Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Signs of Spring

Spring is in the air today. I cycled without a winter coat, crocuses are popping up in the back gardens, and I got a great big whiff of mowed-lawn-smell as I was coming home this afternoon. It feels glorious.

But the true signs of spring?

10 kg of charcoal briquettes on the back of my bike, so we could barbecue smuggled steaks from home, sauteed mushrooms, corn on the cob, caesar salad and baked potatoes with all the trimmings. I feel 100% full and 100% content. I love spring.

Soon enough we will be able to eat outside. I cannot wait!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Everybody Loves a Top Ten

There have been some pretty awesome times already in February. And they are all regular, everyday things. I think that makes them even awesomer.

#10: Elizabeth & I are cover girls on the Official Newsletter of St John's Hospice in London. We went to their Christmas fair in December, and their pet therapy dog, Nellie, was walking around. Elizabeth fell in love immediately with this dog. (Unnecessary truth: Our good friend Naomi works for the hospice, and our other friend Alex was the "official" photographer. Hmmm....)

#9: We have had  a bird feeder up for months, and we had our first customer! And I even knew that it was a blue tit (hee hee hee) - only because the library lady has stuffed animal versions of a blue tit and a chaffinch that make the right bird song, and she uses them every week to quieten down the children. I have mad birdwatching skillz.

#8: We paint almost every day. Elizabeth's attention span is roughly 8 minutes, so from set up to clean up takes about 12 minutes. Sometimes, art is tiring. 

#7: Elizabeth reads to other kids now at the library - kids she has never met before. Sometimes at the same time as the librarian, during storytime. Sometimes louder than the librarian. Sometimes it is awkward.

#6: It snowed. Matthew had to wipe off his bike before going to work - check out the sweet rainproof pants he's got on! Hottie! It was reminiscent of sweeping snow off your car in Edmonton, but without the freezingness and also without having to chip off ice. I was too scared to cycle with Elizabeth while there was snow on the ground in case we hit a patch and slipped. Hawkeye is fearless.

#5: Accessorizing is the name of the game around here lately. Scarves, hats, boots, you name it. It's a lot of fun.

 #4: The Oilers had an early game, so we were able to stream it online and watch in the evening! Awesome! Pizza, beer/wine, and hockey? Hockey Night in . . . England? (duh-nuh-duh-nah-nah-naaaaah!!! - theme song, anyone?)

#3: The free streaming sites pooched out on us, but luckily Chris was there to save the day. In other words, he turned his laptop to his television, and skyped with us for the second half of the game. And he turned the volume up really loud so we could hear it properly. In other words, technology FTW. (PS Look how intensely we are watching the game!)

#2: Elizabeth has started the anti-tantrum. This is her response to me turning off "Buzzandwooody" (aka Toy Story) so we could go outside and play. She still sometimes has the classic tantrum, but sometimes just shuts down and lies still for a few minutes. I am not complaining. 

#1: Elizabeth wore a tutu all day one day. With giraffe-print tights. What?

Monday, 13 February 2012

A Good Reason to Love England: Pub Quiz Night

How can it be that we have lived here for over a year, and I only just experienced my first Pub Quiz Night? I am so disappointed thinking of all the random evenings we spent at home, when we could have found a baby sitter and played - no, competed in a pub quiz!

I went with some of the British girls I know - this is a thoroughly British affair, so you need at least one person with the right accent at your table for credibility. I can't even remember the name of our team - something about chocolate, I'm sure - and now that the questions have all been asked and answered, I'm sad that I didn't at least contribute some creative ideas for our name, since I was totally sub-par on the "general knowledge" of the quiz.

First of all, there's a Pub Quiz Caller (I really wanted Matthew to think of a better name, but he thinks Caller is right - it's a Bingo Caller, so why not Pub Quiz too??), and our dude was pretty into his role, rolling his 'r's for emphasis and everything. He could have given Alex Trebek a run for his money.

And second of all, I thought it would be more of a 'yell-out-the-answer-as-soon-as-you-know-it' event ---- don't even think about it! They give you a piece of paper, and you have to confer with your table mates about the answer.
I made my rookie-ness obvious when I used my phone to take some photos, including some of the seriously intense team behind me, and my friends quickly stopped me for fear we would be accused of cheating! Seriously?! Who would cheat at a pub quiz, and secondly, who would care if someone else was cheating! :) 

The points are tallied at the end (you have to swap papers with another team, for honesty's sake) and the only people who win a 'prize' (read: stale candy) are the losers! The team that won is clearly the same team that wins every week, and when their name was announced, every other team booed.

