3/31/2012

Here Comes Peter Cottontail!

This week has been a hectic one. Don't get me wrong, it's been really lovely, but super hectic. Hence the lack of posts. Nevertheless, I'm here now to spill the beans on all that has happened, so feel free to forgive me for being such a slacker :)

I started my first week teaching Kindergarten on Monday and I'm absolutely loving it. Although my ideal age group is still 2nd grade, I still find these 5 year olds to be so much fun.  They make me laugh every day and it's an absolute pleasure to go to 'work' in the morning :) As this past week was the final week before Spring/Easter break, we were completely consumed in a variety of Easter activities. They were finishing up their Easter cards for Mom's and Dad's, we made Rice Krispie Chocolate nests with robins eggs and tiny chicks inside (I ate 3 but we'll pretend I didn't), played Easter games and even went to the local park for various Easter activties/hunts. I had a ball regardless of the fact that I somehow managed to sit in a pile of poop during story time at the park. Seriously people. WHY ME?! The worst part was that I hadn't even noticed there was poop on my leg until one of my kids ran up to me and excitedly exclaimed "Mrs. Anderson! Mrs. Anderson! You have poo on your leg!!" I had to refrain from swearing (I'm not gonna lie. I was unbelievably close to saying the 'sugar honey iced tea' word) but I quickly remembered where I was and who was watching me and instead said a very teacherish response, something along the lines of "Oh my goodness! You see guys, this is why it's really important to pay close attention to where you sit!" In the end I had to try and use a nasty old crinkly leaf left over from winter to wipe the majority of the poop off. And when that failed, I tried some grass and ended up with poop AND grass stains on my nice black pants. Joy. Even now I'm still not entirely sure if it was the reminents of a bird or a dog, but what I do know is that I had to walk around with it on my pants for the remaining 45 minutes of our Easter Egg Hunt. It was di-sgu-sting and I was NOT impressed. EW! However, Friday made up for it as I brought in one of my Easter Starbucks Bearista Bears (which Carl and I have so aptly named Peter Cottontail) to show the kids. Mr. Cottontail, aka the one and only Easter bunny, was watching all of the children very closely all day to see who was behaving and who was not. Peter even made a point of reminding the children that, like Santa and Mrs. Anderson, he had eyes in the back of his head (hidden behind his
floppy ears) and was watching to see who deserved a big delicious Easter egg and who didn't...(hey, whatever works, right?!) Peter brought a big Easter game to play with the children (which unknown to them worked on their color recognition, counting, addition and subtraction skills) and sat in the classroom the remaining part of the day while my fellow student teacher, Laura, and I had our afternoon PPA in order to plan for the following two weeks after Spring Break. When I returned to the classroom just as the children were leaving for home, two little adorable girls named Ava and Georgie brought me the sweetest Easter cards ever and made me promise to keep them on my fridge over the break. They even put their precious fish stickers on the top to show me how 'special' I was (Awwwww!) After I waved goodbye to the children, I grabbed Peter Cottontail from his special place at the front of the classroom on my way out and stuffed him in my purse. It wasn't until this afternoon, while in the middle of my mad house cleaning frenzie when I took Peter out of my bag in order to put him on the coffee table as an Easter decoration, that I noticed one of the cutest things I've seen in my entire life. Little Ava and Georgie had given Mr. Cottontail one of their precious fish stickers (which they informed me only 'special' people get) as well. I'm not lying when I say I nearly cried because I thought it was so stinkin cute. I just had to take a picture to share with all of you. Children are so precious at this age. Sometimes I wish they never had to grow up :) 
Thursday night I was feeling foolishly inspired and adventurous (I blame this on Pinterest! It took advantage and got me drunk on good recipes!) so I made a super yummy (and healthy) Chinese Chicken and Broccoli with Basmati Rice (I added unsalted cashew nuts, onion and carrots to mine as well). It was simple, delicious, low in WW points, and left me satisfied for the rest of the night. If you like Chinese food and are looking for a simple and yummy dinner, this is totally for you!
I have this obsession/paranoia/dislike of houses smelling like last nights dinner. I literally can't stand when it happens. It makes me feel like gagging and dirty when I walk in our front door and can smell onions or garlic still in the air from last nights dinner. It's especially aggravating/hard as our apartment is open plan (our kitchen is in the same room as our living room). So, in an attempt to rectify/prevent this from happening I invested in a new trusty Yankee Candle. Friends and family know how much I love them, and I've passed this love on to my mother-in-law who now has a full blown obsession. She's a Yankee Candle addict (you know you are, Mama Lynne. Don't try and deny it!) I've loved/had Yankee Candles ever since my early teens, but ever since having my own house the infatuation has grown. While they are a bit more expensive than the cheapos you can buy in the high street shops or in the grocery store, they last considerably longer and are more vibrant. Not to mention there are about 80 million different fragrances (my 2 favorite are Christmas Cookie and Black Cherry. Every time I light them I have to remind myself not to eat the wax. They're divine). Today I let Carl choose the new one for our house as my last one (from Christmas) had finally bit the dust. He chose Strawberry Buttercream and it's truly AMAZING. Our house smells like vanilla frosting and warm fresh strawberries. Those onions and garlic bulbs don't stand a chance people! I highly recommend. And if all else fails, it's good for diets because you can't actually eat them, no matter how good they smell. Well, I guess that's a lie because you probably could, but if you did you'd need to see a psychiatrist for your food issues. Immediately. 
Tonight I sat down with a carton of fresh apple juice and a straw (well, I started with one straw, but that one got lost down in the carton so I needed another one. Then that one ran away and got lost as well, so by the end of the hour I was on to straw #3. Yes, I'm well aware of how pathetic this is.) to watch Britain's Got Talent. Now, I'm not normally into these reality shows. I hate the XFactor, America's Got Talent and American Idol...well, if truth be told I hate Britain's Got Talent too (mostly because they all have something to do with Simon Cowell which means they're all a crock and fixed from the beginning anyway) but tonight's show was part of the auditions where you get to enjoy laughing at the duds. Carl and I tend to tune in for the first 3 audition weeks, and then jib it. I know laughing is mean, but you do it too so don't judge me! Anyway, tonight I found an act that just pulled on my heart strings (I may have cried a little too. I blame it on my hormones). It was amazing and I just have to share. The 19 year old Irish boys name was Ryan O'Shaughnessy (what a doosie, eh!) Ryan came to audition with a love song he'd written about his best girl friend who he's had a crush on for 6 years. Awwwwwwww!!! He named his song 'No Name' and this was his first time performing the song publicly. Although Simon, being Simon, pestered him to reveal the girls name, he didn't but said that she would know instantly when she heard it that it was about her. HOW STINKIN' CUTE! It was like some fairytale or Hollywood movie! When he started to play the song I got all teary eyed. Even the hubs (an even bigger Britain's Got Talent/Simon Cowell hater) said it was a great song and "one of the only acts with real talent as he'd actually written and played his own song." I managed to rewind the clip and record it so that I could share it with all of you, as it's not yet on YouTube. Ignore my annoying wobbly recording skills, I had an itch the ENTIRE time in the back of my throat and I was trying desperately not to pass out or choke. I'll have you know that as soon as I stopped recording I very nearly died from coughing. I hope you're all happy.

