29 May 2011

The best I got with limited concentration...

While the banana bread is in the oven and Andy has taken over baby duties for the time being, thought I’d try to get out a blog post. I’m going to have to scrap the bottom of my blog post topics today as this week has been less then interesting. Well, I could tell you about “Homes Under the Hammer” but I’m already pretty ashamed that I watch that show with such regularity that I sometimes have dreams about double glazing and wood burning fireplaces.

I would like to mention that Andy has been singing to the baby almost non-stop for the last hour all while watching “Babylon 5”. The songs all have such complex lyrics such as “Bouncy baby! Bouncy baby! Bouncy bouncy bouncy baby!” and they kind of stick in your head with the same annoying furiousness as anything from the Beach Boys. To say that I’m having trouble concentrating is an understatement. Maybe I’ll just give you the highlights of the week.


ITEM #1: I’m definitely going to Dublin next weekend. I’m pretty stoked to be using this whole living in Europe thing to my advantage for once. 10 years ago I don’t think I ever thought I’d be able to post on Facebook, “Going to Dublin for the night.” This is because there was no such thing as Facebook 10 years ago. Duh. Anyhow, I leave Sunday morning and come back late Monday night. I’m pretty poor so if you live in Dublin and you see me rooting around your bins looking for some discarded chips, don’t call the coppers on me. In fact, if you see me looking in your bins for some discarded chips, BUY me some fresh chips you cheap bastard.

ITEM #2: I’ve had 3 packages arrive from America this past week. My family and friends are awesome and obviously know my love of Kraft mac & cheese.

ITEM #3: Just as a random story* that has been running through my head recently, I would like to mention that I enjoy cooking. Over the years I’ve become pretty OK at it (I’m saying this using the guide of people I’ve cooked for who may or may not be bullshitting me when commenting on my grub) and am usually up for tackling a new recipe. This wasn’t always the case. In my early twenties I used to tell people that I couldn’t cook and that statement was pretty true (unless you count mac & cheese ‘cooking’). Eventually I found myself a boyfriend who was into having furniture nicer than a couple milk crates and dinner more complex than mac & cheese and I decided (or maybe he decided) one day to have his parents over for dinner. I made the choice to serve his parents chili, a recipe I had learned from the boyfriend before this boyfriend, and all in all it turned out pretty good. I didn’t poison anyone, so you know, bonus. A few weeks later this same boyfriend had his sister in town. We invited her over for dinner as well and I foolishly decided to make the same chili I served his parents. While the chili was still fine, obviously the sister and the mother talked to each other about it and I heard back from the boyfriend that his mother had a very sarcastic comment of, “is chili ALL she knows how to make?” First of all, YES, I also knew how to make tacos (another gift from the boyfriend before this boyfriend) and of course I could make mac & cheese and scrambled eggs and secondly, this boyfriend’s mother never liked me. But the comment really hurt and I took it with me long after this particular boyfriend was no longer my boyfriend. Even now, a billion years later, every time I tackle a new recipe that comment goes through my head. I can’t help it. I always mentally respond back to it with a, “NO, I can make this now. Shut up.”

I would like to state that I still make that damn chili and in fact, there’s some in the fridge right now as we speak. What? It’s good chili.

*The basics of this story are true and correct. The details might be mixed up. His sister might have come over first, or it could have been an aunt. But it was definitely multiple family members and it was most definitely chili. I have the recipe if you want it. It’s seriously good.

ITEM #4: Yesterday we dropped off the Henbot at his nan’s to go and be a tourist in our own town. We headed to the Albert Dock and went through the Maritime Museum. What’s great about the museums in England is that they are free. I love free. On a museum scale that means that if the museum sucks you haven’t wasted any money and if you get tired half way through you don’t feel obliged to continue on. After the museum we had a pint at the Albert Dock Pump House and then afterward I made Andy have yet another pint (the humanity!) at the Baltic Fleet. The Baltic Fleet was another one of those places where I seriously could have stayed at all day but had to leave after one because of these damn responsibilities (the humanity!).

