A Canadian gal living in Britain with 3 men and a dog. Wine helps.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Tagged by Dawn, now its your turn please.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
I'm not really a lover of either although I suppose at Christmas, when I am in the spirit of things I'd prefer egg nog (provided it was spiked :).

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
He wraps them of course!

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
I love either or, but for my own house I choose white lights.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?

5. When do you put your decorations up?
Second weekend in December.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Christmas Dinner of course - the whole lot.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: My sisters coming to wake me up to look at ALL the beautiful presents under the tree and then waiting for Dad to hand tell us which pile belonged to who. You know, the anticipation on everyone's faces :)

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I suppose after the age of 9/10 I really knew what was what, however I was always torn when mom started asking me to help her wrap the presents when I got to about 12/13 - even though I was pleased she thought I was grown up enough, I hated to admit to the truth of it all.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
With a lot of indecision - same as I do most things :) (Last year it was eventually with a silver/white/and black theme :)

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love (and miss it) now that I don't have to shovel/drive in it :)

12. Can you ice skate?
Yes I can 'ice' skate - what other way is there?

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
From Childhood - my cabbage patch doll Rena Evangelene.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
The feeling of togetherness.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
From a long time ago? When we used to go to Mass on Christmas Eve and then on to Nanny's. I miss that.
From home - Dad's party plate of food.
Now - (this hasn't happened yet ;) going out to pick out my first real tree with my husband, and let me tell you - they cost a TON here comapared to NS.

17. What tops your tree?
An angel (I think).

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving? I do love buying a gift for someone when I'm sure it will mean a lot to them, especially when I watch them open it. But I can't deny I love opening presents too :)

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Oh Holy Night followed by Good King Wenceslas

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?
I'm not particular about hard candy - but I love candy cane ice-cream.

21. Favorite Christmas movie?
Love Actually and Elf

22. What do you leave for Santa?
Growing up - cookies and milk.

Because I hate having a fridge that is only slightly bigger than the BOoZe Fridge back home...

Not to mention that at the moment we have the extra room in our tiny kitchen as Molly has completely eaten our kitchen table (and four chairs) so why not take the opportunity and buy a nice, big appliance that Molly cannot demolish? This particular fridge is on sale and as its only slightly more expensive than a fridge with an on top freezer, Andy and I are seriously considering it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

It mightn't seem a big deal to anyone else, but to me this is substantial.

A couple of weeks ago I was flipping through the satellite channels looking for something to watch over the dinner hour (even I can only watch so many re-runs of Everybody Loves Raymond) and was floored to see the title for this show. When I first moved here I grew excited when I saw the caption 'Ellen' on the ABC network while searching it out, but was disappointed to find it was old reruns of her sitcom. So I waited in the hope that eventually the network would broadcast her talk show. Finally, they have. I'm not sure how long it has been running, but I won't waste my time worrying about it. The point is, the best talk show on television has finally made it to mine. And from the looks of it, we are only a month or so behind.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Torn Jeans, Sore Thighs and One Bloody Tongue - but man did we have FUN.

I'm sure our screams of joy, followed by shrieks of ambivalent 'fear', could be heard from at least half a mile away.

Today, after sitting around discussing what we as a family should do for the afternoon, we all agreed in quick succession to head out to Dixon's Woods for a walk in the crisp autumn air. Andy would be annoyed if I didn't give the credit to him for this idea, so it is thanks to my husband that we had more fun this afternoon than we've had in a long time. And it didn't cost a penny.

When we approached the area where we normally park in the woods, the kids were quick to hop out and head towards a rope with two loops hanging from the high, thick branch of a very large tree. It hadn't been there before so the boys were eager to try it out. Before long we were pushing each of the boys back and forth, spinning them around, until Connor started screeching not to be spun any more. (If only that was the going to be the most he had to worry about.)

I decided after watching the kids have a few swings, that I wanted to have a go, even though Tasha had declined to as the rope cut into her legs rather painfully. So with the assistance of Andy and the kids, I got up into that rope swing (realizing Tasha was right about the rope) and was happily shouting with glee to be swung so fast and high above the ground. What got me a little 'agitated' though was when Molly decided to try and 'get me'. I don't think she was happy with my situation and spurred on by Andy she held nothing back in her quest to catch me. Being swung between the trees is quite fun but it can turn a little alarming when your nutty dog is running at you, hurtling herself in the air hoping to catch you the only way she knows how - with her teeth (even though it did look rather funny). But goddamn it, my baby has some mighty big teeth. Of course she had to then take her turn after me and try to catch everyone else, including Andy when he decided to have a turn. He realized while he was up there that funny as it might look, it doesn't look half as funny when you are the one in the swing.