Okay, well I've tried to upload my video for the past 3 hours and Blogger just aint having it. And neither am I any more. If I see one more error message I'll have a conniption. Besides, in the hours I've wasted trying to upload my crappy video, Britain's Got Talent has posted the proper version onYouTube. Haha
Tomorrow my very best friend from back home lands in England for the 4th time. I'm so excited to see her that I just might pee my pants. Not only is she coming all this way to see me, but she's bringing with her fresh baked bagels from the Bristol Bakery (to understand the significance of this gesture, read this post). I AM DROOLING JUST THINKING ABOUT THEM! A little bit of home to get me through the next 4 months and fend off my homesickness just a bit more. I can't wait to give her a hug (it's been a year since I have and that's just totally unacceptable!) laugh at the stupid jokes that only we understand, make moose noises and sing horribly at ridiculous volumes while doing our famous horrendous yet very creative dance moves. This next week is going to be amazing.

As I am free over the next two weeks to enjoy the Easter break, I shall post often to share my gallavantings, so be sure to stay tuned.


I hope you all have a wonderful Spring weekend!

Thanks for reading, guys!
Take good care

3/25/2012

White Ink...Take 2!


Those of you who read my blog already know that about 3 weeks ago I went and got my beloved white ink tattoo (Click here to read that post/see those pictures/understand the significance of the white feather). As it's a tattoo with white ink, I have been patiently waiting for the first 'draft' to heal so that I could go back and Stefan (my tattoo artist) could add further shape and detail to my feather (I'll need to go back once more so that he can go over the entire healed tattoo to make it all more vibrant). Well, I've been and I'm here to update! It's odd because I found that this second time around I barely noticed when Stefan was doing the tattoo. I was able to casually carry on a conversation with my good friend Toni (who also got a tattoo, I'll post a pic when she gives me the go-ahead!) and wasn't bothered in the slightest. I don't know if it's because this time I knew what to expect in terms of the feeling or because I was just so excited to see it finished? Just wondering if any of you with tattoo's noticed that as well? That the second time around is a piece of cake and doesn't hurt at all? Stefan said that he finds the amount of pain you feel while getting a tattoo has a lot to do with your mood. That intrigued me! My fellow inkies, please share your thoughts! I'd love to hear them! :)

When I first arrived I discussed what I was looking for in terms of the final shape, we looked at my pictures, and he was off. The appointment went super quick and Stefan, as usual, did a wonderful job. I am absolutely in LOVE! 
Even though it's still unbelievably red (much more red than the previous time, especially towards the bottom) I am tickled pink with how it's turned out. I've put a before and after picture so you can easily to see the difference.
Before
After! Ta-da!
I'm sorry that the after picture is craptastic and not as clear as the before photo. My excuse is that I took it on my phone and had the cream already on it so was desperately trying to find an angle that didn't catch the shine. Either way, I think you can still see the changes :) Once it's healed again and I've been back for the final recolor I'll post one last time with the final product! I'm just so excited for it to be completely finished so that I can enjoy it in all of its vibrant white glory.  So keep your eyes peeled! I'm excited to share it with all of you! :)

In the mean time, I hope you've all enjoyed a wonderful weekend! Although I'm still trying to fend of this HORRIFIC cold, I've been able to enjoy the beautiful spring weather Liverpool has had to offer. It's been sunny and warm all weekend long and it's supposed to continue into the week as well! Yay! I'm so ready to dig out my Old Navy flip flops, Maxi Dresses and sunglasses! Goodbye winter, hello spring! 

P.S. After getting our tattoos, Toni and I ventured off to the movie theatre to see (after MONTHS of waiting) The Hunger Games. I don't want to put anyone off seeing it, I still think it's worth going, but I left with mixed feelings. I'll ramble more about this tomorrow, but I'm interested to know what other people thought? Stay tuned! :) 

3/24/2012

Green Gunk, Cough Drops and Antibiotics.

