Hector and the Search for Happiness - 2 Stars

Friday, December 31, 2010
Hector and the Search for Happiness
My husband bought me this book for Christmas. Hector and the Search for Happiness is a good concept at first - being told in a simplistic manor felt a little being told a children's story. The novelty, was refreshing at first, but gradually wears out its welcome.
A psychiatrist that feels like he can't help his patients, takes time off from his practice to do some traveling and to find what makes people happy. Pretty general, right? So are the realizations he comes to. His international hops are occasionally punctuated with observations on happiness that are so obvious and simple, it almost annoyed me. ie-Happiness is being with the ones you love - Really??

Hector this very basic list to two "experts" on happiness - a Chinese & and an American professor, both of whom agree with his findings with nothing substantial to add which was of it's-self a waste of time.

There were parts I liked (like his description of America which I didn't see coming), but overall I wasn't impressed.
If you want to see what you think, get your copy at Amazon.com by clicking the book above or in the UK, click here

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The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks - 3 Stars

Thursday, December 23, 2010
The Guardian
If you are a fan of Nicholas Sparks, you may be a bit surprised he switched gears and made this book into a suspense novel (although I didn't find it to be all that suspenseful - no real surprises or twists or turns). It may not sound like it, but I am a fan of Nicolas Sparks, but this wasn't his best work. I enjoy his books, but they never measure up to 'The Notebook', 'Message In a Bottle' or 'A Walk to Remember'. I think that sometimes when an author gets very popular and they release books too close together their talent comes through less and less. If they took more time, maybe they would measure up to their earlier work. All that being said, I'll keep reading his novels, but I'll save them for when I'm looking for an easy read and hope that one of them will end up being as good as they were n the beginning of his career.
Get your copy at Amazon.com by clicking the book above or in the UK, click here

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Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen - 3.5 stars

Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Flipped I really liked this book. The author tells the story in two different perspectives. I thought this was really well done because as I read, I wondered what take the other character was going to have on the that part of the story. It was funny, touching and kept me entertained. It was an easy quick read - I was done in a couple of days. Very Cute.
Get your copy at Amazon.com by clicking the book above or in the UK, click here

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Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin - 4 Stars

Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Something Borrowed
I have to be honest, this was my first 'Chick Book'. It was recommended to be by Amazon. I was skeptical but quite intrigued by the summary. I bought it to give it a try and was very glad I did. The story was about a woman who has an affair with her best friend's fiance'. This goes against every part of who I am so I was shocked to find how much I was rooting for her (now that's good writing). I found the book surprisingly compelling and really enjoyed it. The only negative I found was that it was much longer than it needed to be. A good portion of the book could have been cut out and made it better (but I find that with a lot of movies these days as well). All in all, it was a good book. So good, I immediately bought and read the sequel, Something Blue that was good, but not nearly as good as this was...
Get your copy at Amazon.com by clicking the book above or in the UK, click here
Something Blue

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You have to be in it to win it

Wednesday, April 21, 2010
As I posted a few months back, my husband got very ill with complications of a bust appendix back in November.  He was home recovering and unable to work  for two months.  During that time, (needless to say) I was very distracted and didn't really stay on top of much else than my husband and son. In January, when the smoke cleared, I was sorting through my neglected email inbox and came across my lottery reminder. I followed the link to replay my numbers (the same numbers I played for the last two years until Wayne got sick). I clicked 'play numbers again' and bought my euro-millions ticket for the following 4 weeks. On the UK National Lottery website, you can't renew your Euro-Millions ticket automatically like you can with the UK Lottery. You have to go to the site and renew your tickets manually. While I was there, I thought, I haven't played my numbers in a couple of months - let me just check them and see if they came up...
This happened on January 3rd -  on January 1st, my numbers came up. The jackpot was £25 Million (with no other winners). The same numbers I played for 2 years came up 2 days before. I missed 25 million pounds (tax free in the UK) by 2 days!! I couldn't believe my eyes. It took a minute to register what I was looking at and when I finally realized it, I had enough time to blurt it out to my husband before I broke down sobbing. Now when I say sobbing, I mean SOBBING as if someone had died. On the screen in front of me, I saw all my dreams disappear. I mean we all say, if I ever win the lottery... or if my numbers ever came up... well, my numbers did come up and I missed them by 2 lousy days. The chances of ever winning the lottery are very slim, but the chances of winning the lottery twice - I'd say are slim to none.
I cried for days after that. Not continuously, but randomly when it hit me again and again. My husband wasn't even back to work yet when this happened and we were quickly running through our savings. All the money we had saved to move back to the US, was gone and we were back to square one (Well, square zero since some of our bills were also falling behind).  All I thought was that all of our troubles could have been over. A house in each country and everyone is happy. £25 million pounds happy. I still feel deflated as I write this. I can't tell you what a blow it was for me.
A few weeks later, another UK couple won. They were all over the news. Every time I saw them, I felt sick all over again. Wayne put their interview on when it was on TV and as I listened to them tell their story, I left the room in tears again.
It's been nearly 5 months now and although I've come to terms with it, I still can't get over it. Do I still play the lottery? Yes, but I've changed my numbers. Hey, ya never know...

