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.

Norfolk, day one...

Stopping off for lunch, somewhere near Boston--that's Lincs, not Mass.

Edith was a little bit miffed that Dad and Dylan stole Miffy for cuddles.

Setting up the tent was tough--it was borrowed and we'd never seen what it was supposed to look like.  Plus, it was super windy.  But the kids (and half the campground) had a good laugh, and we got it done.  Eventually.

The kids' section of the tent.  This is the longest that Edith spent on her air mattress.  So where did she sleep, I hear you asking?

In here, with me and Martin, on our tiny double airbed.  NIGHTMARE.
But at least we didn't get cold!

Legoland Discovery Centre...

Dylan and his bestie, Buzz Lightyear, made entirely from Lego!

Saving the dragon eggs on the laser ride.

Lego heaven--a giant pool full of the stuff!

A miniature Lego Cumbria.

Hiding in Lego Darth Vadar's cloak.  Edith is peeping over his shoulder (if you look really closely).

Dylan's birthday...

Birthday morning, opening presents on mom and dad's bed.

Edith was very interested in the whole affair.

She was pretty pleased when Dylan asked her to open his blowpop.

Loving those new Lightening McQueen slippers!


No idea why my daughter looks totally stoned here, but I like the picture anyway.

Noelle took Dylan skating as a birthday treat.  They had a great time, and he took a 3 hour nap afterwards!

A party at the childrens' centre, with my little tiger and butterfly.  Oh, and Artie.  He's the one with the long neck.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

So grown up now...

Today was Dylan's first day of all-day school.  We took him over for 8:50am and picked him up at 3:15pm.  He had such a good time--he woke up at his usual 6am and got himself dressed in his uniform.  Martin did his packed lunch at 6:30.  When I got up at 7:15, he was ready to go.

After we dropped him off, Martin and I took Edith shopping.

We had a delightful day.  It was so quiet in the house, and I remembered how much easier it is to only have one child at home.  When Martin got home, the house was immaculate, the laundry was caught up, my hair and make-up were done, and Edith had been reading a book instead of watching telly.

Don't get me wrong--we missed Dylan.  From here on out, Dylan will only spend about 5 waking hours a day at home with me and Martin.  That's terrifying to me, that I am trusting the school system to teach him and take care of him that much.  I can actually see why so many parents choose to home-school their kids.  I would never do it, but I can understand it.  I'm just going to have to make every moment count.

Edith and I are going to have a good time together.  She will finally get the one-on-one attention she's never had.  At least until April, when she'll get her 3 year funding and start going to nursery for 15 hours a week.  Then I'll probably have to get a job. 


How strange, that if we were in the U.S. right now, Dylan wouldn't be in school at all.  He loves it so much, and was completely ready to go.  Edith is already excited to go to school, as well.  I wonder how much of that is because of their nature and how much is because of the school system over here.

And speaking of precocious children, Edith is now potty trained.  She is still sleeping in a pull-up, but she is actually dry most mornings already.  It took approximately 3 days to potty train her, but I didn't want to post about it in case I jinxed the whole thing.  I will probably only need to buy one more pack of pull-ups, and then we will be done with diapers.

I am so proud of how grown up my children are.  They just get more wonderful with each passing day.

Having just said that, I'm pretty sure tomorrow will be a bad day and I'll wish I could take it all back.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


We've had the most insane week ever.

Martin had the week off, we went on holiday, and did DIY in preparation for a house viewing today.  It doesn't sound very busy, does it?  But the holiday was a camping one, and the DIY involved plastering and painting the stairwells and landings, the fireplace in the dining room, one wall in the bathroom, and a wall and part of the ceiling in the kitchen.

First of all, we had some insanity and a totally wasted day trying to get an air compressor to machine plaster our walls.  To make a very long story short, Martin started out at 10am and drove all over Hull and Scunthorpe, making multiple purchases and returns, only to find out at 6pm that his dad had an air compressor sitting at home in his garage.  It was a bad day for everyone.

Wednesday involved the actual plastering--or most of it anyway--and having our home teachers and my book club ladies over.  That was stressful, too.  We had to do some hard work, followed by enough cleaning to have company over.  We probably should have kept working, in hindsight.  Oh well--Martin got to go to the cinema and I had a great visit with the book club.  We'd read Amy Chua's "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," and the discussion was interesting.

Thursday morning (after some frustrating last minute packing) we headed out in the car for our holiday destination--Norfolk.  We stayed just outside a village called Wells-next-the-sea, which was charming and lovely.  I'll write more about our Norfolk adventures later, as I need some time to do them justice.  For now, I will just say that I found Norfolk wonderful in every way.  Far superior to Lincolnshire, which is really saying something, considering how much I love my home here.

Anyway, we came home on Saturday and have been working on the house ever since.  Well, except for Sunday night when the Mundays came over.  We had a great visit.  Yesterday was especially productive, with several ongoing projects being finished. 

Martin is back at work in 2 1/2 hours, so now I have to clean everything for the viewing by myself.  But I have quite a while to do it, so it's ok.  A big job, considering all the plaster dust I've got to clean up, but manageable.

I hope this viewing is the one that sells the house, but if it doesn't that's ok with me.  The house is starting to look really lovely.  In fact, I'd almost hate to sell it after all the work we've put in.


Fingers crossed, everyone...