This is just a quick message to say hello, and reassure you that no, I haven't fallen off the planet. I am still here...well, kind of. 
Trust me folks, I'm well aware and slightly embarrassed that I've been so majorly slacking in the blogging department over the past week. Well, not just slacking...this is the longest I've ever gone between posts since I started my blog. It's fair to say that this constitutes as an epic fail. But, while there have been sporadic bursts of inspiration and determination to sit at my computer and write during those few precious moments where I wasn't coughing up a lung, dying with my head in the toilet, or sobbing from the throbbing pain in my ear; I just couldn't find the strength and instead remained in a mountain of Kleenex and Vicks VapoRub on the couch. Feeling sorry for myself. Straining to hear, taste or smell.  Weighing up whether I would really miss my ear that much if I chopped it off. Wondering how it was humanly possible for so much green gunk to come out of such a small person. Praying my snail-like antibiotics would kick in sometime within the next year...it's been pretty bad. Probably the most epic of illnesses I've experienced yet in my life time. For which I blame the small children. My little students, who are adorable, yet lethal, walking balls of germs. Of course I spend my days encouraging them to be nice and 'share' but this is just too giving. They can keep their nasty bugs which manifest into bronchitis and severe week-long ear infections in the future. Gah! Never again!


I am convinced this is God's way of punishing me for all of the idiotic/pain-in-the-ass things I did as a child. And so I put my hands together, look into the heavens above and promise Jesus that I won't throw dirt at my little sister or smuggle left over corn muffins into my bedroom in the middle of the night ever again. I've learned my lesson, I really have!


Nevertheless, I feel as though I may finally (knock on wood) be on the mend. Although I'm nowhere near 100% I find that the green gunk is running on a much shorter supply, my intrusive, obnoxious coughing is a tiny bit less...obnoxious, and although I'm as deaf as an old timer in my right ear (aside from the constant ringing) it doesn't seam to be throbbing quite as bad. So, as I hold my glass of fizzing Ginger Ale in the air and say a croaky 'Cheers' I pop some more medicines, unwrap another Hall's cough drop and dive head first into a steaming bowl of Vick's VapoRub. There's light at the end of this snotty tunnel after all.


And if tomorrow I can fight my way through the phlegm, I have something fun to share with all of you :)


In the mean time, I'm off to prop myself upright in bed, like a stone cold vampire sitting rigid and freakishly pale, for the 6th torturous night a row. Wish me good luck, send sheep my way...hell, I don't even mind if you unleash the bed bugs. May this child-induced sickness be gone in the morning!


Thanks for reading, guys! 
Take good care,


3/13/2012

Fairy Dust

Since I was little, I have always had an obsession with anything fairy related. To be truthful, I think it all started with Peter Pan, and my obsession with Tinkerbell. (Disney strikes again! Ha!) In addition to the whole Peter Pan scene, my best friend and I used to go on 'fairy hunts' around the playground in elementary school. From the time I was a teenager, I've had framed fairy portraits on my bedroom wall, and my favorite necklace is an Amy Brown fairy pendant that I was given on my 16th birthday by a girlfriend. What's also probably sparked this fairy obsession is a deep rooted fascination with anything sparkly. Seriously, when it comes to glitter I'm like a moth to a flame. Just ask my mother.

I can still remember the first time I saw 'fairy dust' in real life. It was in 2nd grade when a pretty blonde girl named Holly wore a gorgeous necklace to school one day, given to her by her mother. I, as well as all of the other girls, stood with our mouths wide open as we observed the perfect bottle full of gleaming white dust hanging from Holly's neck. It was MAGIC!  and I couldn't believe she had a necklace full of REAL fairy dust! I remember standing there trying hard to control my urge to snatch it from her, run away and hide until the end of time. The only reason I didn't was because I knew I'd get a good scolding from my parents when I was eventually found, so instead I felt very sorry for myself.  I was so envious and so irritated that my Mom wasn't "cool" enough to find a stash of beautiful glittering fairy dust to give to me. (Don't worry, Mom. I know now how cool you really are!) So, for the rest of the day I followed little Holly, a year younger than me, around the school. My eyes never left her necklace, and I even spent the entire 40 minute bus ride home desperately trying to barter with her. I offered my backpack, my shoes, and even my pogs (yes, POGS! What a throw back!) as a trade for her magical necklace, but all to no avail. Holly, although wavering for a couple of minutes at the mention of pogs, never gave in and insisted she wanted to keep her fairy dust necklace from her Mother. And so the story goes, little Amanda desperately yearned for a small vile of glittering fairy dust hanging from a silver chain for years and years to come. That was, until one fine winters day in 2012 when (while perusing Pinterest, obviously!) she spotted a gorgeous Fairy Dust necklace similar to the one of her desires some 17 years ago.
The necklace I found was beautiful, but it was not for sale and the colors were all wrong.  It wasn't white fairy dust like Holly's, and the chain wasn't a beautiful sparkling silver. So, with a strong will and creative determination, I set to eBay for a small glass bottle and some shimmering white glitter. And when the essentials arrived yesterday, I made my very own (even aging paper with tea bags to create my own 'Fairy Dust' sign). Carl is still cursing the day I was born as our entire apartment (including his clothes) was/still are covered in iridescent glitter. I even found some floating in my tea this afternoon. The fairies are among us! Yippee!
And while I'm over the moon with my VERY FIRST, VERY OWN fairy dust necklace (Hooray! I can die happy now! haha) I felt that I didn't want to replace wearing my Amy Brown necklace all of the time. So, I made the decision to wear my fairy dust on the same  chain (given to me by my Grandmother for my birthday last year) as my Amy Brown fairy pendant and my white feather. 

I am in LOVE. It's officially my new favorite necklace in the whole entire world and I'm over the moon with the results. My new life motto is: if at first you can't find your dream 'fairy dust' necklace online, make your own! Haha! Even now that I'm nearly 24 years old and married, I'm tickled pink with the fact that I finally have this necklace. Who would think that something so silly and  childish would spark so much happiness? But it has, and I'm perfectly okay with that. Because now, I can now wear my childhood on my neck. And someday if I'm lucky enough to have a daughter (I pray every single day that I do) together we'll watch Peter Pan, go on fairy hunts in the forest, and wear our very own magical fairy dust necklaces. I can not wait. 

