Tuesday, 1 April 2014


To the sweetest chicken in the whole world,

I'm aware that my baby is quickly disappearing. Don't get me wrong, you'll always be my baby, but you are becoming more and more a little boy. There are so many toddler-isms that are falling by the wayside. I don't want to forget them.

What a difference a year makes!

You say "bup" for up.
You can't say L's yet, so they sound like Y's. This means your name comes out "Ya-sss". That also means that lip balm (which you LOVE) is called "yips". So adorable.
That you used to say "sha-sha" if we asked "Are you ok?" This makes us very sad. Sometimes we still say it. Now you say a very adorable, well-enunciated "yes".
A blanket is a "bing", though it's morphing now into "bint". A cracker is a "crap". Your father and I disagree about which of these is super-adorable.

Two word combinations abound, but I can't get you to go to three. If you wants to go up, I can get all combinations of Mama, bup, and please. But only in twos.
Your favorite and most-random pastime is pretending to sleep. You love to climb into Mama and Dadda's bed and play possum. You frequently order us to play along and lay in bed with you. The fake snoring is the cutest.

Not really sleeping

Most mornings when I go in to your room to pick you up you happily declare "Yay Mama!" This is wonderful and makes my heart sing. Some mornings you are mad that I have come to get you and ask for your Dadda. I can eventually get you to agree that I'm an acceptable substitute.

It blows my mind to see how well you move. You climb and run and jump like an old pro. The best way to get you going is to suggest that you go "fast". You are so good at figuring things out and love to be independent. You are eager to try things on your own, but still ask for help (by saying and signing- you also do this for "more") willingly. That is something I love because your Mama isn't always good at asking for help and it's a valuable skill!

You are a happy chappy most of the time. Your smile and giggle are so wonderful to hear. You are starting to demonstrate your sense of humour and are finding things funny on your own, rather than just laughing when we laugh. You love to chuckle to The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child- both book and movie formats.

You are sweet and loving. When you give me a hug you say "aaaaah Mama" and you will usually happily give kisses. You sometimes pretend that you don't want kisses, but then will ask for more until I cover you in them as you giggle.

You love our weekly Skype chats with Grandma and Grandpa. You get very excited when I set the computer up and you hear the skype sound. You haven't quite figured out that they are separate people and refer to them collectively as "Bapa". They adore you and can't wait to see you in May when they come visit.

our happy family

We love you so much, sweet boy. You are the most amazing thing in the world to us. There have certainly been hard times since you've been born, but I want you to know that the love that Dadda and I have for each other and you has only grown in the last two years. You bring us joy and happiness and we hope that we are able to return the favour over the next 100 years. No matter what else happens in the world, our little family is my happy place- and that is a wonderful thing.

You are my best, best boy. I love you so, so, so much.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

99p worth of home

Every Expat knows that there are little things from back home that you really miss. Those things that you took for granted, but now can't find.

I'm talking to you Target Long & Lean Tank Tops*.

There are alternatives, sure, but the known item that fits/works just how you like it isn't available. 

Well- Hark, Expats, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy. One of those can't-get-them-here items can come off your list.

What am I talking about?

Well, not exactly. After years of trying various imposters (I'm looking at you Doktor Power Magic Eraser) that were found severely lacking and asking my mom to bring some when she visits, I stumbled upon this little item at the grocery store last week.

My breath caught. Could it really be? It looked promising. I bought my single eraser for 99p (a fine price, but it was market 1/2 off and 1.99 seems a bit steep) and rushed home to try it. And, Hallelujah! This is it! 99p worth of home to clean my bathroom and kitchen!

What little things do you miss from back home?
Have you found any acceptable substitutes for your favorites?

*Let's be honest, I pretty much miss everything about Target. Y'all know I'm slightly obsessed.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Gourmesso Coffee Pods

I've already talked about one company's Nespresso-compatible pods, and while I hadn't intended to become an official reviewer of alternatives for Nespresso machine pods, several companies have contacted me. And, well, free coffee is not to be denied.

The nice people at Gourmesso offered us some coffee to review and we said "Heck yes!" I was pleasantly surprised that the Gourmesso capsules addressed one of the problems that I'd expressed about another pod. Namely, the packets that the pods come sealed in are color-coded and labelled.

Copper Packet of Caramel Coffee

I can dump the pods (in their cheerfully coloured foil packets) into the bowl next to my Nespresso machine and am still able to tell which kind is which!

