29 September 2011

Neither here nor there

So I’ve caught yet another famous British cold. This cold has been running through our little nuclear family like wildfire. The Henbot caught it first on Monday, from where I have no idea. I got it a day later and now finally Andy is showing signs. Murphy’s Law (Sod’s Law if your British) is that it’s been warmer this past week then it has been all summer. Nothing like receiving the gift of a lovely week of sun before the cold sets in and all you want to do is curl under a cool sheet to sleep. I won’t even go into the hell that is trying to take care of a sick baby when you barely have the strength to hold up your own head. I will say though that British cold medicine is absolute shit. On Tuesday I took two ‘nighttime’ cold capsules and went to bed at 8 PM. 3 hours later I’m stomping down the stairs, still wide awake, announcing to Andy that his crappy British medicine doesn’t work on my American body. I miss thee dear Nyquil.

On the plus side, this warm weather and no desire to shower much less leave the house is that I’ve gotten a shit load of laundry done. When it’s cold (and usually rainy), I can only get one load of laundry done a day. There’s only room on the line outside for one load if it’s going to take all day to dry and in the house, there’s only enough radiator space throughout for a single load. I miss thee dear dryer.

Actual picture of my clothes line.  Yes, at some point I took a picture of my clothes line.  I am THAT person.

In other news, Andy, Henry and I took Nana Pam (Andy’s mum) out to Southport last Sunday. Southport is a great little tourist town on the coast. The beach there goes on and on forever before you finally get to the sea. The very best thing about Southport if you happen to be there with your mother-in-law and therefore can’t spend most of your afternoon blissfully in a Southport pub is that on the pier they have an old timey penny arcade. For a pound you get 10 large old timey pennies to use on the arcade machines. These are the types of machines with pulls and levels and mechanical do-dads – think the ‘Zoltar’ fortune telling machine in the movie ‘Big’.

Lovely Southport and that one kid riding a bike.

Hall of Mirrors - this was a regular mirror, we really are that short.

Donkey rides for only 3 quid!

Our new family photo.

In yet another set of news, I’ve been looking for work. I’ve actually been looking for work for about two months now but my level of frustration about it has finally made me decide to mention it. Truth be told, I got to a point where I was getting comfortable being a stay-at-home mom. It’s hard work and there are definitely days when my brain feels like mush playing with blocks and singing songs about bears rather than solving complex software problems to someone who has clearly fucked something up but refuses to admit it. But I’ve gotten used to it and I don’t mind it so much. However, it’s gotten to a point where it really me working or not working isn’t a choice anymore – I have to work if we are going to make ends meet - “End’s Meet” in the sense that we can continue to be flush with vodka and can support my charity shop and Henry’s toy habit. So I’ve been looking for work and it hasn’t gone so well. Two things have kind of hampered me from the get-go. One is that I can only work nights part-time (having to pay for daycare for Henry defeats me working in the first place). Secondly is that my career is in computer software – help desk type stuff really – and Liverpool isn’t exactly known for their technology sector. A distant third issue to my plight is that I don’t drive, but that’s neither here nor there.

I’m not afraid of minimum wage jobs lest you think that I’ve gotten on some Technology High Horse somewhere. I’ve applied for cashier jobs at the grocery stores, incoming sales jobs at the banks, housekeeping, book keeping, and general admin work. Unlike in the States, if you apply for a job here and the company decides they don’t want you, they will send you a rejection letter. A rejection letter! I much prefer the American way of “silence until so much time has passed that you are sure you haven’t got the job”. I could wallpaper a room with my rejection letters so far. It’s depressing. I guess in the grand scheme of things, I shouldn’t take it personal (or should I?). The economy here is shit, unemployment everywhere…if you were a hiring manager I’m sure you’d be more likely to hire a natural citizen then a dumb Yank with a visa who can barely understand the accent. Or maybe I should stop using my Iamadumbamerican@gmail.com account on my resume.

So that’s all I got for you – a bunch of whining from a cold infested head. I will leave you with this random photo taken from my phone because, you know, who doesn’t love a wooden cowboy?

