Saturday, 31 January 2009

Day 123 of 365: Great Malvern Hills!

This is where Matt and I went today! He has only been talking about it since my first visit in 2006 and we finally had the freetime and extra money for petrol. The photo was taken of me atop Worcestershire (w-oos-ter-sheer) Beacon - the highest point in all of Malvern Hills at 425 metres above sea level! The rock formations comprising Malvern also date back about 600-million years! Malvern Hills as a whole stretch for nine miles. I'm just a regular encyclopedia! Thanks, Google and tourist information!!

It was a great day for a walk, except for the fact that it was a bit windy at the top, and Matt forgot to bring a hat or something with a hood. We made a mental note for next time.

Here's Matt facing into the wind (coming from the East). The wind was so strong, you could lean forward and it felt like it was concentrated solely on you! Wild!

The views were gorgeous though!

I also have new photo albums pasted on my MySpace and Facebook, so let me know if you have any problems getting to those.

This will definitely be a trip that we will have to make again in warmer weather.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Day 122 of 365: Friday FEAST!!

Meet my Chicken Kebab with BBQ sauce! It is very tasty and is doing to satisfy the 8-hour rumble in my belly. It is also a very well-deserved kebab after a very productive Friday.

I received a call early this morning for a post at the same school where I am scheduled to supply for the next fortnight. We managed to make it out the door in fifteen minutes and the drive wasn't too bad considering the time of morning and traffic. I spent the morning with two Key Stage 1 groups working on Numeracy, and the afternoon was spent with Year 5 for P.E. and then they watched some of Robin Hood for the rest of the afternoon.

While I was at school, Matt was able to call the vet in North Carolina to arrange for Sophie's annual rabies vaccination -- which is a HUGE relief off my mind considering the stipulations for the PETS Scheme in order for her and Annie to come here in the next few months.

Once we got back to the flat, we took care of some other needed business and then Matt went to spend a couple hours with Daz & Tony. I took this time to complete my second day of week 2 on the Couch to 5K. It was a bit rough as the wind was more brisk tonight and seemed to pierce my lungs, but I made it through and pushed the final run.

I think it's fair to say I feel this kebab is an absolute treat for my day.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Day 121 of 365: Suddenly I See

Check out my loot, courtesy Specsavers!!

I joined the monthly contact lens scheme which means I pay £15/mo. and receive my contacts and supplies via post. My first shipment was sent to the store, so Matt took me to pick them up tonight.

I get three bottles of solution, three months worth of lenses, a lens disinfecting container (the kind with the "cages" for my lenses), and apparently a fun little magazine showcasing the latest in hip eye wear (which will be tucked away for later so I can purchase some non-nerdy specs).

You know you're getting old when you get so excited about corrective vision options. Then again, this is me, and according to my husband, it doesn't take much.

Something that has excited me immensely as well...

I received a call this morning for a PPA-cover post to start next Monday and last until the 13th of February!! This is such good news!! Plus, it's always a relief to be in the same school for more than one day. I think the regular staff tend to take you a bit more seriously as well. I'm really looking forward to it though.

Also, since my paycheck tomorrow will be my first pretty "healthy" one, we're taking a trip to Malvern Hills on Saturday (weather permitting). Matt has been telling me things about Malvern since my first visit to England in 2006, so this should be a fantastic photo opportunity!

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Day 120 of 365: Mojo de Meggo

I've lost it -- my mojo that is. I was doing so well for a while. But here we are, 6 months after my relocation to the UK and I have only lost 5 pounds. I made it to 8.5 just before the wedding...but that was the plateau. Until tonight.

I lost exactly one pound this week!! It may have only been one, but it was a loss, and I'm SO excited about that. I'm also excited that Matt is on board for planning out our weekly meals better. Part of my problem is not planning and I end up eating whatever Matt eats, including his Matt-sized portions. Unfortunately for me, my body does not metabolize food as quickly as his and simply looking at food adds weight to my rear.