Thanks for reading, guys!
Take good care,



3/12/2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

There's nothing I love more than first thing in the morning when the house is still quiet and only the distant hum of city traffic can be heard. 
I love sitting on the couch with a piping hot cup of tea, dipping a shortbread finger inside. I love counting to 5 while it slowly absorbs the warm tea and goes soggy. I do this over and over again until it's gone and gobbled up. I love holding my mug of tea gently and feeling the warmth slowly spread through my fingers and up my arm. I always close my eyes and hold it close to my face so that the warm damp steam tickles my nose. It's my favorite morning routine. 
Totally weird, and totally OCD...but I love writing lists. They help me to feel in control, they make me feel organized and 'together.' They allow me to get all of the crazy ideas and thoughts in my brain out on paper so that I can relax. I'd be lost without them.

I absolutely LOVE going grocery shopping. I think this might be something that my mother has passed on, because I know she's the same. I think it's something to do with seeing my  cupboards full. I love standing with my hand on my hip looking pensively at shelf after shelf full of endless delicious cooking concoctions. It excites me to know that I have the option to make whatever floats my boat for dinner, that I can be adventurous and innovative. It's also oddly comforting to know that I'm not going to run out of food. It reminds me of when I used to read Little House on the Prairie and imagine a cellar full of dried meat and canned goods stockpiled for winter. 

I love warm crumpets with honey and butter.

I love being completely consumed in a good book. It's exciting to escape into the plot and become completely oblivious to all of my surroundings. I get totally submerged in the vibrant film playing inside my head. Sometimes I'm so involved in the story that I actually feel like I'm living it, like whats going on in my head is actually reality. That is, until Carl drops something, my phone rings or I desperately need to pee ...at which I am instantly brought back to the couch in my livingroom. I also decide whether or not I enjoy a film adaptation of a book based on how similar it was to my own movie I created while reading. Does anybody else do that?
I love that next week The Hunger Games comes out in theatres! YES! The wait is over! I'm hoping that I'm not disappointed.

I LOVE watching Extreme Couponing. That will totally be me someday. I want a stockpile in my basement!

I love when good things happen to good people. Last Friday I sat with my cuppa tea watching my favorite English morning show when they had a segment about an absolutely adorable old couple from Southport, England (this is the same place Carl and I got married) who won 3.5 million pounds on the lottery. I smiled from ear to ear as I watched their interview, they were so stinkin' cute, deserving and down to earth. (You can click here to watch it for yourself) And because they're both in their late 70s they've decided to use their winnings to buy houses and pay off the mortgages of their children and grandchildren. How unbelievably sweet and giving! I'd love to be able to win the lottery and buy my family members houses! Can you imagine?
I love how every day Carl and I fight over who loves the other more. This morning I looked at the number of texts sent between us since I last cleared (4 days ago), and it's already over the 130 mark. 90% of them have the words 'I love you more' in them, while the other 10% contain something along the lines of: 'stop leaving the freakin damp towels on the bed!', 'you're being an ass,' or 'get some milk on your way home, babe.' I love my hubby (more!), I love how he loves me and I look so forward to our future and growing old together.... This is so random but writing about Carl reminded me and I have to share. I have this app on my phone called AgingBooth (it's from the same makers as FatBooth) and last weekend I 'aged' Carl and I. The results made me very nearly pee my pants. Haha! Although they're downright frightening (in real life I sincerely hope I take better care of myself in the future!) I have to show all of you. Carl's is my favorite because he looks SO much like the old grumpy man (ironically also named Carl) from Disney's UP! It's hysterical because since we watched it together I've always told him that's what he'll be like when he's old, and he's always called me his Ellie (in the film that's the name of grumpy old Carl's late wife). What are the odds, eh?

I love the smell of fresh laundry after it's spent an entire day out on the clothes line in the sweet summer air. I've missed that ever since I've lived in the city. It's one of the silly little things I look forward to when I move home.
I love cats and I miss my Bobbi Jo Punkin Little something awful! 

I love the beginning of every August. I love the carnival music, the smell of fried onions with Italian Sausages and the taste of  piping hot bread dough smothered in Vermont Maple Syrup. I love the newspaper clipping my Mother has with the picture of my Sister and I on the little drummer boy ride when we were 4 and 5. I love the sound and smell of the mud covered demolition derby, and screaming at the top of my lungs for friends and family members who are competing (there's always someone I know). I love walking by the Bingo tent and knowing 9 times out of 10 that's where I can find my grandmother. I love the Addison County Fair and Field Days and all of the childhood memories that that fairground conjures up. 

I love when Carl talks in his sleep about 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzles and going shopping. Baha!

The older I get, the more I love sage green. Everything in our livingroom is currently that color and I just can't get enough of it. 

I absolutely love children. I love their optimism, happiness and willingness to explore. And more than anything, I love watching them grow and become their own person. And knowing that I have a part in that makes me smile and is good for my soul. It makes me feel as though I have a purpose and I am making a difference. I can't wait to grow myself, and every year through the help of every student, become a better teacher and a better person myself.  

I love getting new make-up. I also love the smell of blush (so weird, I know).

I love the smell of fresh cut grass and bark mulch. It reminds me of summer and my Dad.

I love my sister's laugh while she watches America's Funniest Home Video's. It reminds me of my Grandpa Cousino's. So cute.

