Friday, October 29, 2010

Heeeere's Mommy......

No, I haven't snapped and started swinging an axe! Last night we were invited to a reception and viewing of The Shining sponsored by  If you remember, I blogged about the invite a while ago in my post Halloween's A'Coming.

Well, last night Fen and I headed off to the Charlotte Street Hotel for the reception and movie. The hotel is absolutely gorgeous and I would highly recommend it for guests, dinner or hosting an event. I think I would have walked right by it without taking note if we hadn't been invited in. It's really beautiful and everyone was so friendly. Loved the lobby and the reception room. Lots of little cosy rooms, great lighting, if I had to have a reception of some kind it would make the top of my list.

The reception was lovely - we mingled with fellow bloggers and journalists. They served fantastic food - my Kiwi husband was particularly fond of the fish and chips in little cones, I was partial to the mini hotdogs! We had a few drinks and then made our way into the screening room.

I haven't seen The Shining in at least 10 years and never on the big screen - always on TV's and not on a widescreen either. When they announced the movie Fen and I were excited - it wasn't on our actual pick list but I think it was the perfect choice. It's a classic horror film but it's not gory or gruesome like many films today - it leaves a lot to the imagination. Jack Nicholson is some kinda creepy. I forgot he was a writer, which was fitting for this crew. Well,  he wasn't much of a writer as he only wrote one line over and over (remember what it is?)

After the week I've had playing referee to my little ones it certainly was a welcome break. And the movie is still as scary and creepy as ever. Perfect for Halloween.

Just want to thank again for the evening. And if you haven't checked them out, please do. They have excellent deals on just about everything you need for the holidays from many big name stores like Tesco, Curry, Boden, Pizza Hut, Pizza Express, Interflora and PLENTY of others. (this is not a paid endorsement - I just think they're fab).

Monday, October 25, 2010

To spank or not to spank....

Don't they look innocent and sweet? Don't let it fool you. Cate is driving me crazy - she will not leave her poor brother alone. She's hitting him, knocking him over, shoving him and pounding him on the head with anything she can get her hands on. I'm so sick of it. I've tried just about everything: naughty chair, time out, scolding, loss of privileges, grounding, sending her to her room, you name it, I've tried it - other than spanking.

It seems to send a mixed message: 'Don't hit your brother!' followed by a smack for her. My husband disagrees completely. He gives her a smack from time to time when she really gets out of line and she just gets angry or bursts into tears and wants hugs. That results in a time out on the naughty chair, tears and huffiness. Sometimes she just laughs when she's given a reprimand. Just yesterday she said to me as I dragged her into her room for a time out, 'Cate hit X anyway.' It's the most frustrating thing on earth.

It doesn't matter what I do she just goes for it. She's fine with other children but not with her brother. All day I break it up. I cannot turn my back for a second. I get nothing done and I'm SO tired of it all. All I say is, 'Don't touch him,' 'Leave him alone,' Get off your brother,' 'Stop it right now,' etc, etc, etc, all day, every day. this has got to stop because I'm ready to run off to Bora Bora. Solo. I'm that close to my wits end.

We try not to give X any more attention than we do Cate but he is just learning to walk and that's a big deal. As soon as he tries to take a few steps Cate's on him knocking him over or shoving him. I seriously do not know what to do about this. I need Jo Frost pronto.

Has anyone else had to deal with this and how did you manage it? I'm open to any and all advice!! Email me if you don't want to post a comment: jollyoldengland @ gmail (dot) com  (it's broken to discourage spammers)


Saturday, October 23, 2010

And the fog lifts....

I've been a sleep deprived ditz all week. Most of this week was spent taking Cate to doctor's appointments, wrestling her to the ground to administer medicine, bribing her to use her inhaler, cuddling her when she collapsed in coughing fits, watching her sleep to make sure she's all right and then giving some attention to my son. And doing laundry... the never ending laundry.

