Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy birthday FEN!

Today is my husband Fen's birthday. I have to admit that I feel very fortunate to love my husband as much as I do, and know, without doubt, that he adores me as much in return. Sure, we have our days where we could just do without each other or have blow outs that leave us frustrated and angry - but we always make up and move on. Overall, I married a very, very good man who is an excellent father and an all around good guy - he's a guy's guy, women love him, he's kind, considerate, funny, smart, hardworking, good looking, successful and generous. Granted I could list his faults but it's his birthday so I'm focusing on all things good about my Fen.

Love you, baby! Happy, happy birthday to you.

(and for the next 20 days we're the same age - then I become a cougar again. heavy sigh!)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My favorite British movies

As my thoughts turn to all things British, and I've been sorting out all my closets including the DVD drawers - I thought I'd list my favorite movies about London. If you  have a favorite and it's not listed here - please tell me about it...

Pride & Prejudice BBC - Colin Firth - 'nuff said. I love this mini-series so much - the language, the acting, the scenery, it's all just perfect. I could watch this over and over without being bored. anything Jane Austen is usually on my list.

Sliding Doors. I love Gwyneth Paltrow - as you'll see her movies pop up a bit here. I'm not sure why I love this movie so much - I think London is a great secondary character and I love John Hannah  - he's just so charming in this movie.

Love Actually. I'm a sucker for a good romantic comedy and this one has it all.

The Holiday - Jude Law - of whom I am not really a fan, stole my heart in this one.

Shakespeare in Love - who doesn't love Shakespeare? and Gwyneth?

Emma -  this has to be at the very top of my list! Again, Gwyneth and Jane.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels/Snatch - Guy Ritchie at his finest! I think both are worth owning.

Bridget Jones - I can't really explain this - but I loved it when it came out 10 years or so ago!

A Man for All Seasons - was in St. Thomas Moore's cell at the Tower of London a few years ago - it was fascinating. Love this movie and Paul Scofield was an inspiration.

Casino Royale - the Daniel Craig was amazing and they filmed in the Bahamas so I love it a tad extra.

Chariots of Fire - one of the more inspiring films ever made.

I could go on and on and will probably amend soon! Please let me know if I missed any treasures...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Onward ho....

So we're over Christmas and the birth certificate has arrived - I guess we're really moving to London. We're applying for X's passport tomorrow and once it's here, we're halfway across the pond. All the moving information has been revealed and we're now facing reality - we ARE going.

I have to thank the many people, Joyce, Ann, Michelle, Christina, and others who have given me tips for the move. You've all been SO helpful - much more helpful than my friends already there. There's so much to take into consideration when you have small children that all the help and advice I can get the better - so if you have any advice about moving to London with an infant and a toddler - lay it on me. I'll share with everyone - I promise.

My Kiwi husband cannot wait to get over the UK. I know his new position is a big step up for him and he's excited about it but I think being ensconced in all thing British again is going to be a big homecoming for him. Granted, I grew up in a British Commonwealth myself, but due to the close proximity to the US both countries are home to me. I'm nervous about being in England 24/7. I'm very American and woefully aware that I may be too loud, too aggressive, but I'll keep that to myself until proven guilty!

Cate's talking now - with an American accent and I expect that will change almost immediately. X will definitely have an British accent as well. I think that's charming.

Now that the move date is almost here (nothing official yet - no tickets bought) I'm starting to get excited. What's the first thing we should do once we settle? Suggestions are welcome - what's your favorite thing to do in London?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy holidays

So Christmas is fast upon us and I'm actually prepared. Cate and X have their gifts under the tree and Santa has a full list of goodies in the basement awaiting Christmas eve. I'm not sure who's more excited about Christmas - me or Cate. I'm not so sure she's even aware of what's going on. She knows something is up with the decorations and tree. She's very intrigued by the gifts so we've had to put baby gates around the tree to save it from her curiosity. Last year was the first year Fen and I played Santa and I was over the moon waiting to see Cate's reaction. She was grumpy when she woke up so when she wandered out to the tree (where I was strategically positioned with video camera at the ready) she barely glanced at the gifts and ran to snuggle with me. I was disappointed at first but then she noticed the toys and perked up. This year she's even older and we have a bunch of fun things I know she's going to go gaga over. Once again I plan to be positioned with the flip video at the ready to record her delight - I hope!

X is only 3 weeks old so getting our Christmas photo together was a small Christmas miracle! Here they are - cut Cate's head off but - hey - they're both smiling!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Two kids are harder than one

Finally I have a moment to myself to blog. Hooray for me. X is now two and a half weeks old and I'm managing on about 4-6 broken hours of sleep a night. Totally worth it. Cate has been adorable in her acceptance of her brother. She thinks we brought X  home exclusively for her. She says he is her baby. It's very cute.

Now that the baby has arrived I've turned my focus on our move. the first thing I've been doing is slowly going through my books to get rid of them and box them for London. I have about 1,500-2,000 books so it's taking me a little bit a day to chip away at them.

Now that the move is just over a month away, I'm freaking out a little. What are we thinking? Can I handle London and the move? It's all so overwhelming. But we'll get through it. I just did a search for flats again - we're definitely going to be living in a tent on the outskirts of town from the looks of it! Good thing I'm handy with a hot plate and open fire camping!

Oy - more later when I have five more minutes to myself!

Anyone have a good idea of child friendly neighborhoods?

