Sunday, 31 December 2006
Abigail has made a full recovery: no fever, no earache, no drippy nose, no coughing. Seb has not been so lucky and this morning has been complaining of earche. The good news is this is about the time Abigail started to get better so we expect a full recvery in the next few days......just as the holiday ends! Oh joy!
This marks my last post in December and an anniversary of sorts: one month of non-stop fun of posting fever! I've managed to capture the events in my family's life, mundane and extraordinary as I set out to do. Some love it (thanks Mom & Steph)! Some are afraid of sharing this much of their life with others (including strangers) and are shocked/amazed/horrified that I chose to....but then again I've always lived my life as an open book. I have nothing to hide and hve no fear of others discovering who I am inside and out. Perhaps I am naive but I believe in the overwhelming goodness and doubt very much someone would hunt down my family and hurt them. But thanks for your concern. Some have been offended. Apparently I have not quite mastered the art of sarcasm which the British so admire in themselves and some have found my humour wanting. Oh well.......I make myself laugh!
Not sure how I will carry on once I start back at work on the 2nd January. I hardly have time to shower when working and managing the household but I will do my best. I didn't quite meet all my goals for my month off work but I did get quite a bit of reading done. I did watch some films (none very good....or good at all) and Marc swears I will not be allowed to go to the video store unsupervised ever again. I did lots of crafts with the children but my cupboards are woefuly unorganised and I'm afraid I didn't finish a single book.
Why is it that lightbulbs always burnout all over the house at exactly the same time? Why do all the toy batteries expire at the same time? Why is it that all the bathrooms run out of loo roll at the same time. Why is it that all household cleaning products empty at exactly the same time? hmmmmm, things to think about......
Be safe when out and about this evening. Or even staying at home. Most people die in their own homes. So whatever you do, be safe. We'll speak to you in the next year.
Saturday, 30 December 2006
Yesterday we were invited round to some neighbours home for drinks and dinner. Thanks to Keith and Adrienne for a lovely evening. The chidren had a great time eespecially when they all decided to get out the box of costumes (check out Abigail's shoes). Seb isn't in the photo because he still isn't feeling well and just sat around being grumpy. We unfortunately left quite early since he was so gfunder the weather. As a result the plans we had for this afternoon had to be cancelled and we are having an inside day. Both children are still barking with coughs and running slight temperatures. At least Abigail isn't complaining about her earche. Just as well as the monsoons seems to have arrived. It is dumping rain on us and the wind is blowing a gale. Hmmmm, doesn't feel much like Christmas!
Friday, 29 December 2006
Pantos can range from very professional productions with C-list celebrities giving guest performances (with fairly hefty ticket prices to go with it) or amatuer theatre in local villages ( with lower ticket prices). Patrick Ewing (from Dallas fame) is in one in Woking. He must be broke!
Given that I wasn't sure what my children (or I would think) I opted for the amatuer performance in a village not far from ours called Sunninghill. We got a couple other children from Seb's school (with siblings and mums) to go along with us. We saw Cinderella which I have now learned (courtesy of Wikipedia) is the most popular of all pantos. We had a great time and the children really enjoyed it with the exception of Abigail who covered her eyes and trembled each time the fox came on stage. I am sure I have scarred her for life.
I have some photos of the children dutifully awaiting the start of the performance. Unfortunately I am experiencing some technical difficulties with my photo uploads. Not so much technical difficulties as much as our dog, Bailey, ate the cable that connects the Mac and the Windows PC to the screen and allows everything to be connected at once. Marc would have liked to have killed the dog. Bailey has been laying on his bed with his tail between his legs for the last hour or so whilst Marc dutifully goes off to find a new cable. As soon as said cable has been restored I will load up the photos and you can see the bunch of them. they behaved so well and we all had laods of fun.
We had a rather strange start to the day. I have awoke every morning since Boxing Day no later than 4 am and could not get back to sleep. I then fall back to sleep about 6 am just before the children get up. This morning Marc let me sleep until I awoke at 10 am only for me to find out that Seb had gone back to bed about 9 am and is still there. it is nearly 11 am as this goes to press. Both he and Abigail have had a barky cough for the last week and i know he was coughing thorughout the night. i reckon he just didn't sleep well.
Thursday, 28 December 2006
I always find that a couple days spent indoors without benefit of fresh air leaves my head (and body) full of cobwebs. The Christmas holiday run left me with a fuzzy head and achy body not to mention a house looking like a tornado had run through here (yeah, a tornado named Sebabby). After doing a bit of tidying in the morning, we met up with John, Mary and her brother, Mike, and went for a walk. We did have one puppy and two small children in tow which I do believe our walking tour guide (John) forgot and went a bit further than was probably advisable. Bailey feel asleep in the car before we had even dropped him off back home.
Abigail fell asleep before she got to have any food and Seb fell asleep in the car on the way home. I felt better for the walk. The brisk air cleared out my head and did a world of good for my achy body. At the very least I feel less guilty about the overindulgences of the holiday. I suspect I require several more longer and more challenging walks/runs to really work that off.
Abigail's earache is continuing to trouble her and we took her to the doctor's yesterday evening. We've got some antibiotics and if the pain doesn't let up in the next few days then I will fill the prescription. It's so hard to decide what to do in these cases. I don't want to be held responsible for the mutation of a superbug and I want my children to have the benefit of antibiotics should they truly need them but I do feel that as overscribe and overmedicate our children. We after all only want what's best for them and no on likes to see their child in pain.
