Wednesday 31 October 2007

Tuesday 30 October 2007

Meal Planning Obsession

As a mother, I think meal planning is one of the hardest things we do. Not hard in requires PhD brain power hard but hard as in tedious, requires limitless creativity and budget considerations as well as ensuring you serve something everyone will like and won't be too fiddly to make after a hard day at the office. This is not easy. My husband hates fish and eggs. My children struggle with many vegetables although carrots, green beans, broccoli and tomatoes are fast favourites.

Many of my cookbooks hark from the other side of the Atlantic (USA) and I sometimes struggle to find the required ingredients. I've been known to travel from supermarket to supermarket and come home with half the ingredients for 5 days worth of meals but not all the ingredients to make anything. Mostly, I've given up on any cookbook that doesn't hark from the UK - with the exception of the Carson Family Cookbook.

Family Fun is one of my favourite websites. I go there for inspiration and help all the time. I found this menu planner on their website and thought what a great idea! Not all the recipes look that easy and some don't look all that healthy but for the most part I think I'll give this a go!

Otherwise, I'm going to create my own blog with family recipes along the lines of Nelli's Redneck Restaurant which is inspiring me and my family is loving the results.

Monday 29 October 2007


Why is chicken called chicken even when we put it on our table?

Cow is called beef. Pig is called pork. Sheep is called uh....lamb, sort of!

I am a firm believer in children understanding where food comes from. We love to grow vegetables in the garden so they can dig up their own potatoes and pick their own tomatoes after they've watched them ripen on the vine.

But I've always struggled with explaining the whole "we eat animals" conversation. To my children, animals are pets.

Mostly I've gotten away with it due to the aforementioned naming conventions. OK, Seb is old enough now he's caught on to the game but plays along to humour me. Abigail, however, has remained blissfully unaware and that's the way I want to keep it for as long as possible.

Yesterday, the rug got pulled out from under me.

Marc roasted a chicken for dinner. It was beautiful. I put it on the table to rest before carving and when Abigail asked me what it was I told her it was a chicken.

She was horrified. She wanted to know where the feathers had gone. And where had the head gone? This looked all a bit too much like a chicken and too little like a chicken. She lost her appetite and wouldn't touch a bite. Of anything.

Now I'm not sure if I should rain on her parade and tell her about her beloved McNuggets. Thoughts?

Bio Diesel

My husband actually completed his first batch of bio diesel yesterday. And this morning he put a bit in his car.

He has been making the kit for doing this for ages. If you don't believe me go check out his blog.

My sister starting harassing him the other day wanting to know when he was actually going to put it all to work and actually make a batch. My husband confessed that he was a wee bit frightened of actually doing it. He conquered his fear and got busy.

We've had a wee bit of trouble from our neighbours. They were concerned about the safety aspects. So was I when he was doing it in the kitchen. But now we know a whole bunch more and when they saw us filling up Marc's car they did indicate they were interested in having some.

Hopefully over the next few days (if Marc's car doesn't explode), we'll start filling up my car as well.

The best part is I never have to go to a petrol (gas) station again. I never have to pay tax on my petrol purchases ever again. And we will save over £100/month!

Well Done, Marc! You are my hero......

Game Over

The World Series dream for the Colorado Rockies ended in the wee hours of this morning when the Boston Red Sox swept the series 4-0 with a 4-3 win over the Rockies.

It just wasn't meant to be. This year.

C'mon April!

Sunday 28 October 2007

Pumpkin Carving

Is there any child focused activity that could be less child friendly?

Give highly excited children a collection of sharp objects and lighted candles and see what happens. Chaos! My daughter nearly poked her eye out with a slight slip and my son was close to setting the house alight.

My son decided to draw a picture of the image he wanted on his pumpkin. It was very ornate and detailed. The idea of transferring this to the front of the pumpkin was going to involve magic and left his father carving for the next hour or so.

We are not entirely sure what Abigail drew a picture of but she seems happy with my interpretation on her jack 0 lantern. She did sit there with a look of intense concentration poking the holes in the design I had drawn. I was amazed my her fine motor skills. My children never cease to amaze me!

Marc usually produces a top artistic product but I must say this year was not his finest piece. He says his canvas was not large enough to work work. Excuses!

The 2 smaller pumpkins are from our very own garden. They are virtually the only produce we managed to harvest this year. Good thing as the other 2 pumpkins were the only ones left in the supermarket this morning.

We have decorated the kitchen and the lounge. We have skeletons hanging everywhere. We haven't been able to put out the spider webs due to inclement weather (it's raining - dangit!). We are now ready for all the ghouls and goblins to come although because we live in the middle of nowhere no one ever comes trick or treating here! But my children are very excited about going for their treats!

Another Care Package

My mother sent her grandchildren some surprises in a box.

Abigail was thrilled to be Dora kitted! She loves the sunglasses and the handbag! She didn't want to wear the hat because she thought it covered up her sunglasses. HINT: New Dora PJs would make a wonderful Christmas pressie. Hers have run their course and are headed for the bin if I can ever get them off of her!

And Sebastian had the best time ever doing his Magic Crystal Garden. Actually even the adults (including the neighbours) were amazed with the outcome of the garden. The bad news was in the morning one of the tress got accidentally knocked over when we had to move it out of the way for breakfast. The next day the whole thing got destroyed when Abigail accidentally dropped her dolly on the mountain.

We had massive tears and tantrums. He was so upset he was inconsolable.

So we put in an emergency request to Grandma for additional Magic Gardens and she delivered!

Thanks, Grandma. You're the Best! I especially say thanks for the Reese's Peanut Butter cups - mmm mmm good!

PS Please do not send any more blue or yellow tack. The dog eats it and I have to keep throwing it away.


This morning (last night if you are in the USA) my heart broke into about a million little pieces as I watched the Colorado Rockies drop Game 3 of the World Series to the Boston Red Sox.

I wept as Carrie Underwood sang the National Anthem, something I don't get to do very often given I live in a foreign country and opportunities don't present themselves very often (or at all). I was so proud to be from Colorado at that moment: a beautiful state, a beautiful baseball stadium, and a great baseball team when performing in front of the home crowd.

And then not far into the first inning it all began to come unravelled. Before long the Rockies were down 6-0 and the deflated look on the fans was depressing. Josh Fogg looked like he didn't bother to even warm up. He was out of the game within 3 innings.

The UK commentators were making quite a big deal over the fact that one of the fans interviewed had said that the Rockies were just happy to be there. Johnny Gould (UK Channel 5 commentator) replied something along the lines that being there ain't the same as winning.

The Denver Broncos first appeared in the Championship Football Game in 1978 at Super Bowl XII. they would go on to lose 5 Super Bowls before ultimately claiming victory in Super Bowl XXXII in 1998. It took them 20 years to do more than just be happy to make it to the game.

Ya gotta settle into these things. It takes time and it takes experience.

I seem to recall that the Boston Red Sox have been to many more World Series than they've won!

The Rockies gave a rally in the bottom of the 6th and 7th inning to come within 1 run of tying the game but it wasn't meant to be and the Rockies fans had to return home and decide how to brave that cold weather and the Boston Red Sox tonight.

I cried as I saw the look of disappointment on the players faces.

