Monday, 30 November 2009

Year 2 Day 61: Bless My Nan

This came in the post today from the States. It's something you can't get here in shops in the UK -- a Happy Thanksgiving card! Best of's from my Nan! Isn't she the sweetest?! As soon as it was pulled from the letterbox at 10am this morning, it brought the biggest smile to my face.

Another reason for smiling? It's the final countdown! Less than a fortnight remains until bunny is due and tomorrow I will be in single digits! I had my weekly appointment with the other midwife, Amanda, today and everything is looking good. I like Amanda because we have little chats about her American friends in Iowa, so the appointments include a bit more chit-chat conversation. She is still business-first and efficient, but it's nice to have a bit of side-dialogue as well.

All being well, next week will be my final appointment!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Year 2 Day 60: O' Christmas Tree

Behold -- the beauty! Hubby finally caved and we picked up the tree that his parents had saved for us from last year. It's definitely an upgrade from our first tree. At first he tried to convince me it was bad luck to put it up before the 15th, but I reminded him we usually put it up just after Thanksgiving in the US. Plus, I wanted to have it sorted before bunny gets here because I may not be much in the mood to work on it in the next 12 days. Then, after I dared to suggest I could just move the sofas on my own while he was at work tomorrow he decided we could quickly reposition them tonight to make room.

It was pretty quick to assemble, but the instructions didn't make much sense logically as it suggested you fold out all the branches with the tree in the base BEFORE plugging the power source into the base (located UNDERNEATH the base bottom) which would require one to tip the tree sideways. Matt wasn't keen to watch me attempt this so he had to lift the tree while I squirmed quickly under it to plug in the lead.

The only thing that could have made it a bit better would have been some Christmas music to sing along to. Maybe I can find a station to play on my G1 when I add some decorations later this week. Now I just need to get some cinnamon and applesauce tomorrow to start on my smell-good ornaments.

Eeek! I can't wait!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Year 2 Day 59: Return to Sender

I don't think it's any secret that a lot of cats find much amusement in locating the most random places to nap, so it wasn't a surprise to learn that some scratching and crunching paper noises Matt and I heard tonight were coming from dear kitty making himself comfortable...inside my recent shipment from Books for Children.

I had ordered some books a few weeks back to use as Christmas gifts and some of them arrived a bit damaged, so this was the box containing the replacement order.

We must have watched him for five minutes in complete silence, occasionally glancing back at one another and trying our best not to burst out laughing as he scratched to "fluff up" the paper and turned in circles countless times before settling to begin bathing himself as if it were his daily routine.

The irony is that Matt had actually purchased a soft and comfy "cat bed" in the past for Myst, and the little snob didn't want anything to do with it. Go figure.

It seems he would much rather have abrasive packaging for his bedding. That, or it's a devious ploy to convince the RSPCA that we don't care well enough for him to give him nice things. Hmm?

Friday, 27 November 2009

Year 2 Day 58: HypnoBible?

Looky, looky what the postman left for me yesterday! I cannot say how relieved I was when Matt pointed out the parcel on the chair by the computer and said it was for me. When I ordered it from Waterstones, there were only five in stock and the woman over the phone said she couldn't determine or guarantee any of the five she had left would be allocated to my recent order online. To make matters worse...NO stores in ALL of England seem to have the book on their shelves and many that I phoned said it would take at least THREE WEEKS to ship them from their supplier in the U.S.

Using basic math skills, it wouldn't take a rocket scientist to suss that I may not "have" three weeks.

Naturally I began reading it and absorbing all the information I could right away and I must sing it's praises so far because it all makes SO much sense! True, I haven't been able to test the theories myself for accuracy and I don't know if the methods within with work for me, but rather than being freaked out or worried for the arrival of our son, I'm VERY much looking forward to trying things out and giving it an honest go. I truly think it is achievable and I only hope I will have enough time to practise some of the techniques and ingrain them into my mind.

To keep with the theme of the day, I also found a free "relaxation/self-hypnosis" download from HypnoBabies and put it on my mp3 player to listen to before bed tonight -- so definitely looking forward to that.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Year 2 Day 57: Last Day of Work

I finally got a call from my primary supply agency for a day's work today -- SCORE (my first one from them since July)! The best part was that it was for a school where I have done supply work before and also located conveniently along the train line, which meant Matt could drop me off in the morning and still have the car to take to work. I didn't mind that there were 3 legs in the hour-long journey as this simply meant I wasn't squished behind the steering wheel of a car whilst on my way into gridlock Birmingham traffic.

When I reached the school's reception, the secretary recognised me right away from when I was there back in March -- well, she sort of recognised me. She asked when I was due, and when I told her a fortnight, she assured me I was in good hands as the TA in the classroom next door to mine was a licensed midwife. Still, reassured or not, I was hoping to not need to put her to work.

The Year 5 class I was assigned to was typical of what I expected from any school in or near Birmingham. The children tend to be a little more lively and it's no surprise that there will be a few in the class that make it their personal goal to just be oppositional. No worries from me though, because I have been there, done that, and bought the XXL t-shirt.

By the end of the day, after consulting the classroom teacher (who popped back into school to do some planning) I decided to wind the kids down and allow them participate in some friendly "Girls vs Boys" competition. I loaded a PowerPoint presentation that had questions where they had to name '5 of something' in only 10 seconds. By the fifth question, the girls were ahead 3 to 1 and the boys didn't like it one bit. Unfortunately, the boys had a major weakness of arguing with one another which was the main reason they couldn't score a point above the girls -- whereas the girls just got on with it and worked together.

I offered for this final question (pictured above) to be worth 2 points to make the result a draw if they boys could pull through. If you look down at the bottom of the picture you see the answers they submitted. They only gave 3 names: The Queen, The King, and The Pope. This is both sad and funny to me -- sad to me that as an American, I had to prompt these BRITISH children when they started to whinge about how hard the question was that ONE of the most important people was ON THEIR FREAKING MONEY!!! (To be fair, I'm sure it's like asking 9 & 10 year old Americans to name 5 U.S. Presidents.)