Monday, December 7, 2009

He's here!

He's here! Little baby X. 9 pounds 5.5 oz, 21.5 inches long. He was born at 11:57am on Monday, November 30th. All my worries were instantly forgotten and Cate is in love with her new brother. She is too adorable to watch dote on him and he thinks she's just fabulous. More soon. My time is no longer my own. 

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cheating on my daughter

I just peeked in at Cate napping in her room and felt a wave of guilt. Her sweet little face looks so innocent and beautiful as she lays there, happily sleeping in her room - living her little life without a care. In three days we're going to have our son and Cate will no longer be the only cherub for us to adore. I'm riddled with guilt and feel like I'm cheating on her.

Yeah, yeah, I know... the best thing I can give her is a sibling... blah, blah. That doesn't help me right now as I realize how we're going to uproot her very existence in every way possible: her position as only child is ending, the only home she has ever known, her nanny, her school, her friends, her neighborhood and family are all going to go away in two months when we move. The worst part for her - we're going to take the crying, poop machine with us! I worry that she'll never recover or forgive us for wrecking her happiness. London had better rock her world or we'll never get back in her good graces.

She's too young to really understand that mommy is having another baby and what that means. But she's wise enough to know something is up with mommy and has started to favor daddy. It stings when Fen and I both walk in the house together and she runs up to him, arms wide open, shouting, "Daddy!" Doesn't even cast a glance my way. It's hard for me to pick her up now and I have no lap left for her to sit on, plus, I'm tired, fat and well, boring. How's she going to react when I come walking in with a new baby (after having deserted her for several days)!

In all fairness, Cate does like babies and fusses over them so I'm hoping she'll like her brother. And she is a sweet natured child for the most part (as long as no one messes with her dolly stroller - gawd help ya!). But I remember the night she woke up with a slight fever and wanted to be rocked. She lay over my swollen belly, head on my chest trying to doze but the baby was awake and kept wiggling and kicking her. She pat my stomach and said, "No, mommy. Night, night."  But he kept kicking and she kept complaining. Baby wasn't even born and the fighting had begun.

There's a bottle of frosty limoncello with my name on it for next week. I'm going to need it....

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I've been looking forward to today for a while now. I have my feast planned, guests arriving later, firewood for the fireplace, a movie (Angels and Demons) from Netflix (strategically maneuvered to arrive on time!) so Fen and I can curl up on the sofa after everyone is gone and Cate is asleep to have another piece of pumpkin pie and relax. 

Yeah, so far it's not working out as planned. We did get the movie and the firewood but things are going haywire as they are wont to do - not too bad but a tad alarming. My sister had a dinner roll catastrophe so we're doing without. No worries. But our neighbors had a problem today: He, E, and their new adorable puppy were attacked by dogs at the dog run this morning. E is at the emergency room have five bite marks cleaned and stitched! B, the wife, is upstairs trying to get her turkey ready but has to leave to take the puppy to the emergency vet as she started shaking (the puppy, not B) and whining. My sister is going with her to help out.

On top of that Fen thought it was a good idea to go shopping this morning way over at the Kings Plaza and took Cate with him. They didn't open at 11 as they advertised so he's outside with Cate and a cast of thousands waiting to storm the gates. Good luck honey!! He hasn't called in the last half hour so I'm hoping things are going well.

I'm at home working on my meal. The stuffing is made, the turkey is stuffed and dressed, the gravy is started (I make it from the neck, which I roast with herbs, and drippings), the potatoes are ready for boiling and mashing, cranberry sauce is good to go, pumpkin pie is baked and cooling, and finally, my corn souffle which I took a gamble on this year turned out spectacularly! My sister is making the required green bean casserole but we have enough food to feed the neighborhood. I'm taking my time making everything and sitting down in between each entree as I am nine months pregnant! Four days till baby - hooray!

If the corn souffle is a big hit - I'll post the recipe. It's ridiculously easy and absolutely fabulous!

Let's hope the rest of the day goes smoothly and that B, E and the puppy are all fine so they can enjoy their Thanksgiving with their grandkids.

I'm still really looking forward to the after party Fen and I will have tonight with the fire, the movie and pie. Ah, heaven!

Happy Thanksgiving! Do they have turkey in England? Lawdy, I hope so!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More blogs I'm loving....

As things slow down for me I spend more time reading other folks blogs rather than writing my own! I have 8 days until I have the baby (unless he decides to come on his own - which would be nice. But he's being evicted on November 30th!)

So while I sit here impatiently waiting and ordering things online to pass the time I peruse the blogosphere in search of interesting things to read. Here's what I'm loving these days:

Heather at Notes From Lapland has a great sense of humor and her life sounds chaotic as any mom of young kids does. Great reading - lots to see here.

Yummy Mummy  Flabby Tummy: Her stories are great. Her latest post with her dad singing and dancing in 1985 is worth a look!

If you like food - don't miss Pig In the Kitchen. The recipes are fantastic. I drool over this blog!

Sioban at Real Motherhood is living an interesting life in Turkey as a British Expat. Her hands are FULL! Makes me want to visit Turkey - soon.

Aingeal at Mum's Survival Guide tells it like it is. Her latest post on mistakes she makes me smile - it could be me!

Cowgirl in Wellies: great reading over here. She covers a lot of topics and I could read this all day! Another American in London. I love it.

