24 November 2011

This Month's Picture of My Kid

It's Thanksgiving.  I could give you pictures of dinner or of Henry wearing his "My First Thanksgiving" t-shirt or of the cocktail I'm drinking but instead, I give you this.  This is Henry's first go on the swings.  He kind of liked it.  He liked it like he enjoys pulling the cat's tail.  Which is, like, a lot.  That also reminds me, I haven't seen the cat all day. 

16 November 2011

New Habits

So I had a momentous first this past weekend. Well, a first in the UK anyhow. On Saturday, Andy and I had taken Henry to the pub for lunch and a pint. As we were walking our way back home, a girl from one of the playgroup sessions I go to flagged me down to say hello. She and I had just gone for coffee earlier in the week so I was quite pleased she wanted to say hello, instead of hiding behind the table whispering to her husband, “is she gone yet? Tell me when she’s past.” This exchange prompted Andy to take the piss out me for the rest of the day – “Oooooo, look at Ms. Popular”, “You’ve got a friiiiiiiiiend”, “Well, we need to go to the grocery store. Should I be worried that you’ll run into more people you know?” Piss-taking aside, I was really chuffed about the whole thing. This girl and I might even go for coffee again tomorrow.

Running into people I know has always been a common occurrence for me since I tend to live in big small towns – basically suburbs of big cities where you can’t help but know people eventually. Usually after I move somewhere (which I’ve done a lot), this happens, and I mark it off as the point where I finally fit into my new town. As I’ve complained previously, this point of fitting in has never taken so long before; now that it has I feel a bit more relaxed about living here.

This made me start thinking about all the things I do now in the UK (that are almost second nature) that 10 months ago would have seemed so foreign to me. Because I know these things interest you to no end, I thought I’d list them off here.


I would never consider myself a coffee snob. In the States I bought my coffee from the Coffee Bean because they were good and they were convenient to buy beans for home since I was always in there for my daily fix during work hours. I did think Folgers was crap - because it is – same for Maxwell House for that matter – but I would drink a cup of it if someone offered it to me. I always drank the generic stuff pouring out of the machine at work. One thing I refused to do was buy instant coffee. I’ve owned a coffee maker consistently since I was 16 years old. I’ve owned a grinder since I was 28. There is no excuse for not taking the extra two minutes to brew a pot of fresh coffee….

…or so I thought until I moved here. It all started due to finances. We had a kettle that Andy’s mum donated to us. We figured we could live without a coffee maker until we were more flush. I begrudgingly bought some instant coffee and that is what I’ve been drinking since our time abroad. While at this point I’m sure I could convince Andy to get me a coffee maker, there almost seems no point anymore. Truthfully, I get a proper cup of drip coffee from Costa every now and again but it still doesn’t seem the same without the creamy goodness of half and half. Truthfully, instant coffee isn’t so bad if you add a scoop of Horlicks in there with it.



This happened almost immediately after I set foot in England. I think I had heard it so often from Andy that it snuck in the minute I was surrounded by ‘the accent of Andy’. ‘Cheers’ is primarily used when shopping. If you go to the newsagent and bought some chocolate, the transaction would be as such:

“That’s 65 p.”

“Here you go…cheers.”

I still don’t understand why we thank people or say ‘cheers’ to them in either country when purchasing items. What are we really saying? “Thank you for taking my money. You could have refused and gave it to me for free.” Perhaps we are thanking them for their cash register skills – that seems more of a “well done” then a “thanks” though. Perhaps in the UK, we are simply “cheers”-ing them for having their shop open. Since most shops are open for approximately 45 minutes every other Thursday, this would be legitimate appreciation.


I walk a lot. I might have mentioned previously that I don’t really care for walking but I think since it has become my main means of transport, I don’t mind it so much anymore. There used to be a time when I was living in the States (recently) that Andy and I would drive to the pub. If we got too drunk, we’d walk home. If we got really REALLY drunk, we would take a cab back home (only happened twice)(honestly). It embarrasses me to say that the pub in mention was 5 blocks from our house. They were long blocks, but we always took a short cut so it was less than that. I could argue that the US isn’t built for pedestrians (which is true), but it really is no excuse.

