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

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Friday, December 31, 2010

For Auld Lang Syne

I can't believe how quickly this year has flown by.  With most years, there has been good and there has been the not so good.  With one very big exception, 2010 has been a very good year for us.

The Best Bits of 2010:

The arrival of our beautiful Clara in February and our subsequent visit to meet her in October:
  • Although it was a very difficult time, being able to be with my mother and family during her surgery and recovery was probably the best thing I've done this year. 
  • Alex getting his driving license in July, and subsequently a car (although in some ways this has been a catch 22 - worry and fear, need I say more?) 
  • Alex also began the first stage of his education/apprenticeship in his quest to become an Electrical Engineer.
  • Andy and I managed two short breaks away this year, to Sheffield last January for my birthday (a great surprise) and a road trip to Northumberland and the Scottish borders with Molly last spring.
  • The safe arrival of another beautiful daughter for my dear friend Catherine in September.
  • Andy and I being in such a good place as a couple - it's probably been one of our best years yet.
  • We finally paid off our car in September. No car payments - yay! 
  • Andy and the mother of his children have managed to reach an armistice and can now communicate with each other, a  big relief to all of us, especially the children.
  • I completed the 30 Day Shred in November and although I didn't lose a lot of weight, I lost inches, toned up and feel much healthier for it.
  • Andy woke up with his children in the house on Christmas morning - the first time this has happened in nine years.  It was truly a wonderful Christmas.
  • This year I learned to accept a personal situation I cannot change and have actually made peace with it.  For that I am probably the most thankful of all as it has been the hardest reality I have had to accept in my 30-something years. 
  • My beautiful baby sister has managed to lose 38 lbs.  I cannot wait to see how fabulous she looks and kick some ass with her at the gym when we are next together.
  • All those I love have survived to see out another Christmas and ring in 2011.  For some of you I know it's been a different story and I hope you have the strength, peace and support to see you through.
Here's to a great New Year!

Well naturally, I'm hoping that by this time next year my mother will be cancer free and we will have many more years to look forward to.  

To celebrate how well she has done and how far she has come, I will be boarding a plane to spend two weeks with her at the end of January.  When your mother comes down with such a scary illness it's not a time to delay visits, even if she is doing amazingly well.  Its time to go home and be with her and my family; to re-affirm how grateful I am to have them in my life.   I think a celebration with mom and my sister is well in order. 10 months is a long time to wait for a hug. 

I had to time my visit home carefully, as my sister in law is due to have her baby around the middle of February and they have already asked me to be on standby to help with the baby after its arrival.. I cannot thank them enough for how involved they have already made me feel with this unborn niece/nephew of ours.

Because my husband has been so stellar this year with family visits, etc. I've told him its his pick this spring and we are in the process of planning a week's holiday to somewhere sunny and hot. 

There are a multitude of momentous birthday's this year - my niece turns one, my brother turns 30, two dear friends turn 40 and 50 respectively, both of my in-law's turn seventy and my dad turns 60.    And that's only getting started.  Hmmmm I'm realising that in saluting these milestones, it will prove to be an expensive year.  But what price can you put on celebrating the lives of loved ones?

Tonight I will raise my glass, hug the ones I'm with and welcome the start of another year;  I hope 2011 brings us all good tidings, however if there are to be bad times ahead, that we (this includes all of you) at least have the comfort of loved ones to bring us peace and help us through the hard times.

Happy New Year Everyone

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Falling on my knees (and not in my typical fashion)

I know I’ve already made a wish list this year however that one was more of a guideline to help my husband out and make his shopping experience as pain-free as possible. And there would be critics out there who might say I’m a selfish and demanding wife.

I have a much more serious ‘wish list’ though that I would like to publish. I hope more than anything that a few of these wishes come to pass; I’m not someone that reads horoscopes or has a whole lot of faith, but I do believe in karma and a very small part of me believes in angels. So in keeping with my tradition of staying off Santa’s Naughty List (thankfully, I haven’t been on that list in a very long time), here is my authentic Christmas Wish List:

My mother is a good mother. No, let me re-phrase that. My mother is a wonderful mother. Full of goodness and sacrifice; she hasn’t led an easy life and despite this remains remarkably upbeat. My biggest wish this year is that she continues to thrive on her current treatment and makes a complete recovery. This is the time in my mom’s life when she needs to be surrounded by loving, caring family and friends, and although I can’t be with her to celebrate this very important Christmas, she knows how much I love her and that early in the New Year, I will be making plans to personally hug her again.

That the doctors, nurses and every other person who have cared for my mom in such a remarkable way, continue to receive the support they need to do such brilliant work. Cancer treatment has moved mountains over the last decade and if we didn’t have such a dedicated medical community, or people willing to donate towards such a worthy cause (be it monetary or time) we might not have had mom with us this Christmas, a possibility I could not bear to contemplate.

That those of you who don’t spend enough time with your loved ones wise up and do something about it. Life can be too short and we shouldn’t be seeing those who matter to us only during the holidays.

Christmas can be tough on a lot of people for various reasons. Many of you or your loved ones may be experiencing hard times, be they emotional, physical or financial. I hope your burden eases and that you have somebody with you to help you through these not so easy days.

That every one of us keeps an open mind and accepts people for who they are. We may not understand the reasons why people make the choices they do, however it is up to ourselves how we choose to react.

Lastly, I wish you all a very happy, healthy and peaceful Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Charlie Brown, you'd be proud...

I don't know if you are aware but in three days it will be Christmas Eve. 

I will openly admit that the week before last found me struggling to find anything close to a festive feeling.  I wanted to be able to share rosy, cheerful thoughts with you all about the upcoming holiday but as those thoughts weren't forthcoming, I'm afraid I had nothing to share.  And one whiny blog a month is more than enough. So I spared you, and for that, you are welcome. 

Unless of course you wanted to hear the story of my husband and I falling out over what colour lights he's put on the house or what size Christmas Tree we should get when we always get the same size...

