My Christmas Party

Thursday, December 20, 2012
My Christmas party is tomorrow night.  The good news is I do not need a bigger house to hold the twenty guests  that originally accepted my invitation.  One by one most of them contacted me with mainly weak excuses on why they wouldn't be able to make it.  This is the problem with having few real friends and many acquaintances.  Real friends show up and acquaintances say they will, but if they are presented with a better offer will almost always opt out.
My guest list went from twenty to six in a matter of a week.  I also have six who are still on standby probably waiting to see if they get a better offer.  I'm sure it sounds like I'm angry by the result, but I'm really not.  I'm just telling it like it is.  I moved here eight years ago, well into adulthood.  When you move to a foreign country at any stage, it is always hard to find friends, but when you do it at a time in life when friendships are already formed and social circles are well defined, it makes it even harder to come by friends. I sometimes wonder if I will ever feel like this place is my home when I never feel truly settled.
Don't get me wrong, I have a husband I adore and a son that makes this house a home, but outside these walls I am a stranger in a strange land - even after eight years.
I am still looking forward to the party because I enjoy the people who are coming and I know it will be a good time.  I am having the party to try to avoid feeling homesick during the holiday season and although it will help, I doubt very much it will cure me completely of the holiday blues.  I will thoroughly enjoy watching my son's eyes light up when he sees his gifts on Christmas morning and love every second of him tearing into them.  But come dinner time at my in-law's house, I know I will be wishing I was at surrounded by my own family instead of my husband's family who I only see a few times a year and feel no attachment to (besides my mother in law who I really do love).
At least this year I am trying to not let it get me down.  I'm doing everything I can to distract myself and to try to ensure I have a good time.  I guess only time will tell.
With Christmas only days away and things getting busy, if I don't get a chance to blog again, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and all the best in the coming year.



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Nightmares

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
After watching the horror of what happened in CT all weekend, I kept my son home from school on Monday.  It just felt better having him here with me.  He's been having trouble sleeping and even though I made the decision to keep him home well before he woke up with a nightmare Sunday night, I told myself he needed the extra day off to get some extra rest.  The truth was I just wanted him close by.  I wasn't ready to drop him off and watch him walk out of sight.
Over the weekend he woke up at least once a night crying and asking me to stay with him.  On Sunday, he called me in and said, 'I can't sleep, Mommy.  Please stay next to me.'  After I finally got him back to sleep, I said to my husband, 'I hope he didn't catch any of it on TV'.
We made every effort to turn it off any time any mention of it came on when he was in the room, but when it first happened, he was there as we saw the children being brought out of the school.  As soon as I realized what it was we were seeing, I started to cry and urged my husband to turn it off before our son could catch on to what was happening.
Monday night, I asked my son why he was having trouble sleeping.  He said, 'I don't want to talk about it.'  I told him that sometimes it helps to talk about it.  We were laying in his bed at bedtime for our nightly cuddle time.  He laid there quietly for a minute and said, 'I just don't understand why they couldn't hold on.'  He said it in a timid way and I could tell he was upset.  I was confused and said, 'Who Baby?'
'The kids on the TV.  There was a boat accident.  The kids died.  I just don't understand why they couldn't hold on.'  My heart broke as it clicked in my mind what he was talking about.
In July, during our trip to NJ, there was a boat accident and some kids died.  We heard it on the news.  I knew my best friend was going out on her boat with her kids the day it happened.  We were in the car when we heard it.  My son was in the back seat.  He had just turned four.  I called my friend to make sure everything was okay.  They were all fine. Her daughter was sick and the trip was cancelled.  I told her what had happened and said how how relieved I was to hear they were okay.  When I hung up, my son said, 'Daddy can we talk about what Mommy just said on the phone?'  He was crying.  I felt awful.  I didn't think about him hearing it.  He was so young.  I just didn't think he'd understand.  He did.  We had a talk that day and we told him that sometimes bad things happened, but Mommy and Daddy would always be there to keep him safe.
Over this past weekend he must of seen the children's pictures on TV and caught on that they died.  In his four year old head, he must think that if a child dies, there must be a boat accident.  As heart breaking as that must be for him, I have to say it's a hell of a lot better than the truth would be.  I'm so grateful that he doesn't know the horrible truth.  I'd much rather comfort him over a boat accident than have him know there is true evil in the world.

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Struggling

Sunday, December 16, 2012
I guess all I have to do to get myself to go back to blogging on a regular basis is to say I'm not going to do it for a while.
I'm in the process of trying to write a book.  I am n page 42.  The problem is that I have been on page 42 for the last two weeks.  I'm going through yet another bout of writers block.  I'm struggling with self-doubt.  I feel like I'm no good and I've lost momentum.  I feel disconnected from the story and I'm struggling with finding a way back to it.  I've thought about reading what I've wrote so far, but I know it's awful (a first draft isn't supposed to be great) and I fear it will only make it worse.  I start the day thinking I'll write and then do all I can to avoid doing it.
Part of the problem is that my writing course is over and now I feel lost.  I feel like without the course, I will have no way to learn the craft.  I have no idea what I'm doing.  The thing is, you either have it or you don't and I'm afraid I don't.  I have book upon book about writing that cover topics like, writing from life, writing great fiction, scene and setting, elements of style, editing your own work and a half dozen of writing magazines. I am so desperate to learn how to do it right (as if talent can be taught) and I feel ill-equipped to be taking on the task of writing a book.
My teacher says to just keep writing.  She says to get the story down and worry about how well written it is later.  I know I should be taking her advise, but it's easier said than done.

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Yesterday's events in Connecticut

Saturday, December 15, 2012
Yesterday, twenty children got up, got dressed for school, had breakfast and probably searched the house for an elf before they kissed their parents good-bye for the last time. I watched the news in horror as the details unfolded.  I cried countless times thinking of those children and their loved ones and my heart broke more every time the body count went up.
Today I have heard some stories of the teachers and school employees who tried to protect the students.  Some were successful and some weren't, but all of them were heroes.
As a class mother to my son's kindergarten class (UK- reception), this really hits home for me.  I spend one full day a week in the school with 30 wonderful children and some really great teachers and teacher's aids.  I can't imagine someone coming in and ending lives.  It's a horrific event and I find it terrifying.  Since moving to the UK, my heart has always been in the US and I've wanted nothing more than to move back, but after what happened yesterday, that desire is a little bit less.
I don't understand why the gun laws haven't changed in America. What I want to know is how many people have to die before something is done about it? On Facebook today, there were countless posts with people saying things like if prayer was allowed in school something like this wouldn't have happened.  Why is no-body saying that if guns were illegal, those children & teachers probably wouldn't have died?  I just don't understand it.  Today, as a mother, I am glad to be raising my son in a country that has gun laws that make sense.

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The Holiday Season

Friday, December 14, 2012
I'm sorry it's been so long.  It's not a good time of year for me.  I get homesick when the holidays come and get quiet.  It's not like I sit around depressed - I just get quiet.  This year I've been making an effort to not let it get to me.  I invited friends over for Thanksgiving and made a huge dinner and next weekend, I'm having a Christmas party.  It was a bit of a last minute plan so I didn't expect so many people to accept the invitation, but somehow I'm supposed to find a way to fit 20 people in my house.  English houses just don't have rooms big enough to fit a lot of people so the party will end up spread around the house.  I'm looking forward to it though.  It might be just what I need to lift my spirits enough to get through the holidays...
Anyway, I hope by the time the holidays are over, I'll get back to blogging on a regular basis.  Until then, thanks for checking in and I wish you a very Merry Christmas and all the best for the coming year :-)

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Gone With The Wind

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I had to share an excerpt of our projects in my writing class today.  I hate reading my own work and hate even more, reading it aloud.  I did it though and it went really well.  After reading it, we were given feedback from the teacher as well as the class.  All of mine was positive which made me feel really good about it.  As I haven't been very proactive on my blog lately (because I've been concentrating on my book) I've decoded to share the same except with you as well...


