Saturday, January 02, 2010

New Year's Goals.

2010. Going to be an interesting one, I think. Sean finally has left the client company, after 4 years of threatening to. If this had happened 4 years ago, I doubt we would still be here in the US. Instead, it's happened now. We have green cards. We have a mortgage. We have children deep in the school system. Even the vaguely terrifying prospect of finding college fees in 7 years time is slowly becoming a reality we will probably have to face!

So, what are my goals for 2010?

I think my biggest one is to get myself well. And fit. Having spent the last two years sitting on my butt feeling sorry for myself has actually been detrimental to my health! OK, I've not felt able to exercise, the fact that I haven't has meant the 20lbs I put on after my RAI treatment has stayed on. Not only that but my ACL, which I am fairly sure I broke three years ago skiing, made itself known over the summer, I suspect because I have stopped swimming regularly and stopped the yoga, which has meant my general strength has diminished to the point where my knee collapsed under me when I was dancing at a wedding.

So, along with getting fit and well, I really want to lose some pounds. I am worried that my weight is back up to what it was when I got the pre-diabetic diagnosis four years ago. Also, a lot of my clothes don't fit me any more. Which sucks as I have some lovely clothes! I'm stuck wearing jogging pants and mumsy tops and refuse to look at myself in the full-length mirror for fear of my over-sized ar$e eclipsing the rest of me!

Other goals are smaller and probably more obtainable :)

I fully intend to knit more. I love creating stuff and knitting is a good outlet for me. So I am going to do it more. It might stop me snacking on chocolate late at night anyway!

I want to print out a lot of my favourite photos then sit down with all the kids' photos and put them in albums. We have a lot of albums for Imogen's first couple of years (apart from her first 6 months, for some reason), but none from after Miranda was born. This coincided with us getting a digital camera. While I love having a digital camera and the flexibility of digital, it sucks that we never print them out and then enjoy them. And I'm always slightly freaked out that I will lose all the pics. Losing two hard drives in the last 5 years has made me back up like a demon and the pics are stored on three separate drives now, as well as some CDs, but having hard copies of our favourites would be the best idea!

I want to keep this place tidy and organised on a more regular basis! Right now, we're clean and tidy and organised. It's bliss. I want it to stay this way. It might mean a bit more shouty mummy, though, which I'm not that happy about, but we shall see what happens.

Which brings me to my last goal for 2010. To be a 'better' mummy. To try to do more things with my children and try to give them as many happy times as I can. I feel as if I've been on hold for two years, with brief flurries of activity and brief times of real familial enjoyment. I love my children more than anything in the whole world (with the possible exception of their daddy) and I want them to have the best childhood I can possibly make for them. This means that, by hook or by crook, we shall find a way of funding our summers in England because they are happy, joyful, wonderful times with their grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins that I want them to remember for the rest of their lives.

We make of our lives what we put into our lives. If I continue to put nothing into my life, then what can I possibly hope to get out of it? I often like to say that we only get once round on this merry-go-round we call life. Make the most of it. It's all over too soon, before we really have time to realise it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Anniversary Meal

So, I thought I would post the menu for last night's anniversary meal as my lovely virtual friends were so helpful in helping me decide with some lovely ideas.

I went with Delia. Love Jamie but the main meals I've done before and didn't have all the ingredients! So here is what I did in the style of 'Come Dine With Me'.

Starter: Stuffed Cabbage with a selection of leaves and Essex Boy's Caviar

The cabbage wasn't cabbage, because he doesn't like cabbage! So I made it with Collard Greens, the closest thing to spring greens you can get here. The stuffing was brown basmati, onions, roasted pistachios and pine nuts, sultanas, mint and more chopped up cooked greens. It was then baked in the oven with some chopped up tomatoes for a hour. Left to cool and served with mixed leaves from the farm and a dollop of the Caviar...delish!

Main Course: Spicy Bean Patties with Ginger Onion Marmalade and Chips (LOL!)

