This gorgeous arrangement was brought round to us today by Josie from her & David (my in-laws). Included was a card for Matt and I for our first wedding anniversary, which is tomorrow. I made sure to immediately get the roses and chrysanthemums into water and arranged neatly in the vase so I could display them in the window (along with the lovely card from Matt's Aunt Margaret & Uncle Eric). I also used the, now wrinkled, Conkers (Buckeyes) and when I took a step back I couldn't help wanting to catch the beautiful yellow and orange autumnal colours in a photo -- so perfectly in season!
Have I mentioned lately just how much I LOVE having fresh flowers in the front window? Cause I do. A lot. Just saying.
It's official...Halloween is here and in full force...well, as much or little as England lets it get. It's probably one of the bigger culture shocks I have experienced in my time living here. We have had a total of three knocks on our door from trick-or-treaters in the past three days (one each night since Thursday). I didn't bother worrying about having anything to hand out as I have been forewarned what a big deal it isn't here. In fact, the first night we had a knock, Matt peered through the blinds and responded with 'not interested.' I later informed him I found that reaction a bit odd since I would expect that to be given to someone selling Avon or trying to get you to donate money. But that is just the thing, I'm finding people here just aren't interested. So the remaining knocks at our door we have just ignored -- which makes me (as an American) feel slightly guilty unfortunately.
You see, in America, Halloween IS a big deal and ISN'T as random as it seems to be here. I remember a specific night being designated as 'Beggar's Night' depending on the city where you lived...not just rogue costumed beggars on the street throughout the week. In America (or at least Ohio) you would check the paper or watch the news to see your city's allotted time for trick-or-treat -- usually something like 6-8pm, or similar. Alternatively, you could take your children to an event at your church or local shopping mall and they could trick-or-treat there as well.
Here? Not so much. No designated times. No designated days. And likely, not much traffic overall in terms of ghosts & goblins inconginito with pillow cases begging for a sugary treat.
While I appreciate it's just not how things are done in the UK, and the experience I am familiar with is very "American," I still think it's a bit sad that it's nowhere near the same. I mean, I used to LOVE the anticipation each year of knowing I had a costume of my very own that I would get to wear proudly -- Strawberry Shortcake, Beanie Baby Cow, and even a VW Bug being towed by AutoTech Towing company (an old college fave and inside joke) to name a few. Memories also included my friends and I working out the best routes to canvass the neighbourhood so that you hit up the house that gave out the full-sized candy bars at just the right time and avoided the ones that would disappoint you with pennies or toothbrushes and mint gum. Then there was the end of the night where you would return with all your findings so you could compare and do 'the tradeoff' with friends and siblings for your favourite sweets.
I just don't understand how this is not appealing here and it's one custom that I want to make sure our little one definitely will not be missing out on.
::prepares to book flights to the US for Halloween in the forseeable future, just in case::
Awe, it's because we just share everything, right? Even illness! Matt said he was feeling a bit crap last night before bed, so I wasn't surprised when I rang him before his dinner at work this afternoon and he was already all congested. I immediately called Albion House (for the upteenth time this week) and scheduled him a visit with the GP so they could get him some meds STAT. Score one for the good wifey!
As soon as they looked him over and he mentioned his pregnant wife had just been prescribed Amoxicillin, they didn't waste any time getting him his own supply. We noticed when he brought them home however, that his (250 mg) are half the strength of mine (500 mg) and we can't figure it out. The bonus is, at least, that we're on the same 8-hour intervals for taking the pills, so it's easier to not forget.
Hopefully his recovery won't be as long as mine, but it's looking like another 'sequestered couple' weekend for us.
This is our favourite time of day -- when Matt returns from work. I usually make sure Matt has a cup of coffee waiting while he goes and changes out of his work clothes and has a quick wash, and Myst will typically follow him around like a puppy during this time waiting for the opportunity have a play. It's really sweet to see because as soon as we hear his car pull onto the drive, Myst is at the front door or waiting at the window to welcome him as if to excitedly proclaim, "Daddy's home!"
Some of their routine involves Myst jumping into the chair with Matt as he's getting ready to play on the Xbox. Myst wants to make sure that Matt knows he is there and requires fuss.
Alternatively, Myst will climb a few steps and try to bat his paws at Matt through the bannister in this fun little game. I tried to get the funniest part, which is when he gets his kitty head stuck and can't pull it back quite fast enough. You can see Myst's "thumb" pretty clearly though in this shot.
If I'm lucky enough, I can usually make it home before Matt on days when I get called in to work -- depending on how far away the school is located. The kids are on half-term this week, so schools haven't been in session...how fortunate that I was able to "schedule" my illness for this week in particular.
On a side-note: I am 34 weeks today -- woohoo! Let the 4-6 week countdown begin until another little guy will be excited as well when his daddy gets home!
This Fiona Apple song is the perfect melody to describe my recovery process at the moment. Slow. Like. Honey. Can it be any more metaphorical? Not to mention that honey has been my one saving grace for throat-soothing relief. Bless hubby for thinking enough to put it in my tea (and buy another jar last night)! I don't know what I would do without his patience, honestly. I even told him I was beginning to get tired of being around myself!
Last night definitely wasn't easy-going. I had a pretty low-grade fever by midnight, so Matt diligently kept an eye on me and checked my temperature every hour as I was lying in bed, wrapped in a duvet-fortress with chills permeating my lethargic body. We were both worried for bunny as well, but agreed that if the temperature didn't start to go down, we would ring the hospital.
In the meantime, I did my best to stay well-hydrated with juice and water. I had decided to stop taking the co-codamol as it was causing a bit of a headache, and reverted back to paracetamol. Within a few hours, when Matt came to bed, I had managed to sleep a full two hours uninterrupted and was beginning to feel a bit of a break. Unfortunately, as nice as it was to feel the improvement, because I had been resting so much, I also felt a bit restless and was downstairs on the sofa by 3:45am. At first I attempted to sleep there, but it was clear shortly after that sleep was not what my body wanted -- plus, that's about when the coughing started so I made myself a cup of tea.
In my insomnia, I discovered some new morning cartoons I was not aware of...so I made a mental note of those for future reference. By 7:50am I made Matt a morning coffee and saw him off to work. Thinking I would be up for a while, I turned on the water heater to prepare for a soothing bath, but ended up spark-out on the bed upstairs until nearly noon! For the first time in 72 hours, I managed to get more than just a couple hours of comfortable sleep and I woke up feeling quite rested.
