Thursday, May 17, 2007

If I were 15

If I were 15 I would stand at the top of my stairs and scream down at my mother that she in fact does not know EVERYTHING.

If I were 15 I would roll my eyes at her from across the living room when she tells me I don't "have to pack that much; I can do laundry once I'm there" as if I am not 34 years old and haven't figured that out myself by now.

If I were 15 I would go up to my room and slam the door just to prove that I am annoyed with her.

However, I am not 15 so I do none of these things - but oh some days I wish I could!! My mom is here for 2 1/2 weeks. We are great friends, we get along wonderfully. Sometimes though she must seriously forget that I am not 6 years old. I shouldn't complain really, should I? She cooks, she cleans, she does laundry, she does all the things that I don't do. It's just that tone she gets in her voice sometimes that makes me want to throw a screaming tantrum like I did when I was a teenager. I will really, really try to resist though!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tulips and Bicycles

I have returned from Amsterdam. If you ever get the chance it is a great city. Everything is in walking distance and it is easy to get around. We enjoyed the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum, the canal boats and Dam Square. We didn't see the red light district at it's peak though. The days are getting longer and with my parents we didn't feel like venturing out at 10:00 when it finally got dark just to walk down a street with prostitutes. I have heard it is quite the sight in the dark. Either way you can't take pictures so it wouldn't really matter.

The "coffee" shops were a sight too. We got the giggles a few times as you walked past one and heard some first timer in there just coughing a lung out. You can buy cannabis cookies, little cans with "grow your own cannabis" on the label, and countless other products containing pot. It was quite the experience.

Something I think we weren't quite aware of is the number of bicycles in Amsterdam. It is their primary mode of transportation. It was nothing to see a parent riding down the street with a bucket type device hooked on the front with 2 kids in it and another child riding in the child seat hooked on the back. When crossing the street you have to watch for cars AND bikes. We witnessed an accident involving a pedestrian and a cyclist and the person on the bike was NOT at all pleased with the tourist who had gotten in his way. They have 3 level parking structures specifically for bikes - it was incredible.

We didn't make it out to the gardens but I had heard from a friend who went 2 weeks ago they had already cut the fields. We chose instead to wander the city that day and by chance we ran right in to the flower market. What a great find and let me tell you the next time I buy tulips I will have to seriously put out of my mind how much cheaper I could have bought them in Amsterdam.
-Side note: I actually don't really like this song by Katie Melua but somehow I couldn't get it out of my mind once I started writing about bicycles. LOL

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

What should I pack?

Well, I'm off for a few days. Amsterdam is calling my name. I will be back on Saturday with a report on my adventures. Hopefully we'll catch a glimpse of some tulips and I'll find the perfect postcard of the Sunflowers for Jordan. We've been warned about the pick pockets so we'll have to be extra careful I guess. We've avoided them in Paris, London, and Belgium but rumor has it the pick pocketers in Amsterdam are especially skilled.

Now off to pack, well after I check my mail, and then I need to check the weather, and then I think I still have laundry to fold. Wait, is CSI on? I might have to take a break already.

The Birthday Party

My children go to private school here in England. It is a perk that we receive as part of our contract living overseas. This perk has its downside as I am a public school mom in a private school mum's world.

This past weekend Jordan was invited to a birthday party. This is where four events happen that make me realize once and again how out of my element I am. Months ago I stopped trying to dress to impress at all and have given in to my Old Navy jeans and t's. I even busted out the white keds - knowing full well that a pair of shoes can honestly identify ones culture. But I don't care. I'm an American and I'm wearing my white tennies. I'm not even going to call them trainers - they are tennis shoes. I don't play tennis in them but that's neither here nor there. So, I quit making sure I have on my best jeans and t-shirts and just go with who I am. However, I still have to socialize with these people with um, interesting results.

Back to the party. We receive the invitation and I see it says to RSVP to Emma. The next day at school I RSVP to Emma while we are getting the children out of the car in the school carpark. A few days later Emma asks if I did in fact RSVP as she has a memory like a "sieve". I remind her that yes I did and then ask if the party is at her home. Her reply "well yes it is at Rebecca's home, her mother is brave having that many children in her home if you ask me." #1: Thinking the child's nanny is her mother.

