Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Holidays

We decided to stay in London for the holidays. We want to start our own traditions with the kids waking in their own beds to find Santa come and finding all their gifts under our tree. With Fen's family in New Zealand and my family in the Bahamas it's just too far to pack up everything and fly (for a minimum of 10 hours). We'll miss our families, but it's the best solution for us while we're in London.

London is really beautiful this time of year. The Brits sure know how to decorate. Harrods, Liberty and especially Fortum and Mason are so deliciously beautiful at this time of the year it's hard not to get into the spirit. We're driving up to Birmingham tonight for the night to visit the German Christmas markets, take the kids to see Frozen and a panto and to shop at the massive shopping malls there. We head up there to see shows with the kids from time to time. Just to get out of London and see something different.

I'm really looking forward to relaxing and taking the two weeks off from work, school runs, responsibilities and everything else. I've had a rough autumn. My mother is gravely ill, my husband had a health scare, I'm currently fighting an inner ear infection and feel drunk half the time (which sounds nice but really is dreadful) and things just seem to in a state of ambiguous flux. Where will 2014 take us?

Two things I know for certain and I'm putting it out there so I'm compelled to do it: I will be picking up my blog again and we are moving in 2014 - where I'm not sure but we are. Stay tuned!

Happy holidays!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Round Up of Favourties

I've been lurking in the dark lately feeling uninspired but there have been a sea of fascinating links online lately (isn't there always). I thought I'd share a few of my favourites:

Have iPhone - must decorate. I think the ice-cream sandwich or the paint set will do me fine:

Carl Sagan sure can put things into perspective, can't he? This is humbling, truthful and awe-inspiring. The world is a dot.

Who doesn't love Spock? This is fantastic. And I want an Audi now too!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I am an eBay Nightmare

I admit it freely. I put our pushchair/stroller on eBay reluctantly. Now that X is turning four he's walking everywhere. We haven't used it since July and therefore it's now collecting dust and taking up room. After staring at it for too long, I decided I'd sell it.

I've sold many things on eBay, including two other pushchairs and loads of baby items. I sell them cheaply and was really happy to see young families carting off our baby things. They were happy to get a quality item in good condition at a reasonable price and I was happy to see our things go to a good home. I'm sentimental about it.

After much deliberation, I listed our fancy stroller with all the bells and whistles onto eBay. It's the last real baby thing we have here and I had a hard time even thinking about selling it. I wanted to give it away but I don't know anyone who wanted it. After talking with Fen, we decided to just list it and give it away to someone who would appreciate it. It's worth about £900+ new. I was then excited to see someone nice walk away with it.

That is decidedly not what happened. An eBay store that buys up expensive push chairs and then strips them to sell off as spare parts aggressively outbid each of the other bidders to win it for a song. I was so disappointed. Really disappointed. I did not want my precious stroller getting picked apart and sold off for much more money than they bought it for. It was not going to happen. It deserves better.

Maybe I'm too sentimental. I'm a soft touch, I know it. But there was no way I was going to let it happen.  I cancelled the sale on the winner and explained why. They were....not happy. I've got a giant red warning on my account from them saying I am awful, rotten and rude and a terrible eBayer. I am a nightmare. I'm sorry I wasted their time and I don't fault them for their enterprising ways. But forget it.

I offered the second bidder the chance to buy it. They haven't responded. If they don't, I will just sell it on Gum Tree or hang onto it forever. So what if it's taking up so much room in my kitchen!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Tudor House

Cate came home with instructions for her homework: create a Tudor home no larger than a shoe box. They are learning about the Great Fire of London in 1666. She was very excited about it. Me: not so much. I hate it when I have homework too. We had three weeks to complete it. So with one week to go before it had to be handed in I googled Tudor houses and we set to work. I did not want to be the only one to work on this - she HAD to be involved. Here's what we did:

Add caption
I glued my Blackberry box to a icing sugar box carefully. We then fitted it with an overhanging window, a dormer window and the roof with bits of cardboard. We also outlined the 'wooden' beams for that authentic Tudor look.  Cate and I then custom fitted a cardboard roof complete with cardboard chimney and then she painted it all white.

Our overhanging window is coming together.
Painting it white.
All white and ready for detail.

 Then came the details. Cate painted all the wooden trim, followed by the chimney and the windows themselves.