Then funny of course, because although 'The Pope' is NOT a member of the Royal Family, I was teaching at a CATHOLIC primary school.



My travels finally concluded after a train delay at Gravelly Hill, a cancellation at Birmingham New Street, and finally one set of 4 cars from Smethwick Galton Bridge too rammed with people to accept any more passengers. I eventually made it back to Stourbridge Junction before 6pm where Matt was patiently waiting to take me home. It was then that I decided that today would be my final day of work before bunny's arrival.

::points thumbs towards self::

This turkey is cooked! (Happy Thanksgiving!!)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Year 2 Day 56: You Can Ring My Bell

No, seriously, you CAN. What I mean is, you can NOW. You see, when we moved in, the battery was missing from this little buddy so it clearly didn't work. Simple solution, right? Matt and I purchased the correct battery...aaand...nothin. STILL didn't work. We couldn't even figure out where the sound would be coming from since it all appeared to be a wireless setup and the only part we could locate was the one you see in the photo above.

Until today.

It started when I was increasing the proportion of carpet visibility in our bedroom by clearing off my mountain of clothes to do some washing. I noticed the following just lying alone and unplugged under the heater...

At first I had no idea it was even related to the doorbell outside. In fact, if you would have walked into the bedroom upon the time of my discovery, you would have seen a very belly-heavy, pregnant me, squatting at the side of the bed, all grubby and in my PJs, and holding it to my nose (as you would expect from a cave woman) to see if I could pick up any residual fragrance and then subsequently inspecting it closely to see where the replacement air-freshening cartridge went. Being that it WASN'T in the family of Glade Plug-ins however, that would explain why my investigation did not uncover what I suspected. Then, I noticed the numbers 1-4 on the back above the plug prongs with a sliding switch.

Hmm, I wonder...

I immediately brought it downstairs and plugged it into one of the kitchen outlets. Then I quickly (actual speed is open to to your own interpretation) pranced over to the front door, opened it, and reached around the outside to press the button.


I returned to my discovery again, checked that it was plugged in completely, and then realised I hadn't switched the plug to 'ON' (as you have to do to power outlets here in the UK...FYI). So I went back to the doorbell and pressed the button again.


Hark! Is that the doorbell I hear?

People...we've only lived here nearly FIVE MONTHS and it has taken THIS LONG to figure it out?!

I've since dubbed myself a genius for the day for I can not only create fire with my handy opposable thumbs...but music as well! Muah ahh ahhh!

All I can say now is that we will (hopefully) never miss an attempted parcel delivery from Royal Mail again -- well, not if we are home anyway. But in the meantime...come on over for a cuppa...and ring our bell!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Year 2 Day 55: Express Yourself

Behold...Matt's new replacement lighter! Yep, folks...only real men rock lighters with ladybirds. Nothing else screams brute masculinity. But don't fret, you too can have your very own for ONLY a mere 89 pence! That's right! Be sure to rush right down to your neighbourhood Dillon's. All the cool kids have one.

It did make me chuckle a bit tonight when he returned from nipping out to get a few bits to show me this. He accidentally dropped his old one on the ground outside the car this morning and it broke. He obviously didn't want to look daft carrying around the long candle-lighter all the while. Unfortunately, this was the extent of what he had to choose from and we all know beggar's can't be choosers.'s a makes fire...SOLD!

He looks so cute holding it!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Year 2 Day 54: Aaay!

Albeit a bit blurry, I grabbed the Kodak to snap this photo off Wikipedia for tonight's blog. A bit of a 'cheat' I guess, but I honestly had's been a slow 'news' day. Still, news to me is that this famous American is going to be in Liverpool this week to turn on the Christmas lights! They made the announcement on Radio One this morning so immediately upon returning home I texted Matt begging for a road trip.

I recall my Aunt telling me of a time years ago when she actually saw Henry Winkler in the airport. Then a couple of years ago when I was living in North Carolina, I remember sitting behind my laptop in Panera Bread doing some lesson planning one weekend when I saw a man walk in with his family who looked like he was a spitting image of The Fonz -- in fact I swore it was him and sent a mass text to all my friends and family to tell how The Fonz was in Panera Bread in Southern Pines, North Carolina!

I nearly choked on my panini and wet myself until I did a Google search then and there only to learn he couldn't possibly be in the area that weekend.

I think honestly if it weren't for the fact that our little guy is so close to being here and the fact that we're trying to pinch every penny, we would absolutely travel the 100 'simple' miles to Liverpool to go see the lighting ceremony.

Speaking of which...other news to report from today's appointment is that bunny is now 2/5 engaged (which is further down than Thursday's 3/5). Basically his head is almost completely below the pelvic brim, but it doesn't necessarily mean a whole lot in terms of timing. He could be this way for 2-3 more weeks really. It's still good to know, however, that he has made a bit of progress since last Thursday's appointment and is headed in the right direction for his exit.

Look at my boy -- already not stopping to ask for directions! Go bab!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Year 2 Day 53: Let's Go To The Movies

Tonight was THE night! Em and I along with Jennifer, Lyndsey, and her daughter Deanna all joined forces at Showcase Cinemas to see the long-awaited continuation of the Twilight series, New Moon. The theatre was absolutely rammed, even for a non-opening-night showing, and as a result we ended up in the very front row. Still, it would take more than a bit of blurred vision at the start to tear us away -- we've waited too long for it! I even managed to sit over two straight hours nursing my Tango Blast without having to get up for any potty emergencies -- go me! The only thing I wasn't a fan of was the THIRTY MINUTES of previews and adverts at the the 6:00pm start time was in reality 6:30pm. What happened to back in the day when you could time your arrival to the theatre by getting there about 7 minutes late, just enough time for the film itself to start?

