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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Energy Responsibility and Kids

Sponsored Post

I am constantly having to go behind my children and turn off the lights. They don't know where energy comes from or even have a vague idea of it's cost. They just know that I am constantly complaining about them leaving the lights on when they leave a room. I have tried to explain that when we use our lights, computers, television or anything else that requires electricity, that mommy and daddy have to pay money. This of course baffles them, especially KiKi, because as a very "wired" family we are constantly using energy it seems with little care.

We are however very conscious when the bill appears in the post. Of course the children never see that bit.

My oldest daughter, LaLa, however has become a bit more conscious about the effects of energy use now that she is a bit older. They have an eco-team at their school and the team is constantly sharing new ways to be a little more green with the school. LaLa has taken on board many of the lessons that she has learned through the eco-team and brought them home to share with the family. We are now very good at recycling and reusing items. She has also learned that energy is not just a infinite resource and has started inquiring more and more about ways to save energy as a way to be more environmentally friendly.

There is a new way to monitor energy consumption in the home that British Gas is now offering their customers called Smart Meters. In case you have never heard of a Smart Meter, they are meters that are inside the home that actually show you your energy consumption in real time. They also show you how much you are spending for your energy. I think the concept of these meters are fabulous. No more guessing about what your bill will be; how awesome is that? Also, you can show your children by looking at the Smart Meter how much energy you are using when certain appliances. I love the idea of having a visual aid to teach a child about the importance of energy conservation, not only for the good of the Earth, but for the good of my pocketbook.

I think my kids would find a Smart Meter as a learning tool fascinating. LaLa especially would love it because she is very into science and how things work. I could see her doing experiments to see what the energy consumption levels would be with certain appliances turned off and on. I would love it because my constant complaints about how much energy they are wasting would be then visually enforced. That is being a Smart Mum.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Kinda like Roto-rooter (or Dyno Rod)

I rarely go to the doctor. Mostly because I don't have time to be sick. So when it comes to "wellness checks" and such, those usually get forgotten about for years. However, this year I was forced to go to get my wellness checks due to my overwhelming desire not to have any more children. This baby factory is closed. I have been on the Mirena coil for the last 5 years and it has been wonderful (no this isn't a sponsored post or a review..well I guess it is a bit of a review if you count the fact that YAY no babies while I was on it!) However, it had reached the end of it's shelf life and I had to go to the doctor to discuss my birth control options. Joy of joy I just love taking about my girlie bits with strangers /sarcasm (and yet I don't mind writing about it...).

I am not actually writing this because of my decision of what to do about my birth control situation but because I actually had fun at my doctors appointments. You see, my regular doctor was out of town (aka. probably deployed) so I got pawned off to a civilian woman doctor and her gorgeous sidekick (her enlisted tech).

At my first visit I got called back to the exam room by Airman Gorgeous (that's what we're calling him now in our head) and he checked my personal information to make sure that I was the right patient. We kinda were joking and then he said "you would be surprised at the number of times we have called last names and then realized that we had the wrong person with the same last name" which is probably inappropriate to tell your patient as you're heading back to the exam room, but hey-ho. So when we get there he asks why I am there. Birth control. Yadda yadda. And then he proceeds to tell me all about his wife's birth control. At this point in my head I am dying laughing because I am pretty sure his wife would KILL him for divulging this kind of information to a stranger/patient. Then my doctor arrives. I was expecting a British doctor because most of the civilian doctors I have ran across on base have been British, but she was American. As we began talking I also realized that she must have been on of the authors of The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook as well. As we discussed my options she would name off all the side effects and complications. In my head I was wondering if she just wanted me to go with the au naturel method of conception, but then she just said "well, if it's not broke, don't fix it". So, she decided to replace the coil I had.

Fast forward a week. She told me I have a gorgeous cervix (why thank you!). And surprised me with a smear test (bugger!). Mind you I have absolutely no dignity now that I have had two children, so her feeling up my boobs for a cancer screen and being spread eagle for the work that needed to be done "down there" didn't bother me a bit. However I found it hysterical that she and I managed to have a half hour long conversation about my kids and some of the funny things that they have done, all whilst she would occasionally tell me to prepare myself for something to hurt. Best smear test I have ever had. At the end of the visit I didn't know if I should shake her hand, hug her or ask her to buy me dinner first next time.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Blogger Resumé (we don't say CV around here)

This has taken me FOREVER to get around too. You see, I have too many pictures. I however really wanted a Blogger Calendar from Cybermummy, so I have complied.

My blogging inspiration is obviously my children and our relocation to England. This picture was taken the spring after we moved here. I just love the way they are holding hands and actually for once getting along. *sigh*

This blog was actually conceived in my living room while I was living in Missouri in July of 2008. I had just found out that we were moving to England for my husband's job (US Air Force) and I was completely excited. The name comes from when I was searching for houses. I loved the fact that one story houses were called bungalows. It was something that was completely different from the USA.

My blog has morphed so much through the years. At first it was about the anticipation of the move, then it was the classic fish out of water story, now it is about my life here where I am comfortable. I love living here and I think that shows in my blog. I have had the most amazing experience living and blogging in the UK. I have made some of the most amazing blogging pals here (and non blogging friends as well) and I can't imagine my life had this whole experience not happened. Quite dull I assume.

As a blogger here in the UK I have had some amazing experiences. I have worked with some amazing brands including Nokia and Argos. I have been to two CyberMummy conferences, which were so much fun that it should be NEARLY illegal. I have met some of my closest blogging friends including Jay, Tara, Michelle, NFAH, Nickie and Amy. I have made a gazillion other friends that I haven't met YET. I have also walked out of a blogging conference session...which we won't name but we will...cause she totally deserved it *cough*.

Overall it has been a barrel of laughs and I wouldn't change a thing. OK, so maybe I might have made the effort to go to a few more events, but overall, it has been a blast. Most of all it has been real. Real fun. Real friends. Real experiences.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dear So and So...In a Hurry

Dear Snow,

You are not allowed to fall until after the 22nd. If Heathrow is closed on the 22nd I am going to be really really angry! Just keep the white stuff on hold until after then. I don't care if my parents get stuck here, but I would care if they didn't get here, understand?

Pleading, Kat

Dear Gingerbread Rogers,

I don't know why you stink for a full 15 minutes after you use your cat tray, but oh my goodness, you're killin me. New rule, no cuddling after poops.

Your Human Mom, Kat

Dear Newly Hired Christmas House Elves,

Get to work!!

*shakes fist*, Kat

Dear Spawn of Mine,

This Christmas season we are going to have FUN. We will not ARGUE. We will not kick, hit, call names, exclude, make fun of, or taunt one another. You will follow the rules and you will LIKE it dangit!

Love, Mom

Dear Readers,

If you have your own letters please feel free to link up. This will be the last Dear So and So of the year. I am taking next week off because my parents will (no snow willing) be in town. See you in January!!

Love, Kat

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Circus, Acrobats and Musings

This is a guest post written by my friend, Jo, otherwise known as Slummy Single Mummy. I met Jo two years ago at CyberMummy and immediately developed a blog crush on her. Also, she's not slummy, at all. She does however have the ability (with the help of other mums released from their child rearing cages) to make a 19 year old boy turn as red as a beet in front of his mother and girlfriend. That was a good time... So make Jo feel welcome at the Bungalow and go check out her blog when you have the chance!

