Having been at home for most of the past few months I've come to know the routine of the house fairly well, so I usually expect the post (American translation : Mail - Reminder of my observation that the US has a Postal Service, whilst the UK has a Royal Mail) to arrive at 2:30 and I listen out for it. If our post-lady (Same as a "mail-woman" Americans!) climbs the stairs then either we or our neighbour, Jack (he's a very polite musician), have got a parcel. Exciting!
Today we got the knock on the door, and when I saw the stamps were from Germany I knew my Christmas present from Moth had arrived (she's not in Germany though, just the company she bought my present from!). You see, rather than going the driftwood route, my Mum decided to do something really avant garde: She bought something that she knew I wanted.
I have been eyeing up these felted wool Birkenstock clogs for years, but never felt justified in buying them when I already had slippers. Of course those slippers, including my most recent bunny slippers, had a foam sole and so offered no support whatsoever. After an hour or so of carrying a crying baby up and down the hallway you begin to really begrudge that lack of support, believe you me.
The Amsterdam Birkenstocks did not disappoint, they are comfortable and warm, AND they have the trademark Birkenstock footbed. So the arch support is fantastic, and it has extremely good shock absorption.
My feet are just revelling in their new petrol blue homes - All the more so for my noticing that colour seems to have been discontinued, so Moth got them for me just in time! Squee!
Thank you Moth!
I mis-spoke when I said that Eva hadn't had a Christmas gift from my Father-in-Law - He actually sent her a lovely illustrated book of fairy tales last week. I regret the error (Additionally I note that my own Dad has yet to acknowledge her existence, much less sent her anything for Christmas. So. Father-in-Law is ahead on points here.)
Doc C and I got our presents yesterday:
That's one rather nice piece of driftwood, and a bit of palm tree that has had a glittery green pompom and a pipe cleaner glued to it. Both of these were given to us along with very specific details of where they were found. I think we're going to keep the driftwood but maybe we can return the bit of palm tree. Of course we don't have a receipt for that, so maybe we can get credit instead of a refund.
Ah, Christmas - It's just not the same unless there is some sort of family drama, is it?
Doc C told me that his Dad had mentioned that he might visit sometime between Christmas and New Year's Eve... By which he clearly meant he'd be arriving on the 23rd! Otherwise unannounced! Ta-Dah!
I'll be honest, we really didn't have anything particular planned, but it's still thrown me off my holiday stride. I've been assured by Doc that his Dad won't expect us to do anything special like cook a turkey, and it's not like he brought presents for anyone (*cough* Brand new grand-daughter *cough*) so maybe I should try to relax.
After all, as I said, he arrived yesterday and has so far actually only visited us for about an hour this afternoon. I had just started making molasses cookies when he arrived, and I was pulling them out of the oven when he left for the day. He said he'd be back tomorrow, but who knows when?
After a really lovely day with a happy Eva on Wednesday she became a screaming demon yesterday - We reasoned that perhaps she had enjoyed being around more people, so we decided to take her out today.
We went back to The Treehouse with her this afternoon, and she had a lovely time STARING at the small boys who were running around in capes playing superheroes. Whilst Eva was happily preoccupied Doc C and I were able to have a coffee and chat with Jessie, another new mum, who we orignally met at the CPR class and who we saw again at the Smarty Pants party. Her baby boy, Sam, is six weeks old and he is such a little sweetheart. It's really funny to see a baby that small next to Eva, because it is amazing to realise how much she has grown in such a short time and I just hadn't really noticed it because I was just to close to it. Not seeing the woods for the trees indeed!
We put Eva's sociability to the test today, and introduced her to several new people in their homes; happily for us she loved it, and was very smiley and well behaved. When she's interested in something she leans as far forward as she can and STARES, and she was doing that a lot today.
My favourite part of the afternoon was when Eva was being held by our friend Megan, and was clearly perfectly happy, but then Eva caught sight of me and held her arms out to me! She has never done that before and it was really very sweet. Of course it could have been because she felt ready to spit up her afternoon snack, and I'm always a comfortable person to do that on apparently.
Eva only actually cried when we put her into her car seat to bring her home, but by that point she was also very tired so she fell asleep very quickly.
Today is my lovely Mum's birthday - So I'm boxing up Eva and sending her via airmail!
Happy Birthday Moth!
Edith on the other hand...
Again, I'm kidding! Please don't put either babies or cats in a cardboard box and ship them internationally. I'm pretty sure there would be some shipping tax issues for starters.
(In all seriousness the baby was never let out of my sight whilst lying on the packing peanuts, because I wouldn't trust her not to choke on one and that would be so awful - Edith knows better then that and simply bats the packing peanuts around with her paws.)
Doc C is the youngest of 9 children, and all of his siblings already have kids - So we've been getting a lot of stuff sent to us for Eva over the last few months. One of Doc's sisters had a particularly posh pram slash pushchair that her own daughter had just grown out of, so my Mother-in-Law paid for it to be shipped it to us along with a big bundle of clothes. We knew to expect it, but when the UPS guy knocked on the door with a box almost as big as he was, well, it was still a surprise!