I was more pleased with this one than previously with Twilight. There was a lot more action in my opinion and although not dead-on, it was closer to being true to the book. I know there are many friends of mine who weren't as impressed, but I do think our particular group all enjoyed it anyway. What is even better this time around is that we won't have to wait an entire year to see the next one as it will be out by next summer.

Yes, please!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Year 2 Day 52: Ask and You Shall Receive

While looking online early this evening for a HypnoBirthing book from Waterstones, my body suddenly went into a bit of shock. I felt really weak and nauseous and my limbs were shaking. Immediately Matt ran into the kitchen to get me a quick bowl of cereal and then proceeded to make me some toast to help with the queasiness. Since I had been home all day, I thought I had a couple sandwiches but soon realised the last thing I actually had was breakfast shortly after noon. Oopsie.

After shoveling these things down my gob, I had a drink and went to lie down. During this time I was mumbling through tears of frustration to Matt about how I could just eat a whole bag of sugar despite knowing how gross the thought was. I went on to name a slew of sugary-related things that I could of which included some Ben & Jerry's chocolate ice cream that has the little chunks of marshmallow inside, all the while knowing I was just rambling on about nothing.

He made the call within this time to forfeit our regular Saturday visit to Em & Daz and stay here at home with me...even though I told him I'd be okay for him to go. He said he still didn't feel right to leave me.

After a couple hours of rest, he decided to pop down to the shop to grab some things. When he returned, he had a small bag of sugary-treats, including a bag of pink & white jumbo marshmallows. I'm not normally about scarfing down such things and I've been really good through this pregnancy about not over-indulging, but the fact that I was craving the sugar so bad gave me the biggest grin. He really looks out for me and I don't know what I would do without him.

Have I mentioned lately just how much I LOVE this man?!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Year 2 Day 51: Some Kind of Therapy...

...Is what Myst needs. He goes through withdrawal all day while Matt is at work. I try to help by opening the door to the conservatory so he can go sit in "daddy's" chair. But look at him...all forlorn...just staring out the rain-soaked the neighbour's fence. We've even noticed the past week or so that he has been scratching patches into his fur around his ears. This baffles us because he's an indoor only cat, so it can't be fleas or anything. Although we're wondering if it's dander from the previous homeowners' cat. Either way, it looks like some Front-line is in order so he doesn't end up all scabby.

New Moon has been postponed until Sunday, so fair warning to anyone who sees it before then...keep tight-lipped about it, please.

Wasn't feeling up to work today since my hips felt as though they were being pulled apart this morning -- a wonderful side-effect of this late-stage of pregnancy. Wouldn't you know the moment I send Matt off with the car on his own to work, I get a phone call about not one, but TWO possible schools who needed a teacher today. One was even described to me as an "easy" day as a teaching assistant, but as soon as I learned I would only be paid £60 (HALF my normal rate) I shot that down immediately. Not worth it for how I was feeling.

We'll see how next week goes, but I have assured Matt, who would rather me stay home from this point forward, that I will play it by ear and try to squeeze in one more day or two if I am able. I can't help myself really though...I'm not good at just sitting at home when I know I could be earning a bit more.

Still, won't complain about the weekend being here. Enjoying my quiet/free time while I still can.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Year 2 Day 50: Puppy Power...Nap?

Meet Lyndsey's new, 7-week-old toy poodle, Olly. Em and I went for a visit tonight and had the pleasure of meeting this curly cutie. As you can see he was very worn out after a bit and proceeded to pass out next to me at one point. Naturally, what does a tiny-animal lover do when a baby animal falls into a dead sleep next to her? If you guessed 'see how pose-able he is without waking him' then DING DING DING! You're correct -- hence the strategically-placed remote control!

Mainly the remote was there to show (to scale) just how tiny this little guy was. I should have used the Sky remote for continuity, but as you can see he's really not much bigger. He was absolutely adorable though...even if he did try to have relations with my bag. Naughty, Olly!

Had my 37-week appointment with the midwife today. Bunny should be roughly between 7.5 and 7.75 pounds by now according to my bump. I'm not sure how accurate it all is though since he favours my right side and proceeded to sleep through it all (no surprise there). Heart-rate is good though and he is 3/5 engaged which means he is starting to drop...and that equals sweet relief on my lungs! Go baby, go! Appointments will now accelerate to weekly visits until his arrival. Just roughly 3 weeks to go!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Year 2 Day 49: It's Too Late to Apologise...

I don't think the music group One Republic had in mind the Year 6 class I was sent to tackle today when they wrote that song. Also, know that the size of a child's apology on a sheet of paper does not directly correlate to how convinced (or not) I am at their sincerity or remorse for their actions. Clearly, that was not what this young man had in mind. He thought the bigger he wrote it, the less chance he would have of his regular classroom teacher telling him off when she returned. Speaking of which, I like this student's interpretation of the events that led to him writing this letter to his teacher. (You can see it better if you click on the photo.) Naturally, I had to annotate at the bottom (in green pen).

I do honestly enjoy going to this school, but this particular class seems to absolutely run better when there is a second adult (a TA) in the room to show attention to the few students who need the constant reinforcement. Otherwise it's a free-for-all and the majority of my time is spent playing crowd-control/babysitter rather than teaching the lesson. As a result, I end up feeling for those of the group who were penalized with less time for their task -- even if some of them busted their rears to STILL get their work completed. Good on them!

I guess it could have been fact, I know it could have been. Although I do admit it was a bit funny when the children returned after their dinner and when I entered the classroom they were worried that they had caused me to go into labour. I assured them I was well enough to remain with them until the end of the school day. I also assured them that any tricks they had used on me up to this point, I had already done myself at that age...and did a much more effective job.

