Saturday, February 28, 2009

(Day 34) Duck a l'Orange (or however the heck you spell it)

Yes, my duckies, this was my dinner.

You should be! Far from a pile of slop, this was actually good. My photographic skillery is both minimal and lazy. Stu did an excellent job with the duck and the snow peas and the orzo.
Now, oomph! Am propping up the ol' feet and settling in for a night of movie watching. I'm hoping Possession is as good as the book.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Exhausted and Friday and Movie (Day 33)

That pretty much says it all.

Went to the hospital. Worked. Came home. Waited for the plumber. Watched an increasingly active and agile toddler climb onto the coffee table. And the sofa. And the chair. Wrangled said toddler. Collapsed in exhaustion at the end of the night. Ate Indian. Watched The First Wives Club. This is my pixture for today. It is a stock photo. I tried to get to the camera when said toddler toddled onto the coffee table for the FIFTH time. But, alas, it was too far away.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Feeding my inner American (Day 32)


Thank you, Phil and Melissa, for giving me access to Season 4 of The Office, via your devious blackmarket routes!
"The eyes are the groin of the face."
"I don't like being titillated!"
"Suck on this."
Ho-boy. Good stuff.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Another developmental milestone...(Day 31)

Well. Crap.

So, the chair I use as a blockade to the kitchen steps? He can haul his little baby butt onto it.

He has super human baby hulk strength.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pingu v. Scrubs (Day 30)

My favorite kiddie show...

His favorite "kiddie" show.

Anyway. Win. Win.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fotheringhay (Day 29)

When you live somewhere long enough, the special becomes commonplace.

Hmm. I may want to retract that. I never ceased to be struck by the beauty of Sarajevo, on days when the clouds swept the mountains, on my walks with Vel around Bentbasa...I was daily reminded how lovely the city was.

Now, I live in St. Neots. A market town, here in Cambridgeshire. Not a bad place but not a particularly lovely place either. It is easy to forget that I'm in England, actually. And the day to day routines of work and baby don't allow for much countryside travel (or reflection).

So, there we were last weekend. Anticipating another lazy Saturday with an afternoon dog walk as the day's highlight. Maybe it was the impending move (because still, still it seems we will be back in the U.S. soon....) but I took out the Rough Guide to Britain and gave it a look-see.

We've done so much travel around Cambridgeshire, I thought Northamtonshire....Yes! That's it, Northamptonshire. Surely, there has to be more to see than Oundle. Which is very nice, don't get me wrong, but I didn't really fancy overpriced gourmet olives or a latte.

Then I saw Fotheringhay. Promising. A lonely village, once the place of a very high profile beheading. Mary, Queen of Scots.

What a lovely, magical, even haunted, little place...The castle is no longer there, just a mound, where a section of the castle used to be--and a pile of rubble, all that remains of the castle. What a location, there on the Nene River, right by a footpath. All that pasture, all that land. And we had a rare sunny day to boot. (And a nice pint at the local pub.)

Now, I have an itch to see all these hidden gems. I must kick us into high gear if we are to see even a fraction of them before we leave.

Little Barford, you're next.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Whoopsy...(Day 28)

The batteries in my camera died, so the picture I planned for today (Fotheringhay!) will have to wait until tomorrow.

Probably best as I burned my right hand and am typing, poorly, with my left.

But, hey, here's our entertainment for tonight...

I am/was such a film nut. I can't believe it's taken me (how long?) to see this.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The easiest bestest dish for the busy cook (Day 27)

Cook up some farfalle
saute a shallot in a generous amount of olive oil
poor shallot and olive oil onto farfalle
top with shredded smoked salmon and capers
sprinkle on some parm.

So. Good.

Friday, February 20, 2009

(Day 26) Where the dog grows ever fatter from baby food debris

I think he ate the entire cream cheese and blueberry jam sandwich. Damn.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Baby Boozer (Day 25)

What happens when you don't child-proof cabinets...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ollie, your first year of life on this here earth (Day 24)

Sonny boy,

Imagine this. It was Sunday, the 17th of February, in the wee hours of the morning. I woke up to some very startling leakage. (No, not pee, although the thought had crossed my mind.) Instead of breaking in a whoosh, my water broke in a trickle, and it continued through those early morning hours and well past breakfast.

Of course, I freaked out, as mommy has a tendency to do. We raced over to Hinchingbrooke where I was told that my waters broke. Indeed. Your daddy and I sat there in the maternity ward listening to the screams of other women's labors. And then I was given an appointment to induce my very own labor. The next day.