This week we went to watch some circus cabaret. It was fairly low key – no elephants juggling chainsaws or anything – but very enjoyable nonetheless.

It got me thinking though.

As I watched a beautifully graceful young girl dangling 30 feet in the air from a piece of silk, my first emotion was jealousy. ‘It’s not fair,’ I thought to myself, ‘why don’t I look like that? Why can’t I even do the monkey bars in the park and yet she can hang upside down from a piece of cloth by one foot?’

I had to stop myself then, and switch out of my ‘bitter, chubby, 30-something’ mode. She wasn’t born able to do it after all. She has practiced and practiced, determined to succeed. I could do it too if I wanted it badly enough and wasn’t so easily led astray by Jaffa Cakes. It’s true that most people probably wouldn’t want to see me in a leotard, but that’s not the point. Potentially, I could be an acrobat. Fact.

Potentially, we could be an awful lot of things couldn’t we?

The idea of all of this potential is something I find hugely uplifting, and it’s normally a good indicator for me of my underlying mood. Being able to see the potential in things, in an individual opportunity or in life generally, is what positivity and happiness is all about for me. When I'm finding it hard to be inspired and struggling to imagine the future, I know I need to take some time out to recharge my batteries. When I feel my mind wandering though, thinking up ideas, spotting new avenues to explore, it gives me a particular kind of energy and excitement that makes me feel really alive. It’s that sense of freedom, of ‘I can do anything I want!’

Of course most of the time I don’t actually know what it is that I do want, but that doesn’t matter, because that’s part of the fun isn't it?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Children's Christmas Party- Air Force Style

"All the fun starts at 2pm- don't be late!" is what the invitation to the squadron children's Christmas party said. So my husband and I made threats and barked orders, somehow managing to get the girls to the hanger where the party was starting with five minutes to spare. We were then ushered outside onto the flight line. You could see the confusion on even the parents faces. All I could think was, "Damn it's cold outside, this better be good!"

We were standing out on the stark runway for a few minutes before the thumping of helicopter rotors could be heard approaching. Of course I then in my headheard Arnold Schwarzenegger in my head yell "Get to the choppa!!" like in The Predator.

My mind work in a weird way people.

When the helicopter swung around we saw this...

What the what? Is that? Noooooo.

It was.
I guess his sleigh was in for repairs......

My kids of course at this point were going completely insanely bonkers. "DID YOU SEE THAT?!?!?!" LaLa screamed at me over the beating of the chopper blades.

"I sure did, kiddo!"

I sure did.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Silent Sunday

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dear So and So...I Really Should Expect This By Now

Dear Alarm Clock Mobile Phone,

Your snooze button and dismiss button are entirely too close together. Needless to say I over slept by a good 45 min.

Once Again Running Late, Kat

Dear Children,

Getting ready in 20 minutes was wonderful. We weren't even late to school!

Love, Mom/Mum (whichever you feel like calling me at this point)

Dear School Secretary,

Thanks for just letting the children go to their classrooms without making me sign them in tardy. We *just* missed their lines going to the classrooms by a fraction of a minute. Technically not late!

Thank, Kat (The crazy disheveled PTA mom)

Dear Slowest Driver in Suffolk,

You didn't exactly help my cause of getting the children to school on time now did you?

Just Pointing Out the Obvious, Kat

Dear Readers,

If you have your own letters this week, please link up. Have a wonderful cheery weekend.

Love, Kat

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Have A Little Patience

I know that we live in an instant gratification culture where everything has to be done NOW and we want everything to happen FASTER, but does it have to happen at the expense of manners? Lately, I have noticed a gigantic lack of manners in the pursuit of expedience. I know that when you are in a hurry sometimes one can forget a please or thank you, but it has gone past these minor oversights lately in my dealings with the general public.

One of my biggest complaints is when you call to an office and the person who is answering the phone tries to immediately pawn you off to another department, cutting off what you are saying before you have finished explaining the situation. This happened to me the other day when I called to make a doctors appointment. I needed a referral from my GP. The lady at the front desk of the Family Practice Clinic immediately tried to transfer me to another office even though I knew that I needed to speak to her first (I did my research). Immediately I had to stop her before she hit the button to transfer me. "Wait, wait, wait I need a referral from *MY* doctor before that clinic will even see me." Of course, then she was very terse with me. You know, because I made her do her job correctly. Yes, I am the one with no manners. Right.

Then, today on the way home from church I stopped at the store to pick up some milk so I wouldn't have to have a tea-less afternoon, and witnessed the most egregious impatient and thoughtless behavior that I have been privy to lately. In fact this behavior was not only impatient but dangerous, all in the name of expedience. I had circled the small car park outside the store a couple of times, and because it was lunch time there were no spaces, so I kept circling hoping one would open up. I spotted a man walking to his car and stopped mine and put on my indicator so that everyone behind me would know that I intended to take his spot. I sat and waited for him to start his car and back out. Instead of waiting behind me, the impatient person in the car behind me pulled around me to go past and was nearly hit by the guy backing out of the parking space. What an idiot. Obviously waiting a minute for this car to back up and for me to pull into the parking space was going to take ENTIRELY too much of his ever important time. Of course, I then threw up my hands in disgust and gave him the evil eye- as one does.

I don't know if it is the stress of the holidays making people act like they were raised in a barn or if it is just a sign of the times, but I really don't like it at all. So, when you are doing your job, or out in public, take a minute and think about the consequences of your actions or lack thereof. In short, don't be an asshole.

Night Crazies

I am by nature a night owl. I can easily stay up until 1 or 2 in in the morning without even thinking about it. However, lately I have been absolutely drained by about 10pm. Last night I was in bed by 10.30, which if you ever asked any of my friends is completely out of character. It's just not something I do. Now I know why. The night crazies.

Normally I use the term night crazies to refer to the time of the night when my cats go completely insane and have bursts of energy at completely inappropriate times; like at 3am when everyone else in the house is trying to sleep. Now, however, I have realized that I get the night crazies as well, only mine only involves bursts of energy to my brain.

It goes a bit like this: Did I lock the door? Yes. *snuggle into bed* Why is he breathing so loud? It's like he has an air compressor in his body...I guess that would be his lungs. We should probably get two more tires but on the car soon (this ties into the air compressor) so we don't have to worry about the MOT next year. I need to call the financial guy tomorrow after church. Did I have homework for Bible study? No, it's just a video this week. Crap I forgot to return the films back to the rental place. I can do that and check the mail after church THEN call financial guy. Dang he is snoring loudly- The Man, not financial guy. Well if I am going to be on base I should probably go get a few things for dinner tomorrow. What should we have...chicken? Just had chicken yesterday. Spaghetti tonight....hmmmm....I really want chicken though. Ok, so need chicken and veggies. And milk. And coffee. Boy I am glad I didn't drink any coffee this evening or I would never get to sleep. Not that I am sleeping now. I wonder what the kitten is doing. "Ginger..where are you" *Ginger jumps on the bed* *Ginger attacks feet under the covers* "OK go away Ginge" *puts Ginger back on the floor* *Ginger hops back on the bed and attacks feet again* "I said Go away" *puts cat back on the floor* *Lays back down* Why I ever thought a kitten was a good idea I will never know... Because they are lovely and fun and want to play all the time. *Kitten jumps back on the bed attacks feet* *Puts the cat back on the floor* I should have never called her. She was probably sleeping which is what I need to be doing. What time is it? 11? Eh, it's early.

