Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas Eve!

It's 5:00 pm on Christmas Eve and it's already been a full day! We were out the door by 9:20 am and drove to the local Vue cinema to see "Frozen" and we loved it! After the movie, we crossed over the river and through the doors, to Pizza Express we went--where I used my Tesco vouchers to prove that there really IS such a thing as a free lunch! An hour of shopping brought a couple of excellent gifts we snuck into the car without the children knowing. We're so clever that way...

And now it's Christmas Eve evening and Christmas music is playing, lights are lit and I'm feeling very Christmasy, especially after sipping a lovely eggnog cream from Starbucks while we were in town (thank you, gift card given to me by my friend Julie!). 

I'm temporarily avoiding the wrapping frenzy by writing this, Tim is at the local Waitrose grocery store looking for last minute Christmas bargains and the kids are watching TV, guided by the annual Radio Times Christmas edition. Peace on earth, at least for now.

Looking forward to tonight's Carol Service at 11:30 pm, then Santa duties, and then a short sleep (because I have a feeling the wrapping frenzy won't end very soon), and Christmas Day! Presents, dinner prepared by Tim, family time, watching the Queen's Speech and the Doctor Who special, relaxing, eating leftovers and doing whatever else we feel like doing. Ah, bliss!

Merry, Merry Christmas! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Where Did You Come From?

Quick tip for my British friends (because American children are taught this in school. At least when I was going to school. But who knows what they teach them now with all this No Child Left Behind and Core teaching and newfangled mathematics and Pluto isn't a planet stuff. But I digress.):

Please, PLEASE include a return address on all your cards and letters, especially at Christmas! We love to hear from everyone and assume everyone would love to hear from us. What can't be assumed is that we have all your addresses so we can send something back to you.

...and then you think we're totally rude when we really don't have any idea how to get in touch with you.

(And in some cases, frankly, we don't know who in heaven's name you are and your address would help us figure that mystery out. Pat, I'm talking to you, buddy!...er, or lady!)

A return address on the envelope is also really helpful if your post goes astray and ends up going to the wrong person (us) because you mistakenly put the wrong address on it (ours)--BUT DIDN'T WRITE YOUR RETURN ADDRESS ON THE ENVELOPE SO WE CAN SEND IT BACK TO YOU AND YOU CAN GET IT TO THE RIGHT PERSON!

Poor Carol Dawber & family will never know that Roger, Anita, Martin and Lara send their "love and best wishes always-kiss!" (Because when you send something to the wrong person at the right address, the wrong people at the right address just might accidentally open your Christmas Blessings card featuring wise men and read it. And then toss it. It can happen.)

Let's all practice good posting form, shall we? Always, always write your own address on the back of the envelope or in the upper left-hand corner of anything you send. Then the Pats and Carols of the world will get the cards they so richly deserve.

Thank you.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

On Being the Other Mother

I read a blog post I really liked about the transformation a woman has when she gives birth and becomes a mother. The author said that the woman she had been effectively "died", and that she needed to discover who the new woman was. She also wrote about the intimate moments of bonding with her baby and the love you fall into, like "quicksand", that you fall deeper and deeper, even if you sometimes long for your pre-baby life.

The difference in the birth of my motherhood is that I didn't give birth. My introduction to motherhood wasn't hours of labor and the solid knowledge that the child in my arms was mine--flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone--but only the solid knowledge that these children weren't. And the solid knowledge that there was nothing solid about any of it. They didn't have to like me. They didn't have to connect with me. They didn't have to call me Mom or Mommy or anything the least bit maternal. They didn't have to accept me as their other mother. They didn't have to do anything at all.

But I did. I knew without question that I was supposed to be in their lives, and that while I didn't know exactly what I would be to them, I did know that I was the only physically-present "mother" they had. I also knew that I loved them. I wasn't really certain how to define that love, but it was strong. Since I never gave birth, I couldn't know if my love was truly maternal. I just knew I loved them.

While I can't possibly relate to the relationship between birth mother and birth child, I can definitely relate to loving my children. I can relate to that love deepening and changing over time. And I have come to believe that my love for them is maternal.

Because they are my children too, no matter how we came together.
Kathryn had a homework assignment to choose a country and find out about how it is governed. 
She chose The United States of America.
Who did she ask to help her?

Her dad.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

And Another Thing...

I had no idea that teenaged behavior could start in one so young. I wish I was referring to my 15 year old, but I'm not. Someone told me that maybe she was getting it all over with now and she'd be a lovely teenager. I view this comment with a cynical eye.

 If I drank, I'd be glugging down some Wild Turkey about now. So I'm guessing it's a good thing I don't.

Don't look too closely, but grey is a-comin. And it's stayin'. I gotta find a colorist.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Military Time

Military time is more frequently used here than in the US, and sometimes it's confusing. 5 pm is 17:00, 2 am is 2:00, 2 pm is 14:00. Get my drift? I think I have a grip on it though. It's all about subtracting 12. I've gotten very good at it. That and subtracting 7 so I know what time it is for family in the States. I rarely use my fingers anymore.

