to speak of.  Which leads me to believe that it's not me, it's them.

I wish I could be a loving and besotted parent all the time, but the truth is that while I always love my kids, I spend quite a lot of time not liking them very much.  Some days are a success if I manage to not shout at them.

Today was not a success.

Also, I take a sick pleasure in tormenting Dylan with things he is irrationally afraid of.  Like refusing to turn off "Mr. Maker" when the shapes come on and turning on the vacuum before he has a chance to get to the sofa.  Does that make me a sadist, a bad parent, or both?

Please don't call social services on me.  I'll be nicer to them tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 05, 2011


The Head at Dylan's school wouldn't authorize his absence to go to London and see his American grandparents. Dilemma?  Not really.  We spent Sunday and Monday in London with Mom, Dad, and Uncle Jace.

It was so nice to see my parents and little brother.  We drove down as soon as the kids woke up on Sunday morning and arrived about 4 hours later, at 11am.  We went into the city on the tube (the kids loved it!), got some lunch in China Town, went to the British Museum, saw the (closed) Hyde Park church building, chilled in Hyde park, headed back to the hotel, took the kids swimming, ate pizza in our room, and then attempted to go to bed.

Basically, we paid the Sheraton for the privilege of NOT sleeping in their rooms.  Monster kids were up about every 30 minutes all night long.

We got up bright and early the next morning and had breakfast with the family.  Then we said our goodbyes and Martin took them to the airport.  They had a 10am flight to catch.

It was hard to say goodbye again after such a short visit, but I was so tired that I didn't get emotional.  Autopilot doesn't have a "tears" mode.

The kids had a really good time with their American family.  They were especially taken with their uncle Jace, and demanded that he hold their hands almost the whole time.  He was really good with them.  They were happy to see their grandparents, as well.  The highlight for mom seemed to be when Edith fell asleep in her arms and she carried/held her for the next 30 minutes.

The whole visit was so brief that it still feels almost like it never happened.  But it was so lovely to see them, and it made me homesick all over again.

When Martin got back from the airport we drove to Cockfosters, which is the northernmost stop on the Picadilly line of the London Underground, and only about 3 miles from the M25 junction with the A1(M), our main road home.  It took about 40 minutes.  Then we got back on the tube and took the kids in to the city again to do a bit more sightseeing.  This time we took them to Hamley's, a gigantic toy store with really cool stuff.  They each got one small toy there.  Then, about 2 hours later, we took them to the science museum.  The first floor we went to was a bust, but then we went up to the top floor and had a great time.  There were giant periscopes, a bubble wall, experiments with viscous fluids, dry ice, sound waves, infrared cameras, Archimedes screws, arches, centrifugal force, etc.  It was all hands on and very brilliant.  We looked at our watches and it was already 4:30pm, so we made a mad dash to the underground and made it out of London just in time to beat the rush hour commute.  Straight out the gate at Cockfosters and onto the motorway, we went home without any drama or delay.  Well, other than a small tail-back near Welwyn.  We made it home at 9:15pm, and the kids happily settled into their own beds.  They had slept most of the drive home, but still slept until 6am the next morning.

And now we are back into our routine.  Well, I am behind on the house work.  But everything else is back to normal now.

We should totally do this every year, mom and dad!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

So happy together...

Martin and I celebrated our 10th anniversary last week, and it was such a good time!

I wanted to go abroad for our anniversary, but the Home Office still has our passports, so we couldn't leave.  Martin did the next best thing, and took me to Wales.

Let me tell you, it may be in Great Britain but it is definitely a foreign country.  The road signs are all in Welsh, the people in the village we stayed in all spoke it, and it was amazingly beautiful!

There aren't enough superlatives in the dictionary for me to describe how wonderful I thought Wales was.

I can't believe Martin and I have been married for a decade.  Sometimes it feels like longer, but most of the time I don't know where the time has gone.

Seriously, I love him even more now than I did 10 years ago.  There is still nobody I'd rather be with than him.  I have the best husband in the whole world--he is perfect for me!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


So here we are, ten years together and still smiling (or is that a grimace!?) either way, still having fun!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Accessorize, darling!

Edith likes to accessorize - with all of them! Not quite sure she quite had the whole coordination thing going on, but it was a credible effort, and she did have fun!

Must be able to cook, clean, and sew...

I have decided what my dream job would be.  It doesn't require a degree, or even a high school diploma.  It wouldn't necessitate being able to type, use the Microsoft Office suite, do data entry, or really even have good "people skills."  I wouldn't demand a high wage, just room and board as compensation.

I want to be a 19th century farm wife.

I am envisioning a large kitchen with an enormous wooden farmhouse table, a massive wood burning stove, cold running water, and a huge pantry full of buckets of lime to keep the moisture down, salted, cured pork, and home preserved foods.  Fruits and vegetables like jewels in shiny glass jars, and a chipped vase of wild flowers on the table.

