Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Looking Ahead to Our England Visit

This will be the year I drop 50 lbs and stop drinking. Yeah right, I've said that every year for a decade. But this WILL be the year I go to England, if I have to blow up a dinghy and paddle there myself.

I know that it's a lot of money to get there. I know the weather might be crap. I know it's expensive. I know we won't have time to relax. I know I'll be going as an American citizen, and that makes me catch my breath and feel sad. Not sure why.

But I'm going and I'm so excited to take the boys and show them London and my childhood home and all the places I got up to mischief.

I'm going to let them play the arcades in Southport, run down the dunes in Formby, ride a donkey on the beach, pull goofy faces at a Queen's guardsman to try and make him laugh. We'll pretend to steal the crown jewels and hitch a ride up Blackpool tower.

I'll make them eat fish and chips and pork n' pickle pies and bacon butties and rock. They'll learn new words, many of them very rude and funny.

It's been 7 years since I went with work and to my friend Sue's wedding. It's been eight years for Craig when we took Jack home for Christmas in 2007.  It's definitely time we went.

I've been chatting with the boys for months already and they are excited to see certain things. Jack is very excited to go to Blackpool and I don't blame him. I'm 45 and I'm still excited to go there.

Vegas of the North. Tacky but Beloved. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day was so good. Here's a few pictures. I wish I had taken more but between skyping and calling family and entertaining visitors it was super busy.

Christmas Eve started with me running errands and losing my keys (still lost) while Craig took the boys to see Big Hero 6 with our neighbors. I took Jack to see the local church's nativity play again while Craig brined the turkey and got food prepped. The church service is only an hour long and we have friends in the nativity. I'm not normally a churchgoer but I love doing this each year and singing a few festive hymns. After church Eric and Maureen came over and we watched Santa on the NORAD tracker. When he got to Florida Eric told the boys to get to bed and they did - and stayed there! They both still believe and it is magical. We did the whole cookies and milk and carrots ceremony before they went to bed too.

A little bit of both England and America

Christmas Eve nativity concert with Maureen

Jack's school friend was in the nativity

Uncle Eric brought remote control muscle cars & helped track Santa's journey
Christmas Day
The boys bounded out of bed at 8am and it was a whirlwind couple of hours of opening presents and drinking coffee and trying to get the turkey in the oven. In between we managed to shower and make breakfast but it was go-go-go. We skyped all our parents and Leanne which was wonderful. I wish she could have celebrated here with us. At 4pm our friends Lyn, Fred & Vicki came for dinner. Craig made the most amazing turkey dinner. Later that night Maureen came after work for her dinner and we partied till midnight. It was such a fun day.

So many toys, plus tickets to WWE Raw 

John Cena punchbag was a hit

Loved his new bigfoot sweatshirt
Kids loved the crackers
Craig's fabulous turkey dinner
Refused to try the turkey dinner. Ate tinned spaghetti. Sigh. 

Too fabulous for words
Lyn & Maureen
Pavlova, Trifle, Christmas Pudding & Mince Pies

Monopoly selfie

Both boys got skateboard gear
Boxing Day was great but I took no photos. I skyped my mum again then we went to see Unbroken at the cinema. It was soooo good and I had a little cry.  At night our neighbors and their kids and some other friends (Mike & Sue) came over for a couple of hours.

So the 3 days were packed but oh so much fun. Today we are having a low-key day and trying to concentrate on the kids. Today is a good day to start building all those Lego sets.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Bright Star Quilt

I made a 60" x 68" bright star quilt for dad & Sheila for Christmas. They are going to decorate and have a lemon and deep-red living room so I tried to pick colors that would match. This was my first attempt at a star and I think I did okay! I hope they spend time snuggled under it watching telly.
I picked the most wonderful, soft, mustard-colored flannel backing and chose a contrasting light blue binding that tied in a little with the flower squares. I love this quilt and hope they do too.

