Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thursday, 24 August 2006

It's a proven fact that I write more on Thursdays. I have no idea how to interpret that, so I won't.

It's time to add to the list of "Things I Find Odd About England" or should I say, "Things That I Find Myself Shaking My Head About in England" or maybe "Things That I Find Charming and Quaint in England". Naw. They all sound a bit condescending. So...

More Things That Are Interesting to Me About England

1. Names of places that are so charming they make me believe in fairies and want to prance with unicorns. Examples: Merryhill Green, Chazey Heath, Purley on Thames, Heron's Water, Bluebell Meadow, Windermere and Isle of Thanet.

2. Names of places that are so strange that someone had to be dumb, drunk or born in 1358 to come up with them. Shropshire, Winnersh, Icknield Road, Sonning Eye, Thetford Mews, Lousehill Copse, and King Charles Head. (King Charles was beheaded. Thus, this is a pub named after the head--and the head only, mind you--of a beheaded king).

3. Names of places that are unintentionally funny. Toker's Green, The Mount, Sheffield Bottom, Play Hatch, Woosehill, Butts Hill Road, Studland Close, Surley Row, Kibblewhite Crescent.

Tim has been on holiday since Wednesday so we've been taking some day trips. Our first outing was to Avebury Stone Circle, the less famous cousin of Stonehenge. It was rainy and drizzly and it was fun. This main circle is huge with some smaller circles inside. More bang for your buck than Stonehenge if you ask me. Heck, you get to walk amongst the stones and actually touch them in Avebury. No stone snobbery there. No such luck at Stonehenge. They keep you firmly behind the ropes, thank you very much, like someone's gonna topple one or something.

And...Avebury has some interesting history. In the 1700s the people around there were really freaked out about witchcraft and since circles of big stones are obviously related to the devil, they went about breaking them up and using them for construction purposes. Luckily, a hundred years or so before that, when the people were freaked out about witchcraft they just buried the stones and so, in the 1930s, archeologists found them and put them back.

One stone got its revenge, though. Under its toppled mass they found the remains of an unfortunate barber (he had his scissors and medical stuff with him) who was either helping to take the stones down (wretched man) or was an innocent bystander with a poor sense of placement. My theory? Witchcraft. Pure and simple. Cursed stones.

The next day, which would be Thursday, we went to Whipsnade Zoo. (I was going to add it to the list of odd names, but thought that would be redundant.) This was the first time the kids got to see elephants, tigers, lions, bears, etc. in the flesh! It was really a fun trip. Kathryn said, "When I see the lions I want to stroke them because they like me." I had to gently explain that the nice kitties would savagely tear her whole arm off in a single bite it she got anywhere near them. Hey, this girl has no fear. I had to keep her safe somehow...

We are going up to the Preston/Blackpool area tomorrow to visit Tim's father so that will be another part of the country I get to see. We'll stay a few days, take in the sites, hit a few castles and the Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Don't get any funny ideas. It's an amusement park kind of area. The tallest roller coaster in England is there, so I will be, too. Tim hates roller coasters but the kids will come with me.

Through (one of my best friends ever!) I purchased travel guides to England and London by Rick Steves, lovable travel nerd, and by The Rough Guide. I'm really getting into reading them. I am inspired by a friend of a friend, an American who is doing some postgrad work here and is checking things off her list. I've already seen Stonehenge so at least that's taken care of! I'm going to deliberately add Avebury to my list just so I can check it off. (And also so that I don't offend any of the evil stone circle gods still lingering there who taunt and torment those who do not appreciate the majesty of The Circle...)

Okay, a funny thing about our jaunts is that I have to buy a thimble and a magnet at every place we go. Years ago my mom started buying thimbles for me (I liked to sew when I was a kid...)every place she went. I had a huge collection of foreign thimbles and had been nowhere! Well, girlfriend gots the fevah now because I can't leave a travel destination without purchasing a little porcelain momento of the site. It's strange and pointless, but it makes me laugh, so I do it.

The magnet is homage to my friend Ginger who told me that she buys one every new place she goes. She'll be happy to know that our refrigerator is now graced with the likes of a laminated dawn photo of Stonehenge and a lovely and vibrant resin cast of a Venice gondolier.

I'll let you know all about Blackpool (and maybe Liverpool!) when I get back. Love to all...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday, 18 August 2006

Yesterday we saw Lizzie off at Heathrow in a tearful farewell as she jetted her way to Canada for her second year of university and her first year away from home completely. This set off a chain of events, one of which is 12 year old Sarah moving into Lizzie's now vacant room. There were three little girls in one room and now there are only two (aged almost 9 and almost 4) .