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Six years on and...

Monday, April 19, 2010
It's been over six years since I left the US and although by now, I've stopped getting pissed off every time it takes me a half a day to do a load of  laundry (a full day if you count  the drying time) and words like nappy instead of diaper and bin opposed to trash can have entered my everyday vocabulary, there are still things that I just cannot become accustomed to.

For instance, the faucets (taps to the Brits) here are not equipped with 1 small part that would make my life a whole lot less frustrating - American faucets have a piece of mesh where the water comes out which keeps the water flowing in such a way that when you put your hands or a dish under it, it doesn't splash out and make a huge mess.  As someone who was raised in a world where you can run the water at a strength higher than a dribble, after six years it still hasn't accrued to me to stop doing it.  Don't get me wrong, I don't run the water at full blast, just a normal flow and each and every time I wash my hands or do the dishes, I end up with a very wet shirt.  It angers me to no end every time I do it and yet, I cannot learn to  just stop doing it.

Another thing that I get annoyed over each and every year when spring finally arrives, is that lack of screens in the windows.  It's such a simple concept  to keep things out that should get in and keep in what shouldn't get out!  The weather has started to get warm.  After a long dark winter, enthusiastic about letting some fresh air in, I went from room to room the other day and opened  the windows.  Later that day, I went to the top floor of our 3 story townhouse and found the cat half way out the window.  A fall like that would mean the end of my cat (whether or not he landed on his feet).  I froze in horror and screamed his name until he came back in and jumped down from the window.  Since then, I have remembered not to open the windows wide enough for the cats to fit out.  This is not too much of a problem until the weather gets hot and I am stuck with no air conditioning and windows I can't open without putting both my son and my pets in danger!  This begs the question - What do they do about this on this side of the pond?  Do they just keep the windows closed and sweat through the summer months or do they throw caution to the wind and just hope their children and pets don't go near the windows??  I wish someone would shed some light on this for me because it's not hot yet and I'm already annoyed just thinking about it!

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Basking in the silence

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ethan started nursery/playschool recently. To be honest, if we had a life that surrounded us with friends, family and lots of other kids for him to play with, I never would have started him so early (he'll be 2 at the end of May), but that is NOT our life.  We don't even have a babysitter. Ethan hasn't been without either me or his dad more then a couple of times in his life.  It's just not a normal life for any of us.  So, I have to do what's best for him and being exposed to adults besides his parents and other children to play with is right for him.

It's 3 hours a day twice a week.  He LOVES it.  I was so stressed out before he started going because he was going through a bout of separation anxiety.  I couldn't leave the room without him crying and Wayne couldn't take him out without him crying and calling Mommy the whole time.  He said he was starting to worry that people would think that he abducted Ethan!

We took Ethan for a couple of taster sessions first (which we were there for).  The night before his first day on his own, I cried several times worrying about the panic he's go through the first time he looked for me and I wouldn't be there.  It killed me, but his first day went without a hitch.  The 2nd day, I fully expected tears because this time he'd know I was going to leave him, but he ran right in without looking back.