I thought I would struggle to decide who to support in this game. I have enjoyed watching the Boston Red Sox play extraordinary baseball. But ultimately, I'm a Colorado girl. And this Colorado girl is praying for a baseball miracle.

Saturday 27 October 2007

Oprah Extravagance

I am normally a big fan of everything Oprah. But today watching her show I nearly threw my shoe through the television.

Her guest was Colin Cowie, party planner extraordinaire. They featured some of the parties and specifically some of the weddings he has put together. It was extravagance and over-indulgence over the top.

Wedding guests were given miniature wedding cakes in little boxes. The flowers alone must have cost tens of thousands of dollars. People feel enormous pressure to put on weddings bigger and better than the last one they went to. I know people who put off getting married just so they can save money to have the big princess wedding. Not a good reason!

I am reminded of the wedding photographs of both sets of my grandparents. Neither of my grandmothers had wedding dresses of the white meringue fluff type. They both wore pretty suits and carried a sensible bouquet. I even remember my grandmother telling me that they got married in the morning so the men could work the fields in the afternoon.

Mr Cowie then gave us a tour of his home. Shiny surfaces and organisation abounded. His dishes were colour coded. His white dishes were perfectly organised. And he had a whole other room for his coloured dishes and glasses. I saw no cupboard that contained plastic Tupperware dishes or children's sippy cups. Sorry, Oprah, my house is barely big enough to contain what it needs and I sure as heck don't need more than 2 sets of dishes, everyday and my wedding china. That's just excessive.

He had another room that was dedicated to gifts. He had a place where he pre-wrapped and stored gifts of fragrant candles and bottles of champagne/wine so that he could just pull one out when it was appropriate. I think giving generic gifts is rude and inconsiderate. And once again, I have a spare bedroom for guests not gifts. And "couture ice cubes". Are you kidding me?

Oprah and Colin kept telling us that "Love is in the Details". This really pissed me off. Details are something I rarely have time for. I'm lucky to remember my children's caps before they go off to school. If I manage to have the time to cook a meal for guests, I'm having a good day and nobody cares that I've cooked lasagna. They are just happy to be sharing food together. We've had friends over for soup! I don't love them any less just because I didn't have matching napkins and napkins rings with a beautiful centrepiece.

She then showcased a clothing range called Splendid which has t-shirts and trousers for bumming around in. The tops are $58 and the trousers are $98. Now, I don't know about you but I know I don't spend that much on my bumming around clothes. Is she insane?

Has Oprah lost touch with reality? Has she lost touch with her target audience, all of us little people who are just getting through everyday struggling with school fees and mortgage payments and insurance costs? My family are more well off than many. And the pressure to keep up with the Jones is intense. Imagine how hard it must be for so many of her viewers especially when she is a role model for so many women. Must we set such high and impossible expectations? Doe she know how unattainable her lifestyle is? And how inadequate that can make some feel? Let's show how to throw a party within the budgetary grasp of the common woman! Now, there's a show idea!

A word to Oprah: don't forget where you came from and remember most of us are still there.

And a word to Mr Cowie: get a life. I get excited when I get everyone out of the house on time and with their hair combed and teeth brushed having had a nutritious breakfast.

NOTE: The Oprah Show broadcast schedule in the UK differs significantly from the schedule in the USA. this show was originally broadcast in August in the USA. You can see the details by clicking here.

The Simpsons

I am not a big Simpsons fan. I mean it is ok but I seldom giggle out loud when watching it.

My husband on the other hand is a huge fan. He alternates alter egos between Homer and Bart. He's a little bit of both.

And much to much shock and horror both of my children love it.

We have had many adult conversations about the age inappropriateness of the Itchy and Scratchy show not to mention the slacker values (which may be why it is so near and dear to my husband).

Abigail loves Dora The Explorer but she gets bored. Who wouldn't?

Sebastian loves Power Rangers but I find it makes him a bit hyper active. Who wouldn't?

But for a 30 minutes every evening Marc sits down with Sebastian and Abigail nestled in the crooks of his arms to watch the entire program. I sit in the kitchen blogging away listening the belly laughter emanating from the living room. From all of them.

I don't get it. It doesn't matter. It's their quality time!

Friday 26 October 2007


The other day I was upstairs getting ready for work. Abigail announced she was going to get ready for work too. I wasn't entirely sure what this entailed but was too absorbed in my own schedule to stop and interrogate. She disappeared off downstairs to her bedroom.

She returned 10 minutes later with this face. She proclaimed she had done her own makeup.

The makeup was a gift from some good friends last year. At first I was horrified. I am adamantly against the eroticism of young children and refuse to buy my little girl clothes that make her look like a hussy: mid-drift tops, etc. My own mother refused to let me wear makeup until I was 16 and I was convinced this was a good decision.

When Abigail saw the makeup kit she was overjoyed. It included lip gloss, nail polish, blush, and eye shadow. I thought she could wear this around the house. what harm could it do?

One day the family went out shopping. Abigail carried one of her many handbags. As we were getting out of the car I realised she had secreted a lip stick in her handbag and deftly applied it on the drive to the shops. We went into the shops with Abigail wearing bright pink lipstick smeared all over the vicinity of her lips.

When Abigail appeared with her full face on as displayed in the photograph we were going to out to lunch with some friends and we didn't have time to clean off her face. So I just let it go. We got loads of people telling her how beautiful she looked. Fuel for the fire....

I say pick your battles. And she thought she looked beautiful. So do I!

Hi Ho Hi Ho

It's off to Denver we go!

The Rockies are down but not out. They lost Game 2 in Boston 2-1 and are down two games to nil in the best of 7 series. I've stayed up all night watching the game and it was a nail bitter. Lots of missed opportunities and stranded runners.

But their record at home is amazing and I wish I was going to be there.

I'm off to bed for a couple hours sleep before the children get up and I hope I can stay awake through the day tomorrow. See you Saturday night (Sunday morning my time)!

Thursday 25 October 2007

Out Played

The Rockies lost the first game of the World Series 13 -1 to the Red Sox. The winning streak is over.

Quite frankly, they were out pitched, out hit, and out played.

Josh Becket pitched a great game and the bats were hot. The Rockies had to go deep into the bullpen just to finish the game.

The Rockies had 8 days of rest and I can't help but think that it affected their rhythm.

Tonight is Game 2. I hope the Rockies heat up.


I love snow. Lots of snow. I'm from Colorado. What do you expect? Blizzards excite me! The sound of the outdoors changes dramatically when it is covered in snow.

Only once in the 11 years I've been living in the UK has there been enough snow on the ground to make a snowman. And I was in Colorado.

Marc & I were pregnant with Sebastian and I had taken him home to meet my family and enjoy the Christmas festivities at the Grandmother's house. We had a light dusting of snow on Christmas Eve so technically it was a white Christmas but by Colorado standards it hardly qualified.

When we flew over London on our trip back and looked down the ground was blanketed in white. There were even piles of snow on the sides of roads where the snow had been cleared. It melted in a few days. We missed the fun entirely.

