Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Some people have WAY too much time on their hands. But I think it's funny. Imagine living across the street from this!

Friday, October 28, 2011

54 looong, solitary nights

Fen playing rugby.
Fen is back....after being away for 54 days. He was in New Zealand covering the Rugby World Cup (New Zealand All Black's won!). I can't tell you how nice it is to have him back in town.

X wasn't so impressed with his return. Fen walked in and X just waved and turned away. Fen stepped back into the hall to collect his luggage and X waved and said, "Bye bye." We thought it was pretty funny. But being nearly two I wasn't expecting him to welcome daddy home after a two month absence. He did recognize him though. He's good now, thinks daddy is rather fun to have around.

Cate, on the other hand, was delighted. We picked her up from her half-term play club and she ran to Fen joyfully and jumped up into his arms. I am a second class citizen to her now: a drink fetcher and snack producer. Fine with me. I can use the break.

My heart goes out to single parents. It's HARD. I didn't have a second to myself. The kids were extra clingy, especially X. I didn't sleep much and couldn't sleep in at all, ever. Everything I did I had to have kids with me if I didn't have a sitter. Going to bed alone every night was the real problem. I hated it. Granted Fen snores, tosses, turns, talks in his sleep but I got used to it. I slept like a baby last night - deep, unmoving, dreamless. Heaven.

So my little family is all together again, the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup and life is good. Hooray!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My American Strikes Again

Yesterday I wrote a letter to all the parents/caregivers for the reception class at Cate's school. No I am not the class rep, merely the secretary. Surely sending a weekly email isn't over doing it...right?

Anyway, the critics came out today. I said, 'Much thanks' at the end of the letter. Here they say, 'Many thanks.' Blimey!  I don't fancy myself a grammarian by any stretch, but I do know how to speak the language. Now I have to watch my American-ese in my emails. Here's stress I don't need.

My daughter is becoming quite the Brit. She calls X 'cheeky' and 'a naughty bugger' (she got in trouble for the 'bugger' comment, btw). She says things like food hall instead of lunch/dining room, tea instead of dinner or supper, toilet instead of bathroom (I really don't like this one at all), mince instead of ground beef, pudding instead of dessert, jelly instead of Jell-O, autumn instead of Fall (I prefer this one), she's calling me mummy or mum which I really don't want but will live with, petrol instead of gas, film instead of movie, brilliant instead of great, and my favourite/favorite toe-maa-toe instead of ta-may-toe. She's a true Brit.

I noticed I say mobile instead of cell phone, rubbish or bin instead of garbage or can, loo instead of bathroom and many more things. It's all said with an American accent, but I've definitely got the British touch to my everday speech. I'm sure it will all change when we eventually make it back to the US some day.

So for now, my daughter is British, I'm getting there, and I better hurry up before I'm fired for being too American and grammatically questioned on a weekly basis. I call it speaking British with an American accent.

Cheerio, pip pip and all that. Tah.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lucky breaks...and kind people

This weekend was a rare weekend of lucky breaks and people being kind for no reason. It started on Saturday morning. I've been battling a cold and my asthma has flared up making it difficult to walk up hill (and in Hampstead everything is up hill - both ways!). As the kids and I headed up the hill to the Hampstead High Street for my club's annual Halloween parade, I had a coughing fit and pulled out my inhaler.

As I took a puff a taxi pulled up along side and asked if I was going to the high street. I told him yes, but explained I had no cash on me. He insisted I hop in - he'd drive me up there. 'You look like you need a break,' he explained. I did. I was so grateful! I was running late - it's hard to get two small children dressed in fancy dress and draw on their faces, etc. by yourself. Fen is still travelling so I'm on my own. I was having an asthma attack and knew the hill was going to zap all my energy so I was really relieved to have a ride up the hill, without asking, from a nice taxi driver who wanted to be kind.

