Saturday, December 19, 2009

Goodbye Kensal Rise

After an emotional roller coaster ride lasting five months, on Wednesday we exchanged contracts on our flat and house. The UK property market has certainly tested our will and patience, and sapped our emotional and financial resources, since we accepted an offer on our flat back in July. In August we spent many days researching a completely different part of London, being priced out of where we are now, before offering on a house in West Norwood ("West Dulwich borders" according to the estate agent...sounds posher!). There weren't that many options, and we thought it was the best option all things considering ("all things considering" namely being that I was newly pregnant, not to mention that we've been desperate for some outside space for Blake for months now). On holiday in Scotland, we stressed because our mortgage was taking forever to be processed and we worried that we would lose our offer. That was back in September and pretty much seems another lifetime ago. In the end, the mortgage was approved and we then just had to wait the 2.5 months for the tenants of the house to move out. Fortunately the buyer on our flat was willing to stick around during that wait. [nb: American readers may be confused by the way buying and selling works here; I found this article which offer some nice comparisons to the US market:; The section The general stages of purchasing a specific property is the interesting part, suffice to say that in the UK the process seems infinitely more stressful compared to the US!]

In November, we received survey results back that showed that the house was directly above a trunk sewer - I panicked wondering had I not noticed that it smelled? Evidently this sewer is many many feet below the ground, but the main problem with its existence underneath our property is that doing any work or extensions, which we hope to do, will require extra permission - and potentially extra cost. We debated whether it was worth the hassle, and in the end decided that our options at that point were not great: call off the whole thing or go ahead with it were the two, and going ahead won out.

In the last couple of weeks, we've dealt with our scatty legal advisor, stubborness by our buyer about an extension to a lease, the threat by our house owner to put the house back on the market if we couldn't wrap it all up by the end of the year (effectively meaning that we would be back at square one), and general stress and complications that have made me want to never ever have to buy another property again.

This past Wednesday, with Christmas looming, we exchanged contracts, which meant it should all be going ahead - and on Tuesday we move. I booked movers who will come on Monday to pack us up, and on Monday we'll say goodbye to the people at Blake's nursery who have looked after him so well since January.

Whether it was pregnancy hormones or relief at the fact that everything had reached a conclusion, or fear at what lies ahead, I cried myself to sleep on Wednesday as I thought about the wonderful 4 years we have spent in this flat. When we spent our first night here on New Year's Eve 2005, I don't think we could have imagined all the happy times which lay ahead. Of course there were hard times here, and I am going to very soon be reminded of why I don't like DIY or "home improvement", but when I think about this being the home that we returned to as newlyweds in September 2006, or the home we brought our beautiful baby Blake to from the hospital on Mothers' Day 2008, I can't help but well up at such happy memories.

I am going to miss so many things about our flat: being walking distance to Chris and Anna who have been our wonderful neighbours for so long now (not to mention Will and Raina's flat, which although not occupied by them right now, could one day be again), Becks over on Tubbs Road (although she has become a part-time Londoner and we don't see her as often as we'd like to), the Italian deli 3 minutes away, the arthouse cinema at the end of the road, Queen's Park where I made so many truly wonderful friends through the Pushy Mothers class, being a stone's throw - near enough - from trendy Notting Hill, and the brightness of our living room on a sunny afternoon are the things that come to mind. I am sure that we'll grow to love the new place and the new area; a reassuring email from my Mom included this: Blake is used to staying in different rooms and spaces; as long as you are there, he'll be happy!

And so, in the end, we will be in by Christmas. We'll be surrounded by boxes and the daunting reminders of the work we need to do to make the house our home, but it will be exciting. Matt has been such an amazing partner in this process, and he has constantly reminded us both that as long as the three of us are together, that is what matters most. As Emily Dickinson put it, Where thou art - that - is Home. At the very least it is the start of a new chapter for us, and hopefully the place of many more happy memories which are still to be created. Wish us luck, and come visit!

Blake's friends celebrate Christmas

Rachel threw a fantastic little Christmas get-together on Thursday for all the tykes, who hardly seem like tykes anymore!
We managed to get them somewhat assembled for a photo on the couch.

Strange little fellow

On Thursday I was performing some move-related task on the phone, and Blake headed off to our bedroom where he very quietly went about some sort of business. After a few minutes, I went into the room to discover him with about 10 pairs of my underwear (clean, fortunately, from my drawer) around his head and shoulders. He also topped the look off by wearing one of his mittens. I couldn't on earth think what had made him do this, but it was pretty funny...

Counting to 10

I am still pretty impressed by this!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

A return to the gym!

About this time last year, my good ship Self-Awareness lost its way. I know this because it was 12 months ago that I signed up for a year-long subscription to my local gym. At the time, the plans were clear in my head; yes, I would be returning to work soon enough, but they had an offer on that I felt I couldn't refuse. When would I go? Well, that was easy: I would be working from home on Mondays, so I would go for a quick swim during my lunch hour; I would arrange with Matt to let me go one evening a week, and I would also go once on the weekend. I might also try to get in a swim with Blake on Thursday, my day off, so I kept his child membership going as well.
In reality, what happened was this: I haven't taken an hour-long lunch break in as long as I can remember, and if I do take any breaks while I am working from home it is to go hang up the load of laundry that I put on every Monday just before 9:00 a.m.; after returning exhausted from a day's work, picking up Blake and trudging home from nursery, the last thing I have wanted to do was venture out to go exercise; and on the weekends the same holds true. No Afternoon Plans=NAP! Finally, today I managed to take myself up to the gym to break it off.
I had to laugh at the form I had to fill out to end this farcical relationship - it asked for my reasons for cancellation, and fortunately I didn't have to pick just one: Lost Motivation, No Time, Pregnancy, Moving House/Job. Several questions later I was asked why I had joined in the first place, so I chose: Fitness and Well-being and Improve Appearance. Did you achieve these goals? Surely their computer will be able to see how often I've been, so there was no reason to reply with anything but an emphatic NO!
I know I'm hardly a SuperMom, but what I am definitely not is a Supermodel Mom. Leaving the gym, I felt a real sense of accomplishment, like I had just completed an exercise class, but this lesson was one about letting reality have a say. With life so busy, there are just more important things for me to worry about than looking slim and beautiful for my husband; hopefully he thinks that anyway, the beautiful part at least (I'll never be as fit as I was on my wedding day, but probably nor will he). I also decided that after a few minutes of calculations at how much money I'd wasted throughout the year, there was no reason to torture myself - at least it was over now.
I contemplated taking the bus, but decided that the least I could do was walk the 10 minutes home...especially because it was downhill! And when Matt went out to the shop later in the evening and asked if I wanted anything, I thought for a moment and then ordered some ice cream. After all, I'd been to the gym today...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Geniuses at JibJab!

