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:

RED VELVET CAKE
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!