Monthly Archives: April 2012

Rainy Days

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The rain just keeps coming.

It has been raining for weeks here in the UK now and I am slowly running out of ideas as to what to do with Josh.

While many of my friends have been sharing idyllic pictures of their kids running barefoot across sun drenched beaches in California, I have been racking my brain trying to think of fun indoor activities.

Don’t get me wrong; we have still “played” outside many times during these downpours, mainly taking long walks and discovering puddles. There’s one day I would particularly like to forget which involved me pushing Josh’s stroller with one hand and trying to hold an umbrella with the other in torrential rain and high winds.

It wasn’t pretty and I think there were tears. Mine, not Josh’s.

During a desperate moment this weekend I even resorted to pasta.

Yes pasta.

I was trying to make lunch and needed something to distract Josh, so I poured some different types of pasta and rice into some bowls, set them in front of him, and you know what? It worked!

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I could not believe how long and how quietly he sat there, sorting the pasta into the different bowls.

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I can guarantee we will be doing this again!

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There was a short break from the rain this afternoon for maybe an hour and Tim decided to take Josh to this event we had heard about.

As you know, Josh loves trains. And cars. And buses. Anything transportation related.

It was the Spring Gathering for the London Bus Museum, which means there were lots of old buses on display. Tim took some photos of Josh with his blackberry and though they aren’t the greatest of quality, you can clearly see some of the buses.

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You can also see Josh looking at the buses, holding his toy bus.

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Tim is such a great dad to take Josh out in the cold rain to see these old buses. I clearly don’t get it, but Tim said Josh loved it.

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Josh even managed to eat some ice cream while he was out today. I think some might have actually managed to make it in his mouth.

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He was probably too busy looking at the buses to notice.

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The Violin

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My second class for the writing course is tonight and I’m starting to get a little nervous.

We were assigned homework which we were supposed to turn into the instructor by Tuesday, so she could critique it and return it to us before we have to read it aloud in class tonight.

I e-mailed mine in on Tuesday and have yet to hear anything back. Either she read mine and became violently ill after reading it (as in, it was bad) or I sent it to the wrong email address.

While I’m pretty sure it was just the wrong email account, wouldn’t it be kind of funny if it really were that bad; that she swore off teaching forever! I wonder if that has ever happened?

Anyways, I’ve been debating whether to share it on the blog or not and I feel like now I should, if even just to send it out into the void to get my mind off of it.

The assignment was 300 words on “the violin.” I guess you could interpret that however you want. I couldn’t believe how short 300 words is; barely even one whole page!

So here it is, for better or for worse, my 300 words on “the violin.”

Enjoy…

Hopefully!

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“The Violin”

Relegated to a corner, easily overlooked amid the volumes of leather bound books, it had sat, untouched for years, gathering dust upon a shelf in his library. This exile made it easier to forget the happy days once associated with the violin. Yet, despite its silence, the mere presence of the violin, albeit in the shadows, was painful for him. Still, Martin couldn’t bear to rid himself completely of it.

It had been during the summer of 1978 when, as a child, his Grandfather had marched him down the weathered streets of Heidelberg and straight into Fandrich & Sons instrument shop. His Grandfather, an accomplished pianist, prided himself on the musical talents of his family, and he had decided his Grandson would be no different.

Martin had resisted at the time, his mind filled with daydreams of fighting pirates and slaying dragons. Yet, as he stood amid all the shimmering instruments lining the walls, he inexplicably found himself drawn to a small, dark violin, hidden behind a more commanding bassoon. This delicate violin, appearing almost fluid in its grace, held him in its trance.

A faint smile crossed his Grandfather’s lips as he watched his Grandson gravitate towards the violin. He recognized the stillness that seemed to envelope Martin as he drew ever closer, his anxious fingers stretching out to stroke the violin’s darkly varnished body. He had once felt that same lust, when he, as a young boy, ran his eyes over the cold ivory keys of a Steinway piano.

“This one,” whispered Martin, his head never turning from the violin. “I want to play this one.”

As they walked back up the darkening streets, Martin felt the weight of the violin, secured within its leather case, pulsing with expectation.

Family Photo Magnets

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Josh is now 20 months old and is becoming quite the mimic.

I remember when maybe only as recently as a few months ago I was getting a little concerned that Josh really wasn’t saying much. Sure he was great at pointing and grunting, but I probably didn’t help much by knowing exactly which grunt meant milk and which grunt meant something else. I don’t think he ever needed to talk because I was always there.

As it was, he started to talk. And the words just keep coming.

I feel as if in the space of this last month, he has gone from maybe 10 words to repeating every word that comes out of our mouth. Tonight at dinner he said “peach.” Where was he hiding that one all this time?

