Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Bathing Skillz

Miss Thang has graduated from her baby bath! 

Here is a pic of her in the bath when we first moved here five months ago.  It is hard to believe she was ever this little!

 And she is nearly unrecognisable in this pic from her very first bath EVER!

How time flies.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Camden Town

Monday was a holiday here in the UK, so Jason and I thought we would take a little field trip.  We talked about heading to Hampstead Heath again but ended up deciding to go visit Fenton House (also in Hampstead).  On our way up the Northern Line, we came to the Camden Town stop.  After some quick hemming and hawing, we decided to spend the day in Camden Town instead!  Why?  Well, we almost ended up living there and, as much as I love Clapham, I still think about Camden Town every now and then.  It has a reputation of being a bit bohemian (which appeals to this former Seattleite) and is right near Hampstead Heath.  

We hopped off the train and went to a great little Spanish restaurant called Bar Gansa for lunch.  We had some of my usual favourites (I ADORE Spanish food!!) and Jason and I each had a glass of their fantastic sangria.  Mmmm.  

(On a side note, though I had ordered our food in English, I pronounced the dishes with my trusty Spanish accent.  The waitress responded by speaking to me in Spanish!  I was so impressed with myself!  Too bad my accent is WAY better than my vocabulary!)

Charlie was shocked at her mother's beautiful Spanish accent and horrid vocabulary

Before we left, Jason had Charlie in stitches.  I can't remember what it was he was doing, but she thought it was pretty hysterical:

We decided to just wander throughout the neighbourhood and came upon the locks:

The best part about the locks is that it is right by the Camden Lock Market!  We had fun wandering through (although it was mostly just trinkets and Chinese food).  We ended up getting this amazing Nutella and whipped cream covered waffle at one of the stands:  

Charlie didn't get any of the waffle, but seemed to be happy enough with her rice cake:

The same stand also made fresh juices, so I got a yummy carrot and orange juice.  Jason had a latte.  I'm not sure what the stand was called, but here is a pic of Jason in front of it.  I highly recommend it!

As we continued walking, we decided that Camden was a lot of fun to visit, but was just too overrun with tourists to attract us enough to move there.  Clapham High Street certainly has its share of foot and vehicle traffic, but at least they aren't tourists.  After living in DC for nearly eight years, you learn to hate having to wade through tourists to go about your daily business.  They walk slowly, constantly stop in the middle of the sidewalk and draw all sorts of horrible trinket shops where little cafes and other, more interesting shops could go.

After a bit more walking, we ended up in Hampstead.  We wandered into a few shops and eventually made it back to the Holly Bush pub for a pint.  (We were first there when visiting the Heath back in May.)

grains were consumed by all
We had a lovely day off and were happy to get to spend it together.  It was also nice to confirm that we are happy with our choice to live in Clapham.  And at the end of the night, it was nice to come back to our sweet home.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Walking Skillz

Charlotte can walk!  Well, okay, she isn't actually walking, but she is closer than ever before.  My mom started walking with her while she was in town, and Charlie is totally hooked.  It is her new favourite pastime and her newest skill.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Living Without (a dishwasher, that is)

Jason had one week in London to find and rent us a flat.  We both spent hours scouring the web for a flat that had all of the things we wanted:  two bedrooms, outdoor space, near a Northern Line tube stop, near a large park, close to shopping, dishwasher, washer/dryer . . .

Despite all of the gorgeous options online, finding a flat with half those things (that also happened to fit into our budget) proved to be a bit difficult in real life.  Well, difficult if you also add on things like:  isn't gross, doesn't have old carpet, doesn't smell, doesn't have peeling wallpaper, isn't filled with other people's nasty stuff, etc.

Here is a picture from one of the places Jason toured:

grody to the max

I have two words to describe this:  not awesome

It was a bit discouraging that we were looking to spend more on a London flat than we were spending on our much loved three-bedroom house in the DC burbs and our options were severely limited.  (Oh London, why must you be so pricey?)  We decided that our best bet was to make some compromises.  Could we live without a two-bedroom, without being near a tube stop, without a washing machine?  No.  Could we live without a dishwasher, a clothes dryer, without an outdoor space?  Probably.  Enter our current flat.  We lucked out by finding a place with a lovely backyard, but we compromised on the dishwasher and dryer.