On second thought I will share the story of our tree with you and my reason for this should be clear once you have read it: 

Andy opened our visit to the farm where we always get our tree with his usual 'we'll be wanting a 7 ft tree'.  (Nice try, Andy, but we always get a six foot tree).  Every year I have to remind him that a seven foot Christmas tree is too big for our living room.  I will give him full points for his annual attempt to get a bigger, more expensive tree. This year however, there were no decent 6ft trees to be had so I gave in and we picked out an enormous, but oh-so-glorious 7ft tree.  When you walk into our living room it not only smells like evergreen, it looks like our couch has been stuck in the middle of a forest. If we still lived in Canada I'd be worried that a passing bear might become confused and decide our couch would be the ideal place to crash for the winter months;  good thing that we don't have wild bears in England, and if we did they would be hibernating long before Christmas.  Although it is massive, I cannot lie:  It's the most f**king amazing tree we have had to date.  It's so big we had to find a new corner for it and buy a few more decorations and next year we will definitely revert back to a realistic 6 footer, but for now we are rocking this Christmas Tree.

And not only is the tree beautiful it has proven once again that my husband really should know that 99.9% of the time I am right.  Maybe on Christmas morning I will let him be right about one or two things as my gift to him, because I love him that much. 

I took Monday off this week in order to get some extra Christmas shopping done and can now say that I'm 95% finished.  We just have to do the last food shop and grab a few stocking stuffers. I took advantage of a quiet house late yesterday afternoon and managed to get quite a bit of baking done.  I'm dismayed that my caramel-chocolate shortbread squares didn't turn out though and will blame it on the neighbour (whom I'd never met) that came looking for help in getting his car started just at the crucial stirring point for the caramel.  It hasn't set right and because its a time consuming and calorie-ridden treat I will not attempt to make it again; there are enough calorie ridden goodies in my fridge at the moment and I haven't decided yet if I will attempt anymore baking. 

Last week we had a Christmas party for the clients of our service and this combined with a couple of festive evenings with friends enables me to report that I've found my Christmas spirit and am even hoping that the sprinkling of snow we have stays on the ground in order for us to have a white Christmas.  (This could be a very real possibility as we are experiencing record breaking lows in the temperature).  A lot of people are complaining about the cold but I don't mind it as it's what winter is for me.  I'd rather have the cold crisp air accompanied by lots of sunshine than the usual damp and dismal weather with matching grey sky England is known for.

 As much as I would have liked loved to have celebrated Christmas with my Canadian contingent, I'm relieved that we aren't facing the hassle and stress of trying to catch flights in all the turmoil that has been caused by the weather.  If we were going home to Nova Scotia I'd probably present to my family in a very drunken state due to all the stress and as my mom has already been exposed to drunk Jody once this season, I'm pleased I can spare her the hassle of that at least.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I know we have to take the bad with the good, but I'm so over it now

As you know, last Wednesday we woke up to this:

Beautiful, isn't it?

I couldn’t be more ecstatic. Exactly one week later I’m not feeling so joyful about the snow that has hit Britain with a vengeance.

This country is not prepared for it; I try not to get annoyed and make comparisons to my native land as we always get weather like this, often much worse. Whole areas don’t grind to a halt for a week and all roads and sidewalks are normally ploughed within a few days. Salt/grit is adequately laid before and after the snow and walkways to shops, businesses, etc. are often shovelled.
The sense of community & camaraderie has been has been great for the most part, yet I wish the powers that be in this country would spend the money that would ensure it was better prepared for this weather. It’s time to face facts: the climate in Britain has changed and after two years running, no more excuses.

A few issues that have been occurring that I’m struggling to comprehend:

Why someone would struggle to ride a bike in this weather, and lots of people have. No one in Canada would actually be moronic enough to ride a bicycle with this much snow on the ground.

Why we have to pay a council tax in this country for services that are less than adequate, especially never more so than now. Essential services such as the bin and recycling trucks haven’t been around in well over a week. When my husband rang our council office to ask if they would be gritting the roads on our estate due to the massive amount of thick ice, he was told that they were waiting for the thaw. I think they will see Santa on his sled being guided by Rudolph before this happens. I’m happy to take our own rubbish to the tip if necessary yet I still don’t think we will receive a rebate from the council for the period of disruption.

I don’t remember the last time our post was delivered. Apparently our side roads are too treacherous for the post deliverers. Oh. Yet we are all supposed to drive/walk around our estate. I get it. Postal workers are in league of their own. (I think that is the situation in whatever country you reside in.)
Why people don’t heed advice when told not to drive past a certain point in the car park. Yesterday I spent more time going out and sorting out the car situation because apparently word spread that I was an expert on getting cars unstuck and off ice. I suppose I will begrudgingly concede to this – it is true after all. Besides, I do like playing the hero and it was kind of fun to be outside in the bright, cold fresh air. Although I think it did annoy the men to have a woman come to the rescue. However these situations would not have occurred if people had listened in the first place.

Taxi Drivers. Why do they think its ok to stop wherever they like to do a pick up, yet when one can plainly see me helping an elderly person down the walkway to my waiting vehicle its perfectly fine to yell at me for stopping on the side of the road. That was asking for trouble and the driver did well enough to hop out of his car and leave. Even my passenger (Beryl) was ready to yell obscenities at the obnoxious ass.

Teenagers that think they know everything:  I think this one is self explanatory.  It has  been a tough week of answering 'why not's' when it comes to safe/unsafe driving conditions.
Aside from all of this, getting to work has been a nightmare. Once I’m eventually off our estate (there is always a car spinning out and some point during the journey, whatever direction I take) traffic is clogged up and what is normally a fifteen minute drive is often trebled, or worse.

The heating has gone down in our offices and although we have small electric heaters plugged in it takes an eternity for our office to warm up. I don’t think I wore this many layers when I used to go sledding or skating back in Nova Scotia.