That was that, then. You were coming tomorrow morning whether you wanted to or not. And, crap, was mommy nervous. Mommy has heard tell of some laboring ladies who find inner strength or peace during those hard hours of labor. They let the pain take them deep into a place of calm where the wood nymphs dance with the sylvan elves. Mommy strongly suspects that if she were to have come into contact with any such other-worldly beings she would have begged them for a dram of morphine or beat them senseless. You know, just 'cause...

Anyway. Mommy and daddy made their way out of the hospital and decided to go grocery shopping. I mean, why not? We were close to Alconbury, and we needed food.

I was in a bit of a nervous pre-labor induced fugue. For example. I remember a Girl Scout asking us if we wanted to buy a box of cookies, but I don't remember the verbal bitch slap I gave the poor kid. I thought I politely said, "No," but apparently I said, "Noooooooo!" with fat lady fanged fury.

For the life of me, I can't remember what we had for dinner that night. I do remember your daddy going off to bed, leaving me to late Sunday night TV viewing. I thought, "Father Ted? That's it? That's all I have to distract me from imminent labor? Great, just great."

I waddled off to bed, and, yes, at that point, I waddled. I had such a difficult time closing my eyes that night, as I was terrified to wake up in actual labor. Yes, true. All through my pregnancy I had this fear of going into labor in the middle of the night. I had this bizarre conviction that if I went into labor during the day, I would have more control over everything.

In any event. About an hour later, I woke up. In labor.

Since the pain wasn't so bad, I thought, "Well, might just let Stu sleep and go into the other room and shave my legs." Which I did.

But then THE contractions came.

And got worse.

Fucking wood nymphs. Where's your Goddamn fairy dust now??!!

Mommy put on her trusty leggings. (Bless those leggings, they served mommy's expanding tuches well.) And her green top and her suede boots. Daddy thought the backroads through The Offords and Godmanchester would be faster than the A1. So, off we went, at a rip-roaring 30 mph.

And the speed bumps! I remember them well...

We arrived at the hospital, at which point mommy was absolutely certain she wanted drugs. In the form of an epidural. Lovely, lovely numbing...Daddy managed sleep and mommy managed a cup of tea and some toast. Drugs. I sing a celebration of thee.

And then. Then, the most horrible, unthinkable thing happened...

The epidural slipped. And MOMMY KNEW PAIN.

There was a lot of ugly cussing and apologies to the midwives for said cussing, so I will leave that to your imagination. (Throw your imagination far and wide because mommy sure did. Mommy was both dirty and creative. That takes some mad skills.)

After a lot of pushing and MORE PAIN, out you came. My God, there you were. A real live person. Our Oliver.

The nurses swaddled you, helped me into a wheelchair, and took us both back to the Ward. You slept for a total of...five minutes? Enough time for mommy to leaf through her copy of Vanity Fair with Harrison Ford on the cover. (I remember that as well.)

And there we were and that's that.

The beginning of everything.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

For the love of casseroles and apple pie (Day 23)

You know these cookbooks. (You know you do.) Your mom or your granny has contributed a recipe for a church fundraiser or has one tucked away on her shelf...
I love them. I collect them. A second-hand bookstore fella once told me they get tons of them and, usually, toss 'em.
I love food, the culture of food, the eating of food. These cookbooks represent America's culinary history from bog-standard American kitchens. There's the casseroles, the pies, and the quick breads...Tuna casserole? It's probably in there. Pumpkin bread? Sure. Apple pie? My word, you have to ask?
Then, there are the recipes that have gone out of style. Off the top of my head. I have a beautiful buttermilk bread recipe from a 1920's cookbook, but lordy if I can find anything similar in a modern American cookbook. Why? Oh...Just not in vogue, I suppose.
But holding them, reading them, there's a simple folksy charm that always cheers me and reminds me of home. My mom's pumpkin bread. My mom's tuna casserole. (And, btw, yuck.)
I was reminded of my old-timey cookbook collection when a friend lent me a lovely handmade cookbook, given to her by her mother. Full of the recipes of her childhood. The good, the bad, the tuna casserole's...
And, from it, I made a swiss cheese chicken casserole with canned cream of celery and Stovetop in a box. It was simple. It was artery-clogging delicious. And it reminded me a little of home.
The good parts.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cambridge graffiti and a day at the orchard (Day 22)

Ah, President's Day in England. What to do, what to do...?

Leisurely stroll through Cambridge and Grantchester, tea and a bit of chocolate cake at The Orchard. Ol, there's not a lot you don't eat or drink. Milky tea and cake were both hits.
The Orchard was nice but not quite what I had expected. (Thank you Rupert Brooke for raising my expectations. Poets.) I imagined the tearoom a bit more like this.