The other thing that I loved about Gourmesso is that they offer flavoured coffee. While I was pregnant with Linus, I really went of sweets. To say that I made up for that once he was born is an understatement. I realized that my sugar intake had gotten out of control and decided to make an effort to cut down on sugar in my diet. (In our house, that does NOT equal switching to artificial sweeteners.) I started by cutting down on sugar in my coffee. I used to have 2 sugars and milk. I very quickly weaned myself down and now enjoy my morning coffee with no sugar. I realized that my brain had become programmed to expect sweetness. I think if I had sugar in my coffee now, I'd be disgusted. 

I do like a flavoured coffee from time to time, but the only option is generally to add a syrup. That syrup is either laden with sugar or laced with artificial sweeteners. The flavoured Gourmesso coffee pods for the Nespresso machine let me have a nice treat without the added sugar. We tried both the caramel and vanilla and they were both excellent. As far as I know, Gourmesso is the only alternative pod that offers flavoured options. A definite win for Gourmesso.

Gourmesso capsules are compatible with all Nespresso machines and are available starting at just £0.21 per pod. They offer free shipping on orders over £40.

*I was provided with 2 boxes of Gourmesso coffee pods at no charge. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014


Prior to having Linus, I self-righteously declared:
I don't understand those women that are obsessed with their son's curls and won't cut their hair.
I'll never do that. I hate long hair on boys.
Linus was nearly 23 months old before he had his first haircut. When it was wet, his hair reached his shoulder blades. Now, it is curly, so it never looked nearly that long when dry. But still. Some days it looked like the hair of a ridiculous ragamuffin.

But some days... oh the perfection.

Angelic, beautiful, gorgeous, perfect. Colour me obsessed. And I dithered for months over what to do. I knew the time for a haircut was imminent, if not well-passed. I decided that I should cut it myself as I didn't trust anyone else to do it. I figured that I would be more angry if I let someone else ruin it than if I ruined it myself.
At any rate, I bought some nice hair-cutting scissors. Then I didn't do anything for another week or two. Then one lunch time- I did it.
I nearly cried. But I did it. A few snips across the back, made trickier by a massive cowlick across the nape of his neck and a teensy bit of trimming on the sides. I decided that keeping the curls in a bowl was crazy. So I put them in a ziplock bag. 

I've been pleased with how it turned out, but I'm still fearing future haircuts. I know I can't do it forever. Or can I? Are there any YouTube-based hair-cutting curricula?
Oh, and the day after I cut it, a woman referred to him as a "she". So much for the hair making him look like a girl.

Friday, 29 November 2013


This Thanksgiving, even though I am not in the United States, I am thankful.

I admit that, most of the time, I am able to ignore my homesickness through a sheer force of will. I love my life here in Manchester. My husband and my son are my favorite people to be with in the world. Yesterday morning however, I was hit hard with longing. Longing for my family and for the familiar traditions, food, and noise of Thanksgiving in San Antonio. I worried that I wouldn't make it through the Skype session we'd arranged without bursting into tears. By the time it was skype-o-clock, I was feeling better and had procured the ingredients to make a pumpkin pie. (Did you know that it's really hard to find a pie tin in the UK? By really hard, I mean neither of the 2 grocery stores in our area had any.)

So here is where I will tell you things I'm thankful for:

I'm thankful for my son and my husband. I simply adore them. They are both kind and clever and beautiful and funny. Every day I am happy to be theirs.

I'm thankful for my parents. They are so loving and supportive. They are also so understanding. I know they hate (HATE!) the distance between us- especially now that Linus is around. And I do too. However, I have the joy of my marriage and son to make up for it. They have to wait for our all too infrequent visits. They are such wonderful parents and grandparents. We are all so very lucky to have them.

The biggest thing that I was thankful for yesterday, though, was this:

I'm thankful technology and that my G'ma doesn't really understand it. We connected to my family before they sat down to dinner on my brother's iPad. When my beloved G'ma was handed the iPad, we spoke briefly and she got to talk to her first-born great grandson. I didn't, however get to hear whatever she tearfully said to us after that. I think this is a very good thing as I likely wouldn't have been able to keep it together. Instead, I had a good laugh as I played charades to let them know I couldn't hear and the iPad was passed back to my brother to fix. We got passed around the kitchen of my Aunt and Uncle's bustling house and said hello to everyone. Linus sang some songs and met his cousin Wyatt. We were introduced to my cousin's fiance- a lovely girl. The laughter and noise and hub-bub of preparation almost made me feel like we were there for those brief moments. And it was wonderful.

Today, I made my pumpkin pie. In a loose-bottomed flan tin because that's what I had. And it was good. And for that, I'm thankful.