These are still just the most brilliant things! I know it's not even December but I had some free time tonight and thought I'd find out if they had anything new for 2009. Pure genius, this is.

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Whole Foods saves Thanksgiving!

Matt has always been the more sensible of the two of us, so a few weeks ago when I asked him if I should "do Thanksgiving", he replied that he thought we had enough on our plate without a huge meal involving hours of preparation. He was right, of course, but yesterday morning I woke up with not an iota of a plan for how we would mark the 3rd of the 3 American holidays this year. Fortunately, Whole Foods on High Street Kensington was prepared for the onslaught of the expats (ones who probably make a lot more money than I do), so when Blake and I turned up there yesterday mid-afternoon, we were greeted by a man giving samples of pumpkin pie. I heard him explain to someone who had obviously never tried it before that it was an "acquired taste". They had stacks of pies - the normal-sized pies were fairly pricey at £8.99, and I didn't really think that Matt even likes it, so I managed to buy a 3" one - basically that's about two slices - for a mere £2.59...bargain! I then wandered over to the deli counter, where I got some slices of herb-roasted turkey breast, some sweet potato puree, a tub of cranberry relish, and gravy. Back at home, I mashed some potatoes, boiled some green beans, and baked some stuffing, and with just a few minutes in the microwave for everything else - Thanksgiving dinner was served (using our wedding china and silver which usually make 1-2 appearances a year)! Blake should have been in bed but instead dined with us; I can say with a great deal of certainty that cranberry sauce, suede chair covers, and a 22-month-old really do not mix very well. Still it was fun and important to celebrate the occasion, and we said our thanks for all the many things for which we are grateful: loving and wonderful families and friends, a roof over our heads, jobs, our beautiful son. Blake did not vocalize his thanks but he would have probably replied that he was thankful for "jam, Daisy Do, and bottles", which are the three things he asks for the most these days.

He also now has an interesting thing going on with dishcloths (tea towels for British readers), where he takes them out of the kitchen and lines them up on various areas of the floor or on his ride-on race car. We are really not sure what the background or motivation is. If you have seen this behavior please do let us know.

For now I'm thankful for the weekend, and for not having a fridge stuffed full of leftovers and a minimal mess to clean up last night. Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!

This shot was about a minute into the meal and you can see that Blake did not care much about the "presentation" of the food for the photo...

This took me under an hour to "make"!

Fair-eyed family with red-eye issues...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kensal Rise's The Diner: His and hers reviews

Two Kensal Rise locals lunched on Thursday at The Diner on the corner of Chamberlayne Road. Here are their thoughts on the lunch.
Hers: I was craving some American fare so instead of going home after the park, I suggested lunch at The Diner. I thought there might be enough distractions in the form of the area in the back which is fitted with lots of soft books, toys, etc. Unfortunately when we got there I noticed an annoying local woman was there with her equally annoying child, so instead I just opted for a booth nearer to the front. From the beginning, my "date" acted like a complete Neanderthal - he kept standing on the booth bench, kept trying to chew the edge of the wall between us and the next booth, and at one point almost dropped a bottle of Heinz 57 to the floor. The service was snail-paced as usual and I was worried I wasn't going to make it through the lunch what with having to distract B* constantly. I mean, had he never been to a restaurant before or something?! Fortunately when the food arrived things looked up. Some of the caveman-like behavior continued, though, as when B tried to spear an entire sausage on his fork, or when he dropped a french fry, and (I almost couldn't look) went to retrieve it under the table. He nearly grabbed my burger out of my hand but looked totally put out when I went to eat some of his french fries. I kept thinking, Who raised this guy?! He flirted shamelessly with the waitress, dancing to some Motown song which made both of them giggle. Finally, we had both finished eating and mercifully the bill arrived. As expected, he made no move to help pay his share, so I ended picking up the meal for us both. I don't think I'll be returning there with him any time soon. My burger was fantastic though!

His: I would have been happy with a nap in my stroller followed by beans on toast back at my place, but she insisted on going to The Diner. Rather than the nice area in the back she picked a strange booth at the front where the only thing to do was to peer over at the people in the next booth who appeared to be having a very good time. Evidently I was being rude by doing this, but I don't think they minded. I wish I could comment on the menu although M* was so controlling that she didn't even let me look at it and just ordered for me. Fortunately what she did order was pretty tasty: a really good sausage, some french fries and green beans. I wanted to have a bite of her burger but she clearly wasn't into sharing, although seconds later she contradicted herself by grabbing a huge handful of MY fries. I went to show her a trick I'd learned with a straw and my glass of orange juice but I got told off for being childish. Honestly, it felt like I was out with my mother or something. The waitress was a dead ringer for Upsy Daisy from ItNG, so I was glad when she kept coming back to our table to do little things. Since I felt it was M's idea to go out to lunch, I let her pick up the bill. She's got a job, so I know she can afford it. The best thing about the lunch was definitely the ketchup.

*Names have been shortened

And she's here!

Not half an hour after my last posting, we got word that our niece Maya was born today at 1:46 - congratulations, Tom, Lykke and Emma on your new daughter and sister!

Watch out Brangelina... comes MommyDaddy! Although Blake does know the difference between Matt and me, he has taken to super-efficiency when asking for something, usually shouting at us not as individuals, but as one being - "MommyDaddy"! We can't tell if he just doesn't know which he's going to say first and then they come out all at once or what.
He has been pretty funny lately, a bit happier since he got moved up in his nursery from the baby room to the toddler room which he likes a lot more. Matt has done him some favors by creating a dvd of In the Night Garden episodes so that we don't always watch the same ones. We are waiting to hear news from Tom and Lykke about our new niece, who is due on Saturday! Other than that, it seems like a pretty normal week now with nothing much to report. Hope everyone is well...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Russ and Caroline are parents!

Caroline gave birth today to a boy, who is "beautiful" according to his proud papa. Previously known as "Danger", the little chap is actually named Jack Lucas. Congratulations, and welcome to the exciting, exhausting, never-boring world of parenthood!

Remember, remember

Thursday was Guy Fawkes' Night, or Bonfire Night, in the UK. Guy was the guy who plotted to blow up Parliament back in 1605, and his name lives on in fireworks displays around the UK on November 5th.