The questions were, as you can expect, awesome.
  • Name the manager of the 1968 Manchester United team. We actually had an answer to this, because I said to our group, "Who knows this kind of stuff??" and my friend Kate said, "Sam would", referring to her husband. So we wrote down, "Sam Wood." We were wrong.
  • A "hairstreak" is a type of what species? We guessed deer (!) but were so, so wrong. Here is the answer
  • Who was assassinated by Nathuram Godse in 1948? At first our team was all, 'maybe it's someone Israeli, because wasn't there a war there in 1948?' but then I said, "Godse? That sounds Indian. Maybe it's Gandhi?" and it totally was Gandhi! I am so proud of me.
  • What booze is in a carbonade flamande? And for bonus points, from which region is this booze? We seriously guessed on this - cognac and France were both wrong, wrong, wrong. 
  • From what seed does mace come? I was only half-surprised when my friend Liz knew the answer. Liz is the kind of gal who just knows all kinds of random stuff.
  • Who discovered the vaccine for rabies? I actually knew this one, but having dismayed my group with all my other inane answers, they left it blank.(If you had heard some of my suggestions, or rather, long silences when the question was asked, you might not have believed me either.) If you think you know the answer, check here!

The best thing about Pub Quiz Night was the recommendation to have "proper cider". I drank a pint of Old Rosie, and since I wasn't contributing anything productive to our group's answer sheet, I had a second cheeky pint. And then I almost fell over, because Good Old Rosie is 7.3% alcohol. Yay Pub Quiz Night!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Mummy's Birthday is Everyone's Birthday

I celebrated my 30th birthday in January, and while it was kind of a regular day all around, it was also a really lovely, wonderful, enjoyable day. We went to our regular playgroup, had 3 meals and a bunch of snacks, and played. It was just a really nice day.

But, in truth, the real story of the day was more like this:
 0745: Elizabeth wakes up (Mini sleep in = best gift ever. I came downstairs, and Matthew had decorated for me!)

0830: Matthew goes to work (I skyped with my friend Brianne, Elizabeth Little Peopled. Then we danced around the house with umbrellas, pretending to be Gene Kelly. )
0900: shower and get dressed (Elizabeth jumped on our bed while I dressed her and laughed at her giggling.)
1000: playgroup (I got to drink a cup of coffee and eat cake while Elizabeth played with her friends. All the Mummies had a good chat and laugh at our cute children.)
11145: home from the playgroup, get lunch ready (Elizabeth got to watch 15 miniutes of Cinderella.)
1200: Lunch. (Elizabeth's favourite food: rice, turkey breast, corn and peas in cream of vegetable soup. During lunch, I read her favourite books, we sang "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes", and talked about Cinderella and the mousies, and we sang all her favourite nursery rhymes. She had 3 yogurt popsicles, just because she wanted them. And then before I did the dishes, she did the "washy-washy" and got water all over the counter, floor and chair she stood on.)
1300:  We played. (I played some great tunes and we had a dance party. We put on tutus and head bands, and did "spinny spinny" and fell over. She balanced on my feet to dance with me. I showed her how to balance on one foot. More Gene Kelly-ing. Lots of spinning and falling down.)
Excuse the blurriness - it's really tough to get a self-portrait while dance partying.
1415:Elizabeth napped. I got dinner ready. (I watched two episodes of ER - season 4, I'm totally into it - and leisurely chopped and diced and whatevered. My lovely neighbour, Anggi, dropped by with a chocolate cake!! Then I read two whole pages of my book before Eliz woke up.)
1615:  Elizabeth wakes up, totally starving, so had an early dinner at 1630. (She asked for cereal and banana: she got it. She asked for rice: she got it. I gave her a chicken drumstick from leftovers: she ate the whole thing. She asked for chocolate cake: she got a piece. She asked for cucumber: she got a whole lot of that, peeled and everything. She asked for more cake - she got that too! Then we just had more dance partying.)
1800: Matthew came home (More dance partying)
Even blurry with a photographer! Such great dancers!

1830-2000: Our friends came over and we had dinner (Elizabeth stood on a regular chair instead of sitting in her high chair, because she asked to. She entertained us with stories galore. We all really enjoyed the meal... well, I assume 'we all' did, because I really did. Matthew shared his lemon tart with Elizabeth because I outright refused to share mine.)

2000: Elizabeth goes to bed (Really, all we have to do now is just put her jammies on and she kind of starts pointing at her bed and saying, "Bed. Please. Naaaight-naaaight. I wuv oo MummyDaddy MummyDaddy. Soo-der. Bed. Please.")
2000-bedtime: Good times with good friends. (More champagne. More laughing. More great-day-ing. We taught them Yahtzee, because South Africa doesn't have Yahtzee. Can you believe that?!? I did a lot of laughing and a lot of champagning.) 

So you can see, Elizabeth pretty much had her best day too. It should be Mummy's birthday at least once every 3 months.