Sunday, June 28, 2009

Techno boy

Finally got his hands on Daddy's iPhone!

Posted by Picasa

Colin cam - Days 2 and 3

So far so good with Colin as a houseguest. He is very hungry in the morning so I have to remind myself not to overfeed him as Matt tells me they can't actually handle as much food as they think they'd like to eat.

Has he multiplied! No, it's only trick photography from Day 2...

and Day 3, spreading his wings!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Colin comes to stay

Chris and Anna are off to France tomorrow and we have been left in charge of Colin, Chris' new fighting fish. We have been briefed on the necessary feeding and changing of the water (as well as what we need to do to entertain Colin...the list includes dancing in front of his tank and tapping the side of the tank when he seems bored). So far Colin seems to like his new home. We'll aim to post regular updates here in case Chris manages to check the Internet while in the land of bread and cheese. Bon voyage!

Day 1 photos

Colin is very handsome

Does it look like he is missing Chris already? Or does he know how boring we are and that we might not dance for him as much as Chris does?

Magical Michael

Unless you've been in a cave all day, you'll probably have heard the news that Michael Jackson has died, aged 50. I had a busy day at work so didn't look at any Internet coverage until now, sticking mostly simply to the BBC roundup of his changing look throughout the years. I think the hardest part about it all for me is trying to choose my favorite of his songs - "Man in the Mirror", a minor anthem for the Dartmouth girls, "Black or White" which I have always loved to dance to, one of the old old ones like "ABC" or one of the more recent old ones like "Bad", "Billie Jean" or "Thriller". Whatever his personal issues, it is unarguable that he was an electrifying performer and entertainer, and I'm sad for his friends and family that they have lost him. Perhaps though he will be at peace and has found an escape from all of the pressures of life which he seemed to struggle to cope with.

A sweet photo

When Matt makes Blake giggle, he couldn't look any happier...this is rather impressive given that he's on the changing table which he really hates.


Given my limited interest in fashion and clothing, and the fact that the only thing I can halfway decently dress is a salad, I have been thinking recently that it's probably a good thing that Blake is a boy and that dress sense isn't as important as it would be for a little girl. He seems to be telling me something different, however, as the past couple days have been all about his expressing himself through accessories.

On Tuesday morning it started with his finding one of my red shoes and taking a fancy to it...

When he came home later that day, he immediately had to put it on again...

The next day it was on to a different pair of shoes...

And shades rounded out the look...

This one really cracks me up:
Perhaps he's letting me know that he'd like me to take a keener interest in making sure he looks good!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Friends reunited

On Monday I met up with Amanda Barger-Williams, a friend from the good old days of Hickory High School, along with her parents and husband Jackson. It was great to catch up on where our paths have taken us (hers has taken them to Springfield, MA) and it was hard to believe that 14 years had passed since we last saw each other! They were going to Wimbledon yesterday and got a glorious day of sunshine (still no need for the Centre Court roof yet this year...Murphy's Law). We especially enjoyed reminiscing about Kathryn Coulter Jones plowing through their glass French doors one sleepover evening in high school, and about how wussy modern-day trampolines are with their mesh netting to prevent you flying off the side.
Here we are after dinner...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to Matt and Grandpa John!

Another weekend away

As my Mom joked tonight, if we just go visiting people on the weekends, we don't need a garden of our own! We headed to Bristol this weekend to see Russ and Caroline (+ bump). They are doing well and we enjoyed catching up for the first time since the Christmas, time flies. We went into Clifton, which remains one of places I would most like to live in the UK...all those cute shops full of things I can't afford, delis and restaurants with great-looking food, pubs with local West Country cider (for all those times when we can just head down to the pub...erm, yeah). After lunch, we met up with one of their friends and her 21-month old son and had a good time in the playground and then admiring the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Blake was very brave - or has a very, very short memory - and went right back up a slide that he fell backwards down only seconds earlier. Ah, the bumps and bruises we have ahead as the parents of a b-o-y.
Caroline made a great lasagne for dinner - she seemed to whip it up rather magically - and then we called it an early night.
Blake's gift to Matt for Father's Day was a 6:15 wakeup this morning...ugh. I got up and played with Blake for an hour before I had to slink back to bed, at which point Matt was willing to wake up. After a lazy morning (Blake only managed to break one vase and disrupt Spike and Buffy's -Russ and Caroline's cats - food bowls several times), we went to Portishead for a walk along the marina. It was a lovely weekend and I have to say that I really don't want it to be Monday already!! The flat seems to be in a rather chaotic state and I had cereal again for dinner...we seem not to have been to the store for ages. The week ahead looks pretty busy but for now, I guess it is still Sunday so I may enjoy the last few minutes of the weekend...although 6:15 came pretty early this morning so I feel rather sapped of creative energy and may just go to bed!
Pics below (full selection is mainly for Grannies' benefits! - please skim ahead if you are bored by them!)


