31 December 2009

Back Again!

It has been a whole week since I posted. Not sure, but that may be a record. I would have to check the dates to be sure. Well, Christmas Eve was lovely. We all got dressed up and had a little party. I bought fun, frozen finger food and a cake. We sang "Happy Birthday" to Mark and played games like charades. We sang Christmas carols while Sam accompanied us on his keyboard. Then we watched G-Force which Uncle Kale and Aunt Dimi sent us.

Christmas morning was the usual. Lots of paper everywhere and the kids all excited. William was disappointed that he didn't get a game for his Nintendo DS. How could I explain that I couldn't bear to pay $50 or more for a game (when you factor in the exchange rate and absurd taxes) when I knew in a few weeks we could get it from Target for much less? After all, Santa doesn't buy the toys, Mom. He MAKES them! After a little while, he was happy with what he got. I assured him there were still presents to get from his grandparents. After Mass, there was more time to play and relax. I cooked a ham in Coca-Cola and it turned out great. We had a late lunch then a movie fest. The next morning, Anne told me, "I wish we could re-live that Christmas one more time." I had really tried to be sure this English Christmas would be a happy one for the kids. Anne's comment made my heart smile.

The next few days, I had gotten into such a lazy mode. I guess you could call it a funk. I was tired of always being chilly, having to walk to town for anything. I kept thinking I would be happy to NEVER leave the house again until it was time to go home. We were in this no man's land- able to count the days until we go home but if we really did nothing, it would be quite a long, miserable stretch of time. It didn't last very long because we would rally and watch a movie together or play cards. The kids would start their own game and I would relish hearing them giggle and enjoy each other's company. It was a welcome relief to the "stop bothering each other!" ranting that goes on occasionally.

Yesterday, Emme and I were invited by a mom and her daughter that we met at church to visit Osborne House, Queen Victoria's home on the island. It was a gray, dreary day (Did I mention I am sick of those?) but we headed out, bravely. Osborne House was beautiful and we learned quite a bit about Queen Victoria and her family. She and her husband, Albert, had nine children. Unlike other monarchs, they took an active part in raising their children. They seemed to have a nice family life and Queen Victoria, although mourning the loss of Albert for many years, was blessed with many grandchildren and great-grandchildren in her old age. They loved Christmas and are considered the reason behind many British customs to this day. Albert was German and although he isn't credited with introducing the Christmas tree to England (Queen Charlotte, wife of George III- I believe was the one), he and Queen Victoria popularized the custom. She is the longest reigning monarch but Queen Elizabeth only has a few years to surpass her. She died at Osborne House in January of 1901. Her story is truly amazing. There are two good movies you may enjoy- The Young Victoria with Emily Blunt and Mrs. Brown with Judi Dench. The latter was filmed at Osborne House so I am quite interested to see it.

After a cold, damp walk in the gardens, which Albert designed himself, we headed to the cafe. Hot chocolate has never tasted so good! I could drink hot drinks here all day. I have a beautiful Crabtree and Evelyn tea set at home which I am excited to use when we get back. I think an afternoon "cuppa"- very English term- is a tradition Mark and I will keep going. As a matter of fact, we have been talking a lot about what we will miss and what British things we will incorporate. I know many things will fade away once we are out of this context but one thing I know for sure, I will never make a grilled cheese sandwich again. It will always be called a cheese toastie. We just love that name. We will miss "lovely", "splendid" and "brilliant". We will miss having tennis courts in our backyard and the amazing view of the Solent from the front yard. We will miss the Cowes library. We will miss London. We will miss trying new biscuits, crisps and puddings. BUT...

We are excited to be going home to the Saints in the play-offs, Mardi Gras and king cakes. We are looking forward to playing in Audubon Park and going back to Holy Name. We can't wait to have Christmas dinner with both the Soulants and the Zeldens. What a treat! Not to mention, muffalettas, Hubig's Pie, Barq's root beer and snowballs. By the way, sunlight and warmer temperatures are very underrated. Looking forward to soaking up both.