A few years later when Abigail was a few months old we returned to Colorado for Easter. We took Marc's mum with us. We all had the flu and were sick for much of the celebrations early in the week. But it snowed. Every morning we woke up to masses of snow despite the fact that it was April. The grandchildren built a snowman in the front garden at my Grandmother's home. I've got a picture of it somewhere! The snow would melt by the end of the day and new snow would fall overnight. It was glorious!

It snowed in Denver on Sunday night. It didn't here in Old Windsor. It will be the same story throughout the winter. I wish it would snow here instead of all that dreary rain of winter!

I loved snow days when I was in school. I love seeing children all bundled up in snow suits. I love their little red drippy noses. I love going sledding. I envy my sister's children who have a steep hill in their back garden and can go sledding any time there is snow!

We don't own snow suits. Haven't got the need. We've got some very nice big coats courtesy of Grandma (my mother in Colorado). My children love wearing them. They think they are arctic explorers when they put them on.

Bring on the Snow!

Wednesday 24 October 2007

Big Night

Tonight (actually tomorrow morning 1 am GMT) is the start of the World Series.

The Colorado Rockies play the Boston Red Sox.

I am so excited I can hardly contain myself. I can't remember ever being so excited about a World Series.

And the game is to be broadcast live here in the UK. My plan is to get a few hours sleep before the start of the game, get up to watch the game and catch a few hours sleep before I go to work in the morning. I will have to repeat that performance tomorrow night as well. I will be shattered by Friday. Glad I have the day off.

My hope is that I can stay up tonight. I failed when the Rockies played in the NLC Series. I get very sleepy around 11 pm and that's it. I can't keep my eyes open. I hope I don't let my team down.

Go Rockies! Rock the World!

Backstreet Boys

My brother, George, sent me this link. You won't want to miss it!

Half Term

This week is half term. The children are off school until 31 October. It's like someone just added another ball to my juggling act.

I'm lucky to have a child minder who keeps an open slot for Sebastian during the school breaks and since she has Abigail in the afternoons it is not much trouble to also have her in the mornings.

I'm not entirely sure what parents do when they don't have a childminder. And after Abigail starts school full time next year, I'm not sure what we'll do. I'll cross that bridge then.

But I do want to spend some time with the children when they are not in school. Isn't that what half term is all about?

So now I find myself trying to juggle. Again!

Tuesday 23 October 2007

Jostling for Position

Our home has two computers: 1 that the children use and 1 for the grownups. Or rather, grownup - ME!

At work I barely have time to pee. And I don't believe in using my work time to check my personal emails or write blog posts. And Facebook is blocked. So I try to use my time at home to use the computer. Either first thing in the morning or last thing at night. that's sometimes why you get 2 posts from me on any given day.

But now that my husband is a bio-diesel god and has quite a popular blog himself as well as a Facebook addiction rivalling my own, we are finding ourselves in constant competition for computer time in the evenings.

Now my argument is he's got more spare time during the day and a host of computers in his office to use for his purposes. I, on the other hand, do not.

Therefore, I reason, my request for computer time should take precedence over his. He insists that possession is 9/10 of the law and he makes sure he sits down before I do. Since I go to work first thing in the morning and I have to take a shower and get ready, I find him crowding the screen when I come downstairs and the children are eating their breakfast. Since I prepare the evening meal, I find him blogging away whilst I am making dinner. Since I read the children their bedtime stories I am the last downstairs in the evening and I invariably find him camped out in front of the computer.

I've tried coming up with a schedule to fairly distribute the available computer time. He laughs at the plan claiming it unfairly benefits my schedule. I just don't understand what is wrong with him blogging between the hours of midnight and 3 am.

What this means is that I get more blogging done on the weekend than during the week. This is a bit of a problem since most of my readers check the blog during the week and I see a sharp decline on the weekends.

I think I'll try to write a bunch of posts on the weekend and plan on posting them during the week. Of course, this only works when the post is not time sensitive and with most things in the electronic world of the web, time is of the essence.

I could write less. One reader complained that I posted too often but more readers expressed concern when I skipped 2 days in a row. My mother even rang worried something horrible had happened to me.

I'll try to stick to the at least once a day. And I'll use that stick to beat my husband off the computer! But if I skip a day, I blame him.

Monday 22 October 2007

Red Sox vs Rockies

My loyalties are going to be tested after the Red Sox hammered the Cleveland Indians last night and won Game 7 11-2.

The way I'm looking at this is that I can't lose! No matter who wins I will be happy.

However, I have been thinking about this long and hard and I must confess now that I am faced with the decision, I am going to have to root for the Colorado Rockies.

This team has never ever before made it to the World Series. The Sox won the series in 2004 and have been to the World Series 11 times in their long historical career.

And on Sunday night it snowed in Denver! The Rockies had to move their practice inside. Snow in Denver in October is common. Let's face it the place is 5,280 feet above sea level. But we are prepared for that. There is a ground warming system under Coors field which warms the field to 60 degrees F so any snow melts off rather quickly. And the ground crew used grow blankets which cover the grass a keeps it from freezing. There's also a drainage system which sucks the excess moisture off the field and makes it semi-dry. So weather won't be an excuse.

Game 1 is 24 October at Fenway Park. The Rockies won't be scared. When they played the Sox in June they won 2 of 3 games at Fenway!

Go Rockies!

(Go Red Sox!)

Sunday 21 October 2007

American League

I am hoping for a Red Sox win over the Cleveland Indians.

OK, well, not that much.

I am a huge Red Sox fan. I hate the Cleveland Indians only slightly less than the Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees. So I really want the Sox to win a trip to the World Series. That contest is currently tied at 3 with the final game being played at an absurd hour for anyone living in GMT.

But IF the Cleveland Indians were to win, it would make my allegiance to the Colorado Rockies performance very pure. If, on the other hand, the Sox were to win and Colorado played against them in the World Series, I would be torn.

My friends and family keep asking me who I'm going to root for if in fact both teams make it through. Having been a Sox fan for a very long time, I've decided to cross that bridge when I get there.

Go Red Sox!

Return of the Impetigo

Abigail's infection returned with a vengeance last week. After yet another trip to the doctor we now have an "even stronger" antibacterial cream which we are smearing on her 3 times day.

I am now getting very paranoid particularly when the doctor announced that this looked like a very resistant strain. It brought to mind the warnings from the other side of the Atlantic in the last week.

She looks like they are starting to get better but that's what we thought the last time! If we don't see marked improvement in the next 24 hours we are going back to the doctor and requesting a specialist!

England Rugby

Last night the country stood still for a few hours whilst England played against South Africa for the title of World Rugby Champions in Paris, France. It was not meant to be.

All I can say is at least they didn't embarrass themselves. South Africa beat England in the very first game of the tournament 36-0. Most everyone feared a similar fate. That was not meant to be either.

England played with all their hearts. They made some foolish mistakes and they had a try which was taken away from them. Bad luck. I'd like to say it's part of the game but with instant replay it was clear that it was a try. But for the rest of the game England pushed and passed and kicked with all the strength they could muster.

In the end, England played respectably but lost 6 to 15. They lost to the best team and South Africa deserved the win.

PS I've never seen so much blood in a sporting event! One SA player had to forced off the field to go get his eyelid stitched up before he was allowed to return to the game for the final minutes. The white jersey's of the England players were soaked in the red of their own and their opponents blood. Not sure I like this game......

