Thursday, June 28, 2012

My New Project

I have my new project for the Autumn! I'm very excited about it. For the past few months I've been wondering what on Earth I'll do with myself once I'm no longer the PR person for my women's club, a class rep for the PTA, full time mum and full time agent - along with my many coffee meetings, early morning gym sessions, general socializing and running a household of four.

Cate will start Year 1 (by the way, the class photo was taken outside the reception classroom with all students, just as I had dreamed. Yay! It's absolutely adorable. If you don't know what I'm talking about you can read about the dreadful class photo I rebelled against here). X starts nursery part time - four days a week, four hours a day. I won't be on every committee with my women's club, I won't have to send out the class letter every week and field questions in the playground - I'll just be a regular member in the club, and a regular mum in the school. I will also have four hours a day to myself. ALL to myself as I don't start work until 2pm every day (New York hours).

What to do? What to do? Well, I found my project!

We walk uphill everyday (in the snow and rain) to drop Cate at school every day (see that walk here). At the top of the second hill (there are three with no down hill - it's just a rolling hill upward) there is a T stop. We like to cross the road and run up the private road that is blocked to traffic. However, there is no zebra crossing anywhere along this road. Not down the road, not up the road. There are literally hundreds of school children who walk this route to their various schools without a proper crossing - not crossing guards, nothing. I want to change that.

This article in the Daily Mail came out the other day and it just fueled my fire. I want a proper zebra crossing with crossing guard during school run time for this particular area. They were denied a crossing as it was too expensive (£14,000) so the parents created their own, which I think is brilliant, however it's illegal.

I called the council to find out what I need to do - which is a lot - petitions, paperwork, research, etc. I've already sussed out the opinion of several parents who also have this daily commute with children and they all agree. It's a dangerous intersection and a crossing would be heaven sent.

Rest easy, fellow parents of Hampstead, West Hampstead, Kilburn, Fortune Green and beyond - I'm on it.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Brit Mums Live!

On Friday I headed over to the Brewery for the Brit Mums Live conference. What a lot of fun! Since I spend much of my time hunched over a desk, alone, on the phone and computer at home, it's nice to get out in the world and meet with writers and like-minded folks - mix, mingle, talk shop. It felt just fabulous. And everyone, and I mean everyone I met was so interesting.

I sat on a panel about getting published - in the traditional form - you may remember- books, hard cover, paperback, pages, typed words, etc. They look like this:
It was a fun panel. Everyone on it was really well informed and I completely agreed 100% with everything they had to say. Here's who was on the panel with me: Kate Morris, a published author who was very candid and insightful on the process, Emily Carlisle - a soon to be published author - who gave excellent tips on how to approach editors and agents as well as how to make yourself attractive to them (work wise - your looks and dress don't matter much here!), Cari Rosen who is also a published author and very charming I might add. Our moderator was the fabulous Toni Hargis from Ex Pat Mum who I've met cyber-ly a few times!

I think we did all right. I was very pleased with the large turnout and was even more delighted to see people furiously taking notes. I think I did all right - I was really tired that day and was completely thrown because we were seated up front facing everyone without a table in front of us! That was a first. I'm a leaner - I like to lean on tables when I talk so for me to wing-it without the support of a table - well, it was fine in the end!

I met quite a few interesting people there including Michelle - The American Resident - we go way back. She's one of my favourites. And I met Julia Boggio who was just delightful and unknown to me (a lot escapes me I'm completely clueless) a very well respected photographer. (Want to work on a book with her!!)

They had loads of great sponsors and the champagne was flowing (served by half naked men with twitter  hashtags written on them - which somehow made the champagne much tastier!). The blog awards were a scream - my two friends who were nominated did not win (grrrr) but I had a good time all around.

Next year - I'm going for the whole thing, not just the Friday night! I wanted to sit in on the workshops and presentations but had no time (as usual). Next year - I make the time.

Hooray for Brit Mums Live. A job beautifully done.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Cate!

When you turn five you have ice cream for breakfast! At least that's what they do in Scotland - which is where we were for the big 5! Cate loved it. Couldn't finish it either, had to have Daddy polish it off. No complaints from him either. Just look at the beautiful little face! So precious!

We did a looooong driving tour of England and Scotland starting in London headed to Nottingham and Sherwood Forest, then spent a night in Leeds. Off to Edinburgh in the morning stopping at Roman fort ruins along Hadrian's Wall (fabulous! photos to follow). From there we drove to Blackpool and Pleasure Beach which is the home of Nickelodeon Land (woo wee!). Did it all if 6 days - too much if you ask me. Fen and I decided next time we're picking ONE place and staying there!