And my brain keeps going like this for HOURS.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Favorite Christmas Song

I was sorta tagged by Tara for this one but I asked for it and loved every minute of it!

I guess it all started when I was a kid but to me it isn't Christmas until I hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing Joy To the World. It was on a CD that my Mom had when I was growing up. We used to decorate the our Chirstmas tree each year and this song was the first one on the CD. So, I give you the song that makes it feel like Chistmas to me....

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

I tag everyone who sees this!!! (am evil)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Silent Sunday

Friday, December 2, 2011

Dear So and So...Oh shhh....ugar

Dear Kid on the Bus,

The next time my child even speaks your name about something mean you have done I am going to call your mother and tell her exactly what I think. Quit being a bully. Understand?

Momma Bear, Kat

Dear Christmas Fayre at School,

I hope you are exciting and fun for the children. We have really worked our butts off this year getting ready for you and it has been time consuming and exhausting. No offense, but I can't wait until you are over this afternoon!

Regards, Kat

Dear Cupcakes,

Can you bake yourselves? I have 50 million things to do today before the fayre and you being the most time consuming...*sigh*

Exhausted, Kat

Dear Cars,

Alright, I have spent ridiculous amounts of money this year to get you MOT'd. Next year could you please just pass the dang inspection so I don't have to be broke at Christmastime again?

*Shakes empty purse*, Kat

Dear Gingerbread Rogers,

Next time when the dog barks and I am holding you, the correct response is to ignore it, not freak out and run with your claws out. My hands just might have lasting scars because of this.

Love Your Understanding New Human Mom, Kat

Dear Readers,

I hope you all have wonderful weekends. If you have a letter, please link up!

Love, Kat

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gingerbread Rogers

My husband should know better than to try to resist the cute. Fact is, if LaLa wants something and it isn't too much of a big deal, LaLa is pretty much going to get it. In fact, if The Man hadn't given in on her first try, I bet he would have given in the next day. Well, LaLa wanted a kitten for her birthday so guess what LaLa got yesterday?

Meet the newest member of the bungalow family, Gingerbread Rogers. Ginger for short. We don't want to be pretentious. She is an orange little ball of fluff and looks remarkably similar to Sam Ninja Kitty. *matching kitties squeeeee!!!!* The difference is Sam Ninja Kitty is about 10 pounds heavier than Ginger.

Sam Ninja Kitty is NOT amused

Also, Sam Kitty is completely not happy about her infringing on his cuddles. He spent the better part of yesterday moaning at her and avoiding her at all costs. He also gave me the cold shoulder because I am the one who brought the interloper into the house. She on the other hand spent the day roaming around the house, discovering Nemo's fish bowl, avoiding the curious dog, hiding from the overly enthusiastic children and trying to be Sam Kitty's best friend. I think she is a fan of immersion therapy. I am sure it will work. Eventually.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Official

The official email has landed in The Man's inbox. We are staying in the UK until 2015. Ok- don't get all excited at once now! Please hold your applause. OK, never mind, applaud away! I am so completely excited. Firstly, I get to stay near my crew. And by crew I don't mean some sort of middle aged street gang, I mean my local girls who have become like family. Secondly, I don't have to uproot my kids. This is such a bonus. My kids have thrived in their small village school. I really can not tell you how much this school means to me. (A bit sappy?) Thirdly? Thrice? Yeah, number three, we get to stay abroad! Exploring. Learning. Experiencing. How cool is that?

Also? LaLa just sweet talked her dad into a new kitten. (I think I am almost as excited about that as I am about staying here in the UK!)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Thankful List

Since it is Thanksgiving in America (and I am American for all of those who have lost track of this fact) I think I should probably do the obligatory "List of Things I am Thankful For". We don't have the tradition of reciting what you are thankful for at Thanksgiving dinner at my house. I always think maybe I should instate it at my house, but I'm a bit lazy and people hate being put on the spot when it comes to these things, so I always let it slide. Anyway, here is my list.

1. I am thankful that I have a husband who despite my faults adores me.
2. I am thankful that I have two beautiful little girls who are smart, funny and challenge me daily...whether I am up for the challenge or not that day.
3. I am thankful for the amazing friends I have. I am thankful that our friendships are two way streets and not one sided. I am thankful that I can depend on them and that I know they will always be my family away from family.
4. I am thankful for my family back in the USA. I know that they are always behind me 100% even if they don't always agree with my decisions.
5. I am thankful for my mom, who is amazingly funny and has always been the first person to put herself in my corner.
6. I am thankful for my dad who has always encouraged me to challenge myself.
7. I am thankful for my granny. She and I can talk for hours about anything and even though we may not always agree, I know she won't judge me.
8. I am thankful for living abroad in England. This experience has challenged me and made me grow up and find myself.
9. I am thankful that life isn't always easy. As much as I would love to sail through life without a care or worry, I have come to realize that you don't know how good life is until you have adversity to deal with.
10. I am thankful for chocolate and wine. Do I really need to explain this?

Instead of asking my guests around the Thanksgiving table what they are thankful for, I'm gonna ask you, my readers, what are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Holiday Rush

I have outdone myself this time. I am having roughly 19 people (a mix of Americans and Brits) at my house tomorrow for Thanksgiving (assuming everyone shows up) and have I got anything prepared. Nope. My house is a slight bomb site. I have the food, but none is prepped. Thankfully I am not doing the turkey or the ham (yes we are doing a ham too) so there is that small reprieve. So today is all about cleaning and prepping.

Ahhhh the holidays. This is my favorite time of the year but I have found that they aren't nearly as fun as when I was a kid. It seems like they just sneak up on me and the amount of stress they generate is astronomical. Not to mention that I am in the UK, which I love, but since Thanksgiving isn't a British holiday there are already Christmas ads on the TV. So, it is a weird mix of Thanksgiving and Christmas at the same time at my house. I already have pulled out some of my Christmas decorations but the weather and my calendar are shouting Thanksgiving. I should come up with a word for this time of the year.


Happy Thanksmas Everyone!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Argos Childrens Clothing Range Review

My kids spend most of their time in their school uniforms. When they get home frankly they are too lazy to change or they put on fancy dresses (I figure if I am going to buy an expensive dress they may as well get some use of it). This has actually led to a fairly embarrassing problem, I went into LaLa's room and discovered that she actually only owned three pairs of trousers and only two of them fit her correctly. The only excuse I have for this oversight is that they live in their school uniforms. Hey, it sounds like a good excuse to me, so I'm sticking to it.

Thankfully a representative from Argos contacted me about their new range of children's clothes and asked if I would like to have KiKi and LaLa review some items. Brilliant timing! I let KiKi and LaLa pick out an outfit from the clothes available in their sizes. Both of the girls had a great time browsing through the Argos website and choosing what they would like to review. KiKi chose the Moxie Girlz tunic and legging set and the matching Moxie Girlz hoodie . LaLa chose the Disney Tinkerbell tunic and leggings set and the matching Tinkerbell hoodie.