The spicy bean patties were black eyed peas and green lentils with peppers, onions, a little carrot, thyme and one very fierce green chilli, from the farm. While the juices were burning the tips of my fingers for about 3 hours, the actual patties weren't too hot, hot. I've never made onion marmalade before but this stuff, with fresh root ginger, white wine and rosemary, was just to die for. I thought I would do chips 'properly' a la Marco Pierre White. You fry them for a while at a low heat, remove them, heat up the oil hotter and then re-fry them so they're all crunchy on the outside, fluffy in the middle. Yummers!

Dessert: Microwave Meringues with Whiskey 'Scented' Cream and Fresh Raspberries

I have to thank Laura for telling me about microwaving meringue. I did look for nests at the supermarket but they didn't have any and all the recipes I have are for cooking them in the oven...for an hour and a half... Anyway, had no time for that so went online, Googled microwave meringue, found the BBC Good Food site and made the meringues...which scarily almost took over the microwave but were absolutely fabulously crispy and melt in the mouthy. With all the sugar in the meringue, I didn't want to sweeten the cream, so I stirred in a measure of Dalwhinnie and it was lush!

Drink was our favourite champers, Veuve Clicquot, which we bought duty free on the way home. All in all, a lovely way to celebrate 13 years!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Busiest Time of Year

Imogen has been doing so much. Her softball team has won almost all of their matches. The two games previous to Monday's game, they lost. So their coaches had them do two practices over the weekend! They won on Monday again. By some way...

She's also trying out for Chamber Chorus at the middle school. Bless her, she has a lovely voice but she's got no power behind it at all. She did a really good job with the ABBA song at her talent show though. I think we've pretty much decided that she'd like some singing lessons. This last year she hasn't done any extra-curricula arts, no dance or theatre, and she's missed it, so she'll get some lessons in the new school year. I don't think she'll get into the chorus. There's 62 places only and they give priority to the current 7th and 6th graders. But, by next year, she should have more breath control and get in then. It's a bit of a shame because she didn't go for Chamber Orchestra with her violin because she went for Chorus instead. Still, that's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm a bit worried about all the things she's doing next year already!

She's also has her 5th grade concert next week, so they've had rehearsals all this week. So what with having to be at the middle school for 7:15 (twice because she had a 'frog' in her throat for the first audition) she's also had to be at her school for 8:15 today and 7:45 tomorrow!

She has had a couple of trips too, one to Frost Valley, a Girl Scout horse riding place, which she absolutely adored, and a boat trip on the Hudson with school, which was a bit like those disco boats they have on the Thames. She had a good time! She also had an over-night play date, the first one since a party she went to two years ago! Was a bit worried about reciprocating as much as I like the girl (and her mum!), but it seems they can't organise it, so she's just coming round for the evening and going home at bed time!

Last week, Miranda had two play dates back to back, on Monday here and reciprocated on Wednesday. Just before she went to bed last night, she informed me that tomorrow was Wednesday and she had a play date. I told her that she didn't and she said, all indignant 'Mummy, it's WEDNESDAY, I should have one!'...

I was supposed to have a play date last Thursday but for some reason slept really badly on Wednesday night. So my friend didn't come over and I ate the bagels for her. She's going to come over tomorrow instead, which should be fun.

I got a new Dyson last week as well, which is nutty. I mean, the thing sucks EVERYTHING up. I thought my old Dyson was good, but this thing is scary! When the rolling brushes are on, I swear the thing literally drags me across the floor. I filled the can, vacuuming the upstairs alone. Then I did the same again, vacuuming downstairs! Then I cleaned my car out! The only problem with that is that the clear plastic on the drum is now scratched because of all the little stones in the car from the grit they put on the roads in the winter. But my car is clean for the first time since just before Christmas!

We also used some of the tax refund that bought the Dyson to replace our Freecycled patio set. Much as I love my Freecycle bargains, the patio set wasn't really a set. The table was a small round glass one that was starting to chip where the umbrella kept bashing against it. It being small also meant that we couldn't get all the chairs round it. The paint on the chairs was also peeling! It's been a great collection of bits but it's time to hand them on! We've had them for two years and they did for when it was just us but when we had guests due over for Sunday tea, we decided to suck it up and buy some new furniture. Luckily, Sears had a lovely deal on some of their furniture and we got it for about $300 less than list with a rebate because we used our Sears card. Which is normal for the US, to be fair. They always tell you never to buy anything full price over here!