But now I'm back!! I even stayed for the actual meeting tonight. I'm hoping to lose a stone (14 lbs) by Easter which will give me my (UK) WW 10% and will leave me with only 2.5 stone more to lose.

I'm also hoping my Couch to 5K progress will encourage the loss along as well. I started week 2 yesterday, but I wasn't able to successfully get through the runs without shaving off time, so I repeated the run tonight. It was a push, but I made it through and I'm starting to really feel the positive effects the following day. (I've dedicated another blog solely to my C2-5K experience here.)

So, sorry for the lack of interesting pictures. Other than my runs, I stay cooped up indoors where it's warm, and I don't think anyone in particular cares to see more kitty pics (funny that he picks now to look up at me from his slumber -- probably knows I'm typing about him).

I'm rambling now. This will do for tonight.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Day 119 of 365: In Memorandum

This was my mom, Mary Lynn Saturn, in a crowd of of 500+ employees for Highlights for Children magazine during a company picnic in 1995. It was taken about 6 months before she passed away. I now own the fully framed and matted copy of the photo, given to me by some of the admin people when I worked for the same company several years later. It's one of a small handful of photos I even possess of my mother as she absolutely hated having her photo taken. I think in turn it's partly the reason why I'm constantly with camera in hand -- I'm afraid to miss capturing one moment of people I love in my life.

Today happens to be my mom's birthday -- she would have turned 57. It's so hard for me to imagine what she would have been like. No doubt she would have still been as witty and hilarious. My friends always seemed to like her a lot and everyone I speak to now who knew her has many fond memories.

I go through this every year on her birthday and the 15th of December mostly. She was wonderful to me and my only regret is that the last memories she had of me was as a snarky teenager (if only I would have known).

I think sometimes in our lives we take people for granted and think they will be in our lives forever. Even when my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer I was certain she was strong enough to pull through. And it was true that she was strong, the strongest person to this day I knew (and still know), but in the end it just wasn't enough. I've come to terms with things the older I have gotten and I realize that life is simply too short, as cliche as it may sound. Anyone who has lost a parent or someone close to them easily understands this concept. People should really appreciate one another more while they're still here rather than waste precious moments on stubborn bitterness, jealousy, and hate, and then wish they would have done differently when it's too late. I consider myself lucky to have had the time to evaluate things in my life and I now try to pick my battles. I want to live life in a way that would make my mother proud, a way that she would have continued to choose if given another chance.

My mom may not be physically here for me to wish her a happy birthday, but she still lives deep in my very soul and I feel she knows. I look forward to the day when Matt & I have children of our own to pass down the same love, respect, and kindness she showed to me and others who knew her.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I'm loving and missing you always. xx

Monday, 26 January 2009

Day 118 of 365: Takin Care of BiNNess

Snacking on some veggies tonight instead of chewy gummy snacks or crisps. Such a healthy little American I am! I didn't take a photo today because I've been on the phone with several places from the States and before long it was too dark to take a photo outside.

I did make some progress today in getting the ball rolling with the immigration of my furry kids to the UK. There are SO many strict rules they have to follow to get here from the US, but I love them like my own family so I will do what it takes. Any cat lover can appreciate this feeling.

I had to arrange for Sophie to get another rabies vaccination as her current one runs out on the 4th of February. If she doesn't get another one before that, her 6 month quarantine will have to start all over again and I will need to pay for another expensive titre test. The woman who is boarding the girls told me she could take Sophie for me on Friday for her vaccine since she has to stop by to pick up paperwork anyway (her dogs go to the same vet, thankfully). Also, I will conveniently be able to contact the vet and pay for the service with my card over the phone, so it won't cost her out of pocket -- not that $12 could break the bank.

For a pet to fly from the US to the UK, it's not as simple as them flying in the cabin on the flight with you. They have to follow something stringent called the PETS Scheme whereby they have to have certain tests done at certain times and specific paperwork filled out in specific coloured ink, etc. The unfortunate part about the whole process is that the "professionals" that I have to deal with, namely the small-town vet, have no idea what they're doing. In essence, I have to be the expert (as someone put it to me today).