But, you know, the natural beauty and all was nice. That, I will concede, Mr. Brooke.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

First, comes the snow...(Day 21)

Then, come the floods...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

V-Day (Day 20)

Wasn't I the lucky recipient of Belgian chocolates? I was. I think Stu may be hiding the rest of the box from me, as I lost all willpower and ate about four this morning.
Apparently, I need help in the willpower department as I've gained three pounds! Fwah? I drink but a drop of red wine in the evening and, maybe, eat just a little ice cream for dessert. And, you know, I may do this every day, but I still don't see where all the poundage is coming from. I work out, you know...
As for you, Stinky...Did you know your due date was originally Valentine's Day? It was. This time last year was, well, a Thursday. Last year, V-Day fell on a Thursday. And there I was, heavily pregnant with you and totally paranoid about giving birth...and peeing every five minutes. I remember meeting my NCT mommies for coffee and bringing them V-Day/my-due-date cupcakes. Yellow cake with vanilla icing and pink sprinkles.
And look at you now. Today you clapped for the first time. (Witness momma's attempt to snap you in the act.) You're such a big boy. You say "Dooga, dooga, dooga and dugga, dugga, dugga." And occasionally you say "Dada," although I don't have a lot of confidence you associate the word with the live action "Dada."
Time flies, kiddo.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I don't hate Rachael Ray (Day 19)

I'm not, like, obsessed or anything, but I did make this purchase on base last Saturday.

Don't judge me.

(Some of the stuff's good, okay??)
(I swear.)
(Okay, I'll find this really neat-o super easy French Onion Soup recipe, and you can see for yourself.)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oh toys! Now, how do I get to them...? (Day 18)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Planning the spring wardrobe (Day 17)

In other non-baby news, I am planning my spring wardrobe!
I know, right? That is some BIG news Jacki.
Now, you have to imagine this handbag in green because that's what I have. Green. With bright pink lining. And a black double breasted mac because, well, hello, I needed something to match.
I admit to falling head over heals with the new faux patent leather, plastic-y handbag look. I have a strong and abiding feeling that I might be tempted to splurge again. Purple, maybe. Yeeees. A purple patent handbag.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why I thank god for organic crunchy carrot thingamies (Day 16)

He stuffs them whole into his mouth!

They entertain him while I pound down my lunch!
It's gotta be better for him than Cheetos.
I eat them too!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Senor Destructo! Witness the carnage. Hug his mommy. (Day 15)

What the...?
Actually, this is no great shocker. I no sooner get done cleaning the room--that's right, cleaning-- when Captain Underpants rolls through like a tornado.
I am spent. Purely and utterly and am praying that he naps this afternoon like he did yesterday. (Two hours and not a peep. That's the sleep I want.)
How do you folks with multiples do it? I know I'm a big whiny mommy baby myself, but jeez...Ol has never been the kinda baby you could put in a playpen, in front of a book, or, heck, the TV...(I know, "Jacki, you monster!") Nope. He must crawl or walk or play or GET INTO THINGS, THINGS THAT ARE NOT HIS. What's the point of toys, I ask?
Look, I get this is all developmentally appropriate. It's good he's exploring. It's good he's curious. It's good he's slobbering on all the ice-trays and assorted plastic containers. They're new and unique and he's bored with the thousand other brightly colored toys strewn around the house. It makes sense.
Maybe I just have a profound lack of patience. But. Doesn't anyone else just get fed up? I need to make dinner or put in a load of clothes, and "Damn!" "Ol, shoot, don't touch that. That's trash." Or. "How did you find that? Where did you find that?" "Oh, sweetie, don't cry. Here, come on, momma's got you...." "Oh crap, the onions are burning." Just a recent example, right off the top of my brain.
A lot of women go at this momma business alone, and being a momma now, I so tip my hat to you. (And dads, props to you single dads...) I sometimes wonder, for those of us who are expats and who have family back wherever we're originally from, if it would be easier to raise a child "back there."
For instance. Our folks wouldn't be around the corner, but I know we could always drop Ollie off at his grandparents to sleepover. If we wanted to make the two hour drive up to Delaware or Jersey. Then, we could traipse off to a merry night at the movies.
Since having Ol, we have been out alone twice. Wow.
I think I might just need a break, but there's no break to be had. Except for my outside work, I'm stuck in 24/7. And what about you moms who work at home? (And let me be clear, by "work at home" I do include being a mom. Most definitely.) How do you balance it? I build routines into my at-home days. And, actually, I do look forward to the routines....
Sample routine. Monday. Go to Boots, pick up baby treats and formula, if needed. Wander down the high street and end up at Waitrose. Buy beautifully packaged and overpriced food. Like pre-chopped onions. Thing of beauty.
I do like spending time with the little guy. He's mine. And I loves him. But I am whacked by the end of the day, and I look around the house and feel like I've accomplished nothing. (I have yet to truly conquer our laundry pile. I don't actually think our laundry basket has a "bottom." I haven't seen it for months.)
And I realize, as I write this, I feel a little foolish, as my little guy is sleeping away upstairs. He's giving me a much needed break on this hectic day, so I just should shut my mouth, quit complaining, and put my feet up....
While the silence lasts, that is.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The joys of showers! (Day 14)


Ollie loves the bath, er, shower. With me. Is that weird? And if it's not weird now, when will it be weird?