The rest of my day has been a roller coaster of feeling better and then slightly crap again, but I would say overall that I am on the mend. My nostrils are absolutely dry and battered from kleenex and my throat has a residual dryness to it as well -- in fact, each time I've attempted to lie down to rest, a coughing fit has ensued. So, not at 100% yet, but definitely headed in that direction. Plus, bunny's movements haven't decreased, so his wiggles are reassuring.
Methinks the antibiotics have hit the nail on the head.
I swear I was just here 24 hours ago...oh wait, that's because I was! In fact, this will make my THIRD visit in less than a week. Granted, 1/3 of the visits wasn't related to feeling poorly (day 22 - visit to the midwife) but I think the receptionists at Albion House are as tired of seeing me as I am of them, respectfully.
As you may have read from yesterday, the Dequa-Spray was a huge FAIL and sadly, the Dequacaine lozenge only managed to sit on my tongue 30 seconds before it met an untimely death in the bin. It numbed my entire tongue and I just couldn't handle it. I thought it would surely burn a hole straight through! To make matters worse, I barely slept and woke up shortly after Matt even came to bed. I couldn't get back to sleep and ended up downstairs on the sofa trying to quit coughing and with my nose dripping like a leaky tap.
By the time Matt stopped home for dinner in this afternoon, he discovered his 'Megatee' (manatee) floating sideways in the bath with a limp arm over the edge, absolutely desperate for sweet relief from her chilled/achy body and the blazing fire inside her head. He offered to stay home for the afternoon, but I felt entirely too guilty to ask him to do this, knowing I would just be a blubbering, whingy mess the whole time. Instead, he made me promise I would ring the surgery back and demand that they see me again because it was clearly more than just laryngitis.
Shortly after he left for work again, I phoned and at first the receptionist was trying to get me to call the National Pandemic Hotline for Swine Flu. I reminded her that A) I had chills, but not a fever, and B) The NHS website clearly instructs any patients who are PREGNANT are to call their GP first BEFORE calling the hotline. Luckily, Dr. Hooker was nearby and the receptionist put her on the line. She asked what the new symptoms were and as soon as I told her my nose was running and no longer clear and I had chills, she said she would be willing to have a prescription for a baby-safe antibiotic waiting at the front desk for me.
I won't lie, I was a bit miffed that she didn't just do this YESTERDAY...but I didn't waste any more time throwing on some sweats and heading up to get it. Conveniently, there is a Lloyds Pharmacy just around the corner from the surgery, so I left my car parked to pop inside for the prescription and then walked the 50 whole yards to the chemist.
In the UK, your prescriptions are free on the NHS if you are pregnant, so I happily ticked the appropriate box on the back of the form when I went inside to collect my drugs. I noticed the bag was a bit heavier than I expected, but waited until I got home to open it. When I did, I discovered a ginormous bottle of Gaviscon from a month or so, back when I told the midwife I had a bit of acid reflux and she told me she would write a prescription for that for me. So hey...BONUS! I got my economy-sized Gaviscon as well (again, just a PSA in case there is anyone in need).
Anyway, here I sit with my first dose of Amoxicillin, ready and loaded to go down the hatch after a light meal of Spaghetti Hoops and bread -- none of which I will likely be able to taste. Such a waste!
Still, hoping for some light at the end of this sick tunnel.
With my condition not improving, I made a call this morning to the doctor's surgery first thing and they were able to get me in before noon on an 'emergency' basis (I'm assuming because I'm pregnant). When I got there, the waiting room was packed and I wasn't prepared to have another day like last Thursday(day 22), so I asked if I could wait down the corridor instead.
I hadn't managed to sit for even five minutes before Dr. Hooker called me back into her office. I described my symptoms and after she had a listen to my lungs and checked my ears and throat, she determined it was purely viral and appeared to be laryngitis. This meant, nothing more could be done outside of... ::drumroll:: ...paracetamol.
I begged her to tell me asked if there was ANYTHING more I could take for my throat as that feeling alone was causing me to lose sleep. She suggested Dequacaine and said Matt would probably have to get it for me as some pharmacists are reluctant to give it to pregnant women, despite it being completely safe.
In less than 10 minutes, I entered, waited, and exited Albion House Surgery with a diagnosis of 'Laryngitis' and the depressing news that there was nothing more that could be done as antibiotics would not have any effect on a viral invasion. In fact, I was told it could take up to an additional 7 days to clear completely from my system.
I quickly went home and made some sandwiches for Matt to take to him at work. He came with me to Morrisons so I could get the Dequacaine. I decided on the spray at first, thinking it would provide immediate relief, even though dear hubby tried to warn me of its potency. Instead, the only thing it provided was a reason for my head to end up over the toilet drooling like a rabid dog and desperately trying to catch my breath. Subsequently a text message was sent to Matt asking him to pick up the lozenges instead on his way home.
I'm building up quite the pharmacy in my medicine cabinet, in case anyone is interested.
Complete with pork and all the trimmings -- carrots, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, curly kale, and (my personal favourite) roast potatoes. THANK YOU, EMMA!!! To my fellow Americans, unless you get food this delicious EVERY Sunday...you don't know what you're missing. Seriously.
Rather than 'spread the love' that is the germiness currently in my body, I opted to stay home today and sent Matt on to enjoy some time away from my 'Marge Simpson' froggy-voice impressions (Barrrrt!) -- even if he doesn't see it that way. To be fair, he's been wonderful waiting on me hand and foot, bringing me tea with honey, giving me hugs (despite the threat of him contracting this and getting poorly himself). I would do nothing less than the same for him in this situation, but as much as I appreciate having him around to make sure I'm okay, I want him to have a bit of 'normal' time with his sister and Daz -- and our little niece, of course.
He won't be missing much anyway, because as I type this I have finished my meal, it's 20 minutes past five and my only plan from here on out is to take my co-codamol tablet (which hubby thoughtfully broke in-half for me), have a nice soak in the tub, and then meet up with the bed and duvet for our after-dinner sleep-date.
Welcome to my bedside "sick-table" where valuable resources have collected throughout the day. I'm not sure what lucky ailment is using my body as a host to strengthen its forces, but let this be a warning that I am armed and semi-dangerous. Although, not as dangerous as I would prefer to be as pregnancy won't allow me to bring out the 'heavy' artillery.