Saturday 20 October 2007

Game 6

I can't write about what Game 6 between the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians means any better than this. Read that!

Nursery Harvest Festival

As the parent of 2 children at St George's, I realise I quickly fall into step with the rhythms of the school year.

September carries the rush of getting acquainted with the new schedules and new teachers. We learn that swimming is on Wednesday instead of Tuesdays, Games will be on Monday, gym on Friday and spelling quizzes will be held every Friday. Everything has to have a name tag sewn on and bed times are rigidly enforced to avoid the morning time crunch of breakfast, getting dressed and joining all the other parents in traffic queues whilst dropping off.

October carries the realisation that we are nearly halfway through the first term and we need to book our Christmas party or we will miss out on the best on offer. And we know that the time for the Harvest Festival is drawing near.

For Nursery parents, this is a time of incredible anxiety. You are never quite sure how your child will react when faced with standing in front of a hundred or so parents and being asked to perform.

I was particularly concerned with Abigail. Hopefully, you have read in my previous post that Sebastian's first performance was done holding the hand of the Pre-Prep Head the entire time. I don't think he opened his mouth to sing a single line. He just stared out at the mass of people with pure fear written all over his wee little pudgy toddler face.

Abigail was a bit of an unknown. She has proven to me time and time again this school year that she is full of surprises.

At home Abigail is bossy. She never tidies up her toys. She never listens. She whinges and whines when she doesn't get her way. She is bossy and winds Sebastian up until he loses his temper with her.

I warned the Nursery teachers before she started and apologised for my shortcomings as a parent. I was hoping they could do better than I had done.

Earlier this week Marc and I went to Abigail's teacher conference. I thought she was telling us about all the other children. But no, she was referring to Abigail.

Apparently she is kind and compassionate to her classmates. She is helpful to her teachers and always does as she is asked. She listens to stories intently and willingly participates in all activities. She volunteers to help around the classroom.

And apparently she can count, recognise her colours and even knows all of her shapes. She'll even tell them how old she is. she refuses to do any of this at home. She pretends to not know how to count and flat out denies having any recognition of colours (except for pink). If you ask her old she is, she will reply either 2 or 4 but never the correct answer of 3.

The teacher told us she was having us on. How reassuring.......

Sometimes Abigail can be a bit shy around strangers. When she is first introduced she hides behind me until she gains confidence which can take several hours and usually we've long since gone when she decides to warm up. She refused to speak to her godfather, Simon, all afternoon a few weeks ago. During the drive home she announced she loved Simon.

Abigail loves to perform around the home. She's got numerous microphones and is always putting on shows for us and the neighbours and some close friends. But knowing that the Harvest Festival was going to put her in front of all those people I was convinced she would stand with her back towards them and refuse to participate.

Boy, was I wrong!

Year 1, Reception and Nursery performed together and the wee little Nursery children were seated at the front. The school had reserved the front seats for the Nursery parents and when Abigail marched in I was delighted to find she was standing nearly in front of me.

She was brilliant. She sat quietly when she needed to sit quietly. She stood when she needed to stand. She sang songs when it was her turn. She even played an instrument. Well, she knocked together her two rhythmic sticks almost in time with the music occasionally with a bit of extra flourish adding in a few more beats just to keep the party going.

She smiled throughout and really seemed to be enjoying herself. I'm not sure she even noticed all the other people. She seemed happy just to be performing for her mummy and daddy.

I was happy to see just her perform. She could have been a show of one. She's a natural. I'm sure every other parent in the room felt the same way.

And that's the first of many Harvest Festivals!

Friday 19 October 2007

Year 2 Harvest Festival

This morning we awoke to the cold of our first freeze of the season. The grass was covered in frost. Ice on the windscreens had to be cleared before the drive to school through the thick steam of fog rising from the river. It was simply beautiful.

Today was Sebastian's last and Abigail's first Pre-Prep Harvest Festival.

When the children graduate from Year 1 and move up to Year 2 they are reminded that they are now at the top of their class. They are the leaders of the Pre-Prep. They set the example for the younger children. This is a big responsibility. And today we saw how much they deserve this responsibility.

All the children have worked very hard to get to this day. Papers with lines, songs, and poems have been hung on refrigerators doors for weeks. As parents we have learned the bits for our children but are entirely unaware of how it all fits together. And then there are those surprises when you watch your child performing something you have never seen or heard before.

Their hard work paid off and they performed beautifully.

To the delight of all their parents, some children recited poetry they had written themselves. They sang several songs including one charming tune in French. They recited harvest prayers that again they had written themselves. They seemed to grasp the concepts of the celebration: they are fortunate and there are others who are not so. They gave thanks and prayed for those in need.

The teachers and their helpers have done an amazing job of preparing the children for this day. And in only 6 weeks!

All the parents were very proud of the children and their performance. They were all so confident. They spoke clearly and loudly. They sang like little angels. No one muffed their lines. No one got stage fright.

I have always found the Harvest Festival to be very emotional. I remember Sebastian's very first one. He was only 3 years and 4 months old. I was so tiny that even the smallest size school uniform was too big for him. He couldn't step up the risers without assistance. He stood through the whole performance on the corner firmly grasping the hand of Miss Griffin, the Head of the Pre-Prep. I'm not sure if he was scared and just needed her reassurance or if he was just so fond of her he couldn't bear to be apart from her. I reckon it was a wee bit of both.

Today I watched Sebastian perform. He wasn't scared. He stood amongst his peers. He sang confidently and spoke with authority. I couldn't stop smiling. I was so proud of him. We were all so proud of all of them. And in the end I shed a few tears. They are growing up so fast.

We are so lucky. And I am grateful.

Thursday 18 October 2007

Love in a Box

At this time of year my children are preparing for their Harvest Festival at school.

I've told you before how much I love autumn. One of the reasons I love autumn is it is harvest time. We celebrate our fortunes and pray that we have harvested enough to feed us throughout the cold barren winter. Well, at least that is the idea. Nowadays we just import what we don't have and many people I know don't give a second thought to buying out of season fruits and vegetables. Very few people I know can or freeze their summer garden produce. Very few people I know even have summer gardens.

And this summer our garden was a complete catastrophe. How lucky I am to have the option of a supermarket.

One of the traditions at St George's School is to participate in the Love in a Box Program. The idea is the you collect items for a girl and a boy within selected age ranges and fill a bx with goodies and useful stuff.

So in goes toothbrushes, toothpaste, face cloths, scarves, hair brushes, combs. and then in go fun stuff like cuddly toys and modelling clay, and coloured pencils and notebooks. Of course, we also include chocolates and sweets. the best part is when I ask the children to go to their toy boxes and pick out their favourite toys to give away.

I'm amazed at their generosity. Maybe I shouldn't be. My children are fortunate to have a lot. They have so much they will probably hardly notice or miss what they have given away. But in that moment, they have chosen something that is special to them and given it to someone else far less fortunate than them.

How lucky I am to have them!

Tuesday 16 October 2007


I read numerous blogs written by mums: stay at home mums, working mums, funny mums and frustrated mums.

It makes me fell less alone. It reminds me that we're all dealing with similar struggles. It reminds me that we all make compromises. It reminds me that someone always has it worse off than me. It reminds me that some are luckier than me. It never fails to make me laugh. Out loud. Belly rolling. It reminds me that we all love our children.