KiKi princess posing in her Moxie Girlz tunic and leggings set.
I tried to get a picture of LaLa in her outfit, but she's so active that it was like trying to nail jelly to a wall.

For the price these items couldn't have been better. The tunic and legging sets are only regularly priced at £14.99 and the hoodies are £13.99. Personally, for play clothes that my kids are only going to wear in the evenings and weekends, I think this is a bargain. They hold up well in the wash. I can't comment on how easy they are to iron because it is against my principles to iron anything, but they looked great coming out of the tumble dryer.

Argos is also running at 30% off offer on selected items of their children's clothing range until the 24th of December. That will come in very handy for Christmas bargain shoppers like me.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dear So and So...Insomnia is NOT My Friend

Dear Sam Ninja Kitty,

This little habit of yours of scratching at my open bedroom door at all hours of the night (knocking it against the wall) until I wake up and let you outside has GOT to stop. I was nearly asleep when you started last night and then it took me another hour after I let you out to get to sleep.

Your Extremely Tired and Cranky Human Mom, Kat

Dear Body,

Two weeks of sleep rebellion is quite enough! I need at least 7 hours of sleep. This 5 hours of sleep a night is sooooo not cutting it. I look like I have suitcases under my eyes and the whites of my are now red. It's not a good look for me. So can we please get to bed at a semi-decent time soon?

Zzzzzzzzz, Kat

Dear Kids (especially, La),

My bed is not your bed. Capisce? Eto Panyatno? (Oooo I still remember some of my Russian. Go me!) I really don't like feet, elbows, heads, or knees embedded in my ribs while I sleep. It is a bit uncomfortable. Just sayin'.

Love, Mom

Dear Readers,

If you have some of your own letters please link up!!

Love, Kat

Thursday, November 17, 2011

And Then It All Works Out

I have had a lot of crappy days lately. No, not like, "oh my dog peed on the rug" kind of crappy days; more like my kid took a pair of scissors to my sofa kind of crappy. No, really, LaLa cut my sofa with a pair of kitchen shears. Then my Jeep failed it's MOT (inspection). My husband is also out of the country on a business/pleasure venture. It's been a crappy week. Last week, I have no excuse for, other than I was writing. Not here. On my novel.

Then after I had been crying my eyes out to my best friend on the phone (you people know I am not a crier and was totally embarrassed, right?). Something happened. Something clicked. You guys know I don't like to get religious on my blog, but here goes. Things are tight here financially, like really tight and it is stressful. God doesn't give you more than you can handle (yadda, yadda) was talked about in Bible study this week. THEN my aunt calls me with a WONDERFUL business opportunity. Mind you, this is an opportunity that I tried to get my foot in when we moved to the UK, but it was not available then. SO to review- crying, freaking out...opportunity lands in lap. It's funny how these things work out.

In short, I am feeling a lot more hopeful than I have in a long time. I feel like a can see light at the end of the tunnel and I just might not drown. I feel happy- really really happy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jungle Speed Review

On Saturday nights my family usually has a family game night. Some of our favorite games are card games such as Rummy, Uno, and Go Fish. They are easy enough for KiKi, my five year old, to catch onto but challenging enough to keep my husband and I entertained as well.

Recently I was sent the game Jungle Speed to review with my family. It is a card based game that requires a keen eye and quick hands. The premise of the game is to flip over your stack of cards and if your symbol or color matches (depending on what is wild at the time) another players card, you have a duel and try to grab the totem that is sitting in the middle of the table before the player with the matching card.

The Totem that you need to be quick enough to grab during duels!

My oldest daughter, LaLa fell in love with this game the first time we played it and demands to play at least one hand during family game nights now. KiKi at first had a bit of difficulty playing the game because the rules are a bit more complex than other games we had played in the past. However with a few hands she caught on fairly well but I still had to keep a close eye on her to make sure she was grasping the rules.

LaLa grabbed the totem!!

This game is available in both the UK and the US.
Enjoy the cheese-tastic advert below.

Overall we found this game to be quite fun and will be added into our rotation of games to be played during our family game nights. I am sure with a few more family game nights that KiKi will be less frustrated with the rules and love the game just as much as LaLa does.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dear So and So...Brain Mush

Dear Rain,

I really don't appreciate you on days when I actually need to get things done, but since today isn't one of those days, carry on. Maybe you will cause an unavoidable nap.

Listening to the Pitter Patter, Kat

Dear Everyone,

I am making a bit of an announcement. I am doing NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. All this month I will be trying to knock out the novel that has been brewing in my head for the past 6 months. I have written roughly 4,000 words so far (a novel being roughly 50,000-80,000) and it keeps on flowing out of my finger tips. Of course I am going to keep blogging as well, so we'll see how crazy I become by the end of the month.

Love Still Semi-sane, Kat

Dear Jack,

Actually I am going to assume that Jack is an assumed name because nobody in their right mind would pitch this sort of review request to a Mummyblog. EVER. Anyways, let me get to the point, NO I would NOT like to review your guide for fellatio. In fact, I am pretty sure that none of my readers would gain any knowledge reading it. Considering they are mostly mum's I am pretty sure they have things covered in the boudoir. However, I must admit, I have not laughed so hard at a pitch in my life. Thanks for that.

Not Needing THAT Sort of Help, Kat

Dear Readers,

Yes, I really did receive that pitch. Even I couldn't make that crap up.

Love, Kat

Dear Bus Driver,

Just because my 5 year old says that the 7 year old is supposed to stay after school for her class jumble sale, doesn't mean it is true. Unless you actually physically SEE me at the school, both my children are expected to be ON THE FLIPPIN FRACKIN BUS. You're so lucky my best friend just happened to be up at the school, spotted LaLa and brought her home to me. Seriously, if this happens again your ass is grass.

You Haven't Seen Me Go Mama Bear Yet, Kat

Dear Readers,

If you have your own letters, don't forget to link up! Have a wonderful and safe weekend.

Love, Kat

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lite Sprites Review

I recently made a rule around my house that I am no longer buying toys that just sit there and do nothing. In other words, if the toy is just going to sit around and collect dust, I'm not going to waste my money on it. The same goes when I accept toys to review. When I was contacted to review a line of toys called Lite Sprites by WowWee I was a bit skeptical. I did however let LaLa see the advert attached to the email and let her decide if she would like to review the toys. Of course the advert was magical and spellbound LaLa and she insisted that she absolutely had to review the Lite Sprites. Then she went and filled her sister in on the plan as I wrote back and said that we would like to review the toy.

When the package finally arrived (nearly busting at the seams),my girls were chomping at the bit to explore the fantastic world of the Lite Sprites. Each sprite was pulled out of the box with gasps of delight. It was a bit like Christmas morning in my living room that afternoon. We received all five Lite Sprites Brooke, Meadow, Astra, Bleak , Prisma (who comes with the Lite-Topia Wand) and the Tree of Lite in order to review these toys.

