Saturday, 4 June 2016

That time Goodreads challenged me to read 31 books

I'm an avid reader. The husband has little appreciation for my adoration of books or the space said books encompass. Like many readers I've gone back and forth on the topic of e-readers. Partly because I'm indecisive by nature but mostly because I don't want to give up a good old fashioned paper book. I've had just about every model of Kindle on my Amazon wishlist at various points in time but have never pushed the button to "buy now". Is it just me or does anyone else think that 1-click shopping is dangerous? 

Every birthday, anniversary & Christmas as well as every time we move, the husband suggests buying me a Kindle and I always say no. I'd love the idea of being able to purchase a book and start reading it right away. And all the free books sound incredibly enticing. But I always say, you can't put a Kindle on a bookshelf. Which in essence isn't true but it doesn't have the same wow affect as a multitude of overflowing bookshelves. I'm talking personal library standards. That's my goal. And I love perusing my bookshelf and rediscovering some long forgotten book, the details of which have faded from memory and so it's like falling in love again for the first time. 

I'm trying to limit how many books I buy and really shop for bargains. I got a whole case full of mystery novels a few months back that someone was selling for $10 on Facebook. Bargain. And I recently signed up for Audible and have been listening to books on my phone whilst working out. I'm not really a fan of the monthly subscription but even worse, I hate it when the book is actually really good because then I just end up wishing I had it on paperback. 

My Goodreads 2016 book challenge is to read 31 books, I selected that number purely because I turn 31 this year. So far I'm not off to a great start 4 out of 31 and have essentially only completed books I've read as part of my book club. I'm not going to count the audio books because I haven't "read" them rather just listened to someone else read them. 
I'd like to try and challenge myself to read for an hour every day which I'm not certain I have the time to do in one sitting so I'll probably do 30 minutes during lunch and then another 30 minutes in the evening. Accompanied by a nice glass of wine or cup of tea.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened
This was our book for May. We have a very civilized selection process and generally keep an open mind when it comes to books. Originally someone had suggested we read her follow up book Furiously Happy but I said that I wasn't keen on reading the second book if I hadn't read the first. I am strictly opposed to such book anarchy. And thus this book was selected. I was excited to read about a female blogger who had made her blog successful. Any blogger who tells you they don't dream of a cult following is lying. Why do you think I pimp my posts all over social media. I was also intrigued to see how frankly she broached the subject of her anxiety and depression. I will say, right off the bat, this book rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like she was trying too hard to be witty. I struggled through the first fifty pages. Eventually her writing relaxed and I could start to enjoy her story. She did a good job of describing her childhood though I would have liked to know more about her parents. I feel like she only scratched the surface of her anxiety and depression. And the same with her marriage, from the beginning Victor was certain that she was the woman he would marry but she never discusses what effect his certainty had on her. I feel like she just gave us fluff rather than substance, with pages upon pages of "funny" stories in HR but nothing incredibly deep about her and she had so many fantastic opportunities to. Nor do I think she delves very deep into her feelings following her miscarriage. I'm not sure whether this is down to the nature of blogs in general where most of us are hesitant to lay everything out there in black and white but I can say that I'm not on her five star bandwagon. At best 3/5 from me.

The Girl With All The Gifts
This was our April read that I had the fortune of hosting. First off I had no clue what this book was about and happened upon it whilst pursing Amazon. The description is rather vague and the reviews even more so with very discernible warnings about spoiler alerts. I did not read the reviews because I unlike some do not like to read the end of a book before the beginning. At first I was so puzzled by this book and who Melanie was but I was hooked from the first page and it did not disappoint. At least until the very end depending upon who you asked because some loved the ending and some like myself were frustrated & saddened. And dare I say it, left feeling a little betrayed. What I can tell you is this, if I had a grenade in my pocket I would always choose to use it. Even if I can't save myself I'd take out as many of my enemies as possible. My advise to anyone who likes to read. Read this book. 
By far one of the best books I've read in a long time. 5/5

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

That time Vodka tried to knock me up.