I woke up on Friday morning nearly unable to walk due to a very intense game of softball on Thursday evening, with Becca Harrison and a team of people from Channel 5. It was VERY fun to be back out on the field again and took me back to the glory days of HHS softball. In my first inning, I got run out attempting to slide and was thankful I'd opted for sweatpant/tracksuit type bottoms instead of shorts. Managed to connect a few times with the bat but wasn't pressured much in the field. Unfortunately my team lost 19-21 but it definitely made me feel young again. Next game isn't until July 2nd but I am already looking forward to it...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Evening up on the teeth front

Some of you may have heard me talk about my love of playing around with numbers and how I prefer even numbers to odd, like to find order and meaning out of a group of digits, etc. I can't pinpoint the exact date, but in the last few days, another tooth has arrived on the scene, #8, one of my favorite numbers (and definitely my friend Lela's favorite number). It's the tooth on the bottom left so this now will now even things up.
Whether or not this tooth has anything to do with a very sudden but vehement reluctance for Blake to go to sleep in his cot at night is still unknown, but the amount of "hollering" and "carrying on" that has been happening at 7:30 the past two nights when we've put the little guy down has been rather monumental. I have even contemplated phoning Lin up for advice.
I have wasted near enough a whole evening on the computer and have nothing to show for it, apart from this boring post and some tired eyes, so with that I'll say good night and hope that tomorrow or the next day I can find something more interesting to write about!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The A-Z's of a great weekend in Dorset

We just got back from a lovely weekend at Mel and Allan's in Dorset, where we enjoyed their beautiful garden, wonderful food cooked by Mel, and the pleasure of the company of the always-adorable Lucy, Ben and Theo. Since Mel is someone whom I've admired for her creativity, rather than just do a standard write-up, below are my A-Z highlights of the weekend:

The Aga, at which and in which Mel prepared several amazing meals...hanging out on the lawn with Beanie the rabbit...clucking chickens - 9 of them - and watching Blake get acquainted with something he's seen only in books...discussions about dogs, as Ben would like a border collie and Matt had one (named "Chico") for a day when he was younger...newly-laid eggs then churned into an amazing strawberry meringue...delightful fresh air...graceful, generous, and grown-up Lucy, who headed off to celebrate a friend's birthday on Sunday...Hot Cross Buns, the tune of which wafted often through the air while Ben practiced his trumpet...iced elderflower cordial to go with minted potato and green bean salad...a miniature John Deere tractor...possible disaster avoided when Lucy volunteered a soft toy kangaroo to replace Blake's Leo the lion which we'd left at home...Lemony Cricket, the seasonal ale that Matt and Allan had at the Crown, their local pub...mistake of the weekend: leaving Leo at winning bottles, tombola, or raffle tickets at the Semley village fete...Oh When the Saints Go Marching In, another of the trumpet tunes to which we danced in the playroom...perfect Pimm's made by the 20-year old landlady at the Crown...taking a walk in beautiful quiet disturbed only by chattering birds and a babbling brook, allowing me to listen to a chattering and babbling Blake in his stroller...Allan hard at work at restoring a Laser sailboat...wonderful slow-roasted pork for Sunday lunch...sweet Theo being funny and cute all the time...when a city boy hits the country, there are bound to be a few "Uh-oh's", but Blake seemed to handle the perils of the country relatively well with only a slight graze to a knee...delicious Victoria sponge cake served up with tea at the fete...wickets falling during our afternoon game of lawn cricket (Ben kept score but I'm not sure who won)..."xtra cracklin' please" was Theo's mantra at lunch today (smart boy!)...brilliant yellow and orange flowers to garnish the fresh salad with lettuce from the desire to leave on Sunday afternoon, but happy at having had a wonderful break.

As ever, pictures tell the story better, so here they are...

Strike club

The NW and S/SE London Karate Club (aka our book club!) was not deterred by the recent industrial action which derailed the London Underground for 2 days. Notably Lucy and Ernesto were courageous and dedicated enough to venture NW so that Ernesto could host his first session. He's on a bit of a fast track, he is, being the leader at only his second meeting! At any rate, he chose a cracker of a book, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, the first graphic novel we've read in the two years + that we've been meeting. Ernesto is, among many other very intellectual things as I've just discovered from his blog, doing a PhD related to graphic literature (I don't know exactly what to call it apart from knowing I shouldn't call it a comic book!).

