Friday, April 27, 2012

50 Shades....

OK - so did I get your attention....?
Seems this book is getting everyone's attention....
Of course I am talking about '50 Shades of Grey' by EL James....
Have you read it yet....?
Public opinion would suggest you would be missing out if you didn't read it?
A friend told me that my husband would absolutely 'love' me after I read this book.My reply was that my husband absolutely loves me already!
I was also told that 'women at our age have to get our thrills from somewhere' - and once again I made reference to the fact that my husband absolutely loves me already! The thoughts that spring to my mind when being told by someone younger than me, that us women have to get our thrills from somewhere - are that I am nearly 45 - not farking dead! (thank you 'Motherventing' for that wonderful word).

I am alone in my need for actual sexual gratification from the man I am married to - am I alone in getting it? Jeez what is the world coming to? When there is such an uproar over something that is written so badly and with such lack of imagination, that its erotica levels can be surpassed by an episode of Lady Heather on CSI, there is something wrong in this world.

Are men finding this book as much of a turn on as women? Is the world now full of people who would prefer to  get a thrill from something so amusingly awful, than actually put some effort into their relationships and cease to be dead from the neck down! My 21 year old daughter is not even stunned, shocked, amazed or turned on by the reading of this book (she read it before me incidentally). I myself read the first few chapters and had to force myself to continue because the writing style is so bad - and please how can anyone be called a writer of erotic fiction when they are incapable of using the words 'vagina, pussy, cunt' or any other expletive used to describe the female anatomy, preferring to refer to it as 'there'...Is the author worried that if she gives 'it' a name it will somehow jump out of the pages and bite her...? I think not...Poor Ana, subjected to so much in the early stages of her sexual life, but not able to name her vagina - Jeez life really is a bitch! And Christian, no wonder the poor boy has so many hang ups - the guy is permanently to be described as having an 'impressive erection'...Is that it...? where is the rest of the imagery...? This is meant to be erotica not a children's day trip to the beach!

Perhaps I shouldn't moan and berate what is obviously going to be, if not already is a best seller..... Each to their own and all that, I just get fed up with hearing people talking about how wonderful and erotic it is.....Easy reading it may be....wonderful and erotic it is not.....I think people as a whole need to get out more, experience more and for Gods sake realise that life doesn't have to end once you hit your 40's - there is still a whole lot of world out there for you to explore, you might even like some of it!

Finally, the only good thing I have discovered about this book - Ian Somerhalder is set to play Christian Grey in the film of the book - I do not need a book to tell me what I could possibly do to that most wonderfully delicious piece of eye-candy! Do you?

Have a wonderful day.
I truly hope I haven't upset anyone with my thoughts, it was not my intention...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Happy Blogiversary.....

Well everyone today my blog turns 1 year old, and I have no clue what to blog to mark the occasion...

SunnySide has certainly morphed from it's original 'Waiting to Emigrate', although waiting for my green card now seems in some ways just as frustrating as waiting for the K1 visa....

S and I were talking about the time scale of the whole thing the other day. As well as today being the anniversary of the birth of my blog, it is also the date that USCIS acknowledged our petition for the K1 visa and printed our official receipt....

We were originally told that it could take 6 to 12 months to get the K1 authorised. As you may or may not remember it was actually October 20th (my Mum's birthday) when I made that fateful trip down to London to attend my interview at the US Embassy, and when that wonderfully lovely lady said those words, telling me that she was happy to approve my Visa that day, and that yes she could get the paperwork sorted so we could fly on the 31st. That was 6 months and 1 day from the date our application was approved.....that was pretty fast in Visa processing time terms (seemed like a bloody lifetime to me!)....

The 11 days that followed were a whirlwind! I had my daughters 21st to finalise, a house to finish packing and get shipped off with Pickfords, and all the other bits and bobs required to make our move from the UK to the US as seamless as possible. I don't think my friends in the UK ever thought the day would actually come when they would finally get to see the back of me, some of them may even still be wondering if I have actually gone or am playing some massive prank on them and will pop up from somewhere at any moment....