Mark explored many possibilities here but nothing worked out. For now, it looks like God's plan is for us to be in the USA. We didn't sell our house, so we will be living there. Part of me is disappointed and sad, then I picture myself like a child who can never get enough. Instead of whining about how I wish I had more time, the only thing to do is be satisfied with what we have been given- an amazing adventure, regardless of the duration. Happy and grateful, that's me.

Two requests of you, my dear readers. First, please keep in your prayers Mark's client and friend whose son died in a car accident. They will bury him today and my heart aches for them. Second, please pray for safe travel for us next week. The recent terrorist attempt doesn't sit well when you are facing a transatlantic flight. Hope to post another time or two.

Happy New Year!

24 December 2009

Let the Celebrating Begin

We are starting Christmas Eve by celebrating Mark's birthday. It's the big 4-0! Thanks for allowing our family to live "outside the lines". We love you!

23 December 2009

Blessings Abound

We are feeling quite blessed these days thanks to the Christmas cards and treats that have been coming our way. Each one feels like a hug from across the pond. My mom sent us a big box of Christmas crafts. It has provided lots of decorations, cards and endless hours of fun. I even came up with a way to use the Christmas stickers to practice multiplication with Anne and William. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!

My aunt and uncle sent us beautiful, monogrammed ornaments. Our little tree could never hold them up so we have them hanging from the glass shelves in the living room. They make the room look festive and remind us just how much we are loved. This morning another treat arrived. My friend, Linda sent us a Christmas king cake from Manny Randazzo's bakery. Wow! It doesn't get much better than sitting in England, biting into a piece of New Orleans.

We have enjoyed lighting our little handmade Advent wreath this season. With just two days left, I'd like to share with you a prayer we read each night:

Dear God,
Be the flame to light my way through the dark times, when I sit and wait for Jesus to come near.

Dear God,
Be the flame to warm my soul through the cold times, as I sit and wait for Jesus to come near.

Dear God,
Be the flame to spark and sing through the silent times, as I sit and wait for Jesus to come near.

Dear God,
May Jesus be with me this day and every day: my light and my salvation.

by Lois Rock

Much Love and Thanks,

22 December 2009

Guilty Pleasures

I am sure all of you are way too busy this time of year to enjoy my posts. Since, however, I only have two weeks left in England, I am going to write anyway. Catch up when you can.

I have been feeling guilty lately. Most Facebook entries by my friends have been about cooking, shopping, decorating and traveling- all that make up this crazy pre-Christmas season. This holiday is completely different for us. It is quiet, simple and refreshing. What a blessing. Not that I don't love the craziness of the season. No matter how we all complain, we would be sad without it. It is just nice, occasionally, to do without all the trappings. Of course, doing without the stuff that is annoying also means doing without the things, I guess what I really mean is people, that make it special.

I have been hosting the family Christmas party for the past 10 years. My mom is one of eight so our house was always filled to the brim. We exchange gifts with all the kids- cousins, first cousins and so on. The evening is a frenzy of gifts, relatives and food. This year my cousin is hosting instead and we won't be there to share the fun. That will be hard, but doing without something or someone makes you appreciate it more. The nice thing is we will have a quiet night with our small family. We will light our advent wreath, decorate cookies and wait for Santa. It will be boring yet lovely.

We have been having a debate for several weeks about a serious subject- the Christmas tree. Do we really need one? What size? How much should we spend? How would we decorate it? Most important of all, how do we get it home with no car? Initially, I was adamant that we have some kind of tree. As time went by, the thought of the bus ride to get it and walk up the hill to get it home, wore me down. My resolve was waning. The other day, I went into town to do some Christmas shopping and finally got to check out a store that had me laughing since I saw it months ago. At home, I like to pop into Dollar Tree every so often. You never know what you will find there. Well, here they have a store called Pound Land to go with their currency. It is exactly the UK version of ours. Lots of junk with a few treasures to be found. I stopped in and was thrilled to find a two foot tree in my choice of green, white or pink. After a quick phone conference with Emme, I decided if you are paying one pound for your tree, you may as well go "fun and funky" so I bought the white one. I also bought a box of plastic star baubles (that's what they call ornament), a box of candy canes and lights that are balls with Santa faces. I was thrilled with my purchase- small, cheap, lightweight and unique. The kids were equally happy.