Today is his 3rd day.  What a joy it to leave him in a safe place where I know he will have fun and get a couple of hours to do what ever I want.  I have to walk over to pick him up in  an hour, but for the moment, I am basking in the silence.  I'm just sitting here with no TV and no toddler madness.  I am sitting here by myself and relishing in the 'Me time' I almost never get to experience.

I can't wait for the life back home where we will have family he can visit with and his time away from us will be with people who love him.  And babysitters! Wayne and I can actually have time alone!  We can go out to dinner (or stay in) and not have to worry about our parental duties for a night or two.  And play dates with close friends or family - what a lovely thought.  A normal life would be just wonderful.  For now, I will sit here with my Latte and bask in the silence for a little while.



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The world today

I just had an interesting conversation with a taxi driver.  He asked me where I was from and I gave him my default answer:  New Jersey, which is right outside New York.  Mind you, with the bad rep Jersey has, I'm always tempted to just say NY. Other days when I'm not in the mood for the whole American thing, I'm also tempted to say Canada, but I'm an American Jersey girl through and through and never deny either.  I digress...

The taxi driver told me he was in NYC a month after 9/11.  His trip was planned for months before and they would have lost their money if they can celled.  Since NYC was probably the safest place in the world at that time, they decided to go.  He told me he went to ground zero.  I told him I've never been and that the 2 weeks I spent in front of the TV was always enough for me.  I still have never been.  I said it must have been a surreal place to be 4 weeks later, but it was also a good time to visit the States because it was a time that America was at it's best.  I'd  elaborate on that statement, but I don't feel it's really necessary.

One of the reasons I've never been to ground zero is because after it happened, I kinda shied away from public transportation.  To be honest, I still think twice every time I step on a train or an airplane.  I was in NJ for 9/11 and here for 7/7 so I can't help to be a little scared every time I take any sort of mass transit.  Wayne says you can't live your life like that.  I say, it doesn't stop me.  I do it anyway, but I can't help to have it cross my mind.  We went to the US Embassy in London a few weeks ago and that was unnerving too.  It just doesn't leave you.  The world today is a different place.

I've heard British people say that nothing changed for them on 9/11 that with the IRA, the people here have been dealing with terrorism for a long time.  But I don't think that's true.  I think things changed for people all over the world.  The world today is a different place and no matter what your nationality, I think we all look around at the people near by when we're on a train, subway, bus or airplane.  The thing is, we just don't know what we're looking for.



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Postcards from accross the pond

Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Postcards from across The Pond
Just bought the book 'Postcards from across the Pond' by Michael Harling on Amazon. It arrived today. I stole a couple of minutes to flip through it while Ethan played. I read 2 pages and laughed out loud twice. I can't say enough how validated I feel by this book. How wonderful to see someone else put down on paper some of the same struggles I've experienced being an American living in the UK.

Thank you Michael! 

Get your copy at Amazon.com by clicking the book above or in the UK, click here

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Spontaneous dancing

Watching my son play is such a joy.  He finds pleasure in the simplest of things.  Among his vast variety of toy vehicles, he has this toy car garage that has one of those spiral ramps on it.  He plays with it more than any other toy.  He has a bucket of matchbox cars and just takes one after the other and sends them down the ramp - stopping occasionally to watch some thing on TV or dance to what ever song comes on.  The spontaneous dancing is the greatest.  To be so happy...



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International relastionships