Of course we did go, although, when our flight was delayed out of Manchester and then I couldn't get my phone to actually call S once we had finally arrived in Newark, I did wonder if perhaps the matrix was trying to tell me something. But eventually we did arrive at our new home - tired and frazzled, but also excited and ready to begin this new adventure!....

I think when you move to another country, it takes a while for the feeling of being on holiday to subside and for the reality of day to day life to take over. It seemed to me that no sooner had we arrived, there was so much happening. S's brother the lovely K came to visit for Thanksgiving, and I seized the opportunity while he was here to get S to make an honest woman of me, and so we got married, in the back yard, wearing jeans and casual tops, at 6pm on Friday 25th November - Black Friday!

From Thanksgiving to seemed only 2 minutes to our first Christmas and the lovely K was here with us again, along with S's cousin who is also completely wonderful, L. Christmas was hot - 84 degrees on Christmas Day is not want I want from Christmas and not something I will ever get used to! This year we will probably spend the festive season in NY with K, and hopefully enjoy something more akin to what we are used to - cold, wet and possibly some snow!....

When I think back to Christmas, I can't quite believe just how much of the year has passed already. There are only 11 days left in April, and then we hit mad May and I will turn 45 (OMG am I really that old!)...Also as I said before, we are playing the waiting game yet again. After S and I got married in November, we had to complete even more paperwork and submit it to the USCIS. This paperwork was our I-485's, one each for the boys and I, so 3 of those, an application for permission to work and and application for permission to travel. The I-485 is the really important thing as this is basically what will give us our Green Cards and allow us temporary resident status here in the US. It means that I can work, legally, and that if need be we can travel anywhere we want in the world and be allowed back into the US without problem. As things stand at the moment I am still unable to work, and neither the boys or I are able to travel outside of the US. The applications for employment and travel are designed to allow me to work before getting the green card and to travel out of the US for a specific reason (can't just be a holiday)...So far we have been to have our fingerprints and photo's taken, have been asked to supply further information with regard to S's financial situation and his ability to support me and the boys, and still we just wait! My beautiful A is due to graduate from Warwick University on July 17th, and I need to have permission to travel for that - That is the only reason I have applied for permission to travel - That is the reason I have given for why I need to travel...I will quite simply die if I cannot travel back to see my daughter graduate! So as the date of her graduation gets closer and closer, I am finding myself constantly checking on the USCIS website for updates, exactly like I was doing while we waited for the K1 to be approved! The silly thing is, this time round I thought 'lets be clever Lou, there are 5 receipt numbers to check this time, register for email updates, they will let you know if anything happens and you won't feel the need to check!'.....Well that's just a joke, because if I check my email and there is nothing, I go to the website, log on and check there anyway!

So, on my mini time scale of things I think a lot has happened in the last 12 months really, and there is still a lot more to happen before we finally get our unlimited right to remain. For now I guess I should just focus on the things at hand, like the fact that we may well be on the move again - only east 100 miles so nothing too major, but after moving 6000 miles the boys are finding the thought a little disturbing, and it will mean a bit of a change in lifestyle for them in that 100 miles to the east your hard earned $ is worth considerably more than here in LA County, and we are looking at houses with a few acres of land, so the boys will be able to roam 'wild and free' as it were, also the climate is a little different, on the edge of the desert but in the mountains, so we will have the pleasure of lovely hot sun in summer, but also snow in the winter.

Finally I have made some friends at last. As some of you will know I went to a meet up coffee morning and while it was not what I had expected at all, and is not really something I want to get involved in, I did meet some lovely ladies who I have now friended on facebook and we have swapped numbers etc. One of the ladies I have already met up with again, and we seem to be very similar souls so I envisage a great friendship developing. She is English, and originally from Manchester, so geographically from the same area of England as me, but she has lived here in the the US for 20 years. The other 2 ladies I met are both American ladies, and I hope to see them again soon. I know we will see 2 of them on Saturday at the Sierra Madre Legendary Bingo, so that will be good!