My mother is eager to have more grandchildren. As I'm next in line (age wise, not for the throne) she is understandably looking to me to push or less graphically, cough them up. I can't really blame her for repeatedly asking when we're going to have children or for seeing pregnancy signs where none exist. The mind is a powerful tool. But as every good doctor or fan of medical dramas know; when you hear hoofs, think horses not zebras. 

Thurtson & I have been married for seven years now. Who is Thurston I hear you ponder. Thurston is the husband. Who one day decided that his given name wasn't good enough for Facebook and so changed his name to Thurston Pooter Darnworth III. And Facebook said, sure you can change your name but you have to keep it for at least 6 months because whilst we don't like it when people get drunk and come up with stupid names, we're not married to you. So not our problem.
So, like I was saying Thursty and I have been married for seven years. Together for twelve and have recently crossed the threshold into our thirties. The next step on the board game of life is procreation. We typically hum and ha, go back and forth but parenthood remains a mysterious "adult channel" that we don't feel prepared for without causing some major scarring. Both mental and physical. 

Of course if you've read my blog before you'll also know that nothing reminds me how much I want a child more than the onslaught of pregnancy announcements. Facebook can be great for many things, like online stalking old classmates to see if their life is shitier than yours because today you just really need a win. Facebook is useless at determining your mood and filtering your news feed accordingly. So they will show you post upon post of grainy alien sonograms. Followed by an advert to track your pregnancy. All the while knowing the only thing you're nursing is the half empty bottle of Chardonnay you just posted about. With the caption "when will they develop an app to know when I'm out of wine and have a replacement bottle rushed over stat". Because to be honest, sometimes it's hard to get through my Facebook news feed without alcohol. Why? Because people suck. Side note, I totally sounded like a doctor then. I need 10ccs of Vodka stat. No clue how much 10ccs is but I'm pretty sure I can handle it.

You may be thinking, this chick doesn't need to have a kid right now, she's clearly not in control of her emotions. Of course Facebook isn't out to get her. And you're right. On both accounts. And so I went off my birth control. Yes, do take the time to reread that last sentence because after everything I just wrote, the next logical step of an illogical person is to come off birth control.

I did it for the following reason with no discussion with my gynecologist and little discussion with the husband. Though of course he knows about it because otherwise it might seem like I was trying to trap him in a pregnancy because you know, he may just wake up one day & think WTF and leave. 

At my last lady doctor visit, you know the kind where they try to make small talk whilst inserting a rib spreader inside you, it dawned on me that I'd been taking birth control for close to twelve years. And that, to me, just seemed like a really long time to be taking artificial hormones. But what do I know, I'm not a doctor. Still, I wondered how would my body perform without the contraceptive pill. Would it know how to ovulate and menstruate on time. And most importantly could it remove all the weight I gained when I started taking the pill. And maybe take the additional 60lbs of cupcake weight too. Let me just say, my body knows how to menstruate. It's only been two months but my period has been on point. 

In regards to the whole not getting pregnant thing...I have an app. One that's designed to help people get pregnant so I pretty much just do the opposite. When it says it's time to get busy, I don't. I've also set myself a reminder to hide the alcohol during ovulation because it doesn't take that much vodka to drink away all your common sense. Should probably invest in some condoms too. Just in case. Because I don't think the vodka can ever be hidden well enough when you're the one hiding it.

The following is a snippet of conversation between my mum & I on social media, following a very innocent dinner pic (yes, I'm one of those people) captioned: "I'm not a huge fan of posting my meals on social media but sometimes it's just too delicious not to snap a pic & share. Was seriously craving some sweet potatoes today and the hubby made it happen #latergram #stuffed #dinner #healthyeating #sweetpotato" The word "craving" is where she heard Zebras and not horses. But when you've waited seven years to hear Zebras, can you blame her?