26 September 2011

This Month's Picture of My Kid

Andy's kryptonite is Jaffa Cakes.  Seriously.  You could give him this entire box and the box would be gone by the time you came down with some tea for him to wash them down.  I was amused that when I handed the Henbot the box of Jaffa Cakes in the store his face lit up like it was the discovery of chocolate bunnies on Mars.  While I'm a sensible mom, I didn't actually give him one of the Jaffas to try.  But if his love of the box runs so deep, I'm sure the love of the biscuit is soon to follow.

21 September 2011

Still waiting for flannel to come back.

So, it’s about time I talk about Liverpool fashion. I’m going to preface this post with two very important things. One is that I’m almost sure that the things I’m going to bring up are not localized to Liverpool. Having not picked up a Vogue or Cosmo since the last time I was at the dentist, these points could be world wide. All I know is that when I left California, these fashion tidbits were not in circulation. The 2nd point I need to make is that I am in no way fashionable myself. I’m a “What Not to Wear” nightmare as I live in comfortable. As anyone who as ever watched that show, ‘comfortable’ never seems to mean ‘looks good’. I live in jeans. When I die, I wish to be buried in jeans. Jeans go with everything as far as I’m concerned, even death.

With that said, what I’m bringing up in regards to fashion are fashion fads. Think what the 80’s did to shoulders and shoes made out of plastic. Fashion fads to me are absolutely ridiculous but they do serve a purpose; you can look at a picture taken of a fashion fad and 50 years later you could go, “Oh yeah, that was taken in the Naughties, wasn’t it?” I have four things that I’ve seen around town these last seven months that I think are worth a mention.

FASHION FAD #1: The High Heel Wedge Boot

I really think the thing that bothers me about these shoes, er…boots, um…high heels?...whatever is that they make your foot look like it’s stuck in some geometrical playhouse cement. It’s all like nice hair, great dress, some kickin’ tights and shoe cement. They almost look like the woman actually has stumps for legs and these objects are simply screwed on for balance – like a robot. Because everyone knows that robots have stumps for legs because they walk so much bringing their owners cups of tea and after midnight night caps. Maybe I’m missing the point of these things. Maybe there’s a secret compartment in the heel thing to store your lipstick, wallet, 8 condoms and a pair of sunglasses for the Walk of Shame the next morning.

I suppose there is a benefit that if you are angry at former President George W. Bush, these will have more throwing power than a measly rubber sneaker.

FASHION FAD #2: The 80’s Jumpsuit with Belt

I like how the belt suddenly made this a "thumbs up" outfit.

When we were waiting for our ferry to take us to the Isle of Man, I saw a woman who I at first thought was wearing koala covered MC Hammer pants. Having already burned all my MC Hammer pants at a 1992 “Bring Out Your Grunge” party, I felt a slight twinge of nostalgia for this woman’s ‘pant crotch down to your knees’ look. How handy those pants were for collecting berries! But alas…I was horrified to realize that her koala sized ass (no one’s ass ever looked good in MC Hammer pants) didn’t stop at the waist line! No, oh no, the koalas kept going to a sleeveless top – with belt! The woman was covered in koalas fine, but she was choking them with leather – someone call PETA!

I soon realized that this whole jumpsuit business is back. I don’t know why. I don’t know why anyone would want to wear something that if you are unfortunate enough to get your sleeve stuck on a doorknob that you end up giving yourself a wedgie.

FASHION FAD #3: Look Ma! No Pants!

This is a severe case of what I'm trying to describe.  Didn't want to search the net for "girls without pants"

OK, look. I was young once. I went to bars, I went dancing in clubs. I know it’s a fucking pain to carry a purse, much less a coat a club when the weather has turned cold. While I still think some of these girls are insane, shivering with the beginnings of frost bite on their girly bits as they walk the 2 miles to the local club, for god’s sake, don’t forget your pants. I see this all the time. I mean, call me old fashioned but when did see-through tights constitute as pants? I don’t care how long you think that shirt is, it’s not covering your ass.

