The Crown Jewels, Not Quite

It’s been a bit of a tough week at my house. We all went to the in-laws’ for a couple of days. We left our five year-old there and came home with our 17-month old on Tuesday (our daughter adores her grandparents and takes every opportunity to stay with them). We arrived home to find we had been burgled.

I’ve never been burgled before, so assumed burglars took televisions and computers and whatever jewellery is in your jewellery box. I thought I was one step ahead by hiding my various bits of jewellery in different drawers in different rooms. What a shock to see my sock and knicker drawers overturned onto my bed. They got most of my gold jewellery and half of all my jewellery. 

I can handle loss of belongings. I’m not overly materialistic. BUT, most of the jewellery they took were given to me by my father. My dearest, but departed, father. There were pieces of jewellery that I would wear and think of him. I don’t need those things to think of him. But they were nice to have.

So, next week I will be trying to focus on being thankful for the things I have. Not just physical things, but memories of much love.
Xx

Grown-Up Time

When we only had one child, Husband and I would go out once a month for a date. Now that we have two kids, it is tougher. We manage once every two months. Husband’s parents come to visit us from the West Midlands once a month or every other month. We try to go out when they visit, but sometimes we don’t have the energy to do anything.

I am so tired. Every evening, when the kids go to sleep, I just want to slovenly stretch out on the sofa. And wear sweatpants. I love wearing sweatpants, but would never leave the house wearing them. Going on a date would require proper trousers, brushed hair and perhaps some mascara. 

But then we go out, like tonight, and have such a nice time chatting and eating and drinking. And I remember. I remember that Husband is my best friend and not just the person who helps me with the kids. Then it is worth taking a break from the sweat pants.

For all of you lucky enough to be sharing your life/raising children with your best friend, remember that they need a few nights away from ‘comfy’ and need some ‘making an effort’ time. 

But going out is more than just ‘couple time’, it’s going out with friends or family and being you. Sometimes we all need a teeny tiny break from being mum or dad. We were all people before we had children (sweatpants or not).

Goodbye Hallo Ween

Halloween went well. Mg daughter, Moozles, went to a schoolfriend’s house then trick-or-treating (six five-year old girls losing their minds with anticipation–talk about scary). Then we got home in time to trick-or-treat on our neighbouring streets with Moozles and her brother. We didn’t let Dubz have any candy since he is only 17-months old–he just loved getting to walk around at night. He is quite independent, so we didn’t take the stroller/buggy and he had a fab time wandering around.

This made me think how kids love going out after dark. We are normally quite strict about a 7pm/7.30pm bedtime at our house. What do other people do? Do you let your kids stay up at weekends, vacations or school holidays? Maybe I should be more relaxed? Apart from an occasional wedding or family party, my daughter hasn’t stayed up past 8pm very often.

Halloween Survival Tips

Halloween Survival Tips
My first 10 Halloweens in London were quite uneventful. In fact, we only had one trick-or-treater. And as we were not expecting him, we did not have any candy. But last year we moved to a very Halloween-friendly area of South West London. My then-four-year old went trick-or-treating for the first time. My father-in-law stayed home to pass out candy. Unfortunately, we did not get many trick-or-treaters. I did not know the rules then. But I do now.
 
1. If you want trick-or-treaters, you must have some kind of Halloween decoration in front of your house, on your window or window ledge. If you do not, trick-or-treaters will not knock or ring. Any little decoration or pumpkin will do. In America, you just need to keep your front porch/door light on.
 
2. No matter how warm it is the week before Halloween, the temperature drops by 5C on Halloween. So make sure you can layer clothes underneath your child’s outfit because most children do not want to wear a coat over their costume.
 
3. As an avid on-line shopper, I sometimes forget that there are some shops which you have to go to in person. Pound shops and grocery stores usually sell decent decorations and costumes for a low price.
 
4. Many children in the UK like to dress up a bit scary for Halloween. From what I have seen, kids here prefer to be witches, ghosts, devils and monsters. In America, people dress up as everything under the sun.
 
5. In America, the clocks go back the Sunday after Halloween. In Europe it is the Sunday before. This means it is dark by 5pm. Trick-or-treaters begin at around 5.30pm. By 7pm, most people have run out of candy so don’t bother.
 
6. Bring an umbrella. Enough said.
 
7. You don’t get the candy hoard in the UK that you do in America. I remember using pillow cases when I went trick-or-treating as a child. Here you can get away with a small holder, as in the pumpkin basket in the bottom photo. You can get one for £1 at Poundland.
 
Happy All Hallows’ Eve!
Halloween Survival Tips Halloween Survival Tips Halloween Survival Tips

How do you like them chocolates?

Okay, okay, I might be going overboard with my constant usage of ‘how do you like them…’ in my post titles. I just can’t stop myself. I will try to make this the last one, but I cannot make any guarantees.
 