Variene Prince Do you have something to tell me?
LikeReply23 hrs
Shermeen Robinson Mum, that's beer in that bottle. Trust me, I like alcohol too much to get pregnant right now! xx
LikeReply22 hrs
Variene Prince Well I live in hope xx
LikeReply22 hrs
Gemma Alaia Haha you pair! Xx 😘😘
LikeReply22 hrs
Variene Prince Gemma I want grandchildren an she is giving me puppies instead x
LikeReply122 hrs
Gemma Alaia my mum's said no more from us lol! 2 daughters and 8 Grandchildren 😂😂
Come on Sherm's give Aunty V a grand baby!!
If you guys were closer I'd say take one of mine...I have plenty! 😂😂😭😭 xx
UnlikeReply122 hrs
Variene Prince Hun I will gladly have anyone or two of yours but which one they are beautiful xx
LikeReply122 hrs
Shermeen Robinson Gemma I would absolutely take one of your because they're cute and nothing unpleasant would happen to my vagina. As it stands, I have yet to be assured that the joys of parenthood outweigh those 10 months of pregnancy and hours of active labor. Also, they have yet to discover a form of alcohol that is safe to consume during pregnancy. Additionally I am a lush and it's not right to pass that gene on to the next generation xx 😁😉🍷🍻🍾
LikeReply22 hrs
Variene Prince Child I give up you win x
UnlikeReply222 hrs

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Hello From The Other Side Of 2015

True to form, I was useless at blogging in 2015. It was a strange combination of being too busy to blog as well as feeling like I have nothing worthwhile to share. Additionally, Netflix lives on my laptop and requires zero thinking or typing skills. The ability to watch every season of a show in one sitting without commercial interruption might just have damaged the world forever.

I know, you're wondering what this year has been like for me. Let's get down to business.

Family & Friends; UK
This year my parents turned 60; my Dad in March and my Mum in April. And I of course turned 30. The irony that I turned the same age that my parents were when they had me is not lost on me. But more on that later.

If you recall in a blog post from earlier this year (perhaps the only other one from this year) I mentioned how much I was dreading all the milestone birthdays that I was going to miss this year. My parents of course, my nephew & niece both turning 10 and then two of my best friends turning 30. Well, thankfully I was able to take a very short trip back home and surprise my mum for her 60th birthday party. Over the past decade, she's really embraced getting older, a trait that I clearly did not inherit. And she's been looking forward to having a big party to celebrate turning 60. 

For awhile I was uncertain whether I'd be able to attend, mostly due to our finances but also the fact that I hadn't reached 6 months at my current job and hadn't earned vacation. Remember when I said a "short trip"? What I really meant was a weekend trip. Of course, the multitude of time zones in a 4 day period was well worth the look on her face when she arrived home from Costco and saw me come out to help with the shopping. And I got to see my beautiful nieces and handsome nephew. As well as my best friends. 
Hands down, the best weekend of the year.

Family & Friends: USA
Adam and I celebrated our six year wedding anniversary this year. Our family is still just us and the dogs. And every once in awhile Adam says that we should change that by starting a family but this is the same man who thought we'd have kids at 23! I think we'll be getting another dog before we have a child. Which strangely I'm okay with. I flirt the line of wanting to start a family and being content with how things are. I suppose I've always assumed that I would have children but this year I've allowed myself to imagine what life would be like without children and so I find I could go either way. And let's face it, parenthood isn't something you should enter into on a whim. 

This has been a tough year for our marriage too, which is another one of the many reasons I'm not ready for children. There have been times when I honestly thought I couldn't stand to have him in my life a minute longer. And then other times when I truly wouldn't want to be anywhere else but by his side. I have of course heard that marriage is a roller coaster but naively assumed that the storms we had weathered thus far had made us strong enough to withstand even a category 5 hurricane. And I didn't really want to write much about that here because whilst I make the choice to make details of my life public Adam certainly hasn't. And so I have a good old fashioned paper journal I turn to when I'm mad & need to process my feelings. The main thing is that we're still here. We're both still willing to do what it takes to stay together and figure out how to better communicate with one another. And of course we do still very much love one another.