So little Ms. Cate had her third birthday cake since we've been in London. She's lived here the same amount of time as she has in the US now. She doesn't remember New York or our Brooklyn home. That makes me sad. We're not going home this summer either as we're headed to New Zealand instead.

Her big birthday bash in in a few weeks. Her entire class is invited and we're hosting it along with three adorable little girls in her class. It's all Disney princess themed and I know she's going to just love it. I made her another cake with was an explosion of pink on her buttercream vanilla icing, jam in the middle. Divine. As you can see, she likes it!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Class Photo Debacle

I'm on a tear - again. This time it's the class photo. We were expecting a normal, traditional class photo with the students sitting in rows, teachers on the side, most of the kids (hopefully ours) smiling into the camera - or at least looking at it.

Oh no! That is not what we received - at all. The school decided to do something different - and while I'm all for that and think the photo is unique, different, and whimsical it's not at all what I want for my daughter to have for the rest of her life.

What came instead is a long photo - not the traditional size, but a long photo with clusters of children photoshopped together in a row. There are about 4-7 children in each cluster, all in different poses. The unfortunate and most outrageous thing is that my daughter - in her cluster - is laid out on the floor on her stomach with her elbows propping her up and another child standing over her, straddling her, hands on hips (the other child's hips, not Cate's). It's deplorable.


This is for her to have to remember all the children she started her education with - the kids who were her first BFF's and the kids who will remember her - years from now when they're all adults and successful (or not) they can post of Facebook and say, remember when we were in reception? And my child is on the ground with another child looming over her as if she shot her in a big-game safari.

To say the least, as I'm wont to do, I freaked out completely. This is not what I want for Cate. I am trying to teach her to stand up for herself, to be her own person, etc.etc. and here she is laying down with someone on top of her.  When I finally looked at the photo (we had it for a few days but I've been too busy to deal and just pulled it out this morning so I could order it) I nearly exploded. I know I have a tendency to get a bit hot under the collar when it comes to my children (lest ye forget - here's how I handled the Great Pumpkin Debate while pregnant).

I cooled off and then complained to the school that I wasn't happy with the photo. I then called the photographer to see if there were any alternate poses we could choose from. No there were not. So I spoke to the other mothers and some were not happy with the photo - and their children weren't even on the ground! So, I've proposed to take another photo outside the classroom, on the steps in a traditional fashion with the teachers. The photographer mum in the class has agreed to take the photo and we'll provide a free emailed copy to everyone so that people have alternatives.

I'm waiting for permission from the school that it's okay. If they no... well, let's not think about that. Once I get a bee in my bonnet no one will rest until I get what I want. And I want a normal, traditional, decent photo for my Cate to have of her reception class that will make her proud. Then, and only then, will I be happy and let it go. I overreacting?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Jolly Jubilee

Thar she is - the Queen! Of all the times to be in London we did luck out: with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics this year there is a lot of merriment to be had. So often I forget we're even in Britain but when the Royals have something to celebrate - EVERYONE -  the whole nation breaks out the champagne. I love that.

Last year during Will and Kate's wedding we attended a wedding party with friends and then Fen and I dragged the kids down to the mall - the long stretch of road leading up to Buckingham Palace - and St. James Park to see the festivities. You can read about that and see the pics here.

But during the wonderful flotilla parade we decided to skip the crowds along the Thames and stay home - mostly because it was pouring rain - not just drizzling but relentless sheets of rain. We skipped the street parties too for the same reason. Instead we stayed in, had a party of our own - I broke out a fancy table cloth, we had cloth napkins and ate: BBQ ribs, corn on the cob and apple pie. Not British at all, but we had fun. The kids loved it.

It's really nice to see the country come together to celebrate their Queen. It's not part of the daily discussion really, she's just there, doing her thing. People complain about the royals (including me. I don't like the fact that my tax money went to fund part of the royal wedding!) but when it comes right down to it - no one, and I mean NO ONE does pomp and circumstance like the Brits. And they have a Queen! Come on - that's just fantastic.

I was a double major - 18th century British Fiction and History - Britain 1600-1800 with a minor in Creative Writing. So I do fancy the royals a wee bit, always have.

And NO ONE does documentaries like the Brits. There's usually one on a royal or historical figure or a castle/manor house every Saturday on the BBC. They are brilliant. I don't miss them. I've learned more about the Queen's behind their famous husband kings than I ever cared to know. And I'm grateful for it.

I'm very rah-rah the royals today! God save the Queen ('cause heaven knows we don't want Charles at the helm!).

Sunday, June 3, 2012

2 1/2 Years Ago

So sweet - my two little chickens. X was only 8 days old, Cate was 2 1/2, same age X is now. Seems like a lifetime ago (which I guess it was). Taken in our lovely Cobble Hill Brooklyn apartment which I still miss daily.