These, however have been my saving grace:
When I’m out walking Molly, or digging people out of snow drifts, I couldn’t ask for better insulation.

I’ve decided today that I need to tell myself that It Is What It Is. Complaining or losing my cool won’t help anything.

I do need to get back to the gym though and burn off some of this frustration.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Sometimes, wishes do come true

I don't know what's happening here in North East England but I'm sure not going to complain.  I thought the snow we got last Sunday was pretty much going to be it for us, however Mother Nature decided to bless us with her bounty and we received quite a snow storm late in the day on Tuesday that carried on throughout most of the night.  Wednesday morning we woke to a blanket of snow that would impress any Nova Scotian.  

Unlike hardy Nova Scotians the whole county came to a standstill.   We aren't equipped for this kind of snow.  At all. 

Me, unlike any other adult am ecstatic about it.  I've been waiting seven years for this and pretty much had given up hope.  I thought an inch or so is all I would ever see.  After all, it has been over 20 years since England has seen this kind of snow.

Hardly anyone ventured out and many services and offices shut down for the day due to the fact that no one could drive as the roads weren't ploughed.  Many people have only dug themselves out yesterday and today.  Some people have taken it way too far in terms of using it as an excuse not to get to work after Wednesday, however Andy and I managed as we are lucky enough to have a 4x4.  The estate we live on is pretty much an ice rink and the 4 wheel drive makes it that bit easier to maneuver the streets.  Of course up until yesterday we only ventured out to work and back.  Essential trips only - a lesson we are trying to teach our obnoxious 18 year old that doesn't really seem to be sinking in.

Bah what can you do?   18 year olds know everything, sorry for not understanding that in the first instance.

Back to the snow. Molly absolutely adores it.  She constantly stands by the back door asking to be let out in it and luckily enough for her, because we love the snow so much and have been working reduced hours, she has never had so many walks.

This afternoon we took advantage of last night's dusting to spend a few hours outside and captured our activities with the following photos:

Meet Jeffery

Molly had fun helping, but almost dug a whole in his side

The boys decided to build a snow fort...
I pitched in eventually

The finished product - cozy

Plenty of room inside

We had a reindog in the back yard :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

So close to the finish line... dammit.

'I Didn’t Phone It In'

I really wanted this to be the title of my post at the end of the 30 Day Shred. ‘Don’t phone it in’ is a phrase Jillian often uses when she is encouraging you not to quit.

Unfortunately, I have to report that I’ve been a bad girl and I’ve let myself down something terrible. The rational side of me is telling me to be reasonable, that 27 days in a row is not ‘phoning it in’; that I have been more committed to this program than a lot of other people ever could be, and that I have worked so hard. Up until yesterday.

Some of you who are friends with me on FaceBook may be aware that it snowed in our local area yesterday. Yes people, for the first time in many years North East Lincolnshire has received a fair amount of snowfall in November. Most people are complaining about the snow, the cold and especially the driving conditions including traffic, however yours truly was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to go out and romp around in it. My husband cheerfully joined me and Molly, saying the only thing that would have made it more fun for him was if I had been wearing only my boots and scarf whilst I made snow-angels for him. God knows I was so excited by the snow that I entertained the thought momentarily; I probably wouldn’t have noticed my nakedness, at least not for the first 20 seconds. However I’m veering off topic here, the wild and erratic path my husband’s brain leads him down is not what I set out to tell you about.

My point is this: if you put a boy and a girl out in the snow it can only lead to trouble; and it did. Andy and I couldn’t resists throwing the odd snowball or two, and naturally he couldn’t help himself and had to rub the cold stuff in my face (not that I get overly wound up about this – you don’t grow up walking to and from school in rural Nova Scotia a virgin to having your face rubbed in copious amounts of snow by stupid boys). It was during one of these moments that we lost our footing and went down. I had the misfortune to land on the bottom, taking the full weight of my beloved who happens to outweigh me by at least 50 lbs.


Let’s jump ahead five hours; I’d had a wee nap and had taken a few ibuprofens but was still sore with back, knee and head-ache. On top of that, it felt like I’d slightly sprained my ankle. Let’s face it readers I’m not 15 anymore. Hell I’m not even 25 anymore. My body was suffering the effects of the afternoon and because I’d stupidly not done my exercise that morning I was now facing it at 8:00 at night. We all know that I’ve done my work-out much later than 8:00 pm, I’ve been that devoted. However last night I just couldn’t do it. And for that I’m so disappointed. I desperately wanted to get the 30 days in without missing one shred. But alas, it is not to be. I thought about doing it, but modifying the moves significantly, or doing level 1, however I really couldn’t bring myself to do it, I worried that I would hurt myself even more. So there you have it, I’m a quitter. Well sort of. Rational Jody says that I am NOT a quitter. My body was strained and sore and if I had pushed it I wouldn’t have been able to jump back on the band wagon tonight. Because I will. I’m seeing this through (I’ve read about people who have completed this shred by doing it five days a week and taking a break at the weekend – and I've done even better than that). I will just work out one day extra at the end. And just so you know, once I’ve completed the 30 days I’m not giving it up completely. It will form part of my regular work-out regime, because trust me, I am seeing results – my legs have never been firmer.

It’s just so disappointing because I was almosts there. When I finished on Saturday I knew I only had three more days to go and I would have made it through and could boast to you all about completing the 30 Day Shred in 30 Days! I mean, I had finished 27 days, what’s another three? Mentally I had already crossed the finish line and drafted my final post. And now I won’t be able to publish that post.

Yet at the same time I realistically have to be proud of what I’ve accomplished so far and not berate myself for missing one day, or eating a chocolate bar or having the odd glass of wine over a 30 day stretch of time.