It was the beginning of July.  My mother had just gotten central air conditioning and she liked it cold.  What made it worse was that my room was in the basement and because it was underground, it felt at least ten degrees colder than it did upstairs.   I laid in my bed shivering with the phone under the duvet wearing my thermal pajamas.
‘Come on Eve, just come to the party’ Tess pleaded.
‘You know my mother hates that you call me Eve.  She says my name is Eva and my friends have just renamed me without consulting her.’
‘Stop trying to change the subject, EVA.’
‘I don’t want to be fixed up.’  I said.  ‘Robbie and I just broke up a few weeks ago.  I’m not ready for a fix-up’ I turn to look at the framed picture of Robbie and place it face down on the nightstand.
You've been walking around depressed for weeks.  It won’t be a fix-up.  You’ll be just two people at a party.' 
‘His name is Ashley?  I said.  ‘You mean like in Gone with the Wind?’
‘What?’  Tess asked impatiently.
‘You know, Ashley, the blond guy that Scarlet longs for throughout the movie.  He joins the Army and she waits years for him to come back to finally love her.’
‘Can we get back on track here?’
‘He ends up marrying someone else.’
‘Eve, enough with Gone with the Wind!’
‘She only marries Rhett because she can’t have Ashley.  It’s Ashley she really loves.’
Tess huffed into the phone.  ‘I know what you’re doing and I’m not saying it.’
‘Just say it.’
‘No.  You’re not funny.’
‘Yes I am.  I’m hilarious.  Just say it and I’ll go to the party’
‘Fine!’  She said as she sighed into the phone. 
‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.’


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Angry Birds, Tablets & Kindle

Saturday, November 17, 2012
My 4 year old son is obsessed with Angry Birds.  Last Christmas, my husband bought me a tablet PC.  Soon after, my son started playing with it.  At first I was showing him all of the educational apps I could find, but he watched me download and started downloading things himself.  I had to take my card number off of Google Play because he started buying games as well (yes, he's four!).  Somehow, he discovered Angry Birds and he's become obsessed with it!
He has an Angry Birds lunch box and wants the toys for Christmas.  Last week, was the much anticipated release of Angry Birds Star Wars.  He couldn't wait to get home from school to download it.  I'm not sure if I should be proud of his skill level or ashamed.  I never wanted to be the kind of parent that lets their four year old become obsessed with computer games, but he goes to school full time now and when he gets home, I just want to let him relax and have fun in any way he chooses.  School is hard work.  He's excelling, so as far as I can tell, there's no harm in letting him play.
The downside is the tablet is no longer mine.  It's filled with so much crap that my son has downloaded, I really have no use for it.  It's the most expensive toy we ever thought we'd buy!  I have requested a new smaller and lighter tablet this year that I can use as a book reader as well.  The thing is, I'm not sure there's a need for a tablet.  I find they have too many limitations and get frustrated by what I can't do on them and always go for my laptop instead.
I keep wondering if I should just get a Kindle instead of a tablet, but I love books and am hesitant to move to an e-reader.  I love to hold a book and turn the pages.  I love the smell of a bookstore.  I love books, but I'm also a bit of a techie geek and am torn between the two. The only thing I use Kindle for now is with books that are too large to hold and cause pain (due to my arthritis), but I have to admit that there are an awful lot of books that cost a hell of a lot less on Kindle than in book form.  Sometimes there's such a huge difference in price, it almost hurts to order the book.  It's the way forward.  I know that, but I'm still not convinced it's something I should do.

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My latest doctor appointment

I saw my GP yesterday and was told that the lumps on my knuckles are not due to my arthritis, but cysts that have formed and they will go away with time.  It's just my sort of luck to have odd things like this happen, but I am so unbelievably relieved to hear that my arthritis is not getting to the point of disfiguring my hands! He didn't say what caused the cysts or maybe he did and through my relief, I just didn't hear him.
When I spoke to him on the phone, he warned me that depending on what he thought when he saw me  he may have to give me a steroid injection.  I try to avoid steroids at all costs.  Every time I've had them as treatment, I've gained an average of a pound a day.  The most I've gained is 20 lbs in a month!  It's awful when it happens and it's the sort of weight that is really hard to get back off!  Luckily, after examining my hands, he decided the steroid treatment was unnecessary.
As for my painful, stiff knee is a whole other thing and is probably due to my arthritis.  My doctor has set me up to see a knee specialist next month, but the elusive Rheumatologist has still not contacted me for an appointment.  Thank God my GP is an excellent doctor and is really proactive with my care.  I don't know what I'd do without him!

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Loss

Thursday, November 15, 2012
The book I'm trying to write is partially about a dear friend of mine who died when I was young.  He was in a car accident, suffered a head injury that caused brain damage and later died as a result of his injuries.  He was recovering well before then and his death came as quite a shock.  Before his passing, the two of us spent a great deal of time together and a portion of what I'm writing, tells our story.
I've written quite a bit about the time period, other events and people, but up until today, I have avoided writing about him.  It's hard to capture someone you've lost and you've tried to avoid thinking too much about.
Grief is a odd thing.  When we lose someone, we don't want to forget them, but remembering them is too painful.  We put them away in a box, carry them with us close to our hearts, but rarely allow ourselves to re-open that box.  As a result, the memories fade and we lose little bits of the person as each year passes.
I've forgotten so much and today, I tried with all my heart to bring some of that back.  It was a hard write.  I've taken a break now from the three pages I've finished because if I didn't, I thought I'd break down and cry.  I don't want to do that.  I want to allow the memories of him to come without the grief so I can try to embrace it and let myself remember more without the grief to hinder it.  I'd like to get to a place where I'm happy for the memories rather than being overcome with that sadness that comes with it.
I recently found out that my friend's father died.  I was once very close with the family.  His brother still refers to me as his big sister and his father used to call me his little girl, but a time came when in order to move on, they had to leave me behind.  I knew they still loved me and would always be grateful for the bond I shared with their son after his accident, but they needed to let me go in order to move on.  We've kept in contact from time to time, but I am no longer on the list of people informed during times of crisis.  I found out about his father's passing months after his death and even though it had been many years, since I had seen him, I grieved his loss.
I found out by contacting my friend's brother to tell him about my writing project.  I maybe enough time had passed that we could talk about it.  There are a few items I wanted to ask the family if I could have. I have very few photos of my friend (it's a long story on why) and there's a video of him that was filmed just before he died.  I also wanted to ask for some other items I thought might still be somewhere in storage. I was going to find a way to work up the courage to ask them if maybe I could have some of it.  It's been twenty years since he passed, surly it would be okay for me to finally make my request.
I asked his brother if he thought his mother would mind talking to me (without mentioning my intentions).  His response was, 'Since we just lost Dad, it's probably not a good time right now.'  The words hit hard.  He said it as if I was still 'in the know' and that his father's death was common knowledge. I responded with my shock and sympathy.  I asked about his mother.  He told me that they were building a house together and she was going to live with him and his family.  He said everything around her was a reminder of my friend and now his Dad and it was time to move on.  I knew then that my time to make my request had passed and on that day, I grieved the loss of not only a man who used to refer to me as his little girl and I saw as a father figure, but the loss of those precious items I knew I'd never have.

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Been Writing

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
I've been getting a lot of writing done this week.  I seemed to have passed through my barrier for now.  It's coming along - slowly, but it's definitely coming along.
I saw a documentary that followed the author Ian Rankin for a year as he wrote his latest novel.  It was really inspiring.  It taught me so much about the the creative process, first drafts, second drafts and beyond.  After writing thirty books, he still struggles, still has times he thinks his story is no good and still gets changes from his editor.  I can't say enough how wonderful it was to get such insight into a successful author!
I'm more than halfway through my writing class.  The experience has been good, but I wish there was more actual writing in the class instead of just discussing concepts.  I haven't submitted anything to the teacher to be reviewed (she doesn't teach that way) and I really would love the feedback.  It looks like I will have to find a course next semester that will include more feedback and guidance on our writing rather than teaching concepts and theory.  I've learned a lot, but it's not the kind of course I thought it would be.

