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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