I now walk the same distance to get to the grocery store 4-5 times a week. I walk a mile further to feed the fucking ducks in the park – something I do for Henry’s benefit though he typically falls asleep on me before we get there. A mile! I walk from one end of Liverpool City Centre to the other AND BACK AGAIN because of the shops I’m going to and the spot where I catch the bus. I walk blocks and blocks and more blocks, pushing the damn stroller hoping to god that Henry will FALL THE FUCK ASLEEP (I should just take him to the ducks, shouldn’t I?). You get it right? I walk a lot. It’s not so bad.

 A pigeon could land on his nose right now and he wouldn't wake up.


OK, I’m not an expert on this but a few things have helped me along:

0 C = 32 F

10 C = 50 F

20 C = 68 F (England never gets warmer than this, so you can stop here)

200 C = 400 F (For cooking purposes, not gauging the temperature of hell while in the company of an European)

If you know those four conversions by heart, you can usually work out the rest. I could tell you that for every 5 degrees C, it works out to 9 degrees F (thus, if you know 10 C = 50 F, 30 C would be 86 F), but that’s all sorts of boring and math-like and I won’t have such nonsense on my blog.


This one is going to bite me in the ass one day if we ever move back to the States. Imagine this – it’s Thursday night. As usual, all the networks have decided to put all the good shows on the same night in the same time slot. You haven’t had anything decent to watch since ‘Dr. Who’ was on on Saturday, but now you have to decide which two programs are more important to you to record on the DVR. You could watch the third, less important show live – but that goes against all your principles of never watching a commercial again. What do you do?

In the States you suck it up. In the UK, you record your 3rd and 4th less important shows (but still good enough that you must record them) and hour later on the plus one channels.

The plus one channels, you might not know, are the same channels that repeat the same program schedule and hour after it appeared on the regular channel. Here, it’s like this:

BBC One is showing ‘Frozen Planet’ at 8 PM, followed by ‘Case Histories’ at 9 PM
BBC One +1 is showing ‘Frozen Planet at 9 PM, followed by ‘Case Histories’ at 10 PM

When we first got our cable package, I was a bit put off that we had all these channels that were basically repeats of another channel, just an hour later. Now, I can’t live without it. Let’s say the baby is crying and won’t go to sleep. By the time you check the channel listings, you’ve missed the first half of some show that looks interesting (though not interesting enough to record). You simply wait a half hour, and blam, you can watch the entire show in its entirety. Brilliant – and also very useful for Thursdays.


I have more but I think this post has gone on far enough. I’ll come back to this topic later. I will let you know that I will probably be absent next week as my sister is in town to help me celebrate Thanksgiving UK style. In my absence, why don’t you check out a new blog – but obviously come back to me in two weeks like a faithful reader that I know you are. I have paid you to be a faithful reader, right?

14 November 2011

A Quick Snapshot into our Daily Life

This picture pretty much sums up our daily life at the moment.  There's the child, fully awake, ready to cause some chaos.   There's the cat, still quite annoyed that we brought in another addition into the house.  And finally, there's Andy, looking exhausted.   It probably doesn't help that the cat prefers his lap over all others and that I keep passing off the kid so I can write quick blog posts like this one.

09 November 2011

Nothing beats a good protest

The UK loves to protest. It’s in their DNA somewhere, along with the belief that a hot cup of tea cures all known illnesses. You could argue that the UK also loves a good riot, but that’s really a protest on PCP and an overwhelming desire to nick a flat screen.

I’ve actually been quite impressed with the UK population as a whole and how they really get involved in what their government does. The yearly government budget report is televised and watched with great interest. People talk about the council this and the council that and who and what and why of current budget cuts. If the UK population doesn’t like something the government does, they protest about it. I can’t tell you what effectiveness all this protesting actually does because I’m American and for the most part, I don’t pay attention to such things…especially if there’s something good on the TV. I realize that there has been quite a lot of protesting in the States recently with this whole 99%\1% business. After the 1960’s Protest Euphoria, Americans only tend to protest when things have gotten really really shitty and they no longer have any money to buy candles from Pottery Barn. On the flip side, if the squirrels don’t stop shitting on the bike path in Sefton Park soon, there’s going to be a fucking protest – mark my words.