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He also is now putting words together. I’m not sure when that is supposed to happen, but he will now say “hello daddy” or “big car.” Nothing major but exciting to Tim and I none the less.

The other day, he was throwing one of his toys (is this just typical of boys?) and I told him “no!” Several minutes later, he threw another toy and before I could scold him, he said “no!” and pointed with his finger the same exact way I had at him only minutes earlier.

I might have been mad but when he saw the surprised look on my face, he said “hug” and ran with his arms outstretched to me.

I’m such a sucker…

Another thing that has made me happy is that I now have proof that Josh knows his family.

It has always bothered me living so far away from my family. Even more so since Josh was born. I feel like they are missing out on seeing Josh grow up and Josh is missing out on spending time with them.

It really bothered me to hear my family say “oh he won’t even recognise me the next time I see him!”

First of all, I’m sure he will. We Skype all the time. And secondly, I have pictures up of everyone everywhere!

In addition to all the photos around the house, I made these magnets a few months ago, using pictures of members of my family with Josh. I thought it would be a good way to remind Josh daily of his family back in California.

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They were simple enough to make.

I just took the pictures, glued them onto some cardboard and then covered them with contact paper. I cut each of them out and attached a magnet to the back.

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I put them on the refrigerator at Josh level so that he could see and play with them. Sometimes when we’re in the kitchen I will point out certain ones and talk to him about his family in the photos.

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He has always loved looking at the pictures, pointing at them and playing with them.

Then the other day I asked him to find a particular person, and he did. He went through and did that with all of the photos.

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It made me very happy…

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One April to the Next

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What a difference a year makes!

As it’s almost the end of April, I thought I would share one of my favourite pictures of Josh. It was taken in St James’s Park in London sometime during April last year.

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There had been a streak of warm weather and we had gone to St James’s Park to have a picnic. Josh was only about 8 months old at the time and not able to walk on his own yet. He spent most of the time sitting on the grass and digging in the dirt.

I guess some things never change!

A few weeks ago, we had some warmer weather, the daffodils came out again, and I was able to take some pictures of Josh that reminded me of the one in St James’s Park.

Though now that he can walk, and more importantly, run away, he is sadly no longer as easy to photograph.

Still, I’ve enjoyed getting to see how he’s grown.

It’s going by so fast…

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First Drafts

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Every morning, without fail, Josh will eat a whole bowl of oatmeal.

This began months ago with Josh “mooching” some of Tim’s oatmeal at breakfast.

As difficult as it is to get him to eat certain foods sometimes, he’ll happily eat anything… as long as someone else is currently eating it.

He will walk over to where you are sitting, ask to be picked up, sit on your lap and happily plunge his dirty little toddler hands into your food and eat away.

I guess I might be mad, but at least he’s eating right?

This morning, to mix things up a bit, I tried out a different recipe for baked oatmeal. I had never made baked oatmeal before, but I had some strawberries that needed using and decided to give it a go.

The recipe I used is for baked oatmeal with strawberries, banana and chocolate, which I found here at Inspired Taste.

I did change the recipe a bit in that I probably doubled the amount of strawberries (I told you I had a lot of strawberries that needed using!), and reduced the salt by half. I also didn’t use any chocolate and instead used almonds in place of the walnuts.

It is nice because I think it can be refrigerated and heated up for breakfast tomorrow. And maybe even the day after, depending on how much Josh decides to eat!

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Either way, it was a hit today with Josh, so we’ll see if he feels the same about it tomorrow.

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After breakfast, we went for a walk along the canal.

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At one point on the walk, there was an area where they had just cut the grass. I gathered some up for Josh who enjoyed playing with it as we walked, even despite the wind blowing most of it away.

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We ended up making our way to the local art museum, which runs an under 5s painting session every month.

It was our first time going and I was beginning to regret the decision as Josh seemed more obsessed with these little pom pom animals than the paint.

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But as more kids starting arriving and painting, he was able to watch them and eventually ended up painting quite a bit.

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We ended up having a really nice time and I hope we can go do more of these sessions in the future.

Speaking of trying new things…

Last night was the first class for a creative writing course I am taking.

I’ve always had an interest in writing and now that I think of it, in all my many, many years of schooling, I don’t think I’ve ever taken a class completely dedicated to creative writing.

In all honesty, I was really nervous last night. I thought it would go either one of two ways. One, no one would actually be in the class, or two, I would be so completely out of my league.

It turned out to be just fine though and they seem like a really friendly group of talented people.

If anything it inspired me, listening to the instructor talk about the process (and frustrations) that come with writing. My favourite quote she used during the evening was one from Ernest Hemingway, who apparently said “The first draft of anything is shit.”