This thing is ENORMOUS. I mean I knew that Jamie had only just grown out of it, and she's now five, but this is really built like an upholstered tank. We weren't sure if we would actually be able to fit it in the car (we can!), and it is totally impractical for this apartment unfortunately. Fortunately our current pram will be fine for a while yet, and then we can switch to the super-fancy-hand-me-down when we really need to. By that point we may well have moved apartments, and I think we really do have to find something on the ground floor next time.
In the mean time we've been forced to put it in storage, because it was taking up so much floor space and because Edith had decided it was a mobile cat condo. Having taken that away from her we haven't quite had the heart throw away the box yet, so Edith been throwing herself around in that this afternoon.
Today was the first day of Doc C's paternity leave! Woot!
The cats and Eva decided to initiate him into it with a trial by fire; there were multiple pukings, peeings (in nappies, which is fine; and on the floor in front of the litter tray, which is not fine at all) and grumpy grizzling.
We'd already planned to celebrate today by going out for sushi, and also handing in my CV to anywhere we'd missed in our last sweep of down town. After Doc C showered and dressed he put on his usual after shave (Bulgari for Men - It's a really nice smell), and Eva who had been sleeping in the bedroom woke up screaming apparently at the scent. Once she had stopped crying she didn't seem bothered by the cologne, and we carried on getting ready to leave. As I was getting my shoes on I heard Doc ushering Nancy hurriedly outside, because she'd been about to throw up on the sofa. That disaster averted we left the house.
Lunch was delicious and I applied to a particularly nice jewellers that I've often admired as we went past it. Eva was actually very well behaved whilst we were out and didn't start complaining until we were on our way home anyway.
When we got back someone, and, whilst I have no way of knowing who I do have my suspicions, had vomitted on the sofa. Doc C very calmly took the covers off the seat cushions and took them to the laundrette. When he got back, Eva decided to demonstrate her exciting new super-sonic screams and it took both of us over an hour to calm her down for her usual evening nap,
I am very pleased to say that my husband did not run screaming after such a day. Instead he had a shot of whiskey and then cooked dinner. He's a keeper.
****Post Script**** After I wrote this Doc C discovered someone had peed in the bath (Edith is the prime suspect), and whilst we were discussing this Edith jumped up to the bookshelves and knocked off one of Eva's toys. sigh.
As I've mentioned before, even though Eva is sleeping like a log at night (which, again, I am thrilled by and hope that I'm not jinxing), I am still woken up very easily by any noise in our apartment. On Saturday night we went to bed as usual, and I was jolted awake by really loud music at quarter to four in the morning. The music was coming from our living room. Which was odd. Doc C was sound asleep and so was Eva, and I didn't want them to be woken up, so I got up to see what the hell was going on.
The stereo was blaring a Michael Jackson concert. The cats were awake and were just kind of nervously milling around the room, so I thought that one of them must have sat on the remote and turned on the stereo. I wanted to turn off the music, obviously, but I couldn't see the remote so I just pulled the power cable out and went back to bed. When I got up the next day I plugged it back in, and found the remote; it was right in front of the stereo but there was a lot of other bits and bobs around it which made it seem very unlikely that the cats could have touched it.
So I have no idea what that was about, and it hasn't happened again. Weird.
This week is pleasantly truncated by Thanksgiving, not that it makes any difference to my schedule really but it is lovely to have Doc C at home for a nice long weekend. So there will be lots of sleep most likely.
To kick off the week, on Monday night we took an impromptu over-night trip to our friends Randy and Laura's house, which is where has been Doc C staying during the week this semester. The reason we chose that evening for our first overnight experiment with Eva was because Randy and Laura would be away at a conference, so if, Eva's usually excellent sleep pattern was disrupted by the change of location, then the only people she would keep awake would be us. As it happened she slept just as well in their house as she does in ours, so we will be able to visit them when they are actually at home! Yay! (Although their poor cats won't be happy about that, they were really not comfortable with there being a baby in the house and hid from her.)
I totally forgot to mention that it was mine and Doc's birthday last Monday - That's how much of an event it was this year! Doc had to teach, so he was away and it was just me, Eva and the cats hanging out and watching Eddie Izzard on Netflix. I went to bed early.
Ah well, at least my Mum prepared and sent a fantastically thoughtful parcel of lovely things for all of us which arrived on Thursday. I'm wearing the fleece lined slipper socks right now, M&S's finest, and they are gorgeously cosy.
Evalyn Alice is 8 weeks old today - And look how much bigger and happier she is!
Also, you can tell that Doc C is out of town because there is no way he would allow her to be dressed in a black/grey striped onesie with black/grey leopard print leggings and hot pink socks (It's probably a good thing that you can't see her nappy cover, which is lime green).
I think she looks very fashion forward and adorable myself.