As I mentioned before, living without a dryer isn't ideal, but it is doable.  It is just how people live here.  As for the dishwasher situation, we make it work.  Well, most of the time.  Our dirty dish situation got out of control during my mom's visit.  With three adults, one adorable baby and a schedule packed full of being sick in bed, taking care of Loveday, sight-seeing and socialising (between cough attacks.  Poor ma.), our dish washing fell to the wayside.  Two words describe how I felt about the whole thing.  Can you guess what they were?  That's right.  It was:  not awesome.

A few nights ago, Jason and I were discussing this article from the Washington Post.  It is about how immigrants to the US don't use their dishwashers. Jason had been discussing dishwashers with his co-workers earlier that day and one of his colleagues said, "you're rinsing the dish anyway, why not put in a couple of extra seconds and just wash the dish?".  It was an "ah-ha" moment for me.  It sounds so simple, but I have been washing every dish immediately after I use it since we had that conversation.  Jason decided to join in.  Here is our collection after this morning:

day two of immediate dish washing

That would be two plates from last night, Jason's egg cup, saucepan for cooking the egg, tea mug, water glass, my cereal bowl, Charlie's cereal bowl and assorted silverware. 

I have decided to vow on this public forum, that I will attempt to wash each dish (or other eating related item) immediately after using it.  There is no reasonable excuse not to.  If my brother can live in a converted basement apartment with his wife and two kids, exclusively eat foods grown in his own yard, friend's yards or farmer's markets, and produce less trash in a month than we do in a day, I can wash my dishes by hand.  (Oh, he also does that, too!) 


Thursday, 25 August 2011


Our Little Loveday has had a cough and snotty nose for months now.  She has seen the doctor about it twice, but each time we were told that she probably had a common cold or general germiness from being in nursery school.  It has been going on long enough that decided to take her again last week.  

The doctor thought she might have a staph infection so he took a swab of her snot (yummy!).  I just got a call back and the doctor said that it wasn't a staph infection.  He did say, however, that she has a "bacterial infection in the nose" but that it is "nothing to worry about".  He called in a prescription for an antibiotic for me to pick up (for free, of course, since she is under 18).  While I'm looking forward to her snotty nose clearing up, I'm mostly looking forward to getting rid of her cough!  I'm sure Charlie would be looking forward to it too if she were verbal.  Maybe next year.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Home Is Where You Are

The weird thing about visiting the United States after living in the UK for four months was that . . . it wasn't actually weird at all.  It felt completely normal.  I expected to be thrown off by the over-sized cars, the sprawling Walmarts and conspicuous absence of red double-decker buses.  But there was none of that.  It was as if I had never left. 

There was no relief about being back in my home country and no feeling that I had finally come back home.  There were really no notable feelings at all.  It was a bit odd. 

In fact, I didn't feel any really strong emotions about being back until I saw my Susie.  As her car pulled up to the house I immediately started crying.  (Oh, how I miss my Susie!!)  We got to spend an entire day together.  We went out to lunch, did a bit of shopping and even got tandem pedicures.  It was as if nothing had changed.  Nothing can replace the comfort of being with old friends. 

Susie picking out my polish

It was no surprise to me that I miss my friends and family so much more than I will ever miss living in the United States.  The States are great, but I've never been super patriotic and have really enjoyed the adventure of living abroad.

Once I got back to the UK, I was again surprised at how normal it felt; it felt like I was coming back home.  Which brings me back to the print I posted at the beginning of this entry, "home is where you are".  The first time I saw this I thought it was suggesting that home was whereever you happened to be at any given time.  It seemed to put the bar pretty low.  It wasn't until later that I realised what it meant, "home is where YOU are".  For me, home is where Jason and Charlie are.  We could be happy anywhere in the world as long as we are together.  The city and country aren't what make it feel like home.  It is who you have there with you. 