But its really hard not to.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Christmas Wish List - 2010 Edition

Andy kindly put together a wish list of what he'd like to find under our tree on Christmas morning (which makes shopping for him so much easier).  At his request I have put together a few items that I would be absolutely thrilled with:

Ken is one of my favourite authors
(Amazon has it, as well as Tesco's)

(I think this is the cookbook my sister has that I was coveting in October)
It can be found at Amazon.co.uk or at Tesco's :)

I could only find this picture, however I prefer Control Freak (green bottles).  These can be found online usually on offer for £20.  Last year there was a stall uptown in our local shopping mall selling sets at this price... hope they come back this year.
In the clothing department:
Joe Brown's Irresistible Top - £12.90

Joe Browns Throw On Anywhere Shirt - £22.95

Joe Brown's Epitomy Dress - £29.95

Of course I love creams and lotions, especially the coco butter/vanilla scents. La Senza and Victoria Secrets also do some beautiful body lotions/butters but they aren't so easily accessible in our area.

Naturally I'm easily pleased and would be happy to receive only a few items off this list, most of which can be found on Amazon (including the clothes) - easy shopping for sure.  

Oh wait,

I absolutely adore this hat:

but at £26 from Monsoon Accessorize I'd really need a jacket/coat to actually wear it with, and unfortunately I don't have one. 

So maybe I will put the hat and this beauty of a coat on my birthday wish list (since my birthday is in January):

Joe Browns Ultimate Coat


This electric low fat fryer isn't on my wish list for Christmas, but I do think its a must have for next year: 

I'm never short on ideas, that's for sure.  Call me easy, I don't mind :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

We all have our issues...

Last night Andy and I were laying in bed doing our usual (before you sexy minded folk get those brain cogs whirling, let me throw a spanner in there straight away - sorry to disappoint): I was reading, Andy was doing his crossword and feeling guilty over the fact that he had left our dog out in the boot of the SUV for 2 hours after dropping Connor off at his mother’s. Perhaps it was my statement that I would never have done such a thing that made my husband reach over and put his hand on my neck in a pretend choke hold. Now if you know me at all, you know this is one action you do not undertake, ever. Real or pretend.

Warning:  what your are about to read next may contain violence of a nature you are uncomfortable with.
I don’t know how many times I’ve asked my husband not to do this.  If he still insists on doing it, I cannot be held accountable for my reaction; and he knows this. I’m sorry but he knows how much I hate it; actually it terrifies me for reasons I can't understand, yet he and the boys find amusing.  The fear that runs through me when I even see a hand come near my neck is reason enough why I cannot say sorry when I punch him between the eyes as a result. It’s a knee-jerk reaction but very justified as far as I’m concerned. He wouldn’t like it if I reached down his pants and squeezed hard, so I don't, no matter how hard I have to fight the urge sometimes. One of these days he will wake up to the fact that it might be his nose next time, and if my fist connects as hard as it did last night his nose could end up broken and would that really be my fault? 
I know I'm not the only one with a peculiar issue; I have a friend who cannot bear to have someone else's feet touch her, or lots of people are scared of spiders. Some people eat in sections i.e. finish their fries before they start their burger, or worse, if eating from a plate, one veg cannot touch another.  Ok, maybe that last one pertains more to five year olds but I think you get what I'm saying. 

I reckon Andy is probably slightly relieved now that we are going to be apart again through the week.  In the last month or so he has only had to be away 1-2 nights but from today his being away Monday-Friday will be the norm.  It will take some getting used to for sure but at least he's still in the country and only three hours away if I need him to come home in order to prevent me causing serious bodily harm to the 18 year old who drops in for the occasional shower and rummage through the fridge.   (I'm not a brute, honestly... the men-folk in my house would drive anyone to pull their hair out, drink copious amounts of liquor, or punch someone.  Yet violence should never be the answer.  Ever.  Well, unless you touch my neck.)

In other news, I made a minor adjustment to the colour of my hair:

You can be honest if you don’t like it, although I’ve gotten a lot of positive response at work today. I think I might keep it this colour for awhile. I’ve been blond for over 18 months which is a record for me.

I will spare you talk of my shred until another day this week. 

Hope you are all enjoying your Monday... only four more days till Friday.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Can there ever be too much sex???

Sunday evening Andy and I finally went to the cinema to see The Kids Are All Right. I've been waiting months to see this film due to the fact that the release dates in the UK are often a few months behind North America, at least for films that aren't British.

I was really surprised that the movie was showing in the Hayworth Suite, the smallest theatre. Even more surprising, there was only one other couple watching it. I realize it was a Sunday evening but this movie had great reviews and a great cast of characters so I was expecting it to be more of a big deal. I mean seriously, Mark Ruffalo should have brought at least 50 more people out on a cold Sunday night. Perhaps people don't realize how much sex is actually in this movie, not only between the women, but between Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore – hot, funny sex. (Not that this was what made me decide to see the movie, I thought it looked fantastic right from the very first trailer I viewed back in the summer, but it was an added bonus ;) It was a good movie, one of the best we’ve seen in a long time, full of human emotion.

Apparently the older, middle-aged couple sitting in the theatre with us didn’t agree, because half-way through the movie, they got up and left. I think it was during a scene where Julianne and Mark had just rumpled the bed clothes yet again to the great amusement and confusion of the gardener. Didn’t they like all the sex? Andy and I couldn’t help but laugh at their indignant walk and found ourselves sitting in the theatre giggling like a couple of school kids. Andy started to say something to me and I chuckled and informed him that there was no longer any need to whisper, since we were alone. I love being in a theatre when there are no other movie goers - it feels like your own private viewing. (Even if it is a bit sad that no one else thinks the movie is worth going to see).

In other news (if my shred updates are boring you, here is your cue to go do something else, I won’t be offended):

Last Thursday I reported that Level 2 might get the best of me, however I was wrong. I have persevered and have already completed seven of the 10 workouts. It has gotten a little easier, although I will be perfectly honest (as usual) and say that last night I had a real battle with myself to actually get changed and do the workout. I had a headache and was feeling achy and tired. I did do it, however it wasn’t up to my normal standard and I had to do a couple of ‘modified’ exercises, which really disappoints me. I’m not going to berate myself too much for this though because a lot of people probably would have given up by now.

