To the lady on the Boston Harbour boat tour…

Dear stranger-lady on the Boston Harbour boat tour, 

My son was an out and out horror today. 

He was so epically, UNBELIEVABLY, naughty, that after our brief encounter on the tour boat, we made our way back to our hotel – where, I admit, the day momentarily picked up with games of hide and seek, milkshake (cause no where delivers margaritas to my hotel room) and a dance party to Fat Man Scoop, but, when bed time rolled around, he was just as bad as ever.

I don’t know what his deal is, or where I’ve gone wrong…he was such a good two year old, but three? Three is…well, it’s…it’s…something.  Someone told me a couple weeks ago that I was essentially a bad mother to my son, those words have rung in my ears every day since they were written to me, and make me question myself constantly.  

Especially today.

At some point, I sat with my son in my lap, carefully pinning his arms to his legs to avoid him hurting himself, or, from being on the receiving end of one more punch, kick, or elbow from this tiny ninja and waiting out the storm.  I had, against all odds, kept my cool and was trying to reason with him, shush him, calm him – I think I even offered him cookies at one point, bribery? Whatever it took.  Trying to explain my desire to keep him safe, trying to encourage some deep breathing, and assuring him that once he exorcised the shrieking, thrashing demon from inside of him and listened, with his listening ears, that I’d let him sit, nicely, on his bottom (not standing jumping on a chair next to an open window) and leave him be.

You see, the three year old demon, clearly did not want to obey regular human being rules today, the rules that strongly suggest that when you’re on a moving boat you don’t run like Ussain freaking Bolt, in circles, up and down flights of stairs and generally put yourself in dangerous situations, or, essentially run any which place your parents are not – thinking this careless and reckless behaviour is funny, it is not.  

Prior to the boat tour he had also not taken heed of those other tricky little regular human rules, y’know, like, 

• Thou shalt not run on the train platform.  Never.  NEVER run on the effing train platform.

• Thou shalt not drop hands and bolt from your parents in a busy tourist area for any insane person to kidnap, or car to smash in to – or, for that matter, in any public place.

• Thou also shalt not clobber thy parents with moves that have clearly come directly from Conor McGregors back pocket.

And here’s where the double standard lies for parents. Let your kid run away from you on the train platform and get smushed by a train? Or jump out the window of a moving boat? Terrible parent.  Neglectful.  Absent minded.  Tut tut.  Head shake.  Clearly an utter hot mess who deserves to be burned alive at the stake.

Shout (or use that STOP FUCKING RUNNING YOU’RE IN IMMINENT DANGER” yell that parents have), put your kid in time out, or make any threats about tech-time, toys, candy or grounding them til they’re 35? and you’re too heavy handed, too strict, that poor child.  Terrible parent. 

Anywhoo, I digress.  After enduring more punches than I have in the ring, I tagged daddy-C in to the fight and sat longingly gazing in to Boston harbour wishing the waves could open and swallow me up and praying his, inexplicable and monumental meltdown would pass quickly, then you appeared.  

“Mama, I’ve been there,” you said to me quietly over my shoulder as I bit my lip and fought back my second wave of tears of the day, “could I maybe try to help?” you asked.  “Perhaps I could play a game with him and distract him somehow?” You suggested, your voice filled with empathy and understanding.

“Sure” I said, defeated, go for it” 

“Hey buddy,” she said confidently, “would you like to play a game with me to distract you?” She asked him.  

He instantly stopped melting down, looked at her curiously, and nodded.  His wet-with-sweat hair was matted to his forehead and his crocodile-tear stained cheeks were hotter than the Red Sox logo.  But he was listening.

“Let’s distract you,” she continued, “because I’m not mama or daddy and you may even listen to me.  Can you play patty cake?” She enquired,

He nodded to the affirmative (even though he cannot) and she requested he put his hands up.  He stared at her as she demonstrated her expectations.  “I’ll just leave my hands here until you’re ready to do it too”, she said to him calmly.  