A couple of the boys who gave constant guff every lesson were lucky enough to be the chosen ones and were held back from their assembly at the end of the day. (Is it any surprise that one of them was the author of the pictured letter?) I brought them both back up to the classroom with me so they could make use of all their excess energy to tidy the classroom, pick up all the rubbish and do odd jobs for me to prepare for the end of the day -- all in complete silence of course. I don't think it was as much fun as they previously anticipated.

Such a mean supply teacher! Shame.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Year 2 Day 48: His & Hers Dinners

Here are the sandwiches I made for Matt and myself for tomorrow -- YES, I label them. Each night I make us each a chicken sandwich to take to work in the morning so I won't have to rush around last minute. I try to write something different each time as well -- usually a lovey message to hubby to help get him through the day. Today's messages were "Girls Rule!" and "Boys Drool!" Mature. I know. But I see it as just another way to use my coloured Sharpie markers (as if I NEED an excuse).

I didn't have any calls again for work today, so my sandwich remained in the fridge until I resurrected it to munch on during Supernanny. However, by 3pm or so I had received a call from the agency for some work in a Year 6 class at the school in Droitwich for tomorrow.

DING! Don't mind if I do.

I also managed to get in nearly a mile and a half walking when I set out on foot to the Brierley Hill post office and then to the Property Shop to drop off our landlords' mail (since they have yet to get it re-directed). I thought at first the walking would feel nice, with fresh air and all...but that was all well and good until the shin splints set in. I attribute that largely to the increasing volume of the bump. I also have a distinct, yet undoubtedly sexy, 'duck-like' waddle now and have even less speed than before (which I believe Matt would calibrate at 'Tortoise' on a scale of Tortoise to Hare.) Let's hope I manage to make it comfortably around the school with ease tomorrow.

As much as I don't want to, I may have to play the maternity card after this week. The end is only getting closer and try as I might, mobility is certainly NOT getting any easier.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Year 2 Day 47: Dishes My Life

Oh the inconvenience of no longer owning a dishwasher. We had one when we moved in, but it wouldn't fit in the kitchen as the space left for it was entirely too narrow. That space now houses Myst's litter tray (which reminds me, I've been meaning to get a small, spring-loaded rail to hang a privacy curtain.)

::makes note to self::

I was so on top of things today. I didn't get a call for any work, so immediately after dropping Matt off at work, I headed to Asda to stock up on our survival items for the week. Cereal, stuff for sandwiches, etc. I won't bore you with the entire grocery list. I had to make a detour and get Matt's sandwiches from the fridge at home and to him at work for dinner since we forgot them on the way out the door. When I finally got home and put things away it was 10am so I started in on the washing up -- such a fun task.

I did make a list of "To-Do's," but after getting hooked on some Dog The Bounty Hunter and knitting by was time for my date with Dr. Phil. I don't remember the end of Dr. Phil because at some point I nodded off on the sofa while the list I made (to stay productive) stayed very UN-productively by the computer with only one item ticked off.


I woke up at 3:45pm to some 'baby daddy' results on Maury and from what only I can describe as a blink, it was all of a sudden then 4:45pm and past time to go and fetch Matt from work. I phoned him on hands-free to let him know that I had a late start and traffic was backed up. I quickly learned why when I got to the intersection and saw a large crowd and several sets of blue flashing lights. Initially I thought it was a car accident, but I realised there were no cars involved when I saw the crowd standing around what looked to be an 11 or 12-year-old boy on the pavement in the crossing. I couldn't tell if he had passed out or been hit by a car, but with all the emergency vehicles I will bet he was likely hit by someone running the lights at the crossing. I'll have to keep an eye out for the online version of the paper to find out.

From there...uneventful. Picked Matt up from work. Got home. Worked on some knitting. Ate. And now...blogging before bed.

So much for that list. Better luck tomorrow.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Year 2 Day 46: Five Days!

Not that anyone would be counting down or anything, but in only FIVE GLORIOUS, FANTASTIC days, New Moon opens in cinemas here. In fact, I think Em and I have been only counting down...well...pretty much since we saw Twilight last year after having been hooked on the book series. We're not the only ones either...I can think of plenty I could name, but they know who they are. It's like a secret society of Twili-holics or something. Twi-hards I think the paper called them tonight.

We've known for a while now that this day has been coming and many jokes have been made about whether or not I will be 'okay' to go. I made bunny sign a 'verbal' contract (1 kick for "yes," and acid-indigestion for "no") that he would not be making any appearances before the 20th of November and I plan on holding him to it. Otherwise I see naked baby pics coming out the first time he brings home a date -- which I'm pretty sure will secure his promise.

Come Friday evening, rain or shine, Em and I will be comfortably seated at a theatre of our choice, eyes possibly glazed-over through the ridiculous 20 minutes of previews and adverts (NOT of our choice)...but complete with Tango Blasts in hand (wearing adult nappies if need be -- at least I will prepare to be -- to avoid leaving throughout to pee, as this IS serious business after all) and ready to view the long-awaited New Moon.

Squeeee! Can't wait!!

All of this of course while the men-folk (Matt & Daz, that would be you pair) sit at home enjoying all the Call of Duty you can handle while you have an additional 'Call of Duty' to watch little madame.

Wait...what's that? You don't recall signing up for babysitting...oh yeah...we sort of volunteered you, so, this would be your notice then. Enjoy!!

And to baby Amy...I think I overheard Uncle Matt wishing he had some advance practice of changing a dirty feel free to work your magic.  

*wink, wink, nudge, nudge*

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Year 2 Day 45: Baa-Baa, Black Sheep...

Yeah...I got your wool! Picked up 300g of value brand black wool (courtesy Hobby-rip-you-off-craft in Wolverhampton) to start on Matt's scarf for work. He's outside a lot in the elements and it would be a great relief to him if he didn't have to freeze completely, so I'm finally getting started.