A big thank you to Mary for serving up a lovely "tea" yesterday. For those Americans out there, this is a meal time about 3-4 in the afternoon and consists of little sandwiches/sausages/cake and of course the obligatory cup of tea (or two). It is a perfect way to end a walk. We were joined at tea by Simon, Marc's cousin, and Dorothy, Mary's Mum. Simon has just publisheed a very important book. Link to Book
I really enjoy the discussions and debates we get into around their table and yesterday was no exception with a lengthy discussion about why people destroy bus stops. We just don't get it. From my point of view, many people think of government as some sort of conspiracy theory. They forget that their parents and neighbours (and themselves) paid for that bus stop with their tax dollars and very bus stop that needs to be replaced will come out of their own pockets either through increased taxes or a rise in bus fare (both of which they will complain about not making the link). It is much the same when people who want low prices for gas and electricity but then complain when the call centres are moved to India in an attempt to lower the cost and ultimately the price of the utility. Once again, they don't get the link. This is that whole action/consequence thing. Grrrrrrah! My head is clearing!
Wednesday, 27 December 2006
Unfortunately, neither Abigail or Mummy are at the top of their game. Abigail woke up yesterday morning with a fever and spent all of the afternoon sleeping it off. By mid afternoon my body was feeling feverish and achy all over. After drugging both of us with suitable amounts of ibuprofen and acetaminophen we went off to bed. Abby woke in the wee hours of the morning but fell back asleep in Mummy & Daddy's bed. Mummy was also ill this morning and Daddy kindly let me get some additional hours of sleep whilst he went off to feed the children breakfast and tidy up the kitchen. Abigail seems much better this morning and is annoying Sebastian (which is the job of little sisters). I don't feel 100% but imagine that the ibuprofen will help when it kicks in.
I'm making the children croissants and we hope to go for a walk with John, Mary & Simon later this afternoon. The fresh air will do me good (or kill me).
Tuesday, 26 December 2006
What a fabulous Christmas we had! I hope everyone had a great day as well. Marc's mum (Veda) and one of his brothers (Matthew) came up on Christmas Eve (for Abigail's birthday party) and stayed for the festivities of Christmas Day. The tree was threatened with tipping if anymore presents were placed under it. Marc made a most amazing Prime Rib (cooked to perfection) which we devoured. Veda brought the Christmas crackers which she had custom made at home with individualised surprises inside. She also brought these fantastic confetti poppers which create a huge mess but are so much fun festive. I don't actually mind cleaning up the mess!
One of the best things about England is the day after Christmas called Boxing Day. You can read about the origins of the holiday at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxing_Day. Mostly, it gives you a chance to recover from the over indulgences of the previous day and/or take a walk. I like to reflect on the day before.
My family and I are very fortunate. We live in a part of the world where we are free and there is usually justice. We are able to have dreams and usually realise them with the only obstacles being our minds and energy. Whilst there is a threat of terror, I consider a more prevalent and immediate threat to be global warming. I find comfort in the fact that I can participate in the solution of that more than I can in the solution to terror. We are healthy if overweight by and large due to the bounty that life has given us (and our own laziness). We have access to adequate and affordable health care and I have no fear that I would not be able to afford to treat a life threatening emergency to the limits of medical technology today. Our ignorance is limited only by that which we have not yet learned and are willing and able to learn more. No one tells my daughter she cannot go to school or what she must wear. My son can be Prime Minister (or possibly President of the USA) if he so desires....or a plumber or an artist or an actor or an accountant or whatever his passion is. He is taught to have respect for all living beings including his elders (and the value of doing so). My husband can run his own business and is control of his own financial destiny. I can work my way to the top (or not) if I chose. We can practice our own version of faith. We are not afraid of being killed by our neighbours. We do not live in a tornado alley or hurricane zone.
Yesterday when we sat down to our Christmas dinner, I was overwhelmed by the joy of having a husband I love and am so happily married to; 2 children who are clever, happy, independent and on their way to growing into responsible, uniquely contributing members of society; a beautiful cozy home which keeps us warm in the winter and cool in the summer and dry the year long (it is England after all); nutritious and delicious food to fill our tummies and sustain us throughout the year.
Life is good!
A visit to Flickr will give you our family photos. Link on the left!
Monday, 25 December 2006
We inevitably awoke before the crack of dawn and made our way very very quietly (as quiet as 5 children can be in the dead of night) down the stairs to the family room. Santa would have delivered a major present and placed our stocking next to it (just in case there was some confusion and any of my brothers wanted to argue over which present belonged to whom). It was amazing the restraint we showed by going through the stockings first and then stopping to appreciate/enjoy/celebrate the bounty Santa has delivered. All of us would then settle in (for a long winter's nap?) and commence discussions on when we felt would be the appropriate time to wake mom and dad.
Once mom and dad had been awoken then the phone call went in to my grandma and grandpa (my mother's parents). They lived just south of us and would need a good 30 minutes to get to our house and we felt it very important that they arrive as soon as possible after my parents so as not to delay any present opening. My grandma and grandpa would arrive with bags and boxes full of presents which we would add to our pile under the tree and the waiting was over.