The Albert Dock

Andy's defense for having to go do touristy shit

Banana bread is done and Andy has stopped singing so my time here is up. Hope you all have a great Memorial Day\Spring Bank Holiday.

21 May 2011

Getting the band back together

So this past Monday we were finally able to bring Chloe the Angry Cat back home. She spent a total of 3 ½ months in cat jail. Not only am I glad that she’s back home with us, I’m also glad that we don’t have to spend a good portion of our Saturdays driving all the way to Chester and back to visit her. I mean, I like a good drive in the smog filled, narrow-lane, almost get hit by a bus, pound fifty each way Mersey Tunnel as much as the next girl but I think we’ve spent our fair share on tolls to last us until 2020.

Having Chloe home has been good. Andy and I were both a bit concerned on how she was going to respond to Henry. Everyone we know was cautioning us. “Oh, cats like to sleep on top of babies because they’re warm.” “You need a cat net for the crib.” “Be careful that the cat doesn’t scratch the baby.” “Cats love milk; she might try to lick the baby.” “Cats steal baby’s breaths! Haven’t you seen ‘Cat’s Eye’? Oh wait, in that the troll was responsible.” Truthfully, Chloe could give a rat’s ass about Henry. She stays as far away from him as possible. We think it’s because she doesn’t like Henry’s noises – mainly the crying. Truthfully, when Henry cries I wouldn’t mind hiding under the bedspread upstairs too. Chloe and I could chill out together, playing cards, drinking milkshakes – “Has he stopped wailing yet? No? Ugh. Deal me another hand please and pass the chocolate syrup.”

Chloe is as flummoxed on why the washing machine is in the kitchen as I am.

As much as it pained me to see Chloe in jail, I think it’s done her good. She still has all her basic annoying personality traits – begging for the milk in our cereal bowls, following us from room to room never minding that we might accidentally step on her, pawing at half open doors – usually around 3 in the morning – not because she wants to get into the space behind the door but just because she loves the noise a banging door (or cabinet, or vertical blind) makes. She seems to have lost her “no strangers” policy from being in jail though, which is fucking awesome. For 8 years I’ve put up with apologizing to anyone who has come into my home. “Don’t touch the cat and if you do, I have some Neosporin on hand.” She’d hiss and scratch and bite any new person who came over. My best friend, Beth, who LOVES animals can’t stand Chloe for this very reason. But (knock on wood) Chloe seems to have let this policy go. My mother in law came over yesterday for a few hours and Chloe didn’t do anything. No hissing. No scratching. No biting. Chloe pretty much regarded my mother in law like she does Henry, “I won’t bother you if you don’t bother me”. While I’m almost embarrassed to say how much we had to pay to keep Chloe in cat jail for 3 ½ months, if this is now her normal behavior, it was totally worth it.

Having Chloe back does mean that it is impossible to have an empty lap. If Andy and I are both on the couch, one of us will have a baby in their lap, the other will have a cat. It feels very family-like, those moments, and I enjoy them a lot. That is until I have to get up to pee, or get something to drink, or have a cigarette, or because something I’ve got in the oven is ready to come out. Then I get either a baby yelling at me for disturbing his warm bosom pillow perch (“…everyone needs a bosom for a pillow, everyone needs a bosom…”) or a cat giving me a nip for not completing the petting she believes she deserves. I suppose that’s pretty family-like too.


In other news, I’ve been debating coming back to the States with Henry for a couple weeks this summer. It’s still in the debate stage as a few factors are in play. First of all is finding a way to pay for the ticket. We’re a bit skint at the moment (babies cost their weight in gold) so I’d have to rely on the generosity of my folks and their anxiousness to see their grandchild. Secondly I would have to travel 9 hours on a plane with an infant by myself. Thirdly, and I think this is the most deciding factor, is that I would have to fly BY MYSELF. I don’t know if I’ve gone into my fear of flying before and now is certainly not the time. Let’s just say that I didn’t fly for 7 years due to my fear and it’s only been the grand power of Xanax and Andy’s sturdy arm and will that has gotten me through all the flights I’ve managed the last few years. It’s the take offs and landings that scare me the most (though turbulence, which I know is completely harmless, doesn’t do the nerves any good either) and having Andy’s arm to squeeze to a pulp and him reminding me to breathe into my barf bag like an asthma sufferer really helps me out.