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Heading for a brick wall

Monday, November 12, 2012
I am fighting a flare up of my arthritis.  It's like heading for a brick wall with no breaks.  It's coming, but there's absolutely nothing I can do about it.  I'm trying not to let it get me down, but it's so hard.  The fatigue really gets to me and I also see signs of my condition changing for the worst.  Keeping a positive attitude is a challenge.
I have developed lumps in the joints of a few fingers (my left thumb being the worst) & my left knee. They are stiff and painful.  Last night, my knee felt hot with the pain.  This is is all new and it's terrifying.  I now have a bad knee, thumb, hip, shoulder and an inflamed eye to add to my bad back, neck and several other painful joints. I know this is how it gets every winter.  I don't know why I find it a shock to the system every time.
My mother in law has deformed hands due to arthritis.  I had her feel the lumps in my knuckles and asked her if that's how it started for her.  She gave me a sad look and confirmed it was.  'How long do I have?' I asked.  She said she didn't remember.  I pushed harder for an answer - 10 years? 5? 20?? She just didn't know.  I wanted to cry.  I don't want any of this.
I just finished working out,  I am pushing myself to do it hoping it will push me out of flare-up knowing full well, the extra exertion added to my fatigue may have the opposite effect, but I have to try.  I'm feeling very sorry for myself right now (having to take deep breaths and push back the tears forming in my eyes).  I don't want any of this.  I feel 80.  How am I going to feel in 5 or 10 years??...
I'll see the doctor this week. He'll tell me changing my meds won't help (as he tells me every year when the cold sets in) and he'll write yet another letter to get me in to see the specialist which will be pointless because I never get an appointment (f~cking socialized medicine!)  I just want answers.  I want someone to take some xrays or scans, look at my joints and give me a prognosis.  How long do I have before it all goes down hill?
Ok, I have to tell myself - take a deep breath.  Suck it up and drive on.  There's nothing else I can do, but try to fight it.  Sitting here crying is not going to do a damned bit of good.

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What I've recently learned

Saturday, November 10, 2012
Here's what I've recently learned -

  • - Even though my best friend is thousands of miles away, life without her would be intolerable.
  • - It's possible to mourn the loss of someone you haven't seen in over ten years.
  • - Everyone sees past events differently.  What might mean the world to you, can easily be forgotten by others that also experienced it.
  • - I'm not a great writer (although I plan to keep trying to become one).
  • - No matter how old I get, I am always going to come across women who don't like me for reasons that have nothing to do with the person I am.
  • - Some things I never learn - no matter how old I get. 
  • - Sharing a history with someone does not create ties that bind. 
  • - I am an expert at beating a dead horse.
  • - There are extraordinary & generous people in the world.
  • - Being far away when trouble hits is just as hard as being there to witness it.
  • - It never ceases to amaze me that my husband truly loves me for who I am. 
  • - You don't need more than a few really good friends in life.


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More on the wake of Hurricane Sandy

Monday, November 5, 2012
I finally got to talk to my best friend over the weekend.  I was such a wreck waiting for word.  Her and her family are okay although  her thirteen year old son lost a school friend to the storm.  The girl's house torn from it's foundation with the surge of rushing water.  Her father is still missing and her mother has just woken up from a coma.  It's said that although they were in an evacuation zone, they stayed because their house was looted during hurricane Irene.
There are stories like this in so many areas of NY and NJ.  So many areas have been hit so hard and it's just surreal to see so much destruction to places I know so well.
I have a friend who has been on the go since the storm hit helping victims of the storm.  She has collected donations of food, diapers, formula, cloths and bedding for those who are in need.  She has gone out to help people recover what is left of their houses and so much more.  She has had so much tragedy in her life (she lost her husband in a car accident and was left to raise her daughter alone) and said that when she was in need, she had people reach out to her so this is just her way to pay it forward.  She is an inspiration.  I'd like to say if I was there, I'd be along side her helping everyone I can, but you just don't know until it happens.  She's faced with it and instead of sitting around complaining about no power or heat, she's out there helping everyone she can.  I am in awe of her and proud to call her my friend.
being so far from it has been difficult.  I am at the mercy of Fox News & CNN and  being so close to election day, I don't get to see much on the effects of the storm.  I can only get through to family and friends half the time and have had no choice than to scan the internet for what ever stories I can find on my home town and surrounding areas. The places of my youth and childhood memories have been destroyed and although I know they will rebuild, it will never be as it was in my memories.  I am so blessed to have had time on the Jersey shore this past summer before this happened.  It was the first time being there for a NJ summer since I moved here 9 years ago. I got to show my son so many of the places that are now swept away and for that, I am grateful, but am so heartbroken to see it in such devastation now.

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The wake of Hurricane Sandy

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I'm so heartbroken to see the destruction that hurricane Sandy has left in it's wake.  It's awful to see the places of my youth and the place I still think of as my home in such devastation. The Jersey shore is in wreckage and parts of it will never be restored to be what it was in so many of my precious memories.
I have heard from most of my loved ones and know they are safe. Most have been lucky to have minimal damage, but there are so many who have lost so much. I am seeing on the news that there are houses on fire right now on the Jersey shore.  It's just unbelievable.
I am still waiting to hear from my best friend who lives in NY.  Parts of her area have been destroyed and I am hoping that it’s due to the loss of phone lines and power that is keeping her from letting me know that her and her family are okay.  It’s morning here and knowing it will be hours before the sun comes up on the east coast is enough to make me crazy. All I can do is wait and try not to let the worry get the best of me.



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Beside myself

Tuesday, October 30, 2012
I had to spend my morning trying not to watch the news knowing because of the time difference, it would be many hours before I could call my loved ones back home (in NJ & NY).  To help pass the time, I took my son to the movies and started making calls on the walk home.  I spoke to my parents, sister and a few friends getting confirmation of my family's safety and most of my friends.  I still can't reach my best friend who lives in Staten Island, NY.  I've been trying to call her once and hour every hour for the last five hours, but still haven't reached her.  Every hour that goes by makes me more and more anxious and I am beside myself with worry.  I spoke to her yesterday.  She was supposed to be evacuated, but chose to stay.  I tried to talk her into going, but couldn't change her mind.  I made her promise she'd call first thing in the morning, but it didn't happen.  Large portions of Staten Island have been devastated by the hurricane and I can't say how helpless I feel not being able to reach her. All I can do is sit and wait.

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I show up

Sunday, October 28, 2012
I volunteer as class mom at my son's school every week.  I usually do it on Tuesday, but I was sick on this week and went on Thursday instead.  My son has two teachers.  They both have babies at home so they split the week.  I've never been there with the teacher that was there on Thursday.  The Tuesday teacher is always really happy to have me.  She gives me loads to do and makes me feel welcome from the minute I arrive, but with the teacher this week, it was a much different experience.
When I arrived, she told me she didn't have anything for me to do.  I said, 'Oh, Sarah always puts me right to work.'  She replied dryly by saying, 'I'm sure she does.' and she walked away to start the class.  I stood to the side and watched her teach.  The other teacher had a much different teaching style.  She was warm and sweet (firm when she needed to be, but sweet).  This teacher was very different.  She was more firm than sweet and expected a lot from very small children.  She didn't even allow fidgeting or moving around.  She expected them to sit very still and when they didn't, she took out these little mats that the children had to sit on.  She said they were magic mats that would keep them still.  My son was one of the children to sit on the mat, but even if he wasn't, I would have thought it was a bit excessive.  These kids are four years old for God's sake!
My son was very excited to have me there.  He kept looking over at me and smiling or waving.  This did not keep him still and I could see it was bothering the teacher.  I kept motioning for him to sit back down.  Some of the other children were smiling and waving too, but for the most part, they were all being really good and paying attention.
At playtime, I was surrounded by about eight children (including my son) that all wanted to play with me.  Being the mother of an only child, I'm not used to being around so many children wanting my attention.  I played everything from follow the leader to Simon Says to pretending to be stomping dinosaurs.  It was really adorable and I have to say that it was really nice to be the center of attention for so many children.  They all laughed and really enjoyed the games and I was hugged by almost every one of them at some point in the day.
After lunch, I returned to the classroom and was asked by the teaching assistant to do some laminating in the teacher's lounge.  She gave me a stack of about 100 pages, showed me how to use the laminating machine  and left me to it.  I looked at the stack of pages and knew it was a ploy for the teacher to keep me out of the classroom for the remainder of the day.  I went back to the class to speak to the teacher.  I told her I didn't mind doing some of it.  I was there to help, but 100 pages was a bit excessive.  I told her about the arthritis in my back and let her know I couldn't stand for such long periods.  She said, 'I wanted to talk to you anyway.  The thing is, I don't think it's a good idea for you to come back.'  It's nice that you want to help out, but maybe you can help another class.' she said it with a plastic smile and then began to walk away.  I was shocked and furious.  I stopped her and firmly said, 'No, I am not going to help out at another class.  I am here for my son.  I know he's been a little disruptive today, but I'll go home and talk to him about it and we're going to give it another try next week.'  She was taken back.  I guess she expected me to just accept what she said without another word.  She said that she didn't think it would make a difference and it was a waste of all our time.  I said, 'No, my son looks forward to having me here.  I am here for him.  I want to get to know the other children and see him in the classroom environment. I want to be a part of his experience because that's the kind of mom I am - I show up.   So I'm not going to let you tell me no.  I will go home and talk to him and next time, I'll come when Sarah is teaching if it bothers you, but I'm not letting you tell me no.'
She agreed, but I'm pretty sure it was only because I was quite strong with her and may have intimidated her.  Which is fine with me because I don't like her much and gave her the exact impression I wanted her to have. I wanted her to know that when it comes to my son, I'll be making the decisions - not her.