All in all, I have to say that thus far, my US experience has been a good one. There are days when it seems like nothing is right and I feel helpless and alone, but they are few and far between, and I have a fantastic network of family and close friends at home who jolly me along and keep my spirits up. I know I go on and on about how wonderful S is, but it is true. People told me that once we had made the move that our ability to talk the way do would probably disappear and we would start to kind of just exist with each other! I said that was a load of tosh when it was put to me, and it still is a load of tosh! S and I talk all the time, about anything and everything, and I am convinced that we always will do - it's just the way we both are, and to be honest I really like it. My husband is my best friend and he is the best friend I could have! We make time for each other, help each other and support each other, and most importantly aren't afraid to tell each other how we feel. Both of us have admitted that we wake up every morning, and think how lucky we are to have found each other.

So, my wonderful lovely readers, all that is left for me to do is thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your continued support through the last 12 months. I hope that I have made you laugh at me as well as with me, and hopefully haven't upset anyone with things that I have written. I try to be a good person to everyone, even my bigoted neighbour, who quite frankly I could strangle without a seconds thought!

Here's to the next 12 months, I hope they are full of adventure and happiness for us all.

Have an absolutely wonderfully super duper day

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Gallery....Easter

 OK - the theme of this weeks The Gallery is Easter, so here are a few pics to show what we did this Easter, which was a little strange compared to what we are used to, namely because on Monday, the boys were in school and S was working - Easter Monday is not a Bank Holiday in the US, which is a shame but hey ho. We had fun over the weekend.
We washed cars & had a water fight
Still car
We lit the BBQ cooked burgers, sausages & chicken and ate in the garden
The Boys actually got on....
...and played together in the back garden
OK...they squabbled a little...but only a little.. and what's a game of volleyball without a little disagreement!

Upshot was, we had a pretty lazy time of things - but we had fun together, and for me that's what Easter is all about.
Now you have seen what we got up to, why not head over to The Gallery and see what everyone else has to offer.

Have fab day

Sunday, April 08, 2012

A Friend....

Well the coffee morning on Wednesday was not at all what I was expecting....
I pictured ladies sitting, chatting and drinking huge amounts of coffee and eating cake!
From the Meet-up website, it said there were 6 ladies who rsvp'd to say they were attending, and I thought that was about enough!
When I got to the ladies house, who was hosting the coffee morning, the first thing I noticed was that there was nowhere to park - there were cars everywhere! I had to drive right down the street before I could find a spot. As I walked back towards the house, I realised that there was a table set up outside with a lady greeting people. This seemed a little odd for 6 ladies, but hey ho!
As I walked up the driveway to the lady at the table, I saw that there were lots of name badges on the table - not 6 - LOTS! She said hi and asked me my name "Oh" she said "you're the English lady, we're so excited to have you join us!" This kind of set the alarm bells off in my head, but I went with the flow "Let me take you to Marlene" she carried on and I was whisked into the house to the lovely Marlene, who proceeded to hug me and say how pleased they were to have me there. Over her shoulder I could see the living room was overflowing with women, and I mean overflowing - it was like looking across a crowded sea of teenage girls at a Justin Beiber gig, only these weren't teenage girls, the majority of them appeared older than me!

Marlene, handed me over to Judy who proceeded to show me where the coffee was and the cake, and explained how they take turns to host the coffee mornings, how they have a kitty to supply coffee and how the ladies bake the cakes and goodies for everyone to munch on while they are there..OK, this is not what I was expecting at all, but I was in and there was no escape, better just smile sweetly and go with the flow. Judy took me through to the patio at the back where there was a table of 3or 4 ladies who were also new like me! Judy said to me "I think this lady may have an accent too". The lady turned around and Judy asked her "where are you from originally" The lady sitting at the table looked at her and said "originally Manchester" I looked at her and said "I'm from Stoke"...from that moment on the coffee morning took a turn for the better. I joined the table of newbies and was introduced to Anne and Lori, both from Monrovia, and both lovely ladies, and also my lovely English friend, Caroline who lived just down the road in Rosemead!