We headed over with Anna and Chris to Roundwood Park, where Brent Council was putting on a big display. Blake was very excited about the adventure (and even more excited about seeing Anna-"Anna, Anna, Anna") but unfortunately when the action started, he was not happy about the loudness, the brightness, the entirety of it! He and I had to retreat toward the park exit to preserve his delicate senses. Hopefully next year he will like them more. I took a few bad shots of the fireworks but was a bit distracted to try to manage anything better than I did.

Here are also a few of Blake enjoying looking at photos on the computer this weekend. Sweetness.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Dances with Lyons announces UK expansion plans

London (Blogwire) - Dances with Lyons, the international blog which charts the trials, joys and [sometimes] everyday goings-on of a London family, today announced plans to add a junior member of staff to its London-based team in 2010. The name - and in fact the gender - of the new staffer will not be announced until the addition is complete, sometime in early April, a DwL insider revealed.

"We are extremely excited about expanding the team," conveyed DwL's Managing Editor and Chief Correspondent, "although we recognize that there will be challenges ahead. We've seen that when we have junior members join us, it is an around-the-clock job that leaves everyone feeling pretty drained. The learning curve for everyone is very steep, but we hope to have learned some valuable lessons from when we started up DwL back in February 2008. We have the good fortune of knowing that some excellent advisors are just a phone call away."

The addition will result in a promotion for DwL's current Junior Correspondent, Blake Lyons, which the management team hopes will mean an increased influence on the blog's content. "The research we've performed among our reader base has shown us that Blake's contributions to our content have a significant effect on site hits and reader loyalty. We hope that in his role as Senior Correspondent this will continue to be the case, and that he can also play a mentoring role to the new junior staffer. "

Other changes include an increased focus on managing costs and a potential reduction in Travel and Expenses. "If our proposed move to a larger site in SE London goes through, we'll be grateful for the additional space but more mindful of our outgoings." Fortunately Jr Correspondent Lyons has shown a love of baked beans, renowned for their exceptional value for money. As well, DwL will continue to rely on its supply of retail children's clothing from the Foothills region of North Carolina. "Having shrewd suppliers around the globe makes life a lot easier in terms of managing our operations."

"It has been an extremely hectic several months for everyone on the team, but this gives us so much to look forward to in 2010. No doubt the next few months will go very quickly and we'll be welcoming the new member in no time. We're excited, but just hope we'll be ready!"

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Jack-o-lantern time


There are certain holidays where it's going to be down to me to establish or keep a tradition going for the UK Lyons, namely the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and evidently, Halloween. In the midst of carving our pumpkin yesterday, Matt proclaimed Halloween his "least favourite" holiday, because of kids "basically dressing up and then going out and begging." Hmmm.
It appears that this distaste for costumes has been passed down on his father's side to Blake, who near enough refused his specially-imported-from-the-US monkey outfit. We managed one photo with the main body of the outfit and a couple with the hat on, but it hardly takes you to the rainforest, does it?!
I was pretty proud of my pumpkin, however, initially feeling that the design for the mouth was a little complicated. Blake lucked out by being given a lollipop (first-ever!) at the local shop, and we then raided Will's parents' house for a bit of commemorative trick-or-treating before a quick get-together with Blake's friends Dinah and Eva, who were enjoying their costumes a little more than he was. I'll chalk it up to being a boy thing.
We left our curtains closed and didn't get any trick-or-treaters, so we now have an entire tub of Celebrations chocolate to enjoy (or save until Christmas, as Matt how likely is it that an entire tub of chocolate could go uneaten in the next 2 months?!). Overall, I'll give this Halloween a 5 out of 10. And next year I'm going to think of a costume that Blake won't even realize he's wearing...!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The end of a long week

This time last week, we were all looking forward to a quiet weekend at home and a return to "normal", with all three of us at home by ourselves for the first time in what felt like a long time! The weekend did not turn out to be very relaxing, as we were hurtled back to the days of 2:00 and 5:00 a.m. wake-ups to a crying Blake. After a Saturday and Sunday of not eating, clutching at his mouth in pain, and waking up throughout the night (with the only way to get back to sleep with Mommy beside him - thank goodness we had not yet folded up the futon from Granny and Grandpa's visit), we concluded that he would not be going to nursery on Monday and would instead need a trip to the doctor.

It was only on Monday morning that I made the connection between a few little spots he had on his hands that what he had was likely the "hand, foot and mouth disease" (a childhood virus unrelated to the animal thing!). A trip to the doctor confirmed that Blake had ulcers on the roof of his mouth which accounted for the pain and the refusal to eat, and we were told to stay at home for the week while it got better. Like on any of these days where I am torn between my work as a mother and my work in my office job, I felt extremely stressed and pondered the futility of trying to achieve this balance when inevitably our child would become sick and I (or Matt) would have to drop everything at work. In the end, I know where my priorities do and must lie, so by the afternoon I was feeling a little less anxious about having to cancel all my meetings and reschedule some appointments for the next couple of days.

Matt was off to Gibraltar for a business trip on Tuesday through Thursday, so Blake and I spent a lot - a lot - of time together this week. One positive aspect was napping together in the afternoons, which I desperately needed since I was staying up until midnight working after he went to bed in the evenings. Monday he was miserable to be with, and one difficulty with these viruses and the fact that they're contagious are that it means we're limited in what we can do, even though we have all the time in the world to do it. Monday's "activity" ended up being a trip to Homebase to buy a replacement light bulb for the bathroom, where I was treated to being hit in the face (by Blake) when I had to tear him away from the artificial Christmas tree display and a stack of chocolate coins. The gratitude!

Tuesday was better and Wednesday and Thursday brought continued improvement, and he made me laugh a lot once he was feeling better. He is absolutely smitten now with the CBeebies show In the Night Garden, something his peers having been enjoying for literally months now. Up until now he just hasn't shown an interest but something has just flipped over in him and his first words this morning were "Daisy Do", indicating his affection for one of the lead characters, Upsy Daisy. Yesterday we managed a trip to Westfield, the local shopping center, and Blake got some new shoes and an ItNG dvd. His vocabulary is coming along day by day which just amazes me and makes me giggle in equal measure.