The present opening itself was all a bit of a paper hurricane with bows and ribbons flying everywhere. I mean, can you imagine 5 children opening presents all at once? What wonderful chaos!
My mother always made a great breakfast: fried eggs, bacon, toast. We would then take stock of what each one of us had received and restack the presents under the tree unopened. Dinner was a huge affair and meant we got to eat in the "dining room" using the good china and crystal. The table always looked superb. I'll never forget the year my brother, Shelby, picked up his paper napkin and asked if this was one that he could use or did it have to be saved until next year. We all fell about laughing our heads off and every year we pulled that napkin out of the drawer and handed it to Shelby. I wonder what happened to that napkin? There was inevitably the culinary disaster (ah, so this is where I learned to cook....) like the time my mother went to get the jello mould out and the whole thing went down the sink drain.
Once I became an adult (in age only) but before I was married and had children I used to travel the world on Christmas. I've spent Christmas in Australia, South Africa, Switzerland and many other places. Some of those memories are good ones and some are not so good. I always missed my family.
Now we make our own memories with our own families. I love the fact that Sebastian was up a few mornings ago wanting to put all of his presents in a pile (for ease of opening, I suspect, or possibly to compare his pile to that of his sisters) and the mere mention of the imminent arrival of the Bearded One inspires the best behaviour in a nearly 3 yr old.
The Clare-Panton Family wish you a very Merry Christmas and hope this holiday brings peace (even if only temporarily) to people everywhere, joy where there is sadness, and hope where there is despair. When you are busy making your memories this holiday season, take a moment to savour the moment and remember Christmases past, present, and future.
Sunday, 24 December 2006
My childhood memories of Christmas are so vivid. Growing up, my family was big on tradition and everyone year you knew what fun the holiday held. On Christmas Eve we would go to Nanny's house and gather all my uncles, aunts, and cousins. In later years the house swelled under the weight of her great grandchildren and on more than one occasion a few non-blood members joined our motley crue when they had no where else to go but they couldn't have been in for more of a treat. The gathering was never at a set time and throughout the afternoon people would arrive (usually depending on how much last minute gift shopping needed to be done). The tree was in the basement (year round in later years - just covered up with a sheet when it was not December as it was a bit much for Nanny to put it up and take it down as she grew a bit older). Nothing else was too much for her. She worked very hard to make sure we had a special night with her.
Everyone else pitched in making the various nibbles for grazing: cream cheese/jalapeno filled tortilla rolls, veg with dip, crisps/chips, cold cuts/cheeses. But no one filled up too much for the grand prize was a bowl (or two or three) of her amazing Oyster Stew. Now, many had married into the family and not all partook of the delicacy (she offered chili for the non-oyster fans) but it was an event not to be missed. Once all the eating was done, all the dishes had to be done before we could descend the steps and start the decimation of the wrapping paper. You've never seen a kitchen cleaned so fast. Even the men picked up a dish towel now and again.
No one really paid all that much attention to what they received themselves (although Steph's nipple warmers were one gift that really stood out). The most joy was derived from watching Nanny open the presents given to her by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It didn't matter how big or small she showed the same tearful eyes as she passed out her ever gracious thanks. I'll never forget the year she received a television from each of her sons - 3 televisions. She was just as happy with the third one as she was with the first one.
For dessert there was rice pudding with the hidden almond which it seems my dad always found but I think he probably cheated - not sure how. And then the popcorn balls! Oh my gosh, what I wouldn't give right now for one of those popcorn balls. She made them in red or green and they were just the perfect consistency. I'm afraid this tradition has left us when my Nanny left us. She tried to teach my sister how to make them and god knows, I watched her make them dozens of times but can we get them anywhere near as good as hers? Heck!
Saturday, 23 December 2006
Jackie had the day off yesterday, so Abigail spent the day with me but it was all a bit of a whirlwind. The supermarket was jammed so doing the shopping took an extra long time. We had lunch at Starbuck's and then went off to see Sebastian as a spider in his production of Sleeping Beauty. I swear I thought it was Cinderella and it was a good 10 minutes before I realised I had the wrong fairy tale. I was soooooo confused. He was a spectacular spider despite missing 2 out of 5 days rehearsal. That's his mate, Lewis, standing behind him. Sorry about the red eye but my camera doesn't seem to cope with zoom and flash simultaneously.
We've had a snafu with some internet ordered pressies and I have to say I am not impressed. A few years back (the year Abigail was born) we ordered some VERY important pressies for Sebastian online (using http://www.gltc.com/). When they hadn't showed up and we were down to 5 days before Christmas I called them to chase. They informed me that the item was out of stock and would be delivered to me in mid-January. I explained that wouldn't work and it would have been very nice of them to have let me know when I ordered or in lieu of that, when they realised they couldn't deliver it by Christmas. Surely these people realise the purpose of gift orders in November/December tend to be for holiday pressies. Needless to say, I have never ordered a critical item from them and will go out of my way to see if I can find what I do want to order from somewhere else.