Let's fast forward to the party. I pull in to the driveway to pick up my child and Rebecca's dad tells me that I need to pull forward a bit more or the gate to their drive will automatically close on my vehicle. I move the car forward a bit. As I am chatting with a few of the other moms Rebecca's mother comes frantically apologizing over and over that their gate did in fact close on my car. She is so worried that it may have caused damage. I keep telling her it isn't an issue, that hopefully her gate is not damaged. I mean seriously I drive a Toyota Picnic. In a carpark of Aston Martins and Range Rover SUV's should we even bat an eyelash at a car with the name "picnic" in it? If the gate did scratch my car I certainly can't spot it. #2: Not moving my car forward enough to avoid this embarrassment.

I return to the back "garden" and the adults are being asked if they would like anything to drink. The list is given out as if we were at a winery. Seeing as I don't drink I just said that I was fine and that I wouldn't need a drink. Of course if they had offered an ice cold can of coke I would have been right there. The chat turns to local clubs and the nanny talks about a club she had been to the night before. Here I go opening my mouth. The one thing I have to contribute? Are you ready? "Did you happen to use the women's toilet while you were there? Because seriously there are all of these stalls that are regular toilet stalls but then the one at the end if you open the door there are 2 toilets in it. TWO toilets in ONE stall - really is anybody that good of friends?" This wasn't received all that well by my present company. Seriously did I think it would? #3: discussing the toilets at the local club.

And then comes the grand finale. Jordan is yelling at me from the treehouse. I go over to her and there she is soaking wet. Did one of the cups spill from the lunch they were eating? Um, no. She wet her pants. Was I smart enough to tip one of them over in disguise of her accident? No, but in hindsight I wish I would have. There I am dragging my wet 5yo out of a tree house. Her friends watch as we walk by and comment "why is Jordan wet?" She is mortified, I am as well. I go over to thank our hosts for the birthday party and when Jordan starts crying the mother says she can stay longer. I then have to tell her that she had an accident and that she can't stay longer. She apologizes once again for not having her go to the bathroom during the party and then runs in for a pair of her daughters underwear. #4 Having the child that pees at the party.

So, I change Jordan in to her borrowed panties. Hold our heads high and march on out the front door. Hmmm, wonder if she'll be invited back for a playdate anytime soon?

Monday, May 7, 2007

Dinner Angst

I seriously don't understand some people. My husband has a bunch of coworkers who are here for a few weeks working on a project. Whenever we have people from out of town he bends over backwards making sure that all of their arrangements are in order. This is not his job, he just wants to make sure they are taken care of when they arrive.

The plan on Friday was that Saturday night we would all go to dinner. There are 7 of them and then add the 3 couples that live here. We're talking about a reservation for 13 people. Saturday comes and we have no idea what the plan is. Around lunch time we put in a phone call to see what was going on. Turns out the "boss" doesn't want to play social planner and has decided that the 3 couples that live here are UN-invited. She made a reservation for 7 yet it was too difficult for her to say 13. She didn't want to make phone calls to let everyone know the plan. She didn't even want to ask someone ELSE to make the phone calls. She chose instead to tell her coworker that she made the reservations and not to call us.

Now this woman is a bit on the odd side she's a 50-ish female engineer and that should explain it all. But when does being "odd" have to turn in to being rude? Nobody asked her to be our social planner. Rumor has it that during their private dinner they would discuss who would be in charge of making these sort of plans in the future. Why does this have to be designated? We don't need embossed invitations just a simple place and time. Why does this make me happy that I am not in the workplace and that I don't have to deal with this stuff on a daily basis?

Her drama doesn't even end there. We ran in to her on Sunday at church and she came up to me and we chatted. No mention of dinner but at this point I was over it. Then she walks right past Stewart. Doesn't even say hello. Not a word. It could be her lazy eye was pointing in the wrong direction and she just didn't see him but I'm pretty sure that wasn't it. The woman is just not right!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Sunflowers and Berries

Jordan is my 5 year old and she is such a joy in my life on most days. She is so different from the boys. She seems to have actual THOUGHTS and she actually expresses them. The boys have thoughts but there is only so much I care to know about runescape or pokemon. Maybe that makes me a bad mom or maybe the reason is much more simple - as children and parents we have to find things to bond over. The boys share their computer gaming love with their Dad - who also thinks it might interest me to know how many bronze swords he bought and that he stole silk scarves from the vendor but now can't sell them because they are stolen. It doesn't interest me.