After chatting for a short while and getting know each other a little, and after buying raffle tickets for the 50/50, we were told that it was time to move into the main living room because they needed to start! Start what? It was a coffee morning, we were sitting chatting and drinking coffee - what else was there? The 4 of us moved into the already crowded living room and sat in a little group on the carpet. OMG what on earth was happening now. Marlene stood up to speak and welcomed the new people to the group, and said that it was a great turnout with 40 women there!!! 40 what happened to the paltry 6 it had said on the website - this was fraudulent advertising. I would never have gone if it had said 40 women! They lied! Anyway, Marlene then asked us to introduce ourselves to the rest of the group. Holy moly this was getting embarrassing! Nonetheless, one by one us newbies introduced ourselves to the other 36 ladies in the group, and were duly clapped and welcomed in. After that it was down to business! As the president of the group took over it became startingly apparent that this was not just a coffee morning at all, but the WI in disguise - with its executive committee and its working committee, and their coffee mornings on the 1st Wednesday of the month, lunch with a guest speaker on the 2nd, committee meetings on the 3rd and some kind of outing with tour on the 4th......I only wanted coffee and a chat - you know meet some folks, make some friends, have a natter, maybe hang out sometimes.....These ladies wanted to take over my Wednesday's for the rest of my life - and I had to pay them for the privilege!! Uh oh. Caroline and Lori and I kept looking at each other perplexed, Anne seemed to know that this is what was expected and so was into the flow of the whole thing. Eventually, after sitting there for 30 maybe 40 minutes, the announcements and committee stuff was over and everyone started to make their way out - coffee morning over! While the announcements etc had been going on, the 4 of us had successfully managed to swap phone numbers etc, and once we escaped the house, we walked back to our cars and came away. Caroline texted me while I was driving away, and I just knew that we were going to get along famously!

Rose Tree Cottage
I hadn't actively sought out an English buddy, but finding one is pretty fab to be honest. We met up a couple of days later on Friday when we went to have a look around Rose Tree Cottage, which is an English Tea Shop and Shop in Pasadena. We had a laugh at all the stuff in the shop, but were unable to drink tea, because tea is only served in the afternoons, and one must book in advance! We were told by the terribly English proprietor who was wearing a velvet suite and cravat that Helen Mirren and Sir Anthony Hopkins were due to come for tea because apparently they are going to be in the area filming 'Hitchcock', and he also told us that Helen Mirren bought the Barbour she wore in the Queen from their shop! I think that perhaps this rather elderly gentleman has been putting something other than tea in his tea, because there is no way on earth that 1: Helen Mirren would be buying her own props for a film, and 2: that anyone English would be insane enough to spend $400 on a Barbour jacket that you can get from Barbour direct for about £100...Needless to say - although Caroline was tempted by and parted with a small fortune for a packet of Milk Chocolate Digestives, 1lb of back Bacon, some Bisto granules and a Lion Bar - we will probably not be returning for high tea anytime in the near future!
Lucky Baldwins, Pasadena
However, the pint of Boddies and Fish & Chips at the Pasadena Lucky Baldwins (English Pub) was extremely good and very reasonably priced, so we may well be tempted to frequent that one a little more often!

The wonderful thing is, that after being here for 5 months now, I finally have a friend, a wonderfully sarcastic, and mad as a hatter like me friend, who I look forward to spending some time with...

Time will tell how the friendship pans out with Anne and Lori - I hope they work out too because having one true friend is fab, but having a few is even better!

I hope that you are all enjoying a truly wonderful Easter.
Have a fab time

Happy Easter....

I could write an epic post on what a wonderful time of year Easter is but no doubt everyone is off eating chocolate and having way to much fun to care, so instead I am posting a You Tube video - it's an old video, but a wonderful one....It is of my eldest and youngest - talking about what is really important at Easter.


Wednesday, April 04, 2012

At Peace....

Once Again I am linking up with Tara and The Gallery - the theme this week is 'At Peace'..
These are photographs I associate with feeling at Peace.
Cheshire, UK

Virginia, USA

Flying through the clouds

The Gorgeous G fishing

Pony on The Mynd in Shropshire, UK

Handsome H, aged 2 asleep on the stairs - they were obviously a bridge too far!

