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.