*** Post Script - I just spoke to Doc C, he said he saw today's photo of Eva and actually the outfit was kind of punk rock and cool! So maybe she will wear this ensemble a few more times! ***
My friend Kirsten was in town today viewing some studio space, so she came to visit Evalyn and have a cup of tea with me. I was very proud to be able to offer some of the butter cookies I made yesterday to go with that cup of tea; and whilst Eva did occasionally fuss a little bit (she is baby after all!) she did put on a good show of grinning and cooing as well. She's a good baby!
It was lovely to see Kirsten, because she is a good egg, and she also brought me a mug with it's very own soft toy zombie. It is adorably creepy and I love it!
Doc C's sister sent a crocheted pink hat with a pink ribbon and feather rosette. The rosette is RIDICULOUS and takes the hat completely over-the-top from cute to infant drag. It was already so pink that we couldn't resist pairing it with the sugary sweet white and pink dress(with embroidered pink ladybirds on it) and, finally, pink socks. Eva was very possibly the pinkest baby in Asheville, which was in honour of our going out for sushi with our friend Laura.
This was the first time I've had proper sushi since I found out I was pregnant (I did have crab stick sushi, which is a mediocre counterfeit). I had the sushi deluxe plate, which has several different types of sushi and rolls, and a special order of crispy salmon skin rolls. Crispy salmon skin is my favourite type of sushi and I have been thinking about it for months. It was utterly delicious.
All in all a very fun evening.
Moth's flight home was yesterday morning, so I walked to her hotel with Eva to have breakfast before she left. Eva was a fairly well behaved baby, but she did want to be held; this actually turned out to be very useful because I suddenly realised I hadn't taken any pictures of my Mum holding her. What was I thinking?!?! I got a couple of really nice pictures of the two of them, which made me very happy!
I was really sad to see Moth go, but that's the problem with moving to a foreign country isn't it? The very definition of it being foreign is that it's far away from home, and that sometimes sucks quite frankly.
On the other hand Eva is a little bit fractious at the moment, which I think is because she's hitting a developmental stage (yes, I have a book about that too. This one's called "The Wonder Weeks", and it apparently predicts these points in a baby's young life so you can brace for them. You can't avoid them, just be slighltly more mentally prepared.) Eva was really quite well behaved and snuggly whilst Moth was here, so that was actually pretty great timing in many ways.
I just hope that the next time Moth visits or we go home to England (I think it's Evalyn's home too, right?) it can be for longer, of course by then Eva will be a little bit older too, so she might be more aware of things. That would be lovely.
Moth took us out for dinner this evening, and we decided to try the seafood restaurant close to our apartment. It was terrific - Moth and I shared a combo bowl (shrimp, mussels and clams) and a salad with salmon, feta and capers; Doc C had a bayou bucket, which is literally a bucket of shrimps, bratwurst, corn-on-the-cob and potatoes.
Evalyn came too, we've taken her out in the evenings a couple of times this week whilst Moth has been here, and I think she got a bit jealous because this was the first time she refused to settle down to sleep and started grizzling. In the end I had to feed her whilst I was trying to feed myself, quite a tricky manoeuvre but it worked pretty well and she stopped being fussy.
The only tricky part really, apart from trying to get Eva to latch whilst hiding my chest under a swaddling cloth, was trying to eat seafood with one hand. Lucky for me that MY Mum was there, so she peeled the shrimp for me! Yum!
I am LOVING having my Mum here. It is so nice to spend time with her and show her around town, and of course I was super excited to introduce her to Evalyn.
We've been trying to show her as much of town as possible, but we are kind of tethered to Eva's time-table and tolerance levels, so a quick trip to the mall is entirely feasible but an afternoon downtown was a little ambitious.
Mum has been so generous with her time here, and she's really helped me to feel more comfortable trying new things with Eva. I hope Mum's having fun too whilst she's here, that only seems fair. Tomorrow we're planning a trip to the Arboretum - Hopefully that will be fun for all of us!
My lovely mum, Moth, arrived this morning to visit her brand new grand-daughter! Eva doesn't know yet how lucky she is to have Moth but I do, and I am SO pleased she's here for the next 8 days. This is Moth's first visit to North Carolina, so there is a lot to show her and it's been two years since I was last at home so there is also a lot of chatting to be done.
Posts may be a little erratic over the next week or so, because I'm usually prompted to post by remembering that Moth will be wanting to know what's going on - And if she's here, well, she already knows!
Evalyn does actually have a Star Trek Science Officer (the blue uniforms) onesie that our friend Danny gave her, but she's a bit small for it right now. Naturally when it fits her I will draw on some Spock like eyebrows with an eyeliner pencil and take some more photos.
Doc C's Ma and his older brother Richie have come for the weekend to visit Evalyn. Both of them have had lots of experience with babies (Doc's Ma has six children and an even dozen grand-children, and Rich has a step grand-daughter who is 2 or 3 now who he helps to look after) so it's been nice to have them here, validating our parenting.
Eva has been very well-behaved whilst they were visiting and has barely cried at all (except when she's getting hungry). I think my Mother-in-Law's favourite thing has been seeing her youngest son changing nappies, and generally being a really good dad (Have I mentioned that Doc C is a bloody great dad? Well, he is. I am extremely lucky to have such a supportive husband, and I think Eva is going to thoroughly enjoy being his daughter).