I came out of today's experience with torn jeans and a nipped ass, both thanks to Molly. Again, with compliments to Molly, Alex ended up with a 'nipped' hoody. Poor Molly was bleeding - either from biting her tongue or taking an accidental boot to the chops. And I think we all have very sore backsides/and or thighs.

If only we'd had the camera.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The smell of basil

Lately I have been testing my culinary skills, and to my amazement I've been turning out some edible dishes. The two I tried today were quite tasty if I say so myself. Originally, my trying new dishes stemmed from joining Weight Watchers (something I'm proving to be only partially devoted to). I didn't want to be tied down to only ready meals. I also wanted to try cooking things that Andy and the boys would eat as well. Today I made Keema - an Indian mince with vegetables, and it turned out to be something I liked the taste of, but more importantly, Alex did too. The next thing I tried was Lentil Casserole and I was very pleasantly surprised. I'm actually looking forward to making this dish for a few people I'm pretty sure will like it as well. I'm not sure Andy would be struck on it, but I'm sure he'll try it. This is the dish that I used the fresh basil for. Hrrmmm. Just to type out those words seems deviant of me, as I've never aspired to be one who spends much time in the kitchen, although I do cook, when the mood strikes . The amount of new food I've been attempting to cook though is a whole new experience and one that I don't dislike. Provided the recipe is easy to follow, I'm willing!

Because he hates it

My Nanny never left the house without donning a hat. She was a proper lady who looked good in almost any style of headdress and whenever I see hats of a certain style, or happen to see photos of the royal family, my thoughts often go right back to my Nanny and how lovely and elegant she looked whenever she was in public. What cheers me is that I think she passed the ability to wear hats on to me. There are few hats that I don't suit, but they are usually small styles that look bizarre on my rather large cranium. I was so excited last summer when I was to attend a proper English wedding (Andy's brother's) and knew that it would be at least one opportunity for me to don a large, gorgeous hat, of the variety you see at almost every English wedding. No one seems to do this back in Nova Scotia anymore. I remember advising my mother-in-law that she'd be more than welcome to wear a hat at my wedding, but she'd likely be the only one. If she didn't have a problem with that (and why should she?) nor did I. However she declined.

I am digressing.

My point is, that no one else in my family ever seems to wear a hat. I think my sister's don't because they don't think they look good in most hats, but I can't say, I never see them in one. When given the chance, I enjoy wearing a big, gorgeous hat and actually feel 'like a lady' for a short time (how very far from the truth you must be thinking), and people often tell me how great I look in hats. There is one style of hat though that has come into style, a hat that Andy says makes women look like 'American Train Engineers', or quite plainly 'a stupid mess'. My neighbour was wearing one the other day and I told her how great I thought she looked. Brittany Spears however was photographed in one and I did think she looked stupid - but in all fairness I think it was the angle she was wearing it at. The more Andy commented on this hat style though, the more determined I was that I was going to buy one. So the other day while shopping in Nottingham with Tasha I came across a hat stall selling all sorts of hats for only £5 each. One in particular stood out and I hesitantly tried it on, figuring there was no way it was going to fit my big head. It did. And it didn't look too bad (or at least Tasha and I didn't think it did). The more I looked at it the more I liked it and it matched my outfit that day so I figured for a fiver it would be worth it if I only wore it once. More importantly it would be worth the look on Andy's face when he saw me wearing the hat he absolutely abhors...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bonfire Fright

This evening was the first night since last weekend that Molly would actually go out in the yard alone to relieve herself. Hell, on the weekend she wouldn't even come out from under the couch and was busting to wee come 6 a.m. Next year I'm going to the vet to get something to sedate her with as I can't take the constant fight to get her out the door, never mind the anxiety she stirs in us all by practically giving herself a hear attack from fear. Next year if we don't do something to calm her, we run the risk of watching our dog freak out to the point of exhaustion, or at the very least break a bone from hurtling herself at the door if she happens to be outside and a fire-work goes off.