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A Revelation

Wednesday, October 24, 2012
After eight years of marriage, my husband is finally realizing I'm a shit housewife.  I've been telling him for years that I never signed up for being a housewife.  Don't get me wrong, I keep a clean house and when I cook, I cook damned good, but being a housewife was never something I ever wanted to be.  I never learned to iron (not well anyway), I do the laundry, but tend to forget to take it from the bottom floor to the 3rd floor where the bedrooms are.  My husband often runs out of underwear and has to go downstairs commando to get them.  I am constantly telling him, 'If you see that you're running short, tell me and I'll make sure you have some or here's a novel idea, go do it yourself.  You are a grown man.'  I say this tongue in cheek of course.  Which is usually followed by a smile and a reply like, 'It's a good thing you're good in bed.'  I always  tell him, 'I know Babe, I definitely know my strengths and I think you'd prefer it this way than always having clean underwear when you want them.'
Tonight he came home and asked me what we were having for dinner.  I was bringing my son his dinner at the time (my son eats dinner early so he doesn't have to go hungry waiting for his dad to get home from work).  I told my husband, 'I don't know, I've been busy all day and haven't given it a thought.'  He responded teasingly with, 'You're useless.'  to which I replied, 'You really need to lower your expectations.  If I'm busy, we're ordering in.  It's been eight years, I'm a shit housewife.  Stop trying to change me.'  He laughed and nodded thoughtfully.  I think it's finally dawned on him that this is as good as it gets.

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My driving theory test

Monday, October 22, 2012
I woke up this morning with a full on flu - achy, sweaty and as they say in England, full of cold (which just means having a terrible cold).  I've not been feeling well since Friday, but this morning it was bad.  I had my appointment to take my written driving exam this morning that I already paid for.  I really didn't want to go and didn't feel ready.  My flu didn't help, but as I paid for it and would have to pay again to reschedule, I decided to suck it up and go.  I am so glad I did because I passed despite it all!  Woo-hoo!
I've taken two driving lessons with my instructor and have to be honest - it's awful!  I feel completely incapable of driving here! Wrong side of the car and wrong side of the road really screws with your head.  It feel impossible to judge anything on the left side of the car!  My instructor grabbed the wheel a few times on both lessons.  Every turn I take, I have to tell myself over and over again -'Stay to the left.  Stay to the left!' The roads here are very narrow and there's also a real parking problem so more times than not, cars are parked on the side of the road which forces you to go into the oncoming lane to pass them.  This goes against every instinct I have as a driver.  In NJ, you never have to steer into oncoming traffic.  Here, it's done all the time and drivers expect it and know to make room for you.  Every time I have to do it, I feel panicked and start to inch back over.  My instructor pushes the wheel back and I fight her every time!  I feel unsafe!  I feel like I can't drive!
The most bizarre side effect to being on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road is that I confuse my right from my left (A concept I've had down since around the age of five). When I'm driving here, my instructor will tell me to signal left and I signal right!  It's crazy!  I know my right from left and yet I still do it!  She says it's because I'm thinking too much about doing everything opposite than I'm used to so everything gets turned around.  She says this will pass and at some point it will all click into place, but it makes me feel stupid!  If I would have tried driving on the open road like I do with my instructor with my husband, I surly would have gotten us killed, but she's trained for this and also has a brake on her side of the car (which she's had to use on more than one occasion  so she's been able to keep us safe.  I can't put into words how stressed I feel for the entire hour I'm driving.  When the lesson is over, I am so relieved and can't wait to get out of the car!  She says I'm doing great, but it's not how I feel and I dread every lesson!
My son is off from school next week so I won't be able to do any lessons with him home (having no-one to leave him with) so I've told my instructor we'll start again the following week.  I want to do at least 3 lessons a week to get used to it.  Having lessons so few and far in between in pointless.  I can't say I'm sorry to have the break.  If it wasn't an absolute necessity to start driving here, I'd give up and never get behind the wheel again!

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

Saturday, October 20, 2012
I spent the last few hours taking a trip down memory lane - literally.  Well actually, virtually.  I read in a book on writing memoirs that said a trick to bringing back memories is to draw a map of a place where the events took place.  It gave me the idea to look on Google Maps at various places.  My husband sat with me and navigated as I tried to visualize things and drum up the memories to find what I needed. I looked at a hospital where I spent a great deal of time with a friend before he died.  I think saw what I was looking for there, but couldn't zoom in close enough to know for sure.  It helped a lot though because I did start to remember more.  I have a real mental block where he is concerned.
I looked for the houses various people lived in at that time.  I could only remember so much and zoom in so close so I'm not sure we actually found the right places or houses. I looked at a park I spent a lot of time in.  Actually, I looked at the back of a park I spent a lot of time in.  Google maps didn't take me down any of the streets I wanted.  I saw it in an over head view, but it was just frustrating because I wanted to put myself there and look around.  Technology can only do so much, but it was an amazing exercise and did  help me to remember more.  This sort of thing actually works slowly.  More and more will manifest itself into my memories in the coming days.  Out of nowhere things will come to me and I'll be able to write more.  It's really quite remarkable how it works.
I had to give up because my head is killing me.  I have a really bad head cold and feel like my sinuses are going to pop from the pressure.
  


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Removed Posts

I've taken some posts down today.  It's come to my attention that some things shouldn't be out for the world to see.  We all have a story, but what is sometimes overlooked is that our story also is a part of someone else's story and we're only telling one side - as we see it.  Our perception may skewed by time or emotion or inaccurate assumptions that were never actually backed up with any facts and may lack integrity and in turn may paint an inaccurate picture. With this in mind, I need to be fair to all of the people that share my story because what they say and how they feel does matter.

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A Twenty Year Old Loss

Friday, October 19, 2012
I cried this morning.  I sobbed out of nowhere in the middle of my kitchen when I went down to make coffee.  I had a one sided argument with someone via email yesterday and this morning, I thought about something I said to them and completely broke down over a 20 year old loss.
I won't go too far into it, but when I was very young, my best friend died and at the time, I tried so hard to be strong through it, that I never really grieved.  I told myself I was so blessed to have had my time with him that I didn't really allow the grieving process.
I went through another loss at the same time.  A much different loss, but a terrible one all the same.  Again, I tried to be strong and forgiving and just got on with it.  Not long after, forgiveness gave way to anger and that was how I dealt with that loss. It's amazing how you could desperately love someone and yet still be so angry with them. Later - much later (far too late), forgiveness eased it's way back, but again, I'm not sure I ever really dealt with that loss either.  I skipped a bunch of steps in between.
If those losses took place at different times, maybe it would have been different, but being faced with them both all it once was impossible to bare at such a young age. 
Twenty years later, I've just started writing about it all and I think what I'm finding is that through this project, I'm going through my grieving process and maybe by the end, I'll make peace with the things I tried most of my adult life not to face.