So with Matt back home and Blake seemingly healthy again, I think now we are looking forward to that quiet weekend ahead! I got a pumpkin to carve tomorrow and we'll hope to put Blake in his Halloween costume for at least a walk down the street. At the end of 7 pretty long days, I feel we definitely deserve some rest and relaxation. Let's see if we get it...!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cindy and John and leaf-peeping in Hanover

On a beautiful fall day in Hanover, my great friend Cindy married John Stanton (D'97). The wedding was amazing and despite only getting engaged in May (on the Dartmouth rugby pitch after an alumni match, no less!), Cindy had thought about ever detail with perfection! I was on my own having left Matt and Blake back in the UK, so I enjoyed exploring Hanover on my own schedule and at my own pace. It was delightful! The wedding went off without a hitch, with Cindy's two 18-month-old nephews making it down the aisle to lots of prodding and prompting, and the bride looked beautiful and her new groom dashing. The happy couple were off on a Caribbean honeymoon, about which I was very envious! Here are the photos I took, along with a few of my "leaf-peeping" shots from the area. All the best, Cindy and John!

Cindy and John_October 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Our little talker

With the help of Karla and John ("John, John, John"), Blake's speaking has come on quite a lot since I've been away. Here he is tonight reading a very exciting book called Racers which goes into elaborate detail about different racing vehicles - cycle racing, motorbike racing, tractor racing (ha ha!), etc. He loooooves this book!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Weekend wrapup

It was a busy one, but as busy just seems to be the theme of our lives these days, at least this was a weekend full of nice times. Saturday we headed down Surrey-way to celebrate Lykke's birthday - belatedly - with lunch at Giraffe. Mom and Dad had ventured off to Scotland (in like a day) and were waiting for us when we got home, so it was nice to see them back and catch up a bit. Today we had a very near-miss at failing at our first Godparenting duties for William Cook by nearly being late to his Christening; after a horrendous 30 minutes at a stoplight on the A40, I said a little prayer that there would be no traffic on the M25 and must have been doing something right recently because it flowed pretty smoothly until Woking. I only wish I'd read Diane's email with instructions to the church instead of listening to Google maps, which gave the address of the site where the former church had been torn down last year! We made it with about a minute (or 30 seconds!?) to spare and all turned out ok. He was a very good little chap during his service, and Blake managed to be civil, and we were proud to be there at such a milestone in William's life.

Lunch at the Red Lion was taken in intervals as Matt and I alternated time outside with Blake who admired several Harley Davidsons parked outside, ran around in the rain, and generally displayed the impatience associated with a 19-month-old not impressed by a truly lovely 3-course meal.
Blake's love of motorcycles is matched only by his love of wearing our shoes - here he is sporting my pair on Thursday. Makes me laugh.
I'm off tomorrow to Stockholm and leaving Matt and "John" ("Where's John?" has been Blake's quote of the week) and Granny Karla in charge. Bring on Thursday! Have a good week all...

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Topsail Part 2

I happened to remember another memory card with more Topsail photos on it...
Topsail_August 09_Part 2

Blake and I enjoyed a very chilled-out day today, complete with an afternoon nap (hooray!). Blake enjoyed two separate breakfasts of Cheerios and crumpets, before we set off for the doctor's office. His cold - from Scotland - still hasn't gone, so I wanted to make sure something wasn't wrong with his chest. All ok in fact. Then to QP for some time on the swings. Blake has a very funny habit of needing to swing on every swing on the swingset, as if he's test driving cars to decide which one is best. Tearing him away from the swingset is kind of difficult these days. We're also into a very bossy stage, where he will push your legs where he wants you to go, and also commands you to "Sit down" in order to read books. The reading is good, though - I'm very pleased that he likes his books.

I think we'll all be glad for the weekend, although it will be a busy one and then the start of a hectic week and a half for me where I'm off to Stockholm and then the US for Cindy and John's wedding. Let's get through Friday first, I guess...!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

October Birthdays!

Happy birthday yesterday to Marisa - it seems like yesterday that we were counting down the days 'til your 21st so you could join everyone at Murphy's!

And Seb Hines turns the big 0-1 today...hope it was a good one!

Scotland photos

You will probably want to do some serious quick-flipping here, as a lot of these are my boring attempts at trying to get good scenic shots in the fleeting instants where it wasn't raining in Scotland. If I took this many photos in that dismal weather we had, I would hate to imagine how many I would have taken had it been bright and pretty.
Anyway, the editor will not be offended if you whiz through these at breakneck speed, especially those at the beginning when we're at Monkey Forest! I am sure those Barbary Macaques are not that interesting or attractive when not viewed in the flesh. My various attempts to get the perfect shot of purple heather are also probably less than exciting. Bonus points for anyone, however, who correctly counts the number of different animal types pictures in the set. In reviewing them I have also realised that I just lost some of my better shots of the seals (after prematurely deleting everything off my memory card of the camera!), but in general they were probably so unremarkable that I am not going to lose any sleep over it!

Scotland - Sept 09

North Carolina pictures

North Carolina in August seems like a long, long time ago, but here are the pictures which I have finally downloaded. I am not even going to attempt to do any editing or captions or else they would get posted by next August.

I still have a long way to go with my photography (a long way by the looks of it) but there are at least a couple of cute ones here, including photos with second cousin Charlotte and friends Emma Forbes, Jane Larkin and Thomas. I laugh when I see Blake in his yellow banana suit. Emma Forbes was kind enough to lend him her pink floaty vest but I laugh even more at those photos as he reminds me of a banana peel that has been wrapped in Hubba Bubba. The sequence where he can't figure out his shadow is pretty amusing too.

The first several are from when we arrived in Chapel Hill, where Mom and Dad got married 40 years ago. We went around and visited their old houses and haunts which was fun. There is a karaoke theme going on as the last photo is at the Topsail Island bar which did karaoke on the Friday nights - JF, Susan and I did Britney's Hit Me Baby One More Time to an adoring audience (ha!).

North Carolina_August 09

Haes and Jeremy's party in NYC

A belated post to write about what a good time was had by all when the Dartmouth girls (all of us minus Beth, who was caring for newborns Alex and Cecily) headed to the Big Apple to celebrate with Haes and Jeremy...they got married two years ago but were just getting around to having a big party to celebrate! It was wonderful to see everyone - our reunions are too few and far between these days - and H&J looked great. Dinner was fabulous and the festivities carried on into Koreatown ("K-Town" as Haes calls it) where we had a huge room for karaoke. The singing was off-key but memorable. Here are the photos, finally. The rendition of John Denver's Country Roads is perhaps too painful on the ears to publish...
Haes and Jeremy - Sept 09, NYC

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Just back from Bristol where we enjoyed Chris and Sarah Ballard's wedding, and the chance to see Chris and Anna, Russ and Caroline (and bump) and Simon, Naomi and Hugo. Hugo is an actual boy now (3 years old!) and not the toddler I remember from August 2007, the last time we'd seen them. Blake had a good time exploring Bristol's finest Turkish restaurants with his Granny and Grandpa, who accompanied us on the trip for some very helpful babysitting.
Life at DwL headquarters seems super-busy, with visiting colleagues from the US (Granny Karla and Grandpa John), a business trip to Paris tomorrow, and general hectic-ness, but I am carving out some time on Tuesday or Wednesday evening to do some much-needed blog updating. I need to download some photos to go along with my draft posts, so come back on Thursday for some updates!