I had heard of Persepolis when the film version came out, but I didn't see it in the theater. In the end most of us loved the book, the autobiographical account of a young Iranian girl growing up in wartime Tehran, who eventually moves away and falls on hard times before returning home, only to leave again. The pictures were amazing and, for me, helped add so much to the text, which was at times funny, sad, hard and informative all at once. The fact that the protagonist was an only child struck a particular chord for me, but the general discussion was related to how believable her story was, the differences between one's home life and public life in this culture, her relationship with God, and whether seeing the pictures helped make the book better or took away some of the pleasure of being to craft the characters in your head, as one does with writing in the "words-only" form.

I loved it and would recommend it to anyone! Next up is 1984...

Friday, June 12, 2009

A visit to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground

We met up yesterday with Maddie and Cathy (Kate Kenney's niece and sis-in-law) at the Princess Diana Memorial Playground, a really amazing play area in Kensington Gardens. We hadn't seen them since before Christmas and Maddie is a real grown-up little girl now...she and Blake enjoyed playing together, although Maddie had better sense than Blake who insisted on standing right in the path of water from a fountain and ended up soaking wet (and his Mommy neglected to bring extra clothes so his trip home in his stroller was pretty soggy!)

As is typical, the weather is a bit unpredictable...we started off in a fleece and long sleeves...

But then 10 seconds later out came the sun...Blake was desperate to cool off...And succeeded at soaking his jeans...he never stood anywhere else apart from right in the line of the waterfall...
Cuter than either Wills or Harry surely...!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Afternoon playtime with Daddy

Matt and Blake were so funny yesterday afternoon...Blake kept hiding behind a chair and trying to get Matt to "find" him and then he would laugh like crazy when Matt discovered him and then chased him around the living room. They were so cute to watch.

Not a sports car, but...

Rumor has it when men have their mid-life crises, they gravitate toward flashy sports cars. I spent an insane amount of money today on skincare products so I'm wondering if this is the manifestation of my fear of old age! It all started very innocently, with a quick trip to the popular UK pharmacy Boots at lunch. I needed some lipstick, and unable to remember what the latest one I had was, I headed toward the ever-reliable Clinique counter. I should quickly add that the Boots branch at Liverpool Street Station at lunch is absolutely crammed with "City women", who happened today to all appear to be very young (by that I mean mid-twenties!). Usually it seems there are at least a few haggard-looking women like me trying to buy essentials, things like deodorant or dental floss. Today it just seemed like everyone was 25 and stocking up on everything for a perfect beach holiday to Ibiza.
So a nice lady helped me with a new shade of lipstick - Toasted Rose...made me think for some reason of Smores (I hadn't yet eaten even though this was my lunch hour!) Anyway, as she was applying the lipstick with those little Q-tips they use which always make the lipstick look much better than when you apply it yourself, she casually asked what I did for skincare. I giggled. "Skincare? You mean, like soap and moisturizer?" She nodded. I giggled again, knowing that my answer was probably not going to be with satisfaction. "Well, I usually just use shower gel in the morning." "You don't use shower gel on your face?!" was her reply. I nodded. I hadn't even gotten to the part about not washing my face before bed, so I just giggled again and start her questioning: "So, after you use the shower gel (tut tut), does your skin feel tight?" "Um, maybe, but then I just put some moisturizer on and it feels ok". There were a few questions about my pores and where I thought I had any "problem areas" with "lines" and then we were on to the demonstration (of which my hands were the recipient, and specifically my right hand was the lucky recipient of the 3-step system). Anyway, either she was a very good saleswoman or I really know deep down that my skincare routine could be better, but the end result was that I bought the facial soap, clarifying lotion and moisturiser which she promised me would make my skin look and feel better in just two weeks. As I was paying, I had a sudden thought, which I happened to utter out loud. It was about whether I actually had this stuff already at home (in my "toiletry collection which gathers dust in the plastic tub under my bed"), to which she shook her head and told me she was going to be very sad if I didn't use it since "it was going to make such an amazing difference." Anyway, money paid, free gift received (I am very proud to say I took the free gift and plastic tote bag back to the office and gave it to a colleague as it was all definitely in the "useless stuff" category which ends up in a tub or a box or a drawer, never used, and which Matt hates). I felt like I was going to look good in a mere two weeks - my skin would, at least.
I got back to the office. Where was my lipstick?! After all that, the very thing I went in for didn't get rung up! (That made the price of the other stuff all the more crazy as I had at least thought the lipstick had been in that total).
Matt kindly did the good husband thing when I relayed this story and told me I didn't need to make myself look better, but I am looking forward to my face looking and feeling fantastic in two weeks! Maybe if it works, I'll go back in for an update to my makeup. Surely it's all still cheaper than a sports car...