He pauses for a second, glances at me, glances back to the lady, and double hi-fives the stranger.
She began singing and clapping with him, explaining the process as she went along – and for maybe 30 whole seconds he was my happy little boy again, before he plopped off the chair he was calmly sitting on and made a bee-line for the stairs to the upper levels on the boat.
I wanted to cry.  I wanted to curl up in a ball, admit defeat and have my parenting pass withdrawn.  I wanted to offer my small child up to this, clearly superior-to-me parent, and say ‘Hey, go for it’.  He’s yours to fuck up now.
“I don’t know what I’m doing wrong”, my voice quivered at her.
“You’re going to be fine”, she replied, “you’re doing great, mama.”
“It doesn’t feel like it” I sighed.
“You gotta love an independent, strong-willed child.  It will serve him well when he’s older, but it’s so hard to endure right now.  Stick with it” she encouraged.
Turns out, she has two girls herself, 6 and 8 year olds and was one of the most genuine, least “other mother”-y type parents I’ve ever met.  She’s been there, done that, and enjoying a little nice-time before gearing up for puberty and the bitchy-ville wars that she’s soon to be staring down.
Ok, the rest of our day was blown to shit, our hundred dollar day passes to the kids museum, swan paddle boats and trolley tour, among other things were completely wasted.
Ok, I had to physically hold him in his bed to stop him climbing, jumping, running and causing mayhem and throwing things at bed time.
Ok so I wanted the ground to swallow me up from embarrassment, anger, frustration, resignation…but for an instant, this absolute stranger, sat in my space, reached out a little branch of calm and made me feel even just a teeny tiny little bit better about myself in that awful moment.
So, thank you, lady on the Bostonian boat tour, in the chaos I didn’t even catch your name, for agreeing with me that 3 years old, is a whole nother level of hell, than 2 was.  For taking a moment out of your sight-seeing trip, in blissful solitude all by yourself, away from your own children, to try and help better my day, even just for an instant and to give me some relief from the hellish demon that has seemingly all but replaced my loving and kind little boy.  For making me feel better about my defeated-feeling self, when all I really wanted to do was drink, eat chocolate, cry and disappear.
As I stepped off the boat behind Col, who was getting his glasses smacked off his face for the 38559295th time, I received a text from a friend, “I get that he’s an asshole kid right now.  But you fought hard to have that little asshole and you’ll fight hard to figure out what his damn problem is and set him straight.  Even if it’s emotionally exhausting and there are days that you just want to quit.”
Today? Today I want to quit.
And so, I’m going to bed, teary and deflated, I don’t want today to last even another second.  And considering Col and I both all but passed out on the bed the second we got back in to the hotel room, I don’t think a good sleep in the bank is a terribly bad plan.  Hopefully tomorrow is a better day, because I can’t take another one like today so soon on its heels, especially since tomorrow? We fly again. Lawwwwd in heaven, help me.
Today was a bad, bad day.  I’m praying that tomorrow is better.
He wasn’t all bad – see? This cute, adorable, sweaty-faced, sun-kissed smile? Yeah.  He was grinning because he went running around the sidewalk next to a busy bus pick-up/drop-off area at the airport like the Tasmanian devil.  Causing high blood pressure, severe heart palpitations and shrieking.  All the while yelling ‘Ha Ha! You can’t get meeeeee!’ at Colin and I – and he’s right, we typically *can’t* get him, unless we cut him off from different sides and swoop him up when he can’t see us coming.  He’s a slippy one.
Why do kids gotta be such little a-holes sometimes?  All we have tried to do on this trip is bring him fun places and do fun things.  Screw it, our next vacation will be spent at Presidential libraries, WWII ships and state capitols and he can just live with it.
Ugh! He’s lucky he’s cute.

Fertility friends: The HSG

(Please note: I wrote this post on Thursday shortly after my procedure, so the timing may be out of whack a little.  I’ve been so busy and not able to finish writing this, until tonight.)

Last night, just as we were settling down to sleep, I turned to Col and said,

“So, it looks like I’m not an alien, I have perfectly normal girl-bits.”

To which the reply came,

“Well, either that, or you’re an alien with perfectly normal girl-bits.”

I love my husband dearly, without him, this week would have been a lot more challenging than it was!

Y’know, we thought February our month, being late, getting inexplicably sick, the signs were there, but, as it turned out, it was just food poisoning.  Not “morning” sickness.

I know I’ve not yet blogged about my birthday party last week, but I’m saving that for a rainy day pick-me-up.  For now, let me tell you about my recent experience with my first stage of fertility testing.