I absolutely cannot wait until I can post Annie and Sophie's picture on this blog to show you all that they're here and starting to settle in. Myst will have two new female companions and won't even know what to do! But I am certain they will all be happy together with Matt and myself to love and fuss them all.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Day 117 of 365: Fluff Cycle

Mr. Nose-Patrol decided to check things out while I was getting some laundry done earlier. Matt has told me how he does this, so when I went upstairs to get the load from the washer, I came back armed with the Kodak. Sure enough, there he was! In fact, his tongue was out of his mouth so I suspect he was giving himself a wash. Uhm, Myst...this is the dryer.

In other news, I think the lurg is on it's way out. I'm down to a slight tickle in my throat with a cough. I'm hoping in the next day or two it will be gone altogether. For now, I still have some Honey & Lemon Lockets to soothe my throat.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Day 116 of 365: Doctor Matt's Orders

The husband has been doing a stellar job of looking after me while I continue to combat the "lurg." He has been making sure I am taking the decongestant pills every 4-6 hours and even reminded me of the special blue ones for nighttime. I'm past most of the runny nose bits and now just dealing with super dry lips and a tender lymphnodes. I fully expect the coughing fits to commence shortly after -- record time, folks!

I was awake from mid-morning until about half-three. Then I began to feel achy again so I napped a few hours. When I woke up I played Sims 2 for a bit and managed to inadvertently kill off the entire Cullen family I had previously created by using a manual cheat code to increase their aspiration levels. Too much? Lesson learned there. Oops.

Matt was having Xbox bonding time with Daz while I napped, so when he returned, I made sure to have cheesy chicken, broccoli and rice bake ready fresh from the oven for the two of us to devour. It was the least I could do for him putting up with me when I'm not feeling well -- I'm sure I can be a real treat.

We watched the remaining episodes from Season 1 of Dexter and then...tragedy struck. We realized we didn't have Season 2 yet so I wasn't able to get my fix. It was pretty serious. I nearly had a breakdown. My body just shut down and I was forced to go to bed. I honestly don't know what I will do once I get through Season 2. The Dexter-reserved portion of my life will feel so...empty.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Day 115 of 365: Happy BirFday to Meeeeee!

I turned 30 today, but still business as usual. I've used the mantle to display the lovely cards I have received as well as the beautiful flowers from hubby and MIL & FIL. It has actually brightened the front room up a bit more again and of course, flowers are always nice to have, right? I think so anyway.

I still seem to have "the lurg" as it seems to be affectionately known. I believe it may be sinusitis again, but I am not a medical professional. I was able to pick up some nasal spray and decongestant tablets for day and night at ASDA after work. They're working as well as can be expected, but I definitely can't wait until I am cured of it all.

My placement was in Foundation today, working mostly with Reception on Numeracy and Phonics. I had some down time with Nursery, where I read Goldilocks and then we sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star as I showed them the American Sign Language for the song. They seemed to like it. Also, I learned a different version from little goes "Twinkle Twinkle Chocolate Bar, My dad drives a rusty car." That seemed to turn the whole room into little comedians.

Matt and I are holding off on any big birthday celebrations until next week when we have a bit more money on hand. We're thinking maybe a small daytime road-trip somewhere would be nice. I'll be sure to bring my Kodak either way and report back.

For now, I have Season 1 of Dexter to complete before the meds kick in with drowsy side effects. Party on!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Day 114 of 365: Still Feeling Crappy

Q: What does one do without internet and a runny nose and achy skin?

A: Play Sims 2 using characters from a favourite book/film.

Too bad I got a bit bored after creating all the Sims.

P.S. I'm out of Lem-sip sachets.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Day 113 of 365: True Love is When...

Your husband makes a pit stop on the way home from picking you up from work during rush hour, just to soothe your sore throat. He got us two energy drinks to share and try out. One wasn't too shabby, although it didn't compare to Monster. The other...well...the other tasted like frog piss.