Home Turf: Alabama

I have met some wonderful people in Alabama. Yes, we're still here. I have a love/hate relationship with this state. It really is beautiful, I have good friends here and we feel settled. I've been fortunate to meet a great group of ladies both at work and through Meet Up and we get together fairly regularly to do all sorts of activities. The most recent being our White Trash Christmas Scavenger Hunt.
And next week we have The Nutcracker scheduled. It's nice having a friend I can call and get together with for dinner & drinks. I was honestly worried that I wouldn't have that in America. Last month I hosted a baby shower for a friend and the month before that attended a wedding for another. So yes, it feels good to know that I have friends in this state.

The hate part is that it's ALABAMA! Even people from here ask me why in heaven I moved here! It's likely though that we'll be here for some time. And we do discuss potentially buying a home here but we're still not sure if we're ready to be exclusive with Alabama. Speaking of which.

Dream Come True: Washington State.
This year is also the year I made one of my dreams come true. When asked by people where I'd like to live, my answer is usually Washington State. And then, naturally they'd ask why? To which I would answer "no idea". I think originally, it was just the fact that it was so far away from the places I've seen in the US thus far. But as time went on and I learned more about the State, it became a real goal of mine to visit/live out there. Well, this September I made that dream a reality. I had booked vacation with the intention of going with Adam to TN to see his parents but he wasn't able to go as he didn't have enough vacation saved. I had resigned myself to staying home bored with the dogs when a friend suggested that I go somewhere by myself. The thought of being alone in a strange place was both empowering and intimidating. But it was wonderful. Just what I needed. I got some much needed time to relax and unwind. And I got the opportunity to explore part of a State I've been dreaming of seeing. 

One Small Request:
The primary reason I finally dragged my butt over to write another blog post is because I shared on my Facebook page that if my branch wreath reached 60 votes by Sunday, then I would write a blog post. What is my branch wreath and how do you vote for it I hear you ask. Well, my employer, being big on Communerosity (yes, community & generosity had a baby and I'm sitting over here taking selfies with my dogs) is holding a wreath contest. Each location selected a charity to design a wreath for. The public then votes on the wreaths they like best. The top three receive a monetary prize for their charity. So how can you vote for my teams wreath? By visiting the link on our Facebook page. Our location is Eastern Shore and we designed a wreath for the Daphne Library. Don't forget to share the link on your own Facebook page with #onceuponawreath and encourage your friends and family to vote too. 

Thursday, 15 January 2015

30 before THIRTY

Twenty-fifteen is the year that I'll turn 30 and I'm still not sure how I feel about this. There's something about the closing out of your twenties that is reminiscent of a child putting away their toys. There is no more time for childish things like dreams and procrastination. There is no more time to erase and rewrite-because from now on my plans will be written in ink. 

I feel like your twenties are the most special and complicated time of a persons life. Of course, my assessment of this statement is limited to the meager twenty-nine years I've been on this planet but regardless, it's been a complicated decade. 

I remember being sixteen and dreaming of a future that seemed so full of possibilities and full of perfections. By eighteen those dreams might not have panned out as perfectly as I'd hoped but the determination and confidence that they could had not waned. I was excited to reach my twenties, specifically 21. What's so special about that birthday anyway? I already had a key to the door. Of course, I was young, slim and already in love with the man I would one day marry. I felt like life wasn't perfect but I could still make my dreams come true.

I suppose the next big birthday was 25. Which I imagine to be the first slap in a six part series of birthday face slaps. 25-Slap. 30-Slap. 35-Slap. 40-Slap. 47-Slap. 50-Slap. After fifty, if my mother is anything to go by, you stop sweating the small stuff and start making up your own rules.  My twenty-fifth birthday however was the very best of my life thus far. I had my wonderful family, childhood friends, two birthday cakes and the man I loved. And lot's of alcohol. Still, despite being my favorite birthday, twenty-five starts the slap series because it blatantly reminds you that your twenties are half way over. And no, try as you might, you cannot turn it into a glass half full "you're only half way in" outlook.