I've spent almost the entire day in bed (or soaking my manatee-like body in the tub) in a desperate attempt to rest and rejuvenate and I've only just gathered enough strength to emerge from my dimly-lit duvet-cocoon. (Below I have provided a duplicate photo identifying all my weaponry.)
A) Toilet Roll: A basic staple when feeling a bit poorly to trap creepy fluids likely to drip from one's nose (thankfully for now, this is just a precautionary supply).
B) Ginger Ale: To aid with any throat tickle and otherwise make tummy queasiness subside (hubby would like me to point out that it is 'American' Ginger Ale which means it has an accent when you open it).
C) Honey-Lemon 'Locket': Throat lozenge to relieve throat soreness and unblock sinuses with liquidy menthol centre (this particular one was where I decided I had reached my limit and was forced to spit it out onto a pad of post-its).
D) Green Tea with Lemon: Full of lemony taste and antioxidants to battle ickyness into the stomach where it cannot survive (hubby, being a forward-thinker and my hero, also added honey to help soothe my scratchy throat as well -- LOVE THAT MAN).
E) Eyeglasses: Not necesarilly a resource for fighting against being poorly, but they do help me see since my eyes are too itchy to handle my contact lenses.
F) Shaolin Mug: Although you cannot see the design, a bit ironic that the very mug containing my Green tea is a mug Matt acquired from a trip to see the Shaolin Monks (who are well-known for being highly-skilled martial artists and able to withstand significant amounts of pain through their deep spirituality).
Perhaps it will help me channel some inner-chi as well?
G) Paracetamol (with caffeine): The strongest form of pain relief available to pregnant women (roughly the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a snake bite).
**Not pictured -- Digital Thermometer: Matt also popped out to his parents' so I could borrow their digital thermometer to keep an eye on my temperature. It's currently 36.45 degrees celsius and as frustrating as it is that I have to go through conscious effort to convert it, I know at least that I do not have a fever, which is a good sign. I tried looking on the directions for a conversion chart of some sort but the most valuable piece of information I found was a warning to not swallow the battery -- PHEW! Thank God for that!
There you have it, folks. Take note if you must. I'm just hoping I have caught whatever this is in time so it doesn't have the chance to develop into anything related to the pandemic I refuse to speak of.
::checks tailbone for curly, pink tail (just in case)::
Remember back on day 6 when I began my little project of knitting a decorative scarf? Well, BEHOLD! I give you the finished product (in just shy of a fortnight). To be fair, I didn't work religiously on it every single day, but I was definitely determined to finish it today. I would guess it might otherwise take me less than a week to do another if I worked on it non-stop. It seemed once I memorized the pattern, I was knitting full-steam and it was surprisingly therapeutic.
I have a smaller version in the same colour that I am knitting for my little niece and I'd also like to get cracking this weekend on one for Matt to wear for work this winter. He says he doesn't want the 'holes' in his, so the stitches will be pretty simple and straightforward.
I'm convinced that part of my motivation to finish today was fueled by the lousy way I felt in general -- caused by a throat tickle that started late yesterday. I planned to be nothing less than a hermit all day, and boy was I successful! I caught up on all my series-linked recordings of Dr. Phil, stayed in my PJs and drank lots of green tea with lemon in hopes the antioxidants would kill off any bacteria trying to make me poorly. My ears are now still a bit itchy, as are my eyes, but it does tend to be worse in the night.
I have to admit, it secretly makes me kind of glad that this coming week is half-term break for schools so I will have a fair amount of time to recoup from whichever thoughtful germ-carrier passed this to me.
::sprays anti-bacterial surface cleanser on keyboard after submitting blog::
Welcome to the little game I get to play each time I have an appointment with the midwife. This is the teeny tiny receptacle that the doctor's surgery and hospital here provide for patients to use to otherwise carry their urine sample to appointments. Pleasant, I know. The best part of it is, the opening to this small container is the size of a British 10p coin (coincidentally roughly the same as a US quarter).
Riddle me this: HOW is someone, say 7.5 months pregnant and with a protruding 34 cm bump, supposed to navigate a stream of wee directly into the opening when, no matter how this person contortions their body, can't even SEE their own HAND?! I'd probably have enough trouble filling it with a trickle of water at the tap! The only conclusion that I have come to is that this must be a conspiracy, specifically against pregnant women, to wind us up and have a good laugh. Well, HA HA HA!
Seriously?! Pass me the Dixie cup already, doc!
Speaking of all things medical...I had my 33-week appointment this afternoon with the midwife (supposed to be done for 34 weeks, but had to go a week early as she is on holiday next week). I arrived on time, checked in, and went through the glass doors to the waiting room across from reception. There was another couple there already, sitting on a bench in the centre of the room. I sat on a chair on the perimeter knowing my wait wouldn't be long as my midwife, Rachel, tends to be efficient.
Moments after I sat down, four children came bursting through the door of the waiting room like a herd of elephants. A girl looking to be about 12, a boy about 10, a roughly 8-year-old girl, and another little girl who couldn't have been more than two. The toddler immediately went over to the small toy area and the eldest girl picked up and began thumbing through a magazine. The middle two children then proceeded to run, chasing each other in circles around the tiny room (also around the couple sitting in the middle). I wondered if the kids might belong to them, but as soon as I saw their surprised faces, I realised they didn't.
Just as soon as they swooped in upon us, the four of them were back out the door and running down the hall nearly tripping over one another. They disappeared around the corner and into one of the GP's rooms. I looked towards the reception for a witness, but saw another patient had arrived and was checking in, so no one must have seen the chaotic display. Then I looked at the couple in the room with me and they both shrugged and shook their heads.
Within the next five minutes the room filled up quickly with several more people and the reception area got a bit crowded with a queue of people checking in. Low and behold, the children (who I then determined were raised OBVIOUSLY by wolves) returned to the waiting room -- this time seemingly much better-behaved. However, it didn't last long before the same two began their chase again. It went on for 3-4 minutes and I looked around the room waiting for someone to speak up and tell them off. Instead, some people looked down while others rolled their eyes or shifted uncomfortably in their chairs. It was clear they were all prepared to sit and accept this annoyance and not say a word -- but I could not speak the same for myself. I'm American after all and I definitely speak my mind, even if not always out loud.