A special shout-out/thank you to Christine who was able to guide me via text message on how much I would need.

I was there just before closing but managed to find what I needed pretty quickly. Then, remembering I needed a photo for today, I quickly whipped open the G1 to snap a pic right when a store associate came around to ask if I needed help with anything, as they were about to close. I assured her I was fine, but when she didn't move and continued to glare at me, I couldn't help feeling unnecessarily dodgy taking a photo of the knitting wall.

I'm sure as soon as she heard my American accent it all became clear that I just wasn't right anyway.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Year 2 Day 44: Pleasure Reading

You know you've made a step further into the land of "I'm a Grown-up" when you pick up a copy of a 'grown-up' newspaper or magazine, such as The Times Educational Supplement. I always see it on the newsstands in the store and have been curious for a while now about the content, so tonight while picking up some pizzas at Asda, I plonked down a whopping £1.50 so I could have a little gander. This was something that caught my eye straightaway inside the TES magazine and I couldn't resist sharing.

You're welcome.

No calls for work today, but it was probably just as well since I may have overdone it a bit yesterday. I was having difficulty even walking and there was no chance of finding a comfortable sitting position -- so I resorted to alternating lying on each side for 15 minute increments with a pillow between my knees to level out the pressure in my hips.

I don't think I have had a whole lot worth complaining about throughout this pregnancy, but in this final (and tentative) 27-day stretch, I'm finding it to be a challenge remaining upright, not to mention the acid-reflux seems to be back with a vengeance since bunny can't seem to dislodge his bum from my ribs. I swear to Matt all the time that they're bruised. I guess the bright side to my day's inactivity is that I could feel baby rolling around more, so as long as he's still healthy and active, then I think I can manage.

In the meantime...rain and gale-force winds in the forecast for the weekend so I think I'll just hermit myself in a duvet-fort until Monday morning.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Year 2 Day 43: All In A Day's Work

Most of my day was spent behind this very door educating the youth of Great Britain -- or at least the small portion of Tipton, UK. The school itself is quite new -- just built in 2008 and the facilities alone are spotless and impeccable...quite impressive, if I do say so myself. (This is the school where the children get massages after morning break...yeah, that one. Jealous.) You wouldn't honestly think you were walking into a place of learning when your feet pass the threshold of the auto-sliding-glass door and step into the colourful lobby/lounge.

The day was pretty typical...a numeracy, phonics and literacy lesson in the morning and an afternoon with two topic sessions -- one involved identifying what was necessary in creating a persuasive pamphlet and the other to do with the features of a shift-style dress from the 1960s. The best part was that the teacher who had left the work had it so organised that she has a 'supply teacher folder' on the PC with all the slides for the SmartBoard that go to each lesson. Fantastic idea!!

::subconsciously 'steals' said idea...just as any teacher would::

Hubby was also pretty busy today. He had a delivery for work all the way in Devon -- nearly 450 miles round-trip to the southern part of England and back. I might have had the opportunity to travel with him in the lorry, but when he accepted the assignment last night he thought my supply post was for Friday instead of today. I was gutted that I had to stay behind, but I'm not exactly going to cancel supply work when it hasn't been in huge demand lately.

Now we're both home and shattered beyond belief -- him from being on the road all day in a 7.5 tonne wagon and me from being on my feet and trying to stimulate young minds into intelligent debate over who is more educated...Jeremy Kyle or Dr. Phil.

Don't be fooled, it got quite heated.

We've since had our gourmet dinner of egg on toast (don't hate) and I'm about to turn in while my love feeds his Call of Duty addiction. Until tomorrow, folks!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Year 2 Day 42: All The Cool Kids Are Doing It

As if there was any doubt what would be burning into the screen tonight on Xbox -- HA! Trust that my husband has made sure to point out to me just how many of his online friends (and it's looking to be about 98% easily) are currently playing Modern Warfare 2. Perhaps the remaining 2% are on a potty break? It's the only thing that could possibly make any logical sense.

It was so full at one point that the servers were jammed and he and his mates resorted to calling one another via mobile to confirm if they were going to join each others' party to play as soon as they were able.

Dedication, people. Dedication.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Year 2 Day 41: Covert Operation

Today was a huge day in the world of Xbox as a new game was released -- Call of Duty 6: Modern Warfare 2. Matt has had it on pre-order from GAME at Merry Hill since just before the summer and has been counting down the days until it would be in his hands. Because I have had such little supply work since the start of Autumn term, we knew he would likely have to wait until the end of this week to get his copy when I was paid.

Fortunately for him, Emma and I made some alternate arrangements during our visit at theirs on Sunday. Em offered to lend the money to get the game to surprise him so he wouldn't have to be tortured by seeing everyone else on Xbox playing and think he had to wait until the weekend.

So with everything in place, I took Matt to work this morning at 8am and headed to Em's straightaway. We had learned last night that Asda had the game for £32.99, which was a much better deal than the £55 we were planning for the 'Special Edition' he had on pre-order. I realised the Special Edition came with the original game, and likely in some special bedazzled collector's box, but you can't really argue with a savings of over £20. However, when I got to Em's, she informs me that Daz had just let her know that Morrisons had the game on special for only £25.99 -- nearly a £30 savings!!

It was official -- our plan was in motion. Morrisons it was!

Shortly after 9am, before we had even a chance to get the baby in her car seat, my mobile rings with an unknown number. I answer and it's Matt calling from a fellow co-worker's phone (as he had no credit). He wanted me to check the balance on my credit card and ring him back because he just saw in the paper that Morrisons had the game for really cheap. He was oblivious to the fact that I was even AT Emma's and preparing to head to Morrisons already. I had to think quick and play dumb, so I told him I wasn't home yet but would check when I got there and let him know. Shortly after that, I sent a quick text with a story that the website was down for maintenance and since it was on Pacific time (US) I wouldn't be able to access it until mid-day our time.