Overall I think I averaged 5 hours sleep a night - not consecutive either. It's still amazing to me what I can accomplish with next to no sleep - but dealing with the kids is the toughest. After being housebound for three days Cate was just pounding her poor brother. I had to keep them in separate rooms. The nanny did a few extra hours this week!

There were a few high points - I had a lovely lunch with a new friend, coffee with a few other friends, dinner with another, a few meetings, closed on a deal, held a successful tutorial for the interns at our office, went on my final (I hope) school tour, garnered a few prizes for the my women's club tombola and sold a few raffle tickets. I even found £20 on the sidewalk - I called Fen and told him I found it and was heading to the butcher to buy filet mignon for dinner. He was thrilled!! I grilled it and then made an herb butter sauce, asparagus and creamy garlic mashed potatoes - it was ridiculously decadent and delish.  I suppose I could have used it for something else, but I wanted a treat!

With all that going on my blog suffered. I mentioned I needed a little hiatus, and I suppose this week was it. Cate is doing considerably better and next week during half term she is taking a Brazilian drumming class, a cooking class and a face painting class. Gotta keep her busy! So blogging may have to take the back seat again.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My poor little asthmatic

Cate was diagnosed with asthma yesterday and we're off to the doc to get her on some sort of treatment. Poor little thing, she's been coughing so much I've been really worried. She's had issues in the past and whenever she exerts herself she starts coughing up a storm.

Last night it got so bad she threw up in bed. Everything was fine, X was down, she was in bed (coughing but fine) so Fen and I were gearing up to watch a movie. Suddenly she made a strange gagging sound and I was up off the sofa and dashing into her room. She had vomited all over herself. She looked at me with her big, blue sad eyes and said, 'I don't feel well.' Oh, it crushed my soul!

We cleaned her up and I snuggled her in our bed until she fell asleep. When she was in a deep sleep we put her back in her bed where she slept fairly peacefully through the night. This morning I was back on the phone with NHS trying to get her sorted. I spoke with a pediatrician friend of mine - one who has correctly diagnosed her twice when her doctors could not (she was hospitalized for 5 days with a very rare and awful staph infection SSSS - scalded skin syndrome at age 13 months - that was horrible but she survived. I'm still recovering). So I trust her completely - she has armed me with the verbage to get what I need for Cate. And I will.

Just a post or two ago I said I hated being ill, the only thing worse is for my children to feel sick. She most likely will outgrow this but I want her to be able to run and play without wheezing and gasping for air. It's very difficult to watch and I find myself taking deep breaths alot right now. Poor thing, she seems unfazed and happy despite it all.

Wish us luck at the doctors. I'm not leaving until I get exactly what I want. I promise I'll at least be nice.

Friday, October 15, 2010

How I Met Your Father

Delia recently posted about how she met her husband (it's a great story - go and read it here). It got me thinking and I have now poached her idea for myself.

During the 9/11 attacks I was visiting South America with my sister. We were in Buenos Aires, Argentina visiting relatives and decided to take a day trip to Colonia, Uraguay. As we crossed the Rio Plata, the first plane hit the towers. We had no idea. By the time we got off the tour bus (Colonia is fascinating, by the way), the small town was deserted. No one was in the streets, no one was mending the tills in the stores. Finally, in one small jewelry store, the owner said, 'You are American, no?' When we nodded she said, 'I'm so sorry.' We were baffled. She tried explaining to us what was happening but my Spanish was good enough for asking directions, ordering food and bartering cash. My limited knowledge of the language was not good enough to understand that she was trying to explain how my country was under attack. Finally, she said, 'Come.' She lead us into the back of the humble shop to a really modern, fancy office complete with a state-of-the-art computer with a giant screen. 'New York,' was all she said. I went to the NY Times page and my sister and I read about what was happening.

Stunned, we left the shop and eventually ate at a restaurant where a 10 year old boy translated CNN International for us during the meal. He asked, 'Why are you here if you don't speak Spanish?'