The problem to date has been getting a diaper and assorted clothing back onto his person.

He's not so into that. He prefers the buff.

(I have a much cuter picture, but I think Ollie would rather I not display his winkle on the blogosphere. Understandable.)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Lazy days and spoon feeding...(Day 13)

Ol wants to hold the spoon. Some kind of developmental step, I think. He's surprisingly clean about it. Mostly.

My lazy day included a trip to the good Chinese restaurant and a sinus headache. Ol, you were very good. Ate your organic carrot crunchy things and only spit out the rice.

Rare for us but very welcome is an equally lazy time lounging around watching movies. Skyjacked! Omg, how many opportunities did they have to kick his terrorist ass off the plane? Too many. Idiots. Next up, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Believe it or not, I have never seen this movie, and I'm quite looking forward to it.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Frickin' heck. It snowed. Again. What up Jack Frost? (Day 12)

Dear Ollie, Your mother trudged to work in a blizzard because Daddy took off at 5 in the morning. (To work, to be fair...) Dude, trains, buses, and frigid tootsies, oh my! Now that mommy is home she will watch The Mighty Boosh. You don't seem interested. One day, my stinky butted friend, you will heart the Boosh and think a little more of your momma. Love, Me

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Winter storm wreaks havoc with morning commute. Part Deux. (Day 11)

Imagine my great and abiding surprise when I woke up to snow.


This is England. As a rule, you may see a flurry but actual physical white powder evidence?

The normally 20 minute drive to work took an hour, as we were going about 10 mph.

(I understand there are some cutie-patute Ollie-in-the-snow pictures, courtesy of Auntie Melissa. Will post when available.)

a) View from our balcony. Now, that's snow! b) The red car we followed all the way to Huntingdon. At 10 mph. c) Tree on the way to work. In a field. Some field. No, I don't know where. d) Godmanchester. Waiting and waiting to get on the ring road.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Not an anglophile anymore (Day 10)

Not that I ever thought England was all tea and crumpets, but, well, I must have had some romantic Dickensian vision of the country. It hit me the other day that I was no longer the Anglophile I once was. Picture me kicking back to some classic Britcoms on UKTV Gold, in a rare moment between house-cleaning/working and everyday Ollie maintenance. I realized as I was watching As Time Goes By or Vicar of Dibley or some such, that they didn't hit that "Oh dear, isn't England cozy and quaint?" spot they once did.

And it's not that I hate England. Not at all. The impending move back to DC is a heartbreaking thought because I will miss my town and my job and my friends...It's just, well, England is home now, with all that is good and bad and ugly and funny and lovely. Sure, the thatched houses are hobbit-like and the country villages idyllic, but I see them all in a greater context of life and work and everyday living. If I was passing through as a tourist, I might come back to the States with that same hunky-dory, English life is ideal, tra-la-la, but I'm not a tourist. The magic is there. I still see the beauty of the old mixing with the new. But it's not with stars in my eyes. Well...Sometimes, there are stars. Cambridge is pretty spectacular, and I will miss that small city/big town feel. But the romance of something that you idealize from afar, without really knowing??? That's gone. And I feel sad about it.

Anyway. Hey-ho. I scored this amazing find at our local charity shop...

Now, there's a collection that's truly magic. Lucky for me, books never lose their lustre, especially ones fondly remembered from young adulthood. I can't wait until Ollie is old enough to enjoy this with me. He still likes to eat books, which is magic of some kind, I'm sure...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The joy of canned peaches! (Day 9)

Monday, February 02, 2009

Winter storm causes chaos! England comes to halt. (Day 8)

View from our living room balcony

The marina outside our living room window

Well, it's official. This really is the worst winter storm to hit England in 18 years. Unfrickinbelievable. It barely coats the bottom of my shoes!

Ah well. It's pretty, and it's probably the first and only snow of the season, so I'll takes what I gets.

To celebrate the storm of the century, I put Ol in his red plaid flannel jams. Instead of throwing him into whatever was clean, that is...

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Sunday Roast with the English (Day 7)

Finally, people who understand our pain...Friends with an eleven month old baby! And they somehow managed to cook us a grand Sunday Roast. (Yes, those are Yorkshire Puddings!)