Well, it happened again with http://www.presentsformen.co.uk/. Now this catalogue always has loads of nifty little creative stuff, particularly the gifts for girls part. Well, I ordered loads of stuff from them several weeks ago. Yesterday I got a letter in the post saying they were having trouble with my credit card authorisation. So I rang them because I knew there shouldn't be a problem. I gave them 3 different credit card numbers to try and the lady kept saying none of them are working. When I offered my husbands card number, she told me she doubted that would work. I suggested maybe it was their system that was broken and not my credit cards. She said she doubted that. So I hung up. I called my credit card companies. All of them agreed there was no problem with my cards and in fact confirmed that they hadn't even tried to make a charge against the card. So I rang them back. I spoke to a different lady who managed to put the order through but given it is Friday before Christmas Monday, there is not a snowball's chance in hell the items will arrive in time for Christmas. Lot of good the order does me. So let this be a warning to you, don't use them. I will not be using them again.
I must say this internet shopping isn't all it's cracked up to be. You order and then hold your breath. Many US sites won't take credit cards from foreign banks or worse still, they require information like State, zip code, and phone numbers in US format only. Many UK sites won't allow for US shoppers to send to addresses here. What is up with these businesses? I've got friends all over the world and rather than use the postal/courier option which is unpredictable and accident prone, not to mention really really bad for the environment, I would like to buy them something from an internet site. I want the reality of the global economy not the promise of it. Even amazon requires that I have an account in .co.uk and .com. The only eShop that seems to be dealing with these issues is eBay. Thank god for eBay. Have you used the facility for transferring money? It is a beautiful thing! Minimal commission and now my sister went out and did all the shopping for me! Thanks Sis!!!!!
Friday, 22 December 2006
In advance of Sebastian's birth, we had nappies galore, the cot had been set up when I was only 6 months pregnant, and the clothes were stacked clean in little baskets according to size and colour. My hospital bag was packed at 7 months and I checked and rechecked the contents daily. My mother had arrived 4 weeks before my delivery date and we sat in the garden in the unusual sweltering heat of May in England. Seb arrived in the world just a few days prior to his scheduled date of arrival and not a moment too soon.
Hence my rather relaxed attitude towards Abigail's arrival. So there I was having my shoulder massaged when I realised that water was gushing from my nethers (ok not some much gushing as dripping - like when you barely turn on a faucet). I announced with some embarrassment that either my waters had broken or I had peed all over the osteopath table. Luckily the osteo was rather experienced in these sorts of things having had 4 children of his own. He announced with a little too much excitement that he thought my waters had broken.
Now the brain goes into over drive......I knew from all those books I'd read and classes I'd attended that I would either go into labour on my own in the next 24 hours or they would have to go in and get her. "But it is 3 days before Christmas" I wailed. Prophetically, Marc's Uncle John has predicted month's before that this baby would arrive before 2004 was upon us and his son, Simon (who had been chosen as Abigail's godfather), was born on Christmas Eve.
Marc delivered me to the house where I raced around like a mad cow packing a hospital bag and barking orders at him to get baby things from the attic. We fell into bed that night certain that labour pains would awaken our sleep in the night. Imagine our surprise when we awoke the next morning and felt absolutely no grumblings. I was certain I had made a mistake and the moisture running down my legs was just one of those oddities of pregnancy that your mother (or any other woman) never tell you about because if they told you everything about pregnancy the human race would cease to procreate.
We had a pre-scheduled appointment at the hospital on 23rd December to check the position of Abigial since she had been transverse (sideways) since mid-pregnancy and the doctors wanted to check she had gotten herself in delivery position. She had, YEAH!!! Oh but wait, where has all the amniotic fluid gone? Hmmmm, I whispered, "I think my waters might have broken." "When?" the tech asked. Uh, "yesterday" I replied. Well, "you need to see the consultant" she instructed me. "When?" I asked. "Now" she commanded.
The consultant was very calm and assured me that if I thought my waters had broken yesterday but I still wasn't having contractions chances are I was mistaken. She said there was a test to confirm that either I was going to mad or I was going to have a baby. Much to the consultants surprise, I was right, I was going to have a baby NOW! You see, here in England, apparently, the patients are rarely right (or so the doctors think)! The test confirmed my waters had broken, I had very little fluid left and the baby needed to come out within the next 24 hours.
"But it is 2 days before Christmas" I wailed. They didn't care. I was handed my medical files and told to go to another hospital (do not pass go, do not collect $200) except to get my bags which I had optimistically left at home. Trouble was we had Sebastian. Not that he was any trouble. He'd sat with us through the scan and the test and was quite happily picking up all sorts of germs around the hospital. He wasn't going to be so happy for long. My mother wasn't due to arrive until mid-Jan. Marc's mum was on the Isle of Wight and we couldn't reach her by phone as she was working. We'd left numerous messages which she hadn't picked up yet. So the call went out to Uncle John and Auntie Mary who duly took Sebastian off with them.
Abigail wasn't well and had a bit of grunting and some blood sugar problems. They rushed her off to the special care baby unit. The lowest depth of my misery in life was the night I had to leave her in the hospital. I thought someone had cut out my heart. We returned just 3 hours later to feed her but it seemed like a lifetime. She came home with us on 29 Dec 2003.
Marc's Christmas dinner was an out of date sandwich from a garage down the road from the hospital. Santa came late that year for Seb (and Abigail). Marc's mum arrived after Abigail did. My mother arrived in mid-Jan. All my grocery shopping went to waste and we had quite a mess to clean out of the fridge.
On the other side of the Atlantic my family is dealing with one of the worst snowstorms in Colorado history. The drifts are piled high, cars are buried and doorways are blocked. Denver International Airport is closed (albeit a much smaller airport in terms of traffic through compared to Heathrow).