Painting the details
Finishing touches on the roof and chimney

Finally we added straw - which we nicked from a funny bush that grows giant bushy reeds in the front garden. We glued it on and then trimmed it with scissors. Finally, we added a little cotton wool to the chimney for smoke and VOILA - our rich merchants Tudor home was complete. Pity they are going to burn it at school!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

End of Summer

That's the last jump into the lake for Fen, Cate and her friend Jake. Heavy sigh. We spent five glorious weeks in the US  4 1/2 at our cottage in Pennsylvania and 1 week in New York City. It was so peaceful, restful and just filled with family, friends and fun. I didn't want it to end.

A bit of the bloom has come off the rose for me as far as NYC is concerned. I didn't really enjoy it this time. Too much work for one, plus it was scorching, shirt-stick-to-your-body hot. Yick. I forgot how mercilessly hot it gets in the city in August. Won't be doing that again anytime soon!

But now we're back in London and getting back into the swing of things. Heavy sigh. Summer really is too wonderful for words.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Break Over

For a few months I took a break. There was far too much going on and my blog had to go on hiatus. But I'm back. And I'm happy about it. I will start blogging again, in earnest next week!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

An explanation

Hello to all who can now read this blog. I had to stop writing my blog as I had two incidents that made it necessary for me to protect my privacy. My blog and identity were revealed in two different articles and neither website will remove them. Because of this I had two unwelcome visitors making my life difficult.

The first was another parent. We had a falling out and she decided to use my blog against me by posting nasty comments and leading others to it. While the other parents were fine and there is no issue. I felt I could not write anything further regardless of the subject matter because it was questioned each time.

The second problem was that I joined a grief support group - after my sister's death I haven't really been processing things well and thought it might help. Instead, another member decided to attach himself to me. He'd lay in wait for me to leave the group to ambush me and then monopolize my time making it difficult for me to get to the tube and home  or back to my life. He made me incredibly uncomfortable to the point where I left the group and have decided not to go back. I don't need any more grief. However, he found the blog and my identity and began posting messages - all very postive and glowing but it was creepy and I don't want some strange man in my life. I'm a happily married mother of two and I don't find it flattering that some man has a crush on me. I found it threatening, unwelcome and crossing a line.

Thanks for continuing to read!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Madness That is My LIfe

That is the symbol of my current existence! Laugh if you must, but it's the truth. We may be on the move again because of the bathroom - it's ancient and falling apart. We've had a plumber in five times within 4 weeks. They're going to have to completely redo it. Which means: we can't stay here. We'll have to move AGAIN!

I'm hoping this is not the case. But not having a loo for hours and hours on end with two small children is simply not workable. I'm sick of it.

To make matters worse, my job is hell on Earth right now. I'm having to deal with a person so unhinged and completely oblivious to the industry it's shocking! I won't get into details, but I rarely dislike people, yet this person is simply unlikeable and I'm stuck with her for another month. Ghastly!

And to further make things difficult, I'm suffering from a frozen shoulder! Google it if you're curious, but it's excruciatingly painful and really hinders my ability to carry on as normal. And it last for a year to three years! Yay!

This is why I've been an absentee blogger of late. I simply have no time at all. And when I do have time, I run errands, clean, doing some filing or writing. Sometimes I'm too tired to even watch television!

So, I'm whining today. But....BUT... there is the silver lining (always the silver lining). We'll move or have a new bathroom in a few weeks. In a month I will never have to deal with this awful wretch of a human again, and my shoulder will recover...eventually. (oh, and I got a dreadful, uneven haircut yesterday - that will grow out).

It's never as bad as you think it is. And all of this drama will make for great blog posts and party talk for years to come!


Monday, April 1, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Big Break.

“Don't wish it were easier. Wish you were better.” ― Jim Rohn
    I've been working my tail off. Day and night. My poor blog has suffered greatly. For that I'm sorry.     When I first started my blog it was a lifeline: I was pregnant, had a 2 1/2 year old and gearing up to move to England. During my son's birth and the move to the UK I clung to the blog. During our transition here I recorded every lonely day, my breakthrough moments, the heartaches, the death of my sister, moves, schools, life in general.   And now I am steady. It's been three years since we moved here and I have a great social circle, I've sorted out my work schedule, the kids are both in school, life is pretty good. There are bumps along the ride, but it's good.   So who needs to hear about that?   I'm going to keep my blog going. it's format will change a little - I want to write about our lives here in the UK but I want to do more with it.   Stay tuned. I hope you do. Hopefully, I won't disappoint.   Erin

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Barbie-Q: Murder Most Foul

X tried to kill me. Okay, maybe he didn't try to kill me but he certainly pulled a stunt that could have killed us both (maybe). While I was on business call he decided to pop Barbie into the microwave and cook her. Her hollow head burst into flames and melted into the sad, disturbing mess you see above.