The real test of this product of course was to see how long it would keep my kids attention. For a parent I think that is testing the true value of a product. I can say the Lite Sprites definitely kept my children busy for more than five minutes. In fact, the night that they opened the Lite Sprites they played with them until it was bedtime and then before bed they each picked the Lite Sprites that they wanted to take to bed with them. The next day when they came home from school the picked right up where they left off playing with the Lite Sprites and played with them for a few more hours. Any child who comes to my house is shown the Lite Sprites excitedly. LaLa even coaxed my best friend back to the bedroom to show off the Lite Sprites. The reaction from my best friend was "Those are really good!" She is just like me and really critical about the toys she spends her money on.

Each Lite Sprite comes with it's own little pod that can be hooked to the Tree of Lite

This is Brooke one of the Lite Sprites sitting in a pod

All the Lite Sprites attached to the Tree of Lite

KiKi and LaLa playing with the Lites Sprites and Tree of Lite

I do have to say after a month of having them, I am rather impressed with the Lite Sprites. Although it took me a few tries to figure out the Lite-Topia Wand and how to capture colors from anywhere (yes, anywhere) and then send the colors to the sprites, my children caught on quickly. The Lite Sprites can also send colors to each other. Then the naughty sprite, Bleak, can steal the colors and leave all the Lite Sprites white. LaLa especially likes Bleak.

LaLa using Bleak to steal the color from the other Lite Sprites

Using the Lite-Topia wand to capture a color

The only problem I actually had with the product is that the Lite-Topia Wand and Tree of Lite didn't come with batteries included. This was a bit only a bit inconvenient because I had to make the girls get their shoes on and run up to the corner store to buy batteries before they could properly play with the Lite Sprites. Overall though I can say my children have really enjoy this line of toys. They are still playing with them a few times a week and in my book that is pretty good.

Lite Sprites have the retail price of £14.99 for each individual sprite, Prisma and the Lite-Topia Wand £29.99, and the Tree of Lite £39.99. Lite Sprites are suitable for children age 4-8.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Baking With Kids

I have admit when I usually see blogs with mum's baking with their wee toddlers I get a bill ill to my stomach. There is just something so cutesy and almost false about it. Yes, I know it isn't meant to come off that way, but sometimes it just does. So this probably might come off the same way. Here's the thing though, the thought of baking with my kids initially made me do an inner cringe. I love baking, I really do, I just don't like the idea of having anyone, especially kids who are by their very nature gross, helping me with it. Then I start to reminisce about the reasons I love baking so much. It was an activity I enjoyedas a kid with my Granny. I remember standing on a chair and helping her by stirring the batter, measuring the ingredients and of course the all important licking of the mixers beaters (after it was turned off- health and safety first.) Then I feel guilty about the way that I feel about baking with my kids, so I drag my baking equipment out.

Usually when they see me pull out my baking suppliesI am met with a chorus of "Can I break the eggs?" The answer to that question is always a no, unless you like egg shell in your cakes. We might have learned that lesson the hard way once. I drag a chair up to the counter for KiKi so that she can mix. I instruct LaLa to find the 1/4 cup dry measuring cup so that we can fill the cupcake cases just right. Then we get down to the business of baking.

I have come up with some reasons that baking with school aged kids is actually pretty awesome after you get over you "Oh my goodness can you imagine the mess" inner cringe.

1. Baking is a great way for kids to learn important math skills (and no I didn't forget the s on the end of math. I'm American, we don't say maths. Although I have been known to actually say it. Don't report me to my people.) such as measuring and counting.

2. Reading and following a recipe teaches children how to follow instructions with a yummy reward if they do it right.

3. In theory baking can teach your children patience. Waiting for cookies to come out of the oven is even a test of my patience. I'm still working on it.

4. Safety skills are aquired when learning to bake. Knowing that an oven is hot enough to burn your skin off and that knives are only safe in the hands of adults are important lessons for kids to learn.

5. Science is taught during baking. Knowing why ingredients that don't taste very nice on their own such as baking soda, salt, and baking powder are used in recipes can inhance their grasp on scientific concepts. Also knowing that you can't ice a fresh out of the oven hot cupcake unless you want a gooey mess counts as science.

So try out baking with your kids. It isn't nearly as horrible as you might think it will be.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Goldfish Called Nemo

About a month ago The Bungalow became inhabited by a new creature, this one invited unlike those huge pesky drain spiders, a goldfish named Nemo. Obvious name, I know. Of course I only expected him to live a maximum of three days before a requisite burial at sea*. However, Nemo, has continued the thrive in his little bowl for far longer than expected.

It all started when my husband and I decided to take my kids to the Holiday Bazaar on base. We do this every year to browse through the stalls and make a few Christmas gift purchases for our folks back home. It is a gigantic craft show with vendors from all over Europe so there is usually a ton of selection. This year it was kinda...meh. We had seen most of the items over the summer at the bazaar that was held in may at the other military base (have I ever mentioned that there are two American bases shoved next to each other where I live?), so we were a little underwhelmed. There were however fun fair type games and rides for the kids to play located outside the hanger that the bazaar was taking place in. I know these games and rides can be kind of expensive, but due to the fact that we actually didn't spend any money in the bazaar and it was a way to keep the kids quiet for more than 5 minutes, we decided that we would let the kids have a turn at all the games. I think there were about 5 different ones to play. The first one the caught my kids eyes was of course some sort of ring toss where the prize was a goldfish.

This is the part where Kat actually needs to read the signs.

The next thing I know after LaLa LOST the game, she was handed a goldfish in a plastic bag. What that what? Then I read the sign "Goldfish with every loss". Well that doesn't seem very economical now does it? Then you realize that you don't have a fish bowl at the house. You see empty fish bowls. That will be £5. You can't starve the fish to death, but luckily enough the guy running the game also has fish food for another £1. You get the food. Next thing you know you have sunk £8 into a ring toss game and are coming home with a goldfish. These guys are goooood.

So we got the fish home, put him in his little bowl and topped it up with bottled water. Tap water would have killed him and I couldn't have that on my conscience. I promised the girls that we would go get rocks and such for the bottom of the bowl in a few days, figuring that the thing would have probably died by then. Five days later he's still alive. The kids are chomping at the bit to go get rocks for his bowl. I made an excuse, changed his water (more bottled water), and figured he would die in the next day or so due to the water change. A month and a few water changes later, Nemo is still alive and doesn't have any rocks at the bottom of his bowl.

I guess I should probably go get him a proper tank with a filtration system, eh? Of course if I do that, he'll probably die.

*Flushed down the toilet.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Silent Sunday

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dear So and So...The Answer Is The Same

Dear Scrap Metal/ Old Car Collectors,

The answer is the same that it has been for the last few months. The Pajero that is sitting in my driveway is already sold. I sold it to a friend and told him he could keep it here until he had the time to fix it up and get it back on the road. It is not for sale. You cannot buy it from me and quite frankly you lot are really dodgy. Could you please stop knocking on my door and asking to buy the damn car. I am pretty sure it was one of you lot who have stolen my gate (yes, my gate was stolen, my lawn mower, my weedwacker/ strimmer, ax and lawnmower gas. You are lucky I don't call the police each time you show up. Also, it is completely absurd to ring my doorbell at 9am. Don't you know it is half term break?