Jordan's conversations do interest me though. Two recent conversations stick out in my mind. One was while watching "The Weakest Link". I am a trivia junkie and while Jordan can't figure out how the tv can hear me when I am telling them the answers she has put some thought in to a few other things. The other day there was a contestant named Barry.

Jordan: "Barry?"

Mom: "yes, Barry"

Jordan: "Barry???"

Mom: "yes the man's name is Barry."

Jordan: "Like blackberry?"

Mom: "oh no - not like blackberry - the man's name is B-A-RRY. Blackberry is B-E-RRY. Funny isn't it that it sounds the same but it is different?"

A few minutes pass

Jordan: "so what about bury in the dirt is that different?"

This is when I am beaming. Seriously, I taught 7th grade English and some of those kids couldn't figure out there could be 3 different words that sound the same but are all spelled different and here my 5 year old has done it. Proud moment.

Our second conversation was about Sunflowers. Specific sunflowers actually. Jordan came home from school with a simple request: Can we go to Amsterdam and go to the museum that has the paintings of the sunflowers?
I love that in school her teacher read her a picture book about VanGogh and his sunflowers and she actually enjoyed it enough to ask to go there. As luck would have it for me, but not for her, I am going to Amsterdam next week. I made a promise to buy her a postcard with the sunflower paintings on it. That seems to have made her happy.

I can only hope that through the years we'll have more little conversations like these. While I know I'm still going to have to hear about how many adamant points they have and how far away they are from becoming full rune when I talk with the boys maybe I can hope that someday they might want to see the sunflowers in that museum in Amsterdam.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Haircut!

So let me preface by saying that I have lived in England for 2 years and 10 months and since moving here I have not had a proper haircut. I have had a trim here or there but not regular upkeep and definitely nothing you would call a haircut. Let's add on top of all of this that I have not had "bangs" or "fringe" as they are known here in the UK in a good 8 years. I have had various degrees of length but I gave up the bangs quite some time ago. Fast forward to yesterday. After 2 years and 10 months I finally make an appointment to have my haircut. AND I tell her - I would like long layers and maybe some "fringe". I make sure and specify I don't want fringe like my friend "M" while we both agree it looks fine on her I'm not ready to go back to the hairstyle I had in the 9th grade.

I probably need to also include that I got my hair cut in her kitchen. She is an American and cuts the hair of almost every family I know. So, the kitchen has no mirror so you can't really say - "um, I think that's a bit too short" as she's snipping your locks off.

We chat, she cuts, we chat some more, she cuts some more. Then comes the blow dry and style and I'm done. It isn't exactly what I had in mind but then again I've been dealing with this my whole life. I have "thin, white girl hair" most any style I chose is for someone that has a bit more hair on their head. I thank her and tell her it's perfect and off I go. The more I look at it the more unsure I am. The more people that I run in to that say "oh you got your haircut" without including "it looks really good" the more I wonder if I made a mistake.

The good thing is it IS hair and hair grows.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Where to begin?

I've been reading a few blogs for the past couple of weeks and to be honest I've been impressed and intimidated. Some of these women are honestly very funny and very talented writers. I think a lot of people most come in to a blog wondering what they will write about and why would anybody else want to read it. Well, I am going to take the leap and give this thing a go.

For a bit of history I have 3 children. Jackson is 9, Jared is 7 and the girl....Jordan... is 5. We have been living in England for almost 3 years and have another 15 months or so left here. My husband and I have been married for over 14 years and I wouldn't trade him for another just because I don't want to take the effort to train another one. If I get the urge to be stupid I'll just buy myself a puppy.

Living in England has been a fantastic experience. And no my children do NOT call me Mum and I don't care how much you THINK my daughter has an accent I know that when I hear her call my name it is most definitely Mommy and not Mummy. We have stuck to this rule since we moved here. I don't care if you call the trash rubbish, a diaper a nappy, or if we park our car in the carpark instead of the parking lot. Those things can be changed - I, however, can not. I am MOM and just because I live somewhere else that does not change.