Thinking we stalled him for enough time, Em and I packed up the car -- baby and all -- and set out on our mission. When we got to Morrisons we utilized the Parent & Toddler parking (hence the photo) for quick access and convenience and walked quickly to the tiny gaming section in the store. We spotted the game, but only for PlayStation. CRAP! Immediately I started searching Google on my G1 for the next closest Morrisons store and Em thought enough to ask an employee there if they had any copies left. To our surprise they DID, but they were at the checkouts rather than on the shelf to keep people from stealing them or causing fights with customers.

Em handed me the cash to buy Matt's copy and she was able to get not only a copy for Daz, but his dad, Mick, as well. Lucky day...lucky men!

Quite chuffed with our efforts, we left Morrisons and headed back to Emma's beaming at our craftiness and success to obtain not just one or two, but THREE copies in only ONE stop! Surely this would please a certain husband who wasn't even expecting the game until the weekend.

Speaking of which, shortly after arriving back at Emma's at about half-ten I get a text off one of Matt's mates saying he had been talking to him on Facebook and asking if I could ring him since he didn't have any credit. Knowing what it was about, I braced myself to give dear hubby a call, but he beat me to it! My phone rings again, this time saying the call is coming from OUR HOUSE. I answer and it's him with the explanation that he has the work's lorry and is being sent for a delivery in Birmingham, so he decided to stop home since I had sent a text rather than ring him and he needed to speak to me.

Suffice it to say this typically calm and collected man was near hysterics and wondering why I wasn't home. Apparently one of the guys at work had been to Morrisons earlier that morning to learn that they were sold out of the game and reported this back to Matt. That's funny, because we just managed three copies, one of which was anxiously awaiting discovery in the glove box of my car -- but he didn't know that, nor was he going to until I picked him up that evening. Matt insisted that I ring Emma right away to let her know and see if she hadn't gotten a copy for Daz already, that she would see if she could spare the extra £25 and get him a copy as well because this would surely mean he wouldn't be able to get it otherwise by that cheaper price by Friday since they were going like hotcakes.

It was all I could do at this point to keep a straight face, but I had to keep up the facade.

I had to fess up by this time that I was actually AT Emma's, which is why he didn't find me at home, but carried on with the story that it was only so I could give her and the baby a lift to Josie & David's and that I was going to join them for a visit as well. I put Emma on the phone to keep myself from letting the cat out of the bag and Em tried to reassure Matt that she would see what she could do, but wasn't making any promises.

Satisfied that he was now sufficiently occupied with a task for work, despite his sheer determination and focus today on getting this game, Em and I take my niece and have a relaxing few hours and a bite to eat at my in-laws'. We share the story up to this point with Josie & David which then increases the number of people who can share in our banter about the hilarity of the days' events. When we return to Em's by 3:30pm I decide to give Matt a ring to see how he's getting on at work and see if they are having him do the post that night (which would mean he would be leaving thirty minutes early). I entice him with the story that although we weren't able to get him a copy, we called another store that was willing to hold it for us, but that I would need his guidance to get to the store. He quickly checks and confirms he can leave early if he does the post, so I headed straight there to pick him up.

Within 20 minutes I am pulling onto the drive of his place of employment and shortly after he's getting into the car. I can barely contain my excitement for him and just as he instructs me onward to get the show on the road and get his game, I ask him to check and make sure my phone is in the glove box with the cash from Emma. Mindlessly he pops the glove box open to see Modern Warfare 2 staring back at him as I try my best to stare straight ahead.

The grin on his face told me I won't be seeing much of him for the next few days as he needs his full attention to break this new game in, of course. I am well aware at this point as well that for the next 72 hours our house will sound like that of a war-zone.

To all the significant others of big time gamers out there (specifically of the Call of Duty persuasion) deepest condolences.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Year 2 Day 40: En Español, Por Favor

Yo Enseño Bien. At least that's the message I received from the Year 5/6 combination supply post I had today in Tipton. It's a good thing I remembered some of the 3 years of high school Spanish. My most vivid memories in that class actually involved sitting around with my friends trying to come up with ridiculously childish phrases, including but not limited to inappropriate words -- something that later couldn't be as easily repeated when I took Latin (not as much vernacular fun). Still though, who didn't do that in their foreign languages class?

Admittedly the day did not start out too fantastic when the S(h)atNav directed me to a street on which the school was absolutely NOT located. I kept hearing "destination to the right" and it was nowhere to be found. My agency gave me the direct number to the school and it took nearly 25 minutes to get an answer so I could find out they were literally less than a quarter mile further down the main road.

Once I was signed in for the day and shown where the classroom was, it was smooth sailing for the rest of my assignment. The kids were fairly pleasant and even quite entertaining at times. I had them nearly convinced at one point that I wasn't actually pregnant and just liked to eat pork pies. This was jokingly of course after one of the girls came in from morning break with a concern that rumours were being spread about me. The look on her face was priceless when I explained those 'rumours' were true. They eventually dropped the subject by mid-day and moved on to more pressing matters like asking me to 'say things in American' like a performing seal.

Oh! And get this! The students get daily massages! Can you believe it?! A teacher comes in after morning break and leads them with their partners to give one another a 10-minute back massage.

Where was this when I was in school?! Pampered much?!

So yeah, good day...and now I'm home...en mi casa.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Year 2 Day 39: Tour De...Maternity

Technically I have been on this maternity ward before -- when my sister-in-law gave birth back at the end of July. Still, about 6 weeks or so ago I scheduled a proper 'tour' of the maternity unit as suggested by my midwife. The only available time was 9:45am on a Sunday...yeah, a SUNDAY, PEOPLE!!! Imagine Matt's surprise, shortly after midnight Saturday going INTO Sunday, when I realised I had booked said tour. At first we thought 'no point, we'll just forget it and sleep-in' but then I had second thoughts that I may regret NOT going, so I high-tailed it upstairs, set an alarm and went to bed.