And another thing – I’m a big girl. I’ve come to terms that there are just some things that I should not be wearing. After you blow past a size 14 (which I have), the whole mantra that “if you can button it, it fits” no longer applies. Stick thin girls should always wear pants (or skirts if that’s your thing), big girls – oh please – big girls – staple your pants to you in the morning so you never ever forget. You’re doing us a huge disfavor to the whole “big doesn’t mean bad” movement. This whole “no pants” thing on a big girl…it’s bad. It’s really really bad.

FASHION FAD #4: 1800’s Hair

Like this, but with less rug rats...and clothing...but more makeup

This one…THIS one I actually really like. I’m bringing it up out of jealousy as I don’t have enough hair to pull it off…or the face…or the age bracket. As a person who loves me a good period drama, it kind of tickles me every time I see some old timey thing come back in style. Flat caps? Love ‘em. There was this slight movement towards 1920’s cloche hats coming back in style and I was really stoked to get one, but then it just died out (just as well, I don’t have the face for those hats either). So yeah, I like these 1800’s hairdos I see around town. All piled high in a gorgeous messy poufy bun. I actually become fascinated with them if I see them up close and personal. Andy and I were headed to a pub (a pub!) one Sunday on the bus and I completely missed our stop because I was so enamored with the hair on the girl in front of us. She didn’t seem to be using any bobby pins, how is that possible?

I would like to state for the record that I had no idea what those 1920’s hats were called until I looked it up. Did you notice how I just put it out there like I was Ms. Intellectual Jones? For the record – ‘cloche’….terrible fucking name.

14 September 2011

Broken back could use some hot dog and mustard pizza

First some pictures to entertain you with:

I saw this in Tesco last week. Compared to the types of pizza they sell in Japan, I can’t gather hot dog and mustard is too strange but it still made me stop and go “ew”. I do imagine that there’s at least ONE person in the whole of England who thinks hot dog and mustard pizza is like, the best ever, and will be quite sad when they discontinue it.

This is one of the booths we saw at the Food and Drink Festival preview last Saturday. We had just eaten so we didn’t actually take part. I don’t know why this booth amused me. Perhaps it’s the American flags all over the shop. None of the other ethnic booths had any sort of patriotic pride like this one had. You got to love America and its constant need to choke you with the stars and stripes.

Lastly we have the Beatles bobble head dolls that were on display at the Liverpool Museum that we also stopped at last weekend. I mainly took this because my step mom and her sisters have a set of Beatles bobble head dolls that are worth a bit of cash but they don’t look a thing like these ones. So yeah, I took this picture to show my step mom but because I was unloading my camera phone pictures, I thought I’d tack this on. You’re welcome.

If you aren’t interested in hearing about my kid, you can stop reading now as that’s all I got for you this week. Hey! Hot dog and mustard pizza. That’s so gross, right?

So I’ve been struggling with Henry this past week. He’s going through yet another phase and it’s exhausting. At 5 months old he started whining. As a person who tends to whine herself quite a bit, I’m now feeling quite bad to all those I’ve afflicted my whine upon. Not enough to stop mind you. Whining is fun if you are the whiner and not the whinee.

Henry is getting to this age where he’s getting bored of the play mat we got him. He’s too small yet to use the activity center we got. He wants to sit up and play with things but he’s not strong enough to sit up on his own without toppling over and banging his head. He wants to stand but he’s not strong enough yet to do so on his own. He wants to play with his blocks but his hands are too little to grab them properly. And dammit, he wants to hug and squeeze the cat but she’s too damn fast. What this all means is that he’s frustrated ALL THE TIME - hence the whining.

"I'm just SO unhappy!  I'm unhappy about being unhappy!"

My back, oh god, my poor back – picking him up from the floor, putting him back down, rocking 16 lbs of screaming infant, holding him at that awkward angle so that he can practice sitting and standing. There aren’t enough stick-em heat pads to cover the areas where my back (and shoulders and arms) ache. I have honestly started to question whether or not I waited to long to have a kid. I almost feel I’m too old for this shit. There’s a woman at the playgroup that we go too that has a 7 month old boy and is currently 4 months pregnant. She seems nice enough but you know that the woman is fucking insane.

