I found these when going through some carrier bags of Matt's. Most of the items were cards and photos I had sent him during the time we had to spend apart in the two and a half years leading up to us ending the 'long-distance' aspect of our LDR and my subsequent emigration to Great Britain.
This particular find was one of my craftier long-distance relationship "gifts" intended to make the time apart a bit easier. The little person in red represents Matt and the one in the pink frock is me (uncanny resemblance of the two of us, I know). The blue wavy strip was to represent the Atlantic Ocean. One end was labeled 'USA' and the other 'UK' with the numbers counting down 30-1 in between. The blue strip was kept blue-tacked across Matt's PC monitor. At one end (USA) would be my little person attached with a paperclip and the other (UK) would be Matt's little buddy. The overall concept was that when we would plan a visit to see the other person, their 'person' would move up or down the strip to the other side, each day landing on a lower number depending on how many days were left until we would see one another again. A virtual countdown of sorts to help pass the time apart.
I found it interesting that I came across this little treasure today as it is no longer really needed. There is no more "counting down" until we see the other person. Our ultimate goal of being married and in the same country has been reached and the two of us could not be happier.
On that note...here's to the first year (and 2 months) in the UK together as well as the completion of my first 365 photo-blog!
Nothing phases this cat and his ginormous paws...seriously. He's always in permanent "chill" mode...especially when Matt is at work. His favourite afternoon nap spot is in the conservatory on the wicker furniture...so long as I am so inclined to unlock the door and let him out there.
Lately the little turkey has sussed that he can get through the mini-blinds and escape out the front room windows if they're open wide enough. Matt foiled his plan last week when he caught him just as he disappeared from the other side of the window and onto the concrete floor outside. When Matt flew out the front door to chase him, he found Myst frozen just below the window without a clue in the world where he would be headed to next. It's as if he got outside and thought, "Shit! Now what do I do?!"
Needless to say he now needs to be watched like a hawk whenever we have the windows open wide enough for his fluffy kitty head to fit through.
Matt brought these home from his trip to Evesham today. He was so excited to show me what he called Conkers, only my reaction was, "Buckeyes!" How funny that yet another thing in British culture is called something completely different in the US.
You see, in my birthplace of Columbus, Ohio, what you see in the photo comes from a Buckeye tree and is commonly seen on various necklaces strung with Scarlet and Grey beads...
...and around the neck of a screaming fan of a particular American College Football team known as The Ohio State University...Buckeyes, of course! Naturally, the team mascot is a Buckeye as well...meet Brutus Buckeye!
And although you can't eat a Buckeye from a tree, there is actually an edible version that you CAN consume (although I'll personally have to wait until little bunny is here...which is so unfair)...
Please take note of the chocolate and peanut buttery goodness! (Feel free to send these our way if you're in Ohio and the spirit so moves you) ::drools::
Here in England, what you see in the initial photo is called a Conker and there is even a game that is played involving these horse-chestnuts. Basically, you drill a hole into the light brown centre and tie a string or shoelace through. The game is played by each of two people taking turns swinging their Conker to break the other person's Conker. Player one holds theirs by the string and lets it dangle as player two takes a vicious swing. Matt tells of people dipping their Conkers is certain solutions to harden them and make them 'The Mighty Unbeatable Conker.' Apparently you will be highly respected in the Conker-world with this status.
More than full circle, really (as we have passed day 360)...but almost the end to Year One of my first 365. Don't fret though...the show will go on.
Today was the highly-anticipated 4D scan in Oldbury at the B.U.M.P.S. Clinic. We arrived as requested, '10 minutes before' our 10:30am appointment and were asked to wait downstairs "about five minutes" as they were having some technical difficulties. Well, it was a LONG 5 minutes because it wasn't until almost an hour later that we were settling into the scan room.
As it turns out, little bunny was tucked nice and comfy into my pelvis and had his tiny nose squished against the uterine wall, which made it extremely difficult to get a shot of his face. Despite guzzling some fizzy Diet Pepsi on the way to the scan, baby was fast asleep...much like his daddy would be at this time on a Saturday morning -- imagine that. In fact, he was about as easy to wake up as Matt because the tech shook and gently slapped the bump numerous times to try and rustle him awake and to get him to turn his head and it didn't seem to phase him.