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Wise words indeed.

100 Days

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Today, I needed to run some errands in central London. On my way in, I grabbed the Metro (the free paper in London), and look at the headline!

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Only 100 days till the Olympics!

I don’t know about everyone else, but I am really excited about it!

Well, I guess I do have some idea of how some British people feel…

Most of the Brits I’ve talked to aren’t as excited as I think they should be. But then again, we American’s are known for being enthusiastic.

About everything.

Perhaps a bit too much for British tastes.

The British people that I have talked to about the Olympics mainly focus on the hassle it will cause to their lives. Oh the traffic! Oh the tourists! Many of them are looking to just get out of London while the games are on.

There were some “adverts” in the Metro even hinting at this, as if saying “we know it’s going to be annoying, but please just try and make the best of the situation.”

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Another thing I’ve heard lots of British people complain about, is how the tickets for the games were allocated. Everyone who was interested signed up, and, in a sort of lottery, were given tickets. Obviously, if the event you wanted was more popular, there was less of a chance of you getting tickets.

The funny thing is, or the thing that irritates me, is that usually, the people that complain about this “unfair” ticketing allotment, never actually signed up to get tickets in the first place. Is it just me who feels that you really can’t complain about something that you didn’t even try for?

And of all of the people I know who did apply for tickets, they all got something. Even if it is just to weightlifting (sorry anyone who likes weightlifting!), but they still got tickets.

Tim and I applied for several events (our two big ones were track and field or swimming) and we ended up with one morning session for the swimming. So I am counting down the days!

I guess what I’m trying to say, somewhere in this long rant, is that people should be excited about the Olympics!

What a wonderful experience to tell your children about someday.

My Grandpa was lucky enough to get tickets to the Los Angeles Olympics back in 1984. He always said if I ever got the opportunity to go someday, it didn’t matter to which event, I had to go. You’re experiencing a part of history.

He was full of good advice.

When I had finished my errands in London, I made my way down to Trafalgar Square and the big Olympic countdown clock. There were lots of news trucks there and the clock was roped off, but I took a few pictures with my phone.

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Aside from the journalists and random tourists, there weren’t many people around.

Hopefully it was just the weather that put them off.

Old Houses

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England is old.

I’m not saying old is a bad thing; there is history, culture, traditions. All that is great.

But when it comes to old houses, I’m not a big fan.

Our house is over 100 years old, and I don’t even think that is considered old by British house standards. I think it’s just average.

It’s something I will probably never get used to, the fact that our house was around before the First World War. In California, I think a building from the 60s is old.

I can still remember when Tim and I first moved in and we were putting up wallpaper. Tim pulled out a large chunk of who knows what from the wall, and explained to me that horse hair was still used for making plaster when our house was built.

Horse hair aside, the thing that really bothers me is the lack is storage. There is no such thing as a built in closet in these old houses.

Thankfully, we are lucky enough to have an amazing brother-in-law, Andy, who knows how to build things like closets and has generously spent the better part of his week off helping Tim to remove a hundred year old chimney so we can have a closet.

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I’m annoyed with myself for not remembering to take any “before” pictures, but we had been talking about doing this on and off and it was a last minute decision to go ahead and actually start it this week. I will be sure to take more photos as we go along. I may not have any clue what is happening along the way (what are joists?) but will try and document for everyone back in America.

Here is the artist at work after all the plaster and bricks had been removed.

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And a photo of Josh saying “what the heck did you just do to your room?!”

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Aside from the day where we had some weird weather, complete with thunder, lightning and hail, Josh and I tried our best to stay out of Tim and Andy’s way.

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On Saturday we went and explored Guildford a little. I was the most excited about finding an American candy/sweet shop.

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Josh was more excited about a soft play area.

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Another nice benefit of having Andy over at the house, meant we had an excuse to have lots of meals together which was a lot of fun.

We even went ahead and had Andy and Naomi, Lucy and Alex over Saturday night for a game night.

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Now, having slept on the living room floor the last few nights, I really was thinking it might not be the best idea to have guests over, especially as we would have to eat in our temporary “bedroom!”

But I kept thinking about how my Grandma once told me that when she and my Grandpa were young and had just bought their first house together, they didn’t have much money. She said they didn’t even have furniture. But they always had friends over and always had such a great time. She said those are some of her favourite memories.

So as much as I’d like to have a clean house and clean clothes and nice food to feed our friends, I’m so glad we went ahead with Saturday night! We had such a blast playing games and eating pizza, I don’t think anyone even noticed the mess.

Real friends don’t care whether your house is clean or not.