DwL's sabbatical to the Scottish Highlands

It will give you some idea of the Scottish climate when I say that we were pleased last Saturday to cross the border into England, and feel happy to be back to English weather. Despite the grey, rainy and –I can’t use the word enough – grey days in the Highlands, we still had a nice break away as a family. Each day was a (grey) adventure; highlights below:

Day 1 (London to Carlisle, 306 miles)

We enjoyed a sunny day on the English Motorways, setting off at 10:30 in the morning headed for our first destination, Monkey Forest near Stoke on Trent. In his role as good father, Matt had researched a midway point in the drive where we could get out, stretch our legs, and hopefully provide some family-friendly entertainment for Blake (who no doubt does not consider 7 hours in his car seat as a good time!). Monkey Forest was very cool indeed, as a preserve which contains nearly 140 Barbary Macaques. We learned about their habits and watched them eat, jump around the trees, and groom each other.
We headed off into more Friday afternoon traffic to finally arrive in Carlisle at 7:30 pm that night, a mere 9 hours after setting off.

Day 2 (Carlisle to Banavie, near Fort William, about 200 more miles)
The good news about the second half of the drive was that it was a lot shorter than Day 1, although it was not without incident. We concluded that Glasgow is a dump (sorry to anyone who likes it!) with a lot of traffic jams, and it was a welcome relief to keep heading north into Lochaber, the land of the lochs. This enchantment ended shortly after, however, as my 17-year streak of not having any traffic incidents or tickets was broken when on a windy single-lane road beside Loch Lomond, I had to brake quickly – but in time – only to then be bumped by the car behind me into the mini-van ahead of me. It was not exactly a great start and I was pretty upset, although fortunately nobody was hurt and there was no visible damage to any of the cars. Still, it was such a bummer and I spent much of that evening sniffling and feeling sad, sorry for myself, grateful, annoyed, etc.

Day 3…At the foot of Ben Nevis
For anyone who knows me, you will probably know that I don’t really love hiking and walking-in-the-hills type activity (I think it stems from trips as a child to Blowing Rock, and envying Mom having a nap in the car while Dad and I went up; or it could be from my nightmare Freshmen Trip at Dartmouth which was the wet and cold start to my Dartmouth career). Matt, however, is a real enthusiast – or at least he has better equipment than I do! We had borrowed a back carrier for Blake from a friend, so we got up and headed off to the Glen Nevis visitor center. It wasn’t raining, which was nice, so we set off on the ascent to Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK. I was having major clothing envy, as I was wearing jeans and tennis shoes, and not one of the 70 or so other people I spied in the visitor center or while climbing were sporting anything other than breathable, waterproof, windproof, microweave fleeces, jackets, and pants, and super-duper high-tech grippy boots with built-in compasses that guided them quickly up the mountain (you get the idea…jeans and tennis shoes just made me look so amateur). We walked for about an hour, and I enjoyed watching the backs of Matt and Blake and rued the fact that I still don’t know how to use my SLR as well as I’d like. We kept hoping to see the peak of Ben Nevis on the next bend in the trail, but we weren’t sure that we were getting close to being able to see it so we finally turned around and headed down, when Blake fell asleep in the carrier which just made me laugh.
We maybe should have kept going, because in the next six days, we never did see Ben Nevis despite our cottage being less than a quarter of a mile away. Somehow not even being able to see the beautiful scenery had never entered my mind.

Day 4….Why does it always rain on me?
The Travis song was to be our theme tune this day, as the skies seemed to have limitless amount of rain to pour down on us. We drove over to Mallaig via Glenfinnan (where the viaduct that the Hogwart’s Express passes over was filmed) where it seemed to rain even harder. We stopped in a tearoom to dry off and warm up, and we overheard the waitress say that they’d had 10 days in a row of sunshine, and that the current weather was evidently the payback for that. Right…just our luck.

Day 5…4 and 20
During my days in the Dartmouth Women’s Rugby Club, we sang a lot of songs, the lyrics of most of which are completely obscene and not fit for reprint on a family-friendly site such as DwL. One of our favorites was one which started “Four and twenty virgins, went up to Inverness, and when the ball was over there were four and twenty less” (I can’t go any further into the song as I know my mother reads this blog, and that will probably be bad enough!). Anyway, that was the tune in my head as we set off up the A82 to Loch Ness and further into the Highlands. We stopped at Urquhart Castle, and we got lucky on this day that it was NOT raining. I was literally amazed at the effect of sunlight on everything – the color of the sky, the color of the hills, the color of the water (which up to this point had all been GREY!). I vowed to research more the scientific effects of light and color because I was literally seeing how different a landscape can be with sunlight!
Blake scampered all around the place and then we continued on to Inverness, which frankly was not very exciting. We carried on to Culloden, the site of one of the worst battles in UK history, and then it was back down past Loch Ness (no sightings of Nessie).

Day 6….Over the sea to Skye
I had heard that the Isle of Skye was one of the most beautiful places in the whole of the UK, and I can say that I can only imagine that it might be. As it was, it was raining when we went, so we only got to see glimpses of what it could look like. I was definitely of the opinion that rain is a 4-letter word.
We got a few patches of clear skies, during lunch at a pub which also hosted perhaps the UK’s most scenic playground in the front of it. Blake threw an absolute howler of a tantrum at lunch, nearly screaming the pub down because he wanted to go play on a driving video game (he has a new obsession with cars, and in fact if he were able to answer what the best part of the week was for him, I am sure he would say it was getting to sit in the driver’s seat of our car when we were parked at the cottage, pretending to drive. This usually happened at least once, if not twice a day!). After lunch we went to Davegham Castle, where the boys let me go on a short motorboat excursion to look at seals up close – which was kind of cool. I asked the boatsman a lot of questions, including one which I knew at the time was very stupid, which was what was the difference between an otter and a seal.