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The big bad wolf

Thursday, October 18, 2012
I just had to have a real difficult talk with my son.  I guess I should start from the beginning - I was class mom at my son's school this week (he's 4 and just started school in September).  I'll be doing it all day every Tuesday from now on.  Those teachers need so much help! This week was my first week.  For the most part, it was a great experience.  I got to see how the teacher teaches and what my son is learning.  I got to see what he gets up to when he's not at home and meet his little friends.  I got to work with a bunch of the kids as well; helping them with learning to write, with arts and crafts and phonics.  It was a really rewarding and lovely day.  My son LOVED it.  When the teacher introduced me to the other kids as his mom, he beamed with pride!
The part that left me feeling really unsettled was that the kids leave the classroom unattended to go to the bathroom when ever they need or want to.  I witnessed kids say they were going to the bathroom, but walk off in another direction.  They didn't leave the area, but they could have.
During gym class (which is in a whole other building) the kids could leave the gym and go down the hall to the changing rooms on their own.  The teachers have 30 kids to look after.  How long would it take to realize one was missing?  The door of the building was locked, but school employees can come and go.  My son trusts everyone and is very social.  He'd easily be led away.  It occurred to me that I needed to raise some red flags and start to take away some of his innocence. It killed me to do it, but I knew it was time.
Tonight I told him the two places no one is allowed to touch him.  I told him he shouldn't talk to grown ups he didn't know.  I could see he wasn't getting it and told him that some people are bad and might want to hurt him or steal him away from Mommy and Daddy.  You can't always tell when people are bad - kind of like when the big bad wolf dressed up like Grandma.  They may look nice, but might not be.  I told him to never go anywhere with a grown up that wasn't Mommy or Daddy - even if they say that Mommy and Daddy said it was ok.  He said, 'You mean they might be fooling me?' I said, 'Yes, that's right, Baby.  You run away and find a teacher or another grown up.'  I could see he was getting disturbed so I stopped there, but it's so hard knowing what to say and how far to go.  I apologized to him for having to talk about scary stuff, but it's my way of keeping him safe.  I just wish it wasn't so necessary!



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Writer's block is gone - for now

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
My writer's block is gone for the time being.  My homework for my writer's block was to write the opening paragraph for my book (which I've chosen to be my class project as well).  I was panicked when she said it because I wasn't sure how to start my book.  I knew I wanted a story line that wen back and forth between present and past, but had no idea what the present story line would be.  I still don't, but I wrote an opening scene the minute I got home. In about five minutes.  It just came to me.  I may change it a hundred times over, but it's a start. Phew!
I'd love to sit here and write an update on all I've been up to in the last week, but I have five minutes before I have to go pick up my son from school.  I think my taxi is here now...



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Thank You BrokerFish.com

Sunday, October 14, 2012
BrokerFish.com - International Health Insurance
I've just been informed that the good people at BrokerFish.com have chosen my blog as one of their favorite travel blogs of 2012! How cool!

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My Favorite Author

I have had 'readers block' for the last month.  I also am having trouble writing again.  What better way is there to inspire you to write than to read, right?  I just can't seem to stick to anything.  I had to read Fifty Shades of  Grey for book club this month.  I got 375 pages in (only because it was for book club) before I gave up, but that's another blog post...
Readers block happens from time to time and usually, I turn to Jonathan Tropper (my favorite author)  knowing that I will cured of my readers block with the very first page.  Here's my problem - I only have one Jonathan Tropper that I haven't read.  Once I read it, there will be no more until his latest book comes out in paperback (due to my arthritis, I don't read hard cover books).  I don't like the thought of no more unread Johnathan Tropper books left on my shelf.  It gives me an unsettled feeling.
Last week, Jonathan Tropper had a book signing right next door to my home town.  I get email notifications for him on Goodreads.com and when I saw, Hey New Jersey, I'll be reading and signing at River Road books in Fair Haven, I thought 'Nooo! I want to go!'  (I'm pretty sure he won't be coming to England any time soon).  I asked everyone I could think of to go on my behalf.  No one could make it.  I even put it on Facebook.  I had one person I've only seen once in 25 years offer to go for me, but when I realized she had to get a babysitter to do so, I told her not to worry.  I had another friend who is recovering from major surgery offer to get a ride over because she hasn't been cleared to drive yet.  I couldn't in good conscious let her do it.  I even asked my mom to go (knowing it was a stretch) and she said no.  No real excuse, just she didn't want to.  I was livid.  She said she didn't want to wait on line for an autograph.  I thought, an autograph??  He's not a movie star!  He's my favorite author signing my favorite book! A signed copy of my favorite book (the book that inspired me to want to write my book), is a little different from asking to get me an autograph! I didn't say any of it because I didn't want to fight.  So, I just said, 'It's ok' and hung up with her.
A few hours later, she called me back and said she spoke to my step-father about it and they'd be going after all.  I was really happy, but also worried that they wouldn't make it a priority.  On Facebook, I had two friends from book club ask me to get them copies.  I knew this would be pushing the envelope.  Shipping to the UK is really expensive and I doubted my parents would want to do it.  So, I called the book store, explained the situation and asked if I paid for the books and the shipping if they would do it for me (including the copies for my friends).  I knew it would cost a small fortune for shipping, but figured it would make good Christmas gifts for the girls, plus I would have to worry about my parents not making it over.  The book store agreed to do it.  $100.00 later, it was arranged.
I called my mother and told her a friend would go in her place (not wanting to tell her I paid $100 for the guarantee I would get the books).  She said, 'Oh, Okay' sounding disappointed. I asked what was wrong.  She said, 'We got dressed up.  I had what I was going to say all planned out.  I was going to tell him you were writing a book and were inspired to do by his book.  I called the book store to make sure they had it just in case I had to look around for it.'  I felt awful and I was also really surprised.  This wasn't like my mom.  She's not really the type to do something like that for me (which is why I called the bookstore in the first place).  I was touched.  I told her, 'Wow, that's really nice.  You can still go if you want.'  She said no, that it would save her the trip, but asked me to make sure my friend told him about me writing my book because of him.  I called the book store and made sure they'd tell him for her.  They said they would.
In a few days, I will have a signed copy of 'The Book of Joe' Made out to me!  It's not as good as getting to meet him, hearing him read from his new book, being a part of a Q&A afterwords (I really would have loved that), but it's pretty good.
So, here I sit with my last unread Jonathan Tropper novel with a bad case of reader's/writer's block.  To read or not to read...

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Feeling Better

Just to give a quick update, I'm feeling a lot better.  The eye drops have helped a lot!  It feels 100% better and almost looks normal as well.  I have to do the eye drops for another week and go back to the eye doctor this week, but I am feeling better.
My shoulder is still not 100 %.  I'm going to try to start working out again this week.  Fingers crossed, it will be fine as long as I take it easy.

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My first UK Driving Lesson

Saturday, October 13, 2012
I just got home from having my first UK driving lesson.  If you know me, you may be wondering why I'd need a lesson when I've been driving half my life, but driving is very different here and we figured it would be the best way to get me test ready.  I actually thought I would just need a few lessons, but was definitely off with my estimate.
With my first right hand turn, I ended up driving on the wrong side of the road!  Not a great start right?  The good news is that my instructor told me it would happen.  She said it's happened with every American driver she's taken on.  She said when you start driving you go directly into auto pilot and just do it.  I thought, no way, I've been living here 8 years.  There's no way I'm going to do it.  The worst part was that I didn't even realize I did it!  She had to tell me!  By the 3rd time, I wanted to pull over and declare myself unfit to drive.  By the 4th right hand turn, I finally got the hang of it.  It's a matter of re-programming your mind.
I have to admit that roundabouts sent me into a frenzy of anxiety.  In NJ, when you go around a circle, it's literally every man for himself - there's no rules - only chaos.  They have always scared the hell out of me, so my initial reaction to anything resembling a circle sends me into anxiety overdrive.  I did okay, but I white-knuckled it the whole time!
The good news is that my instructor told me I did the best out of all of her American drivers on their first lesson.  The bad news is she thinks it will be more like 10 - 15 lessons apposed to just a few! I totally agree!  What a nerve wracking experience!