On Monday night, for various reasons, I wasn’t even able to get to the DVD until 9:40 pm, yet still did it. Most evenings I enjoy doing it (just a little bit), and am really proud of what I have achieved so far. I must say, I do like the weekends better when I can do it earlier in the day, before or after I get back from the gym. (I’ve taken the week-days off from the gym as I’m finding it a little hard to get everything in).

I’ve been more or less watching what I eat, haven’t had a glass of wine in over two weeks, but on the weekends I do have a few treats. I will confess that last night I did give in to a chocolate craving. This in itself doesn’t worry me too much, however what is worrying me is the fact that as I’m quickly approaching Level 3, my time of the month is also approaching. I’m making sure I have strong Ibuprofen on hand as my legs and back can really give me grief when I’m on, but I’m crossing my fingers that I can successfully get through it, even if I have to do a few modified sessions. Let’s hope that being on my period won’t result in my throwing the remote straight at Jillian’s head (or maybe even Amanda, the girl with smoking hot abs who never stops smiling throughout the whole video. At least Natalie, who works much harder, messes up every now and then).

Although I haven’t been losing very much weight, I have lost inches already and am looking forward to sharing the final results with you in two weeks.

Monday, November 15, 2010

One lesson having siblings taught me early in life...

My dad always used to keep a 2 litre bottle of Pepsi in a bottom cupboard in the kitchen; it was often next to his pint of rum. We were always told not to drink this pop under any circumstance, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought it was a bit stingy - he could have at least offered to share his rum. Mom pretty much let us have whatever we wanted yet Dad wouldn’t ever let us touch that Pepsi. If any of us five kids had drank tea, it might have been another issue if we’d emptied mom’s teabag canister. Yet if there was no milk for her tea, Mom would often just nip to the shop to buy another carton. I think it would be a safe bet to say she’d probably just do the same with her tea.

However a fact came to light as I grew older, (especially when I inherited boy-children), was that Dad had a reason to keep that bottle for himself. Children, teenagers especially, have a way of making drinks/food disappear faster than you can say ‘Who drank my diet coke?’

Andy and I often buy Alex a stash of his own pop, squash and more recently his own carton(s) of orange juice. If we don’t do this, he will drain every carton/bottle of liquid within the house and leave us with nothing aside from water. He learned the hard way to stay out of my diet coke. If he asks I often don’t have a problem with sharing, but sneaking the odd 2-3 tins just won’t sit well with me, especially when I’m trying to cut down and make a case last two weeks. Especially when he was bought his own; it’s not my fault he can’t control himself and has to drink every can and eat every biscuit until its all gone; The boy would never have survived in my childhood home where my parents only did a grocery shop every two weeks.

On the weekend I cooked up a big batch of lemon chicken. There was plenty left over to give Alex something to snack on later that evening when he finally returned home, and the rest I put in a container for Monday’s lunch with a salad. Silly me, I forgot to put a big label on it, or better yet just tell the boy that I was saving that chicken for my lunch, a lunch that I was really looking forward to. Yesterday when I got home from the gym and saw the empty container in the sink, I really shouldn’t have been surprised; and I wasn’t, to an extent. I just calmly explained to myself that I should know better by now and let it go (I have come a long way in recent months let me tell you).  To add insult to injury, when I later pointed out that he had eaten my pack up, Alex said with a grin "If its any consolation, it was quite tasty'.  Perhaps its my own fault for being such a queen in the kitchen.  At least we were both smiling.

My sister found it hard to share a bedroom with me growing up as she didn’t really have a space that was all her own (none of us save my brother did). I’m sorry, but siblings are nothing compared to teenage refuge bins. If ours isn’t eating our ‘snacks’, he’s using our shower, and even worse – my towel. Even though he gets his own ‘treats’, has his own shower, and there is a closet full of fresh towels in the closet next to his room. Sorry, teenage children trump siblings for sucking the personal enjoyment out of certain aspects of life. Yet my sister is probably smiling as she reads this, thinking payback is a bitch. And it is… it is.

Let’s just say our Little Dustbin is lucky I love him and that I don’t have a problem repeating myself – many times; And over time I’ve gotten used to hiding my stash. Having four siblings teaches one to share, but at the same time, it also gives you an education on how to ensure some things remain your own.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

They weren't lying...

First, before I begin I would like to take a moment to thank all the veterans who have fought so hard, in so many different wars, and still continue to fight for what we call home; wherever home may be. 

Now:  A Letter to Jillian

Dear Jillian,

They told me that the whole 30 Day Shred was tremendously hard work;  they warned me that I might not lose a large amount of weight, but that I would definitely see a difference in my endurance and strength, and would likely drop a dress size.  They have said that although Level 1 was hard, it was nothing compared to Level 2.  I scoffed as I read those reports, thinking to myself that it really couldn't be that much harder (although deep down I was slightly nervous).  Guess what?  I had every right to be.  Level 2 is a downright bitch.  I hate it.  It didn't help that I seem to have pulled a muscle in my left quad yesterday, but I know, that's just an excuse.

In recent years I have come to consider myself relatively fit.  I might not be slender, yet I work out regularly and can more than keep up in body pump and kick boxing classes.  Sure I get my sweat on, but those classes are an hour long and really push your endurance; the wetter my clothes, the better I feel. It's true. 

In all the classes I have ever done, out of the few trainers I have had over the last 12 years, no one has ever made me hate my workout more.  It is 20 minutes of hell.  When I finished I seriously felt sick. The only thing that kept me going during a certain moment was thinking about all those terribly obese and un-fit people that don't quit when being put through the ringer on the Biggest Loser.  If they can do it, then I can do it, even if I don't have your gorgeous self standing right over me, screaming obscenities and urging me on.