Which leads to me to today, where the Henbot and I both lost our Protest Cherry, so to speak. I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about the Children’s Center that Henry and I go to a lot. (START OF BORING POLITICAL DO-DADS) Due to budget cuts, the council has proposed shutting down this particular center and a couple more due to the fact that we are considered to be in an affluent area and therefore don’t need the services as much as families who, well, are not as affluent. It’s a bunch of bullshit really – just because we might live in a nicer area of Liverpool doesn’t mean that we’re driving Mercedes and taking family safaris to Kenya for a laugh. I mean, I lived in Newport Beach in California which has more money than God, but I was living in a shitty 1 bedroom apartment with a flea infestation and an air conditioner that I couldn’t use because it was so loud the police ticketed me for a noise disturbance (true story) (mostly) (it was just a warning). Plus, this particular center is the most highly attended center in all of Liverpool. (END OF BORING POLITICAL DO-DADS)

You know, normally I wouldn’t give a shit. I’m American after all, and with the latest comedies coming out this autumn my schedule is pretty full (hey State-siders – if you haven’t gotten ‘Spy’, ‘Threesome’, ‘Misfits’ and ‘An Idiot Abroad’ over there, search them out online…well worth your time). But the fact of the matter is this fucking Children’s Center is at the center of my whole social life right now (as much as it pains me to admit that). The few bad or awkward dates aside, I’ve met a lot of people there and it would be really disappointing if it wasn’t there anymore. So, I did what any good British person would do – I joined a protest.

Aww...Baby's First Protest

Just to clear a few things up, protesting is pretty boring. Its cold and it will most likely rain on you. You will hold a sign that no one can read unless they came up to you and asked you to stand still for a moment. You repeat a phrase over and over again until your voice goes hoarse and you lose track of what you’re actually chanting. At one point I was chanting “Caveman Center! Horse is Mostly Hills!” for 5 minutes before I gave up and hid my mouth behind my sign so people wouldn’t know I was trying to locate some saliva to continue on. Most importantly, there was no beer involved. Or vodka. That, my friends, is a sad outing.

Our legions in front of City Hall...oh yes!  The strollers themselves are a force to be reckoned with!

Again, I don’t know to what effectiveness our little protest will achieve. But hey, we tried. I personally think my protesting days are over. While I was a wizard at sign holding, my chanting skills leave something to be desired. I may have to come out of retirement if they ban cheap beer sales in supermarkets but until then, I’ve got the new Radio Times to look through.


UPDATE: We made the evening news! Thank you Liverpool Echo for posting a picture that makes my thighs look like Redwood trunks while also appearing to be wearing tapered 80's jeans. A least Henry looks good.

08 November 2011

One of those weeks

So last week was a pretty disastrous week all around. I can’t say this or that happened, thus making it such a horrible week – it was just a bunch of little things compounded. I suppose my personal worst was when I almost lost my shit at M&S (Marks & Spencer). Picture me in downtown Liverpool with the Henbot in tow. What was suppose to be a quick trip to pick up a couple photos turned into a downpour with no rain gear, a hungry baby, IBS rearing it’s ugly head (pun intended), and a bunch of inconsiderate fuck nuts who think their choice of the red or purple sparkly silk scarf supersedes common courtesy to a pained women with an awkward stroller and a screaming infant. Obviously I was at the end of my tether once I stopped into the Marks & Spencer’s “café” but really -M&S, please train your café staff how to use a fucking cash register.

Part of my bad week as well was that I threw out my back. I seem to pull out my back about once a year and the initial cause of it can usually go on my Stupid Injury List. This recent pull was no exception. Are you ready? No, seriously, are you ready? OK, get this….I sat on the floor. I didn’t sit on a nail on the floor and I didn’t sit on a floor that was covered in Jell-O causing me to slip and slide and break a toe as well as throw out my back. No, I just sat on the floor. To be fair, it was really just sitting on the floor too long. I had been to baby massage in the morning sitting on the floor and then in the afternoon I sat on the floor for general baby play (I really should find an activity outside the Children’s Center) and finally when I got home, I sat on the floor while I put together the chairs of our new dining table (one has to know how cheap we got our dining set if I have to sit on the floor and put the fucking thing together). By the time the 2nd chair was done, I got up to get a drink and…I couldn’t move. I managed to get up but my legs wouldn’t move. Henry, of course, was crying at this point and I cried right back at him because I COULDN’T FUCKING MOVE.