Yeah, I'm totally digging that.

I have big plans for when we move back to Utah, though I've started working toward them here.

I want to have an amazing garden.  Not just a pretty one, though.  I want everything in my garden to be edible as well as beautiful.  I don't just want shade trees--they will need to be either fruit or nut trees.  I want living fences made of trained apple and pear trees.  I want decoratively planted vegetables and edible flowers, with scented herbs.

We have such limited space in our little garden here, but we had quite a few vegetables and even a bit of fruit from it.  Just imagine what we could do with a bit more space and a lot more sunshine.

By the way...

I baked some more bread today, and last time was not a fluke.  It looks a bit wonky, but tastes fantastic.  I could totally do that farm wife thing.  Maybe.

Monday, September 19, 2011

fetch, kids, fetch!

At the park right now, and it is the little things in life that give us the biggest smiles. We are trying to get walnuts from a tree and I am throwing sticks. And the kids run right after them. Like a couple of little puppies. And they keep doing it. We are doing everything we can not to pat them on the head and say "good boy/girl"!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Am I becoming too wordy?  I was contemplating in the shower this morning (where I always do my best thinking) as I had been writing my bread making post just prior.

So I'm wondering--and expecting at least SOME of you to comment--which is better; that post, or this one...

One in the Oven...

I baked a loaf of bread for the first time in nearly 5 years today.  I used to bake when we lived in Utah, with lots of success.  But I struggled when we moved here, then I had two kids and was reluctant to be in the middle of kneading when a kid emergency needed my attention.

Mostly, though, I was afraid of more failure.

I read a tip about bread making a few months ago, and with Dylan in school all day now I decided to give it a go.  Result?  Practically perfect (though not as good as yours, I'm sure) French bread.

Next up?  Sourdough bread.

Wish me luck...

Next up; the way I had to re-learn LOADS of skills when we moved to England!

One in the oven...

No, this is not an announcement.  My recent hormonal rantings have nothing to do with a pregnancy--my husband won't allow it because he hates me (just kidding...about the hating part.  He really won't let me have another baby).

This is all about bread, because yesterday I baked THE BEST FRENCH BREAD I HAVE EVER MADE.

No big deal, right?


Before we moved to England, I used to make home-made French bread about once a fortnight.  It was good, too.  I got the recipe from a vintage (old) Betty Crocker cookbook, and it turned out nearly perfect every time.  Then I moved over here, and it's like my baking skills flew out the window.  I even got the old recipe off my lovely sister who has all my stuff, thinking that my recipe I was using over here was just pants.  But no, it was me.

I got a bread maker off Freecycle a couple of years ago, and that has been good.  But I really enjoy baking bread because the process is nice, not just for the bread.  Plus, hand made tastes better.  Maybe it's because of the dirt on your hands while you knead it?

Anyway, I haven't given bread a go since before Dylan was born.  Actually, I think the last bread I made was the November before he was conceived.  How weird is that, that I remember my last loaf of bread with that much accuracy?  I also recall that it was chili and goat's cheese flatbread in the shape of a leaf.

Part of me has been worried about having to stop in the middle of mixing and kneading to wipe a bottom, clean up a spill, or break up a fight.  Part of me has just been unwilling to try again since I had been failing so miserably before.

Yesterday, while Dylan was at school, I asked Edith if she wanted to make some bread with me.  She said yes, because she loves helping me cook.  I was making beef stew, and wanted some crusty French bread to go with it.  So while the beef was simmering in stock with onions, garlic, crushed mustard seed, bay, and fenugreek, Edith and I started mixing.

I remembered reading a tip on breadmaking a few months ago.  This baker said that you would reach a point during the kneading process when the dough would feel too sticky and you would be tempted to add more flour, but you should not.  Just keep kneading and it will come out right.  Add more flour and your bread will be heavy.  I took the advice, and the bread was nearly perfect.

Though, in the spirit of humility, probably not as good as someone else's would have been.

Anyway, it must have been good.  Edith ate about half a loaf of it on her own.  Of the two loaves I baked yesterday, there is only 1/2 a loaf left.

Edith and I both had a good time, and I am sensing many happy bread making days to come.  I might even try my hand at sourdough, since I am always interested in being able to survive if civilization as we know it were to end tomorrow.  No more yeast, no more baking powder (unless someone can tell me how to make your own?)--sourdough is it, man.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I don't spend a lot of time thinking about myself.

Ok, that sounds like I'm about to launch into a self-righteous tirade about how my life is completely dedicated to other people and I am completely self-sacrificing.  Hang with me--that's not what it's about.