So, tomorrow I will put the damn DVD back in and get ready to hate you once more.  Well not really.  I can't hate you, but I'm sure going to have fun pretending I do every time I do this...  Maybe I will find it a bit easier mid-way through. In all likelihood I will; I do know what can happen when you actually stick with a program,  I just can't see it right now.   I honestly didn't find Level 1 that hard at all and kind of chuckled at the people who did.  I'm sorry about that.  I really am.  

I wanted to take a sneak peek at Level 3 when I finished, just to see what was going to come next (I didn't preview Level 2, and good thing!) but my husband convinced me not to.  He is behind me all the way in this and has a lot of faith in me to see this through, however he is probably right in thinking that a preview of what's to come might not be the best plan. 

So, here I am, 11 days in, 19 to go.  Let's hope I can stick with you till the end. 

Monday, November 08, 2010

Just don't make me empty promises

Yesterday marked the seventh day of my 30 Day Shred.  I haven't skipped one work out,  I've been taking Molly for longer walks, I've been watching everything I eat very carefully, and on Saturday and Sunday I even did a 45 minute cardio stint at the gym, followed by more abs.

Because I have been so faithful I decided I owed myself a treat.  So I will not tell you a lie:  on Saturday night I indulged in a glass three glasses of pinot grigio and a Crunchy Bar.  When I lost 28 lbs in 2003 I used to have one free day a week and it worked, so I figured it couldn't hurt.

Today I stepped on the scale and was absolutely appalled to see I've put on two pounds. So it probably did hurt. A lot.

Every day for the past week I have sweated my ass off.  I'm walking around trying to ignore the fact that it feels like I have steel rods inserted in my thighs.  Although it can be tiring and each night I need a hot bath to relieve the strain I am putting on my aching muscles, I'm actually enjoying the work-outs and the challenge of this program. 

Did I think I would see results instantly?  No, I didn't.  And I keep trying to tell myself that muscle weighs more than fat;  however I know that you don't build muscle up in a week.  However I do know that this shred is not your typical work out program and I actually feel different already.  They have promised that results will be achieved quicker than if I were just working out at the gym, because of the stress that is put on the body.  Andy has reported that my legs are already feeling firmer and maybe they are.  I'm not sure. I'm just confused at this moment and time.  Part of me wants to quit, but I won't.  I will see this through and find out for myself how 'real' this shred is. 

I will try to ignore the scales and if I come out of this down a size in clothing and much stronger, then I will feel like it all hasn't been for nothing. 

Friday, November 05, 2010

Guy Fawkes, you're no friend of ours...

I really should be getting used to the fact that come this time every year I have to choose the lesser of two evils and medicate Molly.  The only other alternative is to watch her panting so hard her tongue is almost cleaning the floor, as she looks around for somewhere suitable to hide;  however the only way she would find comfort in a hiding place is if I were to ship her over to my mother and sister for the week as you cannot go anywhere in England without hearing the hiss and pop of fireworks all evening long.  Honestly, I think sometimes her heart is going to explode straight out her chest, sending a slew of her own fireworks all over us.  Poor girl. 

If I hadn't actually been to where she' originated from, there is no way you could convince me that she was from good old English gun stock.  No way, Nada, uh uh.  

So this afternoon, while it was still slightly light out I dragged her on to the field.  She temporarily forgot about the impending dark and what it brings whilst romping around with Jet & Bisto (two other labs who obviously didn't give a damn).  Naturally it was only about 10 minutes later when some idiot set off a firework (it wasn't even dark yet - come on people, really?), and it was homeward bound for us to break into the stash of meds that would calm Molly's racing heart and take her far away from it all.  She's finally sleeping peacefully in her hiding spot as I type this post.   

Thursday, November 04, 2010

20 Years Later

Late this past summer Andy's sister Alison and her partner Scott shared the news that they were having a baby.  They had been trying unsuccessfully for the past 18 months and even though Alison was approaching her 16th week, she was still apprehensive and slightly in disbelief that this pregnancy was actually sticking.  It wasn't until after her second scan (ultra-sound) that she started to believe that everything was going to be ok.  Ali and Scott have been through the ringer over the last few years, I won't go into details as I don't want to intrude on their privacy any more than I have already, lets just say that the arrival of this baby is something for everyone to look forward to.  Alison, naturally is glowing.    They are due on the same day as our beautiful Clara, which also happens to also be my father-in-law's birthday.  (This family seems to have a way of sharing birthdays: Alison, her twin Adrian and Scott all have the same birthday; as mentioned, my father-in-law and Clara were born on the same day 68 years apart and my brother and mother-in-law were born on the 14th March...  much easier for remembering birthdays!) 

Connor and his hero

Because this year marks their 20th together, they informed us they would be having a celebration dinner with both their families at the end of October, after Andy and I had returned from our vacation.  We'd known about this meal back in August, but it wasn't until September that we found out they'd actually eloped to Italy.  Both sets of parents had been let in on their secret but the rest of us were surprised and delighted when we received their texts on the day of.  I think my husband was secretly a little sad that he didn't get to see his baby sister get married, however after 20 years together it really was the perfect way to tie the knot. 

 Mum & Daughter

 Ali, Dave, Wendy & Scott

The wedding luncheon was held at a beautiful restaurant called Charlotte House in Lincoln.  All 19 members of both families were present and accounted for, with the exception of our Claire as it would have been too much for her.  Everyone looked fabulous with their beautiful clothes and beaming smiles. It was tastefully done and both families were relaxed in each other's company as we celebrated the official joining of our two families.  I say official, because let's face it, Ali and Scott are an institution in this family.  Scott has been around since the year Andy's daughter Natasha was born;  none of Wendy and Dave's grandchildren children have ever known a life without him. 