Another reason twenty five is the first slap in the birthday series is because you'll quickly come to discover that your body doesn't quite recover the same way from alcohol. Long gone are the days of downing vodka red bulls whilst grinding with your girlfriends in your hooker heels. Only to wake up the next day, grab a McDonald's breakfast and head to your six hour shift in retail hell. No, twenty five is the year that your body turns on you. Starts to remind you that you're not going to be young and attractive forever.  You're as young as you feel becomes your daily mantra but you can't fight the hormones. The ones that make you go mushy inside when a baby locks eyes with you in the grocery store and you feel like he can see straight into your vacant womb and hear the cries of your aging unfertilized eggs. So being smart you fight the urge with a puppy and it works. For awhile. So you get a second puppy. And your family just start asking when the kids are going to arrive and then that friend casually whispers the words infertility & problems over lunch. And before you know it you're wondering how an accidental pregnancy hasn't happened in the last ten years...Okay, I cannot deny I was off on a tangent there for awhile. I apologize. 

The point. I don't know how I feel about turning thirty. I thought I could get excited by working on a thirty before thirty list but then I realized I'd just be left feeling disappointed and unaccomplished if I didn't complete it. And frankly, I've felt that way too much during my twenties. I'm also mourning the fact that it will be the first milestone birthday that I won't be able to spend with my best friends back in England. I have made some terrific friends here in Alabama but I just always assumed I'd spend my thirtieth birthday with the same ladies who helped me see in 16,18,21,25 and so many birthdays in between. I won't be there with them to celebrate on their days either.

My 25th birthday- starting the BBQ off right with some shots!

Shadi's 21st birthday.

Susana's 27th birthday.

Charlotte's 26th birthday.

My 21st birthday-three divas hogging the mic!

My 21st birthday- couldn't think of better girls to dance barefoot with!

2015 is going to be a tough year for me, both my parents turn 60. My nephew and eldest niece turn 10. These are all special birthdays that I won't be able to enjoy, not without some serious money and vacation time, neither of which I have. This year will likely be the year I sit down and consider applying for Naturalization but it's also the year that will likely cause me to question my move altogether. 

Whilst in a long distance relationship with the husband, I felt the overwhelming desire to be in two places at once. If only I could knit our two worlds together. Now that the husband and I are finally together, I still feel the same way for the people I love back home. I'm not sure it's a feeling that can ever be reconciled. 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Thriving in 2015

Fresh sheets on the bed. A towel warm from the dryer. The first crunch of Autumn leaves underfoot. All these things conjure the same feelings I get at the start of a New Year. It's comforting to think of it as a fresh start. The turn onto a blank page eagerly awaiting the tip of a sharpened pencil. Everything and anything seems possible and the good things I plan and hope for appear probable. We can simply shed the troubles of the previous year like a snake skin and take that first step on to just fallen snow, creating a brand new path for our lives. 

We make resolutions as if we really can determine the outcome of this year. Little decisions that if only we could follow through with, happiness would be sure to follow. All the while forgetting that it's not so easy to change our spots or stripes. 

I'm not sure at what point during the year that optimism dissipates but I find that it usually does. We come to discover that our baggage has been shipped to us with no return address. By the time December rolls around I'm ready to be done with the year and move on to the next. As if the closing of each year ushers in the start of a more promising chapter in my life. When in reality there is no more difference in December 31st becoming January 1st than there is Monday becoming Tuesday. There is no cosmic change. The sunsets, the sun rises and whilst we should all be glad to experience as many of those as possible, for some reason this event is given so much more fanfare simply because it's the last day of the year. 

I find that sometimes I'm trying to run away from the bad memories so fast that I not only forget about the good ones but neglect the fact that I made it through. The new year seems to promise me so much. I'm almost certain I'll come to find that in this brand spanking new year, the grass really is greener. And so I make these declarations of intent to loose weight, to better practice the often times impossible art of patience, to cherish my loved ones more...and the old classic; to blog often! 

I do appreciate this ridiculous optimism of mine, don't get me wrong. Were it not to exist, were I not to believe that better things were out there and possible, I probably would have laid down somewhere long ago and stayed down. There is a reason why most people don't know who or what a Chumbawamba is but their lyrics "I get knocked down but I get up again, you're not ever gonna keep me down" resonates to the base of humanity. We're nothing if not determined to not only survive but thrive. 