Day 7…The fire’s nearly out
As a very amateur photographer, I always get excited about a vacation, that I might be able to take some cool pictures of which I could be proud, print some and frame them in my home, and have them be admired by visitors. By day 7 of our holiday, I gave up on even taking my good camera out and just decided my little point and shoot would do. That’s a sad state of affairs! We took a nice, but damp, walk along a small loch, and Blake and I admired Matt’s skipping-stones skills.
That night we watched the Dixie Chicks documentary, Shut Up and Sing, which I really enjoyed.

Day 8…A very forgettable day, I believe...

I am pretty sure it was raining though.

Day 9…Bye bye Scotland – Banavie to Sale, 344 miles
We woke up pretty ready to vacate our little cottage, and vowed to the owner that we would return when we could see a last-minute forecast of 10 days of sunshine! Matt negotiated the tricky A82 without incident (he is, admittedly, a better driver than I am), and we detested Glasgow’s roads once again on the return route, having to make several detours to avoid being stuck in a parking lot of the M8. That afternoon we stopped in a lovely little village called Penrith, Blake got some time at a soft-play center, and that evening we stopped off to stay at Claire, Tim and Seb’s place in Sale, near Machester. We hadn’t seen Claire and Tim since April 2007, and not met Seb (who turns 1 next week), so it was really nice to catch up with them.

Day 10…Wrong place at the wrong time
We woke up and went for a nice walk with Claire, Tim, Seb, and their dog Kaibo. Blake was a bit overwhelmed at times by all the dogs in the park, but I still think he liked them (but perhaps he just likes them more from a distance). We headed off just before noon, and as we made our way back to London I remarked on the sunshine and the high temperatures (turns out the weather in London last week was very good, much better than normal at this time of year). It felt really good to be back home.

So overall, we could consider ourselves lucky that we were able to do anything with the weather we had, however, being a quarter of a mile away from the base of the UK’s tallest mountain and never seeing it in 7 days because of cloud is not the type of luck I’d want to take into a casino. We can say that we enjoyed our family time, but I think we’d both agree that we’ve done Scotland now, at least for the next 10 years or so (if not more…it was very grey!). You just can’t predict or control weather.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Research sabbatical

The DwL management team and junior staff are off on a week-long sabbatical to research a piece about traveling by car to Scotland, and life in a self-catering holiday home in the Highlands.
Look out for the piece to be published here on our return!

Happy birthday today to Amy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Late afternoon photography

The gadget obsession shows no sign of waning, so my new tactic is to help Blake do self-portrait photos so that he can then look at the instant result. Here's our first shot of this afternoon...

Tonight was so autumnal; we ran out of printer paper so I had to run down to Sainsbury's and on the way down at 7:15 I had to have the headlights on...oh no, where did the long days of summer go?!

Happy Birthday, Clara!

Katie and Tom's little girl Clara is one today - hope you are enjoying the big 0-1!!

Genie, genie, genie!

It's Sunday night, just gone Monday morning, in fact, and I've just tried to calculate how many extra hours I would like in my day. I started with 6 and then upped it to 8, allocated something like: 3 extra for sleep, 1 extra for blogging, 1 extra for reading to Blake, 1 extra for general improvement of home (i.e. cleaning the bathroom), 1 extra for reading, and 1 for catching up on correspondence and long-term projects. I probably should have in there something about doing a little more work work, but I just spent a few hours on my work laptop so I'm ditching that for now. At any rate, it's all theoretical of course, but oh, how nice it would be!

Since it's been a while, here's a general update from us; I'm going to try to do more specific posts on these at some point! I spent a great weekend in NYC last weekend with the Dartmouth girls to celebrate the marriage of Hae-seon and Jeremy. We were all there apart from Beth, who had brought twins Alex and Cecily into the world the week before - after a slightly rocky couple of first days, they now all seem to be doing well, and they were not far from our thoughts the whole weekend!

Back in the UK, we had some exciting news on Wednesday in the form of an accepted offer on a house in West Dulwich/West Norwood (SE London). It was a relief to think that we might now have a plan, although there is of course a lot ahead in the process - we need to now get a survey done and hope that things don't fall through, as they could do. I have started to get really excited though at the idea of moving, discovering a new place, having a place where Blake could have a sandpit and where we could hang our laundry up outside...simple things, really!
Crucially, I also saw a nursery near the house which seems good and has spaces available, so that seems promising.

Today we went down to Tom and Lykke's to celebrate our niece Emma's 2nd birthday a few days early - we're off to Scotland for a Highland Holiday so we'll miss the actual party. Blake had fun stomping around on their wood floors and playing in Emma's toy Bob the Builder house. I waited until Emma woke up from her nap before trying to get any photos, so this was maybe not the best time for photos:

Blake also then sat on her while I was trying to get a better shot, which led her to cry profusely (I would cry too if some big brute sat on me!); Blake was very puzzled at what he'd done, which I found funny:

I finished Julie and Julia on Friday and had a few overarching thoughts - how in the h*ll did she manage to cook all those recipes (and did they have to throw a lot of food away?), and how lucky is she to have had her blog discovered?! As you know, I so often dream of spending more time on my blog (and having more interesting things to write about!). I also had never imagined that Julia Child would be so eccentric, but I'm now hoping that the local cinema the Lexi will have the movie on sometime soon.

Federer is on the tv signing autographs - my word, the second-to-the-last point in the match with Djokovic was UNBELIEVABLE! How does he do it?! I also happened to notice that Kim Clijsters' daughter Jada was born the day before Blake, and then felt like a great big cow that I can't even exercise once or twice a week let alone get fit enough to be beating Venus and Serena and about to win the US Open! Sweet Matt reminded me that tennis is Kim's job, though. That made me feel a little better. Thanks, honey.

Other thoughts/events from the week: Michelle and Adam welcomed a daughter, Jessica Elizabeth - congrats!; autumn definitely has come to London, although Saturday brought the tease of an Indian summer with beautiful sunshine and a warm breeze (today it felt cold!); Lucy and Ernesto have set a date for their wedding next year; I bought my first pair of Wellington boots today (doesn't every British citizen have a pair?!). I'm sure there are many other things that I would like to write about, but for now, I would like much more to be in bed - so with that I bid you good night.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A right royal party!

