Monday, February 27, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up

Despite an onslaught of nasty kid germs, we managed to get out and about for a few hours both afternoons this weekend.

One of the conundrums we face here is that some of the really cool sites that the grown-up Huffmans would like to see don't exactly appeal to the little Huffmans. On Saturday, we found a happy medium at St. Edmundsbury Cathedral, where the kids could climb and play on ancient ruins outside, tiring their hyper butts out enough to give us about 5 minutes of quiet while we explored the inside of the cathedral. Of course Marley fell on her face on the marble floor and bruised her chin, which happened immediately after a friendly older English mum had said, "She's fine, mum" when I told Marley in my best whisper-of-rage voice that she needed to ""

Random aside. . .these little pot pies that they sell at the outdoor market in Bury look yummy enough to make a gluten-free vegan consider falling off the wagon!

On Sunday, we finally got out the door at around 2:30pm, just in time for the clouds to come out. We checked out a local nature reserve, Lackford Lakes, where the kids scared away all of the protected birds and water fowl, thereby pissing off the kooky bird watchers and photographers enjoyed a walk around the series of small lakes.

Both boys had end-of-season basketball parties over the past week. Keller had a good season--scoring lots of baskets on the days he was "on" and entertaining himself by practicing elaborate figure skating maneuvers on the court when he was having a more "off" game. Casey was a bit timid this season, and actually only took one shot all season. . .at his last game. . .and he scored! Looking at their basketball pictures, the Huffman height advantage is pretty obvious. Just gotta work on their skills and they will dominate next year.

That's all for now. Marley and I took a sick day today, which involved a trip to the doctor for her, and a lot of me listening to her give running narratives of her life while I tried to relax and read.

We are getting pretty excited about a few upcoming trips--France and Switzerland for spring break in April, and Gran Canaria for a week (most likely over Thanksgiving).  I'm also planning a girls' weekend away with some friends from work, which will be way cool, especially because we can consider a variety of countries all a reasonable drive or cheap flight away!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Through the lens

Sunday morning ushered in a bout of 'the blues' that I couldn't seem to shake. The kind of something's-not-quite-right-ness that is hard to remedy because the cause is vaguely related to a million different things. I have been missing my friends, my family, my freedom to come and go as I please. I have been missing time alone with my husband and time alone with myself. Time to read more, write more, take more pictures, talk face-to-face with the people who have known me forever and still love me even when I'm being awful. Those feelings were compounded by a random smattering of disgruntlements (if that isn't a real word, it certainly should be) which I heaped into a big pot and brewed into a giant batch of what Dave likes to call "stinkin' thinkin.'" As the morning wore on, the skies cleared and showed us some of the gorgeous blue that we covet so much in the winter here, so we packed some snacks, bundled the kids and headed out for some fresh air and time spent together in nature. As always, I found that looking at things through the lens of my camera provided a much-needed shift in perspective.

Anglesey Abbey and Gardens

On Monday, our hardy bunch donned winter coats, hats, gloves, and our wellies to explore the coast at Dunwich Heath. It was beautiful and although we didn't see blue skies until just before sunset, we had the beach to ourselves for hours, which meant we were free to gather shells, skip stones, make sand angels, and collect various 'treasures' that acted as props in our make believe game of 'Beach Survivor.'

At the end of the day, the sky gifted us with some glimpses of blue and a beautiful sunset.

And finally, the kooky family portion of this post, because lawd knows a day out with my kids is not complete without some tomfoolery. It was a good thing we had the beach all to ourselves, as Keller amused us by drawing a circle in the sand and ranting in his scarily believable crazy person voice "Don't come inside the circle! Stay out of the circle!"

(For the record, I had to google 'tomfoolery' because it is one of those ridiculous words, like 'shampoo,' then when I type it, I start to wonder if it is a word I made up in my head. Loved that a synonym for 'tomfoolery' is 'buffoonery.' My new favorite word!)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Winter whirlwind

So many pictures, so little time to post! I promise there are brilliant blog posts rolling around in my brain at all times, but again, this whole 'job' thing really eats away at my 'writing about my family' time. Anyhoo, catching up here. . .