I blogged about my struggle to balance career and work. I just want to make one thing clear: I want to work. I like working. I would go absolutely insane if I didn't work.

I'm happy for everyone out there who have other arrangements as long as they are happy with those arrangements. But I don't want you thinking for one single minute that I've had this choice made for me due to financial circumstances or otherwise. I weighed up the options. I played out the scenarios. I made my choice.

I know some stay at home mums who are regretting their decision to take a break in their careers cause it ain't something you get back easily. Even my 1 year off for Abigail's first year nearly ended my career with my current company. And the 6 months I took off to have Sebastian lost me my job despite protection from the law.

No, I work because I enjoy my career. Because working makes me a better person which in turn makes me a better mother.

My children are happy. They are confident. They are socially successful.

My working hasn't done them a dang bit of harm.

I know numerous women who have made the same choice. They feel judged by stay at home mums. They feel judged by men whose wives stay at home.

Stop! We each do what works for us.

And to all of you stay at home dads working to undo the gender stereotypes of generations:

National League Champions

At 6:43 am this morning the call came in.

The Colorado Rockies are the National League Champions.

They swept the series with 4 straight wins. They have won 21 of their last 22 games.

Bring on the World Series!

You have no idea how much I wish I was in Denver at this very moment!!!!!!

Monday 15 October 2007

3 Down, 1 to Go

Last night my phone rang at 4:41 am. I have found that typically when the phone rings at that hour it is never good news.

However, I have a family who struggles with the whole concept of time zones so this is not always the case.

My sister, knowing that I would be unlikely to stay awake until the wee hours of the morning, had rang to tell me that the Colorado Rockies had won the third game in a best of seven contest for the National League Champion title and a trip to the World Series. The weak and feeble Arizona D'Backs have not managed to win a single game!

Tonight is the 4th game. A win will seal the deal and the Colorado Rockies will be headed to the World Series for the first time in franchise history. I have given them permission to ring at that insane hour once again if the news is good.

Man, am I praying for a wake up call!

Sunday 14 October 2007

Am I Dreaming?

This baseball season just simply couldn't get any better for me. Or maybe it couldn't get any worse.

The Colorado Rockies are winning the National League Championship Series 2 games to nil. Not even sure if the D'backs are bothering to show up. The Rockies have absolutely dominated the pitchers mound! They have won 19 of their last 20 games and they have a chance to seal the deal on 14 October at 8:30 (MST) which is 7 hours behind GMT. Which means I will undoubtedly get very little sleep on Sunday night/Monday morning.

GO Rockies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And in the American League Championship game the Red Sox are tied with the Cleveland Indians at 1 game all after an amazing (and disappointing) 11th inning last night.

C'mon Sox!!!!!!!

Now comes the tricky part. It would be a dream to see the Rockies in the World Series. It would be a dream to see the Red Sox in the World Series. it would be a disaster for me personally to have them play against each other. Who do I root for?

In other sporting news: England won against France in the semi final of the Rugby World Cup last night. I am not a big Rugby fan and after the humiliating loss of England's first game to South Africa 36-0 I was reticent to watch anymore. But last week England beat Australia 12-10 in the last 20 minutes of the game. And last night they did the same to France.

After an early try scored for England, France dominated the game and led most of the way. But then England pulled out all the stops. I'm not sure where they got the energy. They must have dug deep and the French must have been hugely frustrated. No matter how hard they ran, how hard they played England stopped them dead in their tracks. Two kicks saved England and after an agonising 2 minutes of injury time during which the French threatened to score, England was ultimately victorious with a final score of 14-9.

Tonight South Africa take on Argentina to determine who will play England in the final game next week.

One question which is constantly posed to me and I am weak to defend is why is the baseball championship called the World Series when only 2 nations play in it? Both the Rugby World cup and the Football (soccer) World Cup have teams from all over the world. Any answers?

Saturday 13 October 2007

Nobel Observations

The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Doris Lessing just a few days ago.

I have tried to read Doris Lessing upon the recommendation of my sister (although she now denies ever having recommended it to me). Some of my more astute readers will remember the result which were document in this post. Let's just say it wasn't flattering.

And then I read the author's reaction to winning the prize as reported in the New York Times:

"Either they were going to give it to me sometime before I popped off or not at all."

I could say the same thing! She's not very clever, is she? So what exactly is the criteria for winning the Nobel Prize?

On a more positive note, my hero, Al Gore, shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC assesses scientific information related to human-induced climate change. This is a well earned, well deserved award.

Not so sure about the literature prize though. Seems to me the thought "gee she wrote lots and she's getting on in years, maybe we oughta give her an award or something". Kinda like those lifetime achievement awards at the Oscars for those actors who never actually won during their career but made so many dang bad films we gotta tip our hats to them!

So I went back through the list of Nobel Prizes for Literature. I was afraid that over the last several decades, there were only 3 or 4 writers whose names I even recognised. I found that as I travelled back in time I was far more familiar with the authors and had more than likely read their several of their books. I even found some of my favourites: Pearl S Buck, John Steinbeck, TS Eliot, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Isaac Bashevis Singer. Does this mean that good literature needs to age, like fine wine and superb port? Or that the Nobel committee used to be much better at picking out winners?

Another observation I made was if the authors were not American, English or Irish I did not recognise their names nor could I cite their works. Their were a couple of exceptions: Gabriel Garcia Marquez who hails from Columbia(whose work 100 Years of Solitude I have been trying to read off and on for over 6 years now); JM Coetzee who is originally from South Africa but now lives in Australia. I don't know about him from his writing but due to the controversy surrounding his, according to some, abandonment of his mother country for the good life in a Western culture. I also recognised last years winner, Orhan Pamuk but only because the book group forced me to read his book which I hate to admit but did really enjoy.

Why are authors from other countries not translated and published in foreign countries? Any one?

Hardest Job

I've posted about the first job I've ever had. That post generated lots of comments and posts from fellow bloggers about their first jobs. Now I though I would post about the hardest job I ever had.
During my last year at high school I left Wendy's and went to work at Lakewood Bar and Grill. I thought the money would be a bit better. Instead of the minimum wage offered by the fast food industry, I would be given a small hourly wage and then be compensated with a share of the waitresses tips based solely on how well I cleared the tables of their customers.

Lakewood Bar & Grill was a local watering hole on Colfax Avenue which runs the full length east to west across the suburbs and right through the centre of Denver. In the city it is the hotbed for prostitution and drug dealing. In Lakewood, it is the hotbed for dodgy used car dealerships and second hand shops.

The grill had good breakfast and as a child we often went there after church for our Sunday morning breakfast. Most of the customers were locals who sat at the bar or families who came in for dinner. We also had a large number of truckers who stopped in for their meals.

I formed some very good relationships with the waitresses and found them to be fascinating characters. I figured out what their expectations were since each wanted their customers handled slightly differently. I was quick and careful to be not intrusive. I don't think I ever dropped or broke anything.

I didn't mind clearing the tables. The waitresses always gave me at the very least my fair shares of their tips and often I was given generous sums.