The HSG

My husband informed me yesterday over lunch, that I’m a goal-orientated person.  Just like that, ‘well, you’re a goal orientated person, you’ll do whatever it takes, this is just the next step to getting what you want’.  I can’t say I’ve ever given it much thought, but I guess he is kind of right, I kind of took it as a compliment.  I figure out what the end-game is and what steps I need to hop along to get there, I line them up, one at a time and face them head on.

I guess I can thank my father for that, he always told me not to focus so much on the big picture, but rather, on the individual jigsaw pieces that build it up – without losing sight of the final goal.

“Break everything down in to manageable chunks,” he told me, take one at a time, and before long, you’re where you want to be.

On reflection, I actually apply it to a lot in my life, my weight loss, ‘one lb at a time’, for example, and I suppose, when I break it down, this is no different in a lot of respects.  Means to an end, right?

This procedure has been on the cards for a while, the medical side of things was something I was prepared for.  The procedure itself is-all over the interwebz, people sharing their experiences, I’ve had a few friends who have undergone the procedure, so I felt medically prepared as I could be.

Col had called up the hospital a couple weeks ago and got an almost exact, to the dollar, amount that we’d have to pay up front – which, thankfully came well under our flex card limit, so that was one less stress to worry about.

Financial – check.

Medical – check.

It all sounds so methodical, right?

Hard as you try, it just can’t stay that way, the emotional challenges of such a procedure? As I told my friend today, I made a home high atop a psycho branch for the week.  Yes, I’m an emotional person, but I think even the most unemotional person you know, will have feelings about doing this procedure.

If your friend is having this done, please, be kind.  It’s really not easy, emotionally.

For you, it may only be a medical test, a way of checking the fallopian tubes and uterus to make sure the plumbing works.  The logical, medical, objective and impersonal way of looking at it, which, I swear, I’d love to have had, but when it’s you – it’s different.  There is no being objective.

But for your friend, for me, it’s the first in a string of tests that my future hinges on.

Does not having kids make me less of a woman? Does it mean my life is incomplete somehow? Unfulfilled? I’m happy right now.  I’m lucky in life and love and I’m happy – why does having a family have to be the sole thing defining me? Can’t I just be as awesome without children, if that is what lies ahead, or if that is what I happened to chose?  These all may sound like crazy questions to you now, but trust me, crazy becomes just another part of the process…

A few friends in groups on Facebook have told me I’ve been quiet this week, I guess since our ‘near miss’ on Saturday, through the appointment being made and right through til it was over.  I didn’t really tell many people, I didn’t publicize it on Facebook like I normally do and I really have not been OK, I haven’t been in the same zip code as OK.

Ask Col, he’ll tell you, maybe I’ll even ask him to write about things from his side of the coin some day…  I’ve been up and down like a yo-yo, I’ve been upset and a total bag of emotions – but, as I told my friend Jo at lunch yesterday, I haven’t cried as much as I thought I would.

When I talk about it to people, I sound rational and logical, but inside, I’m anything but.  Before bed each night this week, I’ve asked Col if he’ll still love me if I can’t have children – which, for many of you might sound totally ludicrous – and, I get that.  I do.  It sounds ridiculous when I say it out loud, I know my husband, I know him better than anyone, and I know he’d never leave me, especially over something that I have no control over.

But fear does strange things to a person, fear of being alone, fear of losing the one person who has faith in me when I don’t have faith in myself, fear of the unknown, fear of society being right – what if we do need children to make ourselves complete like everyone seems to shove down your throat at every given opportunity?

Fear.

Fear is what made me ask my husband if he’ll still love me if I’m barren.

Fear is what made me clingy, insecure and unsure all week.  Constantly seeking cuddles and reassurance from the one person who can give it to me.

Fear is what has made me shrink into myself this week ahead of the procedure.

What is something is wrong? What if nothing is wrong? What happens next?

What if I can’t have children?  Will everyone see me as a the failed wife, and woman that I already feel like?

For you, it’s ‘just a test’.

For me? It’s a godforsaken test that I shouldn’t be having in the first place.  I’m a woman, damnit! It’s my ‘duty’ to at least be able conceive children if, and when we want them.  The mere fact that that is in question is embarrassing, dehumanising, effeminating (which is possibly a word that I just made up,) and humiliating.  Perhaps it’s all in my head, no one else may think these things, not even Col – but it’s a way a lot of women feel during fertility treatment and it’s something that just cycles round in your head.  Constantly.  There’s no relief.