Saturday night was the Carol Service at our church. It was our one holiday activity and we were really looking forward to it. Sam played his keyboard and all the kids dressed as part of the Nativity. Emme played the angel Gabriel while Sam, Anne and William were shepherds. After the service, we enjoyed mulled wine and mince pies in the church hall. How very British! When we came home, we decorated the tree which took all of 5 minutes. We found a Union Jack tea towel to use as our tree skirt and called it our British tree. We decided it is worth packing to bring home. We will set it up ever year and remember our English Christmas.

Besides the simple holiday, yesterday there was another guilty pleasure. Emme and I spent the day Christmas shopping in London. It is a day the two of us will always remember. It was a treat to maneuver the city with just the two of us. We found our way around quite easily. We found lots of great gifts and really enjoyed ourselves. We stopped by Covent Gardens. This area was initially a flower and produce market. It is the setting for My Fair Lady when Professor Higgins first meets Eliza Doolittle. We splurged on eating at Harrod's pizzeria. We took our time and didn't get home until 10:30. The ferry, bus, train and Tube rides were all worth it!

As always, there is more to say but I'm glad you took this much time out to read and I am pooped. Still recovering from the 15 hour day yesterday. Lately, we have noticed a twist on the traditional "Cheers" so often used by the Brits so I will sign off with...

Cheers, then!

16 December 2009

Man Down

I have been thinking about how fortunate we have been in regards to our health. I resisted mentioning it on the blog because that would be tempting fate. Besides Elise falling and giving me a little scare, we have all been fine. Now Sam has a cough. I mean a constant cough. One where you are almost as tired of hearing it as he must be of doing it. This meant a trip to the pharmacy which is always amusing. I have gotten pretty good about knowing what medicine treats which type of cough. I know the difference between cough suppressant and expectorant. I know what works best for each child. In England, that is all out the window. Luckily, I have met a sweet lady in the pharmacy who takes the time to help me figure things out. I was looking for Tylenol a few weeks ago. The first person I asked looked at me like I was crazy. I didn't ask for Tylenol, mind you. I knew to ask for acetaminophen but she just stared at me blankly. The sweet lady took the time to figure out the English equivalent which is paracetamol. I was happy to see her working today and quickly scooped up the three choices of cough syrup and brought them to her. One she quickly ruled out because it didn't have any drug in it. Imagine that! It sounded like they were selling sugar water under the guise of cough syrup to soothe your throat. We weeded out another to arrive at what she thought was the best formula. This formula included ethanol which I mentioned to her, sounded more like something I would put in my car than in my son. She checked with the pharmacist who reassured me with a "silly American, please go away" smile. Okay, I thought to myself, this isn't Bangladesh. It's England for goodness sake. It will be fine.

The cough medicine seemed to work for all of an hour. On to the Benadryl to clear up any drip in his throat. Still coughing his head off. I actually suggested to him that he try to imagine relaxing his lungs and throat and try to stop coughing. I was getting desperate. I knew neither of us could make it through the night like this. Mark, on the other hand, would sleep like a baby regardless. Thankfully, the pharmacy didn't close for another 30 minutes. Back into town for another try. Same lady. Still helpful. This time she produces a cough medicine from behind the counter. Guess that's where they keep the stuff that actually works. I go home determined that this will work. Then I notice chloroform as an ingredient. All I can think of is some random movie scene where they douse a rag with this liquid and cover the victim's nose and mouth who then passes out. Okay, same argument. It is England. It will be fine. The medicine smelled like paint thinner and I am amazed Sam got it down. He has the worst gag reflex. Finally, success. Sleeping like a baby from the chloroform. Uh, I mean medicine.