Ma and Rich fly home tomorrow, but my Mum gets here in a week and will be staying for a fortnight. We may not be as close geographically to our families as we would like at the moment, but when it counts we definitely feel very supported by them.
I am very glad that we had plenty of time to pack for this move, because it is TOO HOT to pack more than one small box before stopping for a large glass of water and, possibly, a restorative two hour nap. At least I am not whining about it too much and I know this because Doc C has commented several times about how my tolearance for warm weather has improved over the years we have lived here.
This weekend was actually pretty good for heat avoidance.
Saturday we spent at Randy and Laura's for Jasmine's send off to Australia, which was lovely. There was a cake with a map of Australia on it and everything! Jasmine is going to be spending a semester in Oz, but her visa is for six months so she might stay a bit longer to explore under her own steam. I am so excited for her, it is going to be a proper adventure whilst still helping her to get her undergraduate degree - Bonus!
On Sunday it was as hot as the surface of the sun. I am sure of it. It was desperately uncomfortable in the house, and we basically both ended up fitfully napping under the living room ceiling fan, until Doc C finally snapped and demanded we go to the cinema just to get some air-condtioning. There was nothing we really desperately wanted to see, but "The Amazing Spiderman" will always be pertinent to our interests so we watched that. Eva seemed to particularly enjoy it, and was extremely wriggly through out; for once she actually carried on bumping around after Doc put his hand on my tummy so he got to feel her moving too.
Again, people just giving you the things you need for your baby? Amazing! I am so grateful for this tradition!
As you can see the cake had a Star Wars theme, and the little blobby things in the bottom corners of the picture are these super cute little Star Wars figures that Doc C has already claimed for his office (neither Eva northe cats should be allowed near these little guys, so this seems entirely reasonable and safe.)
How adorable is this? The Very Hungry Caterpillar is such a classic of children's literature, so of course it was the first book I added to our Amazon baby registry and I added the wooden pull-toy Hungry Caterpillar because it was just so cute - And my Mum snapped them both up!
Yesterday Doc C picked up some packages from the post office, and in one of those were our caterpillars. Squee!
It is so simple and so beautiful, and I love the way it moves when you pull it along. My only concern now is that I'll be so attached to this little guy by the time that Eva is old enough to play with him that I'll be reluctant to hand him over; if that is turns out to be the case we may need to look into getting a stunt caterpillar.
On Monday we drove to Winston Salem for Genetics Counseling ("Are you related?" "No, that seems highly unlikely - Did you clock the accents?" * ) and an ultrasound. At this point they can say, with 95% degree of accuracy, what gender your baby is and our tech was pretty certain that the alien spawn is a girl!
This is especially good because we were finding it difficult to choose a name for a boy, but we both really like the name Evalyn for a girl. I had a Great-Aunt Eveline who I was very fond of, and, whilst Doc C never met her, he just really loves the name. Just like my Aunty our daughter will be Eva for short, but we are going with a different spelling to make the pronunciation clearer - If we spell it Eveline she will almost certainly be referred to as "Eve Line" or possibly "Ever Line", and we want her name to be pronounced "Eva Lin".
We were just brain-storming names when I first threw Evalyn out as a suggestion and I didn't think much more about it, until the Doc brought it up again when we were having the same discussion on another occasion. He really liked the name and was already very keen that we call our child that if she were a girl (I don't think I was even pregnant at this point!). I do think it's a pretty name, but it's also good that Aunty Eva was actually quite amazing in her own way. Eva was a Major in the army, which was one of those details of her earlier life that blew my mind as a child; because to me she was the woman who knitted me hooded cardigans, made me elaborate soft toys, gave me books like the "Chronicle of the 20th Century" and could be relied upon for incredibly rich tea-time confections. I also think it was damn cool that she didn't marry and never seemed to regret that particularly; she was proudly independent and self-reliant, so, whilst I'm sure we would disagree on things like politics if she were still alive today, her strength of character is definitely something that I hope my daughter will be inspired by.
* When we lived in London and were taking the night-bus home one evening, the drunk guy sitting in front of us turned around and, having clearly been eavesdropping on our bus-ride banter, abruptly asked "Are you brother and sister?" and then said "No, because you are British and he's American, so are you a couple?". Drunk guy's girlfriend was mortified, but it was really funny!
We went yesterday for the tests that I was most worried about, and apparently everything is fine - So I can finally relax, a bit, and announce that Doc C and I are expecting a baby at the end of August.
We don't know if it's a boy or a girl yet, but we are quite certain that, with us as parents, it will be a nerd.
Happy New Year!
We spent yesterday evening at Randy and Laura's house with a small grop of friends. It was a very nice way to end 2011, and start 2012.
Today I slept late; finished playing "Arkham Asylum"; got half-way through "Genius Wars" and had a most satisfactory afternoon nap.