On Wednesday night, Matt and I went to Chris and Anna's for dinner. I hadn't seen either of them in a while so this seemed a totally normal plan, so imagine my shock when the door to their flat opened to a sea of red, white and blue balloons, the stereo belting "God Save the Queen", and a collection of our London friends wearing "British" fancy dress and waving English flags, all in honor (honour!) of my recent official entry into Britain! All the costumes were brilliant - Anna was a simple (but very elegant handmade) teabag; Chris was the superhero cricketer Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff; Lucy, Maid Marion; Ernesto (and his friend from NY who had just arrived that evening and was probably a little puzzled as to whether this was normal Wednesday night behavior), football supporters in Arsenal and England kit wrapped in flags; Heidi sported another elegant and spectacularly hand-stitched outfit as the Pearly Queen; Becks represented all of Britain, in tartan (for Scotland), a bowler hat (for England), and carrying a leek (for Wales) and a potato (for N. Ireland); Doug was Paddington Bear (new wife Annlou was evidently a Geordie); and best of all, Chris had ordered costumes for Matt and me - the most amazing outfits of King and Queen! He also got a toddler Darth Vader outfit but Blake wouldn't let us put it on him, perhaps the only real disappointment of the evening!
There was an array of British tasty treats: crustless sandwiches filled with ham, cucumber and cream cheese, and cheese and tomato, cheese and pineapple on toothpicks, crisps and dips, and sausages followed by scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, washed down with Pimm's and hot cups of tea.
We had a few congratulatory telegrams from Down Under (Will and Raina) and Down Over (Russ from Bristol), which was a special treat. I tried to make a speech but with little preparation, I did not express my gratitude as much as I would have liked to, although I did perform one knighthood ("Arise Sir Penose") using Maid Marion's sword. As the last tunes of Chris's Britpop compilation died out, we called it a night. But what a night to remember! Now with the ceremony behind me, and Britain: The Party firmly etched in my mind as one of the best surprises of my live, I can now say I officially feel welcome by this great commonwealth. Although with friends like these, I've felt welcome for quite some time now. Thanks, guys-it was awesome!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A long day

So my pervading thought throughout most of the day today was, Why do I have the most exhausting child on earth?! Now I'm sure that's not a true statement about Blake, and I'm sure many mothers also feel this way, but man, he is high-maintenance these days!
We were back, yet again, in South London, so I give him that this is not exactly the most exciting way to spend a day, but even when he was free to wander in between our viewings, did he just appreciate the situation for what it was - a chance to explore a new sidewalk, new twigs on the ground, new pieces of stuff to look for? No, he headed straight into the road (even though he knows this is off limits!), and when he wasn't doing that he was wiping his hands all over the hubcaps of the car and then wiping his hands on his face!
We went to a lovely pub near the house where I would like to live, and they kindly provided crayons and some paper for him, as well as a huge glass of orange juice with a straw. What did he do with them? - dumped the crayons all over the floor, and then kept dunking his (hubcap-grease-covered) hands in the orange juice glass. This was just the build-up to smearing his mashed potatoes all over the sides of the high chair. On the ride back he napped, so that was nice and peaceful (apart from the fact that I'm driving in the middle of London around all these curvy parts that all of a sudden in the middle lose their lane markers), but then as soon as we pulled up in front of home, he suddenly started wailing his head off. I ignored him for as long as I could but the noise was hurting my ears so I gave up and gave him a bottle.
We then went off to Queen's Park (still one of the loveliest parks I know...I am sure going to miss it if we move) and despite my saying about 5 times, "Should we go to the sandpit?", did he actually want to go to the sandpit until the very moment when I said that we needed to go home to dinner (and because of its also being only about 60 degrees out!)? Of course not, and then as he was sprinting away from me, he tripped and scuffed his palms so then proceeded to wail the whole way home. Fortunately Daddy was home then and I just handed him over (a la "Here's your son") before I went to the laundromat to dry some clothes in peace.
I am off to NYC tomorrow to celebrate Haes and Jeremy's wedding, and I'm leaving the boys at home. I am sure I will miss them desperately (first overnight without Blake) but I think my mental state will appreciate the break from times like today. No doubt Blake will be very good for his Daddy and his Granny Lyons who is coming on Saturday to help. In fact, maybe he's so smart that he acted the way he did today so that I would be ready for a break from him! I like that thought. Somehow I doubt it, though...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Bank Holiday write-up

Hello from a Bank Holiday Monday in London! Needless to say, I'm glad you're reading...and that you haven't forgotten about DwL despite a severe drought on the blogging front from yours truly. I hate not doing the blog posts, but life has been very hectic lately - househunting takes up nearly all our waking moments (and I'm pretty sure I worry about it when I sleep as well!). We are still in the position where we have accepted an offer on our place, but haven't yet found somewhere to go. In the UK, you can verbally accept an offer and nothing is really kind of starting to seem absolutely certain (and then, not even certain) until you exchange contracts and have surveys done, etc. I have now seen 15 houses, in a wide variety of areas, and there are starting to emerge a few places that we might be able to start to imagine ourselves in. Here is where Matt's and my differing personalities come in: I, dreamy and optimistic, like a house which, when I walk into it I don't see it as it is now, but how it would be after having undergone some work (ok, a lot of work), in a lovely quiet street; Matt, pragmatic and even-headed, has spent the whole evening doing various calculations related to extensions and square footage (and I'm guessing the sighs were related to the cost or complication of these). My glasses are rose-colored; his vision is already 20/20. Anyway, stay tuned on that front.

We also had to deal with a newcomer to the flat this weekend...a 3-foot, 18-month-old terror who has replaced our sweet 17-month-old overnight. I think we are actually going to be relieved to go back to work tomorrow, because it can't be as hard work as Blake was this weekend - throwing food at mealtimes, screaming for most of the car rides to and from south London, not happy being indoors, not wanting to have a bath, and oh, I'm giving myself a headache recalling it! Teeth may be partly to blame - I think he may have had the top 2 molars poke through, but man, please let him wake up on the right side of the cot tomorrow!!!

We went down to Notting Hill Carnival on Sunday; we just went far enough to peek at a few of the floats before heading back to the calm, quiet emptiness of the Queen's Park sandpit. Blake was interested in the dancing crowds but a bit perplexed by it as well, I think.
Do you see those pink tights, Daddy?

Today I had planned a special "day off breakfast" - blueberry muffins, eggs and bacon. The idea was really nice, but the bacon started burning, the smoke alarm went off, Blake didn't want to eat any of it (apart from the entire muffin on a fork), and it just wasn't quite how I imagined it.

We then headed back down to saaaf London- my 3rd trip in 5 days - and after driving around an area where we'd seen 4 houses on Saturday (and today ruling that area out!), we spent a good few hours in Dulwich Park, playing on the swings and quacking at the ducks. For some reason the cheeky smile was back for these photos.

And so, on to another week. Maybe one of these days I'll get back into the blogging swing. I look forward to it, not only because it would mean I would get to be writing and not having "bloguilt", but also because it would inherently mean that the time I'm spending on the computer at home would not be spent on estate agents' sites. With that, I bid you goodnight.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Happy 40th, Mom and Dad!