And finally, I love the sudden moment when I realized it's okay to love and appreciate myself. Various stumbles along the way within my life have knocked my confidence and caused me to view myself in quite a dark and unhealthy light. If I'm being honest, I didn't love myself for a very long time. In fact, I hated myself. But it's so liberating and healthy to know that I'm finally starting to get to a point where I don't hate who I am. I'm recognizing that I'm not a bad person, I do deserve good things and I don't need to try and be someone in order to please others. I spend my time now focussing on my good qualities, the good that I bring to this world, and how I can share that with others. Although I know this whole 'loving myself' thing is a long journey that I'm only at the beginning of, it feels good to know that I'm finally on that path. And I feel optimistic. 

These are a few of my favorite things...but what are yours? :)

Thanks for reading, guys!
Take  good care,


3/09/2012

My love affair with Ben & Jerry

As a born and bred Vermonter I'm obviously going to love Ben & Jerry's ice cream. I mean, come on, how could I not? It's one of the few thing that originated and is still actually made in my tiny state, not to mention it has men, women and children internationally drooling. Ben & Jerry's ice cream has been my favorite, always. Although my Dad will disagree, Friendly's and Breyers aint got nothing on the delicious, ever growing, variety of creamy concoctions that Mr. Cohen and Mr. Greenfield so brilliantly founded. I simply love it. And I'm lucky in that the hubby does too. In fact, the Ben & Jerry's Factory was one of the first places my family and I took Carl on his first visit to the US way back when, and since then he's been just as obsessed as the rest of us. He brags to all of his English friends and family about having been there. And as I type this he's sitting on the couch with his tongue stuck out digging in the bottom of his Phish Food pint like he's just found gold...except I know it's not gold he's found, it's little chocolate fish. Haha. Yes ladies, it's true. I know how to pick 'em! ;)
This is a page out of our scrapbook I've kept . It shows pictures from Carl's first visit. If you look at the bottom right you'll see our super-attractive Ben & Jerry's headshot from when we went to the factory. It's possibly the most unflattering photo of me EVER...hence why I haven't scanned it. Baha! Trust me, you don't wanna see the close up. It might blind you.
Up until now, my favorite B&J flavors have always been Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Half Baked and Boston Cream Pie. Of course there about 20 others that I could easily include in that list as I tend to like the majority of the flavors I try...but having lived in England for the past 4 years has limited my ability to try more/experiment with flavors. The UK variety is very limited and a pint of ice cream costs almost as much as an freakin' engagement ring. Not to mention, B&J is NOT diet friendly...so we rarely have it in the freezer, and if we do it tend's to be in 'FroYo' form nowadays. But tonight as I stood debating which package of spinach I wanted to get (I was basically trying to justify paying another 80p for 'organic' spinach...) when Carl came running up to me with a big geeky smile on his face. He excitedly ushered me over to the frozen section saying "you're gonna hate me for this." When I looked to where he was pointing, I immediately locked eyes with a glowing pint of ice cream and a choir of angels began to sing. There it was. The Vermonster. Just sitting there, beckoning me to take it from the shelf. It was a Horton Hears a Who moment as the little tub of ice cream quietly whispered "Eat me, Amanda! Eat me!" in my ear. So there I was with a dilemma. Do I buy this calorific, hip-hugging yet heavenly pint of ice cream that I've been desperately wanting to try for almost a year (it hadn't yet been on sale in England), or do I put it on the shelf and walk back to my organic spinach with tear-filled eyes?
I would be a bad person if I had denied The Vermonster of it's last wishes. So, I did what any sensible, caring person would have. I brought it home, and I ate it.


And it is now my all time FAVORITE Ben & Jerry's flavor. It's like eating mouthfuls of the most delicious Maple Pecan Pie I've ever had, completely drowned in creamy rich vanilla ice cream. Holy cow. If you haven't tried this, you seriously need to. YUM!

My next Ben & Jerry's endeavor is the Red Velvet flavor. O.M.G! Lord help me if that comes out in England within the next 5 months. I know for a fact my diet would face serious consequences. Haha

Thanks for reading, guys!
Take good care,

3/08/2012

White Ink

For a very long time I've toyed with the idea of getting a tattoo. And for a very long time I've been uncomfortable with getting one that was black and in-your-face. It felt invasive and the thought of something  so prominent on my skin FOREVER scared me. I know there will be people that say "the whole idea of a tattoo is to be prominent, to be noticeable, to stand out" but that's something that just didn't appeal to me. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to offend anyone with a black tattoo, I think they're lovely on other people, but they're just not right for me. They wouldn't fit. So, I continued to tinker with the idea, but never found a reason to actually act upon it. I'm one of those people who takes the whole 'permanent' thing unbelievably serious and I was adamant that I didn't act on impulse and end up with something big and black which I'd regret later in life.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago... when I accidentally stumbled upon a gorgeous picture of a white tattoo online. It was at that very moment when a lighbulb went off and I was well and truly in love. I'd never seen anyone with a white tattoo before and prior to discovering the picture I'd never even contemplated there was such a thing. I mean obviously a lot of people get black tattoos, or vibrantly colorful ones, but I'd never seen anyone with a purely white one. The more I observed the photo, the more I researched them, the more I pondered the idea and the more I fell in love. I loved how they weren't as invasive, instead more subtle and elegant. I loved how they were unique. I loved how I would always know it was there, and there would be some people who wouldn't even notice it. I loved how getting one wouldn't impact my ability to get a teaching job. I loved how the color white matched perfectly with the tattoo design I wanted. In fact, having my tattoo in white would really heighten it's meaning, really make it more profound. After all, I wasn't interested in getting a tattoo of just any feather... I wanted a tattoo of a white feather. It was perfect.