Oh, yeah, and Gabe did an umprompted wee in the potty! Twice! I really should bite the bullet and put him in big boy pants but I really didn't want to potty train him until we're back from the UK at the end of August. Also, he's getting more verbal but he's really not there yet and still adamantly denying all knowledge of there being poop in his pants despite the entire household exclaiming 'You STINK!' at him! So, when school's finished (in two weeks time!!!), we might have a desultory go at big boy pants but I'm not going to insist until we get back from our vacs.

Getting very excited about the trip now! My baby sister is getting married on the 18th of July and we're all in the wedding party. I ordered Gabe a suit...OMG he's going to look unbelievably cute! He's going to be an usher with his daddy. The girls both have very girly sweet bridesmaid dresses. And I am matron of honour. I've never been a bridesmaid before, so this should be super, super fun! Oh, and the dress doesn't make me look like Two Tonne Tessie, which is a bonus!

Ah, yes, also, with regard to his Woolly Pants, these arrived!

They work pretty well, though he managed to squish them to one side one day and made a puddle on the floor, but they're really astonishingly good at holding his mega wee most of the time! I think the worst thing about them is that when you wash them they take forever to dry. As I'm loathe to splash out any more money on nappies as he's going to be out of them soon, I haven't really got enough nappies for him to use them every night (should have bought three not two!) and only having one soaker set is less than ideal as if they're in the wash, he's in paper for at least three nights! I'm going to knit him some myself, over the summer, most likely longies, as he's probably going to be in night nappies for a wee while yet. I have a lovely cloth nappying new mama to hand them onto, so long as I make them in girl friendly colours as she's having her little girl in July. They won't be too well used!

WOW...that was big catch up! I should write this thing more often!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Woolly Pants?

Some of you may know that I'm a bit of a cloth nappy convert. I love the funky cool colours. I love the no leakage. I love the environmental protection aspect of them.

Blueberry Minky Blue Camo Pocket

Drybees CandyStripe AIO Pocket

G modelling the Australian Bubblebubs Minky AIO with Easter bunny tabs

G modelling the Bubblebubs Minky AIO with snowman tabs

G modelling the Bugaboo bottoms Crabby AIO Pocket - she doesn't make them any more :(

I also had a job lot of 12 bumGenius 2.0 One size pockets, which I replaced a while back with some Happy Heinys and the Drybees as the aplix/velcro gave up the ghost. They lasted 18 months. So much for passing them on to a sister or down to 'another baby'.

But now my 6 Bugaboo bottoms have worn out. Literally. The PUL has come away from the cotton outer layer and the cotton has worn through in places. This leaves me with about 6 Happy Heinys (with the hemp Stuffins which are GREAT!), 2 Drybees AIOs (also great), 2 Blueberry Blue camos (which I hate) and the 2 inestimable Bubblebubs AIOs (if I could have afforded it, I would have bought LOADS of these!).

He's about to be potty trained, but I'm loathe to put him in sposies. I already have him in sposies at night as not one of the newer nappies give him a full night. Actually, neither do the sposies, but he's marginally drier in them, than in the cloth.

And now my dearest, darlingest 'friend' keeps showing me just how adorable her wonderful son is in his wool covers...

I want to spend cash.

Lots of cash.

I want to give them a go. Just a little go. I'm not going to buy many. Just a few. Just to see if they work.

But seriously. Aren't these cute? Really?


I just bought these...

...thank you, fiend...yes, I missed out the 'r' on purpose...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers' Day

Awwww. I got two home-made cards and a plant from school, as well as a beautiful handmade frame with a still life of some flowers from Miranda which she did at her Kindergarten enrichment class. I had a lovely bunch of spring flowers from 'them' on Saturday too. They make me happy!

We went to church for the first time in a couple of weeks because there was no softball, which was nice, especially as what they preached on was something I touched on with Sean only the day before. He hates my batphone right now...LOL!