I can hear it now, like an echo, "I'm up...I'll be up in a minute...I'm just resting my eyes."
After about 20 minutes of unsuccessful attempts the sonographer asked if we wanted to try taking a break for 20 minutes to see if a chocolate bar and more soda would help. Matt and I marched straight out to the car park and as directed, I pulled my shirt above my bump to expose it to the colder air. I stayed at the car downing more soda as Matt went to a little shop around the corner to get sugar-filled treats to entice dear son out of his sleepy hidey-spot. I must have looked like the biggest nutter bouncing around the clinic car park, belly exposed, munching on a KitKat and Double Decker bar -- don't mind the crazy American preggo.
We returned inside and headed straight upstairs where I continued pacing the waiting area until we were quickly ushered back into the scan room. However, attempt number two was no dice on any cooperation. We could see a bit more of his nose and mouth, but nothing head-on and no full face shots. He was just a sleepy little bunny and not willing to wake up for anything.
As an apology for having to wait for our scan to begin with, we had a complimentary semi-upgrade in our package. In addition to the DVD of both sessions of scans, we received double the number of 4D prints as well as a CD that included all 14 still images. Not the ultimate result from baby that we were hoping for in the end, but the fact that his growth measured on target, he's positioned head-down (cephalic) at the moment and he had a nice, strong heartbeat is all that matters when you look at the bigger picture.
Still...how funny is it that the little turkey started to rise from his slumber and decide to kick off with a dance party the moment we returned home? I've since made him a deal that I will not hold this against him provided he can do everything in his baby power to make sure Labour and Delivery with him go as smoothly as possible.
Fingers crossed that he finds that to be a fair trade!
A quiet Friday night in since Em & Daz have some raspy throats, so we decided on simple bacon and mushroom sandwiches (mine included brown sauce, naturally). I tease that Matt's taste better than mine (so he will make them), and he attempted some psychology on me by insisting mine were much better (he does the same with coffee -- it's better when I make it).
Either way, we both found them to be muy, muy tasty!
Not at least since I've had the BFP. Seems I can drink as much milk as I please, within reason, and it doesn't affect me the way it did before. I think it helps that I now have a choice of regular or strawberry as well.
I even got a little crazy and dipped my finger in the mix for a taste. Shh! Don't tell.
That's better! Although not as close as I could have gotten, if you look closely in the centre, you can see the charred remains of the speed camera we passed last night. I'd venture to say it will be out of commission for a bit.
Matt and I were headed to a "Collect +" at the newsagent tonight to return a shipment of items from the catalogue which didn't fit. Out of six trial items, I kept a long, black cardigan (which will also fit me post-pregnancy) and a pair of comfy shoes for work (since all I had were trainers and flip-flops).
On our way past the community centre, Matt points out that a speed camera had been torched last night. Although I had my camera ready for the shot, all I seemed to get was the pretty sunset in the background...so I'll take a better photo tomorrow.
Whilst Emma and I were watching Clueless in the front room tonight, I heard a faint echo. I thought she had the volume settings on "theatre effect" or something and later learned that it seems the men-folk fancied some Alicia Silverstone as well...
...since they were watching the SAME THING in the kitchen!
It seems as though I am an American menace to British society. At least for today I am.
The following is an excerpt from the Dudley.gov.uk website in reference to 'Parking in Dudley.'
"Through civil parking enforcement, the council aims to tackle congestion caused by illegal and inconsiderate parking which causes problems in our towns, whether you're driving, cycling, on public transport or on foot."
This is the story of how today I was basically labeled a problem-causing "inconsiderate motorist" and penalised by the money-grabbing opportunistic cash-collectors working for Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council (aka Civil Enforcement Officers).
Like any other Saturday, I set off for a one-to-one tuition assignment I hold near Kingswinford. I arrive at the house as I have been for the past several months and spend roughly an hour of my time helping a pupil achieve higher academic performance -- a good deed some might say. And like any other Saturday, I park my vehicle in the same exact location outside the family home -- shown in the photo above (exhibit A).