The worst part of this job was when we were having a slow night I had to clean the cellar. All the beer kegs were kept down there and I had to clean the floor which meant I had to shift the beer kegs around.

I weighed maybe roughly 70 lbs. I believe the beer kegs weighed more than I did. I would get home from those shifts aching to the core of my body. there were several times I would sit down and cry.

The waitresses used to tell the owner that he really needed to ask someone else to do the shifting but he wouldn't. For some reason I just don't think he liked me very much.

After a couple of months, I quit the job. It wasn't because of the beer kegs. I quit because my mom and I agreed that the late night walk home was too dangerous for a young girl of 17. Looking back on it, I think that was a good decision. We had to walk through a very dodgy part of Lakewood and even now I don't think I would do that late at night.

So that's the hardest job I've ever had....not bad really. I wasn't cleaning toilets. And I wasn't standing on a busy street in the blazing heat trying to sell hot dogs. Ask my sister!


In 1992 I found myself living in Germany and the civil servants were striking. I didn't know exactly what that meant to me personally. Until the very fabric of daily life began to break down. The first place I felt the impact was our lack of post (mail). But hey, I didn't care - at first. I received no bills - wahoo! And then I received no letters from home. OK, that wasn't so good.

Then the tram drivers weren't driving. But I had a boyfriend with a car so he could drop me off at the office. But with the trams off the traffic on the roads was horrendous and what should have been a 15 minute journey turned into an hour. It was faster to walk which I would have done if not for the relentless rain of Dusseldorf.

Then catastrophe. The rubbish wasn't being picked up. We were very careful about our household waste and tried to seriously limit ourselves. But then we went into the Altstadt to do our shopping in the town centre market (where you go to buy all fresh fruit and veg) for the week). There was a heap of rubbish off to the side.

It smelled bad. Very bad. And the rats had moved in. They thought they had hit pay dirt! Literally.

The strikes lasted for 2 weeks. It was bedlam. And I have always been amazed at how quickly the fabric of civilised society started to break down.

The Royal Mail (the company owned by the government who delivers the post) is trying to modernise under the intense of competition of email and private courier companies. The postal workers (eg post men) want to secure their pensions.

To me it appears to be a breakdown of communication: you won't have a job or a pension because the company will go bankrupt if we don't make these changes.

The postal workers have gone on strike. Last month we had 2 days of official industrial action (strike). During that time, loads of mail went missing and was never delivered. Small business who rely on regular cash flow were paralyzed and in many cases went bust.

This week we've had a further 2 days of official action and 2 days of unofficial. Over the last 7 days, we've received 5 pieces of post. Normally, we receive twice that every day.

I kept telling myself at least it was just the postal workers. Not to worry.

Then on the way to work I heard the most extraordinary news story. Over the last few months the theft of metal has increased dramatically. What is metal theft?

Apparently, unsavoury, dishonest and greedy individuals steel everything from road signs to manhole covers to bus station frameworks to copper piping in hospices to aluminum flower holders at gravesides. Everything is melted down and sold to satisfy the demand for metal at an increasing price.

Oh, why do I feel like the very fabric of society is breaking down around me?

Friday 12 October 2007

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penny

This was the October selection for my book group. I missed last month and despite having an invite from the Year 2 Mum's Group from school for a mum's night out I decided I wanted to spend it with my book group. Besides they went in the diary first!

This book is a murder mystery in the most simplistic terms. But there are some complex story lines which add some depth and interest to the story. Set in the Canadian wilderness in 1967, a man is found brutally scalped (is there any other kind of scalping?) and a woman's son has gone missing.

The book is full of vivid descriptions of the white blindness surrounding much of the northern Canadian landscape. And the characters are likable, despicable, loving, vile in turn. It is a captivating story rich with deep and thoroughly human characters. There is no superficial treatment of any of the plot lines.

Which is part of my only problem with the novel. There is a lot going on and the author uses pronouns liberally, particularly at the beginning of chapters so you are never entirely sure of whose perspective you are reading. She also alternates between the use of the character's last name and first name. it took me a while to figure out who everyone is and to future readers of the novel, I recommend you keep a little crib sheet with you as a book mark which is what I did when I read East of Eden, another novel loaded with characters.

This book was a bit of a surprise. It is the debut novel from Stef Penney. She is a Scottish agoraphobic who has never travelled to Canada and in fact finds it incredibly stressful just to leave her home. I'm not sure how authors do that. I've always thought you write about what you know. In fact, once when I was musing about the great novel inside my head, a friend of mine said to me "But you don't know anything about that." I'm sure she meant well and I thought ok, maybe I need another idea. But now I realise I don't. But you do need extraordinary talent and lots of hard work to be able to produce a novel as robust as The Tenderness of Wolves.

Highly Recommended!

Book Group Review: Only a few of us finished the novel. Those that did loved it. Those that didn't were inspired to hurry it up! Only BE felt that the editing wasn't as tidy as it could of been. KH, HA, and I agreed that we liked the loose ends. Life doesn't get all tidied up. There are always loose ends. The resident Canadian, HA, couldn't believe how accurate the detailing of the landscape was. She was amazed when she discovered that the author had never actually visited Canada.

Next Month's Selection: The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai.

Thursday 11 October 2007

Wedding Anniversary

My husband and I have been married 5 years yesterday 10 October. I can't imagine not being married to him.

When we met in 1999 in a pub in Windsor we had both been going to that pub for 3 years before that and never set eyes upon each other. Clearly we weren't ready to meet each other before that night. Because since we met we haven't really been apart. We married 3 years after we met (to the day). My Nanny once told me it was destiny and we both just had to be ready and that's why I made (what seemed at the time) a rather absurd decision to stay in the UK.

My neighbour, Dawn and I were there to watch the Rugby World Cup. I was walking through the pub looking for Dawn. God only knows where she went. It isn't a big place and I never did find her that night. As I walked past Marc, I bumped into him (accidentally, I swear) and said "Excuse me." He asked me "What part of Ireland are you from?" I told him he was an idiot. He clearly didn't understand what I said (must have been my accent) and thought that I wanted to speak to him. Then it was last bell and I didn't walk to walk home in the dark alone. I had to go through a very dark, deserted alley to get to my flat about 1/2 mile from the pub and in a drunken state of mind, I thought it was safer to ask a complete (and equally drunken) stranger who thought I was Irish to walk me home. He did.

The next day he sent me a sappy poem via text message all about taking a trip round the Milky Way together so I decided to see him again. And he knew how to sail and it was something I always wanted to learn to do and I thought he could teach me. We've been together ever since.

Our wedding was a small affair, VERY small. It was just the two of us and two friends, Mike and Gillian. The limo picked Gillian and I up at our house in Windsor. Marc had stayed at Mike's house overnight and Uncle John took the two of them to the Registry Office in Kensington, London. My limo got caught in traffic hence my belated arrival. Just before the ceremony started, I handed Mike the video camera and informed him that he would be the videographer for the day and our wedding video is the funniest and best I've ever seen.

He was the first man to make me believe I could raise a family with him. He was the first man I thought I could spend an entire lifetime with in relative happiness. He was the first man to make me laugh in my darkest hours.