Trading Places

I've been reading the papers from home a lot this past week, keeping tabs on the War Bride Train, sometimes getting misty eyed at the stories some women have to tell. Mom rang me Tuesday night and said she thought of me when one woman was quoted 'The hardest part for me was leaving my mum behind'. I can relate. However the difference between these women and myself was that unlike them I have easy (and inexpensive) access to the phone and knew that I would be seeing my mom and family in less than a year. Compared to these women I have had it easy. I knew where I was going and what I was letting myself in for (for the most part). These women left their families behind and travelled on such a long journey, many with small children, to a vast country, often to find themselves having to travel thousands of miles beyond their landing point, some into very remote places entirely different to the cities/towns they left behind. Pier 21 was only the beginning for many of them. I'm so proud that my homeland is honouring these women in such a way, they certainly deserve it. At the same time, I can't help but feel a small level of kinship with them.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The little things in life

Andy and I were comfortably settled in our hotel room, lazily talking about things to come, when he tentatively asked if I would ever consider moving to England to be with him. As most of you know, I said yes, without very much hesitation at all. This conversation took place over four years ago, back when both of us knew that he could never leave his children to be with me and that I would have to be the one to make the move. At that time we both weren't sure how things would work out. We figured that because Andy was so used to working overseas to make a living, that after I originally settled in England, he would start taking jobs in places such as Russia, or Dubai and I would travel to be with him. This however was not to be as the situation with his ex was very tumultuous and if he left so soon after their separation, he ran the risk of losing contact with his children. So it was our decision that we were to make a life here locally, at least till things calmed down and Andy could be assured of seeing his children regularly.

Again, things didn't quite go to plan. Over the Christmas holiday of 2004, Alex ended up moving in with us as things weren't going so smoothly with his mother. There really was no other alternative that he come to us. I knew when I took up with Andy that when you have children they must take first priority, no matter what the feeling of the adult involved. So although Andy was working away, and the responsibility would fall primarily to me, I agreed to Alex moving in with us. He ended up staying with us for just over seven months. During that time I experienced a multitude of emotions, one that took precedence was the feeling that I had lost my freedom. I often thought that if I was looking after somebody else's child I might as well have one of my own. Even after Alex left to go back to his mother, this feeling stayed with me. When he did decide to go back in June of 2005 I found myself to be a little dismayed. As much as I thought my life had been put on hold for him, I was still surprised to find myself missing him.

Somewhere around the beginning of 2006 I put all thought of having a child of my own with Andy on the back burner and we decided to just get on with life as it was and enjoy each other and Molly and the children when we saw them. However, by Spring it was apparent that life wasn't working out so well between Alex and his mom, ultimately resulting in negative behaviour at school. We figured that he would be coming back with us in the very near future, and this time to stay. On June 14th of this year, Alex made the very difficult decision to come back to us on a permanent basis. We welcomed him back with open arms. In July we made the trip back to Canada with his brother and had a fantastic time - I don't think any of my family could have been happier with the way things turned out, and I think it was obvious to all the very close relationship I had with both boys. There were only two disappointing factors of the whole trip: 1) that Andy's daughter didn't join us, and 2) that we had to return Connor to his mother when we arrived back in the UK.

However, life went on and Alex stayed on with us. He began school in September and just last week his school broke up for Autumn Term. I was so proud of Alex - he had gone from an average of 2 detentions a day last year, to not one since he has come to live with us. Alex and I have settled into such a natural routine its strange for me when he is not here. At our coaxing, he spent most of his week off down at his mother's. He is such a willing, intelligent and kind boy I can't imagine how someone cannot make it work with him. And I have completely changed since the first time he came to live with us. Life is better with him in it, our home much more interesting. My nights have more purpose when he is here, definitely more direction. Tonight we went to ASDA's to get a few things and as I was checking out the books he approached me to say he'd found something he really wanted but it was £9. Without much thought, I told him to go get it. In the middle of the aisle, he wrapped his arms around me with a big thank-you, before running off to get what he was so excited about. Something so small, yet this 14 year old boy had no qualm about hugging his stepmom in a very public place. Honestly, how could I possibly ask for more than this?

I must be doing right by Andy's kids to receive this kind of love. I will say this, they might not be born of my flesh, these boys, but they are certainly born of my heart. I really don't think I could want for more.