It’s weird when you find yourself in that spot – standing, crying, looking at your child, looking at the cigarette you wish you could reach, thinking about the toilet you need to get to, wondering for a moment if you’ll ever be able to move again. Your mind goes to this strange place where you see yourself being carted around on a dolly for the end of time, pushed by two Hungarian men with terrible mustaches, one of which always tries to touch your butt when you reach for something, the other who tells you that you look like his mother and you know that can’t be a compliment.

My back felt better in a couple days but I’m still having nightmares about mustaches.

Anyhow, by the time our day off arrived, I think both Andy and I were done. All our willingness for intelligent thought was gone. All our efforts to remain upright were stolen. We get precious few hours away from the child each week. Our hours this week were spent at a pub staring into nothing for an hour, then at home where Andy slept and I watched the most boring movie ever and was entertained just because there were moving pictures. It was a really bad week.

This week, thus far, has been much better. So far the worst that has happened to me is that ASDA failed to bring me the grapes I ordered in our weekly delivery. Oh, and I dropped my child. It happens. What’s more important is that we really need to get a campaign together to get those fucking M&S cashiers trained. Who’s with me?

English Engrish

My cousin used to have a blog when she lived in Japan. Occasionally she'd post some Engrish signage - basically signs that a well meaning Japanese person incorrectly translated to English. I'm here to inform you that sometimes you don't need to be in a non-English speaking country to witness such things.

Yes, this is indeed for a child's toy.  What a 'Star Buy'!

02 November 2011


So if you thought last week’s post was boring, this one might just send you to immediate REM. And I’m not talking about the band. Not that there is anything wrong with R.E.M. – just not my cup of tea so to speak. Though I did like ‘Shiny Happy People’ as their video for that had a dance I could actually pull off. I wasn’t coordinated at 16 and I’m sure as hell not coordinated now, so I take what I can get. That really isn’t what this post is about though. To be honest, I have no idea what this post is going to be about, which is why I know it’s going to be a snoozer. I really know how to grab my audience, don’t I?

This weekend Andy and I did nothing. Not a thing. I’m struggling to remember what it was that we did actually do so I know it’s naught of importance. I do know however that I was a big ole flaky flake. I hate being a big ole flaky flake so I tend to beat myself up about it in an effort to not do it again. Obviously, this ploy has yet to work out but I’m still hopeful. You know that horribly overplayed Sunscreen song where it says not to live in California too long or else you get soft? That’s a bunch of bullshit. What that song should have said was “don’t stay in California so long that you become a big ole flakey flake and start thinking no one is going to notice you aren’t a nature blonde with those big black hairy eyebrows.”

So I was a flake. Andy and I intended to go meet the Vegemite Wife (finally) at the Beer Festival in Manchester but we decided at the last minute not to go. The reasons for this were many, which I will include below, but it didn’t stop me from feeling like the biggest lame ass this side of the Atlantic. We could have gone. We should have gone. We didn’t go. All of the below reasons for not having a good time are listed here:

  1. The night before the festival, Henry woke up at 10 PM, 2 AM, and 4 AM. He stayed awake from 4 AM to 6:30 AM when he finally took an hour nap. It was, of course, my turn to do the night shift.
  2.  …......
  3.  ……..

OK, so there was only one reason. I suppose when you’ve only had 4 ½ hours of fragmented sleep, this seems like a valid reason but now it seems, well, lame. My 25 year old self is slapping me upside the head right now. Believe you me, she lives in there (my head that is), still stroking that fuzzy Grover hat asking when the next rave is.

That’s about all I have. I’m a flake. There’s your proof. I could tell you about the cheap ass dining table (and chairs) we just got, or how I pulled out my back yesterday putting together said table and chairs (add it to the stupid injury list) but I think for tonight I’ll just end things on Fuzzy Grover Hat. You’re welcome.