I looked again desperately towards reception and saw a crowd still around the desk, so there was no way the receptionist was going to notice to do anything about it. I even glanced down the hall to where the owner of these heathens was in one of the rooms behind a closed door, but they were oblivious to the behaviour. So I felt I had no choice and appointed myself.
In a firm and steady tone, without shouting, I said, "Excuse me. Is it really necessary for the two of you to be running around the room chasing each other the way you are?"
::insert the sound of crickets here::
They stopped mid-run, nearly knocking the other over and just stared at me with wide-gaping jaws. Then they looked around the room and noticed every single eye was on them. No sooner did I speak than an announcement came over the PA for me to go to room number 4, please. So, I stood up, still glaring at the children (who hadn't even moved from when I spoke) and I said to the room, "I'm really sorry, but it was bothering me and I felt something needed to be said since they have no supervision." Then I turned and left the silent room.
When I rounded the corner, I noticed the two children had exited the waiting area through the other doors and started to break into a run down the hall towards me and also towards the room where I could see a door cracked and a woman was sitting talking to a doctor. I stopped and gave them a total "teacher stare" and like deer in headlights they stopped again and the expressions fell from their faces. I looked slowly to the open door before looking back at them and threw up my hands saying, "Seriously?!"
Then I turned and walked on to room 4 where Rachel was waiting to take my blood pressure.
I had to give her fair warning that it may be up a bit and explained why. Despite the adrenaline rush from telling off the brats my blood pressure was a normal 130/70 and the appointment went well. Bunny is still head-down like a good little boy and she said my bump is growing nicely.
In the end I must say, I wouldn't normally have spoken up myself, but the kids were honestly starting to work my nerves. I appreciate children will be children, but they were old enough to know better. Had there been an adult looking after them in the room, or at least in the immediate vicinity, I would have let them handle it or at the very least, asked them to ask the children to stop. The last thing I needed though was for a 60 lb. child to come barrelling into my belly because they were carelessly messing about with no adult to intervene. I can only imagine what the small British population thought of me and my assertiveness when I left that room.
Today's supply teaching adventure led me on my longest solo-trip yet...to Droitwich in Worcestershire. I was assigned an absolutely awesome and well-behaved Year 5 class and did some PPA cover for a Year 7 group as well. The school was so nice and the staff was friendly -- it was completely refreshing, to be honest. A welcome change from what I am typically assigned and used to.
Having a bit of experience now with Year 5 (from when I took over a class last summer term) I really hit the ground running. One thing I made sure to do was use my nationality (which I knew would come up as soon as I spoke) as some classroom motivation. Since each lesson had a different mixture of students, I had to introduce myself each class period. I made it very clear right away that yes, I was American and although that may increase their desire to ask me lots of questions about 'where I've been' and 'who I know'...or even, 'what's the best part,' we still had work that needed to be complete and I would be more than happy to discuss those questions once students got on with their work and showed me respect and sensible behaviour.
Believe it or not...this method actually WORKED! The majority of them got busy straightaway and I held my end of the bargain by floating around to help and answer questions here and there.
"Yes, I have been to New York...what number have you gotten to on your numeracy?"
"Florida is quite nice and yes, I have been there on holiday...so, tell me more about what you've managed to research so far on the Roman Empire?"
"Yes, we watch The Simpsons and Family Guy in America...have you made sure your writing is discussing both sides of the argument of why or why not mobile phones should be allowed in school?"
The classroom I was in for most of the day was aesthetically pleasing as well. Everything was well organised and the students really took pride in tidying up at the end of the day and asking if I needed help with anything. I definitely made sure to leave a list of names and I hope they get some praise from their teacher when she returns.
Luckily I recognised most of the route the SatNav took me as I had traveled with Matt a couple of times when he'd made deliveries in Evesham. I even managed to successfully navigate the M5 on the way there. Go me!
The return trip was another story...talk about an M5 FAIL. I was traveling in the lane marked for the M5 when it tricked me and landed me on the M42! And do you know what is worse than to be headed the wrong direction down the M42? Try, learning that the SatNav wants to make you exit at the next junction (4 miles away) and re-route you to double back the way you just came (4 more miles back) and right in direct sunlight. Not. Fun. At. All.
No offense Britain, but give me an American Freeway any day. At least for the most part there is an exit or turn-off every couple of miles.
Still, I managed to make it home in one piece and just in time to be welcomed by a tall mug of tasty coffee, made with love by hubby. Perfect end to my day!
Matt popped over to his parents' to pick up some things we needed to have printed off and he came home with this fabulous surprise. My mother-in-law, Josie, has been busy getting together little bits for bunny and this sight put the biggest grin on my face after a pretty crap day at home without work and feeling as though my entire pelvic region had been broken and left inside my skin.
Anyway, let's have a closer look at the goods, shall we?
We'll begin with nappies (x 192) which should easily last for the first month of bunny's existence. (And let me just say I never thought I'd be so excited over nappies.)
Behold! Cute, stripey sleeper with a little mouse and I'm loving what it says!
Some teddy bear items...namely the 'hungry little bear' bibs. How cute are they?! And the little knitted baby blanket is SO soft! I want it for myself to cuddle, if I'm being honest.
Finally, a close-up of the set of burping cloths (or 'feeding' cloths as the packaging reads). They have BUNNIES on them...for OUR bunny!!
The bedding for the Moses basket has also arrived, but Matt had run out of room in his car with everything else, so I will have to pop round later this week to get it. I can't wait! I told Matt I'm questioning if we will run out of room in the small cupboard where we have been storing all the baby things until the nursery is completely cleared out. He had to remind me that to be fair, I do have it set up like a display-case and not so much to accommodate things sensibly -- so it looks like I have a project for the rest of the week.
This is all making me so excited (moreso than I already am) for our little man's arrival and Matt and I are SO incredibly thankful for Josie's thoughtfulness. With all these people to love him, this is going to be one lucky little baby!
This is not something you want to hear when you're doing any activity with 5-year-olds involving paint. Messy. Drippy. Paint. Yet, this was the phrase for the day as each time a child was sent to wash their hands, they would come back reporting that there wasn't any soap. At one point, I thought a teacher assistant had taken care of the problem, as they knew where the soap was located and I did not, but something tells me it wasn't because they continued to ask about it for the rest of the day.