In Native American cultures it is believed that white feathers represent bravery as well as purity and wholesomeness of the heart. Native American Chiefs commonly adorned feathers in order to symbolize their connection and communication with Spirits. Other cultures believe white feathers represent peace, immortality, divinity, progress and prayer. While Spiritually, it is believed that to find a white feather is a gift from your guardian angel or loved ones who have passed. White feathers are thought to represent a pure and loving message from above to say that angels are present in your life, guiding and protecting you. They are blessings.

It was important to me that my tattoo have great significance to me, and to my life. I wanted something poignant, special and representative of those I love. To me, getting a tattoo of a white feather wouldn't only signify wholesomeness of the heart, bravery, peace and progress, it would also become a beautiful representation of all my loved ones in heaven. Of my Grandma Cousino who passed of Breast Cancer when I was little. Grandpa Tom who also  bravely fought Cancer and lost. A very close family friend, a woman I loved and adored, Mrs. Pawul or 'Mom'. A family friend and long time neighbour, John, who tragically was taken too soon last year. Carl's Granddad Bill and Uncle Roy. And friends from High School who were taken way before their time. It gives me goosebumps, tears, and smiles to know that in getting a white feather tattoo, I'd have the opportunity to signify all of those special people in my life, my 'guardian angels' and carry them around with me on a daily basis. To remind myself that they're not gone and they're not forgotten. That they're still here, guiding and protecting me. And later in life when I am no longer fortunate enough to hug and kiss those precious people around me now, as they'll too smile down on me from above, I'll be reminded of them whenever I look at my wrist. Reminded of my guardian angels. 

With my mind made up, I sent a picture of what I was looking for to a wonderful Tattoo artist that my good friend Lauren recommended. He suggested that I come into the shop (Stigma Tattoo Studio) for a consultation in order to see if my skin tone would suit the white ink (apparently, it's very temperamental, in that on some skin tones it won't even show up). Thankfully, my beautiful friend Charlotte joined me in my tattooing journey. When we arrived for the consultation, Jamie immediately gave me good news in saying I had the type of skin tone that would take the white ink, although I'd need to come in for a touch up after it had heeled in order to make the white color really pop. He sketched a very simple yet beautiful feather based on the photograph I'd emailed him, and was really accommodating. My appointment was booked for later that day so Charlotte and I quickly popped out for something to eat before. When we returned I learned that Stefan (a tattoo artist with 7 years experience) would be doing my tattoo. While Charlotte and I sat on the leather couch as Stefan and his assistant set up, butterflies attacked my tummy, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared. To be truthful, the thought of being repeatedly stabbed with a needle didn't really appeal to me. Ha! But I've been through worse, I have a pretty good pain tolerance, and I knew the end result would be worth it. So I sat down, put my big girl britches on, bit my lip as hard as humanly possible and tried to find solace in the loud buzzing of the tattoo gun...even when it felt like a cat was attacking my wrist...Ha! Charlotte was an absolute gem, kept me calm and documented the experience for me. So if you're not interested in seeing photos, quickly scroll to the bottom...now! 




Although it's still very red, covered in Bepanthen, in the process of healing, and will need to be touched up again in 3 weeks, I am absolutely tickled pink with the results. When I go back Stefan is going to go over it again so that it's more 'vibrant' and will add a couple more 'whisps' to the feather so that it's fuller, but I'm absolutely in love. I'm so excited for it to be finished and completely healed so that I can enjoy it even more.  I love how its rustic, I love how, like a real feather, it isn't 100% symmetrical, I love that its white. I love that it's subtle, elegant and classy. I love how it's unique. Stefan did a beautiful job, and I am so happy I've had it done. 

My guardian angels are with me always.

3/07/2012

Country music will always have a special place in my heart.

This morning before I headed off to my Drama Workshop at University, I nonchalantly switched on a morning show on BBC called Breakfast. Just as I sat the remote down the presenters began interviewing two American artists who together make up the group The Civil Wars. As they were American, I stopped what I was doing to see if I recognized their music. It was at that moment the following video began playing:

I was hooked. I LOVED the song, and immediately scowered YouTube for the full video. I'm in the process of downloading their album. Just before they finished up their interview they quickly did an acoustic rendition of Michael Jackson's Billie Jean. It sounded absolutely amazing, so for your (and mine, obviously, ha!) viewing/listening pleasure I've found that on YouTube as well. 
I could happily listen to these two day in and day out. I love the "bluesiness" of their sound. Absolutely beautiful.

But hearing this sort of music on an English morning show really surprised me. Over the past 4 years of living in England, I haven't really got the chance to listen to Country music that often. It's not very popular, especially when you're living in the city where The Beatles were born. And to be perfectly honest, the older I get, the less I like of country music. I think I've kind of outgrown it, in that nowadays I have to be in a certain mood to really enjoy it. With that said, I know that until the day I die, Country music will always have a special place in my heart. Not just because it reminds me of my Vermont childhood, The Addison County Fair and Field Days, the 4th of July fireworks, or the 2 day long family road trips to Florida every year; but because it reminds me so much of my Daddy. As soon as I hear Country music, and by that I mean the old stuff, or the new stuff that sounds old, I immediately envision my Dad in the drivers seat of his old maroon work truck singing along to Garth Brooks, Clint Black or Loretta Lynn. One of my favorite memories with my Dad is still the time when I was little and he taught me how to waltz by whispering "quick quick, slow, slow" as  Conway Twitty Hello Darling played on the record player in our old family room. 
I'll never forget that. It's one of my favorite memories. And when I get back home I look forward to hugging my Dad close and sharing a dance while a slow country song plays. I still hope he whispers "quick quick, slow, slow" like when I was little.

Get better soon, Dad! 
I love and miss you xoxo



3/06/2012

Saying "NO!" and Staying Focussed.