Now before you go and get all romantic on me (or book your skiing holiday) and think this is a good thing stop for a minute and think. Emergency vehicles (ambulances, fire engines, police) can't get through. Trucks can't deliver goods to grocery stores so even if you can walk to the store, the shelves are empty. People die of carbon monoxide poisoning because the vents out of their roofs get blocked. Power lines fall. Go to http://www.flickr.com/ Do a search on Colorado and snow, sort by recent and check out the extent of the damage. Makes our fog look like child's play.
PS Whilst at flickr - check out my photos (link in Family Links to left). I've started to move some of my photos out of snapfish as some people were struggling when snapfish implemented a co.uk site.
Thursday, 21 December 2006
Wednesday, 20 December 2006
Now some may ask yourself, if I am on holiday why in the world do I need to get out of bed? That is easy. My son, Sebastian, is burning up with fever. Seb doesn't get ill very often and when he does, it is bad. He is currently sound asleep in bed with a fever of over 102. I watch him sleep and worry. That is my job today!
Out goes the to do list for this morning and of all the days of my holiday this is the one day that I needed to go to work. Not work exactly but my team is having a Christmas meeting this afternoon following by dinner, drinks and dancing which I was hoping to attend. Hopefully, Marc will be able to arrange his schedule so I can do that. But I have to say leaving a sick child is one of the hardest choices a mother makes. No matter how great a daddy is, mummy's kisses just seem to work a whole bunch better.....or at least that what I've been told.
This is one of the most extraordinary changes in your life when you become a mother. Your needs, desires, priorities go flying straight out a window and the world stops spinning. Your purpose in life is so clear. I have some little person who is looking to me to make it right and whilst I can't take it away, I can certainly make it feel a bit better. I get so much satisfaction out of knowing that this little boy is glad that I am here and right now, in this moment, pretty much thinks I hang the moon. I can do this!
Tuesday, 19 December 2006
My daily posts take about 10-15 minutes to write. I have some already written and stored in the draft box just waiting for the right time to publish. Others just write themselves when I sit down in the morning. So don't be afraid to start your own!
Also, be sure to check out the family links on the left hand side. These are links that we as a family look at all the time! Finally, at the bottom of the posts, you can subscribe to have my posts sent to you via email. Just click on subscribe and enter your email address. My sister is insisting it isn't working so if you have problems, let me know.
Sunday was a big day of rest for the family. In case you couldn't tell it from the blog, we had been very busy. Sunday we spent the day catching up on "things" in and around the house. Sunday night was going to be a night in front of the telly but we got the most pleasant of invites over to the Austin's home. Sandy and Neil are the parents of Seb's school mate, Aisha and Dharma who will start Nursery will Abigail in September 2007. They had invited some other parents from the school and some of their other friends round to theirs for a few drinks and delicious nibbles. They invited us to come as we were and we did (sweat pants and all). The children played and the adults chatted and drank. It was such a relaxing and fun evening. I loved the spontaneity of it! Thanks to Sandy and Neil for the wonderful night!
Yesterday was back to the whirlwind of taxi service for the children. Sebastian is participating in a "Get Up & Go" programme at school. They are doing a production of Cinderella at the end of the week and he tells me he is going to be a spider. Hmmmmm, I don't remember a spider in Cinderella.....perhaps this is a bit like the Native American Indian in the Nativity story. His face was all painted when I picked him up and he had done some swimming so he was exhausted.
Marc and I finished our Christmas shopping after a particularly panicked moment when it became obvious one coveted gift was in fact sold out and no where to be found. Luckily, my star of a husband found it online!!!! Now I just have to get busy wrapping.......ug, my least favourite part of the holiday season!
Sunday, 17 December 2006
OK, so hardly anyone ever reads my blog. Even my family (who should have the highest interest) is sadly disinterested. Very few people leave comments. Even fewer read the comments I leave in response to their comments. I write everyday. No one reads.
I have read (on someone else's blog) that most blogs die after the first post, ie they are never updated again. Now this I don't get. I worked so hard to get the template right and actually figure out how to do the whole thing that I can't imagine putting in the work and then just walking away. Equally, a large number of blogs are abandoned after the first month. OK, so this I get. If a tree falls in the forest, does it matter, if no one is going to use the wood? If I write a blog and no one reads it, what is the point? Well, if I was philosophical I suppose it could be looked at like writing a journal that no one reads until you die. But what is the point in that?
There has been some upside to this whole blogging thing. I am now very conscious to ensure I take photos of our everyday life so I have something to show for it on the blog. I do upload and categorise these photographs which is far more than I used to do. I was lucky to remember the camera for events like yesterday's visit with Santa and would certainly have left them on the memory card for quite a long time if I didn't feel I had a blog responsibility.
And I keep telling myself I am creating a record of my family's life which in later years my children's children may find fascinating reading (or not as the case may be). Probably by then the technology would have moved in so far that no one will actually be able to access this blog. Remember those old 9mm film strips.....heck, who actually owns a VCR nowadays?
But, hey, I feel good about myself because I am keeping up with the revolution. I am reading all sorts of other people's blog and learning about all those things I don't yet know. I wouldn't have even found out about the being a person of the year so early if I had read http://www.huffingtpost.com/ I even figured out how to get my blog indexed on Google and technorati. If you enter our family name on Google you get my blog. No entirely sure how many people will enter our name but how much fun am I having? Besides if I hadn't done this, I wouldn't be Time Person of the Year.