I ask at this time that you note how I am far off the road away from any markings, alongside the wall adjacent to the drive of the property, and most importantly, not otherwise obstructing the vision or footpath of any pedestrian on foot, pushing a pram, or in a wheelchair.
Folks...I park here...EVERY WEEK. Every week my car takes on this stance and remains as such until I finish my work and return home. Every week I come, I park, I leave and never ONCE have I returned to my car to find upon the windscreen a yellow and black Penalty Charge Notice as I did today.
However, today it appears as though Civil Enforcement Officer number 24 had reasonable cause to believe that at 14:44 a contravention had occurred and that a penalty charge of £70 is now payable. What was my violation, you may ask?
'Parked in a restricted street during prescribed hours.'
HUH?! WHAAAA?! Seriously...I mean, we all speak ENGLISH here, right?! That doesn't even make ANY sense!! There are absolutely NO signs posted anywhere along the ENTIRE STREET to indicate any parking restrictions, not to mention I was parking outside a residence on their pavement and no where IN the street.
I would like to personally ask Civil Enforcement Officer 24 in what way I caused any infraction in this case...because you all KNOW that this fiesty American most definitely phoned her husband immediately to come meet her at the property to bring her 14.2 megapixel Kodak so she could obtain photographic evidence by which to challenge the validity of this ticket. The property owner and guardian of the student I tutor even took a drive up and down the road to see if there was a sign somewhere that was overlooked and questioned that 'surely if I had a PCN, so should the neighbours who are parked the same way on the other side of their drive.' He assured me that any guests who have ever come to their home in the time they have lived there have ALWAYS parked where I was parked and not once has anyone ever received a PCN.
Hmm, sounds like a certain Civil Enforcement Officer has a quota to meet this month and went a bit Nazi on his/her little ticket machine. That, or someone surely wee'd in their Weetabix this morning...because it doesn't make logical sense otherwise.
Needless to say, a letter is being drafted at present to challenge this bogus charge and Dudley Council are going to have a pint-sized, pregnant and disgruntled American to deal with first thing on Monday morning.
Note to Self: Before you offer a guest in your home a drink...be sure you know HOW to make it!
Matt had a friend over tonight and I thought I would be polite and ask if "anyone" would like a drink. Matt asks for a coffee, which I am now a pro at doing the "right way" and his friend says he would just like a cup of tea with a bit of milk. At first, I was relieved because I didn't think we had any tea -- so I announce this. However, dear hubby points out where the tea is that we DO have. D'oh! (Picture a deer in headlights...that would be me at this moment.)
Now I know this may sound really silly...but I have never made a cup of tea. It's not like I thought it was rocket science or anything, and I feel stupid admitting that I haven't made one, but I also didn't want to insult our fellow British guest by making my first cup a crap cup of tea. So what does an American who has been transplanted in Great Britain for 13 months do? If you answered 'carry on pretending to make the cup of tea until she can get smoke signals from the kitchen or otherwise alert her husband that she needs his assistance' you are absolutely CORRECT!!
I didn't need to use the secret bird-call or anything, but Matt figured out I was in distress as the kettle-boil came to an end and I wasn't stirring. The coffee...no problem...I know coffee...it's my thing now.
"Honey..." I whisper under my breath with clenched teeth, "how do I DO tea?"
He grins at me and like a good man, without drawing attention to my lack of tea making skills, drops the teabag into the mug. I look at him as if to say, "I figured that much...now what?" and he points to the kettle, still grinning. I pour in the scolding water from the kettle until he motions for me to stop. He mouths for me to "watch" and swills the teabag in the water several times with the spoon before pinning it on the inside of the mug and scooping it out. Then he nods his head towards the fridge for me to get the milk and disappears back into the front room.
Naturally when I re-enter the front room with the two drinks, I do so with confidence as if I knew how to do it all along (secretly hoping the tea wasn't still crap). But at least everyone can have peace of mind in knowing they can come to ours now with expanded drink menu options.