Good question. I had had four or five years of Spanish over the course of my education and still only mastered the bare bones. So I made a pledge to myself that day as we sped back across the Ria Plata: I would learn Spanish. I've been to many, many Spanish speaking countries and other countries, the least I could do was become conversational.

When I got back to New York - several days later (we couldn't leave on our original date due to the grounding of all flights) I started looking for a Spanish language class. I found one and signed up. It started in January and I couldn't wait.

I arrived at the first class jet-lagged from a birthday trip to London but excited to get down to business and finally master the Spanish language. I was really surprised I wasn't the first one in the classroom, another woman, Joya, was there. We chatted briefly until a man walked in - Fen. He was tall, dark, handsome, etc. I didn't even give him a second glance, but Joya did. Her eyes lit up and she started talking his ear off. Other people started rolling in, mostly women, and they all joined in the Fen adoration club. One of the ladies crooned to him, 'I could listen to you talk all day.' Heavy sigh. I didn't know I could roll my eyes as far back in my head as I did that day - but I can. Fen is from New Zealand and he does have a really lovely accent, but I was there to learn, not to flirt, for heaven's sake!

This went on for about two weeks. The ladies flirted with Fen and he remained completely oblivious. He's a bit shy and really wouldn't know if someone was interested in him or presume it (I should know, I all but took out a full page ad in the Times so he'd take the bait!). I still didn't give him a second glance. Until one day when we were learning about time. Un punto means on the dot - and he kept saying it, trying to make a joke. Finally I looked around at him (I sat in front, he sat in the back) and smiled cheerily (I was trying to shut him up). He nodded and I could tell he was pleased with himself that someone 'got it'. In that instant I KNEW he was special and I had to get to know him. I knew he was going to be someone significant. He was going to be mine - next week.

I set my plan in motion - watched where he walked out of the building that night. The following week, I dressed up a little and 'just happened' to be in front of him when he left the building. My cell phone 'was acting up' so I stopped to 'fuss with it.' He stopped and we walked along for a while, I dropped some hints but he didn't catch on so  I asked him if he wanted to grab a coffee. He replied he didn't drink coffee. 'Okay, a beer, or hot chocolate?' He perked up and said okay. Sheesh! 

He refers to that night as The Spanish Inquisition. I asked him a million questions as I'm wont to do - but I had to make sure he was worth pursuing because he clearly wasn't the hunting type. He isn't and if I hadn't gone after him we would not be together. He thought I was out of his league. I'm not. We've been together for nearly 9 years, married for 7 1/2. We have our Cate and X too. He's the only man I aggressively pursued and he was worth it.

Under the tree every Christmas there is a saucy gift labelled: To Fen Baby, Love Joya. All's fair... 

Y mi Español es muy malo, pero tengo a mi hombre! Está toda bien.

So raise your glasses to the gals who go for it! How'd you meet your husband/wife/partner?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's the little things

Today I had an hour all to myself. I had a long  list of errands I had to run on the High Street so I took off up the hill with a spring in my step. Which, you'll know if you've been following me for a while, hasn't happened often here. And if you've known me for a long time - it's the way I am usually.

Things have been going well and not so well at the same time but in the end the good is outweighing the bad. Both kids have rotten coughs and X is miserable. Poor little duck. He's not a happy boy. I've cancelled a few plans to stay at home with him. I threw out my back the other day reaching for something on a top shelf and I had a sore throat for about three days. I really dislike being ill, I guess no one  does, but for me the only thing worse is my kids feeling ill.

But, despite all of that Cate is already being accepted into some of my top five schools. I'm delighted.We have several to hear back from but I'm very, very happy that she's going to be in a good school next year and for the next few formative years. I just can't wait to see her in a uniform!!

My social life is picking up - WAY up. I'm busy all the time and making some really wonderful friends - who aren't all American! Shocking. I've joined playgroups for X so he now has his own friends and we'll be able to throw  him a proper birthday party! I hope! It's around Thanksgiving so I'll have to plan accordingly.