A quick tour round the toy shops to make sure the elves had delivered aforementioned list items, we finished off our Christmas shopping. Abigial & Sebastian certainly got into the swing of the whole shopping thing and really like visiting Hawkins Bazaar in Windsor which has loads of toys & trinkets and things you didn't even know you needed or wanted. This kept them entertained for quite some time.
Off we went to the supermarket to pick up some nibbles for our "Manor Cottages" Christmas doo planned for that evening. For those of you who are unfamiliar with where we live, we are number 3 in a terrace of 4 cottages built in the middle of some fields sometime in the late 1890s. We have the results of the 1905 census and the houses are certainly there then. To the back of us is the crown estate (ie Queen Elizabeth owns it and it is part of the ground of Windsor Castle). to the front of us is English Heritage preservation land (it is believed that the first Windsor Castle (pre 1077) was built near here. It is currently used as horse pasture and is owned by some people who live down the road. What is means is that the 4 families living in these cottages are close. We have only each other for neighbours. Gill lives alone in number 4. Simon & Emma live in number 2 with their infant (3 mo) daughter, Helena. The Gilmour family live at number 1 with 2 of their 3 children, Ross & Harry. Hayley has recently moved out with her boyfriend, Nathan, and their infant son, Tristan.
Gill made some great mulled wine and put on a fabulous feast. We provided the sushi platters, Si & Emma provided some cheese. Jill made a fabulous looking dessert although it must be said I don't remember eating any of it!
Every year we get together for some drinks and nibbles and exchange Christmas gifts and play some fairly competitive games, eg Pictionary. Gills grandchildren, twins Jemma & Tom, joined our festivities. Tom & Gill won the wicked game of Pictionary with a particularly good guess of Tom's producing "pole".
Saturday, 16 December 2006
Friday, 15 December 2006
Sebastian's school is also the choir school for St. George's Chapel which is inside the grounds of Windsor Castle and is the burial place of King Henry VIII, one of his wives, Jane Seymour, and many other monarchs and historical figures. The first thing that strikes you are the 400 or so odd steps that you must climb up the side of the hill to get to the chapel. It is a strak reminder that this iss a fortified royal palace still today (ok, if you don't count the partygoer who snuck in to Prince William's birthday party a few years back up these very steps!).
The chapel itself is stunning both inside and out. You almost feel like you've stepped on to a Hollywood film set. But this is so very real! We have the privilege every year of hearing the choir sing and never is it as special as it is at Christmas. The Choir sang both the Nightingale Carol and the Sussex Carol and it was so sweet. They work very hard for this performance and it was reflected in the exquisite display they put on this morning.
I may be a bit partial but the sweetest sounds heard this morning were from the Pre-Prep (Reception-Year 2) which obviously included Sebastian as they sang the first verse of Away in A Manger. Of course, they were a bit ahead of the organ but who cares? They sang professionally and with great care and attention.
One of my favourite moments in the service is when the 3 wee wise men present their gifts to the clergy whilst the congregation sing We Three Kings of Orient Are. These wise men are very serious and you can tell that they practised very hard to take on this bit of theatrical performance.
The Bidding at the beginning of the service contained a solid piece of advice, regardless of your faith or lack thereof. The Right Reverend reminded us to "let it be our care and delight to pause a while, and to wonder in this ancient place at the mighty works of God;" if your God is nature itself or a heavenly being watching over us, it is wondrous indeed.
Thursday, 14 December 2006
Wednesday, 13 December 2006
The highlight of the day yesterday was Sebastian's Christmas Play at school. He was a Native American Indian. OK, so you might say you don't remember there being a Native American Indian in Bethlehem but the story was that the angels of heaven were sent to all the corners of the world to find the best place for the son of God to be born. One of the places visited was a tribe of North American Indians. The smallest angel got left behind and fell asleep in a stable. God figured if the stable was good enough for his smallest angel, it was good enough for his son. But first we were treated to songs and dances from all corners of the world: China, Switzerland, Spain, Hawaii, Scotland. The children were fantastic. You could tell how hard they had worked. They knew all the words to their songs and sang them loudly. They knew all the steps to their dances. And the looks of concentration on their faces made all the parents so proud. I cried when we were reminded that the birth of Jesus is meant to bring hope to all mankind. Even if you are not a Christian, it was a touching reminder that this time of year is a time of hope: hope for peace, hope for love, hope for joy.The Christmas performance was quickly followed by Sebastian's ballet recital. He is the only boy in the group and he only just started this term whilst the girls have been doing ballet for the last 2 years. He loves it and is not bothered by the fact that he is the only boy. He wasn't as graceful as the girls but I can't help but think that everyone is learning a lesson from him. He reminds everyone that there is a boy in the group and that he doesn't hold his skirt but puts his hands on his hips. I think I need to work with him on his positions but as long as he is having fun! Which by the kisses he was giving Amy it was clear he was enjoying himself.
Little Abigail was dragged from pillar to post. Since Jackie was ill, she went to all the performances with me and was desparate to join in particularly at the ballet recital. She kept running up to the children performing and I kept chasing her down. When we drove home from the ballet recital both children fell fast asleep in the car even though it was only 4:30 in the evening.