What actually happens during this procedure?

Well, what can I say? The staff and facilities at Methodist, Sugar Land were excellent, my treatment was second to none.  Here’s what happened.

1.  Register at the main desk, they take your ID, proof of insurance and doctors orders.  Depending on your insurance, they may also take a payment from you for your procedure.  You’ll get a wrist bracelet, just to remind you who you are, when you are born and what day it is.

2. Proceed down the corridor to the imaging desk, hand over paperwork and take a seat.  I dunno about your facilities, but mine had coffee, water and snacks – husband was happily seated with my hot-pink kindle and I’d barely sat down, before my name was called.

3.  Two very pleasant ladies walked me in to the changing area, they did not once behave like this was just another day in my life.  For them, I know it’s a regular thing, they see hundreds of women a week like me, however, for me, it was my first time – and they did everything they could to help me out, they explained the procedure, the tools used and gave me not one, but two gowns to help ‘save’ my modesty, allowing me to stay fully clothed from the waist, up.  I asked if I got to keep the $400 socks (the procedure cost me around $400) they laughed, said yes, they were a keep-sake of my time with them.

My $400 socks and my thank you card from Methodist, signed by all the people who interacted with me!

My $400 socks and my thank you card from Methodist, signed by all the people who interacted with me!

4.  They lead me to the procedure room (in my two gowns and ludicrously expensive socks!) passing a bathroom – in case I wanted to pee (I did!) and they then talked me through the tray of tools that would be used.

Tray of instruments - minus the vials of dye!

Tray of instruments – minus the vials of dye!

– Speculum.  Thing pap-smear, though this one was plastic and I was warned it’d make a lot of clicking noises.

– Catheter and balloon.  This is threaded up through your uterus, the balloon is inflated to act like a ‘plug’ so no dye leaks out.

– Dye and injecting needle. The needle is used to shoot the dye (which looks like water) into the catheter, the dye shows up on the x-ray that they take and shows any ‘holes’ or any kinks in the chain.

The person who did my procedure was a guy, which for me, was just the final nail in my coffin of humiliation – which, again, I know, was probably my mind being way too harsh on myself, but you can’t help how you feel, your mind plays horrible tricks on you…

I can’t say the procedure was painful, but it was definitely not pleasant and I felt quite a lot of pressure.  I was achy for a day or two after, totally and absolutely exhausted – but I feel like a lot of the exhaustion was a result of coming down from the anxiety,worry and apprehension of the procedure.

Things about the procedure to note:

Don’t go alone. This was a good tip from a friend.  She’d said she had driven herself home and, in hindsight, probably shouldn’t have and I was really, really glad to have Col come with me.  Mostly for emotional support, but also as my driver, I really didn’t fancy having to face the drive home after the procedure.

Medicate 1-2 hours before the procedure.  Please note, I am not a doctor, I didn’t go to medical school, but, I was told by medical professionals and friends alike to take some ibuprofen ahead of time – to help with the cramping and pain.  400-800mg should do the trick.  True to my form, I forgot to do this and had to have an emergency stop at CVS en route to the hospital, so even 45 minutes before the procedure helps!

Don’t plan anything for the rest of the day.  Use your excess energy and anxiety over the procedure, to do all your errands before-hand, clean, tidy, or whatever you need to do.  Cook a lasagne or something easy to reheat for the dinner, or even keep your weekly take-out/order-in for this night.  Make life as easy as you possibly can on yourself.

I could talk about this all day, but for now, it’s bed time.

The guy who performed the test, informed me that it looked to be a ‘perfectly normal’ test, with no leaks, kinks or anything abnormal or out of the ordinary.  He said that it all appeared normal…here’s how it appeared, not quite sure on the ‘normality’ of it! LOL!

The inner workings of Las...

The inner workings of Las…

I’m still not 100% (probably cause I’ve been busy as a bee!).  The HSG seems to have been a beneficial diagnostic procedure for me.  Though it certainly opened another box full of questions – what else, if anything, is ‘wrong?’ I kind of hoped they’d find something wrong, something small and easily fixable.  Something tangible.

But I have a clean bill of medical health (so far), though still have many unanswered questions, I have a seriously supportive and positive husband and, I guess, more hope…so far there’s nothing to say that we cannot conceive.  That’s all good news, and something to build on, right?

Like Col said to me on the morning of the procedure, as we were leaving the house…

‘Let’s go get some babies!’