Before I start making plans to come to the States, I have to try flying on my own. The shorter the flight the better-which is why I’m planning on flying to Dublin for a night the first week of June. Liverpool to Dublin is only 50 minutes and on RyanAir (which I hear is a new level of hell) only costs twenty pounds. Though I suppose with RyanAir’s added fees (which most likely includes a 5 pound fee to use the toilet with a 1 pound fee per sheet of toilet paper) will mean that it’s actually 40 pounds – but still, it’s cheap. And worse case scenario, if I can’t take the flight well and I flat out refuse to fly back, I can always take the ferry back home. Which is weird really. A ferry. To get from Dublin to Liverpool. I suppose it’s only weird to me as the In My Head version of ferries are just these 5 car pontoon boats that are more like the marine equivalent of a carnival Tilt-A-Wirl then a proper water vessel.

Wish me luck. I’d love to get back to the homeland for a bit. Not only do I have a king’s ransom worth of eligible babysitters there but I might possibly ask Target if I can stay with them for a couple nights….I’ll just set me up a bunch of their fluffy bath towels in the margarita mix section and I’ll be good to go.

11 May 2011

London Tangents

So, London. This is going to be a difficult post to put out because after writing the rough draft in my head right before I fell asleep on Sunday night I knew that the potential for me going off on random tangents was extremely high. If my Sunday Night Pre-Dreamtime Rough Draft Post is anything to go on, I’ve got enough material in this entry for a novel albeit a pretty piss poor one. I decided to give those with very short patience for tangents and those who are looking to kill 30 seconds before that budget meeting and therefore are just skimming anyway, a recap. I was tempted to do the recap in outline style, with the fancy Roman numerals and proper tabs and all that shit, but I can’t be assed to find out how to do that in HTML right now. I’ve got to order my Indian take away for fuck’s sake; I just don’t have the extra time.

RECAP FOR THOSE THAT CAN’T BE BOTHERED TO READ MY ENTIRE DISSERTATION OF BRILLIANCE: We went to London. Henry became a US Citizen. We ate food and drank beer. Hotel room was small. Saw Tiger Finger Square, London Eye, and Big Ben. We walked a lot. The End. Enjoy your meeting and don’t let them catch you doodling the financial report in bubble letters.

Because this is an expat blog I feel it’s my duty to describe to you the 10 step process on how to make a UK child a US citizen. This is under the assumption that you have a child that has a right to become a US citizen and not some ankle biter you picked up in the discount bin at Tesco’s.

STEP ONE: Have a baby

STEP TWO: Go to this website, make an appointment, and feel smug that you have all the paperwork needed.

STEP THREE: Go to THIS website and agonize for days that you did something wrong and that your child will never get to see the amber waves of grain and buffalo roaming.

STEP FOUR: If you live impossibly far away from London, book a hotel with an American hotel chain for the night before your appointment smugly think to yourself that an American chain in London will have the spacious rooms and king sized beds that you are so accustomed – perhaps they will have pancakes with real maple syrup for breakfast.

STEP FIVE: Travel to London via train with your baby. Make sure your baby needs both a change and feed during the train journey and that you booked yourself in the quiet car thinking that you wouldn’t want to disturb your baby with football supporters. Laugh that night at your ignorance. It’s also important that part of your train journey involves the London Underground (aka: the Tube) and that you are carrying a large travel stroller and two wheelie suitcases. Marvel how any UNDERGROUND transportation in the modern world would fail to provide FUCKING ELEVATORS. Almost kill your baby (not intentionally) on 90 degree escalators. Whimper at the bottom of 3 flights of stairs hoping that one of London’s finest will help you lift the stroller while a hoard of London’s non-finest waits impatiently behind you wondering why you brought a fucking stroller on the Tube.