While it's true that I, as a mother, don't spend a lot of time thinking about myself and doing things for myself, I don't mind that.  If I was, say, a stockbroker or a teacher or a banker or any other sort of professional, it would be the same.  Being a housewife and a mother is my job, so that's naturally what my focus is all about.  Mine carries over into every aspect of my life, but anyone who is very dedicated to their work will have the same thing happen.  I'm not unusual in that regard.

The thing is, I spend a lot of my time doing rather than thinking.  I am too busy preparing meals to think about whether or not I am a good cook.  I am too busy dealing with laundry to worry about my skills as a laundress.  I DO spend a lot of time thinking about how I'm raising my children, but only in order to do a better job at it.

Am I selfish?  You bet.  I'm mostly worried about my family.  That one little word--"my"--makes me selfish.  If they weren't mine, I wouldn't worry about them.

What I don't do is take a lot of time to think about the way others perceive me.  Until someone tells me what a bad person I am.  Then, it seems to be all I can think about.

I hate that.

Yes, I am a neurotic freak who is still obsessing over the comments my "frenemy" made a few weeks ago.  I should let it go, but I can't.

I still feel sick inside when I remember reading those words, "no wonder nobody goes out of their way to hang out with you."  And I wonder what kind of a person the world thinks I am.

Introspection isn't really my bag, baby.  I don't like being forced to examine my own behavior.  Because now every move I make, every word I speak, everything I don't do, has to be analyzed.  I can't even use Facebook or my blog with impunity.  I have to worry that what I am writing will make me seem arrogant.  Or worse, like I am complaining about my life or making fun of my husband.

But the bottom line is this:

I don't think I am better than anybody else.  I don't have a perfect life, but nobody does.  I am luckier than most.  If I DO brag, it is unintentional.  I just like to celebrate when I get something right, because it's a very rare occurrence.

If this makes me a bad person, so be it.

To my frenemy I say, "Forget you (that's the edited version, by the way).  If you don't like me, fine.  If you want to pretend to be my friend, fine.  If you want to hang out or you need a favor, that's fine too.  Feel free to call.  But I have un-friended you on Facebook and I have deleted your phone number from my contacts.  My children love me and my husband adores me, and I don't need you.

"I have to be me, whether that makes me arrogant, pushy, and nasty or not.  I will be myself, and stop worrying about how the rest of the world sees me.  Because I AM selfish.  My own tiny world that consists of me, my husband, my children, and a few select friends is the only world that matters to me.  And, dear frenemy, you are not a part of it."

Big words.

Now I hope I can make them stick.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I totally just tripped over the ironing board, knocked the hot iron onto my carpet, and melted it a little bit.  I reckon my husband won't notice if I just place some of his dirty clothes over the scorch mark and don't move them for a few weeks.

Maybe I can blame this one on the kids.


I don't think he could stay mad at these two for very long...

Norfolk: heading home...

Breakfast, clean-up, tent down, then a trip to the beach.

Sugar and spice and everything nice.  That's what this little girl is made of!

It was a gray day, so we didn't put him in his swimming suit.  Luckily, he was wearing boxer style briefs.  Nothing wrong with a little kid swimming in his pants, right?

Then it was home, and trying to rest from all of our "fun."

It was good to get back.

Norfolk: day two, part two...

After a long drive via Cromer (gorgeous), we woke the kids up at Bewilderwood.

This is kind of how we all felt!

We all enjoyed the 30 minute story time, but Edith was too afraid of the Crocklebog to get her picture taken with it.

Zip lines, which Edith and the boys really enjoyed.  I said, no thanks!

Giant spider web.

Massive tree houses, rope bridges, slides, and fun.  This place was seriously magical.  Except for the poo accident, which saw me cleaning mess off all of Edith's clothes in a public toilet.  That wasn't cool.

Norfolk, day two part one...

When we woke up the next morning (at 6am, thanks to Master Dylan John) the tide was in.  We made breakfast (corned beef hash), got cleaned up (Edith hates showers--did I mention that?), and walked in to Wells-Next-The Sea (did you like the Oxford comma, Krys?)  Check out my daughter's wicked-long legs!

Enlarge this photo for a fab view of the quayside in the village.

Too bad the pirate ship was closed until 11:30am, or we could have had crepes there...

Norfolk is famous for crabs--luckily, the kind you eat.  We watched half the county catching them on the quayside, and the kids were fascinated!  They also had these very groovy purpose-built nets...

We all rode the light railway back to the campsite--it was the highlight of the day for Dylan.  So far...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Norfolk, day one, part two...

The beach.  It was amazing!

Slightly botched attempt at a landscape photo, but the beach huts still look cool (Martin took the photo, not me).

Trampoline time.

For mom, as well.

After our walk on the beach, jumping on the trampoline, and icecream, we made dinner at the camp site and attempted bed time.  It was a long night that didn't involve much sleeping.