We got to the parade where I met my nanny, who was there to help me take the kids around the parade so I wouldn't be pulled in two directions and frantic. As we walked the parade, X reached out at the fruit stand (see photo above) and helped himself to an apple. I took it from him and put it back, but he swiftly turned around, grabbed another and took a bite! I went to pay the merchant, but he insisted X just have it. I was mortified!

We had  lovely time at the parade and then again at the movie which followed - I crashed on another family, who were very gracious at me sitting in with them.

Later that day we were invited to another friend's house for dinner. X was in a rare mood, he ate his dinner, then half of Cate's and then half of the other little girl's. Immediately after that he broke a bowl, by flinging it on the ground and then attempted to climb under the bed to grab a cat or two. We left in a hurry!

I decided to take the bus home as I'd had enough. The bus pulled up but the machine wasn't working so the driver wasn't letting on passengers. But he saw me, saw the bus ahead of him was full of buggies and wouldn't take me, so he let me on. I couldn't pay, but he said it was all right.

That's two drivers in the same day who let me ride for free, which was really, really sweet of both of them. I must have looked a wreck yesterday, but I didn't feel it. Judge for yourself. Whatever the case, I feel very fortunate for the kindness of strangers - the two drivers and the apple merchant. They made my day. Heck, they made my week!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Our walk to school

Every week day we start the trek up the hill to Cate's school. It's a lovely walk, granted it's uphill all the way, but it's calming and really pretty. Our walk starts at the bottom of the hill with a wonderful church and ends at the top of the hill near another church!Here's a glimpse of our walk:










Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Me, the bitch!

Slowly, I've been making friends with the mum's at Cate's new school. What a difference this school is from the last one. Cate is much happier, has a much bigger group of friends and I'm delighted to be meeting so many new people - and I like all of them.

Imagine my surprise when one of the mums, Nina, who I've become quite chummy with in the last month, said to me, 'It's so funny, I thought you were such a bitch when I first met you. But now I realize you're really nice.' I was stunned. Me. A. Bitch! My husband laughed for a good long time when I told him that one.

Nina and I met a year ago at ballet (not for us - for our daughters). We've seen each other once a week and always had pleasant conversations - at least that's what I thought. I sat on one side of the waiting room with a group of mum's and Nina sat on the other side with other mums. When we realized the kids were going to be in the same class, I was glad Cate would have a familiar face at school.

But apparently, Nina tried to engage me in conversation a few times and said I brushed her off. Really? I'm not rude by nature so I was surprised. If X is with me, I can't carry on a coversation with anyone. He is  full-on energy and I have to run after him constantly. I'm guessing he may have been with me at ballet those few times.

We've been meeting in the school yard now for five weeks and I've made an effort to talk to as many mums as possible, just to say hello, etc. But I wonder if others are perceiving me as a snob, or bitch, or whatever. I try to be friendly, but  then I know a lot of people just brush me off as being the loud American (I'm not that loud, I think).

So today I took note as to who made eye contact, who said hello first, etc.Everyone seemed fine. So I'm not going to be paranoid.

And you'll be amused to know that I attended the first PTA meeting today where they tried to recruite me to run it. I said no. And then X had a complete meltdown and I had to leave early before they even had a chance to pick class reps. So I have officially signed up for nothing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

My school girl

Today is Cate's first full day at school. She's been going parttime for three weeks but today is the first full day. I miss her. I'm  sick with a rotten cold, surrounded by a house filled with laundry to be folded, beds to be made, toys to pick up, dishes to clean and work to be done. I don't feel like doing anything but curling up on the sofa and flipping through old photos of Cate as a baby.

She's 4 years and 4 months old and just a darling little girl. She's a hoot too - already the queen of the one liners. I really enjoy her company, when she's behaving, and I'm missing her a lot today. She's such a sweet girl, and thoughtful, always picking me flowers and telling me she loves me. Yesteray I made her silver dollar pancakes which she gobbled up. As I was doing the dishes I heard her say, 'You are so perfect.' I smiled and said, 'Thank you, honeybun.' To which she replied, 'Not you. I'm talking to my dolly.' Ah, well, there you have it. I think she felt a little guilty. Even though I howled laughing. Five minutes later she said, 'You know I love you, right?' And we hugged. Hey, I'll take what I can get.