Then we went to our favourite Mexican restaurant where I had a free sangria and a large strawberry margarita...yum! Dinner was great too, some yummy tilipia fillet in a very decadent creamy sauce, with rice and sticky plantain. That was my day's calories there! But, it was a special day!

Then we went to the mall and had a wander round. Sean took me into the Apple store and said 'Whatever you want'. Have you ever been offered the box of chocolates and everything is so tempting that you just can't decide, except you're suddenly not hungry for chocolate? OK, maybe chocolate was the wrong analogy. He's just got his tax rebate. Last year we used it to pay off the credit cards and bought a car the year before. This year, it's sitting there burning a hole in our collective pocket. I'm awful with money and I spend it willy nilly. I was hoping he would just disappear it into a hole somewhere so that when we haven't got all the comfortable cash we have at the moment, we have some squirrelled away for a rainy day.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE the fact that he wanted to spend a bit of it on me, but my head is giving my heart a serious lambasting!

I walked out of the Apple store without my Mothers' Day present because, seriously, the best Mothers' Day present I could have is that this family is financially secure for a bit longer.

We then had a Starbucks and went home for a little time outside on their bikes, stories and bedtime. What a LOVELY day!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

All Grown Up?

Last night I went to the parents meeting for our chosen pre-school for Gabe.

That's right. Pre-school.

My baby starts his 3s program in September...

It doesn't seem like yesterday that I was writing this:

And now he's all grown up. Well. Not really. He still has to be potty-trained. And he still sleeps in his cot, however much we start out in 'Bih bed'. Oh, yeah, and if I want him to eat certain foods, I still have to spoon feed him, especially if he's tired.

Because of all the above, I was going to start him in January but I was told by the ladies that what he gains from being fully potty-trained (some hope!) he'll lose in trying to fit into a group that's already socially familiar with each other. They will, apparently, call me if there's poop... They have to do it all the time and have a lot of children who start the year in pull-ups. So September it is, then.

I just can't imagine him going to school though. He can't talk much yet. Well, he says a few sentences, can count to 10 (mostly) and make himself mostly understood when he absolutely HAS to (example; he called Sean into his room last night and pointed at his feet and said 'My toes!' in an outraged tone, which Sean took correctly to mean his feet were cold as he didn't have footsie pjs on!). I'm his mother. I'm supposed to know what he's banging on about, but will someone who doesn't know him know what he's banging on about?! September is only 4 months away. Will he change that much in that time? I have to keep reminding myself that going back to England for just 3 weeks saved Miranda from having to go into speech development. Maybe going back for 6 weeks will have the same effect on Gabe! I hope so!

If there is anything more well designed to make one broody, it's having your baby go to pre-school...

Sunday, May 03, 2009


That's the way my ten yo translates the word 'lyrics'. She's taken to listening to them quite closely, just recently. Not necessarily a bad thing, except for the fact that her favourite artist happens to be Lily Allen...

She made Sean put Susan's House on repeat the other day. Then she said, 'That's quite disturbing'. Er...yes...

I won't let her put Lily's new album on her iPod. I've not listened to it all the way through, yet. However, she already has The Fear on it. I tried to explain what that was about but *whoosh* right over her head. Then we listened to It's Not Fair and that was too beyond me to explain right now! I think, therefore, will leave the rest of the album till later...whenever that will be...

She heard Cobrastyle by the Teddybears the other day and decided that she liked it but, in her effort to understand lie-ricks, she wanted me to search them out. Then complained that they weren't in English. I felt duty bound to point out that, actually, yes they were. Just some kind of gangster linga that needed to be translated... It's not a bad song, but I tried to get her into Paper Planes by M.I.A. which I think is a much better song, but she wasn't having it. However, I managed to convert her to The Ting Tings!

Oh, yeah, and what is it about Hard-Fi? I like them. Quite a bit. It's something to do with the Clash twangy guitar and the stripped down lyrics, just makes me feel all nostalgic (a bit like Kasabian gives me the Madchesters...especially when Genius plays them back to back with the Stone Roses!). But my sister is all 'OMG how CHAV?!'...Pah!

( this the right time to admit that I like The Streets as well?)