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Charlie Jump Up (and a three hour lunch)

Charlie's friend Emily stopped by this weekend (along with her parents Rob and Mary) to drop off a couple of toys for Charlie.  Included in the items was this "Johnny Jump Up".  We've been meaning to buy one for quite a while now and we're grateful to be borrowing one instead! 

Charlie hasn't quite figured out what she's supposed to do in it (jump!!) but instead bobs up and down and twirls around.  I've tried raising and lowering the harness, but that hasn't gotten her any closer.  Anyone have any advice?

The good news is that it is much easier to take pictures of her while she is stationary:

Since it was about noon when Emily and her folks stopped by, we decided to head across the street for lunch at our pub.  They have just recently redone their back garden and it is gorgeous!  (I didn't get any pictures while we were there, but I'll be sure to take some next time.)  

Charlotte and Emily had fun playing:

Although things did occasionally get ugly:

Just joking.  :)  They had a lot of fun!  There was a lot of snacking in the high chairs and sitting on the table:

Later, Charlotte played dress-up while Emily slept.  

A great time was had by all!

(By the way, anyone looking for a great band name is welcome to use the title of this blog post:  Charlie Jump Up and the Three Hour Lunch.  Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?)

Monday, 22 August 2011

Ammee's Visit!

Charlotte loved playing with Ammee's jewelry!

Ammee left for the airport this morning.  Though she spent most of the visit sick in bed, it was still nice to have her here.  We have all been sharing a pretty nasty bug that knocked us all out at one point or another during Ammee's visit.  Ammee had a horrible cough on top of the bug and wasn't feeling her best.  Needless to say, much of the sightseeing will have to wait for next time.  We were still able to get a few of the sights in though.  Ammee found a bus tour that would take us to Windsor, Bath and Stonehenge.  It was a perfect way for two sickies to play tourist!  Here are a few pictures from that trip:

Windsor Castle

Seen in a shop window near Windsor Castle (made of jelly beans!)

Ammee at the 2,000 year old Roman baths in Bath

Roman bath turned wishing fountain

Ammee threw a quarter in for good luck

a view of the (15th century) abbey from the hot spring bath

Though everyone was quite sick, Ammee and Charlie were able to get some good time together.  Ammee taught Charlotte to walk (while we hold her hands) and also taught her how to throw things (thanks a lot!).  She is a big fan of both activities.  She also took note of Charlotte's new favourite word, "meh".  She says it all the time now!

And so life returns to normal.  Charlotte is back at nursery school today so I can get some work done, so I guess I should probably do that.  

Bon voyage Ammee!  We'll see you in December!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The British Museum (and a little rant about mummies)

Yesterday mom, Charlie and I took a bus up to the British Museum.  Mom had expressed interest in seeing some museums and I hadn't been to the British Museum for nearly ten years.

First, we went to get some food.  Charlie has been much better about eating her purees, but still loves eating her rice cakes.  

we definitely don't have the same nose

After a lovely lunch, we headed over to the museum.  It is so colossal, that it is impossible to see everything in a day.  We ended up spending most of our time in the Egyptian exhibits.  Mom was impressed with how old everything was.

Anyone who knows my mom knows that it is no surprise that her favourite part was seeing the mummified cats.  

There were also loads of mummified people.  I had the same reaction to them that I had when I saw them ten years ago:  it makes me sad.  These people spent so much time and energy to make sure they and their loved ones were buried in a particular way with particular items; now they have been dug up, transported to a foreign country and put on display in front of strangers.  There are so many restrictions on Native American burial grounds and on cemeteries in general, why is it okay to treat these deceased in this way?  I know this takes the fun out of how cool these mummies are, but we would all feel differently if these were our loved ones exhumed and displayed.