Lady In London: yet another American in London. She has loads and loads of links to interesting sites and her posts are always fun. It's great to read her experiences and 'firsts' in London. An anonymous posted alerted me to this blog. Thanks - anonymous!

Scandalous Woman: this is written by a NY romance writer. It's being turned into a book for spring 2011! Good for her. Great reads on women throughout history and today who were trailblazers, trend setters and troublemakers.

And finally: a store that found me online and now I love them!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sick while pregnant = FUN!

To make matters worse, I have a stomach virus which has basically stopped me in my tracks since yesterday. I'm drinking Gatorade and water like it's going out of style to avoid having to go on an IV at the hospital. So that's fun. I've slowed right now too - which I really don't have time for but have no choice. But I have been productive - I finished my holiday shopping online and everything is being conveniently whisked to my house within the next week. HOpefully, I'll feel well enough to wrap it before the baby comes. Otherwise it's gift bags or I'll hand them over wrapped in an unapologetic smile!

Fen and I bought Cate a toddler bed yesterday as well. After much deliberation, research, customer satisfaction feedback and disagreement on color - we bought the bed for Cate. We've decided to give it to her when we move into our new place in London. I wanted to start her here but the general consensus is that tossing her out of her bed now, bringing home a new baby, packing the entire house, moving her into temporary housing and then into permanent housing in London is just going to confuse her. I still think she should get used to the bed here so it's a little bit of familiar relief once we land in the UK. Thoughts?

In the meantime, I'm pulling every string I can to try and get a set visit to Sesame Street. Cate is having a very serious love affair with Elmo and I think it's only right her parents should meet her first true love. Also, I think she would just be over the moon being on the actual set with all the muppets. I hope I can pull this off... keep your fingers crossed for me. It would be nice to have a little outing that is all about her after the baby comes. she could use the boost (or so I think as required  by law for mommies).

Well, I better get back to bed, my head is swimming.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pride and Prejudice today?

For the past two weeks I’ve indulged myself with the BBC production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I enjoyed every minute of it but it got me thinking how limited a woman’s life was two hundred years ago.

Women could refuse an offer of marriage, but could not marry the man she loved without her father’s consent. Eloping was considered scandalous and shacking up with a man was enough to have you permanently shunned from society. Women referred to their husband’s formally: i.e. Mr. Bennet. They had to have permission to do anything even within the household or with their children. It was the law that she must fork over any monies and property to her husband upon marriage. Often times, her father paid her husband a hefty sum to marry her – ala the dowry. They also could not inherit their husband’s property so if they did not produce a son, they could be cast out of their own house penniless to make way for the new master upon their husband’s death. Even if they had a son, he could toss his own mother and sisters out of the house if he so chose.

But the allure for that time and the romance of it still grabs me (and it’s not pregnancy hormones). The beautiful language, lush settings, as well as the pomp and circumstance is fascinating. The subtlety and boldness of Elizabeth Bennett’s actions toward Mr. Darcy and his slow realization that he was in love with her is captivating.

But Elizabeth’s acceptance of Wickham in the end made me think of how women often defer to men – even now. Is it in our blood? Is it a certain pride or prejudice that keeps women stuck in a circle of timeless behavior toward men? I certainly hope not.

During my dating years my thoughts for a first date were not, “I hope he likes me” they were more along the lines of “I hope I like him.”

I applaud a woman speaking her mind. All women should. My husband wouldn’t have been interested in me if it weren’t for our lively debates – ongoing to this day. And if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t be my husband, for certain.

We’ve come a long way in 200 years and I’m sure we’re still evolving. Women will rule the world soon enough – as long as we speak up. Not to be preachy or rah-rah ladies - but we've earned the right to speak our minds, haven't we?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Farewell F-word, I knew ye well....

The other day I said, "What an ass!" in response to something on the news. My 2 1/2-year-old daughter repeated in her sweet little innocent voice: ass. As adorable as she sounded, I was dismayed. My potty mouth had finally caught up with me in the form of my yet-to-be-potty-trained child.
My daughter, Cate, is becoming quite the parrot these days. She picks up the oddest words and repeats them. Now we’ll have to watch what we say.
Mind you, I am not a world class four-letter word abuser, but every now and then the f-bomb has come in handy. But how do you stop it? Sometimes saying thinks like "What an ass" just roll off the tongue without thought. My language is peppered with mild curses that don’t offend, but I certainly do not want my child repeating (in private or public).
After decades of not thinking about it, my husband and I are painfully aware of our language now that we have a tiny echo running around the place and another one coming soon. With the world becoming more accepting of cuss words on prime time and birds flying on the Golden Globes (okay that was an accident) how do I let Cate know that bad words are unacceptable if they are everywhere, including coming out of my mouth?
Furthermore, what’s a really bad word compared to a not-so-bad word? I’d list them but I’ve made a resolution (not a New Year’s  but a new life’s) to stop doing it as flippantly as I have. Regardless, we’re giving up the curse words.
Let me tell you, it’s damn hard!