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Iritis

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I'm having a flare-up of Iritis which is an eye condition (inflation of the iris) that is common with Ankylosing Spondilitis (which I suffer from).  I've been told if I ever saw signs of it, I should go straight to the hospital.  It's been 2 weeks.  I've been in denial. A friend told me yesterday that it looked pretty bad and by the end of the day, I was in a lot of pain.  I went to the ER and was told to go home  and see my GP because he would give me the same referral  to go to the eye doctors in the hospital as the ER doc would (Being sent away sounds worse than it was.  The last thing I wanted to do was spend another night in the ER by myself).
I called my doctor today and he got me in to the eye specialist.  They gave me some eye drops to treat it, but said it may take a couple of weeks to clear.  On top of the Iriris, I also have Anterior Uveitis (inflation of the eye) - I look soo pretty!
I haven't been spending a great deal of time in front of the computer as my eye is light sensitive. Even now as I'm typing, I have one eye closed.  I just thought I'd put a quick note up explaining my absence.

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The Dark Season

Tuesday, October 9, 2012
I was supposed to have my first UK driving lesson today, but had to cancel because I had to have a cortisone shot in my shoulder this morning and it's killing me!  The good news is that the doctor says I can start working out again on Monday! I've had a bad shoulder for years and once or twice a year have to have injections that usually do the trick.  If I could have it in all my joints, I'd do it in a heart beat - the day of pain would be totally worth the months of relief I'd have.  Unfortunately,  the doctor says it's not recommend for my arthritis.
It's been raining nearly every day for the last 4 weeks.  It makes me feel like I'm 80 when we have weather like this.  It's also depressing.  It's too early in the season for the dark grey weather.  It doesn't usually happen until November.  The sky goes dark and  grey from November to about March in this part of England (maybe all of England, but I can't speak for the whole country).  It doesn't always rain, but it always looks like it might.  It's damp, cold and dark for months on end.  It's too soon for it and I'm really hoping the rain stops and the sun comes out for a while before the dark season begins.

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Love Songs

Monday, October 8, 2012
I've spent a good portion of the last couple of days listening to 80's love songs to try to bring on some memories to help with a chapter of my book.  It was an idea that was suggested in my writing class. What a weird experience it's been.  I researched by going to the billboard archives and looking at the top hits for the years I was interested in and then went to youtube to listen to the songs.  Today I downloaded some mp3s and listened to them while I cleaned the house.
It's funny what we forget and what we choose to remember.  It's also amazing what music does to bring you to a time and place you long forgot.  Today I listened to 'Right Here Waiting' by Richard Marx for the first time in many, many years.  It's one of those songs you know from the first few notes and I've always chose to turn it off as soon as I heard those notes.  Not today.  Today, I listened to it at least 3 times just trying to channel some ghost from the past.  I can't say it worked because I didn't write today, but it sure did take me back.
I also listened to 'Angel' by John Secada which was sent to me on a mix tape a long time ago.  I forgot all about that song, but listened to it over and over.  It's a beautiful song, but the end result was surprising because it made me a bit angry.  It's hard to explain, but that how it made me feel (among other things).
I listened to 'Hands to Heaven' by Breathe and that sparked a memory that was completely forgotten before hearing it. If only I could remember the conversations that went along with the memories.  I listened to quite a few songs and have a bunch more to get through.  It's all hard going and all in the name of inspiration for the chapters I need to get through.

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Moroccan Chicken


This recipe has moved to my new food blog.  Click here to be redirected.

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Saturday

Saturday, October 6, 2012








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Uncertain

Friday, October 5, 2012
I've been going over the outline of my book that I'm trying to write (but may be re-thinking) with various people.  I've told stories and rehashed events that I haven't thought about in years.  It's exhausting.
I woke up this morning before anyone else was up.  I'm usually in too much pain to lay there, but this morning I was tired and laid there listening to the rain.  I swear I had a flashback that was right out of the movies.  I was so deep in thought that I actually jumped when my son called my name.  It was like being woken from a dream. 
It's all weighing on me and a part of me wants to forget the whole thing.  Maybe I should write something totally fictional.  The thing is that I've always wanted to do this.  It's just that re-hashing things may change my feelings on people or events I made peace with a long time ago.  It's leaving me feeling unsettled.  I'm hoping if I just drive on and get through this part, it will get easier.  I don't want to keep drifting off, thinking about days gone by.  I don't want to end up with questions that can't or won't be answered and I don't want to be looking at things with new eyes and end up coming to conclusions I never saw coming.  I'm older now - wiser and more cynical so of course I'm going to look at things differently.  I am already feeling unsure of some things and foolish about others.  There is a part of me that wants to go to the others involved and ask questions or look for reassurance, but I just because I'm going through this doesn't mean they have to and then there are the ones that will just close the door on me (so to speak) even if they don't really want to, they will because they just don't have the courage to face me or the things we've been through.  So it would be pointless and futile. I'm left to do this on my own and I just don't know if it's something I should follow through with.

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Changes to come...

Thursday, October 4, 2012
With taking this writing course, hopefully in the coming weeks and months, you'll be seeing changes in my writing and my entries.  I hope to be posting short stories and other pieces that I've been wanting to write, but haven't because I have long forgotten the writer I once was, but let life get in the way.
Here's the hard part - I'm going to have to start reading my own writing.  I never do.  I hardly even check for typos.  With this blog, I write it, send it our there and never look at it again.  It's hard for me to read and I almost never do.  I don't even let my husband read it in front of me.  It makes me feel exposed and vulnerable.  I'm going to have to start editing my work.  Maybe not just yet, but soon.  I just hope I like what I see.

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The Red Maple Tree

Outside the house I grew up in, there was a little red maple tree.  I watched it grow from something tiny to a big beautiful tree and when I think about it, I can't help, but think about how much that tree witnessed in my life and the lives of my siblings.  It watched us take our first steps, form our first friendships, have our first kisses, leave for dances, come home with our hearts broken and watch us leave to start our lives outside that house.
It watched us as children as we rolled down the hill in the yard, learned to ride our bikes, climb trees, twirl and dance, sing and cry.  It watched girls tell secrets, boys that teased and lessons learned.  It witnessed laughter and tears, cartwheels and falls, friendships come and go and my father as he left.  It witnessed loss, love, anger, joy and despair.
It watched on those nights as boys came to my bedroom window, stood in wait when I left with them and kept me company when I wished they'd come, but never did.  It witnessed every ring of my doorbell, every letter arrive, flowers delivered and every door that was closed. 
That tree was there overlooking my life in beauty and I had no idea how much that little tree meant to me until I went back to see that house on a recent trip home and saw that the current owners ripped it out.  I didn't mind the extension that made the house almost unrecognisable or the new color paint or the fence that was built, but the tree was gone and there was no sign of those scenes it witnessed.  My childhood home was nowhere to be seen and a piece of my past was taken away.  I won't go back to see that house because without the tree, it's just a house with an extension, a fence I don't recognise and a yard that just looks bare.



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My first writing class

Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Now that Ethan is in school, I have time to do things I've wanted to do, but haven't had the opportunity as a full time mom.  I enrolled in a writing course and the first class was this morning.  I have had both writer's & readers block for weeks now.  Every blog entry has been forced and uninspired because I need to try to write every day, but what do you say when you have nothing to say? 
My class was fantastic.  It was inspiring.  We had a free writing session at the end of the class.  The teacher gave us a sentence to write at the top of the page, set a timer for 5 minutes and we had to just write what ever that sentence made us write.  I was worried that I'd sit there, pen in hand with nothing to say, but I found just putting the pen to paper was inspiring enough.  I started thinking I'd go in one direction and ended up somewhere else entirely.  I just did it.  I didn't over think it - I just wrote.  The end result was writing about a red maple tree that was in my front yard in the house I grew up in.  A tree that holds significance I didn't know it had.  I'll write about that tree later.  Maybe I'll even post what I come up with, but the point is I wrote.  I didn't write about something mundane, I wrote with inspiration and emotion that I haven't been able to find in weeks!



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The 80's Night

Tuesday, October 2, 2012
My friend that had the 80's party over the weekend, read my blog and called me a miserable sod (she's apparently English).  She said I should write a retraction because I ended up having a such a good time.
I am writing my retraction or should I say I am apologising for complaining about having to take part in the fancy dress thing and the 80s throw back party.  It is true, I had a really great time and although I was highly uncomfortable having to dress as I did in my youth, it was amazing how easily it came once I got going.



