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: http://jeliwobble.blogspot.com/2007/02/so-i-had-my-baby.html

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!

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Glory, Glory, Summer's Here!

Ten days ago, my little temperature gauge on my deck registered a chilly 3C(37F) in the morning.

On Sunday afternoon, it reached the heady heights of 31C(88F)...

Full on summer has arrived. There were no leaves on the trees on Friday morning. Most of them are out now! We spent the entire weekend outdoors, smothered from head to foot in factor 40, and had a blast. It was so nice to have great weather for the softball opening:

It was nice to get away from the computer for a bit too. I'm back to feeling pretty well (isn't that always the way, when you've finally got around to telling the doctor how crap you've been feeling?!) and it was so nice to just get out and about and enjoy being with my children.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Busy Bumble Bee Weekend

Softball opens this weekend. Tomorrow is the opening ceremony. It starts at 9am sharp. All the Little League Baseball and Girls Softball teams will be there. There will be a rendition of Take Me Out to the Ball Game over a crackly PA sung by the team that the president of the Little League's daughter is on. There will be lots of shrieking girls and lots of sniggering boys. The field will be a muddy mess by the time they all leave.

At 11am, Miranda, my five year old, will be having her inaugural game. She will attack a ball on top of a pole with a metal bat. She will enjoy trying to smack it. She will run round the diamond thinking she's just scored a home run, while everyone cheers and claps. Later, she will try to catch said ball, running after it, before it reaches the next diamond over and try to throw it back at the adult who is pretending to pitch it to them, whilst being cheered.

This is fun.

On Sunday, at 12pm sharp, Imogen has her inaugural game. She has already been practising since the beginning of April, though the weather's been so bad, they've done very little practise. She will take on a team from another local town. The game lasts for about an hour an a half but, if they start an innings twenty minutes before the end, in reality that 90 minutes can turn into an aeon.

There will be cheering and clapping. It will be worthwhile this time. There will be much chanting of 'Good eye, good eye' which, as far as I can discern, is some arcane linga for 'Well done for not trying to hit that one as it was a foul ball and that's one less strike'. There will be much groaning as the girls miss hit, fumble catches, and fail to throw to first.

This is also fun.

The weather at the weekend will be 80F (27C) with clear skies and possible thunderstorms on Sunday. Hats, sunscreen and plenty of water will be de rigeur. I will be responsible for entertaining the two non-players on both days, for 90-180 minutes, one of whom will not be content to stay in his pushchair for most of the time as he did last year.



Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring Thoughts

Spring in New England is a bit like Americans in general. It's kind of all or nothing. One minute, it's perishing cold and the next minute it's 25C and everyone's in shorts. One minute there are bare branches, the next...wait for it...wait for it...and GO! *Bam*, the leaves are out! It's frenetic. Flashy even. Two weeks flat and it's over and you're into the sweltering heat of summer. Like any good American, Spring goes in, it gets the job done, it gets out. Mostly.

Spring in the UK is much more genteel. A steady plodding progression of gradual eruption. Bit like the English then. We might be slow, we might take the long route but we eventually get there. Spring in the UK is considered, maybe even polite. It knocks on the door with a quiet *ahem* and, without even noticing, the general populace are turning up after lunch looking like a bunch of lobsters. Like a good butler, the British Spring does its thing in the background and all you notice is that your Summer is ready for you, sir.

I wonder how much the place where you live affects how you see the world and how you react to it.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Spring is in the Air

Well, mostly!

Things are starting to green up outside now April is here, though it's still perishing cold. I started Miranda on Clarityn a month ago so I'm praying that her tree pollen allergy stays under control this year. I've just got rid of the bacterial nightmare we had last year and I could seriously do without her getting infected eczema again this year. Having MRSA is pretty frightening. I'm just glad that she cleared it out of her system pretty quickly.