Doc started playing "Arkham City" (Catwoman! Squee!); made vegetable stock form the HF-W cookbook; looked on-line at houses for sale and has now settled in for a "Star Wars" marathon.
2012 is off to a cracking start!
Boxing Day is part of Christmas that I have come to appreciate more as a grown-up; because obviously as a kid the day after Christmas is merely the furthest possible day from next Christmas and is therefore rather a disappointment after the frenzy of Christmas itself.
Now I think I prefer it! It's so much calmer (well, not that Doc and I actually did anything exciting for Christmas this year) and there are still all sorts of little treats to still be enjoyed.
We went to Randy and Laura's house to play board games, and were introduced to "Chaostle" which is sort of a simpler version of Dungeons and Dragons. Not that I would notice any major differences having never played actual DnD, but this was pretty fast moving and I enjoyed it a lot.
I took loads of photos of the epic battles - Then when I looked at them later, it seemed that almost all of them featured either the Dragon or the Unicorn, so I thought I'd use the only skirmish that was between these two mythical brawlers (I believe the Dragon won here).
Today we had afew things to do before going to Jack and Amber's house for dinner and cooing over their preternaturally cute baby son.
First we had to take out the recycling because it was at the falling-on-you stage, and as our preferred recycling center happens to be close to a Verizon shop I decided to upgrade my phone. Well, actually, I did not want to upgrade my phone, because an upgrade to me would mean a smart phone and I do not want to pay for the monthly data plan - In fact I wanted to get the simplest of the basic phones, I'd actually have quite liked to down-grade to something without a camera or an MP3 player, because I never use those features. I tried to explain this to the assistant at the Verizon shop, but I think he'd just taken some cold medication or something else that advises you not to drive or operate heavy machinery, I soon realised I was on my own out there. In the end I grabbed an LG Cosmos 2, which was fairly cheap, had a slide out keyboard and uses a micro USB to charge. When I got home I second guessed myself by checking on-line reviews and it seems to be a good texting phone and have a good battery life. Perfect.
After that we bought a cherry pie and came home to get changed for dinner.
Last week was the last week of classes, so whilst there are still a week of exams to get through before the Winter break, there is a distinct scent of festivity in the air. Last week I went to a drag show, my department's Christmas drinks and the annual Christmas party of some friends of ours - These events, plus our usual Wednesday pub night, meant that we were out four nights out of seven and that is a lot for me. I felt distinctly unsociable and headachey by Sunday, so I wanted nothing more than to play "Arkham Asylum", read about animal communication and get my Doc Martens ready for winter.
When we were invited out to the cinema on Sunday, it sounded fun but it also sounded like I'd have to wash my hair and get dressed. I really needed some quiet time at home, so we declined but it's so nice to have friends who understand that sometimes you just have to power down.
This week we've got Doc's departmental party, a haircut in Asheville and a Torchwood viewing party; so far there's nothing else on the calendar and that sounds just about perfect to me.
For my birthday Moth gave me some Amazon gift tokens, so I could buy a Kindle! I ordered it on my birthday (along with a olive green leather case, and a book for the Doc) and have been tracking it's progress ever since. Wheeeee!
That's really been the focus of this week for me, so I've found it very hard to write blog posts that weren't just detailing the Kindle's journey from Amazon's mysterious seller facility, the location of which is merely given as "US". The first stop on the trek was Hebron, Kentucky, which gives us a clue as to the seller facility's location because it only took an hour to get to Hebron from there. We can also deduce that Hebron must be delightful, because the Kindle spent 7 hours there. What do you think? Brunch with some of the other parcels, maybe a mini spa day?
Happily refreshed the Kindle spent the next day travelling from Kebron KY to Charlotte NC, where it checked in for the night. Kindle left Charlotte for Alienspouseville at 2 o'clock this morning, and I kept checking the shipment tracker, and when it's arrival was logged I got VERY excited; so I walked to the post office at lunch time.
Did I mention that today has been the first day we've had proper snow? And, naturally, the heaviest flurry was at lunch time, so I walked to and from the post office - in the snow - to get my Kindle and...
...The delivery it was on hadn't been unpacked yet, so I have to go back tomorrow.
It'll probably snow again, and there will be some sort of geological event that will mean I'll have to walk up hill both ways. Actually it was quite a nice walk really, and it wasn't an entirely unfruitful trip, the birthday present I'd ordered for Doc C (and the t-shirt I got at the same time) had arrived, so that was something. Doc's present was an apron in suitably drab colours, the man lives in drab, with the slogan "I (pictogram of a loaf of Bread) Bread"! "I Loaf Bread"! Love it!
I've never liked Wednesdays, but now I've started meeting friends after work for a pint at least Wednesday evenings are starting to grow on me.
This evening Doc C and I were invited to join Anna's pub quiz team, and I am very pleased to report that Stormageddon came third. Not bad for an opening gambit.
We have lulled them into a false sense of security, and next week we shall sweep to victory! Victory!