Now you seen my little montage why not head over to Sticky Fingers and see what everyone else has post for The Gallery.

Have a truly wonderful day - I am off to drink coffee in a place I have never been to before with a group of ladies I have never met! Ahhh the things us expats have to do to make friends in our foreign land! Wish me luck

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Rancho Mirage....

Last weekend, we were fortunate enough to be treated to a weekend away just South of Palm Springs in Rancho Mirage. My wonderful S had been working there for a few days on each of the last 2 weeks and his boss had very kindly offered to pay for an additional night in the Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, so that the boys and I could join him.

As Friday was the last day of term for the boys they were let out of school at 1pm and as so soon as they arrived home we packed up and set off to make the 120 mile drive east to Rancho Mirage. This has now over-taken my LAX venture as the longest drive I have made since arriving here in the US, and thankfully it was very straight forward, although LA traffic on a Friday afternoon on the 210 with its 6 lanes in each direction is not exactly a walk in the park.
210 Freeway gets pretty busy on a Friday afternoon heading East
Anyway after a 2 hour drive we finally arrived at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa. Here is the view from our room.
View directly opposite our room
View looking down towards the main hotel from our room

As you can see the hotel was really quite something, and for anyone looking for a stunning place to stay in the Palm Springs area, I can highly recommend it. Midweek prices start at $249 per night including breakfast, a $25 Resort Voucher towards Golf or the Spa, and $28 Daily Resort Charge. It is very family orientated and the Splashtopia pool has water slides and a small river you can ride on an inflatable. Handsome H was very taken with the pool and spent the whole of Saturday afternoon amusing himself in the water while I relaxed in the sun with a good book!

Because Rancho Mirage is in the desert it was hotter than hot. Sautrday morning we were up early, plastered in sunscreen and we made the short drive to visit 'The Living Desert' which is a small zoo and gardens featuring only animals and plants native to desert type climates. After my horror and disappointment at the LA zoo a few weeks ago, I was a little apprehensive about visiting another zoo, but this place was fantastic, and I can highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area. It wasn't expensive and there was so much to see. You do need to go in the morning though. We were there by 9.30 having stopped for breakfast along the way and by 10.30 the thermometers we passed showed that the surface soil temp in the sun was already 120 degrees. We were able to follow a trail that led out into the desert and I was intrigued to see what there was at the San Andreas Fault exhibit! Of course everyone has heard of the San Andreas Fault, but what were we going to be able to see out in the desert. We climbed up a short path that took us partway up a small hill and from this point we were able to look out across at the mountains in the distance. A sign in front of us showed landmarks along the mountain line, but more interestingly, showed another clearly visibly line below the top of the mountains - and this is actually part of the fault line. The maps showed us how the land to the south had actually moved north and this had caused the buckling of the mountains and the 'fault line' that was so clearly visible.. It is one thing to know that you live on fault lines but to actually be able to see where the movement has taken place, I thought was fascinating.

To be honest I found the desert itself fascinating. I had never imagined that the desert could be as breathtakingly beautiful as it was, and be filled with as much colour as it was. To be honest photographs just don't do it justice.
On Sunday morning my wonderful S and gorgeous G went off to play a round of golf. You can't really go to Palm Springs and not play golf - I have never seen so many golf courses and country clubs in one place ever before! Left alone at the hotel handsome H and I packed all our belongings up and then went out to get some breakfast, which in itself was a treat. We do tend to go out as a family, or S and I go out, but this is the first time I have taken my youngest son out for breakfast. I think he was revelling in some time alone with Mum, but then again maybe he was just thrilled to be having chocolate pancakes, with chocolate sauce, maple syrup, whipped cream and a double chocolate muffin!

All too soon it was time to load up the cars and head back down the freeway to home. I don't suppose this will be the last time we visit the Palm Springs area, and I know I will look forward to a return visit. My wonderful S is lucky, he gets to go back for work again in a couple of weeks time. But then a couple of weeks after that we will be heading out to another part of the desert - this time Scotsdale in Arizona, for a big family get together, which hopefully will be just as much fun!

Have a wonderful day