I'm off back to England tomorrow for my lovely friend's wedding on Thursday. On my own. Until Sunday, which should be wonderful - a proper break - although I'm bricking myself as I've only done the flight once on my own! I don't leave the children very often. I had a period of three days last year while I had my radiation treatment and couldn't be near anyone for 3 days, but as I felt so rotten I couldn't really enjoy it. The time before that was when my Grandad died. I went to his funeral 8 months pregnant with Gabe and it wasn't really enjoyable, nice to see everyone and give him a good send off, but not enjoyable. So I'm planning to enjoy this. I have my instructions to have a good time...I'm unlike to get another break like this for a while!

I'm still sad that I couldn't get to my Grandpa's funeral, last year.

I'm currently sitting down with a cuppa and typing this while I'm going through my list of things to do, having run round like a blue bottomed fly all morning. I think I'm mostly there. Just have to make a lasagne, a cake, some hot cross buns and a list of what to put in their sandwich boxes! Oh, and finish the laundry, pack my bags and make sure that he can find everything for Easter Day...

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Just when you think it can't possibly get any worse...

..it does.

Just that.

I think someone took my very special specs, you know the ones; the pink tinged ones that were apparently glued to my face circa June 1973 (approx. the time I stopped screaming about the fact I had been born). Someone took them and has hidden them and I want them back, you bastards!

Miranda, bless her. I love her very much. She comes out with some corkers though. Yesterday, she looked at me, slightly miffed at the fact that I had just told her in no uncertain terms that I really didn't care about the fact that her tamagotchis might die if I didn't put them on pause (only because I don't know how to...I haven't been bothered to learn), and said 'When I'm a mummy, I won't spend all day on my computer. I will play with my children.'...


I was so utterly mortified that I literally spluttered...

I resolve to spend less time on my computer. When I feel a bit better.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I don't know if you can call it better. The sun is shining and I'm not crying all the time. Except for this morning on the way to the endo. Does that count?

More thyrogen in my butt this morning. I ended up with a sore shoulder yesterday. I have no idea why. I'm wondering if I'm going to get one on the other side today. My butt is now sore. Better I suppose than it being twitchy, as it was yesterday.

Tomorrow is radioactive day. I am going to get a small dose of radioactive iodine and then, on Friday, they can look at me glowing. Apparently, according to the nurse, they won't get my results back for two weeks. Interesting. I have an appointment with the endo in less than two weeks after my scan. That should be good then. He'll be able to tell me exactly zero about whether the cancer has come back. I wonder if he'll tell me that I'm imagining all these symptoms as well. "Mrs Dodd, you aren't hypothyroid according to your blood test so IT'S ALL IN YOUR HEAD..."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Not Just a Bad Day...

...I'm finding life more and more difficult to cope with at the moment. I am spending more and more parts of the day in tears for NO REASON.

I had the thyrogen this morning. So, now, on top of all the horrible possible hypothyroid things I've been feeling, I now feel tired and nauseous. More tired than I did before. And I have three children to cope with. Mind you, I'm glad they didn't make me come off the synthetic hormone as that would have been one hell of a lot worse.

I was supposed to get a pregnancy test on Friday but I didn't as I came on. I found it faintly ridiculous that I have to turn up to have a pregnancy test when things down below are doing their thing. Properly. Cramps and normal amounts of stuff and everything. Not implantation bleeding or anything. However, in order to prevent stupid people from suing, the nuclear medicine department insist that you have it, so they made me get it. So I had to wait for 45 minutes feeling nauseous and yuck whilst corralling a 2 yo in a waiting room full of older people so he didn't run off into the depths of the hospital and trying to explain to my 5 yo why she had to sit still and wait, when she wanted to run about or watch something on telly that didn't have Rachel Ray's grinning mug on it.

Then I stupidly got involved in an internet argument that I really shouldn't have.

Didn't need that today. Really not.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

So Sad.

Just really sad today. No reason that I can see. Just want to cry the whole time. I seem to be very tired and am finding it difficult to concentrate on a screen, my book, anything really. Little things keep setting me off for no reason so I think I shall avoid the internets for a bit.