'Nuff said...and I'm still stuffy & achy. Argh!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Day 112 of 365: The Plague

The scratchy throat started last night. A cup of Lem-sip and itchy ear canals can only lead to one thing. Ugh! Here we go.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Day 111 of 365: Oh No They Dih'int!

Yep, it appears as though the devil's playground (i.e. WalMart -- who also owns ASDA) has gone transatlantic!

Matt noticed the ASDA WalMart Supercentre in Great Bridge on the way back from my supply post one night and promised we would go in and take a gander. Well, take a gander we did tonight!! We stopped in on the way back from the school today and ended up picking up a few things for our tea.

Inside there were three escalators and an entire upper floor of clothes, electronics, and housewares. We saw irons for £3 and toasters for £7. The store is also open 24 hours as well, but it's a good job I don't have a car -- I know people back in the States who go to WalMart for fun (and I was sadly one of them). Matt and I made the decision that we would definitely have to come back when we had money free to spend on such household luxuries.

Now I sit here with an itchy throat and I'm afraid the little bits in Foundation have shared too many germs, so I'm going to attempt a good night's sleep. Back at school on Wednesday.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Day 110 of 365: Beautiful Bella

I remembered my camera tonight. I was able to get a few photos of the Bella kitty, who I mentioned in last night's post. Funny enough as I'm about to make tonight's post, I see a comment from Christine demanding here ya go! In all her furry glory!!

As you can see, Bella seems to have figured out the purpose of her scratching post. I must say, I think it's a pretty kick ass scratching post myself.

We dropped by Lyndsey's to pick her up before heading to the cinema to meet Jen. We finally saw Twilight tonight!

It's always hard to see something in the theatre after reading the book because you start out overly critical form the beginning. You notice all the things in the film that were absolutely NOT in the book and you feel the need to point that out. For the most part, this film was pretty accurate with only a few minor changes. I think it's fair to say we're all really looking forward to the release of New Moon later this year.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Day 109 of 365: What Did I Miss?

The answer to that question tonight would be...not a thing.

You see, typically on a weekend Matt and I will go to Emma & Daz's where I take my spot on the right corner of the sofa with my purse at my feet. Daz & Matt begin playing something on the Xbox, like Gears of War or anything else involving guns and shooting things. From time to time, Em may disappear upstairs or one of us may pull out the laptop and lately I have been bringing along a word search to occupy myself until the killing and bloodshed is over.

Tonight was different. Em & I had a night out with Lyndsey and her 7-year-old daughter. We had a meal at the pub and then went back to Lyndsey's flat for a bit. I finally got to see Lyndsey's new kitten, Bella, a precious little rag doll. She provided much entertainment on her new kitty scratching post. She's adorable and of course I forgot my camera -- so my photo was taken upon our return.

Naturally, what are the boys doing when we walk through the door? The usual.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Day 108 of 365: Safety First, Boys and Girls

Tonight Matt pointed out the change in wording on these speed camera signs. We were on our way back from my supply post today in Perry Barr and this sign was spotted just before we got to Tipton. Normally, they actually say SPEED CAMERA, however, now it looks as though they are trying to be clever and trick motorists. I think they should just call it what it really is, a cash machine for the Po-po. These things are everywhere!

My post was pretty interesting today. I spent an hour this morning in Year 4 doing Maths. Like many posts I often get asked if I am Canadian, since there are many Canadian Supply Teachers and our accents sound a bit similar to the British. I clarified that I was American and one little girl spoke up to tell me the following:

Girl: Miss, do you know what my dad says about Americans?
Me: No, I don't. What does he say? *cringing and expecting a remark about politics or something about Americans being dumb or loud, etc.*
Girl: My dad says that Americans don't have curly hair.

Since I wore my hair curly today, and I am, in fact, definitely American, I clarified for the little girl that some Americans, like myself, DO have curly hair. Still, I wonder where THAT assumption came from?

I spent the rest of the morning with the little darlings in Foundation. I was also with them all day yesterday and some of the little ones remembered me, since I bribed them a bit with stickers. One little girl kept calling me Mrs. Ben-ick, but at least she was calling me by my name and not just 'Miss' as most of them do.