When I smelled smoke I hung up on the colleagues, ran down the hall and started gagging on the billows and billows of smoke coming out of the microwave oven. The entire kitchen was a smoke-filled wreck.

I grabbed X, popped him in the lounge opened two windows, turned on the TV and then shut the door. I shut the kitchen door behind me, opened the giant window, grabbed the flaming Barbie and threw her right out the window where she flew in an ungraceful, smoky arc, crashing onto the patio below.

It stunk! The microwave was destroyed. I just slapped the door shut and turned on the cooker fan, and waved the smoke out the window. After 20 minutes of waving smoke, cleaning up the mess and unplugging everything, I rescued Barbie (who was finally smoldering but not on fire), wrapped her up (after taking the photo) and chucked her in the rubbish.

We aired the house out for two freezing hours. But after 45 minutes I felt really dizzy, lightheaded and nauseous. In fact, I had to lay down at one point. Apparently, melting plastic is toxic. I googled it - and naturally freaked out because the internet is a bad, bad place to self diagnose!

I called poison control at the NHS instead. The guy on the phone said, "Take your son and go to the nearest A&E immediately." YIKES.

We wrapped ourselves up on our burnt plastic smelling jackets and headed to the Royal Free hospital where were were for four hours. We have survived. But I probably have microscopic plastic fragments in my lungs which takes years to clear.

X was FINE. He jumped around like a wild animal let out of it's cage for the first time in 40 years. I was propped up by a chair feeling ill. Such fun!

We no longer have a microwave. I can't say that's a terrible thing. But Cate was NOT happy at the death of her Barbie. So if you see us at Toys R Us this weekend pursuing the Barbie aisle - you'll know why!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Bye Bye PTA

I've been gone a long time for good reason. I've been taking my life back.

After the dreaded Christmas Fair for the PTA I had a bit of a rough time. First, the core committee, for which I was co-chair, decided I had set the bar too high for them. They were not interested in having by-laws or structure. They did not think I needed to be a co-chair. I was told that I shouldn't speak about PTA business with other parents and that I should think of the PTA as a hobby. Silly businesswoman that I am - I thought a little structure, order and more people involved would make life easier. Alas, they were not interested. However, they'd love for me to stay and run all the events but needn't worry about the running of the PTA.

Yeah. I quit. Now I am a pariah at the school and basically ignored by one and all. I don't regret my decision as I was really unhappy with the whole thing. So now I have much more free time on my hands. That's great.

I did suffer through the norovirus and my birthday but I'm finally back on track and eyeing the gym again.

It feels great.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Wheels

As I mentioned a while ago, we bought a car. Scratch that, I bought a car but cannot drive it. That's right - the insurance for me to drive is more than the car is worth. Madness. I don't have a UK license at the moment so I'm a huge risk, apparently.

Two weeks ago a friend was moving away and I asked about her car. We agreed on a price and I went home to tell Fen I found a car to buy. He's been skeptical all along and says we don't need one, etc. etc. But I wanted one. We don't need one, really. But want and need are two very different animals. Since we moved to England we've been robbed, wronged, and shuffled around. It cost a fortune which we paid up but had to tighten our belts for over a year and a half to get out of the red and into the black.

We're back in the black and I want to get out and do stuff. I was just about to type we haven't traveled but, mercy, we really have: The Bahamas, New Zealand, Scotland, Wales, Brighton, Blackpool and half of England in less that 10 months is well traveled. But other than that I have been very frugal. I wanted the car to just have it - the freedom it represents makes me very happy. I do not ask Fen for much, I don't spend anything on myself so we decided if I wanted it so bloody much I could buy it. And I did.

We've had the car for three months. We've only driven it a handful of times but have our eyes set on Spring and Summer to get moving. Already have our first parking ticket - £130 which I am fighting. Ridiculous! Waiting to hear back on that one.

The kicker - I bought it for me to have but the insurance is so expensive I'm only insuring Fen - out of principle alone. So lucky me, I bought a car, it's not in my name, I can't drive it and Fen keeps saying, "I told you so." But I'm on the hunt for car insurance that works for both of us. And I'm signing up for driving lessons so I can be approved in no time!

Parking is a problem as well. It's really packed around here and finding a good spot, that is not under trees (where leaves and bird poop fall) or near corners, or in a spot that you must move by 8am is quite the task. Right now we're parked right in front the of the path to our building - no trees, no warnings, no parking restrictions. We may never move it again!

I'm actually quite please to  have the car after all. It's there when we want it, which isn't often, but the opportunity is there.

The best bit - we're out every weekend exploring. Worth every penny in my eyes.