I was in the other Reception class today -- the one next door to the one where I supplied on Thursday and Friday, so I had the chance to meet the teacher I filled in for last week. She was really nice and allowed me to cover numeracy for both classes while she did phonics with them in return. The numeracy lesson involved identifying shapes and the children had to trace around a block of the shape and then paint it in. Most of them did really well and I was quite impressed. They especially loved when I would mark a tick on their paper with a smiley and tell them "well done!"
Once I returned home from school, I began getting some potatoes ready for Matt and I to have 'Cheesy Potato Pie' for our tea. Matt wasn't home but maybe forty minutes by the time I had put them on for a boil and sat down to relax. He carried on having his ritual evening-play with Myst (a time also known as "Daddy's Home") and the next thing he knew, he could see me fading quickly on the sofa. I didn't realise how tired I was because I felt I've had a reasonable amount of energy all day, but all of a sudden it hit me like a tonne of bricks. I was literally so drained that instant that Matt had to help me up the stairs so I could lie down. I seriously felt like a noodle! I have to admit that I was pretty upset about it as well because I wanted to just carry on as I do any evening, but it seems 1st trimester fatigue is back with a vengeance.
I feel a bit better after having a nap and something to eat, but I will know better from here on out to not push my limit. Still, I appreciate getting the work I am FINALLY and will take what I can until it gets to the point where I can't any longer.
Our baby niece is quite the 'Chatty Cathy' and we all sat and watched in awe tonight as she had an extensive conversation with her Makka Pakka doll (a character from a TV programme here called In the Night Garden). Lots of cooing and baby gurgles mixed with smiles and squeals -- essentially the epitome of adorable despite having NO idea what secrets she was telling him. My best guess is she told him every little thing she knows.
Matt jumped in at one point and encouraged her to continue this deep conversation with the Winnie the Pooh puppet (a gift from the two of us that he thoughtfully picked out just before she was born). It's really sweet to me to watch him interact with her and she certainly responded with lots of smiles for Pooh bear and her Uncle Matt. I must admit Makka Pakka did set the bar pretty high and had a bit of an unfair advantage over dear husband -- given his limited knowledge of the English language and that he is largely popular across the UK for his puppety-cuteness and baby-charm.
Plus, he is also on telly...so nearly a celebrity to boot!
Nothing very photo-worthy has happened today. Matt and I stayed in bed way beyond what we should have, although it was much deserved being a Saturday. Bunny has been alternating hiccups with rolling movements and pushing his little bum deep into my ribcage all afternoon. Add some Braxton Hicks into the equation that make my whole belly feel like a hard, heavy boulder and you'd understand why lying down is really the most comfortable position -- the one with the least amount of gravity.
We spent the evening with Em & Daz...the usual...and I snapped this photo when we returned home. This web has been there forever and there's lots of little buggy bits in it. I don't know about Matt, but I haven't knocked it down yet because I quite like it in a way -- the eerie look it has. Halloween is right around the corner and it certainly saves us money on some fake-web decor.
Both yesterday and today THIS has been the theme...sandwiches. For some reason, during free play the children have bent over backwards and "made" me so may plastic sandwiches that I would then have to pretend to gulp down in two or three bites and tell them how lovely they tasted. In case you didn't know, this is one of the many ways to put a huge grin on a 5-year-old's face when they're so eager to please you with their personal creation. Sometimes I would even joke with them that I couldn't "eat" it until they went back and put brown sauce on it because brown sauce was my favourite.
My supply post today was anything but ordinary as it was the beginning of the 5-day celebration of Diwali. The children were dressed their in their best clothes (so colourful and intricately beaded) and had an assembly where they performed first for their parents and then once more for the entire school an hour later. Following this we spent some time dancing in the hall before going to lunch and then there was yet MORE dancing afterward! (Bunny reacted the most to and particularly enjoyed Jai Ho) As if this wasn't enough celebration, we had a party that lasted for the remainder of the afternoon where myself and the other Reception teacher "catered" to the children as they sat patiently at tables to receive their portions of crisps, water, or spicy treats whilst some of them sporadically popped up to tell us they didn't like the taste of something we placed before them as they spat it back out onto their (or their neighbour's) paper towel. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who was completely shattered by the time parents arrived to collect their children.
No religious meaning behind the title...I was referring to the revival of the Ohio University hoodie from seasonal storage. The air has been a lot cooler on a night and I had to pop out to Morrisons for a bit of an emergency...paracetamol (and ice cream). My grey, zip-up hoodie is getting to the point that it doesn't stretch to cover my bump lengthwise, so I figured I would see if my trusty green one would be roomy enough...and BOY was it ever! Nevermind that the cuffs on the thing are frayed and there's a small hole on one corner of the belly-pouch pocket -- it is and will forever be my most favoured article of clothing and I will NEVER wish to part with it.
Just to provide a bit more proof that there is plenty of room in it, I had to actually pin part of it to my back to get a side-profile belly shot. 32 weeks, people...which means roughly 8 to go!!
I didn't realise any change since the last photo -- that was until I was asked by a friend of Matt's if I was growing a dinosaur in there. Wow...really?
There is a bit of a symbolic second meaning to the title today now that I think about it. I finally got the ever-so-anticipated phone call this morning from my secondary supply agency. They had a half-day post this morning for a Reception class (Kindergarten level in the US) in Wolverhampton and another full day with the same school tomorrow...so a bit of a "resurrection of my career," in a way.
I'm back in the saddle, folks!
The morning with the little mites went pretty well. They were practising for an assembly they will be having tomorrow to celebrate Diwali -- the Hindu festival of lights. When I explained to them I would be returning to help again tomorrow, one little girl pointed to my belly asked if I would be bringing my baby. I told her he always has to come with me and she then questioned why he couldn't come out to visit them and asked if it was because he was sleeping. That seemed like a suitable answer for a five-year-old so I told her that was exactly why. She seemed satisfied with that explanation as well before waving good-bye to me.
I must admit, I love the way the little ones view things. So, back again tomorrow...baby and all.
So what...fifty-seven days left, and counting, and THIS is when the mood decides to strike? I was doing perfectly okay being my slug-self on the sofa this afternoon...aka NORMAL. In fact, bunny's squishy baby-bum in my ribcage made it such that any position was uncomfortable and that feeling I mentioned before...that I'd ridden on a bike with a banana-seat too long hadn't gone away.