Sean just asked me if I felt like this when I was hypothyroid last year but I have to answer honestly that I really can't remember. It is, quite seriously, a blur. I vaguely remember my mum being here and my sister spending the entire time she was here on MSN to her lover but that's pretty much it. What we did while they were here? Can't tell you.

I've got to have my blood tested next week. I am wondering if it's going to say that I am hypo or whether I'm within acceptable limits and, if I'm within acceptable limits, just how the hell am I supposed to live like this?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What's Occuring?

Not much!

Been a bit...off...for the last week or so. I'm due to get my first body scan since the radioactive iodine treatment. Truly, I should have had it at the beginning of February but due to a catalogue of errors more often seen in farce, I'm not getting it until the end of next week. I'm on a low-iodine diet but it's nowhere near as harsh as it was last year. Last year, I couldn't eat anything that I like to eat at all (and still managed to put on 15lbs in two weeks...go figure) and I felt very sorry for myself. This time I'm actually allowed to drink a small amount of milk in filter coffee (no instant), though I still can't eat any dairy or fish or soy...oh bugger, I just remembered those two Boca burgers I had on Monday...never mind! I don't know why that small amount of milk is making me more happy than last time. I suppose as well, there's light at the end of the tunnel this time, in the fact that I know exactly how long I have to bear with the diet. Last time, I was told two weeks maximum...ended up being nearer four...

Anyway, went to see Mary Poppins on Broadway on Sunday with just Imogen and the Girl Scouts. There were 18 of us and it was really nice. The show was really good; very much different from the film as you can't really have a merry-go-round horse race on stage and they did away with the whole laughing scene with Bert's mad uncle. They also changed all the words to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, which was really annoying as I couldn't sing along...OK, maybe that wasn't a bad thing! And do you know, I managed to spell that correctly, first time of asking!

I haven't really spent much time in the company of the ladies from our troop but they're all really lovely mums. I often feel like a bit of a fraud because Imogen's my eldest and I really can't do as much for the troop as some of the others. Out of her troop of 15 girls, there are only 3 of us with younger children and only me with a baby. So I haven't done any of their camps, I haven't gone and been a helper, the only thing I've done is I'm always 'emergency contact' as I'm always at home. I don't think anyone really minds, I just don't think anyone's actually spoken to me for more than five minutes at pick up time. I kind of accosted a couple of them by being all proactive and sitting next to them on the train and at dinner. It's nice being foreign; you can do things you wouldn't normally do and know they will just bypass it in their head as 'strange foreign thing'!

By the time I got home on Sunday night, though, I knew I'd done too much. We walked from Grand Central to the theatre, back down to Times Square as we were early and some of the others wanted to go to the M&M store, back up to the theatre, sat in the theatre for two and half hours which always gives me a headache, over the road for dinner and then back down to the station. I managed to forget to take any drinks or snacks with me, so I had nothing to eat or drink from 10am to 4pm...bad move. Imogen was fine as I bought her a huge soft pretzel, but I couldn't eat it as I didn't know if the salt had iodine in it or not. I also bought her the orange syrup they call Sunkist over here. I should have got a bottle of water then...duh!

So, Monday was a complete washout. I collapsed into bed on Sunday night at about 9:30 and didn't move off my chair all day on Monday, except to cook dinner and play cars with Gabe. I've also been so cold just recently. And all my nails are breaking again. Couple that with the strange infections that grow out of all proportion, the inability to shift any weight at all and no improvement on my energy levels from doing more exercise, I have many, many things to talk to my endo about when I finally see him in April!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What things are innate?

I am currently watching my son dip his chocolate graham goldfish into his glass of milk. I'm not being silly or anything but WHO taught him to do that? I didn't. I don't dip. Well, mainly because I don't eat biscuits. Much. Well, not ones that can be dipped anyway. Dark chocolate Hob Nobs are too nice to dip...

The girls don't dip, apart from bread in soup and we all do that, so I'm pretty sure that's a learned behaviour. So how did he make the connection between knowing that bread and soup can be dipped to dipping his biccies in his milk?