Friday, November 13, 2009

What I'll miss about New York

As time here in New York starts to dwindle, I'm becoming nostalgic. I've lived here over 18 years and now it's time to move on. At first I was thrilled but now I'm a tad nervous and wondering if I can even survive outside of NY. I've been spoiled, or so I think. In New York you can have anything you want at any hour of the night without leaving your house. Everything is delivered, everything is rented or for sale. Taxi's zip by your home night and day and the subways are always running (as well as buses). It truly is the city that never sleeps. Here are a few of the things I'm going to miss most of all:

The Brooklyn Bridge. I live just over the bridge in Brooklyn and one of my favorite things to do is walk over the bridge in the mornings into Manhattan. I've lived out here for seven years and the bridge is just a nice transition from home calm mode to work-'on' mode. It takes about 40 minutes to walk over it and by the time I reach the other side I'm ready for my day. It works in reverse as well coming home. Granted I have not walked over the bridge in months as it's way too much for me and chances are I won't have a chance to walk over it again before we leave but I'm going to try. The view of the city is amazing, the architecture of the bridge itself is a wonder, and the feeling I get from it always puts me in a good mood.

The Met: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is one of my favorite museums in NY. That and the Frick Collection. Right now they have Vermeer's Milkmaid which I hope to see before we go. I"m a big fan of Vermeer and I loved, loved, loved Tracy Chevalier's The Girl With the Pearl Earring (book and movie) which makes me want to see an original even more. On Friday and Saturday afternoons they host chamber music and cocktail in the main entrance on the upper balcony. I love that. They host parties on the roof which I especially love. I used to live just a few blocks from the Met and would pop in after work on some days. I haven't been there in a while as I'm too busy with Cate and being pregnant makes it too far to venture these days. But, I hope to get there soon.

Union Square Market: There are several markets around Manhattan and Brooklyn that I love but Union Square is the largest. I could peruse the stalls for hours. But I think Portobello Road has the best one in the world so I'm going to be happy with that!

Il Bagatto: Without a doubt my favorite restaurant in NY. The food is wonderful and the atmosphere is perfect. I've spent many, many nights here over the past 10 or so years with great friends and sometime just with Fen. Some of my fondest NY memories are here.

Rockefeller Center at Christmas: It just isn't Christmas  until I see the tree at Rockefeller Center and walk through the Channel Gardens with the angels to see the skaters on the rink. A pass through The Met Store and a treat (champagne truffles are my fav) from Teuscher Chocolates is a must. I love doing this every year. It's sad to think it will be the last for a long time.

Sur La Table: I love this place and the online store is nice as well. Even though it's all over the US, I particularly like the one in the Village. I could cruise through the story and leave broke. Their cooking classes are wonderful - I've only taken two here but I wish I could have done a few more. Perhaps I'll find a spot in London. We'll see. When we come back to visit this will be high on the list to return.

This list could go on and on, but I'll save a few for later.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Do you buy your guy knickers?

I read this on today and laughed out loud. It states that if you're buying a man his underwear you're either his mother or your The One.  I had no idea that was the main indicator on whether I was a keeper or not. I've been buying Fen his underwear since we became engaged. I had no idea I was falling into line like a good wife should. Who knew? Are you the one for your guy too?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

And then it hit me again....

I must be out of my mind! I'm due to have this baby within the next 20 days (I hope!) and I just don't know what we were thinking. Two kids under three? I can't do this - then have Christmas, birthdays, New Years, pack my entire life up in boxes and move to London within 2 1/2 months!

Right now my 2 1/2 year old, Cate, is more than I can handle. I'm the size of a bowling ball and she can out run me. When she doesn't want to do what I say she lays flat on the floor chanting, "No, Mommy!" because she knows I can't bend down to pick her up. She's a wily one, that kid. Having a sibling is not going to go over big - maybe for five minutes when the baby presents her with her very own Mrs. Potato Head (our big plan - it's her favorite toy at school) but when the realization sinks in that the poop-machine is here to stay it's going to get ugly.

Cate has is good right now. Daddy to herself in the mornings and Mommy to herself in the evenings with a nanny in between, she has classes, play dates, trips to the library, birthday parties and other places (not including trips to the doctor for the H1N1 virus inoculation - that was no fun at all). Now she's going to have to share all of us with some crying, pooping, eating machine that her staff....errrm, I mean... parents, won't seem to let go. Cate does not share at the moment (a big time out issue) so I can't see this going smoothly. I sincerely hope I'm dead wrong and will eat my words happily (if not sleepily).

Just when it may start to simmer down, we're going to pack up everything and move poor Cate out of the only home she's ever known to end up in a strange country, with strange (well, to her) accents, different food (I hope they have mac n' cheese over there!) a temporary home until we can find a permanent one, and the baby will STILL be with us. My heart aches for my little girl. I know she'll be fine but I feel like I'm cheating on her and I'm not the cheating type. 

Pray I don't have to have another c-section. I need my strength for this! Cate was 8 lbs, 8oz with a ginormous head so I had no choice last time. This baby promises to be a whopper too - oy, I should have married a petite fella instead of my big Samoan/Kiwi. In second thoughts - I'll take the c - I love my Fen.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Books on my nightstand

I'm a big reader - seeing how I'm involved in the book publishing world here in NYC I always have more books I want to read than time to read them. I still haven't read the last Harry Potter and it's going further and further down my list right now. Here's what's queuing up for reading right now - just a small sampling of the 26 books accumulating there:

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory. I've loved her writing from Wildacre in 2003. Her Henry VIII novels were all wonderful and I'm really looking forward to sinking my teeth into this one. This is the story of Elizabeth Woodville who was of her own mind and did what she saw fit through trying times and a shakey marriage to Edward IV. Love stories with strong women - especially when they are true (ish)!