This evening we are going to eat pizza and watch "Doctor Who" with Randy, whilst Laura is away. Don't worry she knows that we're cheating on the TV viewing whilst she's not here, but, I won't lie, it does feel wrong to be watching River Song without her.
As for pizza, Randy and Doc C share a love of Hawaiien, so they always have that. I have recently discovered Mellow Mushroom's Mega Veggie, this is a "Red Sauce base pizza with Mozzarella, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Spinach, Green Peppers, Mushrooms, Onions, Black Olives, Roma Tomatoes, Broccoli, Feta, Banana Peppers, Artichoke Hearts and Tofu." which is delicious once you ditch any form of pepper from it; tofu on a pizza I can handle peppers (other than jalapeño)? No, not for me thanks.
I don't generally post pictures of works in progress on-line, but I offered to make a pair of "Harold and Maude" (1971) amigurumis for Megg back in freaking NOVEMBER, so, you know, I thought I'd make an exception.
This is Maude, I actually made her head when I was in England, so she's been percolating for a while now, and, after seriously months of internal debate, I finally decided to dress her in the outfit she wears to the second (I think?) funeral; so a classic trench coat with a pink silk scarf (not made yet) and a big yellow umbrella.
I still haven't quite decided how to dress Harold, should he wear the clothes he is in for the second funeral, or should I go for one of his more colourful and therefore fun outfits? He has a particularly great pinkish tweed suit that keeps jumping up and down in my mind, but I have no earthly clue how I would do that. Maybe baker's twine? I don't know. Fortunately I do know for definite that Harold will have very long legs, and they will definitely be clad in flares.
In the summer I like to make my breakfast the night before, so all I need to do is get up and make a huge cup of green tea. I really like brice, which is rolled oats mixed with yogurt and then left to soak overnight; this particular breakfast was a top tip from my lovely friend Stu who made it for me with rhubarb yogurt a few years ago.
I can't get rhubarb yogurt over here (and let's not get me started on the list of perfectly normal things that I can't seem to find in supermarkets, I believe we've covered that ground once or twice now), so I use plain yogurt and stir in some frozen raspberries to the oated yogurt before putting it in the fridge.
By the next morning the raspberries have thawed, and there are bursts of bright pink in the creamy brice. The plain yogurt with the raspberries makes for a very tart breakfast, so I drizzle some honey over the top and the whole thing is totally delicious.
Yesterday after work we went to our friend David's house for an end of Semester slash day after cinco de mayo party. Everyone was bringing south western food with them, so sort of, kind of, mexican-ish.
I made tequila lime cupcakes with a lime and sour cream frosting, and Doc C made chilli chocolate fudge. Doc very much liked my cupcakes, but thought the fudge was too spicy so he almost didn't bring it with us; I however thought it was delicious so the fudge came too. David had invited everyone for six, so I thought I'd be home by ten and planned to post then. Isn't it funny how after three beers and two margaritas you suddenly realise it's midnight, and you've been giggling like a loon at YouTube videos for at least an hour?
It was a very fun Friday evening.
After the Power of the Pumps walk we met up with Alison (Doc's Mum) and her friend Mike, who had detoured on their drive back to Massachussets after wintering in Florida. They had arrived in town just before the walk, so they saw The Wedges before going to get some lunch whilst the actual walk was in progress.
The last time they visited we were still living in our old house, so we were excited about showing off our current home because it is a much prettier house and neighbourhood. They were staying over-night (after Doc guilt-tripped them), so we went out for dinner and an evening tour of the town, before getting frozen custard. We know how to show visitors the very best of our small town. It was actually a really good evening for them to visit, with the town being neither in the full-on tourist mode of summer or the full-on student mode of the start of a semester (it's exam week - The students should all be revising...) and the weather being actually quite pleasant instead of miserably cold and damp.
This morning Doc dropped me off at work before going to meet them for breakfast, and then they will continue on their way back to New England.
On Sunday we got up reasonably early to finish cleaning the house, and then went for brunch with Randy and Laura before heading to a local park for the Power of the Pumps walk. This was a fund-raising walk for a local charity specifically focused on helping women, so all of the men were supposed to walk the mile long course in women's shoes.
Doc was on a team with three other professors from his department and one guset walker; hence the name - Team Philosophy and Religion. I was particularly impressed to note that theirs was the only team to fulfill the shoe requirement according to the spirit of the thing, and they all actually wore women's shoes; they didn't wimp out by stringing a pair of heels on a ribbon and wearing them around their necks or by spray-painting a pair of old trainers hot pink. Doc C had the advantage of being married to a woman with the same size feet as him, so I was able to lend him my lovely blue-and-white striped wedges (I love this photo, but the grass means you can't really appreciate the height of the wedges. They're about 2 inches high). And I painted his toenails red to add just a touch more glamour.