"I'm so happy the Packers won I shall chew the ear off this giraffe."

On the plus side, when Henry isn’t whining or sleeping or eating, he’s usually smiling. It’s a big gummy grin that forces a wave of drool to come out. He giggles like mad when I do the Oscar Mayer bologna song. I’m glad he likes it because it’s the only song I can seem to remember on a moments notice. The other day I tried to think of a song but failed and just made up a song about Oscar Mayer hot dogs. Later on that night Andy asked me to please sing to him and “make sure it’s not a song about processed meat.”

Right now Henry is asleep. It’s a beautiful sound, silence.

05 September 2011

This, Here, That & There

THIS: So it’s turned into fall around these parts. Except I’m not allowed to say ‘fall’ around these parts, it’s ‘autumn’…like your grandparents used to say. It’s actually strange in a way since the temperature is pretty much the same as it’s been all summer, which is to say a few degrees over 60. It’s the wind though, the wind is colder now, making me grab for my jacket since September 1st when I was quite happy to go along in short sleeves before. Since I haven’t experienced a proper fall (grr..AUTUMN) in over 8 years this weather change is quite nice. I’m enjoying the crispness in the air. I’m enjoying seeing the leaves start to change colors. I’m enjoying pulling out my scarves thinking about which one I’m going to wear first. I’ve already sorted out where we’re going to go next month to pick our Halloween pumpkin. To be sure, once the first snow starts falling you will hear me grumbling. Snow is the bane of my existence, a bit like skinny jeans and the horrible smell of the fish counter at the grocery store.

Now that I’ve spent a whole summer in England, I understand what everyone meant about enjoying the two weeks of summer England gets every year. The only time it was over 70 degrees for any length of time was back in April. There have been many the sunny days since, but never that warm. I only wore my shorts 3 times. I really don’t mind that much since I hate sweating. I just don’t understand why anyone would bother building a water park in this country. It can’t be a huge money maker – unless of course they are charging 10,000 pounds per person. Having an irrational fear of swimsuits (seriously, lacra is just unnatural) I can’t verify the price for you. Perhaps the water park is only a pound to get in but all it consists of is a glorified Slip-n-Slide with Nigel the ex-carnie out there with a garden hose.

England's famous water park.

HERE: Two weekends ago was the Summer Bank Holiday weekend. It’s essentially Labor Day, but a week earlier as not to be associated with those nasty Yanks. Liverpool was holding it’s yearly Mathew Street Festival and Andy and I decided to go down to see it on our weekly “day off”. (In the future, if I say ‘day off’ I mean that we left Henry with Andy’s mum. As anyone with a kid knows, there is no such thing as a ‘day off’ when you are with a child you are responsible for.)

Mathew Street Festival was incredibly awesome in the fact that instead of holding the festival in a part of town, they held the festival in the ENTIRE city center. All roads in the center were blocked off. Having a mother who never thought playing in oncoming traffic was an okay thing to do, I find it incredibly freeing anytime I can walk down the middle of the street and not have to worry about getting run over. It feels almost squirrel like.

Being a squirrel

List of all the bands and the stages

At different parts of the city stages were constructed and you can see bands all day for free. The only difference from a regular festival was that there were no food booths or carnival rides or anything like that. If you wanted to eat, you went into a pub or restaurant and ate. If you had to pee, you snuck into a pub or restaurant. Most people (including ourselves) went to Tesco to purchase a 4 pack of beer to walk around with and drink. We also stayed around one stage instead of wearing down the rubber in our shoes seeing other bands. We saw a few bands at that stage but the only one I remember the name of is Amsterdam and I only remember them because I had actually heard of them before. They’re from Liverpool lest the name confuses you.


Andy and his sis are amused that I'm sitting.

I don't know why I'm so amused by taking pictures of coppers.  I just am.

After 4 hours, we got tired of fighting crowds and standing. We’re old and out of shape and not much like squirrels at all. We headed to Barcelona Bar (also in Liverpool) and had a lovely evening shouting a conversation over the bar band.