Right now I want a maple milkshake more than anything else in the world. 


I also wouldn't pass up the opportunity to dive into a gloriously vibrant swimming pool of sour Gummy Bears, or M&Ms or Reese's Pieces.


I'd love to bake a ginormous fluffy Angel Food Cake just like Mrs. P used to make me for my birthday. I'd love to cut a greedy slice, place it in a bowl and dump mounds and mounds and mounds of sweetened strawberries on top. Then finish off the masterpiece with a leaning tower of puffy whipped cream. I'd love to lick the bowl clean.


I'd kill for a tall class of ice cold milk that has had a big squirt of sweet gleaming brown Hershey's syrup vigorously mixed in. First I'd take a massive gulp to satisfy my craving, and then I'd slowly finish the remaining chocolate milk one spoonful at a time.


I'm drooling as I imagine how delicious a massive bowl of Fettuccine Alfredo would be. I want it with a couple (hundred) homemade Olive Garden breadsticks.


Mmmmm or a nice big slice of Hawaiian Pizza with extra pineapple and a big side of Ranch Dressing to dip it in. Who am I kidding, I don't just want just 1 slice, I want 3.  And hell, while you're at it, give me a bucket of Ranch because that little bowl ain't gonna cut it.


I want a plate of piping hot homemade chocolate chip cookies. I want them so bad that if someone handed me one right now I'd burn my mouth on the hot chocolate chips inside...And ya know what? I wouldn't even care that the roof of my mouth would be peeling off for days. It would totally be worth it. 


Oh God, I'm drooling. Like baby in their sleep. Like a dog staring at a bone. 


I. Want. Junk-Food. 
I. Want. Sugar.
I. Want. Calorific yummi-ness that tastes like heaven...


But, even more than all of that, I want to say NO! And I am. I'm saying NO Amanda! I'm yelling it in my head over and over and over again. Because I've come too far to give in and give up all of my hard work. I don't need a maple milkshake, or sour gummy bears, or M&Ms, or Reese's Pieces. I don't need a ginormous slice of Angel Food Cake with sweetened strawberries and whipped cream. I don't need an unnecessarily large glass of ice cold chocolate milk, or a big bowl of Fettuccine Alfredo and breadsticks. I don't need 1 slice of Hawaiian Pizza, let alone 3, and I certainly don't need a bucket of Ranch Dressing. I'll survive without the homemade chocolate chip cookies, and my mouth...and butt...will thank me for it later. I'll thank myself later. And I'll be glad that I said NO! when I wanted nothing more than to give in and say yes. 


Last week I lost another 2lbs and I am the thinnest I have been in a very long time. I'm SO CLOSE to my goal that I can smell it, and trust me it doesn't smell like cookies, or chocolate or alfredo. Only 8lbs to go. 


I can do it.
I will do it.


And when I fit in my skinny jeans it will be because I'm said NO and I stayed focussed.


Thanks for reading, guys!
Take good care,


3/05/2012

Waving Goodbye With Tear Filled Eyes.

Last week was, well, just that...my last week in my Nursery Placement. I can barely believe how fast time has flown. It feels like only yesterday was my first day and I was struggling to learn all of the kids names. But I guess the fact that it's gone so quickly is a true testament to the saying "time flies when you're having fun." Because this whole placement has been just that. Fun, and lots of it. 

For my last week teaching our topic was "Sea Creatures" and I found myself completely consumed in the whole underwater scene. I created a beach scene/role play area for the kids to play in...
We hung shiny water fabric, seaweed and fish from the ceiling...
And put out Nemo pillows, beach chairs, sea shells, and sand buckets...
And a digital photo frame loaded with various fish and sea creatures (the kids especially enjoy watching the pictures change. Their favorite was the shark and jelly fish).

We read lots of underwater themed picture books throughout the week. Some of the favorites were Tickly Octopus by Ruth Galloway, Sharing a Shell by Julia Donaldson and of course The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister. 
And after we read The Rainbow Fish we made our own. I found a really simple Rainbow Fish Template  online and cut out a BAZILLION of them so that each child could make their own collage using tissue paper. They turned out so colorful and beautiful, and the kids enjoyed making them. Although, next time I think in addition to the tissue paper I'll make sure to get some sparkly silver paper as all of our Rainbow Fish are lacking beautiful sparkly scales...Oooh, the beauty of hindsight. At least all of you can learn from my mistakes. haha
As we're big into using songs to assist the children in learning to count, I went online and found this awesome Free Printable Monkey Mask  for when we sang '5 Little Monkeys.' In case you're wondering why I chose 5 Little Monkeys, it's because they often sing loads of English Nursery Rhymes. I don't know the words to 90% of them, so this was the only number song that I actually knew from my child hood. Haha! How sad! Nevertheless, I printed out 5 of the monkey masks, laminated them and attached each to a brown headband, which I stapled together once on the child's head. The kids LOVED each getting a monkey mask to wear as they acted out jumping on a bed.
In order to accompany the masks and make the whole hoopla a bit more engaging, I found this video on YouTube to play on the SMARTBoard while we sang it. The kids loved it so much that they insisted playing it during snack time as well. In total I think they watched the damn thing 10 times that day. At the time this absolutely astounded me, especially as when I had first found it on YouTube the first thing I said to Carl was "This guy can't sing for crap!" but apparently little kids aren't at all interested in the singers talent, or lack-thereof. Ha! Either way, now I know why it's had 50,000,000 views, and if you're ever looking for a counting video that kid's will happily engage with, this is it!  It really is the simple things, eh? 
In addition to the song, I wanted to include some numbers in their playing environment/beach scene but was determined they fit in with the Sea Creature theme, especially as 5 Little Monkeys hadn't.  So, I ventured onto my favorite/most trusted resource site Twinkl (seriously, if you haven't used this website for teaching resources, you've been missing out big time! It's AMAZING!) and printed off these adorable Clown Fish Numbers  to coincide with the Nemo pillows we had already set out. Not to mention as soon as any child see's anything Nemo-ish they flock right to it, so selecting these numbers was a no brainer. I only printed out and laminated the 0-20 because my children were young, but you can get them all the way to 100! 