STEP SIX: Book into your Best Western hotel and realize that room is not American size wonderfulness but typical London shoe box. Have them bring up a cot that fills up the only remaining floor space available after two suitcases and one travel stroller is present. Cry a little when your baby refuses to sleep in said cot.

STEP SEVEN: Wake up 3 hours before your appointment at the US Embassy. “Wake up” is a funny phrase as you will have “been up” for the last 4 hours. In fact, you probably never went to sleep as your baby doesn’t like the cot and you are terrified of falling asleep when your baby is sleeping next to you in the bed.

STEP EIGHT: Go to the US Embassy. I’d tell you to make sure to be on time but it really doesn’t matter. You will stand in line to get through security. You will be given a ticket. Your ticket will feel like it will never be called. It gets called. You submit paperwork. They tell you to wait longer. Baby needs to eat. Feed baby. Baby shits. Clean shitty diaper in changing room forgetting to put down paper and getting shit all over table. Clean table with baby wipes. Baby gets fussy. Number still doesn’t get called. Marvel at all the other babies that seem to be crying less then your baby. Marvel that yours is still the cutest. Number gets called. Yay! Baby is US citizen. Resist the urge to salute baby.

STEP NINE: Walk back to the hotel to retrieve your cell phones that you were told that you couldn’t bring to the US Embassy but you totally can.

STEP TEN: Go for a pint. Make that two.

After the embassy, we took a cab to the Strand. I don’t know anything about London but Andy told me the Strand is incredibly touristy. I really didn’t care. I wanted to go to the Strand because the internet told me there were some Mexican restaurants in that area and I wanted, nay, NEEDED some Mexican food. (Warning! Tangent ahead!) If there is one thing the Liverpool does not have is Mexican food. I would venture to say most of England is vacant of proper Mexican food but having never searched out Mexican food anywhere else but Liverpool, I can only attest to there. And Liverpool, my dear Liverpool, does not do Mexican food. Don’t get me wrong, Liverpool does plenty Tex Mex, and really good Tex Mex at that. It does not do Mexican. To properly convey this, when I got my hair cut a few weeks ago the ladies there were asking me how I liked the area so far. I told them that I love it but I was missing certain foods like Mexican. They then mentioned some “Mexican” restaurants to try (that I had already been to) and I had to inform them, with a sober face, that on no planet should a Mexican taco (or enchilada, or burrito, etc) contain chili beans (red kidney beans). Pinto beans, sure. Refried beans, fuck yeah, but not chili beans. The ladies at the salon were in shock – was this not normal? The differences between Tex Mex and Mexican run deeper than just the beans but that’s what gets me the most. Don’t get me started on the margaritas. OK, do. First of all – if you can find a place that actually knows what goes into a margarita (which some places don’t I’ve found), make sure that place doesn’t try to serve you a margarita as a martini, which I’ve also encountered. I might be going on about this Mexican food thing, much to Andy’s utter disgust, but when Mexican food makes up one of the sections on your personal food pyramid (cheese, greek salads, spaghetti, and beer being the others on mine), you feel the hole. (Tangent over) When we were planning our trip to London I knew that if there was one place in this entire country to get my Mexican fix satiated, it was going to be London. And I wasn’t wrong. We went to La Perla, meaning ‘the Pearl’ as indicated by the gigantic mermaid making sweet love to a clam shell on the wall of La Perla, and it was fucking fantastic. No chili beans! Proper margaritas! I could have stayed there all day but ANDY made me go out and see the stupid sights.

Ha. Just kidding. I totally made him be the tourist.

 I wish to be transported there again please.

We battled with all the other 100 billion tourists and walked past 10 Downing Street (hello Prime Minister sir!), and the London Eye, and Big Ben\Parliament. I would like to state for the record that it is an American right (I think it might be in the Constitution or Bill of Rights or on a Denny’s menu somewhere) that when you see Big Ben\Parliament you must say, “Look kids! Big Ben! Parliament!” and it will be funny – almost like you are the first person to ever use that pop reference. So I did, and I found it very funny, even though Andy didn’t know what the fuck I was on about.