We are extreme opposites. He'll be late for his own funeral (although I was late for the wedding and he was on time). I am the epitome of punctuality. Five minutes late is too late, in my opinion. I am a neat freak. His office looks like Hurricane Katrina has landed. He obsesses about cars. I soooo don't care.

We both love sailing. We both love travelling. We both love The West Wing. We both love our children.

He is my soft place to fall. He knows when to argue and when to throw in the towel. He knows what I like and what I hate. Together our dreams have come true and we continue to build new dreams for the future.

I love you, Marc!

Monday 8 October 2007


There are some days when I am homesick more than others. Some days I miss my family. Some days I just miss living in the good ole US of A with those great big huge parking spaces. And other days I really miss living in one of the most beautiful places in the world: Colorado.

Today is one of those days.

Last night the Colorado Rockies swept the series to win 3 games in a row. And how I wish I had been a part of that celebration.

Not only are the Rockies headed for the National League Championship Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, they are also headed for the record books. They have won 17 of their last 18 games. 3 of those were in the post season wins.

The series starts on Thursday, 11 October. I am checking flights now!

Spoon Full of Sugar

You know it's bad when you start taking parenting advice from Mary Poppins.

Abigail has been taking antibiotics for her impetigo. She is supposed to have a dose four times/day. The medicine tastes vile and she is refusing at the gate.

The first couple of days we could almost get her to take it. Then she got smart and started refusing. She would spit it out or vomit it up. We had antibiotic liquid all over everywhere.

I asked the doctor for another prescription and permission to mix it with other things. We started hiding it in her drinks: juice and milk. She got wise and started refusing to drink. We mixed it with ice cream. She knew what we were up to and refused that as well.

We started taking away toys away. She didn't care. Last night we had cleared her room of every toy she owned and she still refused to take the medicine.

We finally had to pin her down, plug her nose, pry open her mouth and force it down her.

This morning we've tried the spoon full of sugar after the medicina as an enticement. So far so good. We still have to pin her down but the sugar seems to get rid of the horrible after taste and she's not complaining half as much as she was.

Only 3 more days to go. I'm exhausted.

Saturday 6 October 2007


I don't believe in curses....except when it comes to baseball. Anyone who knows anything about baseball knows about the legendary Curse of the Bambino that plagued the Boston Red Sox until they won the World Series in 2005. Baseball is a sport filled with odd superstitions. The players are superstitious, the managers are superstitious, and the fans are superstitious.

As I watch the Chicago Cubs fall apart yet again this postseason, I am reminded of the Curse of the Billy Goat. What do we gotta do to break that spell?

In the meantime....Go Sox Go! Go Rockies Go! Both teams are 2 games up in a 5 game series!

Friday 5 October 2007

Letting Go

3 October was my Grandmother's birthday. Well, not exactly. Does a dead person still have a birthday? I can't send a card and I can't send them an email. There is no birthday cake or special supper.

But days like these are still marked in my calendar. I'm still electronically reminded by my online calendar that it was her birthday. Her name is written next to the date in my birthday card organiser.

Just like her phone number is still in my speed dial even though if I were to dial it I'm not sure if I would get someone else or one of those irritating voice recordings telling me that number is no longer in service. I've never actually tried to dial the number. Although I've nearly called her on a number of occasions. Until I remember she wouldn't be there to answer. She is on my list of webcam contacts. We used it only a few times before she died. But her names is still there. She is still listed in m y Skype contacts although I must say we never quite mastered that method of communication.

Her email address is still in my contact list and her home address is still in my phone book. Her name is still on my Christmas card and gift list.

I have a black cardigan that belonged to her and her dressing gown. I refuse to wash the dressing gown and I wore the cardigan today.

I received our Family Cookbook in the post a few weeks ago. I was so happy. And then I started reading it. I read all the wonderful recipes that Nanny had submitted previously and my heart broke when I realised she will not be making any future submissions.

I still miss her a bit every single day.


It is moments like these when I am reminded how impossible it is fr 2 adults to both have careers and raise a family.

Marc & I have this discussion every time one of our children are ill and must stay home from school and/or the child minder.

Who stays home? Who cancels their entire day in the office and nurses a child back to health?

One of the reasons we choose for Marc to run his own business was so that we would have the flexibility for Marc to stay home in precisely these situations. In reality, because Marc works for himself and his customers depend on him, he finds it quite difficult often to rearrange appointments and certainly if a customers has something going wrong he must respond. If he doesn't work he gets paid. And there's very little opportunity for him to work from home.

Finally, Marc is not a natural carer. He finds the whole sickness thing intolerable.

I on the other hand find mothering, well, intuitive, I will hold my child for hours, if it makes them feel better and eases their pain.

I have quite a bit of scope to work from home although rescheduling meetings is difficult. I can sometimes dial into the meetings. And I get paid when I need to take a day off. Which means that it usually ends up being me that stays home to take care of the children when one of them is ill. I'm sure this affects my career. I feel like I let my colleagues down, I let my team down, I let my company down but I refuse to let my children down.

Abigail's impetigo has meant that due to its contagious nature she cannot go to school or the child minder. Yesterday, I stayed home to take care of Abigail. The sores are nasty and itchy and painful. She is grumpy and doesn't understand. I dialed into my morning meetings but had to give my afternoon meetings a miss as she was particularly uncomfortable and cried for most of the afternoon.

This morning I have a meeting which would be extremely difficult to reschedule. My attendance and participation is required. It is a morning long meeting. So Marc has rescheduled 3 appointments with clients and we will do a midday handover. His clients have agreed to reschedule to this afternoon and I will come home as soon as my meeting is finished.

No one is entirely happy with the solution. Marc and I used to argue about whose career was more important or about the right way to care for a sick child. There was no answer so we don't argue about it anymore. We are both just doing the best we can. We can't ask for any more than that.

Thursday 4 October 2007

A Storytelling Heritage

As I wrote and published my City Girl story, I suddenly missed my grandmother. Not because she had gone drinking with any of us or even that she was with us on that nothing short of heroic road trip. She did help us recover the day after but that isn't what caused my heart to ache for her presence.

It was the fact that I'd written the story down. You see, I come from a family of story tellers. We tell the same stories over and over at every possible gathering of more than 1 family member. My sister and I can crack ourselves up just retelling a story to each other. You can see by the comments left after my City Girl story that the story continues to grow.

Many times these stories got retold around the dining table at my Grandmother's house. We don't gather there anymore. And the opportunities to gather as a family are few and far between, especially since I live 5,000 miles away.

And we've never written these stories down. Until now. I hope I haven't broken some ancient family rule.

City Girl

I have a cousin named Valerie whom I love dearly. Pretty much my entire family had taken a road trip up to Weyland, Wyoming to see my cousin, Chris marry a local girl named, Sherry.

The afternoon was spent on a golf course playing a family round. My uncle, Ed, was serving margaritas off the back of one of the golf buggies.

The ceremony was short and sweet which was nearly our undoing since we were almost late due to our golf game running a bit over. But we made it in time. The margaritas meant we were had gotten a pretty good start on the merriness for the reception afterwards.

Some of Chris's university buddies were at the reception and everyone had a great time dancing. The highlight of the evening was when Stephanie, my beloved sister, grabbed the microphone out of the DJ's hands and starting singing her very own karaoke version of Prince's Little Red Corvette.