So. my solution = slug-on-couch. It's pretty effective, actually.
But this afternoon was different. This afternoon got a bit crazy...so you better sit down and brace yourself.
Matt had been gone from popping home for his dinner maybe twenty whole minutes and my body arose from it's zombie-like position, dressing gown and all, and marched mindlessly upstairs to the bedroom. I got myself dressed and thought it could no longer wait...the laundry HAD to get started...so I began with Matt's things. When the cycle finished, I brought the basket of wet clothes back upstairs to the spare room where the tumble-dryer is housed.
While loading the dryer, I felt an overwhelming need to empty all the boxes containing Matt's book collection. I carefully brought the boxes one-by-one into the bedroom and unloaded the un-related junk from the rest of the pine bookshelf in the spare room before dragging it into our bedroom as well. Then I delicately emptied the contents of each box onto the bookshelf.
This, what you're seeing in the photo, is mostly the result of a book club dear hubby had joined years ago...and look at the treasure he has accumulated! Terry Pratchett...Tolkien...R.A. Salvatore. I'm quite proud I married such a well-read man.
By the time Matt had returned home from work I had emptied all of the boxes of books, started another load in the washer, and began constructing a to-do list. I'm making lists now, people...this is SERIOUS! When my other half discovered me upstairs he asked what I was doing while he looked suspiciously at the empty boxes and then at my bump with scolding-eyes. I told him apparently I was 'nesting' and then he proceeded to feel my forehead to see if I had come down with some awful cleaning-disease. Let's face it, anyone who knows me KNOWS this is an area of domesticity where I am definitely lacking.
I blame today's tidying-frenzy events not only on nesting, but on cabin fever due to not having any work. I thought I may have gotten a call this morning after speaking to my secondary agency and learning they were getting loads of bookings they couldn't fill. However, despite willing my phone to ring, it didn't and I ended up home alone another day. I will still rate today a success though, based on the fact that I made a new discovery of approximately one whole square metre of blue carpet in the spare room.
I discovered this upon my windscreen when I went to run errands this afternoon -- a little tri-fold advertisement for Fitness First, the local fitness/health club here in Brierley Hill. I noticed it at first while still inside, and I thought maybe someone had hit my car and left a note. Once I realised what it was, my immediate conclusion was that clearly it's down to someone seeing my Hobbit-like self waddling to Asda yesterday.
Someone (I don't even know) is just trying to be a "good friend." Good thing I look this way moreso because I'm 7 months pregnant and not solely because I'm a bit out of shape. To be honest, I couldn't see myself actually making a gym membership cost-effective even if I weren't with child. If I think back to all the times I used the FREE facilities while attending Ohio University -- ah, good ole Ping -- well, let's just say it's a good thing it was free.
I was a complete tourist today on the way back from my walk to Asda. This is a sculpture of the Briar Rose (Brierley Hill's namesake) and it sits on the lawn at the corner in front of the municipal building for West Midlands Police Department. It's a bit faded and looks to need a good touch up on paint at the moment, but out of all the 'modern art' on traffic islands around town, this is by far my favourite. I always want to stop and snap a photo, but because of the location being at a main junction, whipping out the Kodak would SCREAM 'tourist'...so I opted to discretely use the G1 instead and brighten the resolution a bit in Photoshop.
You did read correctly that I walked to Asda rather than drove. This was purely down to the sad fact that I could not locate a stupid £1 coin that would be required for their Pay & Display car park. To be fair, it's Dudley Council that charges the fee (and Asda refunds it on your shopping) but it's a royal pain if you don't have the coin on hand to begin with as I have surely blogged about recently.
The walking itself wasn't bad. I actually enjoy a nice walk and would like to do it more often, but after today, I question my own stamina and physical capability. On my G1, My Tracks logged the trip in its entirety as being 2.34 km (for my fellow Americans that would be more understandable as 'just under a mile and a half') so surely you understand my frustration when just a few days back I had walked over a solid mile and felt great. I was admittedly a bit winded when I got home, but after about two hours I could barely move. The sciatic pain in my left leg was excruciating and I couldn't even pull my unevenly proportioned body off the sofa to go up and use the bathroom -- and believe when I say I HAD to go.
Matt returned home just before 5pm to find me all pathetic and near seemingly virtual paralysis. Luckily I was able to take some paracetomol and it has taken a bit of the edge off...but suffice it to say, I still feel as though I rode too long on a bike with a big plastic banana seat. Owwie.
For the past few Sundays it has been near impossible for me to not manage to wear my tea by the end of the meal. Especially with all the tasty food dripping in luscious gravy! This is why I arrived to this little surprise today -- a thoughtful 'gift' from Daz. He kindly left three squares of kitchen roll attached and even labeled it so there wasn't any confusion.
As funny as it was, wouldn't you know that I barely got through three bites before the durability of the 'bib' was put to use. If you look closely, you can probably still see some dried gravy-attack attempts. But alas...I was able to return home with a clean shirt today for the first time and not look like a slob!
I just wish bunny was in a more convenient position so I could have finished all of the meal. (He's a real 'Houdini' at minimising the capacity of my stomach lately.) I mean seriously...it's a crime to leave behind that many beans AND such a delicious piece of beef!!
My mom used to recite this little gem to me as a child:
There was a little girl Who had a little curl Right in the middle of her forehead And when she was good She was very, very good But when she was bad She was horrid
Such a pleasant ending, don't you agree? Still, every time I wear my hair curly (which requires much less fuss than straightening it) I think of that little verse.
The photo was to document the extent of my boredom today. I felt too crappy to do much of anything having woken up with a headache, so after taking a quite invigorating shower I had the brilliant idea that I should cut my hair. It had grown halfway down my back and I'm not big on getting a trim every 6-8 weeks...so I threw caution to the wind.
I ended up trimming a good 4-5 inches off in the end. The hand in the face on the photo is for your viewing protection since I look like night of the living dead today. You're welcome.
The end has arrived...or the beginning, however you choose to look at it. You see, this game for Xbox 360, Operation Flashpoint was just released in the UK today. Matt has been patiently waiting since his birthday (10th August) for this game as it was his promised gift off Emma. I'm not joking about his anticipation as he made a b-line for Em's right after work today to pick it up so that he could have a go before Em & Daz arrived at ours tonight.