We had so much underwater fun that the week flew by and before I knew it Friday morning had arrived. As it was my last day I brought in little packs of Haribo for each child (Just as I did on my last day with my Year 2 class. Click here to read that heartfelt post) and made my best chocolate cupcakes with caramel centers topped with caramel buttercream for all of the beautiful ladies I'd worked with for the past 2 months.
We enjoyed a morning of Dr. Seuss birthday celebrations, even singing him Happy Birthday and blowing out candles on a cake. I read them my childhood favorite Green Eggs and Ham and then they watched the video while they ate their snacks. It was lovely and relaxed, and all of the Nursery ladies were flexible and gave me the opportunity to simply enjoy my last day with the kiddies.

Around 11am Marie (I refer to her as the English version of my Mom because she reminds me of her so much) came up to me and said that before the morning children went home we'd have to get together with the other nursery and all participate in 'pass the parcel.' Now to be perfectly honest, I didn't have a damn clue what 'pass the parcel' was, but based on Marie's brief explanation I assumed that it was something like hot potato only with a present. The objective was to pass the present around until the music stopped, at which point whoever was holding it would unwrap the first layer of the gift (in total there were around 7 layers). She went on to explain how it was just a little activity which was meant to reiterate the importance of sharing with the kids, and that she had to run around the school to sort some other things out, could I lead the activity. After explaining to her that I didn't have the foggiest idea what pass the parcel was (it's an English game, ya see) I found it unbelievably odd and out of character that she'd insist I lead it. But I headed off into the other Nursery and helped the ladies to arrange all 60 kids into a massive circle, ready to begin the game. Just as we were about to begin passing the parcel, Marie appeared saying the following: "Mrs. Anderson I think we're going to make a smaller circle in the middle because this one is too big and it would take around 40 minutes to get the whole way round! Could you go in the middle with the parcel and we'll pick some other kids to sit with you." At that I grabbed the big pink and purple polka dot parcel and sat in the middle of the circle waiting for the selected children to join me. Once everyone was in place, the remaining children shimmied up close and the music began to play. I passed the present along to little Oliver to my right and bobbed back and forth to the music waiting to see which lucky child would get to unwrap the first layer. The present slowly went around until again it reached my hands and the music went quiet. Although I thought it was odd that they'd stop it on me, I went along with the game, looked at the children and said "Ooooh, shall we see what's inside the first layer!?" Slowly and very carefully I unwrapped the paper until a large pink box fell onto my lap, full of perfume, bath salts and lotion. I looked around in utter confusion, first to Alex, then Mandy and finally to Marie who stood by the SMARTBoard with teary eyes. "Perfume?! Obviously somebody things I stink!" I said as it slowly began to dawn on me how inappropriate this present was for children, and how I smelled a rat. No wonder they'd insisted I lead this activity, this pass the parcel was my goodbye. As the realization that they'd gone through all of this trouble to say goodbye to me in such a sweet way sunk in, my face got very red and I felt a lump in my throat. The music began up again, and I bobbed back and forth once again passing the parcel to little Oliver. Again it went all the way around the circle util it stopped on me, and I smiled as big as I could while trying to hide the tears. The next layer gave way to a school's teachers badge with my photo on it. In big bold letters it said "Best Student Teacher" and I couldn't hold the tears in any longer as I said "Awwww, that's so sweet" and put it around my neck. We continued this routine again and again until my lap was FULL of heartfelt and thoughtful gifts from all of the sweet ladies I'd worked with the past two months.




 As I sat in awe, poor little Oliver was finally fed up that he'd never been given the opportunity to unwrap a layer and loudly exclaimed "Mrs. Anderson! You're not sharing very well, are you!?" Haha! I did feel bad, the whole point of this 'pass the parcel' was meant to demonstrate how important sharing was, when I was hogging all of the goodies. But before I could stop laughing/crying and apologize to poor Oliver, Mrs. Appleton (who I'd laughed uncontrollably at 3 weeks previous when I found her being mauled on the playground by children offering big hugs. She was belly laughing, red faced and nearly crying, as she lay on the floor with only her feet exposed. I didn't offer to help her as I thought it was too adorable/hilarious that the children were hog piling on top of her. We'd laughed about that ever since) told all of the children how Mrs. Anderson would LOVE a big big cuddle on her last day. Within seconds I was completely covered by 60 children, giggling uncontrollably as they huddled on top of me for hugs. As I'd love to show you all of the pictures from my goodbye 'ceremony' (Ha!) Safeguarding policies prevent me from doing so (you can see the children's faces), however, Mrs. Jones captured the big goodbye cuddle soon after I'd been given room to breath again, and it's a picture I'll be framing as it makes me cry happy tears every time I see it. The best part about it is that as there are no faces of the children in it, I can share it will all of you too.
It was by far one of the best experiences of my life. I felt appreciated, I felt a part of the team, I felt as though I'd made a difference, I felt happy, I felt sad, I felt loved, I felt appreciative and I felt truly blessed to have met such an amazing group of women and children who have truly impacted my life forever. I'll never forget a single one of them, and I'll carry my time there with me throughout my life. 


So, I'd like to say a big massive thank-you to Mandy, Nicola, Sandra, Marie, Alex, Jayne, Lesley and all of the children at RL for everything. I'll miss you all more than you'll ever know.

xoxoxo