I do believe my Aunt Sandy (Chris's mother) was a wee bit horrified and was happy to see the back of us when the reception was over.

We had done a fairly good job of completely trashing my cousin's pickup with Wedding decorations including shaving foam and the ever useful condoms. Whilst they found it difficult to actually get into the truck and drive away we were proud of our handiwork!

The night was far from over for the party animals amongst us. This included Chris's uni buddies, my sister, and my cousins, Valerie and Buddy. On the way over to the bar, Valerie started telling everyone that she was a City Girl and could keep up with just about any country hick.

Valerie was a bit underage to go into a bar but that didn't stop this family from rallying around her when we entered the bar. And I mean literally around her.

Valerie is short. Like me and my sister, so we put her in the middle of the group and we all huddled and sort of shuffled in the door. I reckon this bar hadn't seen quite so many people enter at one time ever so they were a bit overwhelmed. Or maybe we were just a millte rambunctious.

Valerie continued to persist with her proclamation of her superior drinking abilities due to the fact that she was a "City Girl". Every shot she did she proclaimed she was a "City Girl". This worked right up until she passed out on the table. We just let her have a bit of a rest and we kept right on dancing.

I had a bit of a close encounter with a trash can and the waitress was really not very happy with me but we won't talk about that since this is my blog. Besides, the shot of tequila fixed everything right up!

The next morning the lot of us looked like we had all seen better days. Chris and Sherry are happily married living in Arizona with their 4 sons. And Valerie has never lived down her nickname as "City Girl".

Baseball Update

Apologies to my UK readers but my obsession with baseball is gonna take over for just a short while. I will try to do another post to keep you entertained/informed.

Only the Chicago Cubs let me down after the scores for the first Games of the playoff have been tallied. Josh Beckett pitched an amazing game for the Sox and the Rockies got a wee bit lucky with some bad Phillies pitching. Thank heaven for Holliday who didn't let us down with another home run! Could someone go light a fire under the Cubs and tell them they are in the race for the Pennant? For clips of the games click here.

Wednesday 3 October 2007


If you are an avid reader of my blog (and you better be!), you will have read about my families camping adventures this summer. This was an important holiday for me on so many different levels.

As a young family, I'm not sure how my parents could have afforded to take us five children on holiday. Maybe they couldn't. Maybe that is why we went camping instead. I can honestly say that I don't care that we didn't go on extravagant holidays to Disneyland. I think what a child can learn exploring the campsite is better than any theme park ride!

Camping taught me a whole host of life skills that I still use today. Knowing not to run from a bear and that the best defense is to curl up in a ball can be very useful. In North America. We don't have bears in the UK! OK, not sure if I use these skills but it was great fun. Ah, peeing outdoors: never know when this might come in handy!

Abigail has a complete fascination with the whole camping concept. Not sure where this grand idea has come from. And one insightful individual did point out to us that it seemed a bit mad to allow the whim of a 3 year old influence you choice of holiday destinations. but she is already talking about our camping adventures next year.

But none of us had a better idea. Besides I have incredibly fond memories of camping as a child.

My first family camping adventures started out in a tent. My dad had this ancient jeep and we would pack everything up and go. At this point I believe there were 4 of us and Tyson was little more than a wee baby. I remember one time in particular lying in our sleeping bags and hearing the trees behind the tent rustling in the dead of night. My mother swears she saw the outline of a moose. I believe her.

This was the time that me and my brothers found this amazing natural slide in a group of rocks. We would sit down on our bottoms and slide down. Every night when we got dressed for bed my mother would find holes in our underpants. It seems that our jeans were sturdy enough to withstand the sliding down the rocks but our underpants we were wearing straight through. Dad told us not to go sliding down the rocks any more.

Seems to me we spent a lot of time fishing. or trying to fish. Mostly my dad was digging hooks out of each other. Hard to fish with small children. I imagine it could be classed an extreme sport. But we did always seem to catch something. Mom was always cooking up trout for dinner over an open fire in a large cast iron skillet. Mmmmmmm, mouth watering just thinking about it.

Shortly after that we got one of those campers that fold down then once you get parked they pop up and the beds slide out from the sides. I don't remember lots of camping in that one. But we must have done it because that's it in the picture. It was hard to pack with not a lot of room and no where to do the cooking. Steph wasn't born yet. I think my mom might have been pregnant with Tyson. You can see my dad leaning against the jeep. That's Shelby hanging out the window and George is sitting on the ground. Obviously that's me standing up near George.

But then we got the Cadillac of all campers. Dad bought us a fifth wheel trailer which is bigger and better than a motor home. This was a house on wheels. Of course, we couldn't go to the out of the way places in the Rocky Mountains like we did with the tent and I never heard a moose behind the trailer but we did take the trailer to the Colorado State Fair. And the bed were comfy.

Mom & Dad's bed was up some stairs at the front. Steph was a baby and we had this little moses basket that mom would just put down next to the bed. The kitchen in this trailer was lovely. But I reckon camping with 5 small children was no picnic. But we did have some fun times.

I hope my children gain the same fond memories of camping that I have.


Sebastian got an infection in the cuticle of his middle finger 3 weeks ago. A few days later he was diagnosed with impetigo in the corner of his mouth. After treating both with oral antibiotics and antibacterial cream it all cleared up. I was rather happy that he only missed one day of school due to the weekend.

On Friday Abigail came home from the childminder with what appeared to be impetigo spots on her chest. We treated it with antibacterial cream to no avail. Today we went back to the doctor who confirmed it was impetigo. She is now on oral antibiotics.

When the doctor asked them if they picked their nose they both told her that they did. She told them it was a dirty habit and they shouldn't do it. Seb told her that sometimes that was the only way to really get the deep boogies out of his nose. She didn't have an answer for that one.

I doubt I will have to tell my children to stop picking their nose for a long time.

Tuesday 2 October 2007

Worst Journey in the World

"And I tell you, if you have the desire for knowledge and the power to give it physical expression, go out and explore. If you are a brave man you will do nothing: if you are fearful you may do much, for none but cowards have need to prove their bravery. Some will tell you that you are mad, and nearly all will say, 'What is the use?' For we are a nation of shopkeepers, and no shopkeeper will look at research which does not promise him a financial return within a year. And so you will sledge nearly alone, but those with whom you sledge will not be shopkeepers: that is worth a good deal. If you march your Winter Journeys you will have your reward, so long as all you want is a penguin's egg."

Aspley Cherry Garrad

Perfect Ending

There are so many baseball references used in the American English vocabulary: 3 strikes you're out, hit it out of the ballpark, tied at the bottom of the ninth with 2 outs and a full count.

Sometimes I accidentally use these when speaking to my English friends and colleagues. They just stare at me blankly. No one here gets baseball. At all!

I am very concerned about my behaviour in the office today. I am so excited. Everyone is going to think I've gone stark raving barking mad! And here's the reason why!

The Rockies, the Sox, and the Cubs have made it to the playoffs. It doesn't get any better than this. Well, until Cleveland and Arizona lose! Then bliss.

Monday 1 October 2007


Ding Dong

Ding Dong the Mets are dead.
The Mets are dead.
Ding Dong the wicked Mets are dead!

Mwah ah ah!