My parents have been married forty years today - incredible! Hope you're having a nice day...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Happy Birthday, Lela!

Hope you are having a great day - I will try to call to say hello!

Happy anniversary, Anna and Chris!

It was two years ago we were celebrating with you in Brighton - hope you have had a nice day!

Cooling off

Today was a hot day in London, the kind that isn't very nice if you have to be on the bus or tube (as I had to be). Perhaps that was why Blake enjoyed his bath tonight, although I think it had more to do with Daddy entertaining him through tickling. I tried to preserve his modesty in this video but failed midway through!
p.s. It is very British to complain about heat - I'm a bit worried about myself...
In terms of this blog title, we also have a little issue on our hands related to our "barracuda boy". Blake can one instant be very loveable and want to hug or cuddle, and the next millisecond be headed for the jugular (or usually the closest area of flesh, never actually the real jugular). I am trying a few things but the latest I am aiming for is the "non-reaction", which is sometimes hard b/c his teeth hurt! I hope this is just a passing phase, although he himself got a little love bite at nursery today. Apparently at nursery he just cries though and doesn't bite back, which is good (I guess?). I'm sure like everything, as my Mom would say, this too shall pass!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A preview of beach photos

When we came back on Sunday, it was a pretty abrupt reality check - 4 voicemails from our estate agent asking us for an update on our status. Uh, our status? Jet-lagged and not ready to think about this - is that the answer you're looking for?
At any rate, we've spent Sunday night, last night and tonight thinking about property and where we can go...we're considering South London since there doesn't seem to be much in our area - the basic problem is that there is just not that much for sale at the moment...making it kind of tricky! If I don't do as good a job on the blog in the coming days and weeks, it's probably b/c I'm trying to find us a home, but patient readers will be more than welcome to come visit if we do find something!
In the meantime until I can deal with the beach pictures, here is a cute one of Blake.

A return to London, and a "return" to Britain

We're back from vacation - and oh, how I wish I could be back in Topsail! We had a wonderful time - at some point I'll put photos up - but on Monday it was straight back into Britain as I had my citizenship ceremony. It was a rather drawn-out affair with lots of oaths ("I promise to learn the rules of cricket," "I pledge allegiance to tea" etc) but it was nice to be welcomed in as a citizen. The "Brent dignitary" who conducted the ceremony and handed out the certificates said to me when he saw I was from the US, "Welcome back!"
There were 12 nationalities represented by the 23 of us who were naturalised on the day: Afganistan, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Greece, Iraq, Jamaica, Somalia, Sudan, USA and I think Pakistan and Israel. We got a nice bronze medal and a certificate, and Matt was the hero of the day as he chased Blake around the Brent Town Hall for over an hour while we waited for things to start. During the ceremony, Blake was pretty quiet and didn't cause a disruption, so that was a result. Tonight, however, has been a different story, as jet lag seems to have hit the little guy pretty hard and he is having a bad time going to sleep (it's a return to the old days, and not a nice walk down memory lane!)
I should also say for anyone who wasn't sure, I've kept my American citizenship, and when asked, I will always say I'm American - because that's what I am and always will be!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Why not to go in the loft

So last night I had to make an expedition into our loft, to find a selection of "summer clothes" which had mysteriously disappeared, in anticipation of our trip to the beach on Friday. I had looked a week or so ago at the initial layer of detritus which exists in our loft, but I didn't see this collection of clothes in the tubs and suitcases where I thought they might be, so I had to plan an evening to take up a flashlight and really investigate the disappearance. You might be asking why I'm looking for summer clothes at the end of July, to which I would reply, check the weather for London for this past month, and you'll find that most people would probably have preferred to wear wool sweaters or be wrapped in fleece blankets. Anyway, that's a different story. If I told you that most of these summer clothes were bought in the summer of 2006, you may also have a chuckle to yourself about the absurd notion that I could even fit into most of this anymore, and I think I may just have to grant you that - I'm not sure much of it will fit, to be honest. But I had to at least locate the clothes before being able to test that theory.
So flashlight in hand, I ventured up the ladder, and as soon as I got up there I thought to myself, What a load of crap we have up here! There are nearly a dozen huge cardboard boxes which have not even been folded down, as well as probably two dozen that have been folded flat - perhaps in anticipation of our packing up our stuff someday. There are paint cans, an office chair, tubs of costume party clothing, Christmas decorations spilling out of their boxes, table legs, a spare vacuum cleaner (why we have a spare when we hardly use our main one very often is beyond me), spare parts to God-knows-what, about a dozen suitcases of all varieties - hard, soft, big, small, an entire suitcase full of bubble wrap; Matt's wetsuit, a Moses Basket, Blake's baby clothes, a spare trash can (?), extra boards and extra tiles, and the list could go on. After about 15 minutes trying to make heads or tails over what everything was, I finally did locate my tub of clothes (nicely labelled "Meg - Summer Clothes"). Coming down out of the loft was the best feeling, and I have to say that I really dread the thought of moving and having to decide what we do with much of that stuff. For another day...!

In terms of moving, not much has happened since last week. We still haven't yet seen anything in particular for us to go to, so I think we're planning on taking our break to the US and then coming back with hopes that there will be more properties on the market. At least I do know that if we need to pack things up to move, we have some boxes to start filling. I think I'll be sending Matt up to get them when the time comes.

Nine is fine, and what a mess!

One thing that seems to happen like strange clockwork is the arrival of Blake's teeth almost always to a "month-iversary". Yesterday he turned 17 months and out sprouted Tooth #9, on the right in the back. Also, do you ever wonder why some babies/young children don't mind being absolutely disgustingly caked in nasty food (here spaghetti bolognaise and yoghurt), and at what age do they start to actually think, You know what, I'd prefer not to look like someone dumped a plate of food in my face? At any rate you can actually see the new tooth in this picture, if you can distinguish it from a yoghurt blob.

Sunshiny photo op

We haven't seen the sun all that much this July, but on Monday there was some beautiful late afternoon sun that was coming through our windows. Here we are soaking up the rays! (please note Monday is my makeup-free day...wish I'd thought of that before taking these in such light!)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Diana!

Di's birthday was Thursday - the card is in the mail! Hope you had a great day!!

If the shoes fit

Blake has really become a shoe addict in the last week, now able to put on a pair of adult shoes on his own. Here he is on 2 different occasions with Matt's tennis shoes, and then indulging his feminine side with my flats.