Listen Up, Mr. President: Everything You Always Wanted Your President to Know and Do by Helen Thomas and Craig Crawford. Helen Thomas is a legend in Washington. She's the dean of the White House Press Corps and has been front and center at presidential press conferences for over 60 years - and 10 presidents. Here she teams with esteemed journalist Craig Crawford to take a look at what makes for a good president. I've been a fan of Ms. Thomas' forever and I love her books. This is going to be an interesting ride, methinks.

Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol. Hate to admit it but I love his stuff! I'm thinking this may be my hospital read if I have five minutes to myself after my son it

The Scarpetta Factor by Patricia Cornwell. Another secret indulgence. I love the Scarpetta books and I think Patricia Cornwell is a fantastic writer. I wasn't a fan of her non-fiction on Jack the Ripper, but if this is as good as the other Scarpetta books I'll be thrilled.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Blogs I'm loving...

So I'm still new at this but I've come across a few great blogs that I'd love to share:

Mum's Survival Guide: She has a toddler and a teenager - both challenging. Her stories are terrific and she makes beautiful jewelry. There is so much to read here I could stay all day!

Insomniac Mummy: She has young children and her posts on them are very funny. Her grandma is ill right now, which is  shame - go send her a note of support!

Postcards from Across the Pond: An American writer living in England. He's hilarious. Love reading his stuff. He published a book as well - equally hilarious!

Write On! Marsha has written 24 hours London and features hilarious 24hours from her fans. Very fun stuff.

Expat Mum: She  is a British mum living in the US. Her observations of the US are fun to read. She's a published author and always has entertaining blog posts. Definitely one to follow!

And It Feels Like Home: Great shots of London and terrific posts.

Want To Be a Free Thinker But Still a Nice Person: Great writing, great subjects. I've said it before and I'll say it again - she's a hoot!

American ExPat in London: Kristina is American, young, single (but has a partner) living in London. She tells it like it is and has great info for anyone moving to London. Not to be missed!

I'm still cruising along looking for great blogs. If you know of any please share - I'm interested!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The bath has been conquered and Halloween was a blast

Eureka and huzzah! Cate is happy in the bath again. After we were in the Bahamas for a week and she was in the pool or ocean every waking second - her fear of water (or whatever it was) has dissipated into a love for the bath again. I can't tell you what a relief this is for me. And how handy it was for Halloween.

Cate and Fen (and unfortunately me too) were on the Today show (a US morning national TV show) modeling Halloween outfits.  Cate got frightened by the crowd, lights and camera and hightailed it back to me and the producers shoved me out into the camera much to my very pregnant, waddling dismay. But it was fun and Cate enjoyed the fun afterward.

On actual Halloween Cate (dressed as the literary great Little Red Riding Hood) and I went to her school for their big fair. The teacher I had it out with regarding l'affaire d'pumpkin was there. She could not have been kinder and showered Cate with attention. Cate wasn't having any of it. She stole a cupcake (which I paid for after I realized she grabbed one) and spent the majority of the time on the carousel waving and shouting, "HI MOMMY" each time she went by. That afternoon we went trick or treating in our fabulous neighborhood with her posse of buddies. It was a great day all around.

Her daddy spent the morning getting his head kicked in playing rugby for his team - the Old Boys of NY (you have to 35 or older to join). It was his last game before our move to London. He was nostalgic and woeful when he got home. I'm seriously hoping he doesn't join a team in London for various reasons: he doesn't bounce back from the games like he used to; it's violent and he is covered in bruises every time; it takes all day; and I'm not too keen on him giving up his days off to go play a game instead of giving me a break. Call me selfish - but I'll need a break!

Yesterday we did the final shopping for the baby. It's 27 days until I have our son (or thereabouts). My bag is almost packed. All I have to do is set up the cradle, wash and sort all his clothes, set up the changing table with his diapers and wait. That's the toughest part - the waiting!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Great Pumpkin Debate

I'm pissed - not just hormonal - but a heapin' pile of burnin' rage. I was at my daughter Cate's pre-pre-school class this morning. We were asked to bring in a mini-pumpkin for a project they were doing. Fen and I bought Cate her pumpkin and Cate happily gave it to one of the teachers when we got to the class today (the first there - as usual. Can't help it - I'm rarely late).

The class was going fine -until halfway in, when the kids all sat down at the activity table and the pumpkins were doled out. Not everyone brought a pumpkin so they were short a mini-pumpkin. guess who didn't get one? MY KID! The teachers looked at one another and one said, "We'll give Cate the big pumpkin." This giant, already painted and crayoned, pumpkin. My blood pressure shot through the roof. Cate didn't seem to mind so I kept my mouth shut. But when the little pumpkins were put in a box of glitter and shook - Cate waited her turn excitedly, jumping up and down, saying, "Me, me!" But there was no me. Her giant crap-pumpkin couldn't fit in the box, she didn't get a turn and she didn't get to take a pumpkin home.

Being 8 months pregnant I thought I may be having a hormonal reaction to this and waited for Fen to show up after class to pass it by him. Naturally, Cate had already moved on, but the site  of her crushed little face when she didn't get a turn and had no pumpkin - the disappointment was seared into my memory forever. Fen didn't understand and said, "Why didn't you say anything?"

My nature is to speak out, fight a fair fight, and restore justice when justice has gone wrong. My main issue with my silence was that I know I can overreact to things right now, I didn't want to make a scene in front of my daughter, and I feared I would clunk the heads of both teachers together after I overturned the activity table. So I kept mum waiting for validation. Also, I didn't want to be one of THOSE mothers.