I picked Tim up from work yesterday (a first!) and said to him, "Honey, we have Czechoslovakia in our house." He looked at me like I'd been dipping into the cooking sherry and so I explained it thusly: "When Czechoslovakia had the strict communist overlords, all ethnic groups were united hating a greater evil. When the communists left power, all hell broke loose and everyone started killing each other. And so it is with our three little darlings. Sarah was sufficiently bossy to keep Hannah and Kathryn under control. Left to their own devices, Hannah has tried to assume the Head Honcho of the Room role left vacant by Sarah and thinks that Kathryn should now obey her every command. Kathryn ain't havin' any uh that. Sarah is happily sequestered in her neat-all-the-time private digs and thus, out of the war zone. Hannah and Kathryn are duking it out, vying for power."

Funny to watch. Sort of.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

.Monday, 14 August 2006

Today after getting Kathryn all buckled up in the car I said, "Okay, let's go Honey Bun!" She said, "I like when you call me Honey Bun." I said, "What other names do you like me to call you?" To which she promptly replied, "Patsy."

Patsy?? I just laughed. It came completely out of the blue. I had no idea where that came from as we've never called anyone in our family Patsy before. Later Chris put it together for me. It's the name of the pig who hides pumpkins in the Halloween book Kathryn is currently addicted to. Who could have known??

Monday, August 07, 2006

Monday, 7 August 2006

Seeing how out of balance I was forced me to reevaluate and as a result, has brought me a little more to the center. I feel like myself again. I can have fun but can also set up expectations that are a little more realistic, for me and for the kids. Once again, pain has been the teacher. Discomfort invites the search for relief, which in turn brings new insight and growth. I am still learning to set realistic boundaries, but I think that will be a lifelong process for me. I just need to remember who I am and how I function and not keep trying to do things the way I think they're supposed to be done in someone else's universe. My way is just fine. And that means not being a Nazi. Although sometimes I still feel like the Gestapo. Like when I have to make the children log off the computer because they haven't gotten dressed or eaten breakfast. Well, like when I have to make Hannah get off the computer because she hasn't gotten dressed or eaten breakfast, specifically.

At least I didn't get angry. And I didn't allow disrespect. And I'm still in a happy mood. I think that's a good enough start for a Monday morning.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Thursday, 3 August 2006 (again)

I thought writing about boob cake would make me feel jovial and it did for a few minutes but I must admit to feeling a little melancholy at the moment. Maybe it's a combination of having to redo the final condo sale papers that have apparently been lost in the mail(which cost 40 pounds just for the notary fee), the fact that I've gained 7 pounds over the last few weeks, the slow progress of our building project (and that I, non-technical girl had to point out that they'd forgotten to leave a space for the window which makes me worry that they're forgetting other, more important things like wall reinforcements or plumbing) and seeing a bunch of pictures of my family in America last night that Lizzie took at Christmas last year that I hadn't seen before. Maybe it's the ripple effect of selling my condo, knowing that someone else has moved into my place and that I have no other space that's mine but this house anymore. Or maybe it's simply this growing fear that I've taken on more than I can chew.

I try my best not to overthink things, but that's like telling myself not to breathe. Maybe I've just read too much. Kathryn is going to be four years old in a few months and I have facts (probably skewed) running through my head about how critical it is for bonding to take place in the first three years and I panic thinking that I have to do this all perfectly or I'm going to screw her up for the rest of her life. I know I'm too serious and too controlling and too somber right now. I have moments where I feel like my old silly self, but they are few and far between lately. Last night Hannah said to me, "Why are you being so mean?" as she stomped off to bed. Why AM I being so mean? Why can't I relax and play and let myself enjoy this? What the hell is wrong with me?

I make tentative comments around other mothers trying to feel out whether what I'm going through is just normal parent stuff or whether I should be concerned. Sometimes I'm reassured and sometimes I just feel more stressed. Right now, I just want to stay locked up in our bedroom where the windows are open and the sky is cloudy and blustery and gray. Or is that grey?

Oh, and don't call anything tan here "khaki". They'll laugh at you and wonder why you called their trousers poo.

So I guess you could say I'm having a khaki day. And, I guess you could say, I really will get over it. Soon enough.

Thursday, 3 August 2006

I was in Tesco the other day food shopping with my American friend Steph, and as we were passing through the cakes and breads aisle (it had to be done) she gave a yelp, dashed over to the third shelf, grabbed a box and flashed it at me. Busty Boobs cake. I kid you not. Cakes in the shapes of boobs. Naked ones. Nipples and all. I'd put them at about a double F if I were forced to guess. Right there in the middle of a perfectly normal grocery store. Right there where anyone could see. We had a 4th grade giggle, shook our heads and continued on our quest for non-naughty foodstuffs.

It's different here. Baring skin isn't just for the grandly pregnant nor just for the badly tattooed. It's for everyone. Even pastries.