American Quilt

This is the 60" x 80" American flag quilt that I made Craig's mum & dad for Christmas. I picked fabric that I thought they'd love, with some hints of Americana. The backing is a pretty zigzag flannel fabric that's very soft. My attempt at a homemade label looks, well homemade, but I guess that's the point.

While it was being made I loved picturing them using it. Throwing it onto their living room carpet for their great-grandkids to play on, or snuggling under it in winter when they watch Eastenders. I hope they get lots of use out of it. It was definitely made with love.

A Memory Quilt

I made this 65" x 65" quilt for mum and Tom for Christmas. It was my first "disappearing 9 patch" quilt. It has a warm grey flannel backing and polka-dot binding. I chose the cotton fabrics carefully, ordering many of them custom-printed from Spoonflower.

It represents their adventures in America: the trips across the wild west, the heartfelt moments at Gettysburg and their love for Johnny Cash and guitars. It's bright and possibly a bit busy but then it holds so many memories.  I hope they look at each square and think back to the amazing times we've had together.  My favorite is the Native American square. I wonder what theirs will be?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Beautiful Tree

Our neighbor's Christmas tree is amazing. Every year I say this and I probably have 50 posts on here talking about it, but look at it. What a beauty.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Eve Eve

The sickness that has invaded our lives is subsiding. We are both off work now for a few days and we are (sort of) ready. Time to have fun with the kids and be jolly!

With friends at the Fantasy of Lights

Warm sticky buns for breakfast

A drive through the Fantasy of Lights

Monday, December 22, 2014

Porch Love

The porch is done! The city came today and signed off on the permit so we hung some lights and set out a chair & ottoman.  It looks a bit hillbilly as we have yet to paint it and put railings up but I loved sitting out there. It will be my most used "room". I'm going to sit on it in the morning before work with my coffee and at night with a glass of wine. I'm going to sit and watch thunderstorms and snow fall. I'm going to decorate it and escape to it when my kids are driving me up the wall.
Loving my porch.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Housebound & Happy About it

I wish I was the resting kind. I can't nap, or lay around and do nothing, even for a minute. So the last two weeks have been busy as usual, but also abnormally brutal. I've had two big conferences (speaking 6 times) and a trip out-of-state to Texas and an overload of end of semester grades and school stuff for the boys and then all the regular stuff I'm supposed to do. Like hoover my house and walk the dog. Neither of those things have happened so my house has hairballs the size of footballs and my dog might just have gone crazy ape shit bonkers through being cooped up so long. New Years resolution number one - get a dog walker.

I got home from Texas at 10.30pm on Wednesday night and hit a wall: earache, sore throat and achy bones. Turns out I have strep throat and my doctor ORDERED me to rest. Told me not to leave the house for two days. Yay! I can be a slob and not brush my teeth till noon. And be in the house on my own. No kids following me from room to room saying "mum, mum, mum, mum, mum, mum...."

So I'm cleaning, wrapping, cooking, dealing with work stuff and of course not resting. But it's a damn site more enjoyable when you are at home and bra-less.

"Bring out yer dead!"

Monday, December 15, 2014

Santa Visit 2014

We took the boys to see our favorite Santa. Is this guy the real deal or what? Completely rotund. I'm fairly sure both my boys still believe. If Jack doesn't then he's doing a good job of pretending he does.
We also took them to Toys R Us to spend their money from grandparents. They were like kids in a toy shop obviously. Jack got army figures and planes and Daniel got a huge teddy and some Minecraft stuff. I feel a bit weird letting them play with it before Christmas but also don't want to make a big deal about making them wait another week. I just don't have the energy for that right now.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

December Started with a Flourish

December so far has been bonkers. Filled with parties, work conferences and events at the boy's school. But I am not complaining, we love the Christmas season. There's still a work trip to Texas to get out of the way before I can really feel relaxed and excited but today we are going to see Santa.

Daniel took a little while to warm up to his concert but then rocked it!

British Expat Party

Jack and his friend David