For the remainder of the afternoon I was in Year 5 for Science and P.E. That is one thing about teachers in the UK, they run their own P.E. classes rather than it being an extra resource class run by another teacher. As soon as the students in this class found out I was American, a boy asked me, "Do you know a man called Paul? He's my uncle and he lives in America."

Yep kid, I know EXACTLY who that is. It is a bit sweet though. I had to explain how America is a very big place and I don't know everyone who lives there. I don't think it helped much as I got asked 10 minutes later if I knew 50 Cent. You can tell my old age is a'creepin because I thought they were asking me if I had 50 cents (which I did).

Now that I am finally back home, I feel as though I am about to just pass out I'm so exhausted. It makes me so happy to know I have a weekend to look forward to. Then it's back to school again Monday. I'm a teaching machine!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Day 107 of 365: Celebrity Big Brother

I've been catching up via 'on demand' with any episodes I have missed. Last year's theme was Celebrity Hijack and it was quite funny. Each couple of days a different celebrity would 'hijack' the house and become the voice of Big Brother -- giving them absurd little tasks and making up new rules as they went. This year, the house features three American celebs mixed in with British celebs: Coolio, Latoya Jackson, and Verne Troyer. (Above: Here are Verne and housemate/singer Michelle Heaton in the diary room -- similar to MTV's confessional. They're complaining about their shopping task for the week.)

I really can't help it, but Verne is just so cute in this task where he has to wear a teddy bear costume and eat a pot of honey within 4 hours. Tonight's episode is when Verne got the brilliant idea to jump off a stack of boxes whilst wearing said bear costume. It was so funny, yet so adorable. It made me want to put him in my pocket!

I prefer Big Brother in the UK over Big Brother in the US. It's on every single night, for one thing, and it's not presented like a regular television program with things like "sneak peeks" at the upcoming episodes. Also, the public vote the housemates out of the house and they get evicted LIVE to a crowd of boos or cheers.

Much more entertaining.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Day 106 of 365: Happy Birthday, Nan!!!

Today is my Nan's 79th birthday. I tried calling her using Skype, but her number was busy, so I will just keep trying. I haven't seen her since my brother's wedding, but talked to her only a few weeks ago, just after Christmas.

Here is my Nan with me and my cousin Ashley at Andrew's wedding reception in March. Love her!!

There are SO many January birthdays in my family. My Uncle Burl and cousin Keaton had birthdays within the first week.

Then there was my Aunt Lisa, just this past weekend.

My brother and sister, Andrew and Anna, turned 24 on Monday. They obviously don't look like this anymore, but they were the sweetest school pictures. My mom made us all wear red jumpers that year with white turtle necks. We thought we looked like the Brady Bunch with our photos on the wall at home.

Of course, my Nan's is today and then my Dad's birthday is tomorrow. My cousin Katey's is two days before my birthday, which is next week on the 23rd. And then my mom's birthday is the 27th. She would have been 57 this So weird.

Suffice it to say, January could be a potentially expensive month -- and I didn't even get into my friends' birthdays!

But today belongs to my beautiful Happy Birthday, Nanny!!! Love and miss you LOADS! xx

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Day 105 of 365: Breakfast of Champions

Sultana Bran = American Raisin Bran

Yay fiber!!

I have a migraine. Too ouchy to do a "real" post tonight.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Day 104 of 365: It's Aliiiive!

Welcome to our home, shiny, new, nuker-of-food!!

About 2-3 weeks ago, our old microwave, inherited from Matt's Nan, had a bit of a mishap. It's last "breath" came in the form of a *POP* and then *fizz* -- complete with flashing blue pyrotechnics display. To say it "went out with a bang" would be an understatement. Since then, instead of being able to have a meal in 5-7 minutes, we've had to oven-bake everything, adding at least 30 minutes onto cooking time.

Then, tonight we got a call from MIL and FIL to say we have a belated wedding gift awaiting us. Matt guesses right away that it MUST be a microwave as it was the one thing he could think of that we really needed. So we picked it up earlier and unveiled it's shimmery greatness.