Go Away and Don't Come Back!, Kat

Dear Friend Who Bought The Pajero,

Come get the bloody thing. I am sick of dodgy people stopping by my house. I swear they are using the car as an excuse to case my house for future robberies.

Thanks, Kat

Dear Powers That Be,

I know the husbands extension has made it past the commander; can we get it rubber stamped yet?

Pretty pretty please, Kat

PS- Did you notice I used a semi colon correctly? That alone should make you approve it.

Dear House Elves,

I have my friend Liz, aka Violet Posy, coming over today for dinner. Could you please make sure the house is tidy? If not I am actually going to have to do it myself and I really don't feel like it. You know these half term breaks really take it out of me.

Thanks A Million, Kat

Dear Children of Mine (and BFF),

I know you three are really hyper, but could we please not destroy the house. I already have enough things to do without you making my job harder. That doesn't mean we can't have fun, but it means that we can have tidy fun. Pleeeeeease?

Love, Mom (or Kat)

Dear Readers,

If you have your own letter please link up! Have a safe and spooky weekend!

Love, Kat

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Half Term Week Brings Out My Slummy Mummy Tendencies

Half term break always seems to get the best of me. See, I am naturally a night owl. I will gladly stay up until well past midnight watching incredibly pointless programs on the TV. During the school term I tend to try to go to bed a semi decent hour so I am not a tired ranting harpy in the morning. Mind you even on a full nights sleep I am still a semi tired mildly complaining under caffeinated bossy witch. My kids don't even like to talk to me until I have had a cup of coffee or a diet coke. They know the drill.

So over the half term breaks I tend to stay up entirely too late. Last night I wandered to bed around 2am after watching all my recorded episodes of MasterChef Australia. This of course means that my kids are definitely going to wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed precisely at 8 in the morning. Not ideal. At all. Guess what? They did. At exactly 8 AM, KiKi popped her head up (she somehow wondered into my room around five this morning.. I think) and declared "It's morning!!" She was so chipper you would have thought that she had been looking forward to this morning for months. I would have been a complete smiling mess due to the cuteness if I hadn't only had six of my required eight hours of sleep. I don't know how you people who only sleep five or six hours a night cope. I really don't.

So of course, I rolled myself out of bed, put on my slippers and robe, assessed the tiredness situation, decided against actually cooking breakfast and made her a bowl of cereal. I then decided that parenting experts have things entirely wrong, turned on the TV to cartoons (Tom and Jerry) and plopped her and her sister down in front of it. I then made some life saving nectar of the gods (otherwise known as coffee) and headed back into my bedroom, with laptop in hand, to snuggle under the duvet and watch the morning news. Yes, I was a slummy mummy incarnated. And it was good.

I am sure I will go to bed on time tonight. Hopefully. Maybe.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Brace Yourselves...

Now that I have told all my family, I can let the genie out of the bottle. The Man has put in the paperwork to stay in the UK for three more years on top of the year left that we have here. That means that if the paperwork gets approved, we will have four more years here in the UK.

I am so incredibly excited. Of course I am still a bit nervous because it could all be dashed by a man with a pencil in an office and the word denied, but I am trying not to dwell on this. The Man seems to think that it would be highly unlikely that the extension request would be denied. He's usually right, so I am taking his word for it.

Now, it is time to make plans. I have informed my landlady that we are likely to stay, so the house is sorted. We will have to get new visas at some point. I can finally hang some of the pictures that I had neglected to hang because "well, we're leaving in a year anyway". I can get really excited about things at the kid's school because they will actually have a long lasting effect on my kids. I can retool the list of places we need to see before we leave because we are going to have more time. So much to do, plenty of time to do it.

It feels so odd to know we have time. You can start your happy dances now.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dear So and So...Earworms and Other Annoyances

Dear Brain,

I don't know why all of a sudden you have decided that I need the chorus of the 90's dance hit "What Is Love" by Haddaway to repeat over and over in my head this morning, but can ya stop? I have been nodding my head randomly to the beat in my brain and I must look like a complete idiot. Thankfully, I haven't actually left the house yet, so I haven't made an idiot of myself in public yet, so if you could stop by the time I actually do have to leave the house it would be much appreciated.

Ta, Kat

Dear Cold,

I resisted you all day yesterday and apparently you didn't take too kindly to this and decided that you would kick my butt last night. I thought maybe I had gotten through the worst of it by the time I went to bed. Of course I woke up this morning with nose completely stuffed up and running, my eyes puffy, and my face feeling like it was going to either cave in or explode (one can't be sure with this sort of sinus pressure), so you win. I give up. You just have to vacate my body by 4:30 because I have a school disco to sort out.

A Mother's Job Is Never Done and All That, Kat

Dear Children of Mine,

No hitting, no biting, no pushing, no pulling, no yelling, no running, no jumping, no complaining, no begging, no demanding, no wearing my high heeled shoes, no cartwheels in the house, no asking what time the disco starts, no insisting we do it NOW, no playing music at the loudest possible volume on your radio... are we getting the point? Mommy is sick and just wants to lay on her bed and watch reruns of Law and Order all day. You can go play Wii or watch TV or you know, play with all those toys your dad and I have wasted our money on. Just give me a bit of peace for one day. Please?

Love, Mom

Dear LaLa,

Let me say it again, I am sick, no I am not going to cook you an egg in a hole for breakfast. Yes, I know it is you favorite breakfast ever and that I "never ever" make it for you. There is a good reason for me not making it this morning though, I'm sick and we are out of bread. Stop crying and begging. It really isn't becoming on a seven year old.

Love, Mom

Dear Post Office on Base,

I know it is a luxury to have an American post office over here in England. I really actually do appreciate it, but we have an issue. You see, there are about four different books in route to me right now and by my calculations they should have all been here about a week ago. Yet, they seem to have disappeared. Now, I know this is not impossible but highly unlikely, so could you triple check that you somehow haven't misplaced them? I really would like to read my trashy romance novels sometime soon.

Thanks, Kat

Dear People,

Don't judge me for reading trashy romance novels. They are like junk food. I can't help it.

Slightly Embarrassed, Kat

Dear Readers,

Yay!! It's Friday!!! If you have letters of your own that you would like to link up, please do. Have a safe weekend. If your kids are out for half term may the force be with you.

Love, Kat

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Financial Planning- AKA Self Imposed Torture or How Not To End Up Poor When You're Old

So a few month ago my husband and I had a pretty serious conversation about how we needed to start putting money to the side for the children's college funds. In the States of course, education costs some big bucks once you go to university, so having a leg up on the financial side of things is always a good idea. Of course, it also helps if you have a good grasp of your finances. I will be the first to admit, we are pretty willy nilly with our money. So, we decided to call in a professional to help us with our financial goals, including starting to save for the children's college funds. I guess I naively thought the financial planner would just come to our house, show us some ideas and then be out the door with his sale. I was so wrong.

Apparently, this guy is really in depth, which is good. I guess. Unfortunately it is going to make my husband and I look at some really hard truths about the way that we spend money. The fact that we are in debt up to our eyeballs due to the way that we lived in the past is not going to help at all. No, we are not in serious financial difficulty whatsoever, but we have debts that we are slowly paying, and if we keep on the same path will probably be paying until we are both dead. Ah yes, the allure of the credit card when you are young and dumb.