 Jake, Tasha, Baby Archie, Alex and Connor

Dave, Wendy and their grandchildren

They have been a fantastic Aunt and Uncle to Andy's children over the years and we are looking forward to returning the favour.  Both Alison and Scott are already looking into future events and scheduling time for us to spend with this child.  The one event they have planned that has already meant the world to me is occurring in two weeks:  Despite the fact that they have declined to find out the sex of the baby in order to have a nice surprise come February, they are opting for a 3-D scan on the 13th November.  Alison rang me a few weeks ago to say that they would really like it if I was there with them for this, but only if I wanted to... um, I think the answer here was a big, resounding yes.  True to my natural self, I answered with a catch in my throat and tears in my eyes.  But only if they were 100% sure, after all this is a very private moment.  Alison answered my questions with the words 'I told you I would share this baby with you, and that is exactly what I'm doing.  We are expecting you to play a big role in this baby's life, and what better time to start?'

The Newlyweds with the Bride's family

The Newlywed's with the Groom's family

I don't know what I've done to deserve another sister like this in my life, but I'm not questioning it.  I can't look around me and begrudge what I don't have in this life, because what I do have surpasses it by miles

Both Andy and I wish them a lifetime filled with joy and love. 

(Andy was the photographer throughout the day and captured some awesome pictures)

 Connor Tasha and Alex
(it was hard work getting them to be serious!!!

Love their goofy ways

 Zoe and Archie

I think I might have a framer here :)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

One Down, 29 to go and I will see this through

After months of thinking about it and after ages spent trying to figure out when the best possible time to begin
would be (as well as convincing myself I could commit), I finally ordered the 30 Day Shred.

I’ve read a number of other blogs by women who have embarked on this program and although it seemed slightly daunting, I was up for the challenge. As it is exercise based, with the encouragement of following a healthy diet, I knew I would stand a better chance of seeing this through to the end than if it were a strict diet that had me doing something ridiculous like giving up diet coke (although I am down to one a day!). 30 Days of twenty minute work-outs is a bit of a commitment (and we all know how great I am at honouring those) yet it is only a month and I really want to do this. (As well as still get to the gym for a run on the treadmill every few days.)


Yesterday, the 1st of November was Day 1.

I waited until my sweet potatoes and vegetables were roasting in the oven then pushed aside the coffee table and began Level 1. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be which was surprising because a number of women reported that they were left feeling so achy the next morning they had a hard time facing Day 2. Maybe I didn't find it as challenging because I’ve been working out off and on for the last 15 years, or my weights weren’t heavy enough, something I will modify by level 2. I was pleased that I didn’t have to follow the woman that was demonstrating the ‘moderate’ exercises other than when doing the push-ups. Although I will probably be screaming a different song when I get to level 3.

The hardest part for me was not laughing when Molly sat in front of me with the obvious question of ‘what exactly are you doing?’ written all over her face while I was doing the push-up segment, or even better, when she started hopping around when I moved on to jumping jacks. She quickly realized that I wasn’t playing a game with her and went to sulk by the couch.

Today I feel ok, a little sore in my arms and thighs but nothing like how I feel after a body-pump class I haven’t been to in months. It’s that good feeling you get, when you know you’ve had a good work out and begin looking forward to the next.

I’m going to report in at the end of each level to let you know how I’m getting on. I’ve told a lot of people I’m doing this because I want to finish this and come out the other end feeling good and looking that much better and will stand a better chance of doing so if I don't have to report that I've given up.  Besides, and most importantly, I don't want to let myself down. I’ve taken my measurements and weighed in so hopefully in a month's time the bar at the top of this page will have moved, or I will at least have lost a dress size.

Wish me luck.

(I only realized when I started to write this that it’s been a week since I last posted. Yesterday, we spent a wonderful day with Andy’s family celebrating a joyous event and I’m looking forward to sharing the photos with you when I get a chance later this week.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dreams that you dare

I might have mentioned (actually, I know I did) that Andy and I celebrated our 6th Anniversary while we were in Ontario.   Although we weren't in Nova Scotia where we got married, it was really special to spend the long weekend with the four people who had travelled from Ontario to be with us at our wedding:  My sister and her husband, and Darla and Glen. 

We did however spend a night and day in the city of Toronto on our own later that week.  We took the bus in on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and checked in at the Marriott.  We had plans to spend the early part of the evening with my sister Sandra and then go for a late evening meal on our own, before heading back to hotel to reflect and think about the past six years...ok seriously, we were going to get it on.  Its only been six years, not sixty. 

Andy took a couple of really great shots on our day out:

I love this picture that Andy took of the municipal buildings (?)

On the way to meet up with Sandra, Andy said he needed to make a stop on Bloor Street, namely at Tiffany's.  I've only ever window shopped on line at Tiffany's but certainly knew what I liked (however I was thinking about my 40th or maybe our ten year anniversary).  I only hesitated a full 3 seconds tho when Andy told me to try the bracelet on.  I walked back onto the street only slightly ecstatic while my husband was smiling at the thought of how happy I was going to make him later that night...

Happy Girl

We got up the next morning and enjoyed the most amazing breakfast I have ever experienced in a hotel setting before hitting the streets of Toronto.  We walked everywhere on that gorgeous, sunny day only stopping for a Second Cup Vanilla Bean Latte in the morning (I so wish we had Second Cup in the UK) and a rest by the water front for a quick beer as we watched the planes land on Toronto Island (we were too full from breakfast to eat anything). 

It was agreed that we would catch the 3:30 bus back to the suburbs so that we could spend some time with Clara before all the adults went out for some eats at Milestones.  The perfect end to the day was when Tawny and I were getting dressed up in her room, swapping clothes and deciding on shoes... its times like those when I miss my sisters the most (although believe it or not, this time there was no permanent exchange, however tempting it was).
A little rest down by the waterfront;  I love the Fall colours...

A gorgeous view :)

I was a very lucky girl on that holiday, for many reasons and it was wonderful to share it with my fella, a truly great guy, one who knows how lucky he is to be married to me :) Honestly though, it has been a whirlwind six years, full of craziness and love and I sincerely hope that in sixty years we are side by side in our rocking chairs reminiscing about times gone by, memories of a lifetime that we are already making.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Woe is me...