I changed my costume form the lace and denim look (that I was never a big fan of) and went for a more every day 80's look (it's me in the pink with the big hair). It came back to me in no time.  I started with the brightly colored, sparkling makeup which isn't easy to see in the photos (a look I swore I'd never wear again) and as soon as I put the under eye liner on (a look I haven't had since about 1988), the hair was shockingly easy. I asked my husband (who I had to leave home to stay with our son) to turn on the oven for me.  He asked, 'The oven?? why??' I called back to him, 'It's an 80's hair trick, you'll see..' I dried my hair with my head hanging upside down over the slightly open oven door (scrunching and fluffing the whole time) and before long, my hair was bigger and curlier than it's been in years.  I went back to my room sprayed and teased and sprayed again and all of a sudden, it was my teenage self looking at me from the mirror!  Oh, what an odd sight!  Unfortunately, the photos are later in the night after I got caught in the rain and after I had a few drinks (hence the perma grin - I was laughing in every photo).
The whole night was 80's -  the music, the costumes (I included a group shot of some of the party guests) right down to the Captain Morgan's bottle I was photographed with (unfortunately, that one didn't come out) because what's an 80's night without a little bit of Morgan?
All in all it was a really good night and I'm really glad I went (happy, Ang?)



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The 80's?? Really??

Friday, September 28, 2012
I have to go to a birthday party tonight.  It's a themed party.  The English love a good theme.  They dress up in costumes a lot (they call it 'fancy dress')  For eight years, I have been able to avoid the whole fancy dress thing, but tonight I can't avoid it!  Tonight's theme is the 80's!  Of all things  I have to dress like I did as a teenager! Crap, I just aged myself!  Anyway, I have a tiny denim skirt, some footless stockings, stilettos and a black lace accented shirt to wear.  My hair will be bigger than it's been in years and so will my earrings.  I'm not at all looking forward to it.  What's really scary is that a few of the party guests were born in the 80s and seem to be mixing up 80's clothes with 70's clothes because they are too young to know better!  This makes me feel old.  What will make me feel older is seeing my self dressed like I would of a million years ago. I'll feel ridiculous and to add insult to injury, we don't have babysitter so I have to go by myself in a taxi, looking like a 80's throw back! I may have too much to drink - note to self: Disable email on your phone before you leave.  You already wished him a happy birthday...

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The Wise Old Owl

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yesterday on the way home from picking Ethan up from school, I found a little green die in his book bag.  I took it out, showed it to him, and asked him where he got it.  He said, ‘I got it at school.  I liked it and wanted to take it home.’ I said, ‘But it’s not yours to take, Sweetheart.’  He looked worried.  I explained that its wrong to take things that aren’t yours.  Telling him, ‘Its called stealing and stealing is wrong.  You’re not in trouble this time, but if it happens again, you’ll be in big trouble’.  He said he was sorry, I told him it was okay, but he’d have to give it back in the morning and explain to Daddy what happened when he got home (just to reinforce that it wasn’t a good thing to do).  He asked if he could play with it when he got home, and as much as I wanted to let him, I said no.
That night, I had him tell his Dad what happened.  He explained that he liked it and wanted to keep it so he put it in his bag to take home.  He asked me to get it so he could show my husband.  I got it out of his bag and as I took it to him, I couldn’t help but find his fascination with this tiny item, precious and I just wanted to hug him and let him keep it.  He showed it to his dad and again asked if he could play with it.  My husband said no, reinforced that it’s wrong to take things that aren’t yours and told him it wasn’t his to play with.  The disappointment on his little face nearly broke my heart.
This morning, I took him to his teacher and had him give it back.  She asked, ‘Did you take this home by accident?’  I said no, he did it on purpose and he shouldn’t have.  Then, I thought better of it.  I realized what she was doing and quickly corrected myself saying, ‘Well since he didn’t know it was wrong I guess it was by accident, but he promised he wouldn’t do it again’.  She thanked him for his honestly and told him that today, he was going to be the ‘Wise Old Owl’ for the day.  She told him he was such a good boy yesterday and made such a good decision to return the die, he earned the title.
My son has come home every day from school telling me how much he wished he could be the ‘Wise Old Owl’.  It’s an honor given to the child who behaves the best or improves the most that day.  He kept telling me, ‘I’m just never good enough, Mommy!’  I kept telling him, ‘I’m sure everyone gets a chance, Baby.  You’ll get yours.’ He would say, ‘I’ve tried so hard.’  When he got the news that he would finally get to be the Wise Old Owl, (2 weeks is a lifetime for a child and he’s waited 2 whole weeks), his face lit up like I’ve never seen it before!  My heart swelled with love and pride (his teacher did tell me yesterday how well he had done) and wished I could stay to see him seated in his wise old owl chair, but I had to leave.
Just now, I ordered him a pair of green dice from Amazon to reward him for being the wise old owl.  I can’t wait to see his face when he gets them!

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Just Move

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
I've been in a real funk for nearly a week.  I've had ups and downs with it, but Ethan starting school has definitely thrown me for a loop.  I'm on day two of my first full week without him.  He goes to school from 9-3 every day from now on and yesterday, I sat around and did absolutely nothing (except feel a bit sorry for myself and wonder how I'd find my purpose if I'm not a full time mom anymore).
I haven't had a good workout since Thursday, but forced myself to do it this morning and can't stress enough how much better I feel.  I have to say, if you're feeling low, just move.  Do something - anything that gets you moving.  If you workout - do it and I promise you'll feel better once you do.  If you don't like to workout - go for a walk.  If it's raining, drive to the mall or a shopping center and window shop, but move.  Get up and do something.  Take the dog for a walk, clean the house, dance in your living room - dance while you clean.  Maybe you are going through a rough time and your feeling sorry for yourself or maybe you have every reason for feeling sorry for yourself - what ever it is, if you're feeling low - if you're able,  move and tell yourself - this too shall pass.

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Potato Leek Soup

Monday, September 24, 2012



This recipe has moved to my new food blog.  Click here to be redirected.


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Top 10 Reasons I'm A Crappy Mom

I got the idea for this blog while reading a post on a blog called Life With Levi where a heated discussion on Facebook caused a tongue in cheek debate with another Mom about who the worst Mom was. 
Every Mom is their own worst critic (well sometimes it's your mom or your mother in-law).  We all want to be the perfect Mom.  We want to do everything right so our children grow up happy, well adjusted and good, but nobody is perfect.  Here is my Crappy Mom List...

10) Sometimes when my son wakes up in the middle of the night and calls me into his room, I take my pillow and snuggle up with him for the rest of the night so I don't have to stay up and try to get him to go back to sleep on his own. The reason for this is because I just want to go back to sleep, don't want to be woken up multiple times and I like to snuggle up with him occasionally.

9) I don't give him any independence - I am a worrier and I'm not capable of letting him learn by getting hurt.  I am not the kind of person that can watch from a distance when he climbs a tree.  I have to be standing under the tree.  I won't let him leave my sight for a second when we're out, I only just stopped going in with him into soft-play areas, I don't let him go into a men's room to use the bathroom on his own and make him come in the ladies room with me.  I don't allow him to go on play dates without me and don't have a babysitter because we don't have family around and I trust no-one.  I lock the doors when I take a shower so he can't go outside and won't open the door to strangers.  I've actually told him never to answer the door without me because it could be the big bad wolf!

8) Very often, I make him a separate meal because he's a finicky eater and I want him to eat and can't let him go hungry. 

7) I'm mean and don't let him eat junk food.  My son is allowed two very small junk food type items a day.  I don't eat it so why should he?  He just asked for potato chips for his school lunch because everyone else has them and I ended up buying the low fat kind because it felt better to do.  My husband just allowed him chocolate breakfast cereal and I told my son so many times that it was unhealthy that he stopped eating it.

6) I shout too much.  My son has the attention span of a gnat.  He seems to completely ignore me and makes me feel like he doesn’t listen to a word I say.  I'm not patient enough and have days where I feel like I never stop shouting at him.

5) He's not afraid of me - My husband and I have chose to be parents that don't hit and because he's not afraid of us, he sometimes has the upper hand because he knows the worst punishment isn't so bad.

4) I occasionally make empty threats.  Not always but often enough, I will say things like, 'If you do that one more time, we are leaving!' even though I have every intention to finish my shopping, eat the meal I've ordered or I just paid a lot of money to get into a place and want my money's worth.  That being said, I have walked out of places because I said I would.  This leaves my son with a 50/50 chance that he can behave badly and not get punished for it.