Regardless of my feelings about the mummies, they were still fascinating to see.  Mom really liked them too.  We also wandered through a cool clock exhibit and an exhibit of ancient coins.  We stopped to get some tea and visit the gift shop and before we knew it, the museum was closing!  It would probably take weeks to actually view all of their exhibits.  Charlie isn't (yet) a huge fan of museums, but I'd love to go back again sometime soon. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

John M. (currently studying at Cambridge) and I headed back to the UK Sunday evening.  I had a pinched nerve in my neck for the flight home and only managed about 30-45 minutes of sleep on our overnight flight, so I was pretty exhausted when we arrived.  Upon arriving at baggage claim we were both pretty frustrated to see that our luggage wasn't there.  We had to wait in a long line to fill out forms.  As we were standing in line, I realised what a great situation I had found myself in.  I was not looking forward to dragging my luggage through the tube, up and down stairs, etc. (especially with a pinched nerve in my neck) and now I didn't have to!  Winning! 

Once I finally made it to our tube stop, I was thrilled to see Jason waiting to walk me home.  I was so surprised to see him that I ran over to him and he picked me up off the ground and we stood there like that in front of the tube for quite a while.  (The fact that he was able to pick me up after nearly two weeks of inactivity and eating rich foods is a small miracle!)  It was so wonderful to be back in his arms.

When we got home, I couldn't help myself and had to wake up Charlie from her nap.  I just had to hold that sweet baby again!  She was a bit disoriented at first, but was fine once she woke up a bit.  She kept touching my face and I got lots of gorgeous Charlie smiles! 

We haven't gotten any pictures of us together since my return, but this is one we took a few weeks ago.  (Pay no attention to Charlie's awkward pyjama/sleep sack combo.)

Another person I was excited to see upon my arrival home was my mom!  She's been in town helping out with Charlie while I was away.  She and Charlie have such a sepcial bond.  It is so fun to see them together!  

We spent yesterday exploring our neighborhood and are headed into town to see some of the sights today.  When Charlie is in daycare this Thursday, mom booked us for a sight seeing tour of Bath, Stonehenge and Windosor.  I'll be sure to take lots of photos!

Oh, and I also convinced mom to cut her hair.  This was taken before the cut.  She looked cute before but now looks even more adorable and stylin'! 

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Charlie Pic

Jason just sent me this picture of Charlie eating a biscuit in the park.  I had to share it.  I can't believe I get to hold her again in less than 24 hours!!  

John M. and I stayed at his grandparent's beautiful New Jersey home last night and a car will be taking us to the airport in less than an hour.  This trip absolutely flew by.  I'm sad to see it end, but I am over the top excited about seeing my sweet family again!  Maybe tomorrow Charlie will be in the park eating a biscuit with me!!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Almost Done

We had our last concert last night in Baltimore.  It was a great end to what has been a fun and successful tour for the group.  I don't know if there were any reviewers in the audience last night, but a reviewer from our Wednesday night concert in the Catskills was quite pleased.  You can read the review here.

This morning we are headed to Princeton to make a demo recording and then we all head our separate ways.  I am aching to get back to my Jason and Charlie, but I'll be sad to see this tour end.  This is, by far, my favourite group to perform with.  I adore and admire every single one of these musicians and consider each of them to be a friend.  We are already chatting about our next projects.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


We spent the last two nights in the Catskill Mountains in New York where we performed at the Shandalee Music Festival.  We got a standing ovation from a sold-out house.  It was a good night!  

We stayed in what is essentially the summer home of the two men that run the festival.  The house is quite big and is set on a stunning piece of property:

pathway from our accommodations up to the concert hall

Because the concert was advertised with Andrew's name, he got what they called the "Queen Mum's Room" complete with furs on the rug and his own private bathroom:

I don't have any shots of the performance, but here is a shot of our rehearsal in the performance space:

 One of the more interesting things about our stay was exploring all the sculptures they have around the house and the property.  The last one is (by far) the best, but here are a few others as well:

notice the armed guards in the back

there were lots of random life-sized animals throughout the property

imported from Thailand

anyone who knows Johanna needs to ask her about these ducks

no explanation needed

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