Now that hours have passed, I'm still angry. And next week I plan to go in early (as if I had a choice) and speak to the teachers in a calm voice telling them I didn't appreciate it. Every week Cate is the last one picked, the last one seated and the last one acknowledged - it's coming to an end next week. I am one of those mothers and my daughter, who is adorable and deserving, will be treated as an equal in her class.

The teachers have no idea what they are up against in Cate's mommy.

I just hope that when Cate starts new classes next year in the UK we have teachers who are a little more on the ball because this is not a battle I wish to wage. But a mother has to make sure her child is taken care of - no?

And don't get me started on some kid getting to take home the pumpkin WE bought for our daughter, when his/her parents didn't bother to bring one.

Am I over reacting?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Top 10 Dumb Things Said to Me During My Pregnancy

The things people say to me while I'm pregnant still stun me to no end. Strangers, friends, co-workers, family - doesn't matter - most are clueless and beyond rude. Not to mention insensitive. Daily, and I mean daily, I get questions, comments, etc, about being pregnant. Most people mean well, but many should just keep their yaps shut.

I'm due in exactly 5 weeks and 1 day and I've heard it all - truly. No need for any more comments. I carry fairly large and have big babies. My daughter Cate was 8lbs, 8oz. My soon-to-be son promises to weigh in on the heavier side as well. I'm not very tall - 5'3" and have a tall, fat-headed Samoan husband - the odds were stacked against me from the get-go.

So, I continue to weather the dumb comments people make every day. Most are said in elevators or on the subway. I can't even tell you how many times I've had to stand the entire way into the office while able bodied men and women sat staring at me and then made comments. I've dole out more poxes and silent jihads on the NY City public transit system than I care to think about - and I'm tired of it.

Here are my top ten dumb things said to me while pregnant:

10: You're HUGE! (I hear it every day and its' just what an exhausted pregnant woman wants to hear)

9. You sure it's not twins? (I think we would have figured that out by now.)

8. Shouldn't you be at home... or something? (from a man who had just given me his seat on the F train.)

7. You should be careful - getting that big isn't healthy. You're going to get gestational diabetes. (I didn't. And this was from a woman who was pitching her novel idea to me at a writer's conference. Needless to say I didn't request her work.

6. You're having a girl. (I then said it was a boy). "The doctor is wrong - that's a girl." (Guess the X&Y chromosomes and sonograms are useless)

5. You really look pregnant this time - front and back (LOVED hearing that one. My arse is pregnant too! Ah, the joy.)

4. That's just too freaky for me, how can you stand it? (From a man who witnessed the baby wriggling and my tummy jumping around)

3. You're STILL pregnant? It's been over nine months now, hasn't it. (Clearly not).

2. How do you wipe? (From a young woman - 20's  - in an elevator who had screwed up her nose and gaped at my stomach. I declined to answer).

And the #1 (drum roll please): That's a huge baby. Man, are you going to tear. (I'm having a c-section but thanks for the support!)

I hope the British are nicer when we get there! At least I won't be pregnant anymore (or ever again).

Red Velvet Cake

Yesterday I got the craving for a red velvet cake - the one I saw featured in Victoria Magazine. The recipe was so simple I had to give it a whirl. So I made it - triple layered with cream cheese frosting. It is DIVINE. The cake is huge and the icing recipe wasn't enough to cover the entire cake so I had to double it. Otherwise - it is smashing!
Here is the recipe:

Makes 1 (3-layer) cake

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 3/4 cups sugar
5 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup whole buttermilk
1 (1oz) bottle red food coloring
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Cream cheese frosting (recipe below)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degree. Lightly spray three 8-inch cake pans with non-stick spray. Line each pan with parchment round, spray again (I skipped the parchment and it was fine)
2. In large bowl and using an electric mixer at medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Evenly divide batter among prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean.
3. Cool for 10 minutes in pans. Remove cake from pans and cool completely on wire racks. Note: do not frost cake until it is completely cool.
4. Place 1 cake layer on cake stand and spread with about 1/4 of the frosting. Top wtih second layer, and spread with 1/4 frosting. Top with third layer and spread top and sides with remaining frosting.

Cream cheese frosting:

2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl, and using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat the cream cheese, butter, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla extract until creamy. Use immediately.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My favorite British Haunts - short list.

Looks like we're all settled with the contract. Only took a month but at least we got what we wanted! Somehow it's not that victorious - I think that I just knew it would work out and that we were moving so it was just another speedbump in the road to London. Heaven knows there are enough of them.

So now I'm looking at London with rose colored (coloured?) glasses and things seem so much more promising. The fact that I haven't looked at any London realtor sites in our price range or the cost of things in London of late. I've been living in a blissful bubble focusing on what I love about London.

Here is a short list:

Harrods food hall. Ridiculously wonderful - like a culinary dream world full of every savory and succulent sugary delight one can imagine. I spend too much time and too much money there. I will have to trade it for Tesco or Marks and Spencer. Even though they are not as fancy - I still love them because they are different from US stores and all the merchandise is a wonder. (I'm easily impressed - clearly).

The Reject China Shop on Brompton Road in South Kensington, London. They are stocked with every china and crystal glassware you can imagine. There is much more to it than that and I can browse through their store for hours spending entirely too much money (see a pattern forming here?). I'm a big china and glass fanatic. I inherited by maternal grandmother's Wedgewood china and have added to the collection through this store. here is the online version but it's not as fun as being there.