My Christmas shopping is nearly finished. I am extremely frustrated with American retailers making it nigh impossible for anyone outside of America to use their websites. One customer service representative on http://www.bathandbodyworks.com/ could not believe I didn't have an American bank account. She asked me why everyone didn't have one. I felt myself distinctly getting out of the Christmas spirit as the ignorance of her statement washed over me. Luckily, my sister is bailing me out of a bad situation.....thank god for PayPal! An easy way to send money anywhere in the world with a few clicks.
Today should be a day of rest. I've got a few errands to run and pressies to wrap. Maybe I'll even take a nap.....ah, but that might be too hopeful!
Tuesday, 12 December 2006
We are always on the lookout for good Mexican food in England which is a bit like always being on the lookout for water in the Sahara. I had been told by a few American women to try Pachanga in Marlow. So for Marc's birthday dinner off we went. The nachos were good. The beef fajitas weren't bad although they were very stingy on the salsa. Marc enjoyed his enchiladas. The menu was not very child friendly and there was not a separate children's menu. Seb and Abigail split a chicken and chips dish which they both seemed to enjoy. They were distracted, however, by the temptation (homemade chocolate birthday cake) that awaited them at home. This in no way shape or form compares to those lovely cake creations that my sister makes and I am well aware the writing looks like a 9 year old did it. I wish I could blame Sebastian but this is entirely my doing! I have it on good authority that it is "the best chocolate cake ever, Mummy."
Today, Abigail's childminder, Jackie, is ill so my little princess is home with me. It is also Sebastian's Christmas Play so get out the tissues. I have dutifully ensured that all the batteries to the various cameras are charged and the memory is cleared so I should not have the same crisis as I did at the the Christingle Service when my camera battery went dead at the first note of the first song.
Also, not only is this my first blog to write but for many of you this is the first blog you've read. It is kind of evolving into something like a journal I used to keep before I had my 2 children, 1 husband, 1 dog, 1 cat, 1 fish, 2 houses, etc..... Please don't forget to visit often as I update it every day (or have so far - not sure how this will play out once I go back to work and am no longer a lady of leisure!). Leave comments about what I write. Sebastian checks the comments when he gets home from school - keeps him reading!!! If you write a comment chances are I respond back so check the comment strings.....kinda like a written dialogue. I am enjoying this and hope you are at least half as much.
Monday, 11 December 2006
Sunday, 10 December 2006
Saturday, 9 December 2006
I've got a few trusted cookbooks that I use over and over and always go back to my Betty Crocker cookbook that is over 20 years old. My Grandmother gave it to me when I first moved out on my own and you can find just about anything you need. It is a small paperback version so it can be hard to read and keep open. I once ventured into Borders and thought I would buy the same cookbook (same recipes) in one of those useful ring binders that stay open and you can wipe the pages clean. What I found what the ring binder with a whole bunch of "updated, modern" recipes which are of no use to me and ask for some of those aforementioned ingredients. I will stick with my yellowed, stained paperback version.
Not that the cookbook helped me last night......it was Friday night and typically we get a take-away/delivery (pizza-children's favourite, Chinese-my favourite, curry-Marc's favourite). Since I am not working I was finding the justification of having a really stressful week a bit harder to make so I decided to do a roast chicken which shouldn't be all that hard: 1) put chicken in roasting tin 2) sprinkle with salt/pepper 3) put half lemons and some fresh basil in cavity 4) put in oven. I sliced some potatoes and put them in around the chicken figuring they would be nice and baked after 2 hours with the chicken. Now a whole chicken is a bit much for just the 4 of us so I rang our neighbour, Gill, who was home early and invited her to join us for a simple dinner. She arrived at 18:30 (a full 2 hours after the chicken was placed in said oven).
The table was set, the children were sitting at the table and I went to remove the chicken when to my horror I realised it wasn't even close to being done and the potatoes were raw. I turned up the heat on the over which is one of those Aga thingies which I swore I would replace when we moved in but I have now got this strange competitive attachment to it. I won't let it beat me! Marc suggested we microwave the chicken.....we have one of those combi microwaves that browns but I've never bothered to figure out how to use it. So I let him get on with fixing the chicken, I put the potatoes in another dish and moved the apple crumble to the top shelf of the oven next to the potatoes hoping I could stall the guest and starving children.
After 15 minutes in the microwave, I put the chicken on the table. As Marc cut in we realised the middle was still a bit undercooked. The potatoes were still raw. At least the broccoli was cooked properly and the Red Salad (chopped tomatoes/red onion/red pepper/feta with a vinegar/olive oil dressing) was good. We gave the children the outside cooked part and split the legs and wings amongst ourselves.
I then remembered the crumble in the oven. I figured if the chicken could be in the oven for 2 hours and still be raw, the crumble was fine. I was wrong. The top of the crumble was burnt to a crisp. We sort of scrapped this off, poured on loads of custard (which didn't hide the fact I spilled the nutmeg in the apples and was hoping no one would notice).
Gill went home and no doubt had to cook herself another meal. I've promised to make it up to her. Soup and BLT sandwiches, anyone?