Happy days meals are here again!!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Day 103 of 365: Less of All of Me

After taking my measurements today, I discovered that there are 8.5 inches less of me than there was on the 11th of September 2008. My intention, when taking my measurements initially, was to keep track each month, but with everything that has happened since then it has slipped my mind until now. Still, 8.5 is a significant amount in four months, so I'm pretty pleased. 4.75 in. of that was lost from my hips alone! Too bad I can't target my weight loss, I'm sure there's a good stone plus in my hips, rear, and thighs combined.

Speaking of which, I haven't been back to Weight Watchers since just before Christmas. My meeting days happened to fall on Christmas and New Years Eve (which meant there were no meetings), so I canceled my subscription until this month to save the money. I'll start going again this week probably as I'd like to drop another stone and a half by June. That should leave me with roughly 2 more stone to lose to reach my goal.

I'm envisioning copious amounts of leisurely strolls this week.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Day 102 of 365: Private Eyes...They're Watching You.

Sorry for the glare. This is from our side window...I often look out this way on a morning to see the weather. The past couple weeks new objects keep appearing in our neighbour's garden. First it was the roadworks sign, then the traffic cones...then this morning, it was a roll of construction foam insulation and a bit of barbed wire. I can't imagine what "recipe" these ingredients will be for...but I think he might be a klepto.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Day 101 of 365: How Am I Supposed to Breathe With No Air Power?

Right in the middle of washing my hair today, the shower stopped (they're electric here). Then everything else in the flat got quiet. I quickly grabbed a towel and went to see what was going on. Matt informed me that we just had a power cut and he was going to see if any of the other neighbours were affected. When he got back, he used my mobile to ring Scottish Power and see what the problem was. We knew it wasn't that we hadn't paid a bill because 1) we just signed on with Scottish Power, and 2) in order to disconnect you they have to physically enter your property to do it -- unlike the backwards people at City of Laurinburg who cut you off if you don't pay within 10 days of the bill being issued. We even wondered by this point if it had something to do with the gas alliance being in the area and maybe they had to do an emergency shut off.

Scottish Power said it could be up to 3 hours for a technician to get to us, so we sat there in complete silence. With no Internet, I worked on a crossword for a bit. Matt was about to turn on the telly right before it happened, so there went his plans. It really makes you appreciate the convenience of everything because there was literally nothing to do. I even made an attempt to create our own entertainment with a funny, mad-libs-type word game I used to play with friends at Uni.

When our downstairs neighbour got home, Matt went to find out if he had power and he didn't. About 20 minutes later a red van shows up and we eventually discover the reason for the outage. The fuse in our neighbour's flat downstairs had blown and knocked out our power as well. (Thanks, neighbour!) Everything was fixed shortly thereafter and we resumed our normal lives. *phew!*

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Day 100 of 365: Thursday Theme - Patterns

Here lie 50% of a fantastic Christmas gift of fuzzy socks from my in-laws. I received 12 pair total and I have worn them all! I couldn't get them all in the picture as some are in the laundry, but these are most of the patterned ones. I'm imagining that when Matt & I have a proper dresser, we will need to vacuum-seal them to fit into the drawers. They have to be the most comfortable socks I own, not to mention the most effective for the current cold-weather climate. Plus, they go PERFECT with my fuzzy, memory-foam house slippers and dressing gown. I just need a set of hair rollers and I'm sure to look like a real treat! HA!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Day 99 of 365: Aaaand Done!

I had only 5 groups to mark in one Science lesson today, unfortunately it still left Matt waiting for me in the car longer when he came to pick me up. In today's Year 2 post, we talked about forces in motion and students had to draw a couple pictures and write sentences about the force the person in the picture was using. Many students illustrated things like 'He pushed the trolley' and 'She turned on the tap.' They all worked really hard so that when they finished they could play a board game, similar to Snakes & Ladders, but also dealing with the lesson vocabulary.

