Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Jai Ho! Indian summer!

The beginning of September didn't give anyone in the UK much hope that we would get a reprieve on autumn's arrival - it rained and was grey and cold for many of the first couple of days, but the past week has been full of some glorious sunshine and warmer temperatures.  On Friday I picked the boys up early and we went off on an arts and crafts adventure: to collect all sorts of items for the autumnal collage that I had thought of that morning as I made my way to the train station.  I had to pass beneath a crabapple tree and there were tons of them on the sidewalk, and I thought that we could use them to make some sort of beautiful fall art.
We picked about a dozen of the apples before heading down to Belair Park and getting conkers, acorns, leaves, and twigs, and on Saturday morning Blake and I assembled them - with the help of about half a bottle of glue - onto the remains of our pizza box from Friday night.  ("Mommy, can we get a pizza order?" was Blake's Friday evening dinner request...I was much too tired to protest!)
I was pretty pleased with our little collage though wish I had picked up more twigs for the trunk of the tree.

Let the Indian Summer continue...!  Predicted high for tomorrow and all the way into Saturday is 81 degrees! 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Car-free fun!

There have been a number of events recently that have been great community-builders in our local area, and the most recent occurred on Sunday as our local main road was partially closed off to celebrate a "car-free day".  Noah had an afternoon nap so Matt stayed home with him while Blake and I headed out to enjoy the festivities. While we were being serenaded by the local PopChoir (so tempting for me, but no...), we bumped into Charlie and Flora, so the kids then set out to bust a move on the makeshift dancefloor in front of the chorus....Blake's concentration tongue was out in full force as they were bouncing and bopping around!  The PopChoir sang some great songs: "Man in the Mirror" (shout out to the Dartmouth girls!), Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" and some fun mash-up's that got my feet tapping.  Very fun.

Later Blake held a little owl as part of a birds of prey exhibition; Gypsy was her name and I fell in love with her!  Blake was very stoic and stayed very still per the instructions from the owl trainer.  Her eyes were so pretty, and her feathers so soft!  Well worth the £2 donation to have a hold.

Later that evening, Noah had grabbed his coat and was standing by the door saying "Go go," which is what he does when he wants to go outside.  Like a little dog asking to be taken for a walk!  Anyway, Blake had had an afternoon nap on the sofa so we felt he should burn off some steam too, so the boys played around on the sidewalk out front.  I was chatting with a neighbor when along came Noah on the scooter, being pulled by Blake - it was too cute.  It didn't last, of course, and it all ended in tears when Noah kept falling off (or was he pushed?), so that was the sign that it was bath-and-bedtime.

As for our little wordsmith, here are his favorites these days: "Uh oh" (still tops), but now closely followed by "Oh no" (with innocent/incredulous look on face).  He also loves to say "juice," "shoes," "cheese," "nana" (banana), "apple," "bopple" (bottle), "Yay!", "qack qack", "Dada" and now (unfortunately with real yearning) "Mamie", as in "Mammy, Mammy ("come get me, come get me, pick me up, pick me up!").  When Mom and Dad were over he blurted out - very unexpectedly - "castle" after he and Blake had received a toy castle from Granny Karla's adventures in Scotland.  It was so sweet...about half an hour after this plastic toy had appeared on our living room floor, Noah was standing by the couch and said in a very small voice, apropos of nothing, "cas-el".  But we knew what he meant!  It's such a remarkable thing, the whole language development thing.  I think the only thing that could have made the weekend better would have been to hear Noah say "Gypsy".  It would have been too cute. 

Can't remember which tune this was to, but it was a good one! 
Not all that natural at the beginning...
Very proud to be holding the owl...

 Not sure who I think is sweeter here, Blake or Gypsy!

 Noah just loved this, in case you can't tell from that extremely proud look on his face. 

Snap! Happy Birthday to you!

Our anniversary and the following day will always be special, because as we celebrated our first anniversary in the Dordogne several days before Jamie and Diane's wedding in 2007, we got news of the arrival of our niece!  Hard to believe that Emma is four years old now.  On Saturday we went to her party and Blake and Noah enjoyed playing with their cousins.  The fab foursome were very amusing at times, especially when Emma opened a present of a crocodile outfit and all of them tried it on, pretending they were a crocodile.  My camera was out of battery so unfortunately we just have pictures from Matt's phone.
Gathered around to enjoy birthday cake...(Noah ate his entire piece plus the remains of someone else's)

 Noah the croc, after Blake had his turn...
It was also Janes Forbes's birthday on Saturday, and Amy's birthday on Sunday - so happy birthday to both of you, two of my oldest and greatest friends!  Hope you had wonderful birthdays... 

Friday, September 16, 2011

This is dedicated to the one I love...

It's been a long time since I've written - a long time, I know.  So it's nice to have a milestone event to write about to get me back into it...and that event is that today Matt and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary!  As is often the case with the passage of time, it's difficult in many ways to believe that five years have passed so quickly, and equally it seems like we've packed a lot in during those five years.
We treated ourselves to the day off from work, and after getting the boys off to nursery this morning, we headed in for a celebratory lunch at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's Hotel (Chris and Anna had done this a few years ago and highly recommended the experience).  I had my usual fashion crisis before we set off, remembering, upon inspection, that I had baked a carrot cake at 1:00 am last Saturday after arriving home from my friend Jess's evening wedding reception.  That I baked a cake at 1:00 am wasn't in itself a particular problem, but what was problematic was that I had kept my dress on.  All morning today I imagined myself getting ready, only to find about an hour before we had to leave that the dress I had intended to wear today was covered in various dollops of dried carrot cake batter.  Probably somewhat amusing in retrospect were the several moments where I tried to work out what the mysterious orange substance was, until the post-party-cake-baking memories resurfaced!  I tried to soak the dollops off - successfully! - but not so successful was the drying portion of the dress rescue. Finally, with about ten minutes before we had to leave, I had to accept that even with our heating on full blast and the dress hanging on the radiator, it wasn't going to get dry, and I had to find something else to wear.  And of course it was fine!

Lunch was very nice - we went for the posh tasting menu and it was impressive.  Even the butter was fancy: two options, one lemon flavored and one curry flavored.  Both yummy.  We had a little bowl of tomato consomme, roasted breast of grouse with glazed peaches, Cornish crab salad enveloped in finely curled marinated carrots, and then for the main course, Matt had lamb and I had plaice - and was nearly at this point too full to finish it!  A giant selection of cheeses then appeared for my dessert, and Matt enjoyed elderflower pannacotta with strawberries and vanilla ice cream.  They then surprised us with a little muffin and a "Happy Anniversary" message in chocolate.  It was a very nice meal, and wonderful to just sit and not feel rushed and enjoy the moment. 

Trying to mark the occasion with a photo in the art deco mirror...
Afterwards, the sun was shining so we took a little stroll through Hyde Park, and I was tempted to do a tour in the Serpentine pedalo boats (a la Pride and Prejudice) but it was £8/person for a half hour and we thought we should head home to pick up B and N, so that will have to wait til 10 years, perhaps!

The boys were sweet and played in the back with the water hose for ages, while I finished reading The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake which I'd borrowed from the library a few weeks ago.  Not sure how I felt about it but glad to have read it. 

And that concludes the day, so happy anniversary to my wonderful husband; we are so lucky.  I'm glad to be "back here" and hope to share some of the crazy/hectic/busy tales of the past month or so, if I get a chance.  Hope you're well, wherever you're reading from!