It was pretty hot and humid so we stopped in a pub called the Sherlock Holmes for a bit of reprieve before continuing on to Tiger Finger Square (Trafalgar Square). Now as far as the Tiger Finger thing goes, I must mention that I have a really hard time with pronunciation. I sometimes think my tongue is 3 times bigger than my mouth (dirty!) the way it manages to trip over itself like it does. Words I trip over I just modify them into something I can pronounce and use it until the end of days. Andy finds this trait especially irritating as he is a Word Nazi. We do this Argument Dance that goes like this:

ME: Last time I came here I went to Nottingham (knot-ing-ham) …
ANDY: It’s Notting-am
ME: Whatever.
ANDY: (rolls eyes)

We actually do that all the time. He gets irritated when I screw up a word and I get irritated when he corrects me on it. Trafalgar Square was no different. I simply can’t pronounce Trafalgar Square. There’s just too much going on in that word for my tongue to handle it. So it became Tiger Finger Square (ANDY: Trafalgar Square!) (ME: Whatever). Anyhow, it was pretty cool.

That was another tangent by the way.

After Tiger Finger we walked back to the hotel. I don’t think either of us intended to walk 3 miles ALL AT ONCE because we are horribly unfit and don’t much care for walking a bunch without stopping at multiple pubs, but we did it and now our legs have bloody stumps at the end. I cannot stress the importance of proper footwear when in London. I would like to point out that Henry was quite comfortable during all this walking and once insisted that we feed him peeled grapes because he was feeling a bit “peck-ish”.

The EYE.  Please say that in a menacing voice.

If you're American, you know what to say.

Tiger Finger Square

National Gallery

Say hi to the Queen...if she was there...which she's not.

Piccadilly Circus

It's really hard to contain Henry's excitement sometimes.

On Saturday we had planned to do some more sight seeing. After the cab dropped us off at the train station (thus avoiding the Tube) and we dropped off our bags, we ran into a quiet pub on a quiet street and they were serving delicious Pimm’s on a hot day and we said “fuck it” and stayed there instead until our train departed. I would like to clarify that I know that was a run-on sentence and that when our train departed we were most certainly on it and not still at the pub drinking Pimm’s (which are the most delicious things even if they are made with gin which is my most hated and feared spirit after that thing in ‘Poltergeist’). Don’t get me wrong. I could have stayed at the pub all day drinking Pimm’s but I’ve got responsibilities now, like laundry and taxes and miniature American citizens, so I had to say adieu.


And that, my friends, was London.

08 May 2011

Catch up

So it's going to take me awhile to get to my London post this week as I've got a lot of catching up to do on the home front - mainly laundry but other domestic duties as well - all while a barely two foot tall gremlin tries to steal away my attention (and sleep).  I'll leave you with my favorite photo from London which isn't very London-y but makes me laugh just the same.  It was taken in a pub called the Sherlock Holmes, about a block away from Tiger Finger Square (Trafalgar Square), at a point when Andy and I had just about enough walking for one day, only to continue on after these pints to walk 3 miles back to the hotel.  I need a foot spa if anyone feels kind enough to send one to me.

Happy Mother's Day to all my American moms!

05 May 2011

My State of Mind is...missing.

I brought this up on Facebook but thought I'd pose it to the faceless masses out there as well.  I'm looking for volunteers to send me the US State magnets I'm missing below.  This isn't exactly that important, but I'd like my child to know that there isn't a gigantic sinkhole where the South is. 

I'd be more than willing to send some England kitsch to those who volunteer for this.   My only qualification is that the magnets are of the same kind as what I've got already.  Basically, any truck station (T&A, Flying J, etc) along any major US highway will sell these - for about two bucks.

If interested, send an email to casey4791@yahoo.com and include your email address, what state you can send, and what kitsch you were interested in getting in return.  I'll contact you if you don't seem like a serial killer or a baby snatcher...or just plain pompous.  Including your own blog for non-weirdo verification is probably a good idea too.

What I got...or, where I've been where I remembered to pick one up.