So Kathryn was invited to a birthday bowling party (and why it was held in a bowling alley 30 minutes away, who can say?) and asked to be there 12-15. That's how it was written. So my original thought was that she's supposed to be there by 12:15. Then I realize there's no end time listed. Then I begin to wonder if the party started at noon and ended at 3 pm. 12-15. 12:00- 15:00. Get it? I called another mother to share rides back and forth and asked what she thought. She was under the same impression I was so I started feeling pretty good about myself, all smart and everything, figuring out the code. Any indication that I have retained even a shred of intelligence through this whole thing is a victory, believe you me.

The other mother picked up Kathryn for the party. I received a text from her saying it took 40 minutes to get there and they barely made it to the 12:15 pm start of the party. And the party was ending at 2:30 pm. (or "Half 2" as is said here). 12 freaking 15! Who uses a dash for time??

And so I was wrong. Again. And I'm not a code breaker after all. And maybe I let that shred of intelligence slip through my fingers because of a blasted dash. And maybe I had to hold my tongue when I picked up the two girls at 2:30 pm, which was not indicated on the dang invitation. Any maybe my husband actually drove so I can't complain with the same vehemence that I could if I'd been the one following the GPS through random narrow streets with tiny roundabouts and random speed bumps and random cars parked higgeldy-piggeldy on those same narrow streets getting to a place I'd never been! But I feel like it.

When I moved to England, I knew there would be some adjustments. I just didn't realize that not only would I have to learn to drive in a different way (and actually take driving lessons, for cripe's sake!) and learn to speak with a different vocabulary (because now I'm all "put it in the rubbish bin!" instead of "put it in the trash!"), but that I'd also need to learn to tell time all over again. Really? I mean, seriously?

Monday, August 05, 2013

It's pronounced "igyuwahna" here. And "jagyuwire". I don't think it's "orangyutan" though... Go figure.

Monday, July 29, 2013


Yeah. I just read the post I wrote a few months ago and it's embarrassingly similar to the one I just wrote.

I hear you're not supposed to write about not writing and now I see why. Never again.

Why I Haven't Written

I used to write freely in my blog before I married and for awhile after when I could sort of keep it just about me. I stopped writing a few years ago because I worried about revealing too much about people who didn't ask to be included in my blog--or in my life, for that matter--but I have found over the last few years that stifling my writing and my expression hasn't been good for me. And the people who populate my life will probably get over being a part of my creative process. If not, I've got some money set aside for therapy.

I love this quote:

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” 
― Ana├»s Nin

There are too many moments I can't retrieve and won't be able to taste again because I didn't write about them. I've lost so many moments by not being brave and risking the occasional wince of embarrassment that I might have gone too far, that I might have revealed too much, that I might have been a little too open.

The problem? That's who I am. I regularly go too far. I often reveal too much and I'm sometimes too open. But that's how I live. It's how I think. It's how I work life. Not writing has pushed me inward and left me troubled and a bit empty.

As with so many things in my life, I have to have the same realization over and over before I really get it. I think maybe I really got it this time: Me without writing personal narrative is like me without...um...me?

I used to worry that if I didn't write, I would somehow lose the ability. Let's hope I'm wrong.

Let the floodgates open! Let the embarrassment begin!  

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

As To the Matter of Catching Up...

This January has included:

The Leaning Tower of Snowman.

(He died days later by his own hand.)
(Or by the hand of the weather. Whatever.)

(His button eyes and carrot nose jumped ship a few days previous.)

...an inventory of the wide variety of Jello products 
currently stockpiled in my storehouse.

(That I panic-bought in America.)
(Because I can't get them in England, that's why.)

(They must be used.)

...Kathryn's fabulous fun-filled two-week vacation!! 

(at home with Mommy!!)
(...and a constant fever 
and some vomiting
and headaches 
and some drenching sweats
and a couple of visits to the doctor.)

(Such fun!) 

Some incredible homemade pizza.

(...that I still make too much of) 
(because it's impossible that I only have two children left at home)

(because I miss the kids at uni and keep thinking if I cook it, they will come)

What's your January been like?

Monday, January 21, 2013


Tim claims that before I arrived he remembers it snowing maybe twice in 20 years. Since my descent upon fair Reading we've had snow about...4 times in the last 7 winters. Coincidence? You be the judge.

This chilly January Friday produced a beautiful snow! 

Our back garden. 
(No, not a backyard. That wouldn't do, now would it.) 

Tim, Hannah and Kathryn made a very tall snowman. We finally got to use the snowman making kit The Robinsons gave us for Christmas a few years back. Ta da!

Tim, Lizzie, Rob, Hannah and Kathryn went on a wintry walk on Sunday.

And this fine little fellow did his best to get to the last apple on the tree.

I'm sorta getting this picture thing. Super.

Proof that World War II is alive and well in England: any time of day or night there's a documentary or show about some aspect of WWII. Any time of day. Every day. Honest.