Hoping for a good night's sleep for us all.


14 December 2009

Time for Ketchup

Just kidding. I mean CATCH UP! There is so much to tell, I have been putting it off but finally realized I need to jump right in.

Let's see... Where was I?

Oh, yes! Stratford-Upon-Avon with Uncle Josh. Friday morning we had the breakfast we were happily anticipating and our host Pascal was as funny and talkative as ever. I think he is the first Parisian I have found endearing. Of course, the fact that Parisians aren't endearing is exactly what makes them so, but that is another topic all together.

We braved the gray, cold day to wander around the town. We saw Shakespeare's birthplace, the house where he lived until his death and his grave. We wanted to see the house of John Harvard but walked right past it without realizing. It was fun to see what they could think up to peddle in the Shakespeare themed gift shops. My oh my, people are creative. The merchandise ranged from tasteful to delightfully tacky. Somehow we managed to overcome the temptation to buy Shakespeare as a stuffed toy, on a t-shirt, and in pewter as cuff links. I just couldn't resist the Shakespeare's Guide to Abuses and Affronts. Here are some that had Sam and I laughing the hardest:

"Out of my sight! Thou dost infect my eyes." - Richard III

"More of your conversation would infect my brain." - Coriolanus

"He has not so much brain as ear-wax." - Troilus and Cressida

"Thou cream-faced loon. Where got'st that goose look?" - Macbeth

If the temperature reached 40 degrees, we were lucky. Walking the town had us chilled to the bone so we stepped inside a pub which was recommended by Pascal. It is the pub where the actors from the Royal Shakespeare Theater go after performances. It felt absolutely DELICIOUS to enter that pub with it's roaring fire and cozy atmosphere. With hot chocolate for the kids and the same for us with a touch of Bailey's to get us extra toasty, I didn't think it could get any better. Then the bartender threw some fresh orange rind on the fire. Wow! All our senses were completely satisfied.

Sadly, we had to move on. We grabbed lunch to eat in the car so we could start our journey to London. The ride in was smooth and we found our way to our friend's flat without much trouble. It was interesting to arrive in London by car this time. I kept waiting for the city to overwhelm us, like New York does. Miles outside of NYC you feel the pace of life quicken. Your pulse responds and everything seems to move faster and loom larger. London is not like that at all. New York is over the top, bold and brash. London is elegant, understated and refined. I love both places.

That evening, we had pizza at our favorite neighborhood restaurant. Mark took Josh and Sam to a concert at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the Anglican church in Trafalgar Square. They walked the city a bit to take in the sights since this was Josh's first visit. The rest of the kids and I stayed home and enjoyed some cable tv, knitting and computer time. If you remember, we are in tight quarters at this flat and now there was another adult with us. Poor Mark slept on the floor with Elise with several comforters we had brought from home. In the morning, we were no worse for the wear and ready to take in more of the city.

We decided to visit the British Museum. It is one of the most comprehensive collections of art and artifacts in the world. One of the most famous pieces in the collection is the Rosetta Stone which led to the deciphering of the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt. We started here and moved through the Egyptian artifacts which included mummies of both humans and animals such as baboons, cats and crocodiles. In some cases, you could view the bones, hair and lungs of humans that had been mummified. William was both fascinated and frightened. There were massive sculptures from the tombs of pharaohs and pieces of walls with intricate hieroglyphics. We also saw Roman jewelery, vases and busts. The exhibit on the history of money was fascinating. Sam was especially interested because he has been intrigued with foreign currency since our arrival. We were tired but pressed on to a lovely neighborhood called Marylebone. Window shopping was fun at the boutiques and shops that line the streets, each beautifully displaying their goods. That night, for yet another time, we headed to Harrod's. They have a Wizard of Oz theme to their holiday displays. Since our last visit, they added giant ruby slippers on the witches feet. It looked as if the entire store had caused her demise instead of Dorothy's house like in the film. What a sight! One last night in our cozy flat then up early to drop Josh off at the airport.