Portobello Road Market in Knotting Hill. Maybe this is cliche but I love it. I've found really fantastic gifts, antiques, jewelry, vintage purses and coats here for really reasonable prices. I love meandering through the many stalls. I've always wanted to buy fruits, veggies, and flowers but never have because I was a tourist. Now I have visions of buying whatever I want - this with a double stroller and two kids in tow - I am a dreamer!!! Maybe I'll run into Hugh Grant and run off with him just like Knotting Hill the movie!

Pret A Manger. They have it here in New York (and probably other cities). But they do not have the Coronation Chicken sandwich, which is criminal, frankly. In my search for it today I noticed the Coronation Chicken sandwich has over 500 calories which has cast a huge pall on my adoration. It won't stop me from having one the minute I can. But I'll have to put a limit on them if I'm going to lose this baby weight!

Twinings tea - the real stuff and the many different blends they have. I could go on and on about it but I don't want to torture myself by thinking of their fantastic lime leaf tea with raspberry or I'll crave it. Dammit - too late.

Cadburys chocolate. Bring on the Crunchies! Nestle's white chocolate and smarties by the pound!

I could go on and I will add to my favorite British things as time goes on.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Here we go again....

On Saturday we received two large free samples of Enfamil formula and I have to say I was completely taken aback and panic ensued. Sure, I've known for 34 weeks (or thereabouts) that I'm pregnant but it hadn't really dawned on me that I was actually having another baby!!!!

We found out in early April and I was so sick for three months that I wasn't focusing on pregnancy - I was focusing on Cate, getting through the day, doing my job and trying to eat. Then the whole move to London started up and my focus shifted to that. In the meantime I was managing our summer cottage, dealing with relatives coming and going, doing repairs, etc. and buying clothes for both babies (on sale for next summer - if it ain't a bargain, it ain't for me!). I did some  terrific and exhilarating major deals this summer which were fantastic distractions as well.

I made a list of things I need to do before the baby comes but it still didn't really hit me until I saw those cans of Enfamil formula. Everything came rushing back: the late night feedings, the crying for no reason, the GERD (awful, awful stuff), lack of sleep, diapers by the dozens and the realization that we are responsible for yet another little soul. It hit me like a train and I couldn't breathe for a minute in the realization of it. Yet this time, on top of it all - I still have to pack and move to a new country. I can do it - I just don't wanna! I want to move, I just don't feel like doing everything we have to do in order to move.

I've since calmed down and stepped up my game. First thing I did was sit down with my big belly and felt my wriggly son kick (he's a wild one!) which makes me very happy - always has. Then I counted my blessings that I'm lucky enough to have all my dreams coming true (married an amazing man, wanted two children, have my dream job, always wished I could live in London - if I could just win Lotto...). Now, I"m getting on with it.

I'm still poring over blogs and Web sites. This one cracked me up completely. Elizabeth (the author) seems like a hoot and don't miss her terrific Butternut Squash Curry recipe. I'm trying it out this week. She also told me that she can use her Kitchenaid appliances using a transformer. Lo - there's hope in the valley...

Off to make lists... the only thing I love more than making lists is scratching things off them.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My movitation - Cate above, and my soon-to-born son (44 days!). And to think they will have British accents by the time we return to the US! My husband, who is a Kiwi, is not happy about it, but I think it's nice. One of the main reasons we're moving is to give our kids a nice start in life - lots of culture, travel and a decent headstart in education. The British school system is much better than the US Public school system. Both Fen and I were in private schools our entire educations and we'd like that for our kids, but if the public (private as they refer to them in the UK) schools in the UK are really up to snuff, we'll go that route. Either way, they have me as a mother so they will be readers. Cate, at 2 and 4 months already knows her alphabet - even though she's just starting to speak in sentences. (Genius? We think so;-))

There is so much I have to learn about London. I've been pouring over blogs and web sites, chatting with friends in London and my brain still runneth over with questions. I know nothing. Especially about baby products!

Kristina of American Ex-Pat in London has posted a list of very important things to know when moving from the US to London which was ridiculously helpful if not alarming (my Kitchen Aid appliances won't work - the horror).

Somewhere Over the Pond was helpful too. She's back in the US now so her blog is essentially over, but the information is great. And she was in Hampstead which is one of the neighborhoods we're eyeing.

I know that we're going to make some really dumb decisions: like bringing my Kitchen Aids and flat screen in the hopes that I can break the code and make it happen (hope springs eternal!). But we're not going to mess around with things that matter - like bank accounts and phones. I cannot live without a phone and a computer - it's not possible. I'm going to have to figure that out now - seeing how I have all the time in the world what with packing/sorting/tossing/selling everything we own, being 8 months pregnant, and preparing to have a baby. I must be out of my mind.

At least I've got Cate's wardrobe done - all old clothes given away, and clothes for next summer packed, all winter things cleaned, folded and ready to toss in a suitcase any second. I've done my Christmas shopping (haven't wrapped anything though). The new baby's clothes are all sorted, ready to be washed and put away.

This week: selling big item furniture that we're not using and listing hundreds of books on sale on eBay. I have thousands - seeing how I've been in book publishing for 18 years - I've got a lot. Even though I toss about 50-100 a year (putting them out on our stoop in Brooklyn much to the delight of the neighbors) I collect more than I toss. They've ALL got to go. I'm only taking my absolute favorites that I will read again. It's a hellavu job but it's got to be done.