(Oh Looky! My first photo! Yippee!)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Somewhere along the way I forgot that this is a Great Big Adventure.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Two In One Day. Scary.

So now I find myself sitting in front of the computer having just re-read a bunch of the old blog posts and I feel suddenly reconnected with blogging. I'm not questioning it anymore. It just is going to happen.

I'm SO glad I blogged so much during the first few years and just wish I'd have done more. There are so many things I'd have forgotten if I hadn't. I have loved remembering the early few years and it's done me good to see how things have changed. I regret worrying about revealing too much but what am I worried about? There'll only be about three people reading this, including my husband Tim...

So there will be blogging again in the Land of the Zippergut!

So let it be written, so let it be done.

And, if I can figure out how, there will be pictures. Oh yes. There will be pictures.

I suddenly feel like belting out a scary loud laugh, but will refrain.


So I find myself sitting in front of the computer wearing the same shirt I've worn for three days straight having just finished watching the latest episode of "Switched At Birth" because I couldn't find any other show to watch that looked even remotely as interesting (and...yikes!) and I'm feeling vaguely vague. This is the big news for today: I have become complacent. I think. Actually I just looked up the definition to be sure and now I'm not. Somehow I never realized that the word has a component of self satisfaction to it and that's definitely not how I feel.

Funny how you can think you know exactly what a word means and then, when you bother to look it up officially you find out you didn't. Just like those words that I never heard spoken but had read a million times and thought I knew how to pronounce until I actually verbalized them and was swiftly corrected (or laughed at, depending on the word). Like segue or prowess or Nathaniel. (I thought it was Naythanal, emphasis on the Nay. Who knew?) Or like vague.

But I digress.

It's not complacency I feel. It's sort of just vagueness. Like the defining lines drawn around me and my life are somehow blurry. And faded. Haphazardly sort of rubbed at with an eraser.

I struggle with blogging. I struggle with it because it's so easy to step into Queen Zippergut and tell all about myself, but I'm not just me alone anymore. My life is part of a bigger whole. It's one thing to gut myself in front of anyone reading what I write, but another thing entirely to gut my family.

Sounds sorta violent.

There's catharsis to writing that I don't find in anything else, and I need catharsis. Writing informs me of what I'm thinking and feeling, like it isn't real unless it's written. I have to hash it out and write it and rewrite it until I can make sense of it. And I haven't done it in years. Because I can't do it without including other people, and they just may not want to have me open them up to the world at large. I haven't asked them. And it's too hard to try to keep it all anonymous with weird nicknames and stuff. It's hard enough to keep their real names straight. So to write or not to write?? To zippergut or not to zippergut??

Why is it not enough to write in a blasted journal? I'll tell you why. Because writing in my journal for me becomes maudlin rubbish. I'm not that great a writer in my journal. I don't try so hard to express myself accurately and thoughtfully in a journal. So I haven't written at all. Even in journals. And I've missed writing down a lot of things that have happened and are currently happening. Or might be happening if I knew what was in my mind at this moment. Because I'm not sure since I haven't been writing it down. Got me?

And thus, vague. Which isn't pronounced vagyew, in case you were wondering. (You're welcome.)

Actually, right now I'm supposed to be doing the laundry and a dozen other housekeeping types of things that I've become so completely bored or overwhelmed with that I stash them in the back of my memory like yesterday's headlines. I blame Kathy Kolbe and her damned accurate Conation for letting me know that I'm like 90% Quick Start  and thus, pretty much incapable of doing things more than maybe three times without the compulsion to figure out some other more novel way of doing it before I go stark raving.

We had a lovely grandmotherly woman come to our house to clean twice a week while I was growing up. Her name was Sister Rose. Her name was actually Ruth Rose, but being a member of our church congregation, we children called her Sister Rose. Anyway, Sister Rose didn't mince words. Like the time she told me I should stop picking my nose at night and use a Kleenex. I thought the woman was a mystic. How in the world did she know I was secretly cleaning my nasal passages and wiping the debris on my bed sheet because I didn't want to leave the comfort of my own bed to walk to the bathroom to do the job properly? (It wasn't until I was much older that I saw the evidence of a similar habit on one of my sibling's sheets. I realized then Sister Rose wasn't a mystic.)

But I digress.

What I'm trying to say here is that Sister Rose didn't mince words. And these are some words of wisdom she laid on me when I was about 11. She said, and I quote (one doesn't soon forget these kinds of things), "Kari (she said), you'd better marry a rich man because you don't like to clean." She also said, "Cleaning house is like being on a merry-go-round. It's the same things over and over." I would add, Sister Rose, that it's not fun like a merry-go-round. But that part she didn't share.

So this is the deal. I'm at home, ostensibly (which I've just discovered does NOT start with "au") for the children, and I have plenty of time to clean and do other things. But I feel vague. I'm very happy to be with who I'm with and living where I'm living but I'm not happy being who I'm being. But not exactly unhappy either. Just vague. Very vague.