It's obviously good because he's still doing it! And now he's lost one. That's always the way; you dip your biscuits, think you've got it all in your mouth and then the layer of mushy Rich Tea at the bottom of your mug accosts you. Actually, looking at the bottom of the glass, there's more than one stray goldfish swimming about in there.

Makes you wonder what's innate and what isn't. I love this age! They're full of contradictions and enthusiasm. The cognitive leaps he makes on a daily basis astound me, in exactly the same way the girls did. But the leaps he makes are different to the ones that Imogen made, that Miranda made. And that's the thing that makes us want to keep going, to have more, their ultimate individuality.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


It's weird the things that make me homesick. Mostly, it's food. Missing decent chocolate and decent cereal and basically anything that doesn't involve cinnamon or artificial vanilla, both of which will assault you from the strangest of places.

But today it was music. I ended up going to the supermarket on my own, a blissful occurrence that only usually happens if Sean is particularly amenable or one of the kids is sick, as was the case today. Gabe's been running the high temperature that Miranda's had for the last three days. He seems to be shaking it quicker though.

Anyway, I sailed around the supermarket with my iPod going full blast. I've currently got it on random mix of everything labelled 'Alternative & Punk' which includes everything from Placebo to Paul Weller to Green Day to Keane... So on comes the Chilis with Emit Remmus which has a lot of London references. I lived there for 7 years and I still miss it to my bones, though I couldn't bring up children there, so the deep longing I have is more wistful these days. And then, as I got in the car to come home, this is playing:

I remember thinking murder in the car
Watching dogs somersault through sprinklers on tiny lawns
I remember the graffiti
We are your children coming in with spray cans of paint
I remember the sunsets and the plains of cement
And the way the night just seemed to turn the colour of orangeade
In this town, cellular phones are hot with teens
In this town, we all go to terminal pubs
It helps us sweat out those angry bits of life
From this town, the English army grind their teeth into glass
You know you'll get a kicking tonight
The smell of puke and piss
The smell of puke and piss on your stilettos
Here comes that panic attack
My heart stops... and then it starts
Give me a drink
I'll drink your round
I take you round the pole
It's cold up here (I see the universe waiting by a minibus)
You'll catch the flu
Or you'll catch the city
Either way, you'll catch the flu
Or you'll catch the city

This is Essex Dogs by Blur and it's Albarn singing about Colchester...

And, bizarrely, I want to go home.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Random Musings

Why is it when I sit down to write this, having had all sorts of ideas running round in my head, I can never think of anything to say?

This week I have been mostly watching Heroes and Being Human.

It's interesting to me that both shows are really exploring the human condition from the viewpoint of extraordinary people who want to be normal. In Heroes the themes are about our differences, how we cope with them, how we need to be accepting and finding common goals. In Being Human it's more down to Earth than that, it's more about what defines humanity. George's understanding at the end that being human means love and sacrifice just spoke to me. Because that's what it all comes down to in the end; how much we love and what we sacrifice for that love.

My train of thought on sacrifice and love went off on a tangent then and I got to thinking about something my beloved and I don't agree on. It's quite biblically unacceptable to think that homosexuality is a right and proper thing. Where it is mentioned, it's usually mentioned as a violent thing, something that's akin to male rape. However, I believe in a loving and just God who would not make creatures to be homosexual if it wasn't glorifying to His creation. There are too many examples of homosexuality in the animal kingdom for it not to be a normal bell-curve thing and I believe very strongly, given how much evidence there is, that about 10% of men and women have the brain chemistry of the opposite sex. So, what should a God-fearing, Jesus-believing homosexual do? Does it come down to monogamy or abstinence? And is that abstinence the ultimate sacrifice for the love of God?