We took a day trip north of here a few weekends ago and visiting Castle Rising and Hunstanton. The boys took their own cameras along and had an awesome time taking pictures of the castle. Hunstanton is a sweet village along the coast where we had hoped to find some good fossils. We didn't have any luck, but had fun exploring the beach and watching the crazy kiteboarders who were out in freezing arse water all afternoon.

Castle Rising has a cool past--it is a 12th century castle that had it's most famous period in its history when it was home to the mother of Edward III, Queen Isabella, following her part in the murder of her husband Edward II. Apparently, she was never imprisoned for the murder, but was sent to Castle Rising to live, which was not a bad punishment as far as I can tell!

Both boys are playing basketball, although the rotten lighting in the gym is seriously holding me back in the photo documentation department!

On the way home from basketball last week, the boys were just beating the poo out of each other in the car. Driving in the English countryside is challenging enough without seeing/hearing two boys fighting to the death, so I devised a new punishment (as it seemed that threatening to pull over and beat their arses wasn't working). Here are the end products:

The kids convinced Dave to have a water balloon fight with them, on a 35ish degree morning.

Last weekend, I headed to Bury St. Edmunds to find Butterworths, an amazing, teeny tiny little natural food store that has so many of the bits and pieces that I can't find anywhere else here. The markets here are so cool, and Bury's was booming.

Which brings me to a few pics of the yummy goods I've been making/eating since returning to 'veganhood' after Christmas. I've got some cool new kitchen tools (spiralizer, mandolin) and bought nice UK versions of a few gadgets I left behind (juicer, food processor). Some of my tastier creations:

Kale chips

Asian Zucchini 'Noodles'

Zucchini noodles made with the spiralizer (all three kids loved eating 2 foot long strands of squash, including Casey who has literally vomited almost every time we force him to eat a 'vengetable')
Secret sauce ingredients
Add some chopped/shredded carrots, red bell pepper, snap peas, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Really yummy and filling.

We spent a day in London last weekend for the Chinese New Year festivities. It was crowded and cold, but the kids made the best of it by finding a nice spot to come in from the cold. . .I'm still trying to figure out how our fun cultural outing ended with a tour of the 4-story overstimulating commercial meca of M & M World.

This morning, we woke up to our first UK snow! After scrambling to find gloves and boots to fit everyone (Keller ended up in mine, sign of how big the boy-child is getting), Dave, the kids, and Juno headed out to dive into the white stuff. Juno made her first escape since arriving here a month ago. We're not sure how long she had been gone (she snuck out a side gate that we didn't know was open), but she made a few friends along the way and a kind neighbor helped Dave track her down.

With the morning's snow came news that yet another of Marley's birthday parties had been sabotaged by winter weather. Poor girl--her birthday always falls around Super Bowl weekend and/or a snow storm. We had an extra layer of party-prep chaos today when Dave drove over to base to pick up Marley's cake and the pizzas for the party, only to get turned away at the gate because base was locked down due to the weather. (Let me just mention that we got 2-3" of snow, which where I grew up in western PA would've meant that you had to wear socks that day to keep your ankles warm--certainly wouldn't have amounted to a delay or closing of anything!). Not only were we blocked from getting on base, but the people who live on base couldn't get out--which meant that three of Marley's party guests had to cancel on us. Dave bravely ventured to the British grocery store to find a random cake and some take-and-bake pizzas to save the day. Marley's best buddy Aiden came, and I swear she couldn't have been any happier if she would've had 40 kids here.

We've booked flights back to the States and hope to see as many of you as possible sometime between June 20th and July 5th, when we'll be on tour of the east coast. Until then, I'll try to keep you updated with photos and corny captions of our adventures over here!