The tour was short and sweet and showed us the basic layout of the high-risk and low-risk sections. We were shown to a simple labouring room which was surprisingly much bigger than I expected. The nurse giving the tour shared lots of information about how long to expect to stay depending on the type of birth and what things we should pack in our hospital bags, etc. There seemed to be many options as well in terms of how things could all "go down." (I'll spare my readers at this point the details of the pool and benefits of the special birthing stool -- so, you're welcome.)

A bit off topic and random to the blog, but...when we left and headed back to the car after the tour, Matt made a joke about the double-red lines in reference to that un-named incident back in September. He said he wondered what the difference between double-reds and double-yellows was. I told him I suspected that double-reds meant they were punishible by death rather than PCN.

However, we won't be testing this theory anytime soon.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Year 2 Day 38: Remember, Remember...

Although Bonfire Night is officially celebrated on the 5th of November, it is not uncommon to hear/see fireworks displays in the area leading up to and just past the day of celebration. In fact, it is likely that you will notice more on the weekend following as that is when families are more likely to be free from other commitments to take it all in.

This photo captured some of the festivities occurring just down the road from our house. I happen to have a fabulous 'fireworks' macro on my camera that I have been dying to try out. Had they been on a more professional scale, I think you might have gotten a bit more content...but these are back-garden variety after all.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Year 2 Day 37: Time For Some 'Lion' Around

Hooray! The weekend is upon us all and that means (as much as I appreciate the calls for work) time for some well-deserved relaxation!! And speaking of relaxed and cozy does this little spot look? You are looking at part of bunny's new, stripey blue reclining rocker -- complete with dangly lion and friends -- all courtesy Em & Daz and Josie & David.

With his arrival soon upon us, we are blessed with some very caring family who have gone above and beyond to make sure we're fully prepared with the necessities. Trust that it is absolutely appreciated and won't be forgotten for a second.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Year 2 Day 36: Pandemonium?

Week 35 at the midwife today. I am 35 weeks and have roughly 35 days remaining until bunny is due for an eviction notice. This was the lovely reading material I was sent home with and to be honest, I'm still on the fence on this issue. I just don't feel that I know enough about the long-term effects, if any, to warrant getting a jab. Plus, I'm so close to the end of this all that I'm really okay with taking a big ole 'PASS' on the whole thing. And in case there was any question over the frenzy that this lovely piggy flu is causing over's not far from the that in the US, which is much like wild uproar, confusion and disorder -- so on the money with the blog title!

Don't judge me.

The belly is measuring 36 centimeters now and that's a roughly estimated 'bunny weight' of 7 lbs. HOLY WOW! Seven?! That means that if I gain the expected "1 lb/week" (which will be 5 lbs) and he gains the also expected half of my weight gained (2.5 lbs) he will be nearly a 10 lb baby by the time he's fully cooked.

Thankfully estimations can be way off and I also don't really think he will be THAT large and in charge -- so stop wishing that pain upon me!!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Year 2 Day 35: Flattery...

...will get you...everywhere. This was the impression I made within 10 minutes of today's art lesson with a Year 5 class when I told them if they were finished with their self-portraits they had started previously, they were welcome to sit where they pleased and work on a free art activity of their choice. The funny thing is, the kids think it was purely because they begged for it. To be honest, however, there wasn't anything to do otherwise in the lesson plan and since most children were finished with their work, I thought this would give them an opportunity to show their self-control. But as you see, I, 'Mrs. Bennit' according to this young man, am 'the best' after all. I'd like to think he's just accurate at reading a person's character. I mean, do alright I guess.

I was called just before 8am to supply again at a school I had been to previously in Droitwich. This meant navigating the M5 once again -- and boy does the journey go much faster when you know which lane NOT to drive in! The traffic getting to the motorway was awful...somewhere near 45 minutes just to get through gridlock in Stourbridge alone. Once I was near Bromsgrove it was smooth sailing the rest of the way -- my kind of trip!

I can't say enough how much I enjoy that school, and it's only my second time working there. The kids are amazingly well-behaved and the staff are very friendly. It really makes for an easy-going day to the point where I don't mind doing the marking for the teacher and leaving a note about how smoothly lessons flowed. Even as I sit here typing my blog, where I would typically feel quite winded after a day in a school in Birmingham, I still feel moderately full of energy. I attribute a large part of this to how stress-free the day went.

It was starting to get a bit dark by the time I left, and still up in the air if they would need cover for tomorrow as well -- so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a call tonight, if possible. I also managed to get back in time to pick Matt up from where a friend at work had dropped him off to walk the rest of the way he didn't have to go far.

OH! And speaking of my lovey...the car was better. It didn't overheat and the fan kicked in right when it was supposed to. Go lovey for your auto-mechanic geniusness!! He got a high-five on the way home for that.

So American!!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Year 2 Day 34: Somethin' Smokin' Underneath the Hood...

And to carry on with a Julie Roberts favourite (from Break Down Here)..."it's a bangin' and a clangin' and it can't be good..." Which is exactly what my little Corsa was doing the past couple of days. It hasn't been uncommon in the past for this car to overheat a bit when sitting idle in traffic, but the fan would always come on at just the right time and cool everything down. When this stopped happening, "Mr. Fix-it Hubby" decided to have a gander under the hood only to discover it was guzzling water like no other. He went to tighten a loose plug feeding to the overflow and it was so brittle that it snapped right in his hand -- not good. This resulted in the car not only overheating, but then spitting water onto the hot engine when it was doing so, thus causing lots and lots of steam under the hood and making ominous popping, cracking and fizzing noises shortly into the second leg of a 20-minute, round-trip journey.