Public accountability…

‘Set goals, not resolutions’.

Just something one of my friends posted on their Facebook pages the other day.  It resonated with me.

I’m sick of making hollow resolutions, I have the best of intentions but often life gets in the way and I end up feeling like a failure for my resolve faltering.

This year, however, I have decided to set a goal.  A real, tangible, goal.

My little sister is getting married in September of this year, I will stand by her side as her matron of honour.  My goal for this year, is to be a lot slimmer than I am now.

35 weeks.

8 Months.

My ideal goal then, will be 200lbs.

I’m currently at 248lbs.

I want to be 200lbs for her wedding – that’s 13lbs less than I even was for my own wedding.

IMG_73861-1.5lbs per week would hit that target.  It seems achievable, but we all know how that works out…

Not that I need an added incentive, but the lighter I am, the more likely it is that we’ll be able to conceive – that needs to be at the front of my head every time I go to take a bite!

It’s not going to be easy, in fact, it’s going to be hard as hell.

But that’s my goal…and today? Today my resolve is strong…

I’ll be back in this dress by September!

IMG_7322

How do we make it through?

“We cry a little every day, we laugh a little every day and we sing a little every day, that gets us through…”

One of our previous choir members said this at our season-end party, it resonated with me and brought a lump to my throat.  It’s true, lately I’ve had such a bumpy road with regards to my personal life, we have, as a family, had a lot of trials, deaths and sicknesses and I won’t lie, it’s been a hard few months for us all.  It still is hard.

That said, I have my family, I have my friends and I have music.  (I can guarantee this post will make me cry at some point!)

I’m sad.

We have now said our ‘final’ goodbye to our music director at the United Nations Association International choir.  As many of you know, I’ve been a member of this choir for about a year and a half now thanks to a fellow SSA friend who recruited me to sing just before she moved back Australia.

Dr Phil and I at his leaving party

Dr Phil and I at his leaving party

I could gush all night about this man, and for many of you, you won’t understand the change he’s made in my life.  I tell people that he brought something back in to my life, that I never realized was missing.  He had faith in me, when I’d lost all faith in myself and he encouraged me to challenge myself, to push myself and to strive to be better.

How can a choir and conductor, add such enrichment and joy to your life? I can’t explain it, it definitely has a lot to do with the people.  I tried to join a choir in Belfast before we moved to Houston and it was nothing like my choir here, the conductor didn’t take any particular interest in me, he auditioned me and that was it.

With Phillip it was different, he asked me about my interest in music, he asked why I stopped singing and he pushed me ever so slightly out of my comfort zone, (making me a soprano when I’ve only ever been an alto) – something I was heart-scared of at the time, but now when I hear myself sing notes I’d only ever listened to with jealous-ears before and I’m so very glad he did.

From our weekly pre-rehearsal dinners with a small selection of choir members, to the exhausting rehearsals every week, I’ve loved working with Phillip, his energy is infectious and he has total faith in his singers – he knows how to bring out the best in everybody, all of the time.

Phillip made a speech at our end of season ‘cast party’, to mark the end of our season, and he mentioned the friendships created within the choir, that we all have such a strong and real bond of friendship and he’s right.

P1190017There’s a magic among my choir friends, it really gives me a buzz to be surrounded by fellow musicians and create the music we create.  As a community, non-professional choir, we really are good and I am so proud of our accomplishments.

P1190008This past Saturday was another of the aforementioned accomplishments, our annual ‘holiday concert’ (see about last year’s concert, here).  This year, instead of having it in a church, we ‘upgraded’ to the Hobby Center, and instead of one performance, we had two.  Not only that, but we also collaborated with a local school, the KIPP Sharp singers.

KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program (Sponsored by Mattress Mac from Gallery Furniture), is a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public charter schools with a track record of preparing students in under-served communities for success in college and in life.

P1180970

The Kipp Sharp singers

It was a magical concert and really helped us all get in the Christmas spirit, the hall wasn’t as full as we’d have liked it to be (for both performances) but the excitement was infectious and the feedback has been great.  We sang well, we weren’t perfect, but that’s something we aspire to, rather than expect.

I’m not sure if it’s because we have had an influx of new blood over the summer, or if it’s cause I’ve settled in to a more comfortable groove with the gang, but I’m definitely in my element.  I just hope that with Phillip leaving, it won’t change the dynamic of the choir too much – they are definitely what we refer to as, ‘good people’.