The other team's all covered the course much faster, but it wasn't supposed to be a race, so I was very glad when the event organisers gave Team Philosophy and Religion an honourable mention. To top that Team P&R won the bronze for fund raising, and had both the winner of the highest heel (Jack) and prettiest shoes (Kern). Doc came in a close second on both of those categories, and also got a bronze for individual fund-raising. Doc was beaten on the technicality of his wearing a wedge, whereas Jack was wearing an actual heel, so Doc's were higher but were deemed easier to walk in; as for the prettiest shoes, well, I think that was because Kern had done his own nail varnish and so his salmon pink open-toe shoes had camoflaged toenails peeping out. The nail-varnish on both of them went down particularly well with some of the smaller spectators who ran ahead of them yelling "All Hail!" for the nail-varnish men!
The whole event was in the afternoon, and so Doc was probably wearing and walking in the wedges for two hours at the most. His legs were still aching when we went to bed, and when we got up this morning he was asking what he could do the make his Achilles tendon feel better. This did cause me to laugh and laugh and laugh, but I haven't teased him too much, because, to be fair, I barely ever wear heels myself.
I'd been careful to lend him the shoes least likely to also give him blisters or take all the skin off his heels, but I agree with him that heels do indeed suck to walk in, make your calves burn and throw you off your natural centre of balance. That's why I am so very proud of him (and his team mates) for actually doing the thing properly.
A mile in HER shoes indeed.
Tomorrow Doc's Mum will be popping in for a visit, so we're scrambling to get the house looking nice. I have been organising the kitchen cupboards, and I also took all of our CDs and DVDs out of their individual cases and consolidated them into albums. Doc's CD collection had started to take over my albums, so he needed a new one of his very own; which meant a trip to Staples which is always fun isn't it? I also bought a file box so I can sort out all those important bits of pape that are currently mixed in with old Lush catalogues and cool knitting patterns I found on-line.
Then we spent an hour walking the cuts on their leads, and I am happy to report that there was a lot of rolling around and eating of grass on the part of Nancy and Edith. Doc and I mostly just stood around, because you don't really walk cats so much as cramp their style. Edith got into a staring match with a goose, and clearly thought that it was really rude of me to interrupt, but as the geese have just hatched goslings it seemed a little foolhardy on her part.
I have had a really rubbish day. I define that by quite simple criteria and if I've had to reassure more than one person that my face always goes blotchy when I'm a bit weepy then it's safe to say it's within those criteria.
The emotional rollercoaster track was plotted thusly:
I never did like Wednesdays.
Throw in a handful of hysterical laughing and moments of pure disbelief in human behaviour and I think you've got the basic idea. Please also spare a thought for poor Doc C, I think today was almost as stressful on him as it was on me; he hates it when I get upset but he hates it with a particular vengeance when I'm upset about something he can't fix for me.
The highlight of the day was when we realised we needed dishwasher powder and we'd overshot the last supermarket on our way home, so we went on to the next one past our house. Whilst we were there Doc chose a nice bottle of wine for me and I remembered I needed to buy some chocolate as well. On the shelf with the really good quality chocolate was Lindt, and the dark chocolate with sea salt was on special offer. This has a newly established special place in my heart because that was the very chocolate that Mum introduced me to on my trip home to see her and just seeing it in the aisle was a bit like a hug from my Mum at exactly the right moment.
Philadelphia! It took thirteen hours to get here, with one traffic jam, a detour through Washington's rush hour traffic and a flaming eighteen wheeler at a nice safe distance on the other side of the highway (one of the wheels exploded when we went past - which was pretty exciting!)What is with the heavy rain every time I come to visit you? It does not make a girl feel very welcome you know.
However I do appreciate that you are clearly the place for conferences, as my friend Danny was also here and I haven't seen him in years so it was lovely to have lunch and catch up with him.
After lunch, I went to Blick to buy art supplies; Lush to buy moisturiser etc; and then Grocery for a vegan wrap and a cupcake.
Now I'm back at the hotel, hoping to dry off before going for curry with my husband and other philosophers.
Ah Philadelphia! Love you!
Our lovely friends Randy and Laura gave us a set of fabulous Star Wars cookie cutters as a house warming present when we moved, and we were both thrilled with them!
My immediate response was to want to whip up a batch of cookie dough to try those babies out, however Doc C wouldn't let me take them out of the packaging because he is a nerdy collector at heart. So these fabulous cookie cutters have stayed in their box on display in the kitchen, and I have just gazed at them. The obvious answer (apart from simply waiting until Doc wasn't looking and busting out the coveted springerle-esque moulds) was to buy another set, but I didn't know where they were from.
A few weeks ago I noticed the box of cookie cutters on the bookshelf in Doc's office and I demanded to know why they were there. He told me that this was a second box of the cookie cutters that he'd been given by Kim and Jill to say thank you for cat-sitting over spring break.
Today was a quiet Sunday at home, mainly because both Stu and Ruby were under the weather. Stu being human made it easier to ascertain his symptoms, and suggest that taking a paracetomol and resting were the best things to do. It's trickier with Ruby because she can't explain what's not feeling right, so it is purely our observing that she is off her food, not washing and very lethargic. Tomorrow morning we will take Ruby to the vets, so I'll hopefully know more then.