Thanks, Josh for a great visit. We are blessed to have you in our family.


10 December 2009

On the Road Again

As usual, trips are stressful and tiring but fun. Last night we finalized all the details and were off this morning about 8:15. We took a different ferry this time we meant we had to go to EAST Cowes. We live in West Cowes. The towns lie on either side of the Medina River. The shortest and quickest way to travel from one town to the other is across the chain ferry bridge. It is one of only five left in the UK. It is hilarious that you wait in line and pay 1 pound 50 pence to cross a mere three hundred yards or so to the other side. The ferry crosses on a bridge of chain links under the water. Off to the larger car ferry to cross the Solent to the mainland of England. So far, so good.

This is our first time traveling the mainland. We headed north to Warwick. Uncle Josh read about the castle there and suggested we make a visit. On the way, we take a small detour to Stone Henge. You know, that big pile of rocks standing upright. Well, that's the way the kids described it. It is amazing and you certainly can't be within a few miles and not stop to see it. We couldn't manage to convince the kids that it was an awesome feat for the people to move the stones here and arrange them this way. After some quick photos, we continue the drive to Warwick.

We arrived at the castle in the afternoon. It was cold today but sunny for once. We arrived in plenty of time to explore all the castle has to offer. Sir Walter Scott described Warwick castle as "the fairest monument of ancient and chivalrous splendor which yet remains uninjured by time." Much of the external structure remains unchanged from the mid-14th century. We climbed all the towers you see in the photo for a magnificent view of the castle grounds, town and the River Avon. It was quite a steep, twisty walk but made all 536 steps. Another tower is called the Princess Tower. Here is where old England meets Disney-style fun. Our tour was guided by a princess who explained they were preparing for a royal wedding. We saw the wedding gown and helped pick the accessories. We played a bit of a princess trivia game which Mary Elizabeth passed with flying colors. There was a dress-up room with both princess and knight items, a royal throne for picture posing and even a frog to kiss. At the end, you could write your wishes in a guest book. I wish I had gotten a peek at Mary Elizabeth's wish.

A large portion of the castle buildings were converted into a luxurious mansion. We toured many of those rooms which had wax figures on display and explained a bit about life in the castle in the late 1800's. There were also some displays about medieval life in the castle and a scary dungeon tour which looked quite gruesome and not what our kids would enjoy. We ended at the Pageant Playground with just enough daylight to run off some energy.

Next, we headed to Stratford-Upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. We had made reservations at the Salamander Guest House which was recommended by the Frommer's guide. We made it there with only a few wrong turns and our humor still in tact. Our host at the guest house is Pascal, a Frenchman who moved to England to study the language more than 30 years ago. He said love kept him here and now he is serving a life sentence. He is a very eager host, willing to chat (and chat and chat and chat!) about the local sights and restaurants. We realized our place was in a great location as we headed out in the frigid cold for a walk to find dinner. We ended up in an English chain, pub-type place. Think Fox and Hound in America. It was warm, affordable, noisy enough for our crew and the service was prompt. What more could you ask for?

Now we are tired but happy from our successful day. We are looking forward to a full English breakfast served by our kind host tomorrow morning then we will hit the highlights of the town, including Shakespeare's birthplace and grave as well as the house of John Harvard, founder of Harvard University. After lunch, we will drive to London and are lucky to have one last stay at our free flat. We are excited to show Uncle Josh our new favorite city.

How would Shakespeare end a post?
Maybe, "I bid thee farewell."


07 December 2009

Bb is for...

Birthday and Brother!