3) I never taught him to wipe his own behind.  I have a problem with germs and think that 4 years old is too young to learn to be mindful about where the poop winds up!  He also gets a rash if it's not wiped well enough that sometimes cracks and bleeds and so it needs to be done thoroughly.  I didn't know they wouldn't offer assistance at school and now my son has to learn fast how to do it on his own without me to help him!

2) I don't force affection.  If my son's grandparents or anyone else asks for a hug or kiss goodbye and he won't do it, I never force him to.  I think a child's affection should be a natural thing and I can't be the person who stands there sternly and forces a kid to hug or kiss someone he just doesn't want to.

And the #1 reason I am a crappy Mom is...

1) I still have a monitor in his room.  He's 4 and I still have a baby monitor in his room.  He sleeps on the top floor of a 3 story house and I like to be able to hear him if he needs me.  I have a monitor I carry around with me after he's gone to bed.  I haven't stopped because A) I'm neurotic and B) he's never felt the need to leave his bed at night so I've never been woken up by a small child starring at me and Mommy and Daddy have never had our playtime interrupted.

The truth of the matter is that I know I am not actually a crappy mom, but I know there are things I do as a mom that a lot of other people would not agree with.  There are a lot more things I do that are not on that list that people don't agree with like the fact that I coddle him.  I don't like to see him cry and more times than not, I hug him and talk to him about what he's upset about.  I spoil him too.  He's not surrounded by family and friends because we live so far from them and he has no siblings, so I over compensate and he wants for nothing.  I tell him I love him a million times a day, give 100s of hugs and kisses and always apologise if I've upset him or hurt his feelings (just because I'm his mother doesn't mean his feelings don't matter).  I'm the best mom I can be.  My son is loved and well taken care of.  Nobody is perfect and I'm far from it, but I have a great kid who is sweet, kind, well behaved and happy.  Every time I think I may not being doing a good job at parenting, he lets me know in some small way that I am.

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A New Friend

Last week, Emma (one of the girls from book club) invited me to her house for coffee.  We've talked a bit at book club and have always gotten along, but have never spent any time together outside of book club.  I thought I'd be there for a couple of hours in the morning, but ended up staying until nearly 3:00.  We talked all day about anything and everything.  By the time I left, we both knew details about each other's lives that most people can go years in a friendship and never know find out.
I spoke of things I don't normally ever talk about.  I found myself saying things out loud I couldn't believe I was saying. Our conversation just flowed.  We both discussed difficult emotional things.  We both shared things that in a normal conversation would never come up.  There are proabably only two or three people in the world (one of them being my husband) that know such intimate details of my life.
This sort of thing happened to me only one other time.  It was during a trip home about three years ago.  I met with an old friend from high school.  We re-connected on facebook and before that trip, we haden't seen eachother in about 15 years.  I can't even say that in the past we were terribly close, but one day we had a day like I had with Emma the other day and ever since, we've been really close friends.  We talk on the phone, communicate through email and facebook on a regular basis.  We both say we can't explain how it happened, but out of nowhere, after just one afternoon we became instant very close friends.  I feel like that's what happened with Emma.
Over the weekend Emma had me and some other girls over for drinks which was another really great night and we've decided to make our coffee morning a regular weekly thing. Just weeks ago, I was blogging about how miserable I was with my social life here in England and now this - All I can say is what a difference a day can make!

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Writer's Block compounded by Reader's Block

Saturday, September 22, 2012
I haven't written even a paragraph of my book in over a week.  The wind has been taken from my sails and I just can't get my momentium back.  I'm feeling a disconnect from part of my inspiration for the book as of late and I'm finding it hard to get back to a good place with it.  I've tried to find some resolve, but to no avail.  The problem is, I know if I don't get my inspiration back, the writing will suffer, the story will be flat and lack emotion so until I can get back to that place, I know I won't write.
I am also going through 'readers block'. Every book I pick up seems boring, I’ve made it to page ten or twenty of about a dozen books.  I pick up a book and can't concentrate.  I read a page and find myself going back over it because I stopped paying attention half way down. This happens every once in a while when either I've read too many books in a row or after I've read a book I loved.  It's hard to move on to the next because I want that connection; I want to know the charaters and not have to start fresh with new ones.  I read a book like that recently (When You Were Older by Catherine Ryan Hyde), but this feeling has been compounded by the fact that I read a book I hated directly after it (We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver, which I wouldn't have done if I didn't have to read it for book club).
When this happens, my television watching increases and breaking out of the cycle seems hopeless and I satrt thinking, 'If only I could find that one book that will take me out of this', as I throw yet another barely started book onto the the stack of barely started books stitting on the coffee table. They can be perfectly good books that I could end up loving at another point, but when I have reader's block, I just can't get into them. 
I'm getting fed up with watching crap TV when my son is in bed and being stuck with children's programs when he's home.  I am in desprate need of a good book and hope I find one soon!

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Ribollita

Friday, September 21, 2012

This recipe has moved to my new food blog.  Click here to be redirected.

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Friday!

It's Friday!  I have gotten through my first week with Ethan in school full time.  On his first full day (the day I had been dreading), I walked him to his class, took him by the hand to go with him to hung up his jacket and put his bags in his cubby hole.  I took a step toward the door and he pulled me back.  I looked down at him and realized he wanted to go in without me.  I was overcome with both pride and disappointment.  He wanted to do it without me.  I gave him a kiss goodbye and he walked in without looking back.
My husband and I watched from the window as he put his things away and joined the other children who were sitting on the floor with storybooks.  He found his favorite friend from pre-school (a little girl named Faith who he has told me he is going to marry), pat her on the shoulder and she made a space for him next to her.  He happily sat down and I thought to myself, 'Is this it?  Am I going to spend more time on the outside looking in than being an active participant?' We walked away hand in hand back to the car and I didn't make it off school grounds before the tears started to flow.  I put my sun glasses on to hide it from the other parents and my husband pulled me close and told me it would be fine.
It took me a while to say anything.  I just kept crying and couldn't find the words.  I kept thinking to myself that I have been demoted to part time Mom.  He would now spend more time (while awake) at school than he would at home.  Every day I will have to pass him on to someone else.  I have to pass him to people who don't love him or know him the way I do and could never take care of him like I do or watch him as closely.  I am passing him off to people who have 29 other kids to look after and I am brokenhearted.  I now know why so many mothers I know have a baby after their kids start school.  If only I were younger...
The rest of the day was spent with my husband.  I dressed up for him and he went to our favorite Thai restaurant for a Dim Sum lunch that was fantastic.  I even had a glass of wine with lunch which is something I've probably done maybe 3 times in my life, but it felt right and acceptable that day.  That was the first full day my husband and I have had together in years and we had a really good day.
When we picked up Ethan, he charged out of the class and nearly knocked me over running into my arms.  I can't say it didn't make me feel great!
That night, he asked me to sleep with him and he's asked every night since (of course I have  declined).  He's really holding on to me and asking for our nightly cuddle time to last longer and longer.  The other night, he said 'Mommy, we'll never grow apart will we?' I said, 'Of course not Baby, we have something special.' He hugged me tight and said, 'I love you so, so much!'  I think he's feeling it too, but he's being brave and doing it on his own.  I'm so proud of him.  I know this is right for him and although, I'm feeling better than I was, this is really hard for me and my least favorite part of parenthood so far.

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Keeping Busy

Thursday, September 20, 2012
I've acyually been too busy to blog the last couple of days.  I've been doing everything I can to not let myself spend a minute thinking about Ethan going to school.  Tomorrow is my first day alone so I'll definately blog in the morning.  I wish I at least had a good recipe to share, but tonight's dinner was not a success.  I've been enjoying coming up with my own recipes, but they can't all be good!

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Mommy & Ethan's Special Day in Photos...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012
I don't have time to blog right now so I thought I'd show how our Mommy & Ethan's Special Day went in photos (our last day together before he started big boy school today). Sorry about the qulaity.  They were taken with mt phone.
I will say that after dropping him off at school this morning I didn't even make it to the car before I started sobbing!  I was wondering when I'd finally cry! 








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