Anyway, this half-term Husband has taken the week off and we’re spending a few days with my in-laws in Leamington Spa. Today we went to Cadbury World. Oh, the smell of chocolate being made. Heavenly. I never knew I could feel intoxicated by just a smell. They gave us lots of free chocolate plus my mother-in-law bought enough from the gift shop to feed a small village. I say a small village, but the six of us won’t have much trouble taking down four carrier bags of chocolate.
Growing up in America, I ate plenty of Hershey’s chocolate. I enjoyed it, but didn’t realise how lovely Cadburys is. It is so creamy. I still enjoy Hershey’s miniatures or kisses, on the odd occasion. But dairy milk, whole nut, flake, crunchie and creme eggs. Oh my. Today I tried a wispa for the first time. Yum. I could eat chocolate every day. Oh wait, I do. Maybe that’s why I’m still carrying two stone of baby weight. I am too ashamed to say how many chocolate bars I’ve eaten today (okay, five).
Off to have have another dairy milk.

How Do You Like Them Pumpkins?

How Do You Like Them Pumpkins

A few days ago, I posted about my want of getting a pumpkin from an actual pumpkin patch. After extensive internet research, I found the closest thing to a pumpkin patch within a 30-45 minute drive of Southwest London. Yesterday afternoon we went to Crockford Bridge Farm near Weybridge in Surrey.

How Do You Like Them Pumpkins

Not surprisingly, I heard several American accents at Crockford. I obviously wasn’t the only American looking for a piece of home. I couldn’t even find a pumpkin in central London 11 years ago and now there’s a pumpkin patch not too far away. Amazing. Crockford even had a few shelves in their farm shop dedicated to American groceries.

Dubz enjoyed running around crazily, Moozles enjoyed the playground. I searched for the ‘right’ pumpkin. To my husband’s annoyance, I can never just buy something. I have to make sure it is the ‘best one’. But in the end, I did manage to find the best pumpkin. I think this may be an American thing as my British girlfriends seem a lot more relaxed about their purchases. Can anyone confirm or deny? 

Anyway, we had a fab day. And we will be turning our visit to Crockford Bridge Farm into an annual Halloween tradition. Do you have any Halloween traditions?

How Do You Like Them Pumpkins How Do You Like Them Pumpkins

Americanisms

Even though I have lived in the UK for over 11 years, I still sometimes forget British words. Yesterday at Chessington, I told my husband that the bottle of water cost two dollars. Then I called chips ‘fries’. Half the time, I pronounce tomato in the American way. I have had to recently explain to my daughter that I pronounce some things differently because I’m from America but that she should pronounce things like daddy or her friends. I don’t want her to be ridiculed for saying things in a ‘weird’ way, but she wants to do everything like me. I don’t think I’ll ever say everything the British way and I don’t want to. I like my Americanisms. So rather than going for a little lie down on the sofa to watch some telly, I think I’ll go veg out on the couch and watch some TV. Peace Out!

Happy Bug Day

Earlier this week, my five-year old asked what we were doing for Bug Day. After some confused exchanges, she clarified that it was Insect Day. Aha! What she meant was Inset Day. Schools in the UK have five teacher training days per school year, taken on different days per different schools. At my daughter’s school, the inset day is normally the Friday before half-term. So, today we went to Chessington World of Adventures to take advantage of some half-term fun but with term-time lines. A grand time was had by all, I think it might become our Autumn Bug Day tradition.
 
Selfies are the only way I make it in pics
Chessington looking Halloweeny
Cotton candy (that’s candy floss to Brits) seemed like a good idea until I had to wash and brush the sticky tangles from Moozles’ hair 
Dubz’s first taste of ketchup. He LOVED it!
My husband, the bird whisperer

How do you like them apples?

Tomorrow is Apple Pressing Day at my daughter’s school. Each class gets the opportunity to press apples into juice. They then sell it after school. In aide of this, I have diced 19 pounds of apples today (yes, I weighed them!). That’s a stone and a half of flippin’ apples.

If I had a job I don’t think I would feel sucked into helping out on the PTA. If I still had a job I would profusely thank the mums helping out whilst skipping off to work thinking about the lovely lunch I would be getting from Exmouth Market. I like helping out at school, even doing the thankless jobs like dicing apples. But I do sometimes have a pang of jealousy for those mums running meetings and breaking the glass ceiling.

We didn’t have apple pressing or such activities at my school growing up. I am not sure if British people my age did this sort of thing. But it seems like nowadays, school is so much ‘more’. I went to school, learned some stuff, then went home. In addition to school, my five-year old does one or two different after school clubs each term (run by school) and is learning French during lunchtime on Mondays. And it is not just about learning. Last week I helped out at the school disco. There was an actual DJ, and the kids danced crazily for over an hour.

School expects so much more from the students and the parents these days. Is it too much, or was it not enough in previous years?

Pretty Boy

I dragged the kids to the high street after school yesterday. In Lidl, my 17-month old boy was waving at an elderly gentleman. The man waved back and beamed, ‘what a gorgeous baby girl.’ I smiled kindly. This has become a regular occurrence. My little boy has beautiful curls, which I am loathe to cut (though I have trimmed his fringe). People keep telling me what a pretty boy he is. Is that not a compliment? I’ve promised my husband that we can take Dubz for his first haircut next week. I know it will make him look like a big boy. Boohoo. I will miss those baby curls.