So, tonight we had the financial planner asking us about our goals; when we would like to retire, how much we would like to contribute to our children's education; where we would like to see our children go to school; what age we would like to retire. He basically, all the things that you should probably only ask after the third date and only if you were serious about this person becoming a long term partner. This week I will be putting together more information so our financial planner can, well, form us a plan.

I am dreading it. Mostly because I really don't want to know EXACTLY how much debt we have. I don't want to be told "hey you spend entirely too much on crap". I know it is needed and in our best interests though, so I will do it. Mind you, I will probably want an entire bottle of wine to myself when I am finished.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Mom Cold

You try to fight it, feeling it sneaking up on you slowly- the slight sore throat, the sniffly nose, the tired eyes; and then you just admit it. You have a cold. Of course, Moms can't be sick, so you get up and make a cup of coffee and get on with it. You sort out the school clothes, pack the lunches, get the kids dressed, sign slips to go back to school, sign the reading record, practice spelling words, make breakfast, comb the kids hair, kiss their cheeks and then put them on the school bus. You then come inside and want to curl up on the couch but the washing needs to be started, errands need to be run, the living room looks like a bomb site and the dog still needs a bath- so you get started on that. Before you know it, it is three thirty and the kids are on their way home from school. So, you get a snack together, wait for the bus, get the kids inside, tell them to quit fighting, check their backpacks, feed the kids, ask them what they would prefer for dinner, get them started with their homework and reading, fold some clothes, and cook dinner. Then the husband is on the way home, so you get dinner on the table, wait for him to come through the door, eat dinner, help tidy the kids rooms, give the kids a bath, get the kids in their PJs, read the kids a bedtime story, send the kids off to sleep, and then tell the kids to stay in bed repeatedly. Then finally, you decide to crawl up on the couch and be miserable with your cold, because Moms do not get the day off.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Silent Sunday

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dear So and So....Miss Representation

Dear Anyone Who Has A Mother, Daughter, or Sister,

This is so important to watch. We should not accept the limited way women are portrayed in the media.

Take the pledge. Find a screening. Let's see if we can have our children and young adults see women on the TV, in magazines and in fims portrayed as more than just sexual object. I want that for my girls. I want them to grow up and see that their worth is not based upon their appearance. I want them to see more women in political office. I want them to see more women in positions of power. I want them to know that they are empowered.

Thank you.

Love, Kat- A Woman on a Mission.

PS- If you live in the USA the entire Miss Representation film will be shown on the OWN network on Oct 20th at 9pm eastern.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Learning Experience

One of the things that I am glad my children have is a love of learning. LaLa especially has a thirst for knowledge that can not be tamed. She is forever saying "Mum can we Google..." just so she can find out more about something that she is curious about. Of course she usually asks when I am on the phone or up to my elbows in dish water, but that is neither here nor there. Seven year olds have a knack for timing.

LaLa is always singing songs by Percy Parker to help her learn her multiplication tables,

or telling me about a poem by Michael Rosen,

or asking to play Mathletics.

I like to add my own experiences to what the girls learn on top of what they have been shown at school. I think it is important to share with them the things I learned at a child in America. I show the girls videos of my favorite childhood poets,

or showing them Schoolhouse Rock videos.

I think encouraging our children to learn is one of the most important thing we can do. I think learning should be fun. I like sharing the fun things that I remember from my childhood with my children. I like hearing about what my children children have learned at school and then exploring the subject further with them. What are your favorite ways to encourage your child's learning experience?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Chair

I was in the middle of writing a lovely post about how my kids are doing so well with their homework and how they have been such angels (minus a few bumps in the road), when my evening altered course. I was in the middle of cooking dinner, the girls were watching Garfield and Friends on the TV and then I heard a large crash and KiKi crying. I had a sickening feeling because I just knew that something important besides KiKi was broken (it wasn't the "I'm seriously hurt" cry).

I of course ran into the living room to access the situation. To my horror I saw my husband's deceased mother's chair tipped over, missing the back. This is the moment that I had my first honest to God panic attack. My face got hot, my forehead beaded sweat and I couldn't breath properly. I actually had to sit down for a minute before I could start to truly access the situation. I checked KiKi over, then sent her to her room. Then I went back to the dinner that was in the oven. I think I was still in denial. That chair just COULD NOT be broken.

You see, it isn't just that this chair belonged to my husband's mother, this was the chair I rocked my own babies in. Two generations of babies rocked in this one chair, and it was sitting in pieces on my living room floor like a jigsaw puzzle that had been cast aside. I was afraid that when my husband saw the damage that he would flip his lid, but actually to me it was more than that. I know it sounds silly, but that chair was sort of a weird connection for me to my husband's mother. You see, I never met her, she died when my husband was just a child, but we had both rocked babies in that chair.

I spent the better part of an hour putting that chair back together with wood glue and shear determination. I don't think anyone will be allowed near that chair for a very long time. It is just way too precious.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dear So and So...Ready For The Weekend

Dear Mondays,

You are cruel. You always seem to either lull me into a false sense of security and the slam me with something unexpected or hit me like a ton of bricks before I even have a toe out of my nice comfy bed. I actually saw a scientific (by newspaper standards) study in the Telegraph that said that Mondays suck. They didn't really need a study to find that out did they?

Be kinder, Kat

Dear Tuesdays,

You are the day that fills me with the most guilt. Mostly because I have WeightWatcher on Tuesday and I know that I am either going to skip the meeting, over indulge on good food, or both. Really, what good is going to weigh in and losing weight and then NOT celebrating if you lost a couple pounds, right? (There is sound logic in my way of thinking) (really, there is) So, if you could do me a favor and only come round every other week that would be great.

Love, Kat

Dear Wednesdays,

You're pointless.

There I Said It, Kat

PS- You were completely ruined when people on Myspace used to post semi-pornographic pictures that declared "Happy Hump Day". No, it isn't a happy day. It is a pointless day. Thank you very much.

Dear Thursdays,

You're alright I guess. No major complaints. You aren't nearly as fun as you were when I was in University and it was "ladies night" at most of the bars in my hometown, but hey, we all have seen our better days. Maybe you just need a better PR team.

Not Blown Away,

Dear Fridays,

OK, I love you. Except for the fact that I still have to get out of bed in the morning to get the kids off to school, you're pretty much perfect. Kids in school, check. Dear So and So, check. Get to sleep in the next day, check. See, pretty much perfect. Keep up the good work Fridays!

Love, Kat

Dear Weekends,

You are too short and therefore I can not give you top marks. I do love you though.

Love, Kat

Dear Readers,

If you have your own letters, please link up. I love reading them. Have a great weekend.

Love, Kat

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Decision Time

We have a year left in the UK. It is now decision time. Do we want to stay longer or do we want to go back to the USA? I am pretty much firmly in the camp of I want to stay. I know this might be hard for my family back in the USA to understand, but I love it here. I honestly love the UK. I love my friends here. I love my life here. I love my children's school. I love my children's friends. I love the culture. I love being able to see things I would never ever have the chance to see if we lived anywhere else.