With this in mind, I enter 2015 perhaps a little more realistic than I have in previous years. Of course there are good things that I hope will happen in the coming year. Like visiting England, celebrating my 30th birthday, buying a new car, doing it with my husband until I get knocked up. And I know it's not possible to be prepared for the bad because I don't know what this year will bring. But I can feel confident that with every bad day, every disappointment, I grow a little bit stronger. I'll learn a little bit more about myself and what I'm capable of. 

Bring it on 2015.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Accent Tag

I spent some time this afternoon researching Washington State. For some reason, that I cannot explain, I would love to live in Washington State. Perhaps it's the rain or perhaps like the husband suggests, it's Twilight. Either way, I feel like I could be happy there. I watched some videos of people from Washington State and decided that I could raise children there, simply because there isn't much of an accent. Just your generic, hard to place American accent. As opposed to say, the Southern accent, which I love as a novelty but not so much as an accent to be stuck with forever. Call me a snob if you must. Anyway, the husband and I thought it might be fun to make a video of us doing the accent tag. So here it is, enjoy.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Three Years, Two Dogs and a Roll Tide Later!

I think it's fitting that I should choose to return to the world of blogging on the three year anniversary of my Living In America (cue music). 1096 days ago I packed up and headed across that little pond to join the husband and pave what we hoped would be a smooth path to "Happily Ever After". Of course, life and therefore marriage, is not like the fairy tales. It makes sense when you consider we met online, back in the days when online dating was taboo, and not in an enchanted forest. 

It's difficult to grasp just how much time has passed, and ultimately I don't wish to because it scratches at the tender layer covering the pain of leaving England. Both the people I love back there and the country itself. Whilst it may no longer be the Great Britannia that rules the waves, I have an immense feeling of pride, of patriotism, of belonging. That's not to say that I haven't thrown myself wholeheartedly into American life and culture but I still feel like there's something missing. There remains some as yet undiscovered reason why I'm on the fence regarding US Citizenship.  Apparently, my psyche is really good at hiding things from me because try as I might, I can't come up with a conclusive reason. So for right now I'm blaming the $680 fee. 
I have a ten year permanent resident card so essentially I'm free to go on living and abiding by American laws until 2021 but the opportunity to vote if there's an election in 2016 or partake in jury duty are pretty compelling reasons for Naturalization. In addition to the fact that I don't want to be of different nationality to any potential future children. 

I suppose this would be a good time for a boring blogger update. I say boring only because not much happens in my life and what little does is usually published on Facebook so you already know. Well, firstly, Maggie came into our lives. Yes, as the title suggests, we now have two dogs. Penny is our TN puppy and Maggie is our AL puppy. The SEC has nothing on their rivalry!

I'd say that we've adapted to AL life pretty well, honestly moving down here from TN was good for us. The first time that we've really been on our own and whilst I miss both our families, knowing that we really only have each other to rely on has been good. It's helped up both grow up -though one of us had slightly more growing up to do than the other! I love our little apartment, which is really close to the dog park and the gym and I've taken to crafting of all things. I actually blame Pintrest for showing me how to make all the expensively awesome things I want to buy on Etsy. I've also lost about 37lbs so far this year. Not nearly at my goal weight but so pleased with the progress so far. I've always talked about dieting and loosing weight but found (like with most things) talk is cheap and action speaks louder. At the beginning of the year, I stopped getting my period for about two months and it freaked the heck out of me. Early menopause is a real thing and I was glad to discover that a little weight loss was enough to kick everything back on track. Then after countless weeks of dragging myself to the gym, I came to find that I not only enjoyed going to the gym but was really irritable when I missed beloved classes. Seriously, not a good idea to try and come between me and the gym on a Wednesday. Missing Zumba and Kettle Bells is no longer an option. I'm enjoying the changes I see and feel and am always surprised by what my body is capable of. One of the instructors says every class "you're stronger than you think" which I never really know is true until I've done what I thought I couldn't. 

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