Mum and I are both feeling fine so far (knock on wood - because that would be bloody annoying wouldn't it?), so we baked cheese scones, lemon & poppyseed muffins and peanut butter biscuits. Then we played Scrabble, and I finished making Maude's hair.
Saturday night used to mean going out to a night club and dancing until my feet ached, but now it usually means jim-jams and maybe an ovaltine. This evening though we were invited to a dinner party, so I had a reason to put on make-up (!) and a dress (!!) on a Saturday (!!!). It was extremely pleasant to have a glass of wine and chat over some delicious pasta.
It also meant we had to think of something to bring with us, and whilst I could have made butter cookies I was actually even more pleased when Doc took up my suggestion of making macaroons. So delicious. We didn't bring any back, but I know for a fact we still have the ingredients in the house and Doc C had better get used to the idea I want another batch for our personal consumption.
Today we had arranged to go over to Laura and Randy's house to play "Arkham Asylum". This time we were very focussed and actually remembered to play the game instead of just chatting which is what happened last time. It's a really fun board game, and I very much liked that it was a collaborative effort on the part of every one playing to battle the ancient horror and it's minions. True I did get eaten, or rather my character did, but my companions bravely battled on and were ultimately victorious.
After that, we went for burritos and frozen custard! Yay! It's great being a grown up and having exactly what you want to eat!
It was still fairly early in the evening, so I suggested that we all go back to our house and play video games. Which was what we did, and Laura now understands my deep love of "Little Big Planet".
It has been a very fun Saturday.
I just realised I wrote nothing at all about how we spent Christmas Day itself, which seems odd and shall be corrected immediately. We had a very relaxed day, we mainly needed to source meals so, after breakfast at the B&B (fresh popovers, porridge, yogurt, juice, fruit and tea - I can highly recommend the Irving House breakfast buffet), we wandered into Harvard Square. We found lunch at a Japanese cafe where I had a banana, apple and peanut-butter wrap with a tall Bubble Tea and some Pocky. Bubble Tea is something I've been meaning to try for a while, and it really is most peculiar; essentially it's a flavoured iced tea with milk and then the bubbles are actually small chewy spheres that get sucked up the straw with your tea. I think I liked it, but it was disconcerting to not be sure exactly what it is at the bottom of your drink until you can look it up on wikipedia and be reassured that it's either tapioca or a type of jelly sweet.
Then I don't remember what we did, but I suspect we both read until it was time for our dinner reservations at a nearby Indian restaurant. There we ate excellent curry and eavesdropped on the odd couple at the table behind me. Well I eavesdropped and Doc C observed the body language, then we compared notes afterwards - Our conclusion? Well, it was very hard to say much beyond somebody was doing something dead dodgy on Christmas Day, but they weren't quite indescreet enough for us to get the sordid details. Of course we hypothsised wildly on the way home and I must admit that even our most generous theories were still unflattering to the young lady involved who seemed to be the brains of the operation.
After dinner we walked back to our room and I watched "Elf", whilst Doc C pretended to be reading and ignore the film for the first half, but by the end he was watching as well. It's a good film!
So yes, that was Christma day 2011. I rather liked it.
Christmas Eve was pretty hectic, which was what I expected really. Doc C's family likes to meet up and give the children of the family their presents from the extended family, so it's a lot of hyped up kids and a fair amount of chaos.
This year the main action was at Buffy's house, and her two kids decided that their Aunty Jen (although I'm pretty certain they had no idea what my name was) was the perfect person to sit on, play picnic with, carry them around and generally be an all purpose climbing frame. It made it really quite difficult for me to finish a glass of wine, what with all the running away in circles from monsters, and the swinging small people upside down "Again! Again!" and again! Bear in mind this is before anymore of Doc's siblings turned up, so by the end of the evening there were actually 12 adults and a seething carpet of variously aged children.
And then we still had to go and see the other side of the family, which I thought was going to be a fair bit quieter there being only one brother,one sister-in-law, two nephews and Doc C's Dad involved. How wrong I was. I had failed to consider the volume that can be created by an animatronic Santa singing "Jingle Bell Rock" on repeat, whilst a small child sets off Billy the Bass singing "Don't Worry, Be Happy". Plus one of their two dogs was feeling a bit anxious what with all the people in the house, and had a lot to say about it, where as the other one fell in love with my hand and just kept licking me or insisting on belly rubs. Clearly I must look like a total push-over to small children and animals, because that's how our cats treat me as well. Still I suppose it's nice to be "loved", even if the creature in question has no idea who you are.
By the end of the day I had, unsurprisingly, a splitting headache, so we came back to our lovely B&B to sleep and all we have planned for Christmas Day itself is a walk around town to locate open restaurants so we can eat something other than clementines and dark chocolate for dinner, and then a stroll around the beautiful Massachusetts countryside.
This is the amigurumi I made for my work friend Amy's Christmas basket. She's based on a particularly terrifying small girl featured in the reality television series "Toddlers and Tiaras", who has become something of a by-word in our office for the majestic power of a well timed strop. It's worth pondering from time to time.