I was a champ on the phones today. I made all the calls I've been needing to make for a while now, including the call to book my 4D scan. As of a week from Saturday, prepare to see Baby Bennett in 4D!! Matt and I are both REALLY excited!
I had to pop out to Asda today to pick up some lunch meat and cheese slices for sandwiches so Matt would have something to eat when he came home for his dinner break. This is something I absolutely loathe as the car park there is "Pay and Display" and despite the fact you get your £1 refunded through your shopping, it still means you have to dig around for a stupid pound coin to pay for it in the first place! This irritates me so much that although Asda is less than 5 minutes (driving) from our house in Brierley Hill, I would almost rather drive the 10 extra minutes in traffic through Kingswinford to go to Morrisons...where I don't have to pay to park.
The other thing that grinds my gears is the fact that no matter what time of day or what day of the week you decide to do your shopping...everyone else and their grandmother has decided on that very same day and time as well. You would think it was the second coming of Christ or the Apocalypse even with how rammed the aisles are with people. In addition, it's not even in a sensible way...just all willy nilly up and down the frozen foods with shopping trolleys blocking any through route to the other side. So you can forget nipping quickly down aisle 4 for cheese singles and queue up behind the 15 rogue pensioners deciding if they would rather have mild or medium cheddar.
The final thing I will mention before I end my rant are the self-checkout lanes. I don't think they should require any degree of skill to use, however, it never fails that I end up waiting with my 5 items or less behind the family of seven who need to meticulously inspect every item to locate the bar-code before they slowly pass it over the scanner and then look at the item again before placing it in the bag. The best is when they try to multi-task by attempting to scan several items after each other and realise they must first bag the previous item so the self-checkout can register the weight before they can move on to the next thing. It is inevitable that a checkout clerk must visit each of the stations several times to "help" the geniuses and bypass the system with their special password. I'm just glad I'm not typically one of these people.
Em has graciously passed on some of my baby niece's onesies and sleepers that she has already outgrown. This one has cute little cows, chickens and sheep and I think it will look perfect on our little bunny when he arrives!
For the prego-saurus! Look what my darling husband came home with tonight. Some yummy, tasty cereal (which shouldn't take too long to demolish), Tangy Cheese Doritos, Mentos, and milk chocolate digestives (cookies, basically).
My irrational fear of the day would be related to the third little arrow down. Yep. I had to make a cameo at Russell's Hall today for my 26-week blood-draw. Since I started this pregnancy with "extra fluff" resulting in a higher than wanted BMI, they need to make sure baby and me aren't susceptible to Gestational Diabetes. So this morning I had to eat a bowl of cereal and piece of toast, wait 2 hours and then shimmy on down to the hospital to have them draw blood. Fun...right?!
There were only two people in the waiting room this time -- trumping the 20-minute wait I had a few weeks ago. As soon as I grabbed my ticket and got seated, I hear an automated recorded British woman..."ticket seventy-one, curtain number twoooooo, please."
I always like to give the disclaimer up front that I don't like needles. Perhaps this fools me into thinking they will be more gentle. The woman behind magical curtain number 2 today had apparently adjusted my tourniquet so tightly however, that the first vile shot right off across the room -- which is SO comforting when you have an IRRATIONAL FEAR OF NEEDLES to begin with and look forward to the very second the cotton wool is placed over the pin-sized hole in your arm and you can run screaming from the lab walk away sensibly and leave the memory behind you.
Total time wasted today on said irrational fear: less than 2 minutes (over and done with...done and dusted).
*takes a bow*
I'll take my gold star and lolly for being a brave girl now, please.
Despite the giant yawn from Myst, we'd like to think he rather likes his new corrugated cardboard catnip kitty scratcher. Matt had to use duct-tape on the ends as Myst's mutant claws would have annihilated it by now.
Matt and I are getting lots of practise with our beautiful, now 6-week-old, niece. She was all full of smiles for Uncle Matt tonight!
Schools start across the country here tomorrow. This will the first half-term for autumn 2009. My supply teaching availability is wide open for calls so I'm crossing my fingers I can get some work in soon before I won't be able to closer to December.