Andy and I landed at Manchester Airport early Sunday morning.  Needless to say I spent most of Sunday sleeping, as I was due at work at 8:00 am on Monday morning.

I've returned to a bit of a mess at work and although I'm trying to sort through it as well as tackle new issues, I'm finding it hard to stay focused on the actual work part.  I'm physically present however I'm finding it hard to give more than that. 

I would say I'm over the worst of my jet-lag, I didn't have a big mess facing me at home upon my return, Molly was delighted to see me, my mother-in-law had a gorgeous arrangement of flowers waiting for me in the living room and yet still I find myself in a really odd place mentally.  Little things are bothering me that probably shouldn't.  But because they are, I'm going to share with you.  If you aren't interested I accept that its best if you stop reading now.

So here you have it:

It's dark when I get up, and cold.  I absolutely cannot stand to hear my alarm go off when its dark out.  I'm supposed to have some warning that it's morning, i.e. a light sky, birds singing, the smell of bacon drifting up the stairs (not that this would ever happen on a work morning anyway).  However I don't like getting up early as it is, never mind when my instinct is telling me it must be 3 am because the sky is still black.  To add insult to injury, this was not happening before our holiday and I didn't get the time to 'adjust slowly'.

I'm getting cranky about the small stuff and I''m super annoyed at myself for it.  However I will not ever concede that it is ok to wipe one's mouth with a dish towel.  Firstly, dish towels are for drying dishes.  It's annoying when I go to dry a clean bowl and find that the dish towel is covered with pasta sauce.  Secondly, its just gross.   I would never want to wipe my mouth with a dirty dish towel but for some reason the boys (including my husband) continually do this. 

I keep thinking of things that people have said to me that I know weren't meant to hurt, yet still did (easily accomplished I suppose since my heart is on display more than it should be).  Knowing themselves that they overstepped the mark as soon as the words were out should be enough for me, yet I still find myself thinking about it, even though I should be used to it.  I do commend myself though for letting certain words slide.  Maybe I'm wrong to do this but I don't want to spend time asking people to try and refrain from saying hurtful things that they probably didn't mean in the first place;  besides this is real life and I've gotten better at deflecting over the last few years.

I'm letting myself down by being a bit lacklustre and not having more direction.  There are lots of things I know I should be doing, yet haven't the slightest bit of interest.  Point in case: the gym.  Something I've lost sight of over the last three weeks and really need to get back to, yet I keep finding excuses for not going.  I think I will rectify this situation immediately, considering I won't even entertain stepping on a scale after our over-indulgent vacation.  Working full time is no excuse.

Speaking of our vacation, I  reckon most of you are probably wondering where I get the audacity to complain so soon after returning from our holiday to Canada.  A holiday where I not only got to meet and get to know my gorgeous little niece with the most infectious smile ever, but where I spent time with family and friends and even got to spend a glorious day and night in the city with my husband on our own, where he spoiled me rotten for our 6th year anniversary (I'm a very lucky girl, I know!).  How right you would be if you are thinking it; I shouldn't feel this way, yet I was feeling it, however in the time it took to write this post my mood has brightened.  I needed a good old whinge and unlucky for you, you were the recipient.  So thank you.  Sometimes a girl just needs an outlet and today it was you.

I will be back tomorrow to post about the lovely day Andy and I spent in Toronto and to show off a few of the brilliant photos he captured.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


This week has just gobbled the days up...

Well here we are on our last night in the lovely province of Ontario.  We can't complain about much of anything really as life has been good to us during our stay.  The sun has been shining most days, the food has been ridiculously good (I'm tryign my hardest to ignore the weight I've put on, it will come off) and the cuddles from the babies have been wonderful. 

My heart sings when I see how much my niece loves her Uncle Shrek (a name Andy gave himself at the beginning of our visit that just seems to have stuck).  The two of them have often been found to be playing silly games and I love hearing Clara squeal with laughter at the faces he pulls. 

We had a glorious weekend in Waterloo last weekend.  The Pumpkin Patch was so pretty, lots of activities for the little ones to do and we took great advantage of the vibrant colours to do a mini-photo shoot:

Clara and her daddy

It was great when we finally saw Darla and Glen pull up in their car.  Their baby Rachel, who is 17 months old and lovely, was a little bit shy at first but it didn't take her long to get used to us.  Rachel was much more interested in the children's toys on offer than anything else:

Rachel in one of the many push cars

Tawny & Clara in the pumpkin patch

As it was nearing lunch and the babies were getting hungry we all jumped in the cars and headed to St. Jacob's, a quaint little village not far from Waterloo.  We were getting settled at our table when Taylor yelped that he'd just been stung by a wasp.  Luckily enough, he wasn't allergic and we all settled down to a noisy, talkative lunch, while Taylor cried in the corner;  not really, he took it like a man for the most part... getting stung by a wasp hurts - a lot.  I know, been there done that.

Tawny, Taylor and Clara said goodbye soon after lunch and we headed off with our friends to spend the Octoberfest weekend in Waterloo/Kitchener.  One of my favourite comments from that weekend was when Glen said to me "It's great to have one of my fun drinking buddies back again".  Glen, Andy and I gleefully sat in the warm October sun drinking beer and eating sausage dogs with sauerkraut until Darla and her friend Colleen caught up with us after Rachel's nap.

Give us a smile boys

Me & our amazing friends
Another added bonus to the long weekend was not one, but two turkey dinners.  Glen cooked all afternoon for us on Sunday and we returned home on Monday to again celebrate Thankgiving with my sister and her family.  Both meals were delicious and so worth it. 

My sister lays a beautiful table and I definitely think I'm taking tips from her for my Christmas table.
The rest of the week has gone by much too quickly;  we have had a lot of fun and I've much to tell, however the rest of our tale will have to wait until we get back to the UK.
Although it will be good to get back to our own home and see the kids, Molly and our friends, tomorrow will be a hard day because I hate the thought of having to kiss my sister and her beautiful girl goodbye until the next time we are together.