I'm going to start a pool just to see what the odds are as to the next time I will see my husband's face or have his complete attention. I mean, honestly look at the sheer concentration as he sits less than a metre from the television -- the man is one with the game! He didn't even notice me taking the photo or bother to turn around to poke fun of me for having the camera in my hand for yet another silly photo.
To be fair, it does seem to have a lot of "Bells and Whistles" to it for a multi-person co-op war game. It is based off an actual location in real life...apparently an island off the coast of Japan. The game map itself takes somewhere near 9 hours of proper game time to cross...so I don't think hubby is going anywhere for a while.
I will say this, I love him with all my heart, but...I draw the line at sponge baths in the front room and spoon-feeding him his tea. This also includes administering eye-drops when they eventually glaze over from the endless hours of trying to gain even more achievements.
::hubby pokes head in at this point to insist that I make clear to any readers that he is 'not THAT bad' (and he isn't...he's just easy to wind-up)::
In other news, our baby niece made a cameo tonight in a very snazzy pair of pink & aqua socks with strawberries...
...oh yeah, and she brought Em & Daz with her as well to share some pizza, too.
I finally broke down and forced myself into purchasing more shampoo and conditioner today. Previously I had been surviving on two giant 800 ml bottles of TRESemme'...maybe since January even, but they are both bone-dry now. It even got to the point that putting a bit of water inside "to extend the life" of the contents was no longer effective.
Unfortunately, Morrison's didn't have the size of TRESemme' I was looking for and I simply cannot justify spending £3.65 on one skinny little bottle (x2) when I recall getting the previous 'economy-sized' ones on offer for something like £3/each. So, I bit the bullet and bought some cheapo Alberto Balsam crap. It smells lovely, but isn't as effective in the deep-cleansing department. Since beggars can't be choosers, you can't really argue with £1 per bottle.
Today was a lot more of the same boring nothing. I was woken up this morning by a massive ninja-kick to the inside of my belly button and a burning sensation in my throat quickly following. I'm convinced bunny set off a chain of events similar to that of an 'earthquake to volcano combo' and there I was at 20 minutes to seven with awful acid reflux trying to finish my sleep downstairs on the sofa in my dressing gown. Although I did eventually get dressed, I pretty much stayed on the sofa for the remainder of the morning/afternoon because I felt very light headed and a bit short of breath. I'm thinking gestating a human when you're only five feet tall ties into this somehow. (Just a thought.)
I worked on my scarf a bit and made a few phone calls about work, but other than that, it was a typical uneventful day.
Just before 7pm hubby and I decided on pasta bake for tea and I thought it might actually do me some good to get out of the house for a walk. Unfortunately the sun had set so it wasn't optimal for photos. However, I was still able to get in a good 25 minutes and managed a brisk walk of just over a mile round trip. I was also pleased to find a route that was well lit with a considerable amount of traffic, so that eased Matt's mind.
Other than that...I got nothin' for today. See? Boring.
I sure hope I start getting calls for work soon...otherwise I'm liable to climb the walls or chew off one of my own limbs.
I decided to pick up knitting again -- or rather, attempt to pick up knitting again. I've actually tried several times since last winter, but I have yet to find something that holds my attention long enough. I found in that past that I got bored after a day or so and the project would just get put away. In fact, it really died down when I started getting steady supply work and marking was more of a priority on a night than knitting. So along with the help of Google and YouTube...I am winging it and purling my way into crafty, knitted-goods success...or so I hope.
See, as much as I would like to see this project through...shortly after I started, I lost my place between K2, yfwd, sl.1 and yfwd, psso, K2 tog. This also meant I lost count of how many stitches I had done which frustrated me to the point where I would pull it all off the needle and cast on all over again. All thirty-one stitches.
This happened at least 5-7 times and became so predictable that Matt would hear me groan from the next room and I'd hear him cackling in laughter in response. It reminded me of the scene in Wayne's World when they're playing hockey in the road and they have to stop every time there is a car...then you hear them say "Game On!" only with me, it was "Cast On!"
Now I am left to wonder...is this really the best hobby for someone with a short-term memory of a gnat at the moment? Only time will tell. But at least I managed to get four solid rows of my decorative fuchsia scarf (courtesy Aldi -- tres chic, I know) completed.
Today consisted of all things random and unexpected. First, I woke up and checked my bank balance to reveal an available amount of...nil. Yep, the cheque that the teller had previously advised me would be IN the account for my use TODAY apparently was not. This threw a wrench into the works as dear husband needed to get to work, however, had an empty petrol tank thus requiring use of my car since fuel unfortunately doesn't have a price-tag of 'nil' per litre at the moment. To further complicate matters, I also needed the car to pick up some items from the in-laws as well as a few groceries from Asda so he would have food for his dinner break. This resulted in me driving him to work in all my frizzy-hair, preggo glory, only to pick him back up at noon after some light shopping so he could have a bite to eat and return to work with my car afterward.
Not long after Matt returned to work, I had a phone call off one of the supply teaching agencies where I am registered. They required a few details to update my file in order to get me out on teaching assignments and one of these was my registration number with the General Teaching Council (GTC). I did not yet have this number though as I filled out the paperwork earlier in the summer and sent it off to my main agency to validate and send to the GTC on my behalf. Luckily, the consultant who phoned had a direct number for the GTC and I immediately rang to find out what the hold up was.
The woman on the other end of the phone verified my details and informed me that the reason I haven't been assigned a number yet was because I had filled out the wrong form. I questioned this further and she explained that since I am an Overseas Trained Teacher I should have filled out the form that said I had Qualified Teacher Status in the UK. Since my studies have only been in the US, I corrected her that I do not have QTS in the UK, but posses a Bachelor's Degree in Education from a University in America. She then asked, "well what course did you take from the University of Newcastle?"
HUH?! Uhm...try...I DIDN'T.
Through further probing, I learned there is another person occupying space on this very Earth with the same first, middle, and last name as me as well as the same date of birth who has been teaching since 2002 in England. After some time on hold to check records and a phone call back about 15 minutes later, the ever-so-kind Natalie from the GTC was able to untangle the puzzle (now 3 months in the making) and give me my GTC registration number. Immediately I called my agencies back and passed on this info so they could finally get me some work in schools!