The UNA International choir

The UNA International choir

Our new singing season starts next week, we have a performance of the national anthem on January 5th at the Toyota Center for the Houston Aeros, then a meet and greet with our new choral director and the following week, rehearsals start.  I’m excited to sing again and see all my singing friends!

Do You Have Kids?

I, too, have written a post about the struggles of getting pregnant, however, Frances is a lot more eloquent and level headed in her account. This week is national infertility week in the USA – please, please, don’t forget this week!!

T'is the season to overeat, drink and open presents!

We stayed up late on Christmas eve, and, since we were going to be out all day Christmas day, we decided to open all of our presents after midnight.  It was good fun and we got some great stuff!

Giants gamer!

Col opened first, our Giants game-worn jersey from Helena and James, he opened it, I shrieked.  It wasn’t pretty, I’m not proud of it, but I haz a new gamer!

And I got a t-shirt that I was lusting over when Helena came to visit! SCORE!

Col clearly happy that Seb is on the cover!

Angry birds game anyone?

I got me some Le Creuset!!

To entertain us while we unwrapped our presents, we watched both Sister Act 1 and Sister Act 2 (complete with loud singing and the occasional booty shake!) and hit the sack before 3am!

Our phone rang at 7.30am, t’was my sister, wishing us happy Christmas! We called the rest of my family, chatted for a while, got up, had a light breakfast and headed to Magz and Sams where we overindulged in croissants and bucks fizz.

Col and I on Christmas day!

I held little Eve while the rest of the Maddens/Wrights opened their stockings, and I helped Eve open hers!

Reading Eve one of her new books!

Check out Andy's wall of presents!

Around noon, we headed upstairs and sat around the tree.  Each person took a turn to open a present (with some of us opening Eve’s presents as we went!)

Uncle Col helped open Eve's presents, I think he almost like them more than his own!

Poppy was bored with the present opening!

Magz liked the bumble bee we got Eve!

Doggie toys were buried, go fetch!

Sam the rubbish Santa...meaning he carries rubbish, not that he's a crap santa! LOL!

After our present opening, we came downstairs for dinner, smoked salmon with brown bread kick-started the meal (it was deeeelicious!), chicken, ham, beef wellington, potatoes, stuffing, veggies – the lot!  It was delicious!

Magz has a tiny head!

After dinner, we had dessert – which was, out of this world!! We had lemon tart and/or chocolate pots.  I could have licked the dishes!

Poppy is a tired, happy pup!

Uncle Col getting cuddles!

Christmas at the Maddens household was wonderful, the food was great, the company was great, Eve was adorable and the presents rocked!

Col pretty much had to roll me home! I’ve no idea how he had the energy to go home and play on the Wii fit that my lion cub got us for Christmas, but he played for a while!

It’s safe to say, I had a wonderful Christmas.  Santa was very good to me, adding to both my KitchenAid collection and my Le Creuset collection which means I’m going to have a great year of cooking ahead of me!

Winding down from the crazy!

This last week has been pretty quiet, after dropping Helena off at the airport, my mood sank.  I guess my festive mood took off in the plane with her!

I cried.  I didn’t want her to leave, we had a great trip and if I’m honest, I’m a little jealous of what she went back to.  The Christmas I’ve had most of my life.  I miss my family.

That afternoon, Col worked from home so he could be close at hand to my emo-ness (yes, I may have created a word there) which was very sweet of him – and appreciated!

Saturday we had a reeeeeeally long lie in, it was total bliss! During the course of the day, Col asked me out for a date night – no, really, he was very sweet and said he wanted to take me out, I’d have been crazy to turn that down!

We decided to hit-up Sherlock Holmes (7.30pm) at the Studio Movie Grill, where we’d have dinner.  I’ve decided that we won’t be eating there any more, the food isn’t great, it normally comes out luke-warm (or worse) and it’s priced higher than it should be.  Their chips and salsa are good (but it’s pretty hard to go wrong with chips and salsa), but the rest of the food has left me disappointed.

Sherlock Holmes, however, was GREAT – I loved it! I loved the first one and was kind of anxious that the sequel, would be crap, as many sequels are.  Though I wasn’t disappointed, the special effects and acting were both great, the plot was gripping and at least twice I was close to tears and for the rest of the film, giggles weren’t too far away.