Last night I was out with the board for my women's club for the annual dinner and it was just great fun. My first real friend here in the UK, who moved here about two months after us but I met through this blog, she's also on the board so that's nice. And I've met two wonderful writers through this blog that I think have great potential (you know who you are - stop reading this and get back to writing!!)

I'm having folks over to the Winnebago (that's the nickname for our small flat) tonight, Sunday and Tuesday. I love planning a menu, shopping for all the ingredients, cooking and then serving. The clean up I'll leave to Fen. He doesn't mind.

So when I woke up this morning and knew I had an hour to get out for errands, I was in a good mood. I did my errands and then wandered around window shopping and buying a few Christmas gifts, birthday gifts and a few things for the kids. The High Street here in Hampstead is great for window shopping and just wandering - I love the shops, the Oak Studio with their crafts, the restaurants, book stores, the antique market, Mystical Fairies - they're all just interesting and pique my interest every time. Then I stopped at the Hampstead Creperie. It's an institution around here and a special treat for me from time to time.  All the people who work there are French and it seems that half the people buying are French. I love that. I got a sugary delish crepe and then went home to share it with Fen.

London is starting to feel like home.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fantastic Deco Digital Coffee Maker Giveaway!


In honor of my 1 year anniversary and reaching 100 followers I've teamed up with to give away this fabulous Deco digital coffee maker in black.

This is a fabulous coffee maker - you can set it at night to start on it's own in the morning so you can wake up to the smell of coffee brewing. I don't know about you - but that sounds heavenly to me! You can check out all the wonderful components of the coffee maker here. is a wonderful site filled with furniture, toys, lighting,  sporting goods, home decor and kitchen items at very reasonable prices. I've got my eye  on a few things - go and have a look yourself!

To enter - follow me (if you aren't already) and leave a comment telling me about when you like to have coffee. For an extra entry please tweet about the competition and let me know you have! I will announce the winner on the morning of Tuesday, the 19th of October at 9AM! Good luck!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hootchi mommas in the house

I've been replaced...sort of.  My daughter has a lovely little doll house that came complete with a mommy, daddy and baby. A few weeks ago she misplaced the mommy and was upset about it. Daily she asked me to find it but I honestly have no idea where it's run off to (but I understand her need to get away). So the poor little family pressed on without a mommy.

Until yesterday - Cate replaced the mommy with TWO tiny-barbie-esqe dolls complete with long flowing hair, anatomically impossible figures, back breakingly high heels and micro-mini skirts. What is wrong with this picture?

Fen is fine with this and finds it amusing - which it is. So I asked Cate, 'Why are there two mommies?' They were all lined up in bed together with the daddy. To which she explained, 'Not two mommies, Mommy. This one is mommy.'

She held up the hoochiest of the two.

'This one is Cate.' She cheerily announced while holding up the second doll.

'Who is this?' I asked holding up the baby.

'That's X!' She just about rolled her eyes at me.

So I haven't really been replaced with two mommies - she's just brought herself into the picture as she is a big girl, not a baby and has made room for her little brother in her doll house. I see she's managed to make it into our bed in her perfect world as well. Good for her.

And I'm looking rather svelt, if not a tad trampy - it's a win win for everyone

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I pulled a granny...

Today I did something my maternal grandmother, Virginia, was famous for - I stole sugar packets. I have no regrets. I noticed my Splenda supply was running dangerously low today and knew I couldn't get to the store  as my schedule was full. So at my coffee date this morning (with a lovely new friend who also has children at Cate's school) I noticed their full supply of Splenda packets and pilfered five.

My wonderful grandmother loved to take sugar packets and small 1/2 and 1/2 containers from anywhere she went. I think this is a common thing for many grannies - don't know why it happens but it does. It didn't matter that she had an enormous supply already stashed in her kitchen - she helped herself. When she passed away (twenty years ago now) we cleaned out her house - there were enough sugar packets in the kitchen to feed a small village for a year. They were stored EVERYWHERE. It was funny and sad at the same time but I can't ever see a packet of sugar without thinking of her. There was also an extraordinary stash of chocolate throughout the house too! She had a fabulous sweet tooth.