It's been a bit of a slog this week, generally. Miranda hasn't been well with a high fever and the clocks going forward last weekend didn't help any of us. We've all been walking around in a fug! Today is such a lovely day though. I want to go out and take a walk and smell Spring on the air, but Miss Miserable won't change out of her PJs! Ah, well, I shall just have to go and bake a cake instead.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Negative Equity


According to Zillow, the real estate tracking website, the prices of the houses in my town have fallen 14.4% in the last year. This means that our house is worth about $75,000 dollars less than we paid for it.

If we wanted to move, we couldn't. Which we don't, but you never know what tomorrow will bring.

We live in a lovely town in a beautiful part of the US. It's a typical New England town, with old houses that are pale coloured with cedar shake sidings and pretty gardens. It has a thriving town centre and a politically motivated populace who turn out for town meetings in large numbers. It's an aspirational community, somewhere you might see and think 'Ooo, I'd like to live there'.

We ended up here largely by mistake. Sean was and is working in Stamford, a city on the edge of both Connecticut and New York State. We talked about it before we came but we came to the conclusion that moving from a village into a city was too much of a jump, especially for Imogen who was 6 at the time and struggling even in a village school. So, with our rental allowance in hand, we looked at all the places we could afford and discovered that the nearest we could get to Stamford was here in Ridgefield, for the money. The problem with this area is that it's a dormitory for NYC. It's a bit like Surrey with Surrey-like prices.

We liked the town. We loved the school. So, when our rental contract was up, we looked to buy into the town. So, we bought a house. At the top of the market, or thereabouts.

So here we are, like hundreds of thousands of families across the world, in negative equity. But, we're in a rather unique position. We have two houses as we kept our cottage in Essex and have been renting it out for the last year. It is NOT in negative equity; in fact there's still some equity in it! If the worst came to the very, very worst, we could just up sticks and flee with tail between legs back to Blighty.

The lack of communication between countries with regard to credit is abysmal. Our credit score in the UK is amazing. We've always had credit and we've always paid it off. When we've had troubles, we've told our creditors immediately and arranged a payment scheme that suits both parties. When we came here, NONE of that came with us. We've had to build our credit score again, even though the main credit score companies here are the same ones as at home. It's taken four long years to create a credit score that actually allows us to run a reasonably priced mortgage. BUT, this works both ways. We can walk away from the house, the mortgage and ALL our credit here and it will have zero effect on our credit score at home.

We could never come back to the US though. Not even for a holiday! So it's not a real option. But it helps me sleep at night...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Why doesn't everyone take vitamins?

It's taken me 37 years but I'm finally taking a regular multi-vitamin outside of pregnancy. I always resisted taking them before because I'm a great believer in a balanced diet. I eat a balanced, healthy diet. OK, it might be a bit heavy on the portion size and light on the exercise, but it's healthy.

I've been taking the multi-vits for the last four months, basically since I had my last bad bout of infection. I was desperate and it was the only thing I could think of to do, other than wash in antibacterial soap, that might, just might, stop the damn thing happening again. It's a fairly wide spectrum one, pretty much 100% of RDA of everything and a few things at a larger amount. I also take a regular calcium supplement, something you're supposed to do once you've had your thyroid removed, to prevent as much osteoporosis as possible. A month ago, I added a flax seed oil supplement too.

At the same time, I started the kids on regular multi-vits. If anything, they eat better than I do because they eat more fruit than I do and tend to self limit on the portion sizes. But I thought if I was doing it for myself, I'd do it for them too.

Why this is important is because this cold season has been surprisingly easy for all of us. Even when Gabe and I went down with the horrible cold last week, the girls had sniffles and not much else. Also, usually by this point in the season, Imogen's hearing has deteriorated to the point where her behaviour in class is bordering on unacceptable. I finally got my ar$e in gear to get their hearing monitored and, as is always the way, both girls have had no problems this year at all. Apart from two colds back to back in October, before they started on the vits, the girls haven't had a cold all season...

I'm signed up to About.com's Thyroid updates and I hadn't even thought about taking a supplement to boost and support my metabolism now I'm without a thyroid. But reading their information, it seems that the multi-vit I'm taking contains all the right elements in the proportions that they suggest. And I feel great! I haven't felt this good for a long long time. My skin is in good condition, my hair is looking nice, I haven't had an infection since September, my cycle is just about back to normal (thank God) and I'm finally, FINALLY, losing weight.