Firt of all, happy birthday to our sweet Mary Elizabeth. Today you are eleven, although you have been a teenager since the day you were born. You are Fancy Nancy, Eloise and Olivia the pig all rolled into one. As Eloise would say, "You are tres, tres FABU!". And as Olivia's mom said, "You wear me out but I love you anyway.

Second, welcome Uncle Josh (Mark's brother)! We are so excited to have another visitor. It is always fun to share our life here with family. I'll keep you posted on what we manage to squeeze in this week.

Whew! Yesterday's game was crazy. GEAUX SAINTS!


05 December 2009

Ode to the Weekend

White flag, waving
Body, tiring
Mind, numbing
Kids, grumbling
Hours, counting
Heart, hoping

Mark will be home soon.

04 December 2009

Subtle Hint

Just in case anyone needs it:

The Zeldens
10 Baring Road
Cowes, Isle of Wight UK
PO31 8 DA

We got a Christmas card from our friends the Babineauxs this week and Emme said, "Now it feels like Christmas!". Hint, hint.

Yesterday was sunny! Hooray! We made a grocery run and got treats from the bakery. I splurged on a gingerbread candle. Simple things really, but sometimes it's all you need. I started knitting the little gingerbread man last night and laughed when I realized I was burning the very scent.

Looks like sun again today. Tonight we will meet at the church hall to do a project in preparation for the Christmas program. The kids are excited about participating. The church has been a big blessing for us and we have met so many lovely people.

Looking forward to another Saints game then Mark's arrival, with his brother, on Monday.

Happy Friday!
Happy Weekend!


02 December 2009

Small Victories

Although today was pretty frustrating at times, I have decided instead, to be happy for a few small victories. It began by us all waking up way too late. That always sets a bad tone for me. Before I knew it, it was after 10 and we were all still in our pj's. In the interest of reasonable shipping costs, I had to get our Christmas cards ordered this morning. Little decisions, like color and font on a card, stop me dead in my tracks. It was reaching "hair color dilemma" proportions and I forced myself to commit to a design and photos. Small victory number one.

We got dressed and brushed our teeth. Small victory number two. I know this one is pitiful but on a day like today, it counts.

For much of the day, I TALKED about all we should accomplish. And talked. And talked. It was always one small thing or another and before I knew it, the day was slipping through my fingers. I was feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and worst of all sorry for myself. Self-pity is never good. A few Hail Marys asking for grace go a long way. A video call from your mom helps too.

I made an attempt at getting some lessons done. I have to admit, I hate homeschooling. It stresses me out. I have a hard time managing everyone. It is hard enough to motivate myself, much less them and hard to teach without many resources. The kids get easily frustrating and protest at the smallest amount of effort required. I guess I will consider it a small victory, although it never leaves me feeling victorious.

Finally, we moved on to some fun activities. Before long, we had created a handmade Advent wreath. I was thrilled by our creation because we all put our heads together to make this centerpiece. I couldn't bring myself to purchase one, since we have one at home. I was determined to figure out a way to make one without many resources. I got four tea lights from around the house and placed them on the Lazy Susan on the middle of our table. Anne had the idea to add paper leaves so we traced our hands and cut them out for the greenery. Emme had the idea to put colored paper around the holders to indicate the candle color of purple or pink. I love this advent wreath made with creativity and love. We also managed to make a paper chain Christmas countdown. Definitely a victory.

We couldn't get out today because of the weather. As soon as I considered motivating myself to pull off the task of preparing all of us to go out in the cold- socks, shoes, hats, jackets, etc.-it would start raining again. Before I knew it, the chance to go while it was still daylight was gone because by about 4 o'clock we wouldn't have gotten to the library and grocery and back before dark. At this point, it just wasn't worth it. Sadly, breakfast tomorrow will be slim pickings. I decided to suck up the late fee for the two dvd's that were due. At least the kids were looking forward to watching Night at the Museum 2 again.