Count them...ONETWOTHREEFOUR days of NON-STOP heartburn and acid reflux?! You have GOT to be KIDDING!! I can't even drink a glass of water without my throat bursting into flames at the moment and it makes NO sense!
Therefore...I've come to the conclusion I could only be gestating one of the following at this rate:
Sophie!! It was down to Sophie and Siavash and as much as I liked Siavash, I didn't really care for him to win. This year's Big Brother really wasn't all that great, and their viewing figures have dropped drastically as well. They say next year will be the final year of Big Brother as Channel 4 won't be picking up the show again...so unless another network grabs it, that's all folks!
Today was quite dull as I spent most of it lying down or in bed. I've had awful acid reflux and heartburn over the past 72 hours and it had me basically immobilized. When Matt came home at dinnertime he ordered me straight back to bed as I lie dying on the sofa. I felt much better after all the sleep...propped up on pillows, of course, and heavily-medicated with Gaviscon and soft chews.
I had my 26-week appointment today with the midwife and although the appointment itself was typical, the events immediately before and after were far from it.
Let's begin with me getting into the car just before only to learn that the "wehw-wehw-wehw" sound is my engine refusing to start because the battery was flat. As disappointed as I was, I looked up at the clear sky, called the surgery to bump the appointment back half-an-hour, and phoned Matt to tell him I was walking to the appointment (in case he got home from work and wondered where I was). He did suggest that I phone his dad to see if he could take me, but I assured him it was a nice day and the walk would do me good.
Ten minutes is all it took me in the end to walk to the doctor's surgery for my appointment. The midwife measured my bump and baby is plotting right where he should be on the growth chart. We even had a listen to the heartbeat and she told me that she was pleased he was "cooking nicely." But like I said, the appointment itself wasn't the issue. I was in and out in less than fifteen minutes.
On the way home I had the ever-so-brilliant idea to take a different route back. I hadn't walked the route before, but I was confident I would remember the reverse directions from the last time Matt drove me to the surgery that way. I remembered the route being more downhill than up and thought it might be less stress on my bump. Plus, if it took me only ten minutes to get there to the surgery, my house wasn't more than ten minutes away...right?
Yeah, tell me that miles later when I'm walking past Little Devil's sandwich shop and wondering where I took a wrong turn. Periodically I pass by a group of angsty looking teenagers and I can't help but clutch my bag closer...although I'm sure that was an irrational reaction to have -- but I blame the media and all the hype on violent knife-crimes. (Please understand I was in NO danger...but slightly on edge due to being in unfamiliar surroundings...plus, I think part of it was maternal-instinct kicking in instinctively to protect bunny.)
I manage to find my GPS location on my phone and work out which way I need to go to get home. I start my trek back and as I'm looking up at the fluffy white clouds I admire their beauty and decide to snap a photo. But as I tilt the camera back, the nice, dark, ominous-looking one is moving in faster than the rest from behind me...
I'm less than 5 minutes away by now and I can feel little one on my bladder...
And it happens...right...about...now...
The heavens open up and the rains pelt down. Right. On. Me. And to be honest, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
I managed to get home shortly after and dried myself off. This was the point where I questioned if I should just go back to bed, but it was just a bit of rain. Matt returned from work shortly after that and when I told him the whole story he laughed and said, "this wouldn't have happened if you had called my dad."
Typically when Matt leaves for work on a morning, he lets me know he's on his way out and tells me he will see me around dinnertime (mid-day). I hear him exit the front door, get into his car and drive off...and that's my cue to do the following: roll over, take up the whole bed, pull the duvet up to my chin, and snuggle into the warmth for my extended sleeping session. At least, this is the plan in place until school resumes later this week.
Unfortunately, both yesterday and today, I have been woken-up by the most irritating drilling sound that I have concluded is coming from 2 neighbours down as they have a utility van parked on their drive. What makes the situation more aggravating is that it's barely past 8am and they're loud...and let's face it people...I'm pregnant, cranky, and I like my sleep. The mentioned disturbances make my plan difficult to execute. Jerks!
(Side note: ignore the hideous tear in the border on our wall...it was like that when we moved in and it will eventually be replaced.)
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!