So, my question stands: Why doesn't everyone take vitamins?

Maybe it's just me that they seem to be working for!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Lenten Diet

I've given up chocolate and alcohol for Lent. It's the first time in a very long time. What with all the palaver with being pregnant (obviously alcohol went but you can't ask a pregnant lady to give up chocolate; not and keep your head), then finding out I had cancer, then having to go hypothyroid (the most horrible experience of my life), with all that I just didn't have the ability or capability of going on my Lenten fast.

Traditionally, the alcohol has actually been the most difficult part of this and, as previously, I am getting to 6pm and thinking 'Where's the voddy?'. I've resorted to making a part mix of cranberry and raspberry juice with diet tonic water. It's fooling my tastebuds mostly, so far. But I still can't drink all that much of it as the juice is packed with sugar.

I am also finding that, this time out, giving up chocolate is pretty hard too. Sean and I are used to sitting down with something sweet once we've got the kids to bed and that's usually chocolate. Just recently though it's been cake. And ice cream. And just about anything that doesn't have chocolate in it. Last night, we were down to 3 year old mini packets of jelly babies for me and some left over candy corn for him...

So, I get on the scales this morning expecting the worst. I haven't done much exercise in the last week as I've had this cold and then so did Gabe. In fact, I haven't done any Wii Fitting since Friday last week, what with the snow day and general laziness on my part. I even cleaned the kitchen yesterday to avoid working out. With a Brillo pad.

But, bizarrely, the scale showed a definite loss of another 2lbs. OMFG! OK, I haven't yet been on the Wii Fit yet for it to tell me in its squeaky overly saccharine voice that, despite the fact I've lost weight, 'That's Obese!' as if I didn't bloody know! I shall have that dubious pleasure later. But 2lbs. That's a nice weight loss for a week. And incentive to stay off the chocolate and eat more cake, methinks!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Snow Day!

So the entire North East and much of the East Coast from DC up has been hammered. It's still falling and we have about 10 inches sitting out there already.

It's been pretty warm here for the last week or so and all the nasty grey ice piles that have been sitting round since the last storm had finally melted in the most part. Only to be replaced with new ones today. Oh joy.

This is the time of year we usually get the 'last blast'. This year's been a good snow year. We've actually had some! Last year was very quiet and we actually had more rain than snow. This year, I reckon we've probably had a good 50 or so inches over the season. We've actually been skiing locally, it's been so good!

Sean was working last night when the servers fell over and he then spent the rest of the night trying to get them back online. So he's currently in bed sleeping...good thing too, to my way of thinking, looking at the roads.

The kids are downstairs playing video games. Probably not the best thing they could be doing. I might go and watch a movie with them later. I recorded War Games on the DVR last week as I think Imogen would get a kick out of it and I haven't seen it in ages!

I've also just made a HUGE pot of home made chicken noodle soup. It's just about the easiest thing to make and tastes AMAZING! You boil up your chicken carcass, after having your roast dinner, with the giblets and the skin, a stick of celery, a carrot and an onion, in about 3 pints of water for about 3 hours, topping up the water periodically. Then you strain off the liquor into a tub, pick through the bones returning any nice chicken bits to the liquor, and put the tub in the fridge overnight. Throw the bone and veggie mess away. Following day, scrape off the fat from the jelly and put it back in a saucepan. Add a couple of sliced carrots, some veggie stock or veggie water, a handful of left over chicken chopped up and about 4ozs of spaghetti broken into pieces. Boil it until the carrots and pasta are tender and serve with crusty bread. Yum! Just the right thing for a snow day!

Friday, February 27, 2009

I'm trying to write this thing more often...

...but I'm not having that much success! I suppose it's because, compared with the rest of the world, I lead a very dull life.