It was only a half-day post, and aside from being a little excitable because of the snow and colder weather (and missing their outdoor playtime -- poor things), the class was quite lovely. I was amazed at how well-behaved the school was overall during assembly in the afternoon. One little girl asked if I would be returning tomorrow and said that another teacher had commented that I was "lovely." How sweet!

After dismissal, I returned to the classroom to finish marking their books. When I reached the office to sign out, I was told my second day, originally scheduled for tomorrow, had been canceled due to an overbooking with the agency. Sure enough I called to check in and was assured it was nothing to do with me, but a simple oversight with the school booking more teachers than they needed. At least I wasn't finding this out after battling rush-hour traffic in the morning.

Now I'm just crossing my fingers that I hear some good news on more work this week or a potential long-term post at this school.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Day 98 of 365: Give-A-Frog-A-Name!

Meet my Ty Pillow Pal tree frog, Ribbit. He was given to me by a co-worker when I worked for Highlights for Children magazine. Word got around that I liked frogs and it seemed to be the ONLY gift I received from people for a good three years.

Note to Readers: Don't ever become known as "the girl who likes *insert animal name/object here*" because people tend to run with that. Unless it's money...hmm, "the girl who likes money..." That could be a good thing. But salt & pepper shakers didn't appeal to me any more, simply because they were in the molds of frogs on lily pads.

Anyway, tomorrow I will be in a Year 2 class for half a day and then back to the same school again on Thursday for part of the day in Year 2 for PPA (teacher-planning) cover and the other part in Year 1. It's part of a "trial" period for a potential long-term post. With Years 1/2 being similar to Kindergarten-1st grade (US), I need something to capture attention and maybe to use as incentive for the little darlings. So, I have decided to bring Ribbit with me. After all, he was a big hit in my own First Grade classroom last year. My students knew only the ones who were working diligently would have him on their desks -- it was a real privilege.

I'm not really a big fan of his given name, however. Ribbit doesn't suit him much with his bright colours, therefore I thought I would throw this opportunity out there to anyone reading. Normally, I would have the students name him, but since I don't know how many classes I will be in over the course of the two days, nor do I know for how I figured it to be more efficient to introduce him myself.

If anyone has any suggestions, please post them as a comment on this blog post. I won't be heading to Birmingham until around 11am, so I should have some time in the morning to check on here to see what people have said. Then, the tree frog, formerly known as Ribbit, will hopefully make his debut and I shall report back on his progress.

**UPDATE: The frog did not make his appearance as originally planned due to time constraints, but I am still welcoming suggestions for a name.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Day 97 of 365: Foxy!!

Matt got a text from Daz this morning just before 7 telling him to look out the window. He woke me up and we both peered through the bedroom window to see a smooth, white blanket of freshly-fallen snow!! I decided then that I would go for a walk later to get a nice photo of the first proper snow since I have arrived.

I went down into Wordsley shortly after 2pm and on the return I noticed a ginger-coloured animal on someone's gated drive. At first I thought it was a big cat, but then I realized a cat wouldn't stand so tall, and it certainly couldn't be a dog. Upon closer review I determined it was a fox! Just mooching in broad daylight - squeee! So I whip out my camera just in time for him to snub me and walk away.

So I did what any AmiNal-crazed amateur photographer would do.

I followed it until he stopped to glare at me from another drive. Apparently he's not too used to crazy American animal paparazzi. He managed to avert me, however, by jumping through the hedge to the next drive.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Day 96 of 365: **ALERT!**

Please Note:
My boredom (because of being out of work from holiday) status has now been raised to "yellow" or "elevated," if you will. This means I have significant risk of climbing the walls soon.

I feel like I have nothing to really take photos of lately, unless there's a random vagabond horse. This photo was taken today (from our kitchen window, overlooking the neighbour's back garden) around 4:30pm and there is STILL frost outside on the ground. This seriously inhibits my desire to go on a walk, which means I am stuck inside all day because I can't drive anywhere. I can't drive anywhere for a couple of reasons...first, I'm not insured on Matt's car, so that option isn't open...and second, I don't have money for petrol to get me any place if I was insured on his car.