I hope the real Barcelona is this cool.

THAT: Andy has an unusual quirk. Sometimes when he’s asleep, his eyes stay partial open. Not too much. More like slits like he’s giving you the evil eye. You can still see his cornea quite clearly which is why it’s so off putting. He did not make me aware of this quirk prior to us dating. One night after whatever movie we were watching was finished, I looked over and Andy is lying on his back and his eyes are open like I described above. I thought he was awake so I asked him how he liked the movie. He didn’t respond but since his eyes were open I thought he was giving that look like he hated it and how could I even ask that question. Fair enough. But then he started snoring. OK, the movie was boring, but he didn’t have to be a dick about it. But then he REALLY started snoring. I honestly thought he was taking the piss and started to get kind of mad about it. The snoring didn’t stop though. When the light bulb finally went off in my head that fuck, this guy was sleeping with his eyes open; I did what any logical person would do. I took a picture of it.


Anyhow, this afternoon I’m feeding Henry his bottle. It’s pretty typical for him to fall asleep immediately after he’s done. I usually have to sit there and hold him while he sleeps as he won’t sleep in his crib during the day (don’t bother suggestions on fixing this as we’ve tried them all). After about an hour of sitting there, I looked down and noticed that my son, my precious little baby, was fucking sleeping with his eyes open – just like his father. I would have taken a picture of it but that would have meant getting up and waking the child which of course would defeat the purpose. Trust me though, it’s creepy.

THERE: This past Saturday the three of us headed to Manchester. We were going to Manchester for two very uncool reasons. The first being that we were picking up a used activity center for the Henbot we found on GumTree and the second being that we were going to the Manchester Baby Show. Yes, we went to the Manchester Baby Show. Yes, it was my suggestion. I like trade shows, especially Auto Shows, and I figured we had a baby and they would be giving out baby swag, blah blah fuckity blah. I’m not going to go into details about the show because I don’t think you all give a toss but if you do have a baby I will say that it’s worth going to.

Henry seemed to enjoy himself.  He's pretty easy to amuse though.

I knew Andy would be pretty grumpy about the whole thing (and he was grumpy but he held it in remarkably well). To take a man to a baby show must be a particular type of torture not covered in spousal abuse reports. To add insult upon injury, I made him go to MANCHESTER which is a bit soul crushing for any Scouser (aka: from Liverpool). Liverpool and Manchester have had hundreds of years of city rivalry. It’s not all about football either, though it doesn’t help. Not being a Scouser or a Manc, I don’t understand it any farther than I understand the state rivalry between Wisconsin and Illinois (our friendly Illinois buddies). Andy put up with Manchester remarkably well, only really going off the handle when there was parking sign inappropriately placed. I must admit that I really liked Manchester for the little I got to see of it. As both my son and husband are Scousers I think I’d be disowned if I ever decided to live there, but still, not a bad place – inappropriately placed parking signs and all.

I’d like to mention that there was a point where we weren’t going to the baby show because of a ticket mishap. Before we were able to sort the problem out, I emailed Vegemite Wife in a bit of a panic (though I’m sure my email was quite casual) asking for suggestions for things to do in Manchester. I didn’t mention the baby show ticket problem because she would have mocked me and would have told me to go to Glastonbury to try to get some of my cool back. VW ended up sending me a very informative list of suggestions back (none of which that involved me purchasing wellies) including places to park, train stations, types of outerwear that would be acceptable and whether strawberries were still in season. The woman needs to be a tour guide, seriously. I actually felt a bit guilty when the baby show ticket problem was taken care of. Who wouldn’t want to walk down to Castlefield by the canals where the birthplace of industrialization is? I couldn’t leave Manchester without doing at least one of the great things she suggested, so we ended up going to Dimitri’s. You know what? It was good. No, it was awesome. The waiters were even friendly with Henry. Well done VW.

 Dimitri's...good call.

The kid just loves grabbing at beers.  I have no idea why.  It's not like we like beer or anything.