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I think I'm finally going to stop saying that I'm going to try to start blogging again on a regular basis - it seems to have the opposite effect on me...
Things haven't changed much here.  Ethan is doing fine and the doctor has all but given the all clear.  She's keeping his case open so that we can track his progress.
Wayne's green card application is coming along.  He has an interview at the end of the month.  With any luck, it won't be too long and we'll be able to move back this year.
Me, I'm still bored, still lacking a social life (unless you count my 2 year old best friend, who is fabulous company, but not a great conversationalist) and still homesick on a regular basis.
Wayne's cousin (and best friend) has just met an American girl on-line.  Thier on-line relationship lasted about a month before they met in person and after 2 short weeks together, they are planning they're wedding! They are Wayne and I on speed! Yes, it only took us 26 days to a fall head over heals with each other and meet in person, but Wayne waited 6 months to sell his house and move to the states! I say this tongue in cheek because it was probably just how long it took him to sell the house to enable him to make the move.  We were married a year later -  6+ years and we're still in love and have a family.
The thing is, I have to wonder how common our story is.  I'm sure alot of people do what we did and what Wayne's cousin is doing, but I wonder how many actually end up truly in love and in successful relationships after moving so quick.  I like to think when it's right - you know.  We truly knew and once we were together, it never accrued to us to have it any other way.  I still can't help but have my concerns for Wayne's cousin and his new found love.
An international love affair is not for the faint hearted.  Before someone can make a move, you spend most of your time heart broken and missing your love.  When someone finally makes a move, they have to leave all they know and love behind.  This is no easy task.  If I knew then, what I know now would I change things?  No, I'd do it again in a heartbeat, but I can't say it's something I'd recommend to others because although I am happy with Wayne, I am not happy living in England and never have been.
We just broke the news to Wayne's family that we're planning our move to the States.  I can't help but feel guilty to cause them so much heartache (never mind what my loved ones have had to endure over the last 6 years). 
When things started for Wayne and I, nothing could have stopped us, but we never took into account how many people would suffer by us being together.  It really is bitter sweet.  I waited my whole life for what Wayne and I have, and I am so grateful to have it, but it has never been easy.  I just hope that the move gives us a better life.  I hope he ends up liking living there because I'd hate for it to turn out that one of us will always have to sacrifice being truly happy.



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The wait is over

Monday, January 11, 2010
After a long and painful wait, we had our follow-up appointment with the specialist on new year's eve.  It wasn't a happy new year for us because he scheduled Ethan for surgery the following Tuesday to have the lump in his neck removed.  He'd be admitted in the morning and would even have to be put under anesthesia.  This was no small procedure for a year and a half old baby.  I was a mess over it and wasn't exactly in the mood to ring in the new year with any celebration and went to bed before midnight.
I couldn't believe we went from ear infection to biopsy with literally nothing in between.  We have been just sitting on our hands for the last two months with not even a blood test or urine sample.  The specialist (Ear Nose & Throat specialist) never even examined Ethan to any great extent.  I wanted to scream.  The doctor assured me this was necessary which to me, made me think he made his mind up on what it was which didn't require a test.  My husband was against the surgery and we were at odds over it.  But the doctor told me it was what we had to do.  I told Wayne when he got his medical degree that I'd take his opinion over a doctor's.  It was awful not being on the same page when it came to our son and his health.
On Monday, we had an appointment with a pediatrician for a 2nd opinion before Ethan's surgery the following day. Over the weekend (between appointments)  Ethan had come down with the flu and was quite sick - Sicker than he'd ever been.  I was out of my mind with worry, thinking that his flu was a symptom of something much more sinister.  I moved Ethan into our bed at night and kept him close at all times.  I was falling apart at the seems.  By the time the appointment came, I was sick to my stomach and fighting back tears on a moment to moment basis.
In this country, a pediatrician is not regular doctor.  A pediatrician is a specialist that your child sees only if there is a real problem.  Your family doctor treats the entire family including babies and children.  It was a comfort to finally be able to see a specialist in children.  The first thing she did was strip Ethan down to his diaper and give him a thorough examination.  She then sat us down to discuss what was happening.  When she found out Ethan was scheduled for surgery the next day, she was shocked.  She said I wish you were sent to me first.  She said she didn't recommend surgery.  She recommended a battery of tests and said if the tests came back showing anything abnormal we would discuss it then but lymph nodes like these sometimes happen with children and it isn't anything to worry about as long as the tests come back ok.  It can even take years for them to go down.  I was so relieved by all that she said, I just broke down and cried in her office. The surgery was cancelled.
We were immediately sent down for a chest xray to check for lumps in the chest or lungs and then for a blood test.  She also set him up for an ultrasound of his belly to make sure there were no additional lumps there.  FINALLY, something was being done! 
The following day, she called to let us know the blood work came back fine and as long as everything else came back fine, she would follow up with us in 6 weeks.  We're waiting for the ultrasound appointment to come through, but this time - the wait is seamless and I'm not at all worried.  For the first time in months - I can breathe.

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