I mean, look at today. No. Really don't. Got up. Chased round after the kids and got breakfast. Showered. Did 3 loads of washing. Downloaded the first ep of the new UK Law and Order. Read some board posts. Did a tag post (the one with the Album and Band name). Chucked the kids outside and watched them play for a bit. Got lunch. Put Gabe down for a nap and put Miranda on the bus. Did more washing. Did an hour of Wii Fit. Came up here and started writing this...

You get the idea.

Did anyone do anything interesting? No. Gabriel might have got completely covered from head to foot in ice cold mud the second he went outside, but other than that, dull as dishwater.

Anyway, this is not what I was going to write about. I was actually going to moan on about how cr@ppy my week's been, what with the God-awful cold I had at the beginning (laid up in bed, husband at home, THAT bad...) and then Gabriel getting it (so maybe getting covered in ice cold mud on his first well day wasn't the BEST idea). But maybe, it's not been so cr@ppy. Not really. Shrove (Fat) Tuesday was nice, with sweet (lemon and sugar, maple syrup or Nutella spread) and savoury (Ratatouille...yum!) pancakes and large amounts of alcohol consumed. But now I'm off chocolate and alcohol for Lent.

I wanted to write that down. Just in case, you know, I forget. Hah!

Anyway, we (being Sean, Imogen and I) are doing a walk through book for Lent called Reliving the Passion (which Mum gave him for Easter last year) which isn't bad so far. It is a bit dismal though. In a good way. If that's possible. It's very focussed on death and sin and how bad we all are and YOU put Jesus there, it's ALL your fault. In a good way. If that's possible.

And it's the weekend! Imogen has a softball tryout tomorrow, so that they can accurately put her in a team. I think they try and space out all the good and bad ones so it's fair, now that they play competetively. Imogen's not bad, though she's probably a bit rusty from the off season. I'm also doing a partner swap with my friend. LMAO! Not THAT kind of partner swap! She's coming here for dinner and Sean's going to her house with her husband. Her hubby is an ex-veggie but he kind of still wants to be, so he'll be cooking Sean something good veggie-wise, whereas my friend is an out-and-out carnivore, so I get to eat yummy meat. It's a pretty good arrangement. We did it the other way round last time! So that's should be fun...except no wine :(

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I thought exercise was supposed to give you more energy.

But every morning I wake up and seem to have to drag my sorry ar$e out of bed, rather than spring forth full of the joys of the season. I also thought it was supposed to make you lose weight as well, but that doesn't seem to be happening either.

I've increased my general exercise quotient by about 100% since having the Wii Fit. Yes, I'm actually doing some... I was doing yoga DVDs on a fairly irregular basis but now I go down there every day and I work up a sweat doing the yoga on the Wii Fit program and playing all the 'aerobics' games. I suspect that the Wii Fit yoga isn't as good as the DVDs and I think I'm going to have to go back to those, but at least I'm actually doing it, which I wasn't often enough with the DVDs.

So why am I still tired? And why am I not losing weight? I've started eating smaller portions and less fat too, so why is the weight not going away?

I'm going to see the endocrinologist in a couple of weeks. It's time for my now yearly full body scan to make sure there's no more cancer. Maybe he can shed some light onto what's going on. Maybe I need my Synthroid adjusted...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Is it OK to vacuum the cat?

I'm fed up to the back teeth of the cat hair tumbleweeds.

Before we got him all I had to cope with was forgotten jelly droppings on the hardwood floor and ground-in playdoh in the carpet. And I was promised by my husband (and, to be fair, all the websites on the breed) that they didn't shed as much as ordinary moggies. Which is complete balderdash.

So now I'm vacuuming more than twice a week. Which is scary. I have never vacuumed that much in my life! It does mean, though, that I discover the jelly droppings and the playdoh crusts before they get fossilized and become part of the 'patina' of the flooring...

I also have a HEPA filter going night and day because, despite what all those websites asserted, Maine Coon cats are just as allergenic as ordinary ones if you're allergic to cat dander...