Thus. the end result...boredom.

Hurry up, springtime!!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Day 95 of 365: Go Sho'tay, It's Yer BirFday!

I went with Emma today to Spacehoppas for the birthday party of her friend's daughter. I realized after leaving the flat that I had forgotten my camera, so my mobile had to suffice. To further complicate matters, the software for the phone is packed away back in the States, so I cannot upload the pictures from the phone. Thus, the reason why you're having to settle for a poor quality photo tonight. (Just be glad it's not another kitty pic.)

Spacehoppas is similar to a Magic Mountain Fun Center (in the US)...only sans anything too mountainous. In fact, it may very well have been as cold as some weather ON a mountain. Lots of kids were putting on cardigans when they weren't playing.

The photo was taken inside the designated "party zone" where the adorable, newly-turned 7-year-old sat with her friends and family and then blew out the candles on her High School Musical birthday cake.

Naturally, today's festivities made me recall my own birthdays as a child when I would have my own and friends' parties at United Skates of America.


Setting: Friend's birthday at United Skates of America, circa 1990. The lights dim and the announcer comes over the PA..."this will be a couple's skate only..."

The DJ starts to play "Because I Love You" by Stevie B and my all-time crush passes by me to ask someone else to skate. My heart sinks.



Friday, 2 January 2009

Day 94 of 365: Why U All Up In My Grill?

I made burgers tonight for tea. Well, I didn't MAKE the burgers, but I grilled them as they were frozen. Mine tasted fine, but Matt's had to go back in for longer since he could hear the cow screaming when he bit into them.

I made it all better though.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Day 93 of 365: Wish I Were a Horse Whisperer

*hums tune to Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves*

Certainly one of these is the reason for tonight's photo opportunity. You'll understand after you read the post.

Seriously though?! Twice in ONE week?!

I saw this little fella (assuming it's a boy) on our way out of Em & Daz's tonight. He was standing in their neighbours' front garden munching on some grass and at first I didn't even know it was an animal. I thought someone was messing about and put a Halloween decoration outside on their lawn as a joke. Then he lifted his head and I pointed out to Matt and asked if he noticed it.

We could see he wasn't tethered to anything, so Matt decided to call the police again. This time the police called back and informed Matt it wasn't a police matter and advised him to call RSPCA.

In the meantime, Matt told the neighbour's since they were peeking out their window wondering why we were looking at their house. They came outside and the woman said, "I thought I heard a horse earlier!" She then disappeared inside her house and as Matt and I were getting ready to leave, she comes back out with a handful of food to try to feed him. Naturally, the horse freaked and did exactly what we were afraid of...he started out of the cul-de-sac towards the main road.

Matt and I pull off the drive and head for the main road as well to see which way the horse went. Apparently he had turned left and another motorist pulled along the side of the road to see if their eyes were deceiving them. A police car drives by at this point, but doesn't even bother to stop. Matt pulls up next to the car that just pulled over and tells them how it was just in the neighbour's yard and that the police were called but said they couldn't do anything. The passengers made some comment to the effect of "no surprise there" and chuckled before we set off for home.

Once back at the flat, Matt got a call from Em who said the people she called at the RSPCA told her it wasn't an RSPCA-issue, but a police-issue. (Thus, the vicious circle starts again.) So, Matt calls the police back and shares this with them what the RSPCA advised. The police explain how they don't have the facilities to look after the horse, so they still cannot help.

There you have it folks. We did what we could. There has to be someone who is capable of helping this poor animal before it gets splattered in the road?! I may even write a letter to the Editor of one of the local papers about this. It's so frustrating. I'd also like to know how these random horses keep getting loose. In fact, Em or Daz had mentioned to Matt that there are some gypsies in a nearby field and the horse may have belonged to them. He did look a little unkempt and scraggly now that I think about it -- that would make sense if he belonged to them. Still...poor thing.

Perhaps Matt and I should keep some spare saddles and bridles in the boot from now on?