This is not something you want to hear when you and your husband had just taken his car off the road for a month (by not renewing the car tax) to save on fuel and leaving yourselves with one car between the pair of you (the only car you can reach the pedals on, mind you) -- especially when this remaining car was threatening to go on mobility-strike. In theory it made sense, when we formulated this brilliant master-plan, that I could simply take him to work on a morning and just be dressed and ready (with father-in-law's trusty SatNav) in case one of the agencies called me for work as well. The Corsa costs much less to fuel up each week and gets better gas mileage at the end of the day. Eliminating this second car altogether would cause an even bigger dilemma, so when it started throwing this fit, we knew we would need to look into the least expensive option to fix it.

My auto mechanic expertise ranges from changing a flat or brake-pads and probably ends with changing the spark plugs and filter. Matt on the other hand is pretty confident when it comes to diagnosing the problem and getting right in to fix it himself if he feels fairly confident he can do it -- so here's the story where dear husband gets to play the hero.

He says simply that we need to get a new expansion tank and calls around today to find one. He instructs me where to go to get it and says it will only cost £5 altogether. SCORE! I think we can wrangle that out of the budget. So I picked up the part (after fighting my pregnancy-brain filtering the directions he gave me to get there) and headed straight for his work to pick him up. The car's temperature guage was well into the red by this time, despite my pleas to stay below 100. After a quick refill on water, we made it back home safe and sound with very little daylight remaining. Never fear, this is where the hero came in...

He set up his lamp shortly after returning home and got to work straightaway. The man was easily at it for two and a half hours, people! That is sheer determination. Tea had been in the oven nearly 30 minutes before I decided to bring him a nice, hot coffee and he informs me it's all sorted now and he's ready to start the car and test it out. And just like that the car starts, the expansion tank is functioning and this time NOT losing water!! HALLELUJAH!

True...the real test will be when I take Matt the 4 miles to work and back in the morning, but it's still reassuring to know a bigger problem and rather expensive auto-repair/labour cost has been potentially averted for the time being. Now let's hope the calls for supply-work for me start pouring in again!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Year 2 Day 33: Pesky Immigrant

Oh trust that I am completely referring to myself here. I am the immigrant in question -- although it's open to interpretation just how "pesky" I am. Feel free to keep that to yourself, though. It's all apparently about entitlement...and I don't seem to have much at the moment.

Today was a very productive day in my opinion. I made loads of phone calls and I've nearly narrowed down and mapped out a budget and plan for once bunny is here. It's common sense that things will change and there will be expenses that weren't necessary before, so I'm trying my best to get things in order now so I won't be running around like a headless chicken whilst in labour...or worse, a fatigued headless chicken once he IS here and has achieved our mutual goal of  'outside baby' status.

One item on the agenda was good ole Child Benefit -- a mere £20/week 'social security' payment to the parent/guardian for the eldest child under 16 (which I believe was initiated to help supplement cost of care for working parents, or something of that nature). Since I am a foreigner and my immigration status does not allow me access to certain funds, I am limited to what I have permission to claim for that for a typical British Citizen or person with "settled" status might otherwise be privy to and Child Benefit is one of them. The frustrating bit is that this all seems down to the luck of the draw on my geographical location at birth (my own birth, that is). Luckily for us, Matt can still claim for have no fear, UK-Yanks! Your British counterparts still have your back!

To further explain a bit, however, America, despite having such a good relationship with Britain, is not part of the EU or EEA which means we lose out on certain rights that I might otherwise have if I were from New Zealand or even Canada in some cases. It really doesn't make sense to me. But I will refrain from jumping on a soap-box about fairness and how much more illegal immigrants seem to be entitled to.

(Even if I am lawfully employed and contributing to society rather than on my rump on the dole and have forked over a crap-ton of dosh to the government for the 'right' to be here)

Yeah, I'm done now. I'll stop.

Still, you gotta like how I'm not bitter about it. Right?

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Year 2 Day 32: Our First Anniversary!!

This, folks, is what you call a joint effort to celebrate our first year of wedded bliss! We decided that with both of us getting over some form of 'creeping crud' we should stay in today, first of all. Some time later in the month we'd like to return to Dunsley Hall, where we had our gorgeously delicious wedding dinner, for a nice meal.

Initially, we had planned on making one another a simple card rather than spend loads of money (that we likely don't have) and pictured is the result of our card-making, super-power skills combined. We included individual messages for one another inside, but felt it would be symbolic to do the card together since efficiently working together is how we got to where we both are today. We are a team, after all. Plus, I'm pretty sure 'paper' is the gift for the first wedding anniversary.

Admittedly Matt was a bit intimidated by my history of craftiness (I do alright), but I'd like to think the finished product reassured him that it's the sentiment behind it all. Plus, I rather like his style because it is unique to him and part of what I love.

Our day was pleasantly uneventful, which is exactly what we hoped for. Upon waking, my dear husband looked lovingly into my eyes, wished me a Happy Anniversary, and made the comment, "One year honey and we haven't killed each other yet." Awe, bless him! But also very true since it hasn't been all puppies and rainbows. The fact of the matter is we leaned on one another for strength, made it through, and both agree that we are a stronger couple as a result and even love one another that much more. Exactly what a marriage and partnership is all about in our minds.

::passes sick-bucket to any readers in need::

Later in the afternoon I managed to order some groceries online from Asda for delivery tomorrow and depending on the result, I may never have to set foot in there again -- goodbye Pay & Display car park, goodbye crowded aisles...goodbye self-service checkout and cashiers 'over-exerting themselves' SITTING ON STOOLS as they scan! HA!

Matt also picked up our ever-so-tasty Sunday dinners from Em & Daz's and we're both hoping and praying that this is the last week we have to operate that way. I'm going through niece-withdrawl for crying out loud!