Friday, 8 December 2006
The party season started a bit early for me on 30 Nov with the celebration of the launch of a new company intranet which I project managed the last half of 2006. The team worked very hard and we played very hard. We hired out the top floor of Que Pasa, a bar in Staines. They did great party food and the drinks were free (well, the company paid). We drank and talked (like drunks do) then said a very sad farewell to our fearless leader, Kirk Downey, who is off to greener pastures (or warmer weather, sunnier skies, sandier beaches) in Australia. He will be missed. At 1am I found myself in the town centre of Staines wondering how to get a taxi, I tried ringing and waking my husband but he showed no sympathy for my plight. I finally wandered (aka stumbled) into a mini-cab office (Niall's cabs) and after a 20 minute wait with people dunker than I (scary!) poured myself into a cab and navigated the dark path up to my house. For fome strange reason I couldn't quite get the keys to work but eventually then co-operated and the stairs presented the next greatest challenge. I did finally make it up to the top of the house. I know this because I woke up in bed the next morning. The middle bit is fuzzy.
Friday I didn't feel so well, must have had a bug.....the hangover bug.
Saturday was yet another party. This one was at Stirrups Country House Hotel in Maidens Green and was for the parents of the children in Year 1 at St. George's School. The food was great, it was good value and the company was fun. It was really great to see that the dads are getting to know each other. Thanks goes to Ian Richardson who paid for our table's wine! Also, congratulations to the other St. George's table who won the quiz. They got robbed on the tie break so didn't get the bottle of champagne. But the quiz master's instructions were vague (flawed) and Janet did put the sock on (just on her hand). He didn't specify the foot - without the shoe! Well done, Janet! Babysitting was provided by Uncle John and Auntie Mary. Children were returned without any visible scarring or bruising so all in all a success!
Sunday evening was the PTA Drinks party at St. George's School with entertainment provided by the school choir. What a delight that was! Mrs Day did a fabulous job getting the parents/teachers/staff to participate in the singing of The 12 days of Christmas. The mulled wine was delicious (as always) and the school kitchen did a fine job with the canapes. Babysitting provided by Lucy, Sebastian's riding instructor at Blue Acres Stables on Ham Island. When we got home, Seb's bedroom was tidy. Must have her babysit more often!
Last night was another works doo for the project I worked on for the first half of 2006. Isi did an amazing job finding a venue (Legoland). The theme was "Hot in Havana". The starters and soup were great but the chicken and lemon tart were dire! I may have another career in gambling (with play money) as I cleaned up at the Black Jack table but I think that had more to do with Ranjit's cheating than my skill/luck. The dance music was the best so far and some of the dance moves on the floor will never be seen again (or at least until we consume that much alcohol again!). My favourite part of the evening has to be the bumper cars. Baz and Trevor/Olga were speed demons. My driver (aka Neil) was amazing and I escaped with no permanent whiplash. Made my way home just after midnight and so far this morning I don't seem to have caught the same bug I had last week. These are just a few of the revellers. To see the rest of the photos follow the Photo Library Link on the left.
They bought the car at a car warehouse (CarGiant) in North London just a few blocks from where the tornado hit London yesterday. The pictures of the damage are astonishing. Check them out at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/6217898.stm
Luckily, here in the Windsor area we only had monsoon rains and gale winds. No property damage unless you count my honeysuckle trellis at the bottom of the garden.
Thursday, 7 December 2006
Wednesday, 6 December 2006
Bailey is growing quickly and so far the house training is going fairly well. Everytime I tell someone that though he wees on the floor. He's grown so much just since we first got him. I dread to think how big this dog is going to get.
Marc has weekend job to get fence sorted......might take more than a weekend.
Abigail is experiencing her first day at pre-school......ok, a full day is 9-12 am and this is just a trial run in advance of January when she will go 2 days/week. But this is a painful step.....for mummy's mostly and all the mums out there will know. When you drop them at the door of the school you can no longer control the people they associate with. Have you seen the delinquents in pre-schools these days? I can just imagine what she is getting up to. Probably having loads of fun without me. She hesitated when she first went in.......oh for about less than 1 minute. She got into playing on the slide, waved goodbye and totally forgot to blow me a kiss. Couldn't she see the tears rolling down my face?
Sebastian had a Christingle service today. Now the pre-prep head assured us this was a very common English tradition although many of the English parents we spoke to had never heard of it before either. But the symbolism behind the whole event was seriously cool. For those of you less informed than I (was 2 hours ago), a christingle is an orange with a birthday candle in the top, sweets in toothpicks stuck in four corners (I know an orange is round and doesn't have corners but use your imagination since I can't post a photo!) and a red ribbon round the middle. They actually trusted these 5/6 year olds to light and hold the candle whilst they sang away in the manager. No one got their hair set on fire and no smoke alarms were activated so all in all a successful school event.
Tuesday, 5 December 2006
Sebastian loves everything Pokemon. He collects that cards and examines them constantly. He can tell you if one is missing or out of order. He does ballet and judo and is learning how to ride. He is a very kind boy but also very boisterous (are't they all?). He is very hard on himself and gets frustrated easily particularly when his school work isn't going so well. His favourite food is broccoli, sushi, and chocolate - go figure!
Abigail is a princess. She loves everything girly. She carries a handbag everywhere she goes, loves jewellery, and sings and dances like she is the next pop sensation. She thinks she is also 5 and wants to do everything her brother does including going to school. She doesn't eat......she has no favourite food and we are not quite sure how she survives on Frosted mini-wheats and bananas.