Well, Fen and Cate are at the park but it looks like rain. Better get moving....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Negotiations from Paradise

We thought we were out of the woods, but no. Fen continues to negotiate and now we have a nice solicitor on the the case as well. It should all be finalized within a week (I laughed even as I typed that).

In the meantime, we're recovering from our trip to the Caribbean to see my family. Fen had his finger torn open while trying to stuff our car seat through the x-ray machine at the airport. Big hullabaloo - police, paramedics, etc. He had to sign waivers stating he refused treatment and that we wouldn't sue (gotta love America). We were then rushed by an airport cart to our gate and were the very last people on the plane. Of course, someone had moved into our seats hoping we were no shows and had to reluctantly move back to his seat.

12 days in the Caribbean where it's 90 degrees daily - in the shade - is not something I recommend to any pregnant woman! It was uncomfortable and exhausting. I've never felt so big and sluggish in my entire life. Granted, I'm not major athlete, but it was a heroic effort just to walk up a flight of stairs.

My family was thrilled to see our girl. She's too cute for words these days and starting to talk in sentences. She calls my parents Mommom and Bumpop which I think is hilarious. Everyone was bugging us to find out the name of the new baby but we're not saying anything. We know it's not going to be a huge hit with them so we're keeping it under wraps until the ink dries on his birth certificate.

Swimming was a new sensation - my stomach floated and my back didn't hurt for the first time in about 3 months. I could have stayed in the pool until delivery! My sister and her husband have a ridiculously fabulous pool so we spent practically every day lounging by it - everyone enjoying the sun except me who was shrouded in towels, hats and sunblock living in fear of pregnancy mask! I didn't get any sun - so what? I have bigger fish to fry these days.

We're back now and I'm looking around our apartment thinking of how much work it's going to be and how I'll have to do most of the packing and sorting BEFORE the baby arrives. I"m supposed to have a c-section so I'll be out of commission until we head to London. Lordy - don't know how it's going to happen!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


It seems that all I do these days is negotiate: at work, Fen's contract, and with my two year old defiant daughter. Work is easy, it's what I do - negotiate all day then go home and cash the check. Since contracts are my thing, I'm helping Fen negotiate a contract that was less that stellar at the outset but promises to blossom under tough negotiating.

Both of those are cake walks compared to negotiating with my daughter Cate who is already showing signs of becoming a shrewd negotiator, aka con man/slickstser/grifter. I waffle between being wildly proud and completely annoyed.

Our current battle is over bath time. She doesn't want to have anything to do with no stinkin' bath. However, she will strip down to her skivvies to run through a sprinkler, paddle in a pool or go in the lake/ocean/any large body of water. But a bathtub is the devil. She puts on a helluva fight, flinging herself onto the floor and flattening herself out knowing full well that 31 weeks pregnant (fat arsed) mommy cannot bend down low enough to get a good hold of her.  Then there's the screaming as if I'm threatening her with hot pokers - or have turned off Sesame Street mid show (gawd forbid!).

I'm at my wits end - I've tried bribing her with treats, threatening with no popsicles (her version of crack), coaxing her with new toys and, of course, the no-nonsense approach of stripping her wriggling, protesting, screeching self down and plopping her in the bath. The ONLY way that works is the latter - and after a long day at the office and two hours alone with her (when Fen has to work late - which is five day a week!) I just don't have the strength.

So tonight I just relented - having been drained from battling with my biggest client and getting nowhere all day and then having to come home to whip up vittles for me and the kid (which is another negotiation... but that's for another time). No bath. We got to read an extra book. Upon discovery that Cate had scribbled all over the pages with yellow crayon she shrieked, "Oh no! Broken" with every page turn. She looks  at me accusingly as if I desecrated the pages myself. It ain't right. But I got a sweet kiss and an "I love you, Mommy." Totally worth it.

I hope she outgrows this bath thing before we make the move to London. At least Fen will be there to help more often as that was a sticking point in the negotiations - more night and weekends off (they work him to death and he loves it! Me - not so much). But after my exhaustive searching for a good realtor and poring over the flats for rent in central London, I fear we'll be living in a pitched tent community on the outskirts of town like gypsies - and not the good kind.

But that too is another story. And another negotiation to be had.....

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

From whence we came...

It's almost official

After much debate and deliberation (mildly put), my husband has agreed to be transferred from our comfortable, happy life in New York to the unknown wilds of London, England. We've been there, have friends there but we really don't have a clue what it's going to be like. Will we love it? Hate it? Regret it? Survive it?
Surely, New York is a tough town, to quote Frank Sinatra: If you can make it here.... well, you know the rest. But London is a completely different kettle of fish (and chips).
Right now the contracts are being negotiated but once that happens we have quite a road ahead of us. First we have to have a baby in the next 2 months - our second - a boy (we have a girl), then we must pack up everything we  own, get a new passport for the yet-to-be-named son, fly to London, find a place to live, find a nanny (if we can afford one), unpack and try to acclimate. In the meantime we have Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, my husband Fen's birthday, my birthday, and most likely a goodbye party. And I'm to handle most of this while breastfeeding. Thank God I'm a type A personality!!!
It's going to be hard, but we're up for it. Stay tuned...