She's enjoying school. She has homework, which is quite trying to get through. Her attention span is five minutes long. Just to do simple letters takes coaxing and encouragement. half the time I want to bang my  head on the desk because she's fidgeting and getting out of her seat. I try to make a game of it, but she still wiggles and tries to get out of it. Regardless, her reading is coming along nicely. She's able to read words like: mum, dad, and, cat, dog, bat, sat, etc. She's really coming along. Very curious about the world and asks what signs say. If the sign is simple I have her sound it out. She loves discovering what the words say. And she loves her books.

We went to a birthday party this past weekend where there was a book swap. We bought one of the Maisy books and she declared she wanted to keep it. I explained that we'd take it to the party and she could get another book instead. All the books were wrapped so she picked a bright pink one (of course). It was the book Kick. The boys were all fascinated with her book. When her buddy Zen noticed her book he asked to swap. At first she said no, clearly tuning into the fact that she had what everyone wanted. But once she realized Zen had her Maisy book she relented. So she got to take her book home afterall! She's a wheeler dealer!

Our Halloween parade is coming up this weekend and she wants to be a garden fairy. We have the wings, the wand, the dress, the flower wreath for her hair, glitter and sparkly shoes. We're all set. The most important thing - the glitter. Her brother is going as a devil - very, very fitting for he is the personfication of mischief.

My kids are my joy. I love them both so much. They are a handful but they are worth it. Just thought I'd share. Now I better go and clean this pigsty...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A walk through Hampstead

I haven't featured any of the lovely homes and favourite haunts of Hampstead for a while so I thought I'd post a few new ones. I just love the small details, the splashes of colour, the uniqueness. Notice how many of the homes have the plumbing running outside the building - that's how old they are. 

Walking through Hampstead is always a mood lifter. Even when I have to haul up one of the many steep hills. I don't think I could ever tire of seeing this place. I just love it that much. 

Hope you enjoy the mini tour. I realize I am not a world-class photographer, but most of the time I'm pushing a double stroller up a hill with one hand, juggling the camera with the other hand while trying to snap a photo of someone's house without raising suspicion. So it's a quick snap or two and off I go. this is the result of my 'drive-by' photography.









Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Winners of LOVE LONDON Giveaway

I'm delighted to announce the winners of the Love London by Barbara Chandler giveaway. Chosen at random, from a hat by my two children X and Cate (very high tech, I know).

X's pick: James

Cate's pick: Delia

Please email me your addresses at jollyoldengland@gmail.com  Anova Books will post you your copy of this fabulous book! Congratulations!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mountain or Molehill?

Yesterday, Cate came home with a booklet to record her reading books. There was a small notation in the book from one of her teachers (an assistant). It said, 'Cate is very good at recognising letters and there sounds. She said X is in my brothers name Xavier.'  

Okay, the correct way to write this is: 'Cate is very good at recognising letters and their sounds. She said, 'X is in my brother's name, Xavier.'

Now, I'm  not grammar queen and I make typos aplenty (read this blog is chock full of them). But this is from one of the women teaching my child!! I find that inexcusable in a homework booklet!

I debated whether I should say something. I asked a friend who is a teacher (not teaching at the moment but does volunteer at a primary school here in the UK) and she said I should just inquire, and not make a big fuss - she thought I should investigate the situation.

So I did. Her excuse, 'Oh, dear! Well, I had written about 12 of them that day. My mistake.'  

I just smiled and walked away, not making a fuss but not really satisfied. I know they're already a tad wary of me because I do ask a lot of questions. This stuff is important to me and my child's education - I want to be involved in a way that is not interfering, etc. but I can't just sit by and say nothing.

Now I'm really confused. Do I say something further? Do I wait and see if it happens again? Am I making too much out of it? I really don't know what to do here. Maybe calming down would help! What do you think?