In the meantime, Matt returned home from work and we decided on some pasta bake for tea. That was, until he got a call from Daz and an invitation to join them tonight for Spaghetti Bolognese -- and let's be honest, who is gonna turn THAT down?! Plus, it meant some munchkin-munching on a certain cutie 10-week-old niece (who is incidentally going to make some boys cry when she's older and her eyelashes are even longer).
As you can see, tonight's photo is the masterpiece Em calls "Spag-Bol." Some may even need a moment of silence to fully take in its beauty. I, however, needed...a bib. You see, my meals now entail a 'speed bump' of sorts (aka my, now 30-week, belly) and require fine ninja-like-skill and precision to get food (in tonight's case, droopy, pasta and mince entwined noodles) from the plate successfully into my mouth.
Naturally I am happy to report my victory over this potentially hazardous challenge and I would like to thank bunny for keeping his cool with the in-utero Cirque duSoleil performance.
Suffice it to say it's not only our cupboard, but the fridge too. At the moment, I can't think of any recipe that would make anything tasty using the following ingredients currently within: mushrooms, tomatoes, Old El Paso seasoning, 4 packets of tomato ketchup, spicy brown mustard, butter, 2 cheese singles, and a couple blocks of Edam cheddar cheese. I believe there is also half a carton of skim milk, some brown sauce and Reggae-Reggae sauce in the door compartment as well...although I don't think it makes much of a difference.
This whole 'kerfuffle' was caused because I'm supposed to get paid for tutoring before the end of each month. However, for whatever reason, the company forgot all about me this month and I've since spent a fortnight chasing up my money, getting a proper cheque sent to the CORRECT address, and then waiting for my bank to post the money (a cheque from the same bank as me) to my account. I was told it would be available Monday, but that means not using the debit card until we were certain the money is there, thus leaving us with little in the way of quick meal options.
Luckily, Sunday is 'Roast Dinner Day' at Em & Daz's and the ingredients in the fridge were not necessary.
Here's to a speedy UN-delivery from Royal Mail. I'm convinced they didn't even knock yesterday when my parcel actually arrived -- then again, I was spark-out upstairs. Still, to my annoyance, Matt plucked the notice out of the mailbox when he returned home on his dinner break from work, so off I went this morning to The Waterfront so I could collect said parcel from the Brierley Hill sorting office.
I must say the contents of the package, along with the thoughtfulness of the sender were really the only thing that saved me being in a funk all day. I say this because when I returned home and checked the post for Saturday, the only thing that occupied our tin mail receptacle was a single envelope from the Directorate of Urban Development of Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council -- undoubtedly the very opposite of good news. It seems as though my well-written challenge of the Penalty Charge Notice I received from the 19th of September "after careful consideration of the circumstances" was found to have no grounds for cancellation of the charge.
To this, my mature and educated response is...JERKS!
If you weren't already up to snuff on this particular rule...the pavement here in the UK is still classed as a 'highway' although it makes NO sense to me and I don't understand how I, as a motorist, should have already deduced this on my own. Needless to say it's looking like we will have to pay the fine, but I won't go down without a fight. A rough draft of a letter to the local MP is already in progress.
But back to the happy bit...my parcel!!
A fellow expat pal (and fellow Ohioan...shout out to St. Mary's *whoop, whoop*), Nikki (who has incidentally produced two absolutely GORGEOUS kiddos), has generously passed on several baby clothing items from her little boy who was born at the beginning of this year. They'll be absolutely perfect for the cold, winter weather of bunny's first few months and they're adorable to look at on top of that! Matt could see my eyes sparkle with excitement in the anticipation of placing these cozy garments on our own little guy.
Tiny confession: I even joked about trying them on the cat, but no worries...Matt quickly shot me down.
Anyway, a huge THANK YOU goes out to Nikki from Matt and me (AND baby) for thinking of us! Very awesome of you!! xx
It's here and in full force. Leaves are changing to rustic reds and yellows and the night air now has a distinct chill. I think it may even be time to put away the flip-flops and bring out the woolly jumpers. It really is my favourite time of year. The one thing I am noticing that I miss the most about America this time of year is College Football on a Saturday accompanied with a traditional helping of good 'ole tailgating. Nothing beats that!
I've decided that since having moved to our house here in Brierley Hill at the end of June, I want to really get to know the area like I did when we lived in Kingswinford. There are plenty of places to walk around and I could use the exercise the closer I get to the end of this pregnancy.
I'm also hoping that now we've entered the month of October I will start getting more calls for supply work. I haven't had one yet and my one-to-one tuition assignment in Kingswinford is coming to a close with the final session tomorrow. I have really only about 8-10 weeks until I'll have to stop for a while and it would do the checking account some good as well as take some pressure off dear husband -- who is working ever so diligently to take care of us.
Until I get that magical call, however, it's Little Susie Homemaker for this vertically-challenged, yet feisty, American.
I have now entered into another commitment to continue my 365 photo-blog for a second year. With a baby on the way in early December and a one-year wedding anniversary around the corner, how could I not?! What fantastic milestones to record! I don't want to miss these moments for anything.
I still haven't decided if I will try a different angle this time around, but I want to definitely make sure my photo each day is closely related to events that occurred on that day, if I can possibly help it. Let's face it though...I'm going to need a handicap of at least 15 kitty pics for the slow days. Thanks in advance for understanding.
I'm starting today fresh with a photo to represent the whole focus of the blog -- to take a photo of something related to each day of my life for one year. In this case...my second year (plus two months) living as an American in Great Britain.
Today's photo also signifies reflecting back on my first year of this photo-blog and how much things have changed. If you would have asked me to picture things as they are now back on the 1st of October 2008, I would have been in total disbelief. But despite the unexpected twists and turns of the past and present, I really wouldn't change a thing. At the end of the day, what happens in our lives is what molds us and makes us who we are -- and ultimately, I'm happy with who I am, who I'm with and where my life has taken me.
So year number two...BRING IT! Oh, and you're invited, too.
After two and a half years in a long-distance relationship, I packed my life of 29 years into 21 boxes and moved to England to marry and be with my husband, Matt. Now I'm reveling in the youth of my 30s in Great Britain, supply-teaching in primary schools near Birmingham and enjoying newlywed life, being a mommy, and all the surprises they bring!