My only issue with Sherlock Holmes, or really any film that Robert Downey Jr stars in, is that it leaves me a little bitter about Ally McBeal.  Couldn’t you NOT have gotten busted for drugs and just stayed Larry on Ally McBeal?

Yes, I’ve been scared for life…I have no defense.

Go see the movie, it’s a great family film!

When the movie had finished, our date night wasn’t yet over, we headed to one of my favourite things to do here in Houston, attend the 10.30pm Comedy Sportz ampersand.  I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about it the few times we’ve been, but, if you like laughing and a good time, you should try this out!

We hadn’t seen ANY of the comedians or the referee in previous matches, but, it was just as hilarious, and, cause the audience was a little smaller, both Colin and I got to call out more suggestions than we normally would.  It was great fun and a perfect date night, just what the doctor ordered after the sadness and gloom of the previous day!

Sunday, we enjoyed another lie-in, seriously, it’s the simple things, with us having been so busy lately, it was nice to just (as my friend Sam puts it) ‘mong’ out in bed for an extra long time.

Later in the afternoon we went to the gym (but I’ll post more about that in another entry), en route home, we went to Panera bread to have a cuppa with Magz, Sam and their photographer (who they were sorting pictures with) before having dinner in Pei Wei next door.  From there, we decided that since we were out, we would head to Ross to have a poke about for a new suitcase (yes, in my workout gear, which traumatised even me!!)

Nothing much happened Monday and Tuesday, aside from occasional sobbing, plenty of moping around and homesickness, which was given the heave-ho on Wednesday night when we headed out to dinner with some of our latest friends, Jamie and Natalie.

We went to our favourite Indian restaurant in town, The London Sizzler, which, like I’ve said before, is the best Indian restaurant we’ve found here in Houston (aside from not liking the paying for poppadoms thing, it’s pretty tasty!)

Thursday morning I went to the gym with Natalie (again, more later), we had a nice girlie lunch in Changs Chinese (which, to be honest, wasn’t my favourite, but Fu’s was shut and we were hungry!)

That night we decided to hit the cinema to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, however, when we got to the cinema, the show had sold out, so instead, we went to see Mission Impossible 4, Ghost Protocol which was surprisingly good!

I really enjoyed it, I laughed more than I thought I would, it was very comedic, though there was a few emotional spots, it was mostly amusing and Tom Cruise has definitely made his comeback!!!

Friday, Col worked from home again in the morning.  During the afternoon, we watched James Bond.  Yup, I don’t know about the rest of you, but here, in Casa McMaster, Bond is one of our main holiday traditions – for both of us! (other traditions from ‘my’ side include opening one present on Christmas Eve, having Chinese on Christmas Eve and having 3 types of meat on Christmas day!)

We both love Bond movies, we watched The World is not Enough on Thursday before we went to the cinema, and today, we watched Golden Eye and Tomorrow Never Dies and I’m sure our Christmas Bond bonanza isn’t anywhere near over! LOL!

During Bond, I whipped up a Trotter Y-esque breakfast burrito (recipe to follow), Col tidied the kitchen and, he suggested, that since we didn’t get to see it the previous night, we go and see ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ in the cinema.

So, we did!

Col had never read the books and didn’t know the plot, or really anything about what was going to happen.  I was a little apprehensive, if they were true to the book, then I was completely sure he’d love it, if they strayed, or pulled a ‘Twilight’ on it and not done the book justice, but, I was hoping that with an almost three hour film, they’d done ok.

They had, it was great, Col thoroughly enjoyed it and, although it wasn’t quite as graphic as the book, it still made me cringe and bury my head in Col’s shoulder once or twice (it deals with rape and sexual abuse).

After the movie (around 10.15pm) we decided on impulse to head up to Comedy Sportz (yes, again!) and watch their unscripted, R-Rated version of Charlie Brown’s Christmas.  It lasted about an hour, it had both ‘oldie’ and ‘newbie’ comedians alike, by that, I mean people we’d seen before and people we hadn’t.  The audience was as full as I’ve seen it, and it was pretty fun as well!

Before I sign off to make two kinds of potatoes, yorkshire puddings and a bunch of other Christmas treats, I want to take the time to wish all of my readers a safe and Merry Christmas – please, please, please, don’t drink and drive!