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The joy of a "nothing on" weekend

Yesterday at work someone asked me if I was doing anything nice for the weekend; my answer was, "Yes! Nothing!" It has felt as if we have been pretty busy the past couple of Saturdays and Sundays, and for a change we have an empty calendar for yesterday evening, today, and tomorrow. Matt took advantage of 4 movies for £10 from Blockbuster, so we watched Quantam of Solace last night (after watching England's embarrassing defeat by the Netherlands - not exactly a giant in the cricketing world). Daniel Craig did not impress me as much as he did in Casino Royale, perhaps because the action took place in the city and the desert as opposed to on the beach? Today I managed to get to the post office by noon in order to get some things off in the mail. Our local post office is run like a dinner line at a prison - "Next one" the lady barks - and last week I went to mail a package half an hour before they closed but was told they couldn't take it because the postman had already come to collect the packages. When I tried to protest, she was having none of it.
We also have rented Milk, The Reader, and Australia, but whether we will get through all of those by Tuesday is uncertain.
I finally spoke to Mom in Clinton after literally about 30 attempts over the past week. Turns out the ringer to the phone was off and this only became clear when Dad remarked to Mom that in fact, nobody had phoned them in the week+ since they'd been there. It is sad not to be in Clinton this year but hopefully next year we will get to go.
Other than that, I guess there is not much to report. We're watching more of the 20-20 World Cup today, will probably watch England-Kazakhstan later today, and maybe the French Open final tomorrow. A nice quiet weekend full of sports on tv...perfect!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Visting little William

We spent a nice sunny afternoon in Woking visiting Diane and William. William has grown a lot since we last saw him and had his 8-week injections this morning so was feeling rather sleepy. We went to the local playground and Blake made an older friend - he just loves older kids!!

William snoozed while we played...

Trying to look innocent while plotting how to steal Diane's sunglasses...

Nearly got them!

You're supposed to go down it, not up...

Don't bite your tongue!

This little boy loved spinning Blake around.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

And still the prize for best sound ever goes to...

How can anything be more sweet-sounding?!

Starting to say some meaningful phrases

Blake has two new phrases he seems to actually be able to say at the right times: "Bye bye" and "Night night" (I have to say I love the "night night" one because by saying it he also seems to understand it's bedtime!). I couldn't get the "night night" on camera but here is some "bye bye".

Just because it's June, June, June!

June has been a sizzler so far, with temps since the weekend reaching into the 80's.
It's reminded me of a song from an amateur singing class I did a few years ago, during the course of which we reprised Rodgers and Hammerstein classics such as Oklahoma!, Carousel, and South Pacific.

Look around, look around, look around...June is bustin' out all over...!
Click here to enjoy this heart-lifting song:

Monday, June 01, 2009

Action art

We have to keep the Crayolas out of Blake's reach these days as he tends to draw all over the place, and "all over the place" is unfortunately not limited to the paper we want him to draw on. This afternoon, however, he was very focused on trying to do some real drawing. He was concentrating very hard at times and then would sit back and laugh proudly at his Daddy. It was really sweet to watch! He also adopted an interesting position when at work...I wish I were that flexible...
Afternoon art lessons

Mark and Joan!

We enjoyed the beautiful wedding of my colleague Mark and his new bride Joan on Sunday. Granny Lyons kindly babysat although Blake made it difficult for her at bedtime by not going to sleep.

They could not have gotten luckier with the weather - the sun was glorious! Matt and I even managed to get a decent photo taken of us, which is very unusual. There were several interesting aspects of the day, including a nikah, the Muslim wedding ceremony, and the appearance late in the evening by a pair of jugglers with glowing juggling clubs (Mark is an avid juggler). It was quite a fun day and it was hard to wake up for the work week this morning...

Special report: Crime in Queen's Park

As part of an ongoing expose into crime in the local NW10 area, DwL editors witnessed theft first-hand on Saturday in the park. It was Matt's birthday and we had planned to go to the zoo, but the weather was beautiful and we decided simply to go to the park instead. Shortly after the purchase of two ice cream cones (one for Mommy and one for Granny Lyons, who was down visiting), approximately 3:45 BST, the suspect, weighing roughly 25 lbs and standing 2.5 feet tall, snatched the chocolate cone from his own mother's hand and proceeded to gobble down the evidence. Witnesses are asked to come forward.