After dinner, we lit the Advent wreath. Of course, I would have preferred the kids to sit there like angels and discuss how they were going to prepare their hearts for Jesus. After a moment of disappointment, I realized it was not possible, especially not after a day inside with nothing to do and a mom who was just hanging on. After a small lecture, a promise was made by all, including myself, that we would rally and get through the rest of the week without yelling on my part and more help on theirs.

This pushed the reset button and the next hour was spent with them playing a game together, even if it was on the computer. This allowed me time to read Emma in front of the fire and finally find out who she loved. Best, small victory.

I was able to complete this entry before 10 pm. Last small victory. Good Night. Hoping for some sun tomorrow.


01 December 2009


a minute to breath and to think without kids! Last night Sam and I woke up in the middle of the night to watch the Saints slaughter the Patriots on Monday Night Football. I had gotten up extra early yesterday to see Mark and his mom off so I made it through the day and got to bed early to get in a few hours of sleep. We watched the game from 1:30 until about 5 am then I snoozed for a few more. I woke up to Elise saying. "Mama, get up now. Please. please, please!".

I wore my Saints shirt today and couldn't keep the smile off my face. I am so glad I can watch the games on Skype. It is fun to hear my mom cheer and my dad whistle. They played some Saints songs and I pulled out a tissue to dance a little second line. When I saw the tissue on the floor this morning, I commented to Sam that it was from last night and Emme immediately said- Oh, were you doing a second line? Funny how these bits of culture are passed to the next generation. I was happy to know she is a real NOLA girl. For any out of town friends who are reading this and don't know what I am talking about, meet me in N'Awlins when I get home and I'll show you! You know who I am talking to and you know I'd love for you to visit.

It was so hard to tear myself away from the computer this morning which is my lifeline to sports, news from home, friends, etc. I managed, somehow and we made the chilly trek to the library as we did yesterday. Honestly, I don't know what we would do without that place. It is small but well-stocked for our needs and provides the perfect outing. It is about a fifteen minute walk. We all find our favorite spots. Elise goes to the coloring sheets to create a masterpiece. William hunts downs books on dinosaurs and animals. Sam gets on the computer. Anne and Emme browse the chapter books and I drool over the craft books and think about how I wish there were more hours in the day. Back home, we have a library less than 10 minutes from our house but have only walked there once. The kids would probably whine and complain but here there is no alternative. I know my kids and I are better for having had to walk everywhere these few months. I hope I can bring that wherever I go and not fall right back to what is quick and easy. That is difficult in America where everything seems to be quick and easy. Don't get me wrong. I like quick and easy, just not all the time. Quick and easy gets you to the end. There is something to be said for the MEANS.

I was thinking about so many different things this morning that I actually jotted down some notes. There are many thoughts I'd like to share on this blog. Sometimes there isn't time. Sometimes I am just being lazy. One thing that struck me today was the difference between writing a blog and writing a book. I love hearing your comments and knowing that there is someone out there reading, besides my mom. :-) It makes the process satisfying. Now imagine being Jane Austen. She wrote a novel with no feedback except from maybe a few people. What a long process. I guess getting the story from your head to the paper and being happy with it was reward enough. That had me thinking about when her novels were published and did she get any immediate acclaim. Maybe I should research that in my spare time and get back to you. Think about John Kennedy O'Toole who wrote A Confederacy of Dunces. He killed himself before anyone read it. What a shame he didn't get to revel in a book well received. Funny, also, to think that here I am in the 21st century touched by a novel written so long ago. Imagine if I could e-mail Jane Austen and let her know how much I am enjoying her book. Better yet, meet her at a book signing. On a side note, I am STILL not finished Emma and am dying to know who she ends up with. Don't give it away. I got another book from the library today to motivate me to finish the last 50 or so pages.

Thanks for the instant gratification of your feedback! Elise is now on my lap explaining why she should sleep with me because of the scary mouse book she "read". So much for time to breathe. Oh well! It is quite cozy to snuggle with a toasty two-year-old on a chilly night.