When I think about leaving I get choked up and a bit teary. I just can't even force myself to imagine not living here. This is in complete contrast to when I was leaving the USA for Britain. When we found out that we were moving here I was excited. I couldn't wait for the adventure. Yes, the adventure has had it's ups and downs, but I am not ready for the adventure to end. I couldn't wait to get out of the USA, not because I don't love my country, but because I wanted my kids to experience the world.

So, now, with my husband on the fence about staying, I am trying to pull out all the stops to convince him that we need to stay. Yes, this hasn't been the best assignment for him personally; he has been away from the UK more than he has actually been here. However, he has seen places that he wouldn't have otherwise. There aren't many Americans who can say that they have been to Romania, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Belgium, France, Afghanistan and Korea in the last three years (unless they are military members). He don't have many friends here and less ties to the community. He misses his family back in the USA, which I do too, but I guess I always think "We could be stationed in California and still be half the world away."

I want to stay, but the decision is ultimately up to him. And I hate that.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Friday, September 30, 2011

Dear So and So...Peeves

Dear World,

I thought maybe today I would just tell you about a few of the things that peeve me. They aren't major annoyances, just things that make 1) me get a tick in the corner of my eye 2) me want to shout at the person who does it.

Fair warning, it hasn't been a good week so these may end up being more than little niggling problems. I may just burst out into a full on rant. These things happen.

Consider Yourself Warned, Kat

Dear People Who Swerve around Speed Bumps,

I probably should just laugh this off but I can't. See the whole logic behind your idea is flawed. You see, when you swerve around a speed bump that goes across the entirety of the road (and only leaves a foot on either side before the curb) it makes no sense at all; you're still going to get bumped. The only difference is that only one set of tires won't get bumped. In fact the only set of tires that is going to get bumped is ones on the driver's side. So because one side is level with the road and the other set is going higher, you're actually probably getting bumped worse than if you had continued to drive straight. I guess what really annoys me is that you are slowing down more to swerve that if you had just gone over the bump like a normal person. It really just makes me want to roll down my window and shout that your car isn't as nice as you think it is. It isn't so special that a little bump is going to make it fall apart. If it is that flimsy then maybe it shouldn't be on the road.

Keep This In Mind, Kat

Dear People Who Don't Look Before Entering Roundabouts,

There is this one roundabout near my house that I have to make a u-turn on regularly (because to get onto the military base you can't turn right, you have to go down to the roundabout and turn around so that you can make a left hand turn)(yes this was piss poor planning on both the military and the Department of Transport's part) and I have nearly gotten side swiped as I have made this turn on several occasions. Let's be clear, if a person still has their indicator/blinker on it means that they are still turning. I am not the only person who makes a u-turn at this roundabout, it is done by hundreds of people each day. Let's at least have a glimpse at who is in the roundabout before you barrel through it like a bat out of hell. This might be a worse problem where I am because of the high population of Americans (that haven't been in this country for very long) who are not used to roundabouts, which I am just guessing close their eyes as they go into the roundabouts and pray they aren't hit. Just sayin'.

Look THEN Go, Kat

Dear Taxi Driver Who Picks Up My Kids In The Morning,

I know that you see hundreds of people a week and talking to them all can be tiresome. However I have seen you for the past 5 days and you still haven't even told me your name. Now, I appreciate that it is early and the morning and I probably look a little like death warmed over with my hair a mess and in my track bottoms and hoodie, but common sense would say that because you will be transporting my kids to school for the foreseeable future, you might want to at least say something other than "I will be here at 8.40 to pick the children up" a "Hi, I am so and so" would be nice. I am not all that picky; I just want to know your name.

Thanks For That, Kat

Dear WiFi Fairies,

I know my router is a bit damaged. It got dropped off the window ledge and the front is falling off a bit, but it still works! Please quit making it drop my wireless signal! It usually does it when I am in the middle of something important and tedious like paying bills or playing Pioneerville. Don't judge me. Now quit making my wireless signal drop!!

I mean it!, Kat

Dear People Who Chew Gum Loudly,

You are not a cow. I don't want to hear you chewing. I don't want to see you chewing. Actually, if you have this problem, could you just not chew gum at all? I know I picked up this pet peeve from my Aunt A who used to yell at my brother for doing it, and now it is all in my head. I really just want to smack you on the back of the head when I hear you smacking your gum. It's THAT annoying.

Fair Warning, Kat

Dear Readers,

I hope you have had a better week than me! Have a wonderful and safe weekend. If you are going to London for the MADs, please remember to misbehave for me.

Love, Kat

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Spark Energy UK Has Terrible Customer Service and Apparently Billing Issues

I generally look at energy companies as a necessary evil. Especially here in the UK. They charge you exorbitant rates so you can have things such as lights, tv, heat, Internet, and phone; whist sitting there rubbing their grubby little hands together and just waiting until they can hike your rates yet again. Generally, I keep my mouth shut about this because, well, I enjoy not living in the 18th century and love having the Internet.

However, my former energy company has decided to take the mick. See when I moved out of my first house here in the UK two years ago I did everything right. I called and gave them the last meter reading. I have them a forwarding address. I paid my last bill. At my new address I just started using the company that was already in charge of the address rather than going through the rigamaroll of trying to switch companies. So far, no complaints with them.

I went on living my life. Then about a year ago I received a notice from my old energy company Spark Energy UK that because I had paid estimated rates for the year I had lived in the old house, that we were due a refund of £151.25 (I have the letter.) because we had overpaid. I was over the moon. It isn't very often that you ever get a refund I thought. I guess technically I was right because even after I had spoken to a representative and had it confirmed with her supervisor, I never received the refund. I didn't pursue it though because things happened such as: my husband going to Germany, my husband going to Italy and my husband going to Korea. You know, life. I just figured I would get around to calling them sooner or later and getting my refund.

(Click to make it big. See where it says CREDIT? It is dated December 15th 2010. Address and account number obviously obscured.)

Well, last week, I received another correspondence from Spark telling me that I OWED them £154.86. This is TWO YEARS after I have moved out of the old address. I called Spark. I talked to a representative who mysteriously couldn't get into the billing system, but promised to call me back. She never called. Then yesterday when I was about to call them back to sort the problem out I received an automated call from them telling me that my account was delinquent and that I needed to pay. I tried to hang up so that I could call directly to customer service, but the call wouldn't let me. So, I sat there and listened to all the options pressed a few buttons and finally got through to a real live human. I explained the situation to her. To her credit she at least tried to sound surprised at the situation. I told her about the credit I was due and how I had now received a bill. She then told me that I did owe that much money because apparently they had switched over to a new computer system and that it had magically found that I owed money. Ah yes, those magical computer system switches. But don't worry I am told, I can be put on a payment plan. Oh, and don't worry we will send you another bill to make sure everything is clear. Whatever, lady.

I don't want to be put on a payment plan, in fact I would like my bloody refund.

Then today I get an email telling me I am delinquent. Then they follow that up with another automated message. You know, they have been "missing" this money for two years and now they want me to pay it on their time frame. Well, I just don't have £154.86 just laying around to give to them. As far as I am concerned they can just wait.

(Click to make big. How do I all of a sudden owe money?)