Fen and I are guilty of stealing sugar packets and leaving them on her gravestone. I know she'd get a kick out of that. I'm sure the folks at the cemetery wonder why on earth they are there. We didn't get there this year, unfortunately. Maybe next year.

Tomorrow I will go back to buying sugar and Splenda, but today I honour my grandmom!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Nary a glance....

Well, Cate took to nursery like a duck to water. We walked in and she pulled off her coat, pushed through the door, pulled up a chair at the play-doh table and began to create. I spoke with the teachers, hung her coat and went to say goodbye. She barely even looked up at me.

'Okay, Cate. Mommy and Daddy are leaving,' I said with a lump in my throat.

'Bye Mommy,' she said nonchalantly.

I walked over and gave her a hug to which she returned with one arm - the other never let go of the rolling pin.

'See  you later, Chicken,' I said after a few seconds of hugging.

'Okay,' she cheerily retorted and went back to her clay.

We left and I doubt she even noticed.

I went off to a meeting and Fen picked her up at 11. She was happy to see him and said goodbye to everyone. When I got home she ran up to hug and kiss and let me know she played with toys all morning.

'School is fun,' she announced.

And she's looking forward to going again tomorrow.

I'm thrilled for her.  I was nostalgic and teary for about half an hour until she started to beg to paint, play hide-and-seek, watch TV and go to the park. School is going to be very, very good for both of us methinks.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

School Girl

Tomorrow Cate starts school - granted it's only nursery and it's only for half-days, but it's the beginning of her academic career and the dawn of her independence. I'm so excited and thrilled for her but a tad sad and nostalgic for myself.

I completely remember my first day of school. I was in the afternoon class (12:30 - 3pm) of Kindergarten/reception at Xavier's College in Nassau, Bahamas, a nice Catholic school that my older sister and brother attended. I was envious of them dressing and being whisked off to school each morning and couldn't wait to join them. They always brought great stories of recess and lunchtime, friends and classes where they did art and letters. I desperately wanted in.

Our housekeeper and babysitter, a lovely Bahamian woman named Marion, dressed me for school with my plaid pinafore, white peter-pan collared shirt, green cross tie, white socks and black mary-janes. I felt so important and she kept saying how I was a big girl now as I was going off to school to learn. She was geniunely happy for me and a little teary eyed. My parents both showed up to take me to school - they both worked but took the time off to escort me on my big day.

My sister showed up when we got out of the car and walked with me toward the kindergarten classroom. I remember walking inside and meeting my teacher whose name escapes me. Then I vaguely recall them leaving but I was fine with it - there were toys and a sandpit and even paint jars in the corner - this was good stuff! I briefly remember the rest of my time there - yet some of the people in that class are still friends of mine. It was the dawn of my education and independence. It's where I learned how to have friends, to read and write and become my own person. I loved it (wish I could say that I loved university as well but I didn't! Maybe it was the lack of toys).

Now it's Cate's turn. I hope she's as excited as I am - although she is a year younger than I was when I started school (I didn't go to nursery).But tomorrow is her big day - I know I'm going to tear up once we drop her off.

I wish you well, my little love!

(For the record - she will not be wearing the blue tutu to school tomorrow!)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Like pulling teeth...

My daughter has decided she doesn't want to brush her teeth - at.all.ever. This week I've been fighting a virus so I didn't have it in me and admit I let it go. But last night as I was tucking her in, I took a look at her teeth. Dear me! A tragedy. I immediately made her brush her teeth and it was war.

I'm at a loss here. I've done just about everything I can think of: fun toothbrushes, different toothpaste, tried making